“Sir, please! You are going to have to allow the doctors to work!” a nurse cried at the hysterical man trying to fight his way past them to get to his pregnant wife.
“But I need to see her! I should be with her when my baby’s born!” the man cried out in desperation.
“Nurse Kelley! Inside now, call security if you need to, but please—”
“Doctor! She’s hemorrhaging!” another voice called out.
“I need more towels!”
“OR 3 is ready for you, Doctor.”
The myriad of voices overlapped one another until Bryant Anderson, husband of Adelina (née Perez) Anderson, couldn’t make out any words or their meanings.
“Daddy?” a small voice called from near the desperate man’s knee.
Bryant looked down to see the young face of his three-year-old son, Drew, looking up at him. The boy’s cheeks were streaked with tears, scared and unaware of precisely what was happening. All the little boy knew was that they were in a big white building that smelled funny, and his daddy was acting strangely. The whole situation frightened him.
The little boy had not a clue as to why they were wheeling his mother into another room. He only knew he had a little sister coming and that she was in his mommy’s tummy, but the blood that was splattered in the car and at home didn’t mean much to him except that mommy may have gotten herself a booboo. A big booboo at that.
“Drew, my big man.” Bryant bent down to pick up the child. “Let’s go on over to the waiting room to wait until Mommy and your little sister are ready to see us.” If they ever are ready, he thought to himself as he choked back a sob.
“What’s sissy’s name?” little Drew asked. He’d hoped he’d get to help pick out a name for her. Something like Stegosaurus or Angelica Pickles. Drew was a big fan of both The Rugrats and dinosaurs.
“Don’t know yet, buddy,” Bryant told the little boy tiredly. “Your mommy wanted to name her Muse, but Daddy thinks that’s a little too weird.”
“Muse,” his father corrected, enunciating the letters carefully for him. “A ‘moose’ is a big animal you see up north. ‘Muse’ is something much more special.”
“How’s it speciaw?” the little boy asked, climbing onto his father’s lap.
“You see, a ‘muse’ is like someone who helps you do something,” his father told him.
“Wike when you hewped me leawn how to wide my twikey?” Just last week the little boy had finally mastered the ways of riding his big-boy tricycle. He had been puffed up for hours with the monumental achievement.
“A little bit, yeah,” his father admitted. Drew was pretty smart for having just turned 3.
“Awe you my moose then, Daddy?” the little guy asked.
“I’ll be whatever you need me to be, bud,” his father told him, holding back another wretched sob.
It seemed like days had passed since his wife had been taken back to the operating room. In all actuality, it may have only an hour or so. He couldn’t tell anymore. Every time he’d looked to his watch to check the time, the dials blurred. He eventually gave up on it, unlatching it from his wrist before flinging it across the waiting room where it now lay in pieces beneath a chair in the corner by the muted television.
Drew had fallen asleep on one of the chairs with his little legs dangling off the cushion. Since it was 3 AM in the morning, his son’s drowsiness didn’t surprise him at all.
Suddenly, Bryant’s parents burst in through the waiting room door, barely dressed in slippers and night apparel.
“Son, what’s going on? How is she?” his father, Norris, asked him.
“How’s the baby?” his mother questioned.
Bryant shushed them both, pointing at the toddler passed out on the chair near the Dr. Seuss books he had been reading. Well, he was still too young to read yet, but the silly pictures had fascinated him until he had fallen asleep on his father’s lap with One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish still open.
“I don’t know,” Bryant told them, his eyes red and brimming with moisture. “They took her back there just before I called you, and no one’s come out since.”
Norris glared at the sterile-looking door to the emergency room as if willing it to open so they could head back to the operating room and find out just what the hell was going on.
Bryant’s mother, Gertrude, started to sob in her lowest tones, not wanting to wake the little angel that was her grandson.
They all talked quietly in the waiting room, glancing over to the door on occasion, as if hearing something from just beyond the solid metal.
Bryant continued to pace the room while his mother sat next to his sleeping son, hands combing over his boyish curls as if to soothe the sleeping child. If she was being honest with herself, it was more to soothe her own frazzled nerves.
Norris had gone to grab them all some coffee a little while ago, and was just walking back into the waiting room when one of the nurses came through the gleaming metal door from the OR in scrubs and a mask down around her chin.
“Would you like to see your daughter, Mr. Anderson?” she asked. Her voice was monotone, inscrutable, and he wondered what that portended. Was his wife okay? Why didn’t she ask if he wanted to see her as well?
“Is my wife okay?” he asked, walking toward the woman, who took a step back when the man got too close to breaking the plane of her personal space.
“You’ll have to speak to the doctor about that,” she told him, no emotion showing except for the rapid flutter of her eyelashes. “Until then, I was wondering if you would like to see your sweet baby girl.”
“May I bring my parents back as well?” he asked, gesturing to the two other individuals in the room.
“Of course,” she told him with the first hint of a smile.
“I’ll stay here with the little one, son,” his father told him. “Gertie, go along with Bryant. He may need you.”
Norris tried to make that last sentence quieter so that his son wouldn’t hear, but the man had sharp ears. He flinched at the words, but swallowed a lump down and offered his mother his arm to escort her back to the nursery.
When they got to the large window in the maternity ward, there was a short Hispanic female with a little bundle cradled in her arms. The woman was rocking back and forth, and Bryant could see that she had a pink hat and was swaddled in a white blanket. The nurse cooed and smiled at the child before looking up to see the visitors.
Her face faltered for a moment before breaking into another grin—this one a little tighter—and she gestured him over to the door.
Opening it up for him, she told him to take a seat so he could hold his daughter.
When he held her, she could see that the ruddy-faced child had inherited her mother’s nose. A little dimple was displayed in her left cheek when she yawned, and she made little noises at the back of her throat as she gurgled and cooed.
“May I hold her?” Gertrude asked, and Bryant reluctantly gave his daughter up to her. After all, she had birthed him 28 years ago. He owed her hours of holding her first granddaughter after the pain she had endured to bring him into this world.
They sat there for ten minutes. It was all Bryant could do not to go stalking down the hospital corridors in search of a doctor to find out what was going on with his wife. In the end, the doctor who had worked on his wife found him in the nursery, the little girl still in grandma’s arms.
“Mr. Anderson?” the man addressed him formally.
“Yes, Doctor—” he began.
“Dr. Platt, OBGYN,” he introduced himself. “I was the physician on call when your wife came in bleeding. As you can see, your daughter is happy and healthy. She weighed in at 5 lbs and 6 ounces and is 21 inches long.”
“Yes, but about my wife, Doctor,” Bryant said urgently. “How is she? Can I see her?”
“I’m sorry, sir. You may see her directly,” the doctor told him. “However, her bleeding—it could not be contained.”
“W-what do you mean?” Bryant asked in a slow, measured tone.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Anderson.” The doctor’s face was grave. “But your wife didn’t make it.”