Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Bella: (in what could only be described as gay, sing-songy voice) I'm having a Baby Brother! I'm having a Baby Brother!

(5 second pause)

Mom, I want to go to the hospital to see my brother when he's born, even if he's going to die. I really want to go see him, ok?

Me: But of course!

And that's how I made yet another promise that I'm not sure I can fulfill, here after being so fucking careful on this whole baby business for months now. I read recently on Missing One's (who's home with the baby! Yay!) blog that her hospital is not allowing siblings in due to Teh Flu. I'm fairly confident that's not the policy here -- in fact, many of my appointments are in the hospital proper, and I see little kids all the time, albeit much of the time wearing masks. I'm not sure if that's to protect them from us, or vice versa, but in any event, there they are. And Children's seemed mighty willing to let Bella in the last time despite her hacking cough, so perhaps that's a point I need to consider before the big Where Do I Deliver Conversation.

Sighs all around.


I'm not sure this qualifies for the "Mind Fuck" portion of the entertainment (tm Julia), but here's what's going on: I really only have Maddy's pregnancy to relate this one to. I cannot for the life of me remember boo about Bella's, other than it was "uneventful," and "she was a kicker." Ergo: This present kid has been kicking me to the point of waking me up since around 21 weeks, which I thought was rather unusual. At a 23w appointment, he kicked the Doppler off my stomach. Which is well and good, I suppose.

The downside to gestating a kickboxer is that eventually even he needs a break, and I'll go through two rather mellow days, where I definitely feel stuff but no kicking and think, "Well that's that." Because this is around the time things in Maddy really began to head downhill according to pathology (even if she had been born predisposed; her spleen, for example, only measured 25w or so and shortly thereafter is when they discovered the echogenic bowel). The problem is, there is no reassurance here: I know he's alive, so a Doppler does me nothing (I've decided not to do that this time around. It was nice during Maddy when I started bleeding so I could decide whether it warranted a trip to the ER or not; here it's rather useless information) nor does an ultrasound. We'll know if it's meaningful or significant when he's born. So all I can do is add to the record for the future, when we look back and figure out what was an important sign post, and what was just a slow day at the gym.

And shortly after announcing this potential downshift to my husband, just so he knows what's going on, I get a signature Chuck Norris Roundhouse move that about sends me off my feet to the left. And it continues another hour. Bella never needed kick counts; she was in constant motion. I mentioned to the doctors that Maddy -- although she met her kick counts -- was much, much slower than Bella, and they thought it unusual. One even said that subsequent children tend to be more mobile, not less. And after the fact, we all determined that it was a sign of neurological damage, and probably a lot of the sporadic "kicking" I felt from 32w forward were actually seizures.

No way to know.

I sigh and resign myself to a May outcome, yet again. Not much I can do in the meantime. I have not yet succumbed to either the Hope Train or the Fear Parade, and I consider that an outstanding feat. Remarkably, I feel fine. I'm still running three times a week, still pulling on oversized t-shirts and my husband's fleece, and getting through my days.


Today was my 24w scan, which puzzled the tech a bit because apparently there really is no good reason to be wasting their precious imaging machinery around 24w so we told her. Ahhhhh. And Dr. Hotshit apparently was not in the office, because in walked an associate trailing a neonatology resident behind and they were a bit perplexed too until we told them. Ohhhhh. And it suddenly became a very Maddy moment -- not in a bad way mind you, just in a weird way, what with her brother impressing everyone by opening and closing his mouth on the screen in the corner. ("Pay attention to ME!")

I told Mr. ABF on the way back to the car that these appointments used to be reassuring, pauses where we used to catch our breath, moments that let us relax briefly before careening toward the next milestone. And now it's . . . . it's . . . . it's . . .

Mr. ABF: A Nonevent.

That's it exactly.


Today only reiterated how amazed I am at how central a role Maddy has played in this pregnancy, and how much she comes up in conversation. If nothing else, this pregnancy has afforded me a milieu in which I can finally -- Finally! -- talk about her without it seeming incongruent. I told my hairdresser. Mr. ABF even told his. Even though my initial doc said I wouldn't have to repeat the story every time I go in even if I see another doctor, it comes up, and it's just easier to refer to pregnancies by name than number. There she is, in the room, and I'm not crying and my blood pressure isn't up. I even blurted out "third" to a sales lady who couldn't believe I was buying maternity sweaters for me ("Ohhh, you're one of those who carry high and in front." If by "high and in front" she means "all over my ass and thighs and boobs" then I concede her point. Who cares what pregnancy this is anyway?) People who have found out sideways, who have found out in conjunction with our past and have come to me bearing both pieces of news and have been remarkable -- some have asked pertinent and compassionate questions about Bella, others have held long discussions about what the birth process will likely be like this time around. One guys' guy sans children even asked about my recent testing and I thought he was being polite, but it turns out no -- he really was interested in details. Nice that someone is concerned and interested, I suppose.

I have not relocated joy or hope or any sense of contentment I didn't have coming into this, but I am surprised and grateful that my current condition has afforded me the comfort of speaking about my second child. I didn't expect it. If this is what I gain from this experience, so be it.


