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Tuesday, December 16, 2003

They took me off the TPN last night and the nausea level doubled. This is still not a tragedy since my level is down to a two on a scale of 1-10. So for all you mathematically challenged folks out there, I'm on a level four. Living at level four consists of feeling yucky all day and woozy when food comes around. I'll think, "Oy, I can't eat that," but I'll try, and it will go down without immediately flying out of my throat and nostrils. In fact, at level four you can keep things down. I haven't thrown up in over a week, people! Prayers for eggnog!

Let's talk about Poopbutt. This child is rolling around in there like someone set up a trampoline. It is delightful! Somersaults and all. You can even feel movement from the outside now. It's amazing. And disturbing how people can think that's nothing in there. It's not nothing. Anyone who has carried a kicking child knows that. Kick, kick, roll! My heart sings. It sings!

"Love me, Mama!"
I do, little Kicky-pher!

And then the rushing sorrow sets in for the first child. Oh, the first child…
My lungs fill with fluid sadness. I drown a little, die a little, dumb with the contradiction and horror of what I have done. The miracle life of this new child connects me to the first. What am I to say? That this is a real child but that one wasn’t? Fantasies are convenient but unconvincing. Life is a sequence of progression, a kind of Newtonian law, moving in a straight line unless acted upon by an outside force. And what a destructive force it was. In this there are no illusions nor mulligans. So there isn’t anything to do but live through this moment like all the others. It’s a complicated, impossible wound that all apologies will never heal.

Whir. Click. Survival mode: Insert abrupt change of subject.

No TPN. Wow. No tubing and pole. All day I have been fumbling for a phantom tube as I exit the bed for the pee-measuring top hat in the bathroom. No tube! Freedom! Get it through your head! It has been months since I've had no kind of tube. I don't know what to do with myself. Of course, I still have two unsightly lumens hanging out of my arm making me look like a cyborg. I still can't take a shower. "We'll cover them up," they say. Indeed. I tried twice, and the apparatus is always soaked through. None for me, thanks.

Kickypher is kicking again. "Hello to all who read my mommy's diary! I am a real person with a real leg, and I can even kick with it!" My son says, "Bad baby! Don't kick my mama!" No amount of money in the world, people. No amount of money or status or success—nothing compares to these two little children of mine.

OK, share time.
I want to tell you of a woman I met yesterday. She came into my room because one of my nurses told her about me and thought I might be encouraged by a visit. This woman's son is in the neonatal intensive care unit. He is two pounds and was born at 25 weeks. His 44-year-old mama had placenta previa in the worst way. She was losing blood faster than they could put it in her and had been in the hospital for six weeks passing grapefruit sized clots and just buckets of blood.

The placenta metastasized. She thought she was having the baby one night and passed a clot the size of a baby. The doctor said it was time to deliver. The woman lost too much blood and had zero blood pressure. She rolled her eyes back into her head and out she went.

Immediately she saw a dark road. She calls it a tunnel but says it was more like a dark country road at night. She said that above this dark road there was a shining white light that was brighter than any light she had ever seen, brighter than the sun. She said she was not afraid at all but was filled with peace. She told me she doesn't know for sure but that she feels in her very being that the light was God.

The surgeons brought her back. They got the baby boy out and tried to save her life, but she wouldn't stop bleeding. They told her husband not to expect her to make it. She saw the road again and the light and felt total peace and contentment. She reiterated that it was the most peaceful feeling, and there was absolutely no fear. It was a light of comfort, a light of love, and she had a sense that this was her home, a place where she belonged. She trusted God to take care of her surviving children.

Her husband, preacher, and friends gathered in a circle outside of the operating room and prayed. Surgeons found the placenta growing behind her bladder. They had to cut her bladder in half to get the placenta out and then repair the bladder. The bleeding stopped and the light faded away. She came to, and they told her she had a baby boy.

All of this happened last month. Now she comes to visit her struggling son every day, and there are always problems. Right now he has air in his intestines and is backing up. They are doing the best they can to save him, but his mother has seen the Light and she is full of peace.

I tell you her story because she sat here in my room telling it to me. I am told that doctors and nurses have been talking about it for weeks, and I had been waiting anxiously to meet her.

I am not trying to impart any neat and tidy moral by sharing her story. It simply is what it is, and you will decide for yourself what it means. I only had to tell it.

Hubby and son have the puking/diarrhea bug. It is tenacious. Hubby has had it for four days now. He says he has gained new insight into my suffering. He said he spent one entire morning puking and having diarrhea. He knows that I spent entire months like that.

He said, "I don't know how you do it. I couldn't do it."

I was so grateful I wanted to cry. How soon he will forget though. I will ask him to run out and get me something to eat and he will say, "Oh sheesh, I'm tired, can't you just eat something that's already here?" And I will blow up and say, "Hello, I didn't eat or drink for 11 weeks. 11 WEEKS!!! Now go get me some beans and weenies like I asked you to, confound it!!!"

I am terrified to go home. I do not want to catch this stuff. Terrified, I say! Begging the doctors to keep me here. I would like to go home Friday at the soonest. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work that way. The HMO however, would be stupid to want to get me out of here three days early so it could pay for two more weeks. They'd better think long and hard about that, horse's rears that they are. Oh, just wait until I get out of this fix and everything is paid for. That HMO representative is going to be sorry that she called me in my hospital room and harassed me with the "suggestion" of abortion.

FFL published something I wrote (p. 13) in the newest issue of the American Feminist. They kind of got some information wrong (said I was on bedrest for eight weeks when it was around thirty), but I'm still honored that they published my experience. Give them money.

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