Monday, April 30, 2012
Did I say that?
Rob and Celia are in the midst of moving to their new house, with help from Rob’s mother June, Celia’s mother Mary, and Lucy’s boyfriend Rocco. Rob just suggested that Celia start cleaning the apartment from which they are moving with his mother while he and the rest of the moving party go to the new house in the van, but Celia reminded him that she is on bed rest for the final weeks of her pregnancy. “Cleaning” is one of the things she specifically should not be doing.
Rob doubted the day would ever end, coming as it was at the end of a very long week. He had worked his regular job every day but Friday, painted the nursery, master bedroom and kitchen of the new house in the evenings (figuring the rest could wait until they moved in), and endured being overfed by not just one but two mothers. He worried constantly about Celia and the baby, making himself crazy by willing her NOT to go into labor too early, which was entirely out of his control of course, but he could not stop perseverating on it. Trying to move on the cheap – entirely on their own, with the help of their mothers and friends – might have been more than Rob could handle at this point.
His brain was so wound up, trying to manage every detail efficiently, that he found he simply could not tolerate Celia reclining on the sofa. Granted, she had lists and the phone and she had coordinated everything about the move that could be done either by email or phone, such as getting the utilities turned on at the new place and changing their address for the mail. I need Celia’s help, but she can’t help, he kept thinking. I need Celia’s help, but she can’t help. To have been reminded that Celia can’t even clean only reinforced how alone Rob felt, like Atlas with the world on his shoulders.
“Then just lay there on the sofa and tell my mother what to do,” Rob said to Celia.
Celia just looked at Rob for a long moment, as if replaying what he said to make sure she heard it right. “I can’t believe you just said that,” she said. Her eyes filled with tears and she got up as quickly as an eight-months-pregnant woman on bed rest could, heading into the bathroom and closing the door.
Rob glanced at their friend Rocco, waiting nearby to help Rob move the sofa on which Celia rested.
“Might want to backpedal on that comment, bro,” Rocco said. As big and scary looking as Rocco could be, there was nothing about him that was threatening. Rob knew he was right. “Listen,” Rocco continued. “First things first. You need to lighten up before you pop a blood vessel. It’s all going to get done.”
“I know, I know,” Rob said. He sighed, walked over to the bathroom door and knocked.
What does Rob say to Celia through the door?
Monday, April 23, 2012
Rob and Celia are moving to the new house they will share with Celia’s mother. Celia has been put on bed rest for the remaining few weeks of her pregnancy.
Celia was not sure if she should kiss Rob or slug him for asking his mother June to come help with the move. Organized and efficient, she was indisputably useful, and as a longtime stay-at-home mother who was now a recent empty-nester (having sent her third and last child off to college), she welcomed the diversion.
They needed the help. But Celia’s mother Mary made stupid comments while Celia watched, doing what she could while reclining on the sofa.
“Celia, do you want June to carry out the clothes on the hangers?” Mary asked, right in front of June. “I thought you wanted everything taken off and folded.”
They had discussed no such thing. “No, Mom,” Celia answered while smiling at June, who waited for Celia to referee with an admirable neutrality. “It will be much faster to just lay them in the trunk of the car and re-hang them at the house.”
“I’ve moved all three of my kids out of the house in the last few years,” June said amiably. “I feel like a pro.”
“Well, I just moved out of the house I’ve lived in for thirty years,” Mary countered. “I’m feeling like a pro, too.”
Celia did not comment that her sister Catherine had handled most of that responsibility for their mother.
Rob walked back in at that moment to carry another load to the rented van, followed by his workmate Lucy’s boyfriend Rocco. “OK. Time to move the big stuff. Celia, should we move the sofa with you on or off it?” She was surprised that Rob, who was inclined to be moody and anal at a time like this, could joke. Celia was grateful for Rocco’s presence, and not just for his tangible support in helping Rob haul the big stuff. His calm personality helped neutralize Rob’s edginess.
