All Systems go

All systems go for tomorrow, despite a nasty, unproductive cough. Here’s a good story: At 3:00 this morning I woke up and began coughing again. I could feel the gunk coating my lungs, and I was thinking, oh man, am I even going to have a baby tomorrow? I’m taking my kids to Mom and Dad’s, and how am I going to explain to Alex if we have to put it off till Monday, and Mom’s got to go back to work on Monday anyway, and how are we going to deal with the kids while we’re in the hospital, and the doctor’s office doesn’t open till nine, which is after I told my parents we’d be at their house, and…and…and…


I took myself firmly in hand. All right, let’s do the only thing we can do at 3:25a.m. Call the office and leave a message. They’ve told me before that someone’s always in at 7:30 or 8 and will return messages. So I grabbed the phone and headed into the closet so I wouldn’t wake Christian. I left a message, explaining the situation, and went back into the bedroom. I put the phone in the cradle beside Christian and circled the bed.


Just as I sat down, the phone rang. Christian woke with an inarticulate gasp and every limb flailing, but even so he got to the phone before me. “lo?” he mumbled, and then he laid there for five seconds and shoved the phone at me.


“I thought I was the only person who couldn’t sleep!” said the bright, cheery voice of one of the nurses at the doctor’s office. “I couldn’t believe it when I saw the message light go on!”


I sat down and said blankly, “You couldn’t sleep…so you went to the office?”


Not that I’m complaining, mind you! And after all, I suppose that’s what I do if I can’t sleep at 3a.m., too…I come downstairs and turn on the computer. It’s just that I don’t have to shower and drive to get to work!


Anyway, for all that, I still didn’t get an answer until 10:00 this morning. Now I’m on Z-Pac, and they tell me that although a cough doesn’t affect the C-section, the C-section will affect the cough. “As in, coughing will hurt like the dickens,” they said. “But it won’t harm either one of you.”


So Dad and I pulled the kids’ suitcases from the van, moved car seats from our blue van to theirs. I spent the rest of the morning trying to remember every instruction my mother needs to keep my kids from melting down in the next two days, and lying on my parents’ couch trying to sleep while Julianna batted my face with cold little hands and Alex brought very old Disney crank reels for me to look at.


The joy and delight with which my children and my parents interacted this morning was breathtakingly beautiful. (Although I’m sure that 48 hours from now, all four of them will be just as excited to get away from each other!) Dad is especially susceptible to Julianna’s charms. He almost couldn’t tear himself away to go to his lunch meeting.


At naptime, I took my leave. It was really hard to leave Julianna in the crib, smiling so big at me…she and I have reached a new closeness in the last few days, as if Daddy’s girl and Mommy’s girl are coming closer together. She had no idea, when I laid her down, that she won’t see me again for two days, and that when she does, everything will be different. In her whole life, we’ve never been apart longer than twelve hours. It was hard to walk out of that room.


And then there was saying goodbye to Alex, my little mama’s boy, who has had me wrapped around his finger since he was six hours old and he looked up at me with the exact expression I had seen on his daddy’s face a hundred times before. “I miss you already,” I said, choking up as his chubby arms went around my neck.


No car seats in the van. Thirty miles back home, with no voices in the back seat. No bickering (yes, they can bicker, even when one can’t talk), no giggling, no mutual annoyance or hilarity, no vocal competitions. No giggling Alex when I went through the car wash. Silence in the house.


Nothing to distract me from a good old-fashioned, hormonal, oh-(whatever)-this-is-really-it freak out.


Nothing except the phone calls from my best friend and my in-laws, asking how I was doing. God bless you guys.