Monday, November 10, 2008


Here's another installment of my Great American Lesbian Novel (in progress), Ginny Bates. If you are new to reading GB, go to the section in the right-hand column labeled Ginny Bates to read background and find out how to catch up.

(May 2015)

Mimi's first birthday fell on a Sunday, which meant the entire day was given over to family celebration of her arrival. Myra thought Mimi wouldn't have noticed this as especially different from many other days except for Mimi's introduction to cake. Gillam made her a gingerbread single-layer cake and set it on the floor atop a new plastic tarp. The rest sat around the edges to watch her demolish it. She had so much fun, it didn't appear as though much of it actually got swallowed by her. When she was done, they went for a swim to wash off the crumbs. Eric took the tarp outside and shook it into the yard, where birds finished the cake appreciation event.

The following Saturday, Myra had skipped going to Pike with Gillam for several reasons: She'd been up writing until 3:00 the morning before, Mimi and Jane wouldn't be accompanying them because Jane was too gravid to do much on her feet these days, and Frances' wholesalers were offering deals that she funneled to her in-laws' households throughout the week. Ginny in particular was being supplied with extraordinary fish, fresh from the boat, on a regular basis. Not to mention the pastas and cheeses.

Myra got up at 11:00, put on sweats, and grabbed a bowl of cereal on the way to her desk. Ginny had started a painting and already had a sheen of moisture over her back and chest. Myra kissed her on the shoulder as she passed by and licked the salt from her lips appreciatively. She stopped as she remembered to ask Ginny "Hey, there's a paper-wrapped package on the top shelf of the fridge, did that come from Frances?"

Ginny focused on her after a few seconds. "Um...yeah. Calamari. I know you don't like to cook it, but we could ask Carly and Eric for dinner, they have that recipe of Eric's."

"Okay." Myra sat down as Ginny walked to her worktable to refresh a pigment. Half a minute later, Ginny said "What?"

"I didn't say anything."

"No, it's Gillam. They're at the pool, and he's waving at me -- oh, god, something's wrong."

Myra bolted down the stairs as Ginny was pulling on pants and a tee-shirt. As she slammed through the gate, she scanned for Mimi, and felt like she began breathing again when she heard her crying, sitting on the grass several feet away from the pool. Jane was sitting on the steps at the edge, bent over but her hands on her back, and Gillam was supporting her. Myra picked up Mimi and said "What happened?"

Jane gave out a gasp and Gillam said "I -- She said it felt like a contraction, a really bad one. It lasted half a minute and she couldn't stand up, I had to pull her to the edge. I dumped Mimi over there."

"It's better now" Jane said, pain thickening her voice. "But it was like major labor for a minute there. Plus, I think my water broke. I felt warmth gush out of me in the pool."

Ginny reached Myra's side. Myra said "She may be going into labor." Gillam said "We have to get to the hospital, Mom, will you help me get her up?" Ginny moved one of Jane's arms as Gillam all but hoisted her from the pool. Jane said "I can walk. It really is subsiding."

"You're not due for a week" said Ginny, voicing what they were all thinking. Myra followed them into the house. Jane sat down in a dining chair as Gillam rushed to the bedroom for towels and clothes. Jane said "I swam some hard laps, maybe I strained a muscle."

"Is the pain positional?" asked Ginny.

After reflection, Jane said "No. At the moment, it's like the memory of an ache. I feel like I need to pee, and I tried to let it go in the pool but I don't think anything came out. Of my bladder, that is."

Ginny picked up the phone and said "Which number is the speed dial for her OB?"

"Hand it to me" said Jane. Mimi had calmed down and Myra carried her into the bedroom to grab a towel and clothes for her as well. Gillam began drying Jane's legs as Jane reached her doctor's office and was put through to a nurse. By the time she hung up, it was clear she was being advised to go to the hospital. She said to Gillam "I haven't finished packing my bag yet, will you do that? There's a list inside it. Plus whatever you'll need."

He wavered. "I'll yell for you if she has another contraction" Ginny said. He returned to the bedroom. Ginny said "Who should we call?"

"My parents, I'll call them" said Jane, reaching for the phone again.

"Mimi's with us" said Myra. "What about Lucy, should I call her? Or Thad?"

"I'll do it in a minute" said Jane. "Mom? I'm heading for the hospital, can you two fly here if this is really labor?"

Ginny looked in the pantry but they had plenty of baby food and diapers at their house. Ditto cat food. Beebo was at Myra's feet, and she said to him "You're gonna come stay with us for a couple of days, big bro. More kittens on the way." Mimi looked at her questioningly. Myra said "They haven't had lunch yet, they always eat after swimming. You wanna take Mimi so I can make them some salad and sandwiches?"

