Tips From Pips
The Winter Storm
The Winter Storm…
A Short Story - Written by: Lisa A. Fallon
The winter storm came in like a wrecking ball! Huge flakes of snow were descending to the ground in inches in a matter of minutes. The wind was blowing so hard, you could barely see your feet in front of you. But LeAnn trudged forward with all her might. She had to get to the barn quickly. Dressed in her oversized gray jacket with a fur hood closed tightly around her head, her snow boots, cover-all’s, hat, scarf, and gloves she moved forward ever so carefully as to not lose her balance in the piling snow.
She was on a mission to see the births. She wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
The Barn was old, but sturdy. In the corner of one stall, the hay was packed up to the ceiling. Several warm blankets were placed on the floor and the woodstove was stocked full of glowing logs. The barn was nice and toasty warm. A perfect place to give birth, she thought.
As she entered the little stall, she shook off the snow, hung up her jacket, took off her hat, scarf and gloves and went to work.
Setting the coffee pot to brew a full pot on the nearby table, she got her mug ready to fill. It was going to be a long night, she had planned for this day in the past few weeks, and she was ready to stay up all night if necessary.
It was a very rare pregnancy they told her, but not uncommon. A rare gift they had told her. She was both excited and nervous at the same time. The storm was raging outside, she could hear the wind blowing in from the barn doors. She was worried that there would be complications and there was no way a vet could get to her in time.
She was on her own. Her daughter was asleep in bed, and she did not want to wake her up this late at night. But she had a sneaking suspicion that her daughter would sneak her way into the barn anyway.
She poured herself her first cup of coffee and anchored down, while the storm raged all around her outside. She prayed everything would be all right.
Judy was anxious all day long. When her water finally broke that early in the morning, she thought she was prepared for this. She thought she would be ready. She thought it would be fine. But she wasn’t ready, she wasn’t fine. Anxious and nervous and scared out of her mind, she called her mother and filled her in on what was happening.
“You need to get to the hospital right now!” Her mother told her. Are you having contractions yet? “I think I feel one coming on now.” She told her mother clutching her belly. “Don’t worry honey, I am on my way over now. I’ll drive you to the hospital myself.” She reassured her only daughter.
Judy had prepared for this day. She had her bags packed and ready to go, the first day she found out she was pregnant. She nearly fainted right there in the Dr’s office when they told her to sit down, they had some very exciting news to tell her. She added another packed bag when they told her it was twins.
“How am I going to raise twins?” She asked her mother. “You are going to be a great mother” she said. “And I will be here to support you and help you every step of the way.” She told her. “No worries, you are going to be just fine.” She told her. Judy believed her then, but back then it was easy. She wasn’t showing any baby bumps yet, she was still working full-time, and she never once got morning sickness. But now, now that the time was here to bring these twin girls into the world, she wasn’t so sure it was going to be just fine.
How was she going to raise these babies on her own? Panicked because her mother was not there yet, and another contraction coming on – she didn’t even notice the winter storm was raging up outside her home.
LeAnn was comforting the mother cow by caressing her head, when she heard the barn door fly wide open. “Why didn’t you wake me up?” She scolded her mother. “You know I want to be here! I wouldn’t miss these births for anything!” “Hurry up and close that barn door before you let all the heat out!” She yelled at her only daughter. Colleen brushed off the snow, stomped her boots and hung up her over-sized jacket and hat on the peg by the hay loft. She was determined to settle in before any of the action started to happen. “How’s she doing?” Colleen asked. “She is calm right now for the most part.” “But I do think it is going to be a long, hard birthing process for her.” “Twins are so rare for a cow.” “I hope I can get through to the Vet when the time comes!” She told her daughter exasperated. “I don’t know, Mom, it is quite the storm brewing out there!” “Maybe we should call her now, just in case?” She asked her mother. “I will, I didn’t want to call her too soon and have her just out here waiting for hours. I am sure she has other calls to make.” She answered, sounding very uncertain to her daughter.
“Well, let’s just try to make her as comfortable as possible for now.” Colleen advised her worried mom.
“Oh my God!” Judy’s mother Barbara announced as she flew in the back door! “It is a raging snowstorm out there right now!” We need to go, right now or we are going to be stuck in it!” She yelled for her daughter. “What storm?” Judy asked. “The snowstorm that is coming down like crazy outside!” “Are you not seeing this?” She asked her daughter. “Look outside!” “Oh gosh, I have been so focused on keeping it together through these contractions, that I didn’t even notice!” Judy said to her mother as another excruciating contraction came on.
Her mother grabbed her bags, and quickly took them out to the car she had parked in front of the garage. She did not want to admit it to her daughter, but she was very worried about driving in this weather, and the condition her daughter was in. She prayed everything would be all right.
