To Take Or Not To Take
Milly fretted over what to take to Scotland, what to throw out, or give to charity. Almost everything she touched held some kind of memory. Some of the furniture would make the trip but others would not. Items such as knives, forks and other items that could be found in a kitchen were destined to go. Slowly, they waded through the debris of their lives and asked: “do we really need this.”
Brad initially wanted to take his entire CD and DVD collection. Milly prowled through the titles. Some she could understand Brad wanting. However, there was one particular title she took issue with. The twelve disc set entitled “Busty Babes in Prison” did not make the cut.
“You’ve got to be kidding. You seriously think this should go to Scotland with us?. You’re about to be a father. Do you really want our children to see this trash?”
“But it’s a collector’s item. And it’s got great music” was Brads only defense.
“I know perfectly well what it’s got and it’s not going to the cottage. I don’t want our children to learn their father watched this garbage while practicing to be a dirty old man. Just holding the case makes me want to wash my hands.” She said nothing about some the stains on the case. She simply didn’t want to know.
Other titles had more redeeming qualities.
“Don’t you think you’re a little old for cartoons. Winnie The Pooh and The Blustery Day. I know you like DVDs but the Walt Disney version of The Sword In The Stone too?”
Brad was packing a box. When Milly started criticizing Winnie The Pooh it was just too much. “I’ll have you know those two titles are classics not likely to be re-released for years. Plus our kids might get a real kick out them. Before you condemn them why don’t you watch them? You might enjoy them.”
After dinner, Milly and Brad watched both the titles. She could actually see the worth of Winnie The Pooh. She conceded her condemnation of Winnie The Pooh had been a little rash. Plus they might come across children’s books with Winnie The Pooh. And having the DVD might encourage them to want to read.
That night, as she lay on her side and Brad snored, she noticed something about Sprog. Something was different. Nothing to be alarmed about. The following day she was due for another doctors appointment. She decided to mention this feeling then.
…One Last Time
“I’ve made a record of your pregnancy under my care for British Airways. I included my cell number, fax number, as well as my office number. Here’s my home number as well but only give it to them if there is some sort of problem at the airport. I sent Dr. Ransom a complete copy of your file so there shouldn’t be any problems there. I want one more scan if that’s all right with you.” Milly changed while Brad waited in the waiting room. The doctor was unhappy with the image on her ultrasound monitor. “I’ve really got to get this thing checked. It’s starting to get some sort of interference. No need to worry. There’s nothing wrong with you at all. Sprog is doing just fine too.” As Milly’s doctor switched off the monitor something appeared for a split second. As Milly got dressed behind the partition she and her doctor had a short conversation. “I’m going to fax Dr. Ransom and ask her to scan you in a weeks time. I want her to confirm these results. As a mother of three boys, I’m going to give you some advice from one mother to a soon-to-be mother. You’re almost at the six-month point in your pregnancy. Let Brad have the window seat and you take the seat by the aisle. The trip is going to be long and planes are dry. I don’t want you getting dehydrated. So get a bottle of water after you go through security. You’re going to be making lots of trips to the ladies room. I know you’ve flown before but you weren’t pregnant then so have the air sickness bag well within your reach. Things may be different this time. You might like flying but Sprog might not.” She handed Milly a small package. “It’s a present for Sprog. It’s a teddy bear. I didn’t wrap it because security guards love to tear wrapping off.” She handed Milly an envelope. Here’s everything you’ll need at the airport. Now scoot. You’ve got a plane to catch.”
