אָשֵׁר

December 3rd, 2020

Two days ago, the girl that we love was in the bathroom. She shouted for Karin to come. Karin didn’t hear the girl, so I walked over to the bathroom and asked,

“Can I help?”

The very pregnant young woman just stared at me for a moment. Then she made it abundantly clear that she needed Karin, not me. I found Karin in the kitchen and told her the girl needed her ASAP.

I tried to stay out of the way, but I heard most the conversation between Karin and the girl anyway. The girl said,

“I’m leaking. Do you think my water broke?”

Karin answered, “It might just be pee. My pee has been really weak lately. Maybe the COVID is making yours weak too.”

I thought I heard the girl’s eyes roll. Then she said, “It’s not pee.”

Karin advised the girl to call her doctor, and then rest for a while.

A little while later, the young woman asked Karin,

“How did it feel when you had contractions?”

Karin said that she had felt it throughout her belly. The girl replied,

“I am feeling cramps down here.” The girl sounded anxious, understandably so. After all, her baby, little Asher, wasn’t due until the beginning of February.

Karin told her to see her doctor.

The girl explained to Karin, “I called my doctor. They don’t want me to come to their office. They want me to go to the ER at St. Francis Hospital if need help.”

I told the young woman, “If you need to go to the hospital, I’ll take you. Just let me know what we have to do.”

She nodded to me and went back to her bedroom.

Under normal conditions, the girl’s fiancé would be taking her to the hospital. However, like her, he has COVID, and he can barely get out of bed to go to the bathroom. Karin has been sick for two weeks already, and she didn’t want to drive. That left me.

At around 10:30 AM, the girl decided that she wanted to go to the ER. We got into the car and drove.

She asked me, with a voice filled with anxiety,

“Do babies that are seven weeks early die?”

I told her, “They survive. They just have a rough time of it for a while.”

I had to remember back in 1987 when Hans, our oldest son, was born. Hans was four weeks premature. He made it, but he was so fragile for a while. I remembered visiting Hans in the hospital. He was tiny and utterly helpless. I remembered looking at him and feeling afraid.

Now Hans is a grown man with a son of his own. It turned out okay.

I let the girl off at the ER entrance. Then I parked and waited.

And waited.

The hours ticked by slowly. There was no place to go and nothing to do. I tried to text the young woman. I got no response. I didn’t expect one. Phone reception in the hospital is minimal. The girl once told me that reception is bad in hospitals and prisons. She told me once that prisons and hospital are all built in the same way. She would know; she’s spent time in both of them.

I was starting to feel sick, alternately feverish and chilled. That was no good. I just wanted to go home and lie down. I couldn’t leave because I didn’t know what was happening with the girl, and the ladies at the ER desk wouldn’t tell me shit. So I sat in the car with the seat all the way back.

I did get some texts, but they all from people who were not the girl in question. Everybody wanted to know what was happening. I told them that I had no idea.

At about 2:00 I got a text from the girl:

“I just gave birth. You might as well go home. They are keeping me here overnight.”

Okay.

When I got home I heard more details about the birth. It was natural and quick. Asher is apparently healthy. The boy is three pounds in weight. He is feisty. He has big balls.

“Asher” (אָשֵׁר) means “Happy” and “Blessed” in Hebrew.

We’ll see about that. At least he arrived intact.

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