Sunday, August 14, 2005

Thought Again of Losing Her

Shannon's first weekend without Ben...

I took Ben to Arkansas this weekend for my cousin's 30th birthday party and to see family he had not seen since Easter. It was his first time away from his Mommy for more than one night, and the latter has happened only once. It was strange to be somewhere with Ben but without Shannon. She has taken Ben for family visits without me before, and it was no big deal, because she would go during weekdays. Also, when I lived in Plano for a couple weeks before they joined me, we did fine.

I always get up with Ben on weekends to give both of us a change of pace, so that part of it was no adjustment for me. It was the little things, like not being able to turn to Shannon and say, "Did you hear that?" Sure, I could do that with my brother and his wife, but it just wasn't the same. The only time it was at all inconvenient was when Ben and I stopped to eat, and I decided I should use the bathroom one last time before getting back on the road. I didn't have Ben's stroller, and I couldn't just let him wander around a public restroom while I took care of business. Two-year olds generally have little idea of what they should and shouldn't touch, and the colorful "mint" in the urinal might have been quite tempting. So, holding up Ben's 30 pounds with one arm and considerably less weight with the other, I completed my task without too much trouble. No, there was nobody else in there at the time. That probably was for the best.

The weekend did make me think, just for one sad second, what it would be like if for some reason it were just Ben and me. During a tense time in the delivery room, it was more than just my imagination that made me think of that.

Of course, as is the case with all husbands who have children, my wife went through more than I can imagine. I had a little added stress that I wouldn't wish on any of them.

As I watched the nurses get Ben's first footprints, my wife lay almost motionless across the room. I heard the nurses saying things about her blood pressure dropping low and something about how much blood she had lost. Their movements were more hurried and their sentences more succinct. I rushed over to her and saw that her eyelids were very heavy, as if she were trying to stay awake. Concerned that she might be falling unconscious I asked the doctor, finishing up "downstairs," if it was okay for her to be falling asleep. The doctor said, "As long as she wakes up when we ask her to." I'm not sure that comforted me much.

This was not the first time I thought I could be losing her. A year or two before that, a large horse she was sitting on while inside a barn reared up on its hind legs and went down on its side, with my wife still in the saddle. Somehow, she escaped with only bruises and soreness. Viewing the videotape later, which I was using because it was her first time to sit on a horse, I still don't see how her head didn't hit the stall door. I haven't watched that tape in at least three years, and I'm not sure I will again. It makes me sick just recalling it long enough to write this.

There she was, post-partum, taking what I feared were her last breaths, as our baby across the room took his first. She made it through, of course, and each time I see her sleeping I think back to that day when I thought her sleep might last forever. If you've ever thought you were losing someone you've poured all of yourself into for 12 years, then you can imagine how I felt.

They never did a transfusion, which I still question to this day. I know transfusions are not as common as they seem on TV emergency room shows, but she was very weak and anemic for weeks after that. My cynical side says that the doctor was not concerned about how she felt after leaving there.

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