“My Seat Has Shrunk”
There were no problems boarding and the medical certificate was accepted. Milly and Brad were shown to their seats in first class. Milly watched Brad slip into his seat with almost annoying ease. “That really burns me up. You just slip right into your seat and I’m as big as a horse! Did you know I’ve got pillows between my hips and my seat? That’s how much of tight squeeze this is.” On this flight, they landed in Glasgow which was much closer to Strathpeffer. When they landed Milly immediately phoned MacTaggert Castle. Jessica answered. “You and Brad must be tired. You’ve had a long flight. It seems like you just left here but when you get here you’ll notice a few…changes. Jamie is driving down to pick you up. I’ll call his mobile and have him pick you up just outside international flights.” As Milly and Brad waited for Jamie Brad put the bags on a baggage trolley. After waiting a short half hour Jamie and the Esprit arrived. With the bags in the trunk, Brad helped Milly into the car. When all three were in the Esprit Milly couldn’t wait to find out all that had happened in their absence. “All right, what’s new? Tell us everything.” Jamie was highly selective in what he said. “Och lass, I canna tell you everything but I can tell you there have been big changes since you left. It seems you gave this town a proper shake. My father and the townsfolk are the best of buddies now. Foster Cottage is coming along nicely. I took a photo for you.” Jamie hand them the print-out.
Milly took a look and oohed and awed at it. It had a gorgeous clawfoot tub, two fireplaces, and Jamie told her about a small veranda that was at the back. “You can thank Jess for the clawfoot. She told my father how you adored the tub at the castle and he ordered one especially for you. He seems quite taken with you.” Brad got a look at the photo too. As Milly sat back and admired the photo there was a reflection coming from something and it was making her close one eye. It happened every time Jamie made a left-hand turn. On his ring finger was a solid gold wedding band. “Jamie Friggin’ MacTaggert! You’re married!” exclaimed Milly. Jamie was in the mood for a little good-natured ribbing and was not taken aback by Milly’s outburst. “Aye lass. That usually happens after a man and woman get engaged. They tend to get married” Brad snickered in the back seat. Jamie continued to give as good as he got. “Jess and I thought about inviting you both but when we heard you were with child we decided we did not want to stress out the mother-to-be.” There was a cough from the back seat. “Sorry, Brad. You’ve been so quiet I totally forgot you were in the car. I guess you’re enjoying the last bit of peace and quiet you can get. It won’t be long now.” Jamie wisely decided to drop the subject and started talking about the cottage again. Before long they entered the outskirts of Strathpeffer. Milly asked if they could stop in the town to say hello to Kendra, Brad’s distant relative.
The Lotus stopped outside the shop. As Brad and Milly got out of the car Kendra came out of the shop to greet them. “Last time we talked ya dinna say anything about starting your own tribe,” said Kendra. “I’d guess you’re about six months along. Am I right?” she added. Milly said she had just started her sixth month. “I’ll be glad when this is over. Six down three to go.” Kendra got Milly a seat. “And you, dear relative, don’t get a seat. Looks like you’ve already done your thing so you get to stand.” Kendra then hugged Milly and Brad. “I’ll do baby sittin’ as long as the wee bairn doesn’t call me Auntie.” Milly then explained they don’t know the gender and they call the unborn baby Sprog. “You should name the wee bairn a strong Scottish name like Angus. The fact that it’s my father’s name is sheer coincidence.” They talked for about ten minutes more. “I think we better get going. My father’ said Jamie. He’s probably anxious to see his newest employees.” As Milly was getting into the car she turned pale and fainted. Brad told Jamie to drive to the hospital.
When they arrived Brad carried Milly in. He explained that she was a new patient of Dr. Dinah Ransom. Dr. Ransom was sent for. Ten minutes later she arrived just as a resident was preparing to an emergency C section. She stopped him before Milly was wheeled into surgery. She took over and did an ultrasound at the request of Milly’s previous doctor. A fetal heartbeat monitor was attached to ultrasound to give a hard copy of the heartbeat. As the scan proceeded Dr. Ransom started to curse. “Damn and blast. I was afraid of this. I think we have mirror twins. Get Dr. Foster in here right now!” she barked. An orderly directed Brad to a small conference room. The two conferred in a small room. “I’m sorry, I don’t have time to sugar coat this. Your wife is carrying mirror twins. Mirror twin are very rare. One sperm fertilizes one egg. Then for some reason, the egg splits. One twin looks perfectly normal at this stage in the pregnancy while the other is essentially starved of nutrients and blood. Your wife’s previous doctor asked me to check for this. One baby will be fine in size and weight. The other will most likely need some time in an incubator. If we did an emergency C section today one baby might survive. One will almost surely die. My advice is to leave them both inside Milly and let mother nature to do her stuff.”
