Tuesday, April 27, 2004
Went to Dr. Keanu last Friday (going once a week now), and he said he was not opposed to inducing before the 16th of May, when he is scheduled to go out of town for a few days. Isn't this typical. I stay in bed for half my life praying fervently that I can hold in her little body just one more day, and then she ends up getting induced!
I haven't agreed to anything.
I feel a little creepy about induction. For me, it smacks of abortion. It is the same now as it was in my first pregnancy: I love her, but I feel I can't take it anymore and want her out of my body now. I don't like that feeling. I have it, but I don't like it and I don't have to act on it.
If I were overdue, that would be one thing; an induction would be for her. As it is, the idea is purely for me in order to regain physical comfort and to ensure that Dr. Keanu will surely be the one to attend. My reasons don't justify Cytotec patches and Pitocin. But then the day wears on and by night I am sometimes tearing with pain. Perhaps what I need at this point isn't induction but prayer.
I am having trouble sleeping. Normal for pregnant fatties at this stage of the game. I keep waking up at 4 A.M. unable to get back to sleep. Two days ago I asked my husband to pray for me each night, and each night that he has I have slept very well in spite of getting up umpteen times a night to pee. So pray, if you will, that:
*Things will be more physically comfortable or that I will have a greater will to endure it.
*I will sleep better.
*Elise will come on her own—but SOON!
*We four will continue to be healthy and safe.
I really do appreciate your prayers.
Nothing really super interesting is happening lately. It just feels like a waiting game at this point. I am still up too much, overdoing and paying the price. I need to work on that, I know.
Dr. Keanu gives me updates from time to time, telling me of the new cases of HG patients in the hospital. "She's not as bad as you," he tends to follow it with. "You're as bad as I've seen it." I win. I want my golden emesis basin.
My baby shower was great! Lots of loot and lots of fun. My teeth: the dental work that must be done after this pregnancy—I don't even want to think about it. I took a bite of the cake at the shower and nearly died. The pain was searing.
I had to have dental work after my son was born due to all the stomach acid washes from the constant vomiting and inability to brush. My teeth are worse this time around, but that only makes sense, because the pregnancy was so much worse. But teeth? What are teeth compared to nurturing a child and surviving, persisting, when I could have taken the "easy" way out. Teeth are trivial.
OK, lessee: Dr. Keanu, shower, teeth. I think I've hit all the recent highlights, which explains why I haven't been writing much lately!
Oh, my neighbor, who is in her mid ‘70s, came over last night with a large butter tin full of neck bones and rice! She also added a nice portion of tomato gravy on the side and topped it all off with some pear salad—sand pears from her trees of course! It was seriously yummy. This is a typical southern dish. For those of you who don't know what neck bones are, it's beef. You cook the neck bones all day until the meat is just falling-off tender. No one makes it like my neighbor Mama Birdie. I had already made lasagna, but once those neck bones came through the door we just put the uncut lasagna in the fridge for the next day. I mean, we're talking neck bones and rice with tomato gravy here! Boy howdy, do I ever love my neighbor!
I would like to say a special thank you to my favorite New York attorney for the Aristocrat wool soakers for Elise's little poopie-butt. These things are quite expensive and the thoughtful gift is entirely helpful. Thanks!
Elise is running out of leg room, but she is doing her best to say good morning to you all. She has worried me with a couple of slow days, but she is a child; she will worry her mother for the rest of life.
That's the way it goes!
Friday, April 23, 2004
I am contracting lots this morning. Part of me would like to make it to May and part of me would like to serve Elise a gentle, loving eviction notice right now!
On a note of pure ecstasy, I must inform you all that peppermint flavored Tums, yummy edible Tums, are made of gritty, chalky, delightful calcium and talc!!! Talc, I say! I can eat four a day and pretend they are cat litter or chalk or any other culinary delicacy.
Going to a baby shower in a few hours. Presents! But more importantly: cake!
