Web Site: Gizunia
A tragic story about a couples difficulties in dealing with their relationships and the sudden loss of a child.
WINTER IN POLAND
By Matthew M. Heyn
Dedicated to the loves of my life, Gizela, Michal and Daniel. Without them, I think I would be dead by now. Their memory forces me to breathe each breath.
She had wanted to leave Marek for years, but here she was, pregnant with her second child growing sadly in her womb. He had promised things would be different for the millionth time. She wasn’t the naïve immigrant from Poland anymore, eight years of marriage to this man had removed whatever last vestage of her innocence she had left. But despite knowing in her heart she couldn’t change him, for the children’s sake, for sanities sake, she wanted to believe him so bad.. that she did.
It was almost time for Marie to go to her anatomy class when the pain started.
“Marek,” she cried from their bedroom, “I think we might be having the baby!”
Marek rushed in to the room and sat next to her on the edge of the bed.
“Are you sure angel?” he asked, putting a comforting arm around her shoulders.
“Maybe it’s just cramps,” she replied as the pain subdued a little. No sooner the words left her thin lips that another shiver of pain caused her to double over, arms crucified across her full round stomach. Marek had seen enough. “We are going to the hospital.”
Their first child, Michal was delivered by induced labor five years past. Everything was planned, they knew days before-hand exactly what time Marie would begin labor. The couple knew this time would be different and planned accordingly. Marek was one of the most forgetful men on the planet, destroying the myths surrounding baldness and mental abilities out of the water completely. Luckily Marie was the practical Taurus, everything she needed had been purchased and packed months ago, all Marek needed to do was phone ahead, grab her and Michal and go.
Even with the simplicity of his wife’s planning, Marek was running around the small two bedroom apartment like a man possessed, panicked blue eyes searched franticly, making sure that nothing was forgotten. Marie silently wondered who was having this baby, her or him? Her nerves were steady without the slightest taint of fear. However she was in pain and decided after watching Marek enter and exit the room four times in half the minutes, and she became frustrated.
“Marek, lets go before I have this baby on the bed!” She concealed her impatience as best she could, but Marek knew the subtle undertone of her Slavic accent better than he knew his own voice and knew it was time to go.
Marie allowed Marek to walk her to the car even though she had told him twice already that her legs weren’t broken. When he opened the passenger door for her she made a mental note of it, since such chivalry rarely happened from him. She plopped down on the seat of the ten year old Geo Metro. She hated the car with a passion, a car with so little class she would rather be seen pedaling on a bicycle, but for today it was her ambulance.
“Ok angel, here we go.” Marek said after securing their seatbelts. He reached to turn the ignition keys that weren’t there, then patted his pant pockets before giving his wife one of his classic ‘ I forgot’ facest.
“Hurry up!” she exclaimed. Ten minutes later Marek had returned and the decade old rusty blue Metro was putting to the hospital.
The ride to the hospital was made silence other than an occasional grunt from Marie. Deep within their thoughts the couple were in separate worlds. Marie was thinking about their children’s future. Would Marek keep a job? Would he be a better role model now than he had been for Michal? Questions like these made her wonder if she had made the right choice in allowing Marek to return back home. They had separated for six months, the divorce was in the works, but Marek’s pleadings for forgiveness had weakened her resolve and the bed was no longer lonely. The long drought of nights alone had been quickly made up for. They made love like rabbits those first few weeks and her womb was still as fertile as the nile, so when she stopped taking her birth control pills, all Marek had to do was breath on her to cause conception. But had she made the right choice?
Marek’s thoughts were more excited. A queer feeling danced inside of his own stomach. He was having another child, and this time around he vowed he would not miss a moment of the child’s infancy as he had done with Michal. When his firstborn was just four months old, Marek was sent to prison for violating the rules of his probation, leaving Marie alone for seven long months, time forever gone, moment’s in his son’s life that Marek had no memories of. Things would be different this time. Images of fishing and baseball and wrestling played like a short movie in his mind’s eye. With hard work he would move his family into the big house, with the white picket fence and on the weekends they would take the sailboat out on Wisconsin’s blue waters. Life would be grand!
“Are you nervous angel?” He asked as he pulled into the main entrance of the hospital.
“Not really,” she answered. “I just cant wait to have it out of me.”
Babies in the womb, Marek had learned, are only ‘it’s’ until they are actually born.
