Sunday, April 10, 2016

Chapter 30

When they arrived at the hospital they stopped in to see Beth and Dante first, bearing half of the gifts, wrapped in bright paper, labeled, to everyone's amusement, with Christmas stickers.

"Because *someone* forgot to buy the right tags!"  Terri complained with a smile.

"Yes *you* did, and aren't you ashamed of yourself?"  Carmie replied.

That even got a little smile from Beth Ann who up til then had laid in her bed, looking wan and sad.

"Here sweetie,"  Terri said with a smile, handing Beth the first present, "We bought you some nice things for when the babies come home."

Tears welled in Beth's eyes and she covered her face, "But what if they don't..."  she stopped that thought, sobbing.

Dante immediately and gently pulled his wife forward, sat behind her on the bed and held her in his arms.  "Shhhh, Bethie Bean," he said quietly,  "remember what the Zia Julia said?  Just because the doctor said it doesn't mean it'll happen, and if it does then he'll be fine because Petey will find him and take care of him."  he said, hugging his crying wife to his chest.

"It's all my fault."  she cried, the sound painful to everyone's ears,  "It's all my fault.  I did something wrong.  I did something wrong."

"Bethie, sweetheart, do you love Dante?"  Natie asked gently, taking the younger woman's cold hand in hers and holding it gently in her warmer ones.

"Yes!"  the distraught young woman reassured her.

"Then you did nothing wrong."  There's only one race to worry about, she thought angrily.  The human race, and some people are just more human than others.  "Your babies are blessings, not punishments.  I truly believe that God doesn't give you more than you can handle, honey.  This little baby, our Nathan, is a blessing every bit as much as Mara and Olivia.  Do you understand me?  He has wonderful things to teach us, sweetheart."

"But..."  Beth began.

"No buts honey.  No matter how long we have him for, he's ours, and he's our blessing, and we've had him now hours longer than the doctors said we would.

Just then Julia came in with an armload of what looked like linens, to see 'her little dove' crying.  She walked over to the other side of the bed and smoothed back the younger woman's hair with a fond glance toward Natie and Dante, who was still on the bed with her, holding her as though to keep her from floating away.

She put the items down on the bed and announced, "The nurses are going to bring Nathan in to visit, il mia colomba.  Everyone has to put on these gowns and masks and then they'll bring him for a visit.

"Will I get to hold him?"  Bethie asked anxiously.  She hadn't been allowed to touch him yet and it broke her heart that she couldn't hold her own son.

"Yes, and whomever else you wish to hold him may as well, but just for a little while.  Alright?"

Bethie would have agreed to give up her legs for a chance to hold her son and quickly agreed.  The Rossi's suited up quickly, putting on the masks and mob caps they'd been given after they had scrubbed their hands til they glowed.

"We don't need gloves?"  'Deo asked, hoping the answer would be no.

"No," replied Mrs. Di Marco quietly.  "I was finally allowed in to see him.  He'd been crying non stop.  His cry was high and monotone and was painful to hear.  It reminded me of Petey, and I asked to be allowed to touch his hand only.  They wrapped me up in one of these get ups and made me scrub til I thought  the skin would come off," she joked, " but they let me in, and as soon as I touched his hand, he calmed down.  That's how I convinced them that he needed his mamma, and his sisters.  So they're bringing in the babies.  Nathan first, and then the girls.  OK?"

Bethie sat up in bed with help from her husband.  Mrs. Rossi cranked up the head of the bed, and Beth got up to use the rest room and wash up before putting the gown on, hands shaking at the prospect of holding her son.

The nurses bustled in first to make sure that everyone's gowns were secure, the masks and mob caps in place and hands and nails clean. Another nurse, as wrapped up in gowns and other accoutrements as the family, rolled the little bassinet which held Nathan into the room.  She took off the lid and gently handed the crying baby to his mother.

At first Beth looked as though she were going to cry with the baby who seemed to be inconsolable, until Mrs. Di Marco gently took the baby's hand and brought the young woman's pointer finger where it latched on with unexpected strength.

Mrs. Di Marco began singing softly, and as she sang, the baby's wails became less and less until he was silent and appeared contented.

