M & M

The sweetness of life

By Joyce Reehling

All people have a little Sesame Street in their lives. The letter M is big for me.

March and May are the birth months of two of my favorite people, nieces born three years apart. Darling Husband and I decided not to become parents, but being an auntie and an uncle is a perfect fit. In March of ’93 my sister, Mandy, gave birth to her first child. Her husband, Scott, was pale as Mandy struggled with a difficult labor and a strange ob/gyn who seemed to think that unlimited hours of hell were a good idea. Sara came into this world after a C-section when both she and Mandy were worn down and close to danger points.

There was this beautiful little girl with a head full of dark hair, destined to go blonde in a blink. She was a big baby and easy to find in the nursery window, gorgeous and delightful. Mandy was exhausted and Scott was amazed by it all. I could not get enough of her, not even when she went into the dreaded colic that lasted eight weeks. The crying was heart-wrenching, as if she was in the tortures of the damned. My mom, who lived nearby, pitched in, helping for days on end, lifting some of the load off the new mommy. March had always been the birthday month of “the twins” — my sister and me — but now it became Sara’s month and my joy.

Three years later the news came that Mandy and Scott were pregnant again, and this time Mandy honored me with a request to be with her at the hospital. Scott traveled a great deal for work and was worried he couldn’t guarantee he’d be there in time for the May delivery. I was overjoyed and arrived several days prior to the expected date.

Mandy went into a tailspin of frenetic nesting, possessed with the notion of washing floors and cleaning gutters and such crazy things. I understand that is not unusual but one does have limits. I said in no uncertain terms that if she wanted a floor scrubbed that I would do it for her and that she was not to drop to her knees on any pretext. Instead, off we went to find a coat for 3-year-old Sara.

While Mandy and Sara prowled the aisles of BonTon I was looking at baby clothes for the fun of it — although I swear by consignment clothes, since no baby wears anything long enough to warrant new clothes for the next one. All of a sudden I hear my name called in a plaintive moan. Mandy had gone down on one knee to button up Sara’s coat-to-be and could not rise again. Like an Amish barn raising, with a little force and a lot of comforting, up she came.

The next morning we got up at 5 a.m. and went to the maternity wing. Thus began a day of walking the halls, Mandy’s grip nearly breaking my arm as I steadied her, to help labor do what labor does.

Monitors were attached to her belly and the wait began. Bless his heart, Scott made it. He walked in around noon, having driven for many hours to get there. Feeling a bit peckish, he decided to go to the hospital dining area and returned a half hour later to announce that they had great burgers and a fantastic view of the Susquehanna River. The only thing missing was the toothpick. I saw a look on Mandy’s face I had never seen before, a quiet kind of rage. A look with a strength of focus that would make a NASA astronaut seem flaky. A look that was the very definition of why handgun legislation is contemplated.

Around 3:30 all hell broke loose, nurses running in, a doctor suddenly breaking the foot of the bed down, and in minutes Emma’s head was visible. With one push out came those little shoulders, followed quickly by her whole self. Scottie and I burst into cartoon tears, the kind that fly straight out of your eyes. All we could say was: “Emma is here. Emma is here.” Joy filled the room.

She was passed to Mandy, then Scott and then me. May joined March. Twenty-one years later we are attending her college graduation. In May.  PS

Joyce Reehling is a frequent contributor and good friend of PineStraw.

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