Went out to the shed yesterday to get the stored bassinet and car seat ready. The bassinet was fine, but the confounded, dad-burned, dog-gone squirrels ate through the belt of the car seat, so there's an extra hundred bucks we hadn't factored in to the budget. Well, that's it. I'm just going to have to send Elise back! Haha!
So while I was inspecting the car seat I leaned over and one of the pine trees dropped a cone or a twig or something on my back, ker-plunk!
I was too involved with the car seat to really be interested. When I put the car seat in the trash I noticed something wet and yucky on my hand. Must have accidentally squished a bug upon grabbing the seat. Washed my hands. Saw a spot of bug juice on my expensive, white, embroidered, big-butted, maternity nightgown. Great. Hope it comes out. Tiny spot of gross bug juice. Yuck.
Approximately nine hours later my husband came home and asked me what the heck was on my back. What? I dunno.
I took the gown off and came face to face with a giant splatter of set-in bird dookie. White urea and purple berry poop! It'll never come out.
I had to laugh, because I am a bird toilet. They aim for me. You have no idea how often birds have pooped on me in my lifetime. It's uncanny.
I think I was a statue in a former life.
Wednesday, April 21, 2004
I went to the Wednesday night prayer supper tonight. The pastor's wife, a dear, gentle lady and friend of mine, caught me sort of groaning over my aching back.
"I know how you feel," she said having just had a little one eight months ago.
Accidentally, I burst out laughing and said, "No you don't!"
She protested sweetly, "Ashli, I just had a baby myself; I remember the horrible back aches of the third trimester! I totally know how you feel."
"Oh," I said, "you were in bed for 30 weeks and then you just all of a sudden got up for the first time with a full-blown baby in your stomach?"
"Ummmm....OK, I don't know how you feel."
I'm a pain in the butt. It's a wonder I have any friends at all. That I do is proof of God's grace!
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
I am sick and feeling like petrified yard dookie. Sore throat, dry burning eyes, tired, achy. Bed is where I want to be. Cruel irony.
Monday, April 19, 2004
Everyone said, "Don't overdo it," but I did anyway. I thought they were crazy even though I know better. I thought I could get up and walk around no problem, big deal. I thought that, not because it made sense, but simply because I wanted it to be true. It wasn't.
I went to church, went out to lunch, went to the grocery store, cleaned the toilets, made dinner, and thought I was going to die by the end of the night.
Church: had to take pillows and "lounge" in the pew
Lunch: pretty normal but they put me in the seat farthest from the bathroom
Grocery store: had to use the store's electric scooter to get around and could barely get out of the seat, which I had to do twice because my husband was in another aisle. Bad pain in tailbone. Not used to sitting up. Husband collapsed in laughter at the sound of scooter backing up. "Beep, beep, beep!" That has been his personal joke all along regarding my big, fat, pregnant arse. To actually hear me beeping was too much for him to bear with any sort of public decorum. I laughed until I snorted like a pig in the produce section.
Toilets: Has been a goal of mine; "Oh, just to be able to clean the toilets!" Well, I did.
Dinner: For dinner I made stir-fry. My husband said it was too involved for a person in my condition. I poo-poo'd him and stood at the sink washing the bok choy, broccoli, carrots, snow peas, bean sprouts, green onions and mushrooms. By chopping time I had to sit down. During the stir-fry the back pain started to get unbearable. I plunked the tofu in, added chicken broth, corn starch and Bragg's liquid aminos and then limped back to my room without even serving. I fell into bed bawling because of the pain, and try as I might I could not get out of bed after that. Thank God for the bedside potty, because I couldn't even make the walk to the bathroom. I'm still feeling pretty awful today, which means no movie and pizza date with Little-little. I broke it to him last night, and he was so disappointed. A slice of banana cream pie helped. And I gave him one too.
On top of everything, I seem to have possibly picked up a bug or something while out. My throat hurts and I'm a little congested. Yae.
