1951 Chevrolet Styleline
Colombe shouted, “Jim!! Call Maman…it’s time…OH!!! mes eaux ont creuvé! que ça fait mal!!” Jim picked up the phone and called his mother in law. She asked him questions and he had to relay them to Colombe. “How many minutes apart, Mum wants to know!”he shouts to her from the kitchen. Colombe is sitting on the side of the bath in agony, panting like a dog…” Five minutes,Jim, quick get a taxi and ask Bernard to come here and babysit Kim, she is asleep and I don`t want to wake her.”
Fifteen minutes and 4 contractions later, Colombe`s baby brother had arrived by taxi and the driver was waiting to bring the couple to the Perkin’s hospital in Cowansville. Colombe walked down the stairs of their 2nd floor flat. She had to stop every few steps and hold on to the railing…”Eh Joseph, Marie, Jésus…aidez-moi…Seigneur que ça fait mal!” Jim had been drinking and was little help to his wife who was definitely in labour, ready to give birth to their second child. Hopefully it would be a boy, she thought, the Brian he wanted so much and he may stop drinking, she hoped. She managed to get to the taxi and raised her arms to lean on the hood of the car so another contraction could pass. The driver was getting a bit nervous. Monsieur Viens sure didn`t want a mess in his shiny black Chevrolet !
Within ten minutes, they stopped at Colombe`s parents to bring her mother to hospital. Her mother, Gervaise, was a mid-wife. She rushed to the car,looked at her daughter, did a quick indescreet peak and knew she would not make it to hospital.”Viens dans maison, vite. Jim, aller bouge!! aide-moi à la rentrer dans la maison…vite!!” Colombe leaned on her husband and her mother stayed close for support. She was carrying a brown bottle of something and as soon as Colombe was seated on the bed, she put white thick gauze in front of the mouth and nose. In those days, women were put to sleep. They said it was to avoid the pain, yet, it also deprived them of seeing the best part of the labour. It was like running a marathon and blindfolded the runner seconds before the finish line.
Colombe`s father had been sleeping; it was passed midnight and now he had to surrender his bed to his daughter to give birth to his grandchild…another baby. His other daughter had given birth to Maryline next door 10 days ago. Half asleep, he grumbled a bit getting out of bed and getting dressed, “Eh Jupiter…ça doit être la maudite pleine lune encore. Eh coline de bine!!” He was blaming the full moon again for so many women giving birth. He should know. His wife often left his bedside in the wee hours of the morning every other month during a full moon. She was the village midwife and referred to by four doctors in the area. And there were sure lots of babies born in 1952!
After they settled Colombe in the double bed, her father led Jim to the basement to sample some of his dandelion wine while the women were busy doing their…women thing.
But nature was in a hurry and so was this baby. They didn`t have to wait very long; a big baby girl peaked her head into the light of this new world, weighing in at 7 lbs. 7 oz…they named her Oliana, a beautiful rare flower (Oleander) in Hawaiian. Hawaiian music and culture were all the rage in cinemas, cruises and musicals.
Jim rushed up the stair s to see his wife. He asked if he could be alone for a few minutes with his wife. Gervaise was busy washing the baby in the kitchen next to the open oven to keep the room extra warm. She looked a bit concerned, checking and rechecking baby’s umbilical cord, wiping tiny traces of blood.
“Honey, how are you feeling? Are you in a lot of pain?” Colombe was exhausted but fine considering labour lasted less than an hour. She smiled weakly from her tiredness. “I`m fine, Jim…just so relieved it`s all over. Did you see her yet? I`m sorry you didn`t get your Brian…we`ll try again later.” Another baby was far from his mind. He had seen a glimpse of the birthing when he came upstairs briefly and it had turned his stomach. The image turned him off having any more children.
He hesitated, shifting position, “I have some bad news, honey. I lost my job today.” She looked stunned, then sadly looked down, tears rolling down her cheeks. He left her side and went back down to the basement to return to his sample testing…that was pretty much his expertise, after all and probably one of the reasons for losing his job.
Colombe was flooded with so many mixed emotions. She wanted to take a break with her two children being less than two years apart. This was her dream to be like most women in the 50`s who were contented housewives and stay at home mothers.
