Cyrus weighed in at five pounds. In 5 more weeks he will be born. Which means, he could be set free. He could come home and live with us, his parents, in a house. We wouldn't have to drive to the hospital several times a day. We wouldn't have to ask permission to hold him, kiss him, touch him. He might start to recognize our voices, instead of his nurses'. He might have that chance at being "normal" that we all did when we were born.
It's been three months since this whole thing started. Mindy and I have watched a fetus grow inside a plastic container. We've watched as the nurses change their hair styles, their cologne. We've seen the wrinkles grow deeper around our eyes. At times we've cried, or pretended this wasn't happening. We've caught a glimpse of pictures of Lady and Snot and broken down. Absolutely. They are now symbols of something so much bigger and deeper than themselves.
We've kissed each other goodnight and wondered, what now.
* * *
Mindy is amazing. She lay completely still for two and a half weeks, willing our son to stay inside, thinking tight thoughts so her cervix would close. All the while, the nurses praised her for being so great at bed rest. She couldn't understand how it would be so hard for someone, if she knew her child was at risk. Would someone really get up and walk around? But then, we heard a story of a 14 year old who was having her second baby. She took her i.v. pole and carried it down 3 flights of steps to sell her food stamps to get cash to get high. We've learned that this is what those nurses normally deal with. I don't even want to get into it. So, my wife never once complained. She was determined to keep Cyrus where he belonged. She was relaxed, too, for his sake.
During the c-section, as 3/4 of her body was tugged and wiggled behind the blue sheet, she was able to smile at my stupid stories and jokes.
But now, for 9 weeks, she has pumped her boobs every 2 hours during the day, and twice at night because we know the benefits of breast milk. I can count only 3 nights where she slept 8 hours. Even when it looked like she wouldn't produce milk, she kept going when most women would stop.
Four weeks after her surgery, after Cyrus was born, she went back to work. Most people take 6 weeks. And most people spend those 6 weeks learning to love and care for their child. Of course, Mindy didn't have that opportunity since her baby was living in a hospital and she on the couch at home.
When Cyrus comes home, she'll have only 1 week of paid vacation built up. She'll have only one week to spend with him at home until she has to go back to work to support the three of us for the summer. She has to go back to work where I think her skills and intelligence are overlooked. Where no one has experienced what she has.
* * *
I've been letting myself imagine the day we bring home our baby. He'll be under 6 pounds, I think. Small for a "newborn." We'll put him in a car seat, awkwardly since we've never used one. We'll load up the toys he's had by his bassinet. We'll probably hug some nurses and try not to cry. And just when we feel like driving off into the sunset, we'll have to exit the highway, because it's only 10 minutes away. We'll pull into the driveway, smiling or stunned. We'll carry him through the door and set his seat down in the middle of the living room floor and stare. The cats will sniff him. We'll keep staring. We'll cry. We'll bawl. We'll laugh. I'll drink. Then we'll look at each other, kiss, and say now what?