Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Can't people just get it already???

I'm annoyed. I'll warn you now this a whining post about the potential 'birth' of this baby. So feel free to look away and I'll understand.
I saw my OB today and he told me that the two dates I had chosen last time were not available when they called. The OR's were booked. So they rescheduled, without asking me, for the following Friday. There are many reasons why this is bothering me. One, I don't want to deliver on a Friday because that means I will spend the weekend in the hospital. What this means at my hospital, is that it will be crowded, loud, noisy and the nurses will be understaffed and over busy. This is the best hospital in the area. It has a Children's Hospital attached. It has everything you want as a high risk OB patient both for my care and for any potential complications for the baby. But it is also right in the middle of a 'not so nice' area and serves the uninsured and the indigent population that surrounds it. My experience with the Ob floor is that the nurses spend a great deal of their time chasing large families who defy the visiting rules, i.e no children, no more than 2 visitors per patient at a time etc.. off the floor. On the weekends this is many, many times worse. Many of these families bring sickly kids, lots of them and then have them running around on the floor, "just for a few minutes" while so and so says hi, blah blah blah. It's loud, it's annoying and I don't want to deal with it. It boils down to any needs of mine or any other patient coming second to having to ask for the nurses to first act as sheriff and then, please bring me my baby. Preferably down a hallway that isn't littered with kids and germs and strangers. Also, if you do the math, that Friday happens to be the Friday before Thanksgiving. Which isn't that big of a deal but it does mean that I'll be released the Monday before and will be the most neediest the week of Thanksgiving, not so great when your husband is in the Hotel industry. Finally, pushing the delivery back to that Friday, puts me at almost 40 weeks. I DID NOT want to go that far. I wanted the baby out at 38 weeks. My doc says that isn't the "current medical standard" for scheduled c-sections. So he offered up the early dates that I went with last time, which were a Monday and Tuesday. Now I am Friday. And I am pissed. Shouldn't I be at the front of the line? Shouldn't they have pushed me in, for Christs sake, what do you have to do to get a little preferential treatment? Wasn't my baby dying enough??? Should I really have to beg for this???? I was so stunned I didn't say anything in the office because the news was followed up with the "OK, we are starting your stress testing today, twice a week and the amniotic fluid level checks. Come with me to the nurse who will schedule everything". I followed along and it wasn't until I was done scheduling all of that, that I really had time to think about the new date.
Now I have and I don't like it. Does anyone have thoughts on the 38 week 'standard'? I know I have to make a phone call, I just hate having to fight over stupid shit like this. It's hard enough for me to even wrap my head around believing my baby will be born alive much less having to battle over when that day might be.
God, I am so tired. I think the stress is getting to me and the closer I get, the more worried I have become and everything is setting me off. Why do I have to keep explaining that to everyone. Why does it seem like I am the only one this has ever happened to, otherwise wouldn't the doctors office have pushed to get me in on the dates I chose? Can't people see how hard this is? Do they not get that everyday longer is another day that this baby might die? Even if they don't see it that way, can't they at least see why I might feel like that?
Fuck. Why can't people just get it already????

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I don't do normal...

I made it the last four weeks without really thinking about it. "It" being the swollen kidney's on the last ultrasound, baby kidney's, not mine. I went crazy that first day, calling Dr. Goo.gle, looking up everything I could about fluid in fetal kidney's and what it could mean. The answers were all over the map, from nothing at all to the catastrophic. And so, after a long Internet chat with a friend, I decided to go with the 'what's the use of worrying now when I have no idea if anything at all is wrong" approach.
I was pretty calm this morning going into the doc's. I even texted same friend about how annoying it was that the Dis.ney Channel was on the t.v. in the waiting room, which was filled with grown-ups, not a child in sight. Are you kidding me?
Going back down the familiar hallway to the u/s room the leprechaun was thoughtful enough to give me several big kicks, as if to say, 'Don't worry mom, I'm still ok.'. So when I got up on the table I at least knew they weren't going to tell me my baby was dead. That right there is a good day for me.
She scanned everything for me, not just the kidneys, and everything was, normal. NORMAL. Baby is even measuring a bit big, but all the parts are there and they are normal. Which meant my heart rate went back to normal too. How about that.
I calmly waited for the doctor to come in to the exam room and go over everything with me. Continued texting my friend, did the pee in the cup thing, waited, waited. Finally, in he came, he said in his heavily laced accent, "Eveyting nohmal, babeee good". Showed me all the tests, baby weighs 3.9lbs, measuring about a week ahead, my stuff, all good. So I asked him, when do I come back? 2 weeks. Then we start stress testing, every two weeks till 36 weeks then every week. And then out of nowhere, he says to me, "What day you want to have your baby?" I sat there stunned. I must have looked confused because he repeated it to me and then told me he was going to book the day now because I am at 30 weeks. He showed me a calendar, gave me some options and said, you pick, is there a date you want for the baby to be born? So I looked and picked a day.
Then I scheduled my next appointment and walked out of the office. I almost made it to the elevator before the tears started. I held my breath until I got into the parking garage. Then I started hyperventilating and sobbing. I walked blinded by the tears to my car, fumbled with the keys, opened the door and sat down. It took a few minutes for my breath to catch. I was on the verge of calling someone to come help me, I've never had an attack like that before. Finally, it was just the tears, lots of them, spilling out of my eyes and making trails down my cheeks, as I sat in my car, alone, contemplating the idea that I might actually have a baby that lives. That I had just picked a birthday for this little one. That my doctor was calling the hospital to schedule a delivery for what looks like a healthy baby.
I think my body reacted to an overdose of normal.
Apparently, I don't do normal anymore. At least not well.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The masquerade