Church was great! It was about forgiveness, which is something I tend to have issues with. Our pastor told us a story about a priest or a monk or something. The fellow was counseling a woman who was having trouble with forgiveness. "I try to be forgiving, but I keep thinking back on the wrong that was done to me, and it still hurts and angers me," the woman expressed. The monk dude directed her attention to the church's bell tower. He told her that even after the ringer of the bell let go of the rope the bell still swayed back and forth ringing for a time. He said that possibly forgiveness could be like that; even when you let go of the rope and forgive, the bell of pain and anger may still ring for a time. I thought it was interesting and am still reflecting on it.
The biggest thing I struggle with is self-forgiveness. The pastor said we all know God forgives, but that doesn't make us automatically stop hurting over our regrets. He said the issue doesn't lie with God, who has perfect forgiveness and no issues, but with us and how we are able to receive the forgiveness. The pastor then told a story about a preacher who traveled somewhere on a mission trip or something. I guess I was fluffing my pillows and missed the details. Anyway, the preacher came in contact with some lady in a village who claimed to talk to Jesus every night in her dreams. Everyone in the village believed it was true. Of course he thought this was nonsense, and to expose her he said, "When you talk to Jesus tonight, ask Him to tell you about the sin I committed in my youth, the sin that haunts me to this day." She agreed and returned the next morning. "Did you ask Jesus what my sin was?" the preacher asked. The woman said that she had. "Well what did He say?" the preacher wanted to know. The woman answered, "He said He didn't remember."
And that's the way it is with Christ and perfect forgiveness.
The message was that some of us think we are so grubby that we can't step foot in a church or move an inch towards a real relationship with God. But that is the time when we need that relationship the most, and when God forgives He forgives.
"Come now, let us argue this out," says the LORD. "No matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can remove it. I can make you as clean as freshly fallen snow. Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you as white as wool." Isaiah 1:18
Lastly the pastor said he hoped everyone would let go of "religion," a generic and fruitless concept, and embrace instead a living relationship with God.
So, church was great! I was a little embarrassed when the pastor acknowledged that I was there and that it was an answer to long months of prayer, but I was glad to be loved and to have such a caring family of people who have looked forward to me becoming part of our family life again.
I will never forget how they all came to my back yard and sang Christmas carols to me just after I got out of the hospital. I cried and cried and nearly disappeared on the spot, because I was so overwhelmed by their love. I went through such bad times but found a great deal of comfort in the Lord and in the people He has placed in my life because we all love Him and He is there for us and in us.
Church and lunch. Lunch was where my activities should have ended but didn't. I had a Portobello and Swiss burger with fries and pickle slices. I hate to be cliché, but the pickles were so good. I also had a delicious virgin lime daiquiri. My son told the hostess and our waitress excitedly, "Guess what! My mommy is pregnant!" I didn't know, but it seems he is excited and proud. His little feelings are so big and complex. Loving him is like unwrapping priceless presents that never stop coming.
After such a long day and pain that was bad enough to make me cry, I worried a little about Elise, who also was experiencing something new in my being up and doing. Yet this morning she let me know, by a few properly placed kicks and jabs, that all is well. She has drifted off to sleep and left me dreaming of her and what life will be like when she makes her debut.
The sun is lifting its head above covers; I embrace the breaking dawn.
Sunday, April 18, 2004
Getting ready for church because—
I'M OFF BED REST!
I'm a little frightened. I feel somehow that I'm losing control. I've been in bed for 30 weeks. It's all I know.
Been contracting a bit this morning.
I should be ecstatic.
But I don't know how to feel.
Most of this ordeal has taken a certain level of psychic numbing. Now I'm supposed to feel something?
Maybe my emotional functioning will be like my digestive system after TPN: sluggish for a couple of weeks before kicking back in.
I have to go now.
It's time to pick up my mat and walk.
Thursday, April 15, 2004
I could have died.