As LeAnn poured herself another cup of coffee, they sat next to Big Bertha keeping her as comfortable as they could. They waited patiently for Big Bertha to give them a sign that she was ready to give birth. Laying on her side and looking a bit more uncomfortable Big Bertha was clearly ready for the big event. It was 11:00 at night, the wind was howling, and the snow was coming down in big flakes outside the barn windows. LeAnn and Colleen were ready to help her any way they could.
LeAnn grabbed a couple more logs and placed them in the wood stove. She was praying that they didn’t lose power, and she had Colleen gather a few lanterns to keep close, just in case. As they both were waiting, snuggled up by the warm fire, LeAnn was remembering the day that she and Colleen helped bring Big Bertha into this world. It was a bright Fall Day. Autumn had arrived bringing with it so many spectacular colors. It was a breathtaking view at the farm. It was unusually warm that day, and LeAnn had all the windows open in the house and in the barn. The barn doors were wide open, and a big bed of hay was laid down on the floor for the birth of Bertha. (They had both given her that name after just a few days old) Bertha had grown up to be such a huge cow, they changed her name to “Big Bertha” fittingly so. She would come running whenever they had called her name out in the field. Her Mother had died after giving birth to her on that beautiful day. It was a sad day for them all, but Bertha was given a great bill of health by the local Vet. She thrived on the farm, and Colleen had instantly fallen in love with her.
Colleen did not even mind her daily chores on the farm, especially when she could go milk her favorite cow. She had given them lots of milk over the last couple years, and they had decided that maybe Big Bertha should have a calf of her own. When the vet told LeAnn she was going to have twins, she was floored, but she always knew that Big Bertha was a special cow and she wasn’t surprised at all that this miracle had even happened.
Today was the day that another miracle was going to happen and Leann and Colleen were so excited to witness this birth. They sat patiently with their memories as the storm surged outside.
As Judy piled into the back seat of the car, she was too huge to sit up front and be comfortable at this point, she gasped in pain as another contraction came. She couldn’t believe the amount of snow that had piled up outside her garage. She was getting increasingly worried that they would not make it to the hospital in time. Her mother tried to reassure her, as she backed slowly out of the garage. The hospital was about 30 miles away, and with the snow coming down, LeAnn knew she had to take it slow and steady. She knew it would take over an hour to get there, maybe longer in this weather.
Thank goodness a snowplow truck had already come and plowed her driveway, and the State trucks were out and about clearing the roads. It was going to be a long, worrisome drive, but LeAnn was confident she could get her daughter there in time. She had already called the hospital ahead of time to inform them that they were on their way. And they assured her they would be ready for Colleen, and to drive safely.
As she drove past the snow covered houses, all decorated for Christmas, Colleen had tried to make herself more comfortable in the back seat. Throwing the blue and pink crocheted Afghan her mother had made for her over herself, she settled in for the long drive. Her mother had given her the blanket when she told her she was pregnant, not knowing the sex of the babies at the time. At first, she didn’t want to know the sex of the babies. Overcome with grief at the passing of her husband nine months earlier, she just couldn’t handle knowing anything or even preparing for the births without him there.
The babies would be born at Christmas time, they told her. Christmas miracles they said. The only miracle she wanted then was her husband to be alive and to be with her and the babies. As the months went by, and she grew bigger and bigger, the reality of this pregnancy became noticeably clear for her. She was going to be raising two babies on her own with no husband and no father. She prayed she could manage it all.
When the lights flickered in the barn, they both became very anxious. Lighting the lanterns just in case, they wanted to make sure they could see everything when Big Bertha gave birth. Colleen suggested she run back to the house, to make sure everything was ok, and to grab some flashlights. She was also getting hungry and wanted to grab some snacks for them to eat while waiting. Her mouth was drooling at the thought of those Christmas cookies waiting on the kitchen counter for them to devour the next day. It was Christmas Eve after all. The turkey was ready to go in the fridge. The casseroles were all prepared. The pies were baked. LeAnn wanted to make sure everything was ready to go and perfect for Christmas, in case Big Bertha was ready to give birth. She would have Colleen run back and forth from the barn to the house getting everything in the oven and ready for Christmas day.
Colleen had to shovel a path from the barn to the house, clearing it away enough, so that they could get back and forth quickly if necessary. The barn was only a few feet from their house, making it easier to clear a path. Grabbing the snacks and flashlights, and making sure everything was sound in the house, she hurriedly went back to the barn holding the scarf tightly around her face. The snow was almost blinding with the wind, and she was glad she made the path wide enough so as not to fall on the way back. She prayed that the power would not go out.