'Fa la ninna, fa la nanna,
Fa la ninna, fa la nanna
Nella braccia della mamma.
Fa la ninna bel bambin,
Fa la nanna bambin bel,
Fa la ninna, fa la nanna
Nella braccia della mamma.'

Beth looked down at his little face. It was perfect other than the fine hairs on the sides of his face.  He was wrapped up in a blanket and smelled as though he'd just been changed, smelling faintly of baby powder.  She lifted him higher in her arms and took a deep breath, inhaling his scent.  The baby made a little sound like a mouse.  Bethie put him back down quickly for fear she'd hurt him, but instead, the baby seemed to be looking at her expectantly, little mouth open and working.

"He's hungry, Mrs. Rossi.  We brought a bottle along, unless you'd prefer to feed him yourself?"  the nurse asked, smiling.

"May I?"  she asked.

"Of course.  Your auntie here convinced us that a baby who has been in close quarters with his sisters for nine months must be missing not only them but the first heartbeat he ever heard, and the first voice he ever loved.  We can only leave him with you for about an hour, then we're going to put him in a larger bassinet with his sisters and see if his health improves, provided that that's alright with you?"  she said, looking back and forth between Dante and Bethie.

"Of course!  Anything for him!  And if... if... if this is all the time they have together... at least they get that."  she said, trying once again to control her tears.

"We can't tell you that everything is going to be all right, Mrs. Rossi, we wish we could," the head nurse said to Bethie, "But we can make what time he has here as comfortable as possible."  She hoped beyond hope that their 'Zia' Julia, who was as much the grandmother's sister as she was, was right, and being with his mother and sisters would strengthen him.

After feeding him, Beth Ann reluctantly handed the baby over to his father, who held him much as he'd done his wife, treating the tiny figure as though it were made of finest crystal, gently touching the little face, finding little hand, tiny fingers wrapping once again with amazing strength around as much of his father's much larger finger as he could.

Johnny and Natie shared the little bundle between them, arms creating an impenetrable cradle through which the baby could not fall nor be harmed in any way by the monsters that lurked under the beds or in the closets.

Mrs. Rossi began to softly sing: 

Vento sottile, vento del mattino,
Vento che scuoti la cima del mio pino.

At which point Mr. Rossi began to sing from the beginning, the family recognized the round from when they were little.

Vento che danzi che balli,
La gioia tu mi porti vento sottile.
Oh, oh, oh, oh!
Oh, oh, oh, oh!
La, la, la, la, la, la, la,
la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, vento sottile.

Mrs. Di Marco, who loved to sing, jumped in on the third round, patting Bethie's hands as they all sang, enjoying the delighted smile on the younger woman's face, and the looks of remembering on the faces of the children.

They all finished singing, everyone in the room was smiling, when the baby made little noises that sounded like lalalalalalala.  He stopped, then repeated his noise.  "Lalalalalalala."

Surprised, the grandparent's sang the song again, accompanying with a coordinated swaying of their bodies.  The baby immediately settled down again and seemed to listen closely to the words and music, even though there was no way he could understand either.  When they finished the baby made another squeaking sound and began to fuss.

The elder Rossi's handed him to his mother, who allowed the baby to wrap his hand around her finger again.  His eyes began to flutter closed, and his little mouth opened in a wide, toothless yawn.

Mrs. Di Marco sat beside the bed and began to sing once more;

"Fa la ninna, fa la nanna
Nella braccia della mamma
Fa la ninna bel bambin,
Fa la nanna bambin bel,
Fa la ninna, fa la nanna
Nella braccia della mamma."

The infant was asleep before she'd finished singing.  "Zia Julia, you have to teach that song to me, please?"  Bethie asked with a watery smile.

"Of course  mia colomba."  She smiled, "And look, just in time for his sisters." she said happily.

Everyone ooh'ed and aaah'ed at the babies, trying to be as quiet as possibly in deference to the sleeping baby boy.  The girls, who were both healthy, were passed from Dan to Bethie, to grand parent to grand parent to aunt to uncle to parent's again.  It was their feeding time now, and there was no shortage of people willing to help feed them.  The aunts and uncles groaned when the parent's decided that they wanted the job for themselves, but everyone understood and were happy with the promise that they could be next.

