Monday, March 8, 2010

Wishes and Worries

Bella: Mom, what happens if Baby B[rother] comes home from the hospital?

Me: Then we'll be very happy.

Bella: What if he doesn't?

Me: Then we'll be very sad.

Bella: (after a pause) Is there another thing that can happen? Or is that it?

Me: Great question. At this point it's one or the other, I'm afraid. He could stay in the hospital for a bit, I suppose, but eventually even then he'd have to come home or not.

Bella: Oh.


At some point since returning to school from Christmas break (I need to label it as such because we've had a