Chapter Five: May-June 1870
Children cheered, townsfolk applauded, Hanna and Adam danced around, and Josef screamed in my arms, because his father saw no reason to celebrate the coming of the train to Colorado Springs. He was helping Robert E. at the livery. I promised I could handle the children for a few moments, though Josef was very fidgety and not liking the screams of the train whistle. I covered his ears as best as I could, and as the black smoke clouded the Colorado skies, I watched in amazement, as the train completed its very first stop on the tracks of Colorado Springs, paving the way for the future. A colleague of mine, Dr. Bernard from Denver, arrived on the train to consult with me over a few matters. I had sent him a paper I had written over a herb that Cloud Dancing had told me about that had been known to increase fertility, and he had wanted to meet with me in person about it.
I had been feeling peculiar all afternoon, so I dropped the children off with Sully, and he promised to take them to Grace's for lunch, while I consulted with Dr. Bernard. Somewhere between the livery and the clinic, I began to feel faint, and Dr. Bernard quickly ushered me into my clinic and had me sit down. He made me something to calm my stomach, and he began to question me. It was then that I knew. I had all the symptoms, and I had completely ignored them for the past month. I hadn't wanted to believe that it had happened so soon after Josef. He was a mere three months away from turning one.
To my surprise, Dr. Bernard concluded that I was nearly four months along, and that the development of the baby seemed normal. I told him that it hadn't made sense. I had still gotten my monthlies. Very light ones, but I hadn't ever suspected that I was pregnant. He explained that some women do have some bleeding, but that he wanted me to take it easy and rest for the remainder of my pregnancy. He wanted me to send for him if I had any complications. The worry in his eyes certainly had me going, and I wasn't sure what to think or feel. Another child. I was happy, of course, but I couldn't wrap my mind around the idea that I was going to give birth again in a few short months. The baby would be born in October, and I wasn't quite sure I was ready for it.
When Dr. Bernard went to find Sully, I sat there thinking of the many ways I could tell him that I was pregnant, Dr. Bernard was concerned, and the baby seemed to be developing normally enough. When Sully arrived, I was trembling, and he asked me what was wrong. He told me that Dr. Bernard informed him of my dizzy spell, and that was when I dropped our news into his lap. Pregnant. I wasn't sure if he had heard me when I told him, because his face was still masked with the expression of concern and anxiety. I hadn't expected a parade or thunderous cheer, but I also hadn't expected to get no reaction at all.
I asked him if he'd heard me, and when he blinked, I knew he had. He asked the normal questions, and he seemed concerned when I told him I was due in October. He asked why I wasn't showing yet, why this, why that, and I couldn't answer anything at the moment. All I could tell him was that Dr. Bernard suspected that the baby was healthy and that I merely needed to rest and eat more.
So, in official Sully style, he went about making sure I was comfortable and that I was taken care of properly for the remainder of the pregnancy. I couldn't help but sense that he felt something wasn't right. Perhaps it was because I felt that way too. I started to tell myself that I was only worrying myself for nothing. The baby was fine. I was fine. But, somehow, something felt very, very wrong.
By the time the children turned five at the end of June, I was obviously showing, and I was getting used to the idea of becoming a mother once again. Josef was still too young to understand, but Hanna and Adam were back to bickering over whether or not they would be getting a brother or sister. I felt a lot of movement inside of me, and I knew that there was something else going on. But, this only added to my worries, and I sent frequent telegrams to Dr. Bernard, detailing my concerns. Sully was growing more and more anxious by the day, and I knew he was thinking about Abagail. When the news came that I had been expecting, I knew it was only going to be more difficult for Sully.
Twins. There were two lives growing inside of me, and I knew that put us all at an even greater risk. Dr. Bernard promised to be there for the delivery, because he was especially worried about my condition. I knew I needed to rest, but with the train in town, I was getting more business. I tried to slow down, and I did as best as I could, but I knew it was only a matter of time before I needed to stop and concentrate on staying strong for myself and my children.