She had hoped to get back to work in May. Oh dear! What was she going to do? How could she explain all of this to her family? They already didn`t like their son-in-law much because of his drinking but mostly his violent nature. She started weeping softly so her mother wouldn`t hear. She was in such a funk. Of all the days to feel like this. She had a perfectly healthy and adorable baby but how would they all manage? How would they pay the rent, eat? She couldn`t tell her parents yet.
Just as if on cue, her father came into the bedroom to congratulate his daughter. “Bien, ma belle fille, tu m’as donner une autre belle poule aux oeux d’or. Elle est belle comme un coeur. Merci, ma fille.” He sat on the side of the bed and held his daughter`s hand, his pale blue eyes sparkling a smile. Her two daughters now had their grandfather’s eyes…that is if Oliana’s did not change in the next few months. She knew that most babies had blue eyes at birth. She had hazel eyes and Jim had brown eyes…she sighed, thinking of her Jim. How she had melted into those liquid chocolate eyes not so long ago. Who knew?
Her father noticed a tear on her cheek. “C’est quoi ça des larmes? Tu pleures de joie? T’es bien comme ta mère!” He thought she was crying of joy.
She smiled weakly, “Je suis tellement fatiguée, Papa. Tu sais j’ai marché toute la journée avec Kim.” She had walked to her sister`s in the morning to see Suzanne’s new baby, Maryline. Such a beautiful name she had told everyone SHE had chosen it, if she had another girl. But no! Her big sister had to take that away from her and to ruin such a beautiful name by spelling it like that! What an insult to Marilyn Monroe!
Colombe had spent the entire day with her sister; Suzanne had noticed she was edgy and impatient with Kim. Perhaps they were signs mother nature was plotting with the full moon again. She was not due for another three or four weeks.
On her long walk home, pushing the stroller, she visited her father at his workplace. At least this was the bonus of a long day seeing her loving father who just adored Kim and loved to hold her on his knees telling her jokes Kim didn’t quite understand but she did embrace the love she felt. He was so much more pleasant than her daddy.
Colombe was hoping, with all this walking, might induce her labour…she had gained so much weight, already at 50 lbs and still counting. It was getting tricky wobbling like a penguin at her five foot 2 size. Hairdressing was getting more and more demanding standing on her feet for 10 to 12 hours. In those days, a beauty salon stayed open until customers stopped dropping by. It was not rare to finish off her last coiffure at eleven at night. She was so hoping to spare one more month of carrying this extra load on her body. Well, it seems to have worked but she had little energy now. She had forgotten to notice the signs… the urge to get very busy were nature’s way of giving energy to get through the long hours of child labour. Fortunately, she had less than one of those long hours.
Her mother came into the bedroom with a big bundle with pink skin and a soft fluff of dark blonde at the top of her head. A real Gerber baby she was with those big fat cheeks and huge baby blues.
“Tu veux la prendre maintenant, hein, Colombe. Ta belle petite poule.” This was the bonus of a homebirth. If she had given birth in hospital like she did with Kim, she would get to hold the baby briefly then be bedridden for 10 days. Now, she would be able to bond with her beautiful little darling.
Gervaise laid the infant in Colombe`s open arms. She looked down at her newborn with awe, counting her tiny fingers and baby was latching on to her index finger with purpose. Colombe was surprised at her strength…she couldn’t help but smile at her precious little treasure in her arms.
She had given birth in her mother’s bed thereby saving money with hospital bills; she was healthy and had the beauty salon in her home. She would be able to work things out. Suzanne, and her sister-in-law Ghislaine would be able to help watching Kim some days and Bernie was always dependable for those evenings before he going out on his hot dates after nine in the evening. No, it would work out. She beamed at her infant, dear, dear, Oliana. “You will get plenty of lovin`from me, my family and oh my, those customers coming for make-overs, always have a weakness for rocking, burping and swaddling a Gerber baby girl. She smiled at the thought of that and drifted off to sleep. Oliana had already passed out.
Glam O Rama Beauty Parlor
© Whispering Insights, 2014/02/21