The Gravity of Us - Page 14

“Nine,” I corrected. “There are only nine weeks left.”

Dr. Lawrence’s bushy eyebrows lowered as he went flipping through his paperwork. “No, definitely twelve, which brings about some pretty complex issues. I know you’ve probably been going over all of these questions with the nurses already, but it’s important to know what’s going on with you and the child. So first, have you been under any kind of stress lately?”

“I’m a lawyer, so that’s the definition of my life,” she replied.

“Any kind of alcohol or drugs?”

“No and no.”


She hesitated.

I raised an eyebrow. “Come on, Jane. Seriously?”

“It’s only been a few times a week,” she argued, stunning me. She turned to the doctor and tried to explain. “I’ve been under a lot of stress at work. When I found out I was pregnant, I tried to quit, but a few cigarettes a day was better than my half a pack.”

“You told me you quit,” I said through gritted teeth.

“I tried.”

“That’s not the same as quitting!”

“You don’t get to yell at me!” she bellowed, shaking. “I made a mistake, I’m in a lot of pain, and you yelling at me isn’t going to help anything. Jesus, Graham, sometimes I wish you could be more kind like your father.”

I felt her words deep in my soul, but I did my best not to react.

Dr. Lawrence grimaced before finding that small smile again. “Okay, smoking can lead to many different complications when it comes to childbirth, and although it’s impossible to know the exact cause of it, it’s good that we have this information. Seeing as how you’re so early and are having contractions, we are going to give you tocolytic medicines to try to stop the premature labor. The baby still has a lot of growing to do, so we’ll have to do our best to keep her inside for a bit more. We’ll keep you here and monitored for the next forty-eight hours.”

“Forty-eight hours? But what about my job…”

“I’ll write you a very good doctor’s note.” Dr. Lawrence winked and stood up to leave. “The nurses will be back in a second to check on you and start the medicine.”

As he left, I stood quickly and followed him out of the room. “Dr. Lawrence.”

He turned back to me and stepped my way. “Yes?”

I crossed my arms and narrowed my eyes. “We got into a fight, right before her water broke. I yelled and…” I paused and ran a hand through my hair before crossing my arms once more. “I just wanted to know if that was the cause…did I do this?”

Dr. Lawrence smiled out of the left side of his mouth and shook his head. “These things happen. There’s no way to know the cause, and beating yourself up isn’t going to do anyone any good. All we can do right now is live in the moment and make sure to do what’s best for your wife and child.”

I nodded and thanked him.

I tried my best to believe his words, but in the back of my mind, I felt as if it was all my fault.

After forty-eight hours and the baby’s blood pressure dropping, the doctors informed us that we had no other choice but to deliver the baby via C-section. It was all a blur once it happened, and my heart was lodged in my throat the whole time. I stood in the operating room, uncertain of what to feel once the baby was delivered.

When the doctors finished with the C-section and the umbilical cord was cut, everyone hurried around, shouting at one another.

She wasn’t crying.

Why wasn’t she crying?

“Two pounds, three ounces,” a nurse stated.

“We’re gonna need CPAP,” another one said.

“CPAP?” I asked as they hurried past me.

“Continuous positive airway pressure, to help her breathe.”

“She’s not breathing?” I asked another.

“She is, it’s just very weak. We’re going to transfer her to the NICU, and we’ll have someone contact you once she’s stable.”

Before I could ask anything else, they were rushing the child away.

A few people stayed to take care of Jane, and once she was moved to a hospital room, she spent a few hours resting. When she finally awoke, the doctor filled us in on the health of our daughter. They told us of her struggles, of how they were doing their best to care for her in the NICU, and how her life was still at risk.

“If anything happens to her, know that it was your fault,” Jane told me once the doctor left the room. She turned her head away from me, toward the windows. “If she dies, it isn’t my fault. It’s yours.”

“I understand what you’re saying, Mr. White, but—” Jane stood in the NICU with her back to me as she spoke on her cell phone. “I know, sir, I completely understand. It’s just, my child’s been in the NICU, and…” She paused, shifted her feet around, and nodded. “Okay. I understand. Thank you, Mr. White.”

She hung up the phone and shook her head back and forth, wiping at her eyes before she turned back toward me.

“Everything all right?” I asked.

“Just work stuff.”

I just nodded once.

We stood still, staring down at our daughter, who was struggling with her breathing.

“I can’t do this,” Jane whispered, her body starting to shake. “I can’t just stay here doing nothing. I feel so useless.”

The night before, we thought we’d lost our little girl, and in that moment, I felt everything inside me begin to fall apart. Jane wasn’t handling it well at all, and she hadn’t gotten a minute of sleep.

“It’s fine,” I said, but I didn’t believe it.

She shook her head. “I didn’t sign up for this. I didn’t sign up for any of this. I never wanted kids. I just wanted to be a lawyer. I had everything I wanted. And now…” Jane kept fidgeting. “She’s going to die, Graham,” she whispered, her arms crossed. “Her heart isn’t strong enough. Her lungs aren’t developed. She’s hardly even here. She’s only existing because of all of this”—she waved at the machines attached to our daughter’s tiny body—“this crap, and we’re just supposed to sit here and watch her die?! It’s cruel.”

I didn’t reply.

“I can’t do this. It’s been almost two months in this place, Graham. Isn’t she supposed to start getting better?”

Her words annoyed me, and her belief that our daughter was already too far gone sickened me. “Maybe you should just go home and shower,” I offered. “Take a break. Maybe go to work to help clear your mind.”

She shifted in her shoes and grimaced. “Yeah, you’re right. I have a lot to catch up on at work. I’ll be back in a few hours, okay? Then we can switch, and you can take a break to shower.”

I nodded.

She walked over to our daughter and looked down at her. “I haven’t told anyone her name yet. It seems silly, right? To tell people her name when she’s going to die.”

“Don’t say that,” I snapped at her. “There’s still hope.”

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