First, thank you, so much, to everyone who remembered me and my Caleb last week, both in comments and in personal emails. I don't know how the day would have been without the openness of dead baby land that let me just say what I needed to say and not worry about the tears. We didn't do anything as a family to mark the day. My husband didn't even remember that it was the anniversary. He just asked what was with all the new flowers (my mom had brought over a new baby rose plant and another of mums, she bought one for her and my sister and sis in law too), so I had to remind him. He felt bad, I know, more I think that he felt like he had let me down than about actually forgetting, but I could read on his face the guilt. What was weird for me was the night before we had been at a BBQ at a friends house and he was sitting talking to the wife of a casual friend, meaning a friend we really only see when our other friends have a BBQ, but anyway, they were talking about kids and pregnancy and all of sudden my husband was talking about how we had lost a baby the year before. I about fell out of my chair. He NEVER talks about Caleb, ever. Not even to me, unless I bring it up. And suddenly here he was, unloading on this woman we barely know. Meanwhile everyone else stopped talking and I just sat there, stunned, not knowing what to do. It makes me think he didn't really forget the anniversary, he just buried it deep enough that he didn't acknowledge the date but all of the feelings were brimming there, just waiting for the right time and, to be honest, the right number of beers, to come out.
I didn't mention anything to the kids. Maybe I am a coward. I just felt that they don't need to be 'made' to feel sad because a certain date has come. They both have days where they talk about Caleb and to me, those are the best days for us to remember him because the feelings they are sharing are genuine and are not summoned to attend an occasion. It feels real to me not contrived. One day, I hope to take them to the beach, do a balloon release, write Caleb in the sand and say what we need to say. But I guess for now, I am just not ready to let him go. Not yet.

So now the kids are back in school and my duties as an over committed volunteer have resumed. It's weird to think back to last year, this time, when I was tucked away in my home, buried in the loss. Now, as I am seeing many people for the first time in my obviously pg state, there are a lot of shocked faces. Last year, only those who knew me well knew I was pg and so only they really knew about Caleb when he died. It all happened the weekend before school started and by the time I came back to the world of the living, heavily medicated I might add, I didn't look like I had been pregnant at all, so none of my more casual friends or other parents who knew me to say hello to, ever knew what had happened. It made it easier and harder at the same time. I wasn't the same person anymore but I didn't want to be treated differently, at least not by people who I knew didn't understand. And certainly not by those who I knew were merely slowing down to stare at the wreckage of a horrific accident and then would drive off and talk of the gore they had been witness to without any regard for the real tragedy that was mine.
In a strange way, this all feels oddly similar. Except that now they all want to share the excitement of the pregnancy, one even had the nerve to insinuate, well, that's being generous, she flat out asked, "was this an oopps?". to which I would have loved to go into, detail by detail, exactly how much this baby is not an oops baby. Instead, I just said, no we planned this baby. And to the others, I smile and nod and answer all of the routine questions. "November", "No we don't know what it is", "Yes the kids are very excited", "We really just want a healthy baby, the sex doesn't matter, really""No it wasn't a surprise"...."I'm doing great.". And in my head the real answers, "The doctor wants the baby out at 39 weeks, I want it out at 38 because I have no faith in my body and while he thinks everyday it spends in me is more time for it to grow and get healthy, I think everyday it spends in me is another day that my body could kill it." "Really, when I am in for the ultrasound the only organ I am ever interested in is the heart, is it beating, looking for a pen.is or not, that just doesn't enter the equation, it's the least important organ for me right now." "Yes,the kids are excited but it is tempered and measured, they don't ask when is it coming out, they ask, is it still moving, is it alive?" "No we had a miscarriage in December of 06 and then a stillborn son last September, so no, not a surprise at all, we have been trying for over two years for a baby" and lastly, "I'm doing great by taking everything a moment at a time. I am not worried about stretch marks but I am worried about stretches of time where I don't feel movement in my belly." I have all of my maternity clothes in a bin in my room, not in my closet or in my drawers, that way if something goes wrong it's easier to just get rid of the bin and I won't have to deal with packing everything up. We have finally, started to clear out the extra room and contemplate, shhh, a nursery, but it is a subtle, slow process. I have chosen a dark brown for the walls, neutral and easily convertible, if, you know, well...you know. I even thought about names, daring myself to believe this one will actually hear us utter his or her name, will feel our arms, will know our love.
But to the outsiders, the casual observers, the ones who smile and offer congratulations and hugs, I give them what they need to hear and the rest I hold inside, tucked away with the other part of me that is a different person now, the part of me that isn't who they know, and isn't what they want to see or hear about. They want to know of happy things and healthy babies and pregnant women whose babies don't die. What they want I have been giving them for a year, it's not even hard anymore, it is my second nature and so I give them what they want. The masquerade.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Water Is Wide(Traditional)with lyrics-Karla Bonoff

We named him, Caleb.