With encouraging words expressed by her mother driving, she assured Judy that everything was going to be just fine. Judy settled back and closed her eyes for just a few minutes waiting for the next contraction to come. As she drifted off, she was dreaming of her life to come. It was Christmas Eve after all, and the babies were coming right on time. Christmas day they told her. She didn’t believe it, as she knew they would come whenever they were ready. She didn’t know if she could bear the thought of bringing them into the world on Christmas day without her husband there by her side. Flash forward to the future, she imagined their first day of school. Dressing them in identical pink and blue outfits, she watched them get on the bus and head off to school. Her mother was there by her side blowing them kisses until the school bus was out of sight. She felt a sense of calm and peace come over her. It was so strong that she woke up startled as she felt the car start to slide sideways in the road.
Stomping the snow off her feet and shaking herself clear of snow, Colleen once again hung up her snow-covered jacket on the peg by the hayloft. Bundled up with her over-sized blue sweater and glad to feel the heat from the woodstove, she dropped her supplies on the table by the coffee maker and quickly ran over to where her mother was standing over Big Bertha. “Is it time?” she asked her mother. Just as she asked that question she looked down at what her mother was watching to see first one front foot, then the other, followed by a nose, and a head. “Yes, it is most definitely time”. She answered her daughter.
As the clock struck midnight, the first calf was born. Looking at her watch and realizing it was indeed after midnight Colleen whispered, “Merry Christmas Mom!” Helping Big Bertha with the first calf out, they got right to work making sure the calf was breathing and cleaned her all up, as they waited for Big Bertha to continue delivering the second calf.
Gaining control of the car very quickly, Barbara was more and more concerned about driving in this snow. “Are you ok back there?” she asked Judy. “Yes Mom, I was just dreaming and startled awake.” “Are we almost there?” she asked, feeling more concerned than her mother at this point, as the contractions were getting closer and closer together. “Just twenty more minutes to go, almost there, I pray.” She told her worried daughter. “Just as long as we get there in time”. She responded to her mom. “I do not, I repeat, do not want to have these babies on this back seat!” she said.
Just then, another car headed towards them in the middle of the road. “Watch out!” Colleen screamed at her mother, but it was too late. The car fishtailed over the line and hit them sideways, pushing them over to the side of the road and just barely missing a big oak tree. Two branches from the tree broke off and slammed down next to the side of their car, blocking the drivers’ side door. As Barbara hit her head back against the seat, she passed out. When she awoke all she could see was orange and white lights gleaming into the car.
LeAnn was getting very worried about Big Bertha, but she didn’t let onto Colleen that she was concerned about the health of the second calf. She was struggling to be born, and Big Bertha was not looking too good. Colleen tried to get through to the Vet’s office with no luck just as the power flickered off. “No one is answering at the office, the phone lines must be down too.” She said to her. “Try her on her cell phone” LeAnn told her. “It went straight to voicemail, so I left her a message.” Colleen said. “What are we going to do?” she pleaded with her mother. “Pray.” She told her daughter. “Just, pray.”
Barbara woke up with a flashlight gleaming into her eyes. “It’s going to be ok Ma’am – we are going to get you out of here” he said. “My daughter, my daughter, is she ok? Where is she?” “She is on the way to the hospital. She is going to be just fine.” He told her again. “Who are you?” she asked the young man who was trying to keep her calm with his soothing voice and manner.” “I am the plow truck driver, and a paramedic.” He told her. “I was following you from a bit behind, when I saw that other car coming towards you.” “I saw the whole accident and now I am going to get you out of here.” He said once again.
“But my daughter, she is pregnant with twins! We were on our way to the hospital to give birth!” she yelled at him. “Don’t worry.” He assured her again. “The ambulance is on the way to the hospital with your daughter.” “She is going to be just fine, as are the babies.” He assured her once again.
With the siren sounding off, and the ambulance driver being incredibly careful driving in the snow, they made it to the hospital just as Judy woke up. She was dreaming back to that day when her twins were going off to kindergarten. “Everything is going to be ok Judy.” “We are at the hospital now, and you are going to give birth to those babies very soon.” “Just relax, breathe, and let us help you.” Two paramedics on the scene assured her. “Your doctor is waiting for you inside.” “Are you ready?” they both asked her in unison. “My Mom, my mom. Where is my mom? I cannot do this without her!” “Where is my mother?” she yelled, panicked at the thought that her mother was gone now too.
“She is on her way here now.” They told her. “She is awake and also very worried about you.” “She will be here in a few minutes we are told.” “Just stay calm and let us get you inside.” They told her, not knowing her mothers’ condition at all, or the condition of her two babies.
Just as they finished saying prayers for Big Bertha, Colleen looked down to see first one front foot, then the other, followed by a nose, and a head. The second calf was being born right before their eyes. They both helped Big Bertha by pulling on the calf to help her get the newborn out. With relief and happiness, they went straight to work helping the second calf and making sure Big Bertha was doing ok as well. As the second calf made its way out, Big Bertha suddenly made a terrible noise, as she tried to get up from the hay.