“Rocco has been so helpful!” her mother Mary chimed in. “What would we do without you? Here, let me get you a cold drink.” She hurried off to the kitchen while June left with the pile of clothing.
“Why don’t I take your mother to the house in the van?” Rob said to Celia. “She can begin to get her own room unpacked. My mom can stay with you and you can begin to clean.”
Celia was not sure she had heard Rob right. “I can’t clean,” Celia said. “You know that. ‘Cleaning’ is one of the things I’m specifically not supposed to be doing right now.”
Celia was shocked when Rob looked at her in irritation, as if being on bed rest was her fault, or as if she was using it as an excuse to be lazy.
“Look, I’m sorry,” Celia said. “This isn’t up to me.”
How does Rob respond?
Monday, April 16, 2012
Cry for help
Celia has been put on bed rest for the remainder of her pregnancy, despite that the move to their new house is only one week away.
Rob sent his mother-in-law to the grocery store, as much as to get food as to get her out of the way. “And bring empty boxes, too!” he called after as she left. As stunned as he had been at the hospital, reality had set in and he was now focused and energetic.
Then he gave away his last three Starbucks shifts to other workers, so although he officially had one more week he would in fact be finished with his moonlighting gig. Finally he sat down on the coffee table facing Celia, who was resting on the sofa, just as she got off the phone with her principal. She had her laptop open on her lap and a notebook and pen nearby.
Celia looked at him and sighed. “I don’t want you to have to take vacation time now. But I don’t know what else to do. I can make lists until my hand falls off but unless there is someone here besides my mother doing them, there won’t be enough hours in the day.”
“I’ve been working two jobs anyway,” Rob said. “I can spend evenings this week getting things ready here”—
“Things are almost ready here,” Celia said. “The issue on this end is cleaning the apartment after we’ve moved so we get the whole deposit back. That’s going to be the new crib and changing table.”
“It won’t be that big a deal,” Rob said. “I’ll”—
“Rob, we need you at the house, and unfortunately I don’t trust Mom to clean well enough that we get our money back. I don’t trust Mom to shop economically. Mostly, I just don’t trust her to not create more work for us”—
“I can take vacation next week so the house is ready before we move in and right afterwards to get us unpacked,” he said. “Thankfully, we don’t have that much stuff.”
“What needs to be done on the house?” Celia flipped through her lists. “Maybe we can scale this back somehow”—
Rob took the list from her and looked at the various repair and upgrade tasks they had detailed. “As long as the nursery and the kitchen are good to go, we can do the rest as we go along.”
“I just want you to be able to be home with us after the baby is born and NOT to be working on the house. So we three can be a family.” Celia shook her head. “I’m so sorry, Rob.”
“Please don’t apologize. You and our baby come first and everything else is way down on the list. I’ve got it covered.”
Rob kissed Celia, asked her if he could get her anything, and telling her he needed to get something from the car, left the apartment. As soon as he closed the front door he dialed his mother.
“Mom,” he said when she answered. “I need your help.” He explained the situation as briefly as he could.
“Of course I’ll help, Rob. Poor Celia. I’m glad you called. What do you need?”
How does this plan work out?
Monday, April 09, 2012
Handling the Unexpected
Celia may be in early labor.
Celia was more than a little freaked out that though Mom drove her to the emergency room, she was taken immediately to labor and delivery.
“But I’m only seven months along,” she kept saying, to clerical staff, nurses, orderlies, and anyone else who was within earshot. She still had occasional pangs of pressure around her middle but she had not experienced anything as strong as the pain she had felt while kneeling on the floor in the kitchen earlier. She wondered if she had imagined it.
“Don’t worry,” her mother said. “You won’t have this baby before it’s ready to come out.”
By the time the labor nurse had examined her, spoken to her doctor, and assured her that there would be no way the baby would be arriving today, Celia was relaxing in a comfortable bed. This was good, because shortly thereafter Rob arrived, frantic and sweating, followed by his cubicle-mate Lucy. Celia had met Lucy once, about a year ago, when she and Rob had joined Lucy and her boyfriend Rocco to watch basketball at a sports bar.
