Home for Christmas - Pt. 5 - Underweight Baby
Baby is underweight.
'Hello,' Fleur rasped. She cleared her throat. 'Hello. Dad, is that you?' 5 am.
'Morning, honey. You're the first to know. Mom had a baby girl at 3.45 this morning.'
'Oh, lovely, lovely. How are they both, Dad? Tell me all about the baby. Oh, this is so great!' Fleur was grinning widely. They'd be home for Christmas!
' Baby's fine. She's 19inches and just a tad underweight. 5 lbs. 5ounces. They like 'em at least five and a half pounds before they're discharged. But she's passed all the tests, and Dr. Gallagher is pleased except she can't leave the nursery for fear of infection. Mom has to feed her in there every 2 hours to help her gain weight. They might just have to stay a couple more days than we thought to be on the safe side because babies lose weight very fast and small ones are more susceptible to infection.'
'Oh, Dad. That's tough. But we can visit, can't we? I'll bring the kids after school if it's all right.'
'Mom would love it. See y'all then, sweetheart.'
Leonie and Paul received the news with whoops of glee as soon as they got up.
The news went the rounds of their respective classes and at lunch the rest of the school heard about the baby. 'Hey, Paul, heard you got a Lady J-a-a-yson. Is that a bearded lady?' And the staff room decided to be lenient about the controlled commotions since it was Christmas time. Leonie's homeroom teacher was designated to send a card to the family, and she did.
Fleur hurried her charges through their snack after school and they all bundled into the car.
Their parents were waiting for them at the Nursery window. The children were agog at the number of babies in there but were enchanted with their own, whom a nurse held up for their avid inspection. 'She's so gorgeous, Mom,' breathed Fleur.
'Oh, Mom, what are we to call her now she isn't a boy at all?' asked Paul.
'We're open to suggestions,' his mother kissed his head. That started a flood of names, from famous female scientists to aviators to historical figures to Hollywood stars. Paul's suggestion got the most nods. An avid reader of Greek mythology, he thought Penelope, the faithful wife of Odysseus, a highly poetic and regal figure and a suitable name for his little sister. 'Let's sleep on it,' his father said.
Before they left, their father told them he would be home tomorrow and maybe one of them would go to the airport with him to get their Grandma and cousins, since it was the Friday before Christmas and school would close early. 'Oh I will, Daddy.' Paul volunteered.
Penelope Christiana Easton.
Back home, between mouthfuls of sausage and potatoes, Leonie thoughtfully said, 'You know what I'd like for her middle name? You know, she's a Christmas baby, shouldn't she have a name that means something Christmassy?'
'What are you thinking of?' asked Fleur.
'Christiana. That's lovely, isn't it?' And that was how Penelope Christiana Easton got named.
Jewelry gifts for mothers and daughters
‘There they are, Dad. See them?’ Paul said excitedly. They were still behind the exit door of Customs.
Just as he said, there they were, Grandma Claire and the three grandchildren around her, all lugging a rolling luggage, 15-year-old Madeleine’s a pink one with a black cat wearing a diamond circlet on its neck. Very chic, thought Don. Yves and Christian were proper little gentlemen till they saw Paul, then they whooped and ran out, jumped and hugged boisterously as only boys can. ‘Wow, guys, you’re here. How was the trip? We’ve got a new baby. She’s called Penelope.‘ All in one breath as only boys can.
Grandma stopped with a surprised look and turned to Don. He nodded. ‘Yesterday morning. We thought it would keep till you got here. It’s a girl, they’re both fine.’ They hugged, Grandma saying, ‘Oh, thank God. And congratulations, Don. What a fine gift for Christmas, eh? When will I get to see them? They’re not home yet, are they?’
‘We thought you might want to rest a while before going to the hospital. The girls are home, and dying to see you. Fleur’s been holding the fort, she’s a real trooper. ‘
‘Ah, my girls. I can’t wait to see them too.’
He turned to hug Madeleine. ‘Well, Madeleine. You’re more beautiful every time I see you.’
‘Thank you, Uncle Don. I like the name Penelope. I wish I had a baby sister too. I have something special for Leonie. Does the baby look like her? Then she’ll be pretty too.’ She stopped to draw breath and Don gave her a second hug.
Madeleine, an only child, and Leonie, so alike they could be sisters; daughters of two sisters. The boys were sons of Renee’s brothers. His Renee was the only one who had left France, marrying him and making her home in his country. He had been an exchange student and met her coming out of her mother’s antiques shop in Brittany and there was never anyone else after that.
On the way to the rambling Victorian house with the the rambling Victorian garden, Grandma received all the news, nodding and interjecting on occasion. The boys were full of their own stories, and Madeleine was content to look out at the winter landscape, snowless as yet. She loved the colors, the low cool light and especially the occasional cows munching the dry grass. The cows look golden. The trees still have their reds and yellows. I love that. I’m going to paint that picture for maman. I'm glad I have all my paints with me.
Nurses and Babies
Gift Baskets for People you Value
A Royal Welcome and a Visit to the Nursery
At the house, they spilled out and there were happy cries all round. Grandma was ecstatic to see the girls, and Leonie and Madeleine hugged and laughed without knowing what they were laughing about. Fleur patted the boys and asked if they were hungry. And Don asked the boys to bring all the luggage in.
Grandma was not hungry. ‘A cup of tea will revive me, love,’ she said to Leonie’s question. Grandma had grown up on English tea in Yorkshire, a merry brown lass who swept a Frenchman off his feet and followed him across the Channel and never regretted it. She had been widowed four years and thought often of her Stefan. He had loved her so well and left her comfortably off and she thanked him everyday for her easy, enviable, stress-free life.
The three boys, after putting all the luggage into the rooms, tucked into a quick omelette and toast from Fleur, while the three girls opted for cups of cocoa. Don, like Grandma, had strong tea.
They needed both cars to take themselves to the hospital. By an unwritten concensus the ladies took Fleur’s car and the males went in Don’s wagon. Parking in the spacious hospital carpark, they trooped through the front door, up the elevator and into the Newborns ward, the boys under a vow of silence. ‘Wow, look at all those babies!’ whispered Madeleine as they passed the glass window of the nursery. ‘Fantastic!’ whispered Yves. ‘Did you ever see so many wrinkles!’ joined in Christian. Paul kicked his ankle. ‘Ouch! It’s true!’
Renee, with her private room, was not limited to the two visitors at a time rule if she could keep them at a reasonable noise level. Which the children understood if they did not want to be sent to the waiting room. She and her mother shared a lengthy hug, two loving women who had not seen each other for many months. She kissed her niece and each nephew, welcoming them warmly to America and asked after their families. ‘They were all well and sent their love and some Christmas gifts for everybody.’
‘Tante Renee, let us see Penelope, please,’ begged Madeleine.
The Nursery nurses had never had such a large group for any one baby, and they cheekily held up five babies when asked for Baby Easton. In came Dr. Gallagher, who happened to be making rounds, and took Penelope off her holder and held the special baby up to be admired. The boys were agog. And Paul went, ‘That’s Penelope’s own doctor. He’s very clever.’ Fleur kept her eyes on the baby and Don saw Patrick Gallagher’s eyes seeking Fleur’s. She looked up, blushed and looked back at the baby.