It had already been a busy summer, with the railroad arriving in town and it was about to get busier. I had received a telegram from my eldest sister Rebecca, telling me that mother was ill. Fear gripped me the moment I realized that I might lose her, and I told Sully we had to go to Boston. He tried to argue with me, because in my condition, I shouldn't have been going anywhere. I knew he was right, but mother needed me, and I was terrified that she would leave me before I had the chance to tell her how much she meant to me.
Finally, he purchased the stagecoach tickets (due to the train being laid over for repairs) from Horace. Not wanting to leave the children behind with Loren, who was still recovering from the stroke he had nine months ago, we packed them up and headed to Denver to board a train that would carry me back to the place I was born. I honestly hadn't thought I would ever see it again.
On the train, Hanna and Adam asked when we would get to Boston at least fifteen times. The trip was going to be a long one, especially with a fussy Josef keeping us up at night and a gigantic bulge in my belly that moved constantly. Josef's fussiness was mainly caused by his gaining another tooth, and he was crankier than ever. Sully and I rested when we could, and Hanna and Adam kept each other busy with games. Dr. Bernard had advised me not to travel, but I had to get to my mother. I was terrified of losing her, and I promised to keep myself cared for in Boston. Sully even promised that the first ache or pain I had would result in him carting me off to the nearest doctor.
I was never so relieved to get off of that train, and Sully and I were greeted by Rebecca, who showered us all with hugs and kisses, especially young Josef, whom she was just meeting for the first time. Marjorie was waiting with her own two daughters, both tall, thin and wearing their bright red hair up in ringlets like their mother. Neither girls wanted anything to do with their cousins from Colorado Springs. Rebecca told me that she was sorry she asked me to come out being seven months pregnant and everything,
We arrived at the hospital, and the children were very well behaved. They rushed up to Mother, and I was amazed at how much they remembered her. Her doctor said her condition was quite serious; a heart problem that could prove to be fatal if not corrected. I was devastated by the news, and when I watched Mother hold her first birth grandchild for the first time, it broke my heart to realize that he may never remember her. She touched the swell of my belly, saying she could tell they were going to be girls. She only smiled, when I asked her how she knew, and she told me it was a grandmother's intuition. And, I believed her.
As the day wore on, we were escorted to my childhood home. Adam and Hanna took Rebecca and Marjorie's old room, while my old cradle was brought in for Josef. He stayed in my old room with me and Sully, and sleeping wasn't on anybody's mind. We were too worried about Mother. I was worried about not resolving some of my past grievances with her. I was worried about never getting to tell her how much she meant to me. I had tried to do so when she was in Colorado Springs for the wedding, but Sully and I had been so absorbed with one another, and it left me with hardly any time to spend with her. I felt guilty for that, but I knew she would understand.
The first night in my old bed was strange, and I felt so out of place, but Sully held me close, and he told me he could almost picture me growing up there, sitting at my desk, pouring over my medical books. I glanced around, noticing how our maid, Martha still kept everything immaculately clean. The desk was shiny and polished, not a trace of dust anywhere. It made me sad for her, because after all of this time, she still had my room ready like she did when I returned home for the night after my rounds with Father. Martha had been like a second mother to me. She had helped me study for exams, she had encouraged me to be my own person as a child, when Mother had insisted on me being someone else.
Over the next few weeks, Sully made me rest everywhere we went. I tired easily, and the children inside of me were draining me. I slept well, though sometimes I'd wake to a hard kick in the middle of the night. These two were already a challenge, and they weren't even born yet. I still couldn't get over the overwhelming feeling that something wasn't right, though I tried to tell myself that everything was fine. I was only worried, because it was a mother's job to worry.
Mother's surgery went well, and by Josef's first birthday, she was home and celebrating with us. Hanna and Adam helped Martha bake the cake. Sully wanted me to sit down all day, and even though I wanted to help, I knew better, and I rested. Harrison was there too, and he helped Sully bring in the gifts. I was amazed at how many gifts were given to such a little boy who wouldn't remember that day. Mostly, money was given to put into a college fund that Mother had created for him. As a bonus, she created college funds for Adam and even Hanna, because she explained that if Hanna grew up to be anything like me, she would be studying too. Sully wasn't sure about taking money from my family, but since they insisted, we couldn't refuse. Mother insisted that she would always help out with her children and her grandchildren, and as soon as the twins were here, they would be just as spoiled. It was wonderful to watch her with them. I saw my mother in an entirely different light. She was different with my children than she was with my nieces and nephews. I supposed that it was because my children had different upbringings, but I didn't question her.