When the girls were fed and burped, the nurses came in and changed the babies, reattaching tubes to Nathan that had been removed before his visit.

Bethie began to cry again as they put the babies into the same bassinet.  "Do you have to take them so soon?  What are those tubes?  What happens if one of them comes lose?  Will they be safe?"

She would have asked more questions but the nurse, Ms. Esmae, shushed her gently and gave her a shot of a mild sedative.  The young lady was doing much better now but was still allowing stress and worry to keep her awake at night.  

"Yes, Mrs. Rossi, it's time for the babies to get back to the nursery now."  she smiled as she wheeled the bassinet out of the room and back toward the nursery.

"What if... what if... what if..."  Bethie asked, unable to make the words come out of her mouth voluntarily.

Ms. Esmae had no problem understanding what the young mother meant,  "Mrs. Rossi, if that happens, then that'll be just a little extra time he had with his sisters before God took him home.  It'll be alright.  We'll keep a close eye on all of them.  All right?"  she asked kindly.  "Now when all you all are ready to leave just take those togs off and put them in that hamper in the hallway, OK?"

"Thank you."  Bethie said, yawning despite her desire to stay awake and visit with her family.

"I think it's time we got going."  Natie said, bending down to give her daughter in law a sound kiss and a hug.  She turned to her son and gave him a much harder hug and kiss.  "You did good, honey. Those babies are beautiful little angels.  You and Bethie did good work."  she smiled.

Dan suddenly felt the need to be close to his mother and hugged her especially hard if only quickly.  "Thanks mamma." he whispered before releasing her.

Johnny wasn't half as reserved, shaking his son's hand, clapping him on the back hard enough to cause the younger man to cough and then pulled him into a bear hug.  "Proud of you son.  SO proud."  he said, his voice catching.

The others began to leave the room with hugs and kisses all around.

Amadeo hung back a little until the others were further away and went back to his sleepy sister in law who had begun to cry again, saying softly 'It's my fault.  It's my fault.'

"Bethie," he asked tentatively,  "Were you ever paddled in school when you were a student?"

"What?  What kind of question is that, Mister Amadeo?"  she responded, waking despite the sedative, and slightly offended that her sixteen year old brother in law would ask a question like that.

"Well I only ask because we have this Vice Principal at our school who has a real problem with people blaming themselves for stuff they couldn't possibly have any control over."

"Why are you telling me this?"  Beth Ann asked, curiosity overcoming her fatigue.

"'Cause, Mrs. Dante Rossi, if you don't stop blaming yourself I'm gonna find out where he lives and ask him if he'd please come visit you here and bring his paddle along.  Believe me, after a few whacks and a talking to from him, you won't be blaming yourself for stuff anymore." he replied with a little half smile.  He leaned down and gave  his sister in law a kiss, then followed the rest of his family.

Bethie leaned back against her pillows and began to drift off, her little brother in law's final words whirling in her head.


All Italian Lyrics and Lulabyes found on Mama Lisa's World

Fa la ninna, fa la nanna

Fa la ninna, fa la nanna
Nella braccia della mamma
Fa la ninna bel bambin,
Fa la nanna bambin bel,
Fa la ninna, fa la nanna
Nella braccia della mamma.

Go to Sleep, Go to Sleepy

Go to sleep, go to sleepy
In the arms of your mother,
Go to sleep, lovely child,
Go to sleepy, child so lovely,
Go to sleep, go to sleepy
In the arms of your mother.

Italian/English Lyrics and Music can be found on Mama Lisa's World
Fa La Ninna, Fa La Nanna

Vento sottile
(Italian) Round

Vento sottile, vento del mattino,
Vento che scuoti la cima del mio pino.
Vento che danzi che balli,
La gioia tu mi porti vento sottile.
Oh, oh, oh, oh!
Oh, oh, oh, oh!
La, la, la, la, la, la, la,
la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, vento sottile.

Gentle Wind
(English) Round

Gentle wind, morning wind,
Wind that shakes the top of my pine tree.
Wind that prances that dances,
The joy you bring us gentle wind!
Oh, oh, oh, oh!
Oh, oh, oh, oh!
La, la, la, la, la, la, la,
la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, gentle wind.

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