"I'll do it" said Ginny. She filled a thermal bag with a quick meal and set it by the front door. Gillam emerged from the bedroom with a duffle, dressed in jeans and a long-sleeved jersey, his daypack already on. Jane had gotten on a bra and top while talking to members of her family. He helped her stand and dress her bottom half, while Myra and Ginny looked away. As Gillam bent to tie her shoes, Mimi began clamoring to go to him.

"She smells an exodus" said Ginny, trying to distract her. Myra asked him "You have cash in your pockets? Your cell? All the insurance info?"

"Yeah. Will you call Carly and Eric for me, and the aunties?"

"Of course." Myra was watching Jane finger-comb her wet hair, trying to see a change in her expression. She shifted her gaze to Jane's belly: Yep, there'd been a subtle alteration in the shape of her mound. What did they call it, the baby dropping?

"Hey" came Margie's voice from behind them. "I went to your house to mooch a lunch and everybody was gone, the back door open. What's up?"

Jane suddenly said "Oh, shit, another one" and Gillam dropped to his knees beside her. Jane leaned forward on the table as Myra said "Looks like labor."

"But it's early" said Margie, instantly worried. Jane moaned softly and said into Gillam's face "It's sharp, but not as bad as the first one. This feels like the real deal, boyfriend."

"Should I call an ambulance?" he asked.

"No, no. It's already winding down. How many minutes was that between the two?"

"I don't know" Gillam said. "At least ten, I think."

"Okay. When I can stand, let's book it" said Jane.

"Who's going with you?" asked Margie. "You need a third person." She looked at Myra, who said "We've got Mimi."

Margie put her hand on Gillam's arm and said "Then I'm going. You can kick me out when Jane's sister gets here, but I'm not letting you do this alone."

"Okay" he said, his eyes on Jane. At her signal, he helped her stand and they headed for the front door. Margie shouldered bags and said to Ginny "Will you call Frances at the restaurant? I'll let you know any news as soon as I can."

Mimi began crying and Jane stopped. Myra walked Mimi over to her parents for a goodbye hug. Gillam said "We'll be back with a new baby for us all to love. You have fun with your grammas." Mimi watched them leave but didn't melt down. Ginny said "I'll turn off lights and lock up here, if you'll take her and Beebo home."

Myra paused to say "I think this is it, Gin."

"So do I."

At the house, Myra put Mimi on one of the living room floor mats with a basket of toys and got the phone to begin calls. Carly and Eric decided to go to the hospital as well. Allie said "We'll be over for dinner, but call us when you know anything. Gillam never dropped a hint about whether it's a boy or girl?"

"No, but Jemima told Ginny once that she never had morning sickness with her girls, only the boys. Since Jane didn't have a lot of puking with Mimi, and it's the same with this one, we think maybe that means it's a sister. Al, there's call waiting, I gotta go."

It was Margie, saying "They've put a monitor on her and assigned them a birthing room. Her doctor's on his way. Nobody's too concerned, seems like, all the tests so far are normal. But the nurse I just talked to thinks it's definitely labor."

"How's Gillam?"

"Steadying out" said Margie. "Jane's sitting up and chatting. Gillam ate one of the sandwiches, said it had too much mustard."

Myra laughed. "I'll tell Ginny, that's reassuring."

"If they don't kick me out, I'm staying for the whole thing" Margie said in a near whisper.

"Let me know and we'll shuttle over some clean underwear for you" said Myra.

"Tell Mimi she'll always be my favorite" Margie said. "I gotta run."

Myra made another round of calls with the update, then made lunch for the three of them. Afterward, she settled on the mat to play with Mimi while Ginny returned to her painting. Dinner would be pizza from Carminati's, she decided.

Ginny was still painting the following morning at 4:15 when Gillam called to say she had a new grandson, much smaller than Mimi at 6 pounds 5 ounces, with white-blonde hair and a narrow face. He and Jane were just fine.

Myra was asleep on her daybed, Mimi in a crib nearby. Ginny, tears streaking her cheeks, shook Myra's foot as she asked "What's his name?"

"David Anton" said Gillam. "We'll call him David." She could hear the ear-to-ear grin in his voice.

"We'll be there when visiting hours start" said Ginny. "I'm prouder of you than I can express."

"It's all Jane" he said. "Start up the drums."

© 2008 Maggie Jochild.

1 comment:

Jesse Wendel said...

It's a baby!

Wow!!! We LOVE babies.