Brad was totally unprepared for any of this. He had to sit down and think.
“How come the twin wasn’t detected until now,” he asked totally bewildered. Dr. Ransom offered up a theory. “A lot of mirror twins are completely missed because their heartbeats are in absolutely perfect synch. Her previous doctor heard one heartbeat and saw one healthy fetus. The other was so tiny and so perfectly placed inside the mother that it literally was hidden from view. Remember, what you saw on an ultrasound was a two-dimensional profile view. The smaller one was probably directly behind the healthier one. Almost all mirror twins are preemies. One is going to need help right after birth. In Canada, one mirror twin weighed in at five pounds eight ounces. Its twin was only three pounds six ounces. That little guy needed six weeks in an incubator just to bring him up to a weight where he could be released. In terms of length, his length at birth was from the inside of your elbow to the base of your thumb. This is one case where size really does matter.”
“Milly means the world to me and so does Sprog,” said Brad.
“Excuse me. Who is Sprog?” asked Dr. Ransom.
“The name Sprog was Milly’s idea. We didn’t want to know the gender of the baby so she decided we should have a name that isn’t associated with either sex. She didn’t want to say “the baby” or “it” for nine months. Hence the name Sprog.”
“Dr. Foster, may I call you Brad.”
“Go right ahead”.
“Let the kids stay put for one more week. I want to do another scan. If…Sprig-“
“You mean Sprog”.
“If those two don’t start getting along we’ll consider doing a C section. You and Milly may have the unenviable choice of deciding who gets to live and who dies. But right now I think the best place for those two is with the mother.” Milly was given some water and some oxygen. As her previous doctor had warned she did not drink enough water and had become dehydrated. When she became conscious Brad filled her in as to what had been happening.
“Now I know why I feel so wiped out. I’m carrying a friggin’ tribe just like Kendra said.” Then Brad filled her in on they have may have to consider. “Jesus. What a choice to have to make. You said Dr. Ransom made a mistake with Sprog’s name. What did she call him hon?”
“She called him Sprig by mistake” answered Brad.
“OK. Since we know there are two babies their names will be Sprig and Sprog. Sprig will the little one. Sprog will be that great big lumbering brute. As for that choice, the one we might have to make, to be honest, I’d rather not have to make it at all. Are you alright with an instant family hon?”
“I want you and both of them if you’re looking for an honest answer kitten.”
Milly had tears in her eyes and she kissed Brad as passionately as she could. “I knew I married you for some reason. Thank you.”
When Dr. Ransom entered the room Milly saw her for the very first time. Her face was familiar yet Milly had never seen her before. Her mind raced to make a connection.
“And how are you feeling young lady?” asked Dr. Ransom. She sat on the edge of the bed.
“Like an exhausted mother of unborn twins usually feels” replied Milly.
“Did you two have a chance to talk?” she looked at Brad.
Again Milly spoke.
“I don’t know if you gamble Dr. Ransom but we’re goin’ for broke. We won’t make a choice of one baby over the other. We want both.”
Brad squeezed his wife’s hand. “The whole kit and caboodle” added Brad.
Milly squeezed his husband’s hand. “We know there’s a risk but we want to try and win.”
“I was hoping you two would make this choice. But I’m warning you right now you’re going to have to make some pretty radical changes starting right now. I want both of you in my office starting next week. The big baby may make a break for it at any time. I want you to be prepared for that. He almost looks full term so things could happen any time now. So that means both of them could be in incubators. We’re both going to be meeting once each week. So remember my name. It’s D-e-e-n-a, not Dinah. I want to see you both once each week prior to birth. I’ll set up the appointment schedule. Right now you need some rest.”