At any rate, here we are, Thursday, fo' real, and I've today, tomorrow and Saturday left. Three days to go. And if you don't count today, I only have two days left. And if you don't count Friday and Saturday, I'm already off bed rest!
Two more days...
I don't know how to feel. Approach-avoidance? I am numb. Two days. What does that mean? "Off bed rest." What? I don't get it.
I feel like Spongebob when Squidward tells him he has never tried a Crabby Patty.
"Those words...used that way...I don't understand!"
And I really don't understand what it means to not be nauseous. Somewhere in the back of my mind there is this suggestion that one day soon there may be a day where things don't stink, my mouth doesn't taste like industrial strength roach killer and I actually experience no nausea. No nausea? "Those words...used that way...I don't understand."
Friday is Poodle-doo's last day of school. We're yanking him out because he's miserable, his teacher is miserable, we're miserable, and there's no point. Our home school will "officially" resume in a few months. Little-little has been talking about it and all the fun stuff we used to do:
"I like to do math things and get in the craft box and read stories and cook on Fridays and do science 'speriments.'"
My son, who hates school, loves to learn. His teacher doesn't believe this. He's a massive thorn in her side. He will not sit still, he will not shut up, he will not cooperate and participate in group activities because he's an extremely independent learner prone to self-isolation. He's sensationally social during play time, but wants nothing to do with it during learning time. Unacceptable, sayeth the teacher. He also thinks logically and has been encouraged to have a voice. And he's five, so he's a royal pain in the butt too. "Teach" has a military background. Oil and water. Friday is the last day of that. He has served his time; we all have.
Monday I'm taking him to a movie. A movie, I say! I don't know if I'll be able to sit that long, but by golly I'm going to try. We'll eat pizza and go to a movie! "Those words...used that way..."
Is this happening? Is this really happening? But I was just living in a toilet bowl, crying out to God with tubes in every appendage, pumps moaning and beeping, and an artesian well of vomit roaring out of my hyperemetic head day in and day out forever.
Part of me is still stuck there.
I'm going to need therapy maybe, because I still feel threatened by all of it. Maybe I'm a little angry. Maybe I'm a little scared, unnerved. Yes, perhaps therapy.
Elise is squirming. This morning she woke me up with her dancing. She was on a roll. It was a little unsettling so early in the morning, a little uncomfy. I thought to sing to her, and the moment I began she cocked her tiny unborn ear to listen.
Her body relaxed, her movements slowed to a stop. Her mommy sang lullabies. When I ran out of those I sang a song of six pence. She began tapping her feet. Too upbeat. I sang Humpty Dumpty and Jack and Jill: still good beats to dance to. I repeated the lullabies, and rest again she did, until Daddy entered singing his infernal, high-pitched good morning song. She heard him right away of course and started dancing again. She is a mess for Daddy. Daddy leaned over my belly and told her so and she kicked him right in the mouth.
"You're a mess!"
We had a good laugh.
Behind the laughter and the happiness, shrouded thoughts linger on the life and death of my first little one. Equally loved; I just didn't know how to get through it. Didn't know how to sacrifice myself entirely or how to demand excellent health care. It's something I can't resolve. A massive burden I have to live with. I don't know how but here I am breathing. Day by day. I take it day by day.
And today is Thursday.
