Monday, October 15, 2018

Andi's Journal -- the very next day

July . . . something . . . 1887

Honestly, all my days and nights are mixed up. Did I have Jared yesterday? A week ago? Sure, the minute after he was born, all that horrid pain and terror dissolved like morning dew. But that night was not finished yet. Riley promised to send the hands for Mother, no matter what time they returned from the Fourth of July celebration, but when the clock chimed midnight, they had not yet come back.

I didn't blame them. After all, it doesn't get dark until about ten in July, and fireworks are no good in the twilight. No, it's best when the town waits for full dark. Then, if the men leaped onto their mounts and galloped back to the ranch, the earliest they would arrive was eleven-thirty. And I was not so naive to believe they would hurry home. 

Not on the Fourth of July . . .


Riley stomped into the bedroom, where I lay half-asleep. Jared was curled up in my arms. He'd fallen asleep eating and it felt good just to doze and cuddle him.
     Riley woke me up with a start. "I'm going to fire them all--every last man," he growled. He thrust the lace curtains aside and peered down the road. "Why can't they come back on time for once?"
     I knew he couldn't see a thing. "Riley," I said softly, so as not to startle the baby. "How were they supposed to know you needed them? Go easy."
     Now that things were over, I was the calm one.
     Riley ran a shaky hand through his brown tangles. "Uh-uh." He shook his head. "You need your mother . . . the doctor . . . anybody but me."
     My forehead wrinkled in puzzlement. The worst was over, of course! "Get some sleep," I advised. I know I'm going to." My head felt full of cotton.
     Instead of coming to bed or sleeping on the sofa, he paced the room. "Are you sure you're all right?"
     I shrugged. "Just tired. Why?"
     Carefully, Riley sat down on the edge of the bed. His face was pale. "I never told you this. Mostly because I didn't want to worry you. But"--he swallowed, hard--"my mother's sister had a baby a long time ago. I was just a boy."
     He grabbed my hands and squeezed. "Everything went well, at least that's what Mama told me when she came home from Aunt Ella's house. 'A little girl, Riley,' she told me. 'You have a cousin.'"
    "I wasn't all that excited about babies at the time," Riley said. "I was eleven, and girl cousins were even less exciting." He paused before going on. "Mama had helped Aunt Ella with the delivery, but the next day when she checked on her sister, something was very wrong."
    I caught my breath. "What?"
    "She came running into our little house at Fort Laramie and shouted for Pa to ride to the closest town and fetch a doctor for Ella," Riley said. "Mama was hysterical. I cowered in the corner. Even at the ripe old age of eleven, I knew something terrible was happening."
     Riley shuddered. "Long story short. Aunt Ella started bleeding. Something had gone wrong inside, and even Mama didn't know how to help." A sob choked Riley's throat. "By the time Pa got back with the doctor, it was too late. Aunt Ella had passed."
    He shook his head. "Baby Sarah lived, but it was hard on Uncle Joseph."
    Riley squeezed my hands until it felt like the blood would be cut off. "That can't happen to you, Andi. It just can't." He jumped up and looked out the window.
     I bit my lip. I had gotten up once since Jared was born, and I had barely made it to the chamber pot and back to bed. How much blood was too much? My head spun.
     Maybe Riley had something there. "Go to the ranch," I whispered. "Bring back Mother. She'll know if everything is all right or not."
    I was suddenly scared.
    Riley hurried over. "I don't want to leave you, but by the time those dolts get back and I turn them around to ride for the Circle C, I could be there and back."
    "I promise I'll lie right here," I heard myself saying. "I won't move a muscle. I'm so tired that I'll probably just fall asleep."
    Riley bent over and kissed my forehead. He brushed his fingers across Jared's tiny head and bolted from the room.
     The last thing I heard was Dakota's hooves pounding down the driveway. A glow passed the window on his way. At least he'd remembered to light a lantern. It was black as ink outside. I couldn't remember when the moon would be up--or if it would be. "Please watch over Riley," I prayed quietly.
     Then I fell asleep.
*****
     I woke with a start when Riley banged through the front door. Jared was still sleeping. I wondered what time it was.
     A soft but firm voice scolded my husband. "Riley, shhh!" 
    I saw lights being lit in the other room. My own lamp was dim, but I could make out the time: one-thirty.
     I smiled sleepily. Riley had made good time.
     Then Mother stepped through the doorway. For once--probably the first time in her life--she looked like she was in a dither. Her hair was amiss, and she was pulling off her riding clock without worrying where to toss it. "Oh, Andrea!" Then she snapped at Riley, "The basket. Bring it in here."
    Poor Mother! I felt better already. "Hello, Mother," I greeted her softly.
    "Oh, my darling!" She sat down on the bed and wrapped her arms around me. "What a time you must have had." She peeked over at Jared but made no move to pick him up.
     "You first," she said in a business-like voice. "Then I'll admire my grandson." She smiled, but it looked forced.
     Riley set the wicker basket on the floor.
    Mother's capable hands rummaged through the basket. She took out two small tin canisters and thrust them at Riley. "Boil some water and brew these herbs." She paused. "And be quick about it."  
        Riley took off to do her bidding.  
        Then Mother turned to me. "I've brought ginger and motherwort. Motherwort is the important one. We want your womb to contract and return to normal as quickly as possible."
    The herb I remember gagging on was the ginger tea Cook gave me on the trail, when I'd keeled over one morning. "Herbs make me sick, Mother."
    "You will thank me," Mother said. "If your womb lies flaccid, you could bleed too much."
    My throat caught. I'd seen the blood earlier. Was it too much? I suddenly wanted to drink a gallon of the nasty stuff, especially after hearing Riley's story.
    "When was the baby born?" Mother asked while Riley banged around in the kitchen. 
    I paused, then shook my head. "I don't know. I didn't think to look at the clock. Early evening? The sun was clear on the other side of the house."
    Mother nodded. "It hasn't been long then." She sighed. "I can't believe I went to town today! I should have ridden over and checked on you, or stayed with you." She smiled and patted my arm. "I know you wanted to see the celebration." 
       Missing the Fourth of July celebration was the furthest thing from my mind right now.
    Riley brought the tea just then. I sniffed and knew right away it was going to be a nasty drink. But I choked it down--every last drop. My stomach clenched, and the brew nearly came back up.
    Mother rose and looked around. Apparently satisfied by what she found, she relaxed. "You got up?"
    Andi nodded. "But I thought I would faint so I went right back to bed."
    "I think everything will be all right, but honestly, Andrea!" She chuckled. "You never fail to surprise me." Her earlier fear and worry were erased from her face. Apparently, I would be fine. Thank you, God. So far at least.
    Having a baby is more complicated after the birth than during it, I think.
    Mother sent Riley to bed on the sitting room sofa and held out her arms. "Now, let me look at this little blessing."
    I handed Jared over and lay back. Mother is here. Everything will be fine.
    Mother laid out a blanket and unwrapped the baby from his coverings. She looked him over carefully, paying special attention to what was left of his cord. A long, relieved sigh came from her throat.
    "That Riley--he's a smart young man. It looks like he did everything right. Boiled the water?"
    I nodded.
    "Rinsed the scissor and the string?"
    "Yes. I think so." To be honest, I didn't remember any of that part. Riley had presented Jared to me and I hadn't done anything since then but cuddle him.
    Mother clucked her tongue, cleaned him up, and handed him back. By now, he was wailing.
    "A good, strong cry," Mother said with approval. "He's clean and dry." She slumped into the chair Riley had pulled into the bedroom for her earlier. "I confess I was scared half out of my mind when Riley came barging into the ranch house. I was just retiring when I heard the shouting."
    She chuckled softly. "I thought you were in labor and quickly got ready. Riley nearly dragged me out of the house. He'd already snagged Chad and asked him to hitch up the buggy." She shook her head. "My goodness! He must be taking lessons from Chad. That young man can really holler when he's a mind too."
    Mother relaxed even more. "We were halfway to your place when I finally figured out that you had already had the baby! Riley told me then what had happened. That he delivered the baby!" She paused.
    "I wouldn't let him go to town or anything. Everything happened so quickly." I told her. "Nothing happened like you told me. I was so scared." Tears pricked my eyelids. The memory was too recent.
    Mother took my hand. "God was surely with you and that young man. I'm proud of you, and I'm sorry I wasn't here for you." She rose then and turned down the bed stand lamp. "Goodnight, sweetheart."
    I let out a long, relieved breath. "Good night, Mother."
   "Don't worry about a thing. I'm going to stay all week. I'll tend to Riley and the housework until as long as you need me to." She smiled. "And I'll rock the baby too."
    A feeling of complete peace and contentment swallowed me. What a wonderfully happy beginning to the next chapter of my life--being a mother.