Dr. Ransom lowered her voice noticeably and spoke softly.
“On a completely different note from what I understand I think I should thank you both for turning Fergus into a real human being. I’m not sure how you did it but this entire hospital is glad you did. So on behalf of every employee at Highland Central thank you very, very much. My secretary will phone Brad with your next appointment. Gotta fly.”
That was it. The word “fly” made finally made Milly recall why Dr. Ransom looked so familiar. As Dr. Ransom exited the room Milly yelled “Freeze”.
“Excuse me. I am not used to being barked at”.
Milly apologized but explained she had a question.
“Do you have a sister named Susan and is she a mother yet?”.
Dr. Ransom looked very puzzled. She put her hands in pockets of her white lab coat and sat on the edge of Milly’s bed.
“Yes, I have a sister named Susan. And she had her daughter a few months ago. How in heavens name do you know her?”
Brad explained that Susan was at their wedding and was the pilot who originally brought them to Scotland. He also volunteered that she admitted being the person who gave their old boss the nickname of Dragon Lady.
“You mean there really is a Dragon Lady? I thought Susan was pulling my leg when she told me that.”
Milly explained that Dr. Druk Macbeth, her and Brads old boss was the fearsome Dragon Lady. She also added the only thing fearsome about her was her driving. “Dr. Macbeth has somewhat of a lead foot if you know what I mean.”
Dr. Ransom started laughing. “I’ll be talking to Susan tonight. I’ll say you two say hello. By the way, she named her daughter Milly.”
Milly suddenly grabbed Brad’s hand and started getting all misty-eyed. Dr. Ransom looked at her watch. “Now I really must fly. I try to call before Susan has to feed Milly. First, she feeds Milly then puts her down for a nap. Don’t tell Susan I said this but if I’m late in calling, and I wake up Milly she’s a right horror to get back to sleep.”
Brad started pointing at Milly. “Just like this one. If she’s not fed and watered on time she gets really cranky. When we were talking about names Rasputina was mentioned.”
Dr. Ransom stood up. “Alright, you two. Scoot, scram, get out. I’ll see you next week.” She almost flew out of the room. Brad took Milly to the exit in a wheelchair.
Jamie was almost beside himself. “What’s goin’ on? We were supposed to at the castle an hour ago”. After Milly got in, adjusted herself and put her belt on she told Jamie. “It seems there’s a wee stowaway.” She put her hand on his. “In other words dear friend I just found out I’m carrying twins. One’s very large and the other is very small. Dr. Ransom wants me to rest for the remainder of the pregnancy.” Jamie looked dumbfounded and concerned. “Well, how did that happen?”. He realized he just asked a very dumb question. Brad spoke up. “One sperm fertilized one egg. A few days after conception it split. We don’t know why it split but that’s how you get mirror twins.” Jamie went white as a ghost and as silent as a tomb. When they got to the castle Jessica came out. She too was pregnant. Milly hugged Jessica and Brad shook Jamie’s hand. Jessica was just starting to show. “Welcome to the club,” said Milly.
