A/N: Yikes. I didn't realize I haven't touched this since May. Let's see if I can crank this out before November 15th ends. Your beloved PointyObjects is 23 today. *faints*
Disclaimer: Me no owning. C. Bartlett no suing.
Chapter 5: 7 Months, 13 Days, 4 Hours, 7 Minutes
"It's not that simple. Her brain injury wasn't serious, but there are other things to consider. We'd have to monitor her very closely to make sure her body doesn't go into shock. It's a very risky procedure. We have to proceed with far more caution than normal."
That's what Dr. Harrison told me when I asked if I could lend a hand in the birth of my own child. While nearly every father on the planet is able to don a customary blue gown, glove, and cap, and watch their child enter the world, I'm sitting outside of the hospital room in my brown and blue plaid coat that Helga got me for our last anniversary. Part of me wanted to storm in, but I knew that would only end badly. Dr. Harrison was doing everything he could, which was a lot more than most doctors would. When other experts threw in their two cents, advising me to abandon my wife and unborn child. Some even wanted to analyze me for mental disorders. But, and this is something I couldn't necessarily claim a year ago, I was going to be loyal to Helga until the end. I would be as loyal to her as she always was to me.
Periodically a nurse or someone would walk out of the room and give me a status report. They were never too detailed; I wondered if Dr. Harrison was trying to keep me or himself calm. He mentioned that he'd never assisted in birthing a child to an unconscious mother. After Helga's stomach acids were neutralized, the IV attached, and the proper amount of anesthetics and medications administered, all I could do was wait.
It reminded me of the days when Helga and I would skip work together and lay around the house. We'd wake late, make a big breakfast, watch Court TV. But at some point in the day, Helga would get restless. She'd want to go bicycling, or jogging, or go to the hardware store (her least favorite place after one too many trips there with Bob) and buy plywood, so we could repair the deck. She couldn't sit still for too long, and it always perplexed me how she could tire of being seated or rested and need to move around.
I was feeling more or less the same. I wanted to, after Olivia was born, take them both home, stopping every few minutes to admire the town that managed to change in the 7 moths that they were not there. Once home, I wanted to show of everything: the bathroom I cleaned myself, the deck I finished so that Olivia would have somewhere to play, the sprigs of lavender that Helga left by our bed, that I never moved. I was restless.
Just as my legs began to lift, two nurses came out looking tense and excited. Almost in unison, they declared, "Dr. Harrison says you can come in." I knew they wanted to "escort" me in, but my first thought was to rush past them. I could barely function outside of my concern for Helga, and our child.
Much to my dismay, when I entered, there wasn't a friendly orderly holding out my newborn child to me. Two doctors aside from Dr. Harrison stood nearby, taking notes, and speaking in hushed tones, while an assistant of some kind kept Helga's head cool with a white cloth and repeatedly checked the screen on one of the machines she was hooked up to.
"Arnold." Dr. Harrison said jovially as I approached. "I thought you'd want to see how everything was going. Everything is proceeding excellently. Her stats are normal, no infections, shock…I couldn't have planned it better.
"And Olivia?' I asked.
"Well, she's turned the wrong way, which isn't a problem, but even if Helga were conscious, a cesarean would probably be the safest way to go. If you'd like, you can step right over here, and…" he said, kindly ushering the assistant away, and handing me a damp cool cloth. Nervously, I took up post where the assistant once sat, and stared lovingly at Helga.
Her eyelids were shut, per usual, her breathing even and strong, her head tilted to one side, just a little. As Dr. Harrison and his fellow physicians talked their way through the surgery, I tried to block them out. How could Helga stay asleep, with such a flurry of life around her; doctors, nurses, me, our child….yet she looked as calm and peaceful as if nothing were happening at all.
A few months ago, when I found out that Helga's state could last for many more months, I had to battle the stirrings of anger at her. Yes, I betrayed her, but this was a punishment, plain and simple. I had to live my life without so much as her daily presence. My frustrations needed to be manifested, and it wasn't until I thought about it, that I realized that I could not be angry at Helga. If she could be here, truly here, she would.
"Cauterizing the veins…nice work…removing fluids…" a bearded man said from behind a blue curtain that separated Helga's swollen belly from my view. I appreciated that he talked to her like she was there. It made me feel like she was. Suddenly, a hush filled the room. All the physicians grew silent against the whir of the machines surrounding us.
I waited for something to happen. I didn't know what to expect…did something go wrong? I stole a glance at Helga, hoping to see some sign, some distortion of her face, as a clue as to what was going on. She revealed nothing. She was always good at hiding.
A shrill cry filled the air and my head turned so quickly, I thought it'd snap off. The sound was too distinct: delicate and wild at the same time, breathless and tired, and new and bold.
I tried to watch through blurred eyes as the doctors completed their work, and attempted to check her vital signs. Hers. She was here.
I turned back to Helga, no longer caring if any of the occupants of the room saw me crying openly. My hands found one of Helga's, and I leaned in close and rested her head on my shoulder.
"You did it, Helga. She's here."
A few hours later I sat in Helga's room, my chair pushed so close to her bed that I accidentally hit the nurse's call button a few times. It was well after visiting hours, but I didn't care. Since the moment Dr. Harrison gave Olivia over to me, wrapped tightly in a soft, baby pink blanket, she hadn't left my side. I presented her to her mother, and with spastic arm movements, she greeted her. I was ecstatic. She was the perfect blend of Helga and I. She had her mother's nose, but my ears. Olivia opened her eyes once; little bright green slits gazed up and then quickly shut.
It took a few minutes, but I managed to adjust the angle of Helga's bed so that she was sitting up slightly. Moving one shoulder close to me, and bending her arms, I made a makeshift cradle. Gently, and cautiously, I lifted Olivia into her mother's arms and nestled her under her chin. After being in the same position for so long, she squirmed when she had to move, and her tiny brow furrowed. She had her mother's scowl. After a minute or two, she rested, and breathed evenly. I brought Helga's hand to her daughter's back, showing her how to hold her.
Maybe it was the adrenaline in my system, or the sheer joy of having a living, breathing representation of myself and Helga, but I could almost feel Helga's hand quiver at holding her child. Our child.
Stupid computer..turned itself off, and now this one will be November 16th. Oh well! I did it! Two updates in 24 hours! Go me!
My November 15th updates never fail...almost. :D