I thought my husband, our 4-year-old son, and I were doing just fine, thank you. True, I was physically a mess after delivering a 12.3 lb stillborn boy. However, we felt we’d smoothly sailed through the process of telling our son that the baby in mommy’s belly had died. He only had two questions: Is Mommy coming home today (no, the doctor wants her to stay in the hospital for a few days, but we can visit,) and can I go back outside and play now (yes).
As he dashed toward the door he said, “I didn’t really want a baby anyway.”
When my husband repeated that story, we both laughed, and I knew we’d all be okay.
I wonder if others dealing with a big scary issue, as we were, think about how it impacts those around them. We didn’t. We focused on ourselves–on my physical recuperation, and regaining our emotional equilibrium.
But outside our small family unit, of course, our wider circle of family and friends were also figuring out how to explain the unexplainable.
The day I came home from the hospital, my mother paid a surprise visit. Following her out of the car was a large white puffball of a poodle whose hair had never been cut. As the friendly dog franticly dashed from one of us to the other, licking everyone in turn, I asked if this was a male or female. My mother said she’d asked the SPCA for a female. Then the dog squatted on the lawn. Our son, who already knew that girl dogs squat and boy dogs lift one hind leg, watched, fascinated.
My mother then handed my son the leash, and said the dog was his. Thrilled, he turned to me.
“Can I name her, Mom?”
“Sure!” I answered, started thinking of options. My husband and I had just spent months debating what to name the baby I didn’t bring home. Our son only took two seconds to announce the dog’s name: “Moreover.”
I thought I would be able to change his mind. Who names a dog, especially a big white poodle, Moreover? But within a nanosecond all the other kids in the neighborhood knew the dog’s name. I wanted to fight it, but my husband was more reasonable.
“Relax,” he said. “The deed is done.”
While Moreover was greeting the neighborhood, my mother sat us down inside. She said our son needed something of his own, a special something he could show off, as he would have done for a new baby. She said the new addition to our household would do us all some good, that it was time to focus on something new and fun. My husband, who had always wanted a dog, agreed. Me? Not so much. I knew the less fun responsibilities would be mine. And I wasn’t interested in dealing with a dog just then.
The next day we dropped Moreover at a groomer’s and returned to discover that Moreover was a he! Within a few days, we realized why: he had balance problems, and could only successfully lift his leg and pee if he found something solid to lean his leg against, like a telephone pole or a tree. Periodically he’d try to use a bush and fall in, which was sort of embarrassing for everyone involved.
Hence, the squat.
Here’s where I admit my mother was right. Moreover was an amusing distraction, kick-starting our emotional recovery. And because I (surprise) ended up having to walk him most of the time, he also helped with my physical recovery. He was way too friendly to be a watchdog, but he was great with our son and his friends, following them everywhere, eager to be included in their games. He even taught himself how to go up and down the slide in our back yard. In sum, Moreover was a hit.
Within a year, I was pregnant again. And very nervous. This time, my husband and I couldn’t seem to agree to a name. Since we wanted to wait until delivery to learn the baby’s sex, we were searching for something unisex. We even joked that it was too bad “Moreover” was already taken.
Suddenly, we were out of time. My water broke, the contractions were five minutes apart, and the hospital was twenty minutes away. We called 911, and a neighbor to stay with our son. Moreover tried several times to climb into the ambulance with me, but we got to the hospital just in time anyway.
As we marveled at the perfection of our new baby boy, the labor room nurse asked if we’d decided on a name. Knowing our now 6-year old had already chosen one, I panicked. “We can’t let him name the baby! I don’t want him named Furthermore!”
My husband smiled. “Relax. I’ve got this. We’re naming him Don, because this deed is done.”