Hannah's Gift

Hannah's Gift by Maria Housden

Book: Hannah's Gift by Maria Housden Read Free Book Online
Authors: Maria Housden

Circle of Life
    I AWOKE JUST BEFORE DAWN WITH LABOR PAINS, KNOWING that today was the day. I called Nurse Katie, who had offered to stay with Hannah while Claude and I went to the hospital. There was no point in calling Will. He and his grandparents were already on the road, headed back to us. They were not scheduled to arrive in New Jersey until the following day.
    The streets were quiet in the first light. While Claude loaded the car, I wrote out the instructions for Hannah’s medication. Four days earlier, Dr. Kamalaker had started her on Tylenol with codeine, but despite the fact that she was taking it every four hours, Hannah could barely walk, she was in so much pain. Yesterday, we had called Pat, Hannah’s hospice nurse. She was scheduled to come to our house this evening to instruct us on how to give Hannah morphine. I now had my fingers crossed that this baby would be born quickly, and we would be home by then.
    Hannah woke just as Katie arrived. I gave her a kiss as she crawled onto Katie’s lap.
    “Call me as soon as the baby comes,” Hannah said.
    After five breathtaking hours of labor, Margaret Rose slid, wet and wailing, into the world. She was beautiful, almost eight pounds, with lots of hair, sturdy legs, chubby cheeks, and perfect rosebud lips. Claude wiped his eyes with the back of his sleeve and couldn’t stop smiling. As I held my littlest girl, her slippery skin against mine, for one long, perfect moment I wanted nothing more.
    While the nurses wiped and wrapped Margaret, Claude called Hannah.
    “Congratulations, Hannah. You’re a big sister now,” Claude said. “Our baby’s name is Margaret Rose.”
    “Oh, goody,” Hannah said. “A girl, just like Briar Rose. Okay, tell Margaret that me and Nurse Katie will be there right away.”
    “No, Hannah,” Claude interrupted, “you don’t need to come. The doctors have said that Mom and Margaret are well enough to come home today. You and Katie can wait there. We’ll be home as soon as we can.”
    An hour later, standing in the hospital nursery watching the nurses bathe and weigh Margaret, Claude heard someone banging wildly on the window. He looked up to see Hannah in Katie’s arms, grinning and waving, wearing a huge button that read “I’m a Big Sister.”
    “I tried to tell her she didn’t have to come, but she insisted,” Katie said. “Hannah told me that, because she and Will had gone to the ‘Big Brother/Big Sister’ class, she knew that one of the most important jobs a big sister has is to visit the new baby at the hospital.”
    “What about her pain?” Claude asked.
    “She told me ‘bring the pills just in case,’” Katie said.
    “Oh, one more thing,” Katie said. “You didn’t mention it, so I don’t know if you knew, but Will and his grandparents called. They left Michigan a day sooner than they had originally planned. They’ll be at your house this afternoon.”
    While I waited for our release to be processed, Claude headed home to meet Will and his parents. Hannah asked to stay. She took a dose of pain medication and fell asleep on the bed with Margaret and me.
    Holding my girls, I couldn’t believe how lucky I was. I knew there were so many other ways things might have happened, and I hadn’t been alone in my worry. When I had first shared the news of our pregnancy, some people’s eyes glazed over. There is no polite way to say, “You’re crazy. What were you thinking?”
    When the doctors gave Hannah only three months to live, it hadn’t taken me more than a second to calculate that this baby was going to be born just when Hannah was expected to die. It had seemed an impossible situation. Yet, the decision Claude and I had made to get pregnant hadn’t been made in our minds; it had been made in our hearts. I could only trust that the God who had a hand in all of it would be there to see us through, one way or another.
    Now, listening to the breath of my little girl on one side and my baby girl on

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