Sunday, September 26, 2010

Reality TV

I should know better than to watch medical dramas. I surely should know to avoid medical dramas about sick babies. It wasn't a reality show. It wasn't even a character-driven drama. It was an old episode of House. It was more about the medical mystery than the hope-fear-loss-saving. But there were still trigger points for me.

A baby actually dies in this episode. Chase doesn't want to stop shocking the baby, but House calls it. Time of death . . . They don't actually say that, or maybe they just refrain when one of the parents is standing right there. I've watched too many medical shows and movies. When Henry died, I kept waiting for somebody to make it official: Time of death . . . but they never said it.

Cameron takes pity on parents staring through glass at their sick baby. "Imagine not being able to hold your own baby." There were two days at the beginning of Henry's life when I didn't get to hold him, and far too many when he was too unstable or too connected to machines to pick up. And then of course there are all the days since December 17, 2007.

And then there were the times I did get to hold him, hold him down, hold him still while they tried desperately to find a vein they could get blood from. I remember him, red faced, tears running down his face, and absolute silence because the tubes in his throat didn't allow him to scream. My poor little pincushion.

We have two seasons of House on DVD, and I will probably continue to watch them, but perhaps I'll skip the ones that mention sick kids in the episode description. It hits far too close to home.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dates and decisions

I had an OB appointment today. Everything looks good: heart rate, measurement, my weight, my blood pressure. I'm waiting to hear on the glucose screen.

"So let's talk about dates."

We've talked about dates before, but now we're at the point where we could actually schedule. My due date is December 22, and since I've been cut open three times already, we know it's a c-section. The plan is for somewhere in the 39th week. Which means December 15–December 21. At my very first appointment, I told my doctor I couldn't have this baby on December 17. And I've said that again every appointment since.

I'd rather be home on December 17, home curled up on my own couch, with Henry's light on all day, and a candle, and maybe a trip to the cemetery.

The doctor tells me that they could possibly send me home on December 17 if I have the baby on December 15, but I know that I will spend the whole day getting checked and getting the baby checked and waiting, waiting, waiting for discharge. I've gotten discharged 48 hours after a c-section before, but I've never had to go home and take care of anyone but me.

So, could we do it earlier? Maybe the 10th or the 13th, but that would require an amnio, which I managed to avoid with Henry by going into labor and with Kathleen by having the doctor and I suppose the hospital cut me a little slack. Policies have tightened, I guess.

With Kathleen, I needed the extra days, the extra space away from December 17. I needed Brian to be there, not in the final days of class or in a final. And I worried that I was placing too much importance on that. The two or three extras days turned out okay for Kathleen, for which I'm grateful.

I wish I had a little more space this time, but I'm going with best for the baby and no amnio and remembering that December 17 will suck where ever I am. I put in my request for December 15.

And all this thinking, imagining myself on December 17 has left me tired, weary with the unneeded reminder that I had a baby and he died. I've tried not to think too much about December, but now I need to.

I think I can survive, even enjoy, most of the year now, but December with its birthdays and Christmas bookending the day he died, I just don't know how to face it.

A little ice cream, early bedtime, and going back to how I started: I had an OB appointment today—everything looks good. I'll just have to stick with that for now.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A change

Sometimes it seems so much of grief is waiting and anticipating and preparing for the next big event, reminder, or trigger, only to trip over something you never thought of. This fall, I find myself waiting, poking at old wounds to see if they still hurt.

I waited for the first day of school, wondering if I would see his ghost as we watched our friends from the neighborhood get on the bus. Instead, I was busy corralling Kathleen so she didn't run into the road. The bus pulled away and we went back to our breakfast. 

I waited to see how reliving "The Golden Age of Henry" would feel, the two glorious weeks we had with him home after surgery before he got sick. There was no oxygen. He looked good. We thought we had a fresh start. I was trying to schedule Early Intervention visits, opthamologist and audiologist appointments, and follow up cardic check ups. We were visiting with family and neighbors and friends. I took a deep breath and pushed those first hard months to the side. I waited for September 11 when those first hard months turned out to be the easy part and we entered the dark age, but that day came and went. I didn't forget, but I didn't find myself thrust back there either.

I played Henry's CD the other day. I hadn't listened to it for a long time. I wasn't plunged back to the CICU. I didn't cry, didn't even get a little teary. 

I know I'm not done, not "over it," but something feels different right now. For two years, I walked through Henry's life again, reliving it all from birth to surgery to new start to ambulance to hospital to home to singing his spirit out. This year is different, and I'm waiting to see what this new path is like, trying to enjoy the scenery and not worry about what might loom around the next corner. 

I find myself waiting to see how December will feel this year, how fear and anxiety might come to play in this pregnancy, how I will again balance deep hope and joy and the heaviest of grief as December draws near. 

And yet while I wait, I am here in these days, watching Kathleen dance in the rain, run in a crazy moth flitting pattern across the lawn, wave and blow enthusiastic kisses to everything from Daddy to the goats at the farm to the binky she leaves in her crib after a nap. It isn't a bad place to be. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

His name

As we come down the stairs in the morning, Kathleen points up to the ledge that runs above her to a picture she can't quite see, but knows is there. "Erri."

At night after her tub and brushing her teeth and getting diapered up and in jammies, she points to him again, this time on the bathroom shelf. She waves and blows effusive kisses. "Erri."

She knows his name, this brother she will never really know.