"What is your pain level?" asked the pretty nurse.
"Four," answers my sweet Sven.
"I'll get you something," she says.
"Whatever I had yesterday worked."
"That was morphine."
"Yeah, I know," he says.
"I'll see what I can do."
She and her long dark hair and bright white smile turned to leave sterile room 122.
Sven buttered a piece of cold, dry, toast.
This was his second night in the hospital.
Our granddaughter Jeri was not far down the hall.
She was in room 133.
It was a situation of comical convenience.
And it all began when Sven and I went for a boat ride on a Thursday afternoon.
I had just finished mowing the lawn at the cottage while Sven unsuccessfully tried to get his chain saw started, so that he could cut up the branch that was in my way.
Well, the chain saw never did start.
But the boat did.
Our little boat is perfect for tooling around on the water.
It was the first time since our new lives as a couple of retirees that we were doing something together on an impulse.
I was elated.
I skipped down the pier with glee in my heart.
My Sven was starting to get the picture.
You can just do stuff when you want to do stuff.
It was about two in the afternoon when we pulled away from the dock.
The sky was clear blue.
The lake was smooth.
We were almost to the railroad bridge when I sent a text to Jeri.
"What time should we be there to help you guys move tomorrow?"
"Grandma it's complicated. Everything has changed. Now we have nowhere to live. And the doctor says I am dilated to one. Is there any way we can stay with you guys tonight?"
What I screamed into that beautiful blue sky is nobody's business.
But, if you were out on the lake that afternoon, my sincerest apologies.
Even as a very small child I understood that life changes on a dime.
And I understood it all too clearly the moment Sven turned the boat around.
By four o'clock we had the guest room sheets tossing in the dryer and were headed to the grocery store.
From there we picked up Jeri, Tyler and most of their belongings.
We dropped the two of them off at our house, so they could get themselves situated.
And then Sven and I went directly to the corn boil and drank a bunch of beer.
At seven PM the next evening, we four ate dinner together at the island and we discussed how things, as in life, could work.
In the morning Sven was not feeling well.
I left for Oshkosh without him.
Forty-five minutes into the family reunion I received a call.
"Hi Millie," says Sven. "Um. I am in the hospital."
After dropping my hamburger on my plate and my sister Louisa back at home, I completed my two-and-a-half-hour journey to the hospital.
"It was a pancreatitis attack," Sven said. "They are keeping me overnight."
I arrived home at eight PM.
I was asleep by nine.
Hunter, the world's best wonder dog and king of the world, barked me out of my coma a few hours later.
"What is your problem now?" I yelled.
And then I heard a noise downstairs.
I forgot we had people living with us.
I jumped out of bed.
"Water broke," said Tyler, looking up at me.
I turned into Dick Van Dyke, trying to find some clothes to put on, splashing water on my face and generally spinning in circles.
I ran down the stairs and I promptly bumped into a woman who just came around the corner from the bathroom.
I let out a shriek.
She gave me a hug.
I guess I knew her.
Anyway, she was Jeri's aunt on her father's side as well as a doula. She was there to take the kids to the hospital.
About a half an hour later, I walked through the emergency entrance and was escorted to their room by an officer who wasn't in the mood to talk, which suited me just fine, since I was speechless.
Eighteen hours is a long time to be in labor.
Just ask Jeri.
But I would like to add that it is also a long time not to be in labor.
I tried lining up four little kid chairs in the family lounge to lie across around three AM.
It really wasn't as comfortable as I'd pictured.
Just before that I'd gotten permission to visit my husband who was down a hall and through a couple doors. I'd taken his sweatshirt from his closet since he was tucked neatly under an extra blanket.
When I returned to room 133 and opened the door it was dark, and it was quiet.
"Oops," I said and backed out.
The almost father and the doula were trying to get some shut eye.
I had no idea the whereabouts of the other grandma.
I tied the arms of my long sleeve shirt into knots at the ends so that I could stick my feet inside them. Being only five feet two inches tall I was sort of able to curl up on two adult sized chairs that I'd arranged face to face. My purse was sort of capable of substituting for a pillow. I am absolutely sure that I might have dozed off for a broken twenty minutes or so.
Shortly after the sun rose, I learned over breakfast that Jeri's other grandma had spotted a padded bench at the end of the hall to stretch out on for a few hours.
My sweet Sven sweet talked his pretty little nurse into unhooking him from whatever was dripping into his bloodstream for a half an hour, in order to join the big party that was taking place in his granddaughter's birthing suite.
Later that afternoon, baby boy Sonny, finally emerged with ten fingers and ten toes.
All eight pounds one ounces of him were absolutely adorable.
I spent a couple more hours with Sven who was not going to be set free.
"Maybe if you quit ordering morphine and toast they will let you out," I said.
And then I drove the half hour drive home, staring blankly at the sun that was starting to get low in the sky.
I couldn't wait to sit on my couch, pour a glass of wine and have myself a grand old fashioned pity party.
But that wasn't in the cards.
There are too many people who care.
There are too many people who are full of love and help the world go round.
Like my brother-in-law for instance. He was out walking Hunter when I got home. And he had picked up a sandwich for me.
And then, there was my daughter-in-law and two granddaughters who were cleaning out my basement and setting up a nursery slash living area for the brand new and newly displaced family that would be released on Tuesday, while two grandsons played basketball in the front and fished in the back, leaving my son Marques to entertain his mother at the island.
At 10:00 PM I was led down the stairs to see what seven hours of hard work could do to a basement.
It was beautiful.
I'm not sure if I have ever been more thankful.
Monday was a busy day. Shopping for all the missing pieces and then a long visiting afternoon between 122 and 133.
Hunter and I enjoyed a bottle of Cabernet and leftover pizza that night.
And then, there it was.
My whole old and my whole new family were sprung.
Hunter hasn't stopped barking since.
"What's that Louisa?"
My sister says that Hunter has never stopped barking.