I asked if there was a problem. The ob-gyn said, "Yeah, a big one. Anne's placenta won't separate by itself and there's a lot of bleeding. We're trying to control it. If we can't, we'll have to perform a hysterectomy."
"That's okay, we're done having kids," Anne croaked.
The ob-gyn asked me to step outside. "We're going to watch her for an hour," he told me. "If she needs a hysterectomy now, you should be prepared for the worst. It's dangerous to perform at this point. It's very possible that she could bleed to death."
While a flock of doctors and nurses wheeled Anne to the recovery room, she asked me to visit Catherine and Christine in the NICU. So small, both just a little over three pounds. But there they were, the very embodiment of their parents' optimism and love. I struggled to not be pulled under by my fear -- fear of losing my wife and best friend, of raising three kids alone, of being alone again. But I couldn't keep sadness at bay. The girls might never know their mom, the pure joy of being touched by someone as wonderful as Anne.
I went back to her. The morphine was kicking in. "I feel so content," she cooed. "We have such a nice family now." I felt tears welling. She didn't know what was going on. We had been so confident in the future, a future that was bright because we had found each other. "We sure do," I told her. "The girls look just like you. They're beautiful."
Two hours later, the ob-gyn came by. "You're out of the woods," he said. "The bleeding has stopped." Then he looked straight at Anne. "This never happens. You're very, very lucky."
Sometimes in the middle of the night, when we're both feeding a hungry little girl who we know will be hungry again soon, it's hard to think of ourselves as lucky. But then I look up and see Anne, and, wonder of it all, she's usually smiling at whichever girl she's feeding. And just like that I'm back in the Irish bar. And I am so glad -- so very, very glad -- that I met her.
Copyright © 2003. Reprinted with permission from the February 2003 issue of Child magazine.