As days passed, we grew more accustomed to our news. I remained genuinely delighted that we were having triplets. There was, however, something that concerned me, something that I did not feel I could or should discuss with Jane. She was worried enough already.
Early in her pregnancy she had come close to losing what we thought then was a single baby. To prevent this her doctor gave her some medication and confined her to bed.
What worried me now was a discussion that had taken place months earlier between my mother and an acquaintance of hers. The lady had told Mama that her doctor would not prescribe medication to stop hemorrhaging during pregnancy. His opinion was that nature works things out for the best, that such treatment might save a child who would be better off unborn.
Had we done wrong by trying to save our baby? I was ashamed to even entertain such a thought. It seemed selfish to worry, for I wasn’t sure if the worry was more for our children or for us. With the pending arrival of three babies, however, I could not avoid contemplating our future.
Jane had earned a master’s degree in special education. She had used it to teach students with both mental and physical handicaps. Their every accomplishment was exciting to her. She would often come home proudly telling about things such as someone who had written his name for the first time. Sometimes she would bring home a paper where one of her children had scribbled, “I love you Mrs. Joiner.” Her teaching was generously seasoned by a very loving heart.
Now I wondered if her training was God’s way of preparing her to cope with the three children He was giving us. Had we circumvented nature? Had we made a mistake? I asked those questions only of myself, and I wondered. Each night I wondered.
Mama called me at work at Rooney Bowen Chevrolet on December 22, 1978. “You better come quickly. Jane’s about to have the babies.” Mama had taken Jane to Warner Robins for a regular checkup, but she was calling from the hospital. The trio wasn’t due until late January. Her words assured me that everything was alright, but her voice said that it wasn’t.
I suppose the news of an early delivery should not have surprised us. Jane’s stomach had expanded beyond what seemed its capacity. My cousin-employer, Rooney Bowen, drove me to Warner Robins in his blue Caprice, ignoring the speed limit signs along I-75.
During the early complications of her pregnancy I had somewhat resolved myself to the possibility of a miscarriage. On the quick trip with Rooney, however, I was rapidly losing that resolve. I had seen them kicking their way around their secluded home. My hands had almost touched them as they pressed against the confines of tight quarters. I already loved them. Now I wanted to know them.
I raced into the hospital, hoping that my arrival had preceded that of the trio. A nurse assured me that I had made it in time. To my surprise she escorted me toward the delivery room.
“I’m not one of the Lamaze husbands,” I said. “I might upset her.” She kept walking and made no reply.
“I don’t want to get in the way,” I continued. “Just tell her I’m here.”
“You tell her,” said the nurse as she pointed to my wife. Jane was walking around in a quiet hallway, just as pregnant as ever.
“Why aren’t you in bed?” I demanded.
“It’s alright,” she said. “It wasn’t as urgent as we thought. You better get something to eat. It will probably be awhile.”
It was 1:30 p.m., well past our usual lunch time. My brother, Jimmy, left and came back with four hamburgers. I guess the excitement was too much for our family as only one burger was eaten. I could have eaten the other three, but a nurse informed us that the main event was only minutes away.