The reception area of St. Mary’s Hospital was dominated by a large semi-circular mahogany desk. An instrumental rendition of John Lennon’s classic “Imagine” played quietly in the background. A tiny dark skinned lady looked up from behind the desk. Noticing Marie’s condition she asked “Maternity?” Marie nodded and Mark said “Yes, Marie Fudal”
The receptionist typed the name into her computer and after making a phone call announcing them she told them to follow the blue line to the elevators and go to the maternity ward on floor three. Another lady, presumably a nurse brought them a wheelchair but Marie politely refused, stating she was fine to walk.
The hallways were much different than the reception area Marek thought. Everything was white, a sterile white, and now Marek could smell the hospital, a strong smell of sickness and death. “I hate the smell” he muttered. Marie was a Nursing Assistant studying to become a nurse, so the odor was barely noticeable to her nose and didn’t seem to bother her at all.
The nurses at the maternity ward were very friendly. They took Marie to to a delivery room while Marek stayed behind to answer questions and fill out monstrous amounts of paperwork. A question on one of the forms caused him to chuckle out loud, drawing several puzzled glances from the staff.
After finishing the paperwork, Marek waited impatiently for news. Finally a nurse came and brought him to his wife, who was already in a bed, wearing a sea green hospital gown. The room was nice and spacious with fresh smelling tulips and roses growing in flower pots along the window sills.
“Hi” Marie said with a little smile. “The contractions are seven minutes apart.”
Marek returned the smile to the woman he loved and nodded as if understanding the importance of her statement. “That is great angel, how do you feel?”
Several tubes were attached to the veins in Marie’s wrists. Other suction type instruments were attached over her heart and a thin wire was between her legs, up in her womb, monitoring both her and the unborn vital signs. Marek had to wait for his answer because she was in the throes of another contraction, her normally fair round face was now red and sweaty, her fist clenched tightly at her sides. When the earthquake passed she said she was ok and asked for a drink of water, pointing her eyes towards the pitcher and glass on a round end table.
Marek watched entranced as she brought the tiny glass to her lips, soft thin lips that purred when she spoke, soft lips that had breathed into his soul. There was never a day that went by that Marek wasn’t in awe of his wife’s natural charms. Her hair was midnight dark, thick, falling straight on the back and sides, stopping just short past the base of her jawline. The bangs rested easy above her brow leaving images of a Cleopatra like hairstyle. Her face was as round as the moons and twice as radiant. A perfect nose and rich earthy brown eyes finished painting her in off shades of innocence and passion.
She was the beauty and he was the beast. She was the beauty he never felt truly worthy of.
The nurse that entered the room just then was looked haggard and over-worked, but was pleasant. She introduced her self as Erika and said she would be Marie’s nurse through the delivery. Following behind her were two men wearing white lab coats and ties. One older the other quite young. They looked like father and son.
“Doctor Frank,” the older gray-haired man introduced as he extended his hand towards Marek.
Marek accepted the handshake and was surprised at the old man’s firm grip, obviously done a thousand times with other soon to be fathers. “Marek Fudal,” he replied back.
“And this is a new intern of ours, David Slowinski.” Another handshake. Marie went through the same procedure with the medicine men before the older doctor’s smile faded into a more practical face. Taking her medical chart from the foot of the bed, he looked it over with a keen eye.
“This is your second child Mrs. Fudal?” He asked without looking up from the chart.
“Did you have any problems during your last pregnancy?”
“Yes,” Silently this time.
“And what were those problems?”
“Our son wasn’t growing well in the womb so we induced labor a month early.”
“Has he grown fine since birth?”
“Yes,” she replied “He is fine now.”
The doctor jotted a few notes down on her chart. “How far apart are the contractions?” Marie had been watching the clock carefully. “About six minutes.” She said.
Marek watched in horror as another spasm shook his wife’s tiny frame. Sweat was pouring off her face now and he could tell she was progressively feeling more pain with each contraction. He grabbed and held her hand tightly and felt her nails dig deeply into the back of his wrist. He looked into her eyes and breathed with her, short forceful puffs of air. When the contraction finished he asked his wife if she was sure she wanted to go through with the natural childbirth they had planned. The doctor said he would be right back and left the room with the intern in tow.
“No drugs,” Marie said meaningfully into Marek’s eyes, “No drugs.”
“Are you sure honey?” The nurse interrupted. “This could be very painful.”
“I’m sure.” And then “No drugs” for the third time.
CHAPTER THREE – COMING SOON.
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