When we first found out that you were going to be born still we chose not to name you. We had, in the week before, chosen a boy name, but for some unspoken reason that day when we were asked if we wanted to name you we both said no. You were going to be "baby boy or girl K", that was it. We also said we did not want to see you after you were born. I felt as though we were imitating the three wise monkeys, and that if we just looked away long enough, we could walk out of that hospital and pretend that nothing bad had ever happened to us in that building.

After you were born, everything changed. I immediately wanted to know if you were a boy and then I wanted to see you. Your dad, too, came to see you but the pain was so great he walked away. I looked at your face, trying to memorize it, to burn it into my brain so that I would always be able to see you. Today, all I can see are your nose and your lips, tiny and perfect, and exactly like your sisters. And it was then that I knew, you had to have a name. A name to take with you wherever it was you were going and a name that we could call you to make you Real to everyone who asked about you. I didn't want you to just be "the baby' we lost. You needed to be a whole person, someone outside of me, someone who had a name all his own.

I began searching for names when I got home from the hospital. And while nearly everyone who knows me will tell you that I do not seek refuge or comfort from anything religious, ever, I knew there were great stories of faith and strength and courage and hope to be found within the pages of the Bible. Those stories, whether true or not, had always fascinated me just as Greek mythology had, and I hoped that somewhere in those pages I could find a name that would tell your story for you. And I did.

There are actually many versions of the story of Caleb*. But while the details change, the traits and characteristics of Caleb the man remain constant. He was chosen by many to lead them on an expedition to the Promised Land. Of the 12 spies who undertook this journey, 10 of them, after seeing the Giants that would need to be conquered in order to take the land of 'milk and honey', returned to their people and to God and said that the task was to great for them and that they should all give up the quest. Only, Caleb and Joshua, believed that they could conquer the Giants and claim the land that God had promised them. Only Caleb had faith that if they believed in what they wanted they could achieve it. According to the story, God punished all of the spies and their people for being cowards by forcing them to wander and live in the deserts for 40 years. Only Caleb, after completing that punishment, without complaint and with continued faith and hope that every journey, no matter how hard, was worthwhile and should be taken without wasting time complaining about the fairness of it or the harshness of it, was rewarded at the end of the 40 years. When he finally arrived at the Promised Land, despite being 85 years old, he was bestowed a body and spirit of a man 40 years younger. He was granted his youth because his heart had remained pure and his faith in the justness of completing an act well, for no other reason than always doing the best that you can, no matter what the obstacles, remained steadfast.

In choosing this name for you, I believed that it would always tell your story, our story. That our journey together would last for many years, that we would wander an ugly unforgiving territory, for many years, without any reassurance that our journey would ever end or that we would be together when it was over. But, my hope, my need to believe that maybe, one day, we would be, would remain constant. And by giving you the name of the first true conqueror of horrible odds and terrible trials, you would be able to take with you, wherever you went, that same courage to lead where no one else wants to follow, that same faith that in the end the journey would be worthwhile and the belief that when it is all really over, despite the time that has passed, you will be young and strong and your heart will be whole. And maybe, we will be together.
And that is why, we named you Caleb.
Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go, yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more, day by day,
You tell me of our future that you planned:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that I once had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.
*Many name books / websites list the meaning of CALEB as "Dog". However, a simple look in a Hebrew / English dictionary one will see that "dog" in Hebrew is CELEB, not CALEB. **Note** the first vowel is different.CALEB is actually a compound word in Hebrew - something that is quite common in ancient Hebrew. Col (Cuf + Lamed) = all or whole. Lev (Lamed + Vet) = heart. Therefore, CALEB (or COLEV as pronounced in Hebrew) actually means "whole hearted". Faithful could be another translation. However, if you read in the Hebrew Bible the exploits of CALEB (as in one of the twelve spies who went into Caanan Numbers 13:6 & 13:30), one will see that he wasn't simply faithful, but that he served the God of ISRAEL with his whole heart. IE: He was the first to speak up and say, "let's go and conquer this land," (paraphrased). It wasn't JOSHUA (the leader of the 12 spies), but CALEB who was encouraging Israel to follow God in spite of the opposition from the other 10 spies.Therefore, the ancient meaning of CALEB is: "whole hearted".