Tuesday, April 13, 2004
Here is a partial list of everything I have been through this pregnancy, ranging from the mundane to the not so mundane:
- four hospital admissions
(two overnight and two that amounted to five weeks in the hospital)
- two trips to the E.R. lasting six hours a piece
- home IVs, blown veins, multitudes of sticks
(including two occasions where it took seven sticks to place an IV or draw blood)
- IV bag changes, vitamin injections, tube changes, and pump managed by myself and husband
- four PICC lines (long central feeding lines that snake up the vein in the arm, through the vein in the shoulder and lie just outside the heart opening)
- two allergic reactions to PICC lines
(involving phlebitis so bad I couldn't move my arm and complications with inserting the second line due to dehydration from the HMO's refusal to pay for the necessary mechanical pump)
- one possible potentially fatal staph infection in my PICC
- one double lumen PICC insertion that became complicated and required several tries with trauma that increased risk of fatal blood clots
- embolism hose to reduce risk of thromboembolitic event
(such as pulmonary embolism)
- blood draws most mornings for five weeks and weekly otherwise
- six X-rays
- a multitude of sonograms
- blood pricks to check glucose every four hours for over a month
- insulin injections, self-administered and otherwise
- bottomed out from low blood sugar due to too much insulin
- administration of >12 different drugs ranging from the benign to the systemic
- Zofran pump maintained for months
(worn in leg causing painful lumps at sites, which needed to be changed by me every other day and involved self-sticking with needle/catheter combo to insert catheter)
- 11 weeks of no eating or drinking
- uncountable (but well over 100) vomiting episodes in 12 weeks
- vomiting blood, sometimes small, sometimes large amounts that caused clinical hematocrit fluctuations
(involved one of my doctors wanting to administer morphine and put a scope down my throat and into my stomach to check for bleeding ulcerations caused by the wear and tear of so much vomiting)
- losing bowel/bladder control during projectile vomiting
(and having to sit in it for hours until husband came home from work due to inability to care for myself)
- liver dysfunction
- sludge in gallbladder
(may necessitate removal post-pregnancy)
- sluggish bowel/digestive system
(due to inactivity from prolonged TPN feedings)
- couldn't brush teeth at all for two weeks solid, limited beyond that
- no real bath or shower for 12 weeks
- cervical shortening scare necessitating bed rest
- nearly 30 weeks of bed rest
- humiliation of potty by the bed and loss of autonomy
- ptyalism for months
- cigarette smells for months (no one smokes)
- bad taste in mouth for months (metal/chemical)
- scent intolerance for months
- vitamin k shots
- weird but horrible panic attacks caused by post traumatic stress disorder from prior history with illness and current suffering
Thursday, April 08, 2004
The Tree Outside My Window
I've been stuck in bed for nearly 30 weeks. At the start of this I was too sick to get out, and when I was well enough to get out, my damaged cervix threatened my child's life, so I was not allowed to get out of bed.
I have a large window in my bedroom. Standing in front of the window is an adolescent dogwood tree. At the beginning of this pregnancy the leaves were changing from green to reds, golds and browns.
When you have very little left in life you cling to the things that graft you to the will to fight. I fixated on this tree. Like those flocked, color-changing weather predictors that were so novel in the ‘70s, this tree became my health gauge of sorts.
As I lay in this quilted prison I would roll my eyes towards the tree and repeatedly think to myself: "When all the leaves are gone I will be able to eat again." Daily I eyed the tree and daily another leaf would fall. The transformation to bony skeleton was slow for me and for the tree, but one day I looked out and there it was in all its leafless glory.
And I was eating.
Bed rest began with its myriad tiresome discomforts combined with the vestiges of an illness that does not want to fully release me until the last possible moment. I looked out the window daily and repeated the mantra: "When the tree flowers I will be getting out of bed." The tree has flowered, and I leave my prison in nine days.
Today I looked out the window and saw the "snow" falling. Wilted petals spread out on the ground like picnic blankets for the coming summer. The new leaves on the branches are tender and green. They are yet immature and possess still an unfulfilling sparseness. The days drag on and on.
When my window is green and my special tree dons her beehive coiffure I will be eating and drinking and walking and forgetting all that I have been through.
I will go to the tree, wearing my sleeping daughter on my chest, and I will tie a pink ribbon around the trunk for the world and us in it.
Saturday, April 03, 2004
We're OK. I just don't feel like posting lately. Two more weeks in bed. I don't know what to think about that. Time is at a standstill, and I’m grumpy.