Josef was growing by the day, it seemed, and I could hardly believe that a year had passed since his birth. His hair was just like Sully's, though his eyes were more like mine now. They were very obviously like mine when he was extremely happy or extremely upset. He was turning into such a wonderful little person, and I was blessed to call him my son.
Once Mother was feeling like her old self again, we sat down and had a serious talk. Sully took the children out for a stroll, and my conversation with mother lasted for what seemed hours. We talked about how we felt about Father's passing, we talked about what it was like for me to move away and start over in a strange new place. We talked about everything, and in the end, we had started to see eye to eye. We both knew we'd never agree on everything, but at least we had grown toward one another more. I felt a stronger connection with her than before, and for that, I was thankful.
She was well enough to see us off at the train station, and she loaded the children down with candy and toys to occupy themselves with on the journey home. I was feeling poorly, but I decided that it was the fact that I was leaving my mother again that made me feel so bad. When the train pulled away from the station, I relaxed in a cot in our sleeper car, and Sully told me he wanted me to rest all the way back home, and if we needed to stop in Denver to see Dr. Bernard, I shouldn't hesitate to say anything. He was still so worried, as was I, but the pregnancy was coming to an end, and I had a feeling that a new chapter in my life, a very difficult one, was about to begin.
September 20, 1870
The day that changed my life forever was the twentieth of September. Earlier that month, Dr. Bernard had moved to Colorado Springs until the birth, because he was still very worried about my progress. He said it could be any day, and any day was right. We had moved into the clinic until the birth, because a ride into town was exhausting for me. I was in bed for twenty-three hours a day, and the babies were still active with the little amount of room they had to work with, which Dr. Bernard said was a good sign. He was afraid he might have to perform a Caesarean Section, but after a final examination on the nineteenth, he found the babies to both be head down. That was when my water broke, and there was no turning back.
The pregnancy had been difficult, and the labor was no different. I wanted Sully there, though Dr. Bernard warned him that if he had to do an emergency C-Section, the door wasn't too far away. The children were frightened, because they weren't used to seeing me in so much pain. Hanna was a good girl and reminded Adam that this was what happened with Josef, and they both held him and took care of him, as they waited on the porch with their grandfather.
The entire town seemed to gather outside, and for hours and hours. I waited for relief from the pain, though I knew relief wouldn't come until both babies were born, and I could ease my worries. I couldn't wait to see them and hold them and just know that they were all right.
Pain was an insignificant word by eight o'clock that night. It had manifested into pure physical agony. My body felt as if it'd been trampled by three freight trains, and I just wanted those babies out. Dr. Bernard assured me that the first baby's head was coming down, and I felt like telling him to go someplace that wasn't as friendly and loving as Heaven. Sully was a calming force there, and he stayed by my side the entire time. I apologized to him in advance for any bruises my grip on his arms might cause, and he told me that they'd be completely worth it. He was just as ready to see these children as I was, and when the first baby was born, smaller than Josef had been, I heard the cries and saw the pinkness of her cheeks, as Dr. Bernard announced that I had a daughter. Her name rolled off my tongue the moment I felt her tiny form in my arms. Sylvia. She was perfect. She was little, but she had a set of lungs like no other. Charlotte, who had been in the room the entire time, took my daughter and started cleaning her up, as Dr. Bernard prepared to help the next baby out. The head was already beginning to crown, and I was ready to die.
Sully gently rubbed my back, as he helped me to sit up, and when Dr. Bernard instructed Sully to push down on my stomach a little, Sully seemed to freeze up. I told him it was all right. Dr. Bernard knew what he was doing, and with great hesitancy, Sully did as the doctor asked. I bore down, my eyes staring at the expression on Dr. Bernard's face. I was scared, and I began to tremble, when his face grew pale, and his voice became uncertain. I screamed at him, beginning to tell me what was wrong, and I knew that Sully was remembering Abagail giving birth to Hanna and Adam. Sully begged Dr. Bernard to make sure I survived, and I promised Sully that I wasn't going anywhere.