Milly was a pretty foul mood. In a nutshell, she could do very little but wait while Sprig and Sprog grew inside her. She was allowed out for walks, but aside from that, there was very little she was allowed to do. While Mason, the butler, went about he duties in the castle he couldn’t help but notice Milly’s expression. What should have a happy time in her life was exactly the opposite. Mason and Brad had arranged to communicate on a daily basis. Mason was not very comfortable with cell phones but every day at 4 PM Mason would text Brad with what he called “The Milly Report”. He got Brad’s cell phone number and would text one of two emoji symbols. Soon after they arrived in Scotland Mason regularly texted Brad this “:)” But soon the mood changed. Mason texted “:(” more often than not. Milly openly complained to Brad and came very close to saying he was totally responsible for her dilemma. Brad emailed Dinah and explained that Milly was going crazy with little to actually do. The answer was almost always the same. “Take her for a short walk in the town and buy a magazine.” Milly soon collected a small but substantial pile of magazines all geared to home decorating. When the shipping container arrived at the cottage Dr. Ransom said Milly could not decorate her own house which didn’t go over particularly well. To try and remedy matters Brad went into town and bought a small tripod for his phone. When he screwed it into the side of his phone he was able to transmit live images of the container to Milly’s phone. Tyler and Brad did the heavy lifting while Milly directed from the comfort of an easy chair in MacTaggert castle. Milly got to enjoy the “remote decorating” but would have preferred actually decorating her home with her own hands. Milly gave herself the title of “forewoman”. Tilly tried to make an uncomfortable situation bearable by being there for her daughter.
“A little to the right…more…more..got it! Freeze”. Tyler was beginning to wonder if his daughter had been a tyrannical Hollywood director in a former life. One day Tyler and Brad were trying to place the sofa in what would be the family/living room. Brads phone had an unusually sensitive microphone and Milly could hear every grunt, groan, curse and moan coming from Tyler or Brad. When Brad or Tyler got tired they would start calling Milly “Master”. One day while directing the placement of a picture her water broke.
“WHOOPS…AGH…OH CRAP!”. Then Tilly translated. “C’mon back boys…it’s time. Her water just broke.”
Brad was in the delivery room but was of little use. He was primarily the target of curses hurled at him by Milly.
“TOUCH ME AGAIN AND I’LL MAKE YOU THE OLDEST LIVING MEMBER OF THE VIENNA BOYS CHOIR!”
Dr. Ransom urged her to push.
“YOU PUSH DAMN YOU!”
Sprog was the first to make her entrance. “Got him…I mean her”. Milly sat back, soaked in sweat. “OK people. We’ve one more to come…on your toes,” said Dr. Ransom. Milly, who was in labor for fifteen hours, was exhausted. “Look doc, I’m too tired to push. Can’t you just reach in and get him?” Dr. Ransom knew Milly was tired so she tried a little maternal psychology. “Imagine the tax man is here to take away your daughter.” Milly sat up and made the fiercest face. Sprig just eased out. “OK. This one is an incubator kid. What’s his name, Milly?”
“I like Angus”.
Angus wailed at the sudden temperature change. He didn’t think much of his new accommodations and let his displeasure known.
“Oh for Christ’s sake’s…who’s bawling their brains out?”
Dr. Ransom put Angus on top of Milly. Milly started kissing and cuddling him. “Where did you come from little one?”. “And here’s your daughter”. Milly looked at her red hair and called her Jessica. Brad waddled out of the delivery room, covered in sympathetic sweat, and took off his mask. Tilly and Tyler asked about Milly. “Milly is gorgeous. She’s a mother to twins, Angus and Jessica.” Tyler got up from the couch he and Tilly had been sitting in. He approached Brad and put his hand on Brad’s shoulder. “This is the start of whole new chapter in all our lives son. Thank you.”
When Milly was moved to a private room she made herself more presentable. Tyler and Tilly visited. Baby Jessica was with her and all bundled up. Tilly cooed, oohed and awed at her new granddaughter. Angus was down the hall in an incubator complaining most vocally about the way his incubator was decorated. Jamie and Jessica entered Milly’s room. As Jessica entered Tilly said she should say hello to her namesake. Jessica took a look at her young namesake and started crying. Soon Dr. Ransom entered the room and ordered everybody out. “All right everybody out. Milly’s been through a lot and needs to rest. The show’s over. You have an entire lifetime to get acquainted. Everybody Out.” Just then baby Jessica started to cry. “Maybe the show is just starting”.
I’ve done two separate series over the last year and I’m kind of bushed. So I’m going to rest, recharge my batteries and return in the new year. Stay safe. Tom