I must diverge here from my part of the story and tell you a bit of Cliff’s, because the next labor fell to him—telling the other children.
My mother and dad had kept the children for us. Cliff had called and told them what happened and asked them not to say anything to the kids. He left the hospital and drove to my parents house. Once they were in the car, the kids were full of questions.
“Did mom really have the baby?”
“Is it a boy or a girl?”
“When can we see?”
“What color eyes does the baby have?”
“Who does it look like?”
I don’t know how he managed to keep it together, but he convinced them he wouldn’t answer any questions until they were home and ready for bed. He was stalling for his own sake.
They were bursting with excitement, but managed to get into pajamas. They gathered in Jenifer’s room where the baby bed shared space on the wall with her kid-sized kitchen.
“The baby’s name is Allison.”
Jenifer jumped up and down. “I knew it was a girl! I knew it all along!”
He showed them Allison’s lock of hair and footprint. “I need to tell you another thing.” He paused and they all stared at him. “A blood vessel ruptured in her umbilical cord and she couldn’t get enough air. The baby died.”
Jenifer’s eyes welled with tears. Andrew went pale. Stephen, who was seldom still, didn’t move.
Cliff hugged them while they cried. He knew that as a father he could comfort them, but only a heavenly Father could heal their broken hearts. So he prayed for them and held them close.
“I guess we have to take the baby bed down and put it away,” Jenifer said.
Stephen jumped up on the bed. “That’s okay. God will give us another baby. God’s got plenty of babies.”
Out of the mouth of babes…
They all slept together that night. He read to them. They comforted each other as one or the other would wake and cry.
The next morning, Cliff was sitting on the hearth when Jenifer ran through the den. She stopped when she saw the tears in his eyes.
“I know why you’re crying. I remind you of Allison, don’t I?”
“Two things I’ll tell you,” she said. “You’ve got me and I’ll take care of you.”