My senses seemed to dwindle with those last few pushes, but after the baby's head was out, I gathered up all of the strength I had left and pushed with all of my might. And then there was silence. I could hear Sully behind me, but he had stopped breathing. I reached for my baby, when I didn't hear the cry, but Dr. Bernard wouldn't let me see it. He covered the child in a blanket, severed the cord and hurried over to try to put life back into my child's body. I was screaming, reaching out for my child, and Charlotte rushed over to me, putting her arms around me, whispering assuring words to me, but I wouldn't stop crying for my child. I needed that baby, and I wanted to get up off of that table and go to it, but Charlotte held me down. Sully couldn't move. I looked up at him, and I knew he was reliving that night again. I reached for his hand, and my touch sent life into his body again. I begged him to go to Sylvia, and he did as I asked, taking her into his arms and holding her close. She cried and squirmed in his arms, almost like she was calling for her sibling.
I felt the life draining from my body, and I felt as if I was starting to leave myself. I closed my eyes, and I could see them all. I saw Hanna and Adam playing with Josef, trying to keep him off to the outburst that had just occurred inside of the clinic. I could see Sylvia in her father's arms, fighting for her sibling. I could see my other child lying motionless before Dr. Bernard. A little girl. I prayed and hoped for her. I tried to give her my will and my strength, because it seemed as if she had none at that very moment. I needed her to live. I knew she was going to change my world forever, and I didn't know if that was a good or a bad thing, but she needed to live. She had to.
When Sully saw me close my eyes, he put the baby back down, and he rushed to me, pulling me up, trying to keep me awake. He called to me, and I could hear it. My body was weak, but my spirit wasn't. I heard him, and I reached for him, and when I opened my eyes, I heard the screams of both of my newborn children. I heard Dr. Bernard let out a triumphant sigh, and when I looked over at her, her pale cheeks were starting to turn pink.
As soon as I felt my little girl in my arms, her name became Hope. I had hoped for her, I had prayed for her. She was here, and she was alive. I held them both together for the first time, and they seemed to calm each other down. Both of my girls were born. When Sully held them both, Charlotte moved toward me, expressing her pride. She explained that I had handled a twin birth much easier than she had handled giving birth to Brian and Johnny.
After I was settled upstairs, Dr. Bernard examined me again, and he said that I had done a superb job, though he had been worried about my health for a little while. He said that Sylvia's health was perfect, but he was concerned about Hope. She had a slightly elevated fever, and he advised me to keep an eye on her over night. So, Sully brought the children up to see their new sisters, and Josef could say Hope very well, but Sylvia was another story. He simply called her "sissy," and it stuck.
The children were staying in a room across the hall, and when Sully and I were putting the children down to rest that night, I noticed that Hope's forehead was even warmer. I immediately called for Dr. Bernard, and we both knew her fever was dangerously high. Yet, she was relaxed and completely calm. It upset me that she was so sick, yet she seemed to not be reacting to it at all. She was tranquil and responsive, yet the fever that should have been bothering her wasn't.
Little sleep was had that night, as Dr. Bernard and I worked hard to keep Hope's temperature from rising. Charlotte even came in to help us with Sylvia, while our concerns focused on Hope. We weren't sure what was wrong with the little girl, but slowly, her fever began to go down, and she seemed perfectly healthy. Sully and I only hoped that that was the last of her problems, and we were grateful that our worries had been eased…
By the time the girls were about two months old, they were thriving. They were perfect, and each were a little bigger than Josef was when he was first born. They were a little small, but they were wonderful and healthy nevertheless. They were identical, though they each had quite different personalities. Sylvia…Sissy was the more nurturing one. She would snuggle up close with her sister, and she would be the one to cry out if Hope wasn't sleeping well. Hope had had a series of fevers, but she hadn't had one in over a month now, and we were hopeful that she was past that phase. Still, Hope was quiet. She was loving, but she needed more attention than she could give, and we found that her sleeping patterns were very mixed up, and she slept through the night more than Sylvia did. Sully and I could barely take them away from one another, because if Hope was out of Sylvia's sight for more than a few moments, she began to squirm and cry out, until she could hear Hope's cries from the next room. It was amazing, really, how clear and set their bond already was. It was as if they were meant to be born together, solely so they could watch out for one another. Sylvia was the protector, but she needed Hope as much as Hope needed her.