17 comments:

  1. Oh, Mrs. Marlow....I'm struck speechless. This entry is just WONDERFUL.

    ~Ellen

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  2. I loved the story! Its still hard for me to believe that Andi is a mom now! And I love the name Jared. :) Thanks for posting once again!

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    1. Yes the name fits just right!

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  3. This is AMAZING! I loved it! Thank you, Mrs. M!

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  4. Aww! So sweet! Can't wait to see how motherhood goes for her =)
    -Alyssa

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  5. That's so sweet! I hoped I would get to see Elizabeth's reaction, and you never fail to deliver, Mrs. Marlow. Thank you so much.
    Emily

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  6. Great story! My name is Ella, too! Well, it's Ella Mae. Thank you! -Mae

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  7. This is so sweet Andi sure has the best husband!

    Mari

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  8. Sososososososo sweet!!!!!!!! I almost cried!
    Sage

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  9. This is great! And now it is totally understandable why Riley was so perturbed about it, after hearing (or, rather, reading) his childhood story.

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  10. Once again I LOVED this.
    Thanks so much for sharing!

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  11. What a great journal entry! <3
    -Brooklyne

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  12. this was awesome! I love it!

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  13. Also, I can’t wait for tomorrow!!!! That’s when we get to know the answered to the quiz!

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    1. Actually, no, Savannah. The quiz ends tomorrow, so I won't draw the winner until the end of the day. So on Thursday I'll post the winner and the answers.

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    2. Oh yeah, gotcha! I should’ve remembered! 😂

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  14. I'm afraid I'll be confusing Jared and Justin together in the future... But I love the name! XD

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Let Andi know what you think!