Bernice and John lived in a small one bedroom suite, in the married couples residence for students, at UBC. The residence was a highrise building on campus, situated within walking distance of the university's main academic buildings. Surrounding the highrise, were small cottage like residences for students and their families. These buildings had originally been family barracks for military families back in World War II. As well there were more modern townhouses for students and their families.
Bernice felt that the absolute best part of living in the highrise was the view seen from their window up on the fifth floor. Another wonderful aspect of the student residence, was the top floor which was a study lounge, and the windows on all sides allowed a stunning view of the lights of the campus at night.
Everything about living on campus, and attending classes at UBC, felt exotic and lovely to Bernice. She and John had come to Vancouver from Saskatchewan, and the lushness, and beauty of the university grounds was a dramatic contrast from life on the prairies.
When Bernice walked to classes in the morning she followed roads lined by pines and fir trees. In the early morning she was amazed to find herself walking through thick clouds of fog - which sometimes hid fellow walkers.
When the baby was born, John was away in Victoria, completing a summer class required by his degree. Bernice stayed awake most of the night before, walking, embroidering, sometimes rocking on her knees on the bed, before she decided it was time to go to the hospital. Her friend and classmate, Jane was waiting to hear from her, and ready to drive to St. Paul's Hospital, and as well act as birth coach.
Bernice came out to the living room of the suite to find John's younger brother, Teddy awake and concerned. She waved goodbye, and headed out to Jane who was waiting with her car. The drive seemed as though it might never end, as they made their way through morning rush hour traffic. Bernice felt a sense of anticipation, mixed with fear that something might happen before making it safely to the hospital.
Things seemed to slow down in the labour room. A monitor was attached, nurses and doctors appeared and disappeared. Jane seemed to be hiding an apprehension, or it seemed that way to Bernice. The birth didn't seem to be following the sequence as described in the prenatal classes, and books. Bernice lost a sense of time, and self.
The chief obstetrician appeared, and gruffly stuck his fist into Bernice, and seemed unhappy. The baby seemed to be a transverse breech, it seemed he couldn't be turned. A stretcher appeared, Bernice was moved onto it, and she seemed to speed down several halls.
Walking beside her was a man, asking her if she wanted a general anesthetic or a local. Bernice was aware local might be preferable, but found herself only thinking about what might be fastest. All she could think was "Please let's get this child safely out." She asked, "Which is fastest?" the man said, general was abit faster. Bernice said "General". She has faint memories of arriving in the delivery room, and of being put to sleep.
Later her friend Jane, came to see her as she woke up, and with a gentle smile on her face, told her the baby was fine, he looked good, all was well. Bernice whispered "God bless you", before returning to a foggy sleep.
John returned that morning by ferry, and was the first to hold their son. Only after he'd seen the baby did Bernice think to ask to see him as well. All it took was holding the baby, and looking on his face, and seeing into his deep, dark eyes, and Bernice was in love. The following week was spent back and forth from her room to the intensive care nursery where this child was staying until he gained weight. All she could think of was him. Lines from a song came to her as she walked the halls, and nursed her son, and expressed her breast milk. It was an old song from her parents record collection, and the first words were "I'm just a simple man, money have I none. But I have silver in the moon and gold in the morning sun."
Later, when things went bad between her and John, and he moved out, Bernice was allowed to stay in the married residence for a few months. John would come over three evenings a week, and spend time with their small infant son, bathing him in the plastic baby bath right up on the kitchen cupboard.He would play with him, and blow bubbles for him, and read to him. Bernice would go up to the study lounge on top of the high rise, and look out at the lights, and read. Sometimes after a few hours she would return to the suite to find John asleep in a chair, with his infant son sleeping against him.