Judy was rushed into the maternity ward and into the labor room. Her doctor was waiting for her with a whole team of assistants. “Are you ready to have these Christmas Miracles Judy?” She asked her. “It’s after midnight! It’s Christmas Day.” She told her. “I can’t!” she told them. “Not without my mother! Where is my mother?” she asked as an excruciating labor pain ran through to her very core. “It’s time Judy.” Her doctor told her. “You need to start pushing these babies out now.” As another contraction hit Judy full on tears were flowing down her cheeks. She was so uncertain about what was going to happen, she just could not do it without her mother there. It was bad enough, her husband was gone, and now her mother too.
She was so grief stricken, she just could not handle any more pain, mentally or physically. She was giving up and the doctor noticed that she was suffering. Worried about the health of her patient and the babies, she was prepared to do a C-section if necessary. She signaled to her assistants to get ready for an emergency C-section to be performed if necessary. Just then the labor room doors opened and in came her mother in scrubs being escorted through the doors in a wheelchair.
Just then, the barn doors opened wide and bustling to get inside all covered in snow, the Vet had arrived. Hanging up her snow-covered parka, on the peg by the hayloft, stomping her boots and shaking the snow off her head, she said. “I got your message. I got here as soon as I could. Did I miss anything yet?” she asked them. She had barely made it up their road and to their barn, slipping and sliding up the hill. “It is a real snowstorm out there!” she told them. “There is power out all over town!” “Let me get these doors closed and take a look at Big Bertha!” She said to them, while trying to catch her breath.
Just as she was closing the door, she heard a calf making noise, turned her head and was astonished to see two calves standing upright in a pile of hay. “Oh, my goodness, I am too late.” “Just look at them!” “They are a sight for sore eyes!” “And just in time for Christmas!” she said happily to them. “It’s Big Bertha though.” Colleen said to her. ”She’s not doing so well.” She said through tear-stricken eyes. “You came just in time.” “Can you help her?” she asked. “Let me take a look.” She said to Colleen.
“Mom!” Judy screamed. “You made it! You are ok!” Colleen turned to see her mother wheeling as fast as she could to the side of her bed with tears streaming down her cheeks, just as Judy had another contraction and the Doctor told her to push with all her might.
As the Vet went over to look at Big Bertha, Leann and Colleen brought the two calves over to be by her side. They thought if she could see both her daughters, she would fight with all her strength to stay alive to care for them. With a groan and a grunt, Big Bertha stood up and started licking both of her calves. As the Vet looked her over, she advised them to make sure Big Bertha stayed rested. They brought her some food and water and kept her calm with her two babies who were already feeding from their momma. “What names have you given to them?” asked the Vet.
“I think we will name them Merry and Joy” Colleen said happily. “Merry and Joy” are perfect names for them.” The Vet and LeAnn agreed happily.
“Just one more giant push and your first miracle daughter will be out.” the doctor told her. With her mother by her side encouraging her, and pushing with all her might, she found a new strength she never knew she had. She could feel her husband’s presence watching over her and before she knew it, she could hear the cries of her first-born baby daughter. But with one more to go, the doctor became increasingly concerned that Colleen was not going to be strong enough to push the second baby out on her own. The baby’s welfare was in jeopardy, and she once again alerted her team of assistants to get ready to do a C-section.
Just then the power went out in the hospital, and everyone panicked. It took a few minutes for back-up generators to kick on, and the doctor was encouraging Colleen to not give up, that she would need to regain all her strength and courage to help bring this second miracle baby into the world.
Colleen felt herself drifting off. She was so tired that all she wanted to do was sleep. She once again had that dream of her twin daughters getting on that bus headed off to kindergarten. But instead of her mother blowing kisses to them until the bus was out of sight, it was her husband blowing kisses to them. He ever so gently reached over to her, put his hand on her shoulder and said to her “you got this!” Startled by everyone hustling in the room, and her mother crying out for her to wake up, she looked out the window in the room, and saw that the snow had stopped, and the sun was shining through the snow-covered glass.
With one final push and all the strength she could muster up, the doctor and team were amazed when the second little miracle baby girl emerged. With cries out loud from that little pink face, tears erupted on everyone’s face in the room. As the nurses bundled up the two twin daughters and handed them to Colleen, they all asked her what names she was going to give to them.
Without even thinking about names until just then she looked down at her two little miracle daughters. She suddenly remembered that it was Christmas Day. With tears of merriment and joy streaming down her face, she turned to look at her mother and told them all “I am going to name my daughters Merry and Joy.”
The End …