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.