Thanksgiving was busy and full of noise. Charlotte and her kids came to join our family for the holidays. Dorothy and Loren came as well, and all of the children played together, while the twins napped upstairs. Josef was just old enough to start joining the children, as long as they weren't too rough. But, he apparently took a couple of knocks behind my back that I wasn't informed of until much later. But, he was a strong little boy, always getting into things and always making sure he could see that his mama was smiling and safe.
The blessing took quite a long time that evening, and I sat with Josef in my lap and thanked God for the family that I had been blessed with, the friends that had seen me through the good times and the bad and the doctor who had saved my little girl's life just two months ago. By the time dinner was over, the children were wound up on pumpkin pie, and the girls were starting to fuss upstairs. I was feeling tired, so after our guests left, Sully promised to clean up, and he told me to go get some rest. I happily obliged, and I took Josef with me. Hanna and Adam hurried up ahead of me, and by the time I got to the comfort of the bedroom, Sylvia had almost given up on getting my attention. I took her into my arms and sat down in the rocking chair. I began to feed her, and I peered over at Hope, who was awake and staring tiredly up at the ceiling. I smiled at her, wondering what was going through her mind. The mind of a child was an amazing thing, and I often wondered how my children viewed me and the rest of the world. I often feared that I wasn't doing right by them, but they seemed to love me just as much as I loved them.
By the time Sully came upstairs, I had fed both girls and had already crawled into bed. I smiled, as she strode across the room to check on each of them, and when he climbed into bed with me, I lay in his arms, enjoying the quiet that the evening had dwindled down to. I only hoped we would get a few hours of sleep before it was time for a feeding. The good thing about that was that I didn't have to get up alone. Sully always got up with me, unless he was very, very tired, and he would make sure to help out if I needed an extra hand. I appreciated him completely, and I couldn't have pictured my life without him. He was a wonderful husband and father, and I knew that I had made the right choice.
By the Winter of '70, we were all recovered from the traumatic birth of Hope and Sylvia, and Adam and Hanna were enjoying the snow that seemed to fall at least twice a week. It would fall before the previous snow had the chance to melt, and it would pile up higher and higher. It was nice for the children, but for Sully and I, it was difficult to get from place to place with two feet of snow around us and five little ones in tow.
One particularly cold afternoon, Hanna and Adam were in town with Loren, and the snow began again. I wanted to go into town and get the children, but Sully assured me that Loren had been through a blizzard before, and he and Dorothy knew how to keep the children safe and warm. That reassured me a little, and we curled up with Josef and the twins in front of the fire in the living room, as the snow piled up higher and higher. We could hear the snow pelting down on the roof and ticking against the shutters.
It was still pretty quiet, and Josef was a sound sleeper. After Sully took him up to bed, and I carried the girls up for the night, we relaxed on the rug, laying back and listening to the wind outside and the crackling of the fire in the hearth. Sully's hand softly caressed my cheek, and our lips met, sweetly greeting one another and urging ourselves onward. With five children in the house and jobs of our own, it was difficult to find alone time like this, but with Josef and the girls sleeping and the twins with their grandfather, we took full advantage of the opportunity.
Before we knew it, we were making love in front of a roaring fire, quenching our hunger for one another for just a little while. Later, we lay together, our limbs tangled, our bodies drenched in perspiration and our hearts full. We hadn't had a quiet moment like this since Boston, and it was wonderful.
For two days, we had the house to ourselves, because the twins still slept a lot, and Josef slept a lot without his brother and sister to play with. We took full advantage, and it felt like a mini-honeymoon, and Sully promised we would get away soon enough for a romantic week in Denver.
When the children came home, they had stories to tell about their grandpa giving them candy and letting them each take a toy home from the store. Loren spoiled them so, and Sully and I felt like the bad guys. But, we knew Loren loved spoiling them. He'd had only one child, and she had been taken from him far too soon. Grandchildren were something completely different, and Sully and I knew those children would never hurt for anything if we or Grandpa Loren had anything to say about it.