Rob walked in and kissed Celia. He opened his mouth to speak but it did not appear that words were going to come out.
“Rob couldn’t wait to get here,” Lucy said in her deep, throaty voice, and as if to reinforce her words Rob took Celia’s hand and sat on the side of the bed. Lucy introduced herself to Celia’s mother Mary, who filled Rob and Lucy in on Celia’s condition. Lucy asked intelligent questions and Mary answered, explaining about the medication Celia had received to stop what had indeed been early labor. Celia watched while her mother and Rob’s friend carried on the conversation she supposed they ought having with one another, as if by proxy. But the information was being shared in any case.
“Celia will be released as soon as the doctor sees her,” Mary said.
“Are you OK?” Celia said to Rob, as quietly as she could.
“Mary, why don’t we go down to the cafeteria,” Lucy said. “Rob, I’ll bring you a nice cold ice tea.”
Celia was grateful to Lucy for taking charge and waved to them as they left. Once they had some privacy she looked at Rob expectantly.
Rob appeared to still be speechless, but he finally sputtered out, “Honestly, I think I’m in shock.”
“Don’t worry,” Celia said. “As soon as the doctor comes I’ll be released and it’ll be like I scraped my knee. No big deal.”
No sooner had Celia spoken than her doctor walked in briskly and shook Rob’s hand. “OK,” she said, looking at the chart. “I don’t think there’s anything to worry about here. We want to make sure we get you to about the third week of May, but that’s nothing a few weeks of bed rest won’t take care of.”
“Bed rest?” Rob and Celia said simultaneously.
“I’ll make sure my office faxes a letter to your school,” the doctor continued. “Looks like your school year’s over, Celia.
What happens next?
Monday, April 02, 2012
State of Shock
Rob and Celia are preparing for the move to their new house.
Only one more week of working two jobs, Rob thought while sugaring his coffee in the break room. He had taken the second job as a Starbucks barista for financial reasons right before Celia finally found a teaching job last September. As a result, the money he had been earning since, instead of paying their bills, had been put into savings. That pleased him, because they had discovered that Celia was pregnant – unexpectedly – right after she had started her new job. So while on one hand Rob was exhausted from working both jobs, on the other he slept better for the few hours he was in bed for the knowledge that he was building financial security.
He was sorry to see the job go. But Celia needed more support than expected as they approached their move and the birth of their baby within a month of each other. She was tired and fragile, and it meant a lot to Rob that she relied on him. He wanted to come through for her. The job had been good discipline, which could not hurt. Everyone he knew warned him that babies were so much work.
He returned to his cubicle and sat down. “Your cell phone rang,” his cubicle-mate Lucy told him. Just as he picked it up to check, his desk phone beeped.
“Rob Benton,” he answered, noticing that Celia had called on his cell.
“Thank goodness,” Celia said. “Mom’s driving me to the hospital. It’s way too early, but I think I might be in labor.”
Rob stood right back up. She can’t have the baby, he thought ridiculously, because we haven’t moved yet.
“Rob? Are you there?” Celia said. Rob realized he hadn’t said anything yet and was about to speak up when he heard Celia gasp in pain. His adrenalin surged but it only seemed to immobilize him further; he listened to a scuffle on the other end of the line.
“Robbie?” he heard his mother-in-law say. “You need to meet us at the hospital.”
Rob still hadn’t spoken. He turned and looked at Lucy, who was watching him, partly curious and partly aghast, presumably at his immobility.
Lucy stood up and grabbed the phone away from him. “What hospital?” she said. “OK. I’ll make sure Rob gets there as soon as possible.” She hung up and looked at Rob. “Rob. Are you there?”
He was, but he was busy panicking that if they had the baby now they wouldn’t get to move to the new house at all. He knew it didn’t make sense but he couldn’t get out of that groove. He looked at Lucy but wasn’t sure what he saw.
What happens next?
Page 1 of 1 pages
Return to home page