The days ticked by one by one. Soon, the weather grew cold and the leaves turned colors.
Rosemary’s tummy grew and her vision blurred. She and I, along with Melanie, had watched a DVD showing how she would end up seeing once the disease reached its final stages. It showed a person standing in front of a door. Against the bright outdoor light, the person was just a shadowy form. Movement could be detected, though you couldn’t see any details. You couldn’t tell if it was a woman or a man or what their hair color was. They were just a blurry shadow moving against a bright light.
Rosemary cried from time to time over the prospect of not only becoming blind but of raising kids along with it, though she did so less and less with time. It seemed that the longer she knew there was no escaping the inevitable, the easier it was to accept.
We also saw some of the birthing series they had on TV. Rosemary wasn’t sure which was scarier, the prospect of going blind or of giving birth.
“Would you give them up for adoption if bringing them into this world ends up killing me?” she asked me one day.
“Of course not, and it won’t kill you. You might think it will for a few minutes in the end there, but it won’t,” I assured her.
I took a lot of pictures of Rosemary along the way and loved to place a hand on her tummy to feel the babies move. Rosemary didn’t always think that was so cool. Especially when she was trying to sleep.
Rosemary soon learned Braille, though it was with great reluctance, anger and frustration.
It turned out that I knew someone who wanted to sell their house around the time the lease expired in March, a month after the babies were due, so Rosemary and I went to look at it while she still had enough eyesight to get an idea of its layout. Understandably, from what our discussions said, we didn’t want to move into a place with a layout Rosemary had never seen, if we could help it. We also wanted a single-story house with no stairs for her to risk falling down.
By the time Rosemary reached her third trimester, she could no longer read regular print.
One of the rats died right around that time and Marilyn agreed to take the other one. This was a very sad turning point for Rosemary, to never again see rats, which had become her favorite pets.
Right before the babies were born, she was still able to recognize people if she was close enough to them, but not much else. She couldn’t see the computer monitor very well, either.
I could see that although it was heart-wrenching for me to watch Rosemary’s eyesight deteriorate, I tried to remain cheerful and positive, focusing on the babies and the things Rosemary could do without being able to see.
I took a leave of absence two weeks before the babies were born and made it a point to be with her more often. I wanted to be there when the time came. And I was.
She emerged from the bathroom clad in a terrycloth robe to tell me her water had broken during her shower one cold, snowy February morning. I snatched up the phone to call the EMTs.
The pain was already intense as I guided her to a hard folding chair.
“I know this isn’t very comfortable, but it could make things harder if you’re on the couch or the bed.”
Rosemary began to sob in pain and fear and said, “Please don’t let the babies or me die, Katie. Please help us!”
“Help’s on the way, babe. Just stay put,” I told her as I ran to gather up some towels.
A bloodcurdling scream ripped from Rosemary just as I returned with the towels. “I’m tr-trying not to push,” she said breathlessly, “but it hurts so much and they’re trying to make their way out now!”
“It’s ok. You can push now.”
“Not here!” Rosemary shrieked in horror. “This has to be done in the hospital. I’ll bleed to death here.”
“That’s extremely unlikely, babe. And like I said, help is coming real soon. They’ll be here in a matter of minutes. You’re in good hands, trust me. Just get pushing.”
Rosemary let out another chilling scream of agony.
“Push now! You have no choice. You’ve simply got to do this here and now.”
And that was just what she did. By the time the EMTs arrived three or four minutes later, my family had doubled in size. I cried tears of joy as I kissed Rosemary over and over again. She cried tears of joy too, though she was still in pain.
“I’m sorry, Katie,” she said, weak with fatigue, “that I wanted to get rid of them.”
“It’s ok,” I smiled as they loaded her and the babies onto a stretcher. “You didn’t.”
We all left in the ambulance, and a few hours later, Melanie showed up. She waited outside. I arrived not long afterward in a taxi. We high-fived each other, then hugged happily. I was grinning from ear to ear. We chatted a while, then I came inside to spend a long lonely, restless night alone. I gazed longingly at the empty side of the bed and at the empty crib at the foot of it that I had built myself.
Melanie came to get me the next day. “I hope you enjoyed the peace and quiet. Your life is going to be anything but that from now on.”
“That’s ok,” I said with a smile.
“So, Angel and Dylan, huh?”
I nodded, still smiling. “That’s what we settled on, yes. I more or less came up with Angel, she came up with Dylan.”
Melanie then took me to get an exhausted Rosemary and a screaming Angel and Dylan.”
“God, these little things are loud!” Melanie exclaimed. “And they’re only five pounds each?”
I laughed as Melanie picked one of them up.
“Who’s this?” she asked as I reminded her to support the head.
“Pink sleeper. Must be Angel,” Rosemary said with a yawn, sitting down on the couch.
The child continued to wail yet when Melanie handed her to me, she quieted right down.
“At least she knows who her other mom is,” said Melanie, picking up Dylan who wore a blue sleeper.
He began to wail too, until he was given to Rosemary.
“They going to call you both mom?”
“No,” I said, “we figured that may be too confusing. She can be Mom and I’ll just be Kay.”
“So how ya feeling, Rosemary?” asked Melanie.
“Content, but fat and tired.”
“Well, you better get used to it, little mama. You’ll eventually catch up on your sleep, but from what I’ve heard, you almost never return to your old size unless you were heavy to begin with.”
“Thanks for the reminder,” Rosemary said sarcastically.
“She’s beautiful just the way she is,” I said with a smile.
“That’s true. Time to say goodbye now,” Melanie said, stepping up to Angel who lay asleep in my arms as I gently swayed back and forth.
“Don’t get too close,” warned Rosemary. “You’ll scare her half to death.”
“Not nearly as much as you will when you get pissed,” Melanie retorted.
Although I knew Rosemary and Melanie loved to tease each other, I said, “Ok, you two.”
Melanie left, giving Rosemary a hug. Rosemary then shuffled over to the bed.
“No computer work yet?” I asked.
Rosemary snorted. “Have a couple of kids tear through you and you won’t be in much of a computer mood too soon after the fact yourself.”
I laughed. “I suppose not.”
Rosemary spent the next few days alternating between sleeping and nursing. I would watch with contentment and joy, taking turns in the feeding by giving them bottles containing Rosemary’s milk. I even used some myself for my coffee. It was the same as regular milk, after all.
“Yeah, a cow is a cow,” Rosemary had said, though to me she was just as lovely.
“This is when I’m really glad I’m gay,” Rosemary told me one lazy afternoon when we were lounging in bed during one of the twin’s naps. “We not only don’t have to worry about birth control, but so many men can’t stand to look at their women after they’ve had kids.”
I smiled mischievously. “I can do a lot more than just look, sweet Angel Eyes.”
Rosemary smiled back. “You better hurry up. Our time is limited and not much of our own these days.”