It's that time of year where I can be sitting at the counter and completely out of the blue, suddenly see myself in my old kitchen, hunched and sobbing on the floor in front of the old refrigerator (now an open doorway), and wonder why . . . why . . . oh yeah. The tension begins to mount a bit, made no less easy this time around as Mr. ABF will be away on business for a good portion of that week, including Maddy's birthday. I'm wondering how I'll do without the other person who can single-handedly assure me that that she happened, she was here, I gave birth three years ago to a child. A child! With my only witness gone, it will be up to me to do something -- anything -- to celebrate and grieve what might have been. A real If a Tree Falls in the Woods sort of moment, where I'm left holding the axe.


missing_one said...

I so get this post.
There is no reassurance, it just sucks. I too also didn't resign myself to a good or bad outcome until the very end, and even then, there was a whole lot of doubt.
It's funny how a subsequent pregnancy is so linked to the one that preceeded it. I got used to answering the 'why are you having this test...blah blah ' questions as, "because we had a loss at 40 wks. It got really easy to say. Surprisingly, it got to where I could say it matter of factly without the crying and without the emotion. weird. Yes, I think now more people know about J than did not know before this pregnancy.
'just keep swimmin'-one day at a time. I'm hoping with all hope for a sunny May!
And I hope Bella gets to go to the hospital. A didn't, but in the end, it was more of a deal for me than for him. He was just as excited when we got home to meet his little brother.

k@lakly said...

I found the ultrasounds MORE stressful. Almost like false hope. I never looked at the screen, well almost never. I knew, just like you, it was a snapshot of that moment in time and that what the next moment was going to bring was anyones guess.
Our hospital let the kids up but we preceded the whole SWINE YIKES FLU govt created hysteria, I mean pandemic.
Something tells me you may be able to use some db card power and get Bella up there even if there is a rule against it. You never know and it can't hurt to ask.
And, I know, for certain, that I heard the tree fall. As did the rest of us here. IF you need any extra reassurances on those days, I will be here. And Maddy will not be far from my mind. Ever.

Which Box said...

Three years. Jeez, now that's a mindfuck in and of itself. I cannot imagine the uncertainty this time around. A certain level of disassociation seems pretty damn healthy to me. Or I suppose it's uber-zen. Living in the moment.

You know, I don't even know you IRL and words cannot express how deeply and passionately I want there to be good news in May.

charmedgirl said...

i recently realized i wish it wasn't real...and when the tree falls and no one sees it, it's just so easy to lie to yourself.


loribeth said...

I hope Bella's wish comes true. I second Kalakly's suggestion to pull out the DB card if necessary.

That sucks that your dh won't be home for Maddy's birthday -- but we'll be here (me too). : ) Maybe you & Bella can do something special together that day for her sister?

sweetsalty kate said...

"It will be up to me to do something -- anything -- to celebrate and grieve what might have been."

Ain't that just the trick.

Sue said...

Abiding with you, Tash.

Sophie said...

Yep, I get this post too. Thinking of you and here if you need to talk. I look back on my pregnancy and realise just how frigging awful it was to live in that space.

luna said...

I don't think you'll be the one with the axe -- but you'll be the one who was there and certain that it did in fact fall.

ezra'smommy said...

Could have written much of this myself just a few months ago...the rollercoaster of getting through this pregnancy after loss sucks and our lost babes can't help but figure prominently. Thinking of you as Maddy's day approaches.

angie said...

Our hospital has the kid ban/flu histrionics until the spring, we were told, so we may or may not make it under the pandemic time...you might miss it? Fingers crossed that Bella gets her wish.

I totally nodded through this post. No reassurances. No comfort. Non-events, except that for the moment the camera is on the kid, I know he is living. That is something.

Sending you much love. XO

niobe said...

Huh. I guess this is one more thing I've managed to opt out of. Not really sure if that's a good thing or not.

But, yeah, uneventful. This whole pregnancy (I can't really call it *my* pregnancy, can I?) is a tree falls in the wood experience.

Michele said...

None of the hospitals in our area are allowing children in. But I would talk to whomever is the boss at your hospital. When Bobby was discharged, there was talk that he wouldnt be allowed back in, but the head of neonatology wrote a note to get us by security.

moplans said...

I am so glad you find peace here because I know how annoying it can be to have to repeat your medical history.
I think anyone knowing your history would make an exception for Bella to come and meet her brother right away.

c. said...

Like you, I've been given the opportunity to talk about my dead baby again. And I appreciate being able to bring him up without looking...well, sort of crazy. Time may lessen the intensity of the pain and for this I've been grateful, but it also gives outsiders the opportunity to judge how and how long we mourn these babies. I've always been resentful of this. Still am.

And, like you, I'm wearing this baby "high" and "in front". Exactly like you ;o)

Looking forward to May, Tash. Very much. XO.

Ya Chun said...

this one is a crazy kicker and body thrasher. So, *of course* I worry that they are seizures.

We just can't have peace.

S.I.F. said...

There is so much to this post that I don't even really know what to say... I am speechless and don't feel like I have anything to add or say other than "good luck" and "you and this new bug are in my thoughts", except, I do have this:

My best friend had her sencond a month ago, and the whole last few months of the pregnancy they told her that her son would not be allowed in the hospital due to the flu. At the last possible second though, the hospital reversed their policy, and he was able to meet his little sister right after she was born. There is hope there!

Searching said...

I am so sorry that Maddy may have been having seizures in utero. I know there was alot more to that post, but you know I'm partial to Maddy and the rest of it all DID register. I just cannot imagine being told my daughter was seizing and not kicking and having no way to know this. That is pretty God-awful. (& not your fault). Looking forward to hearing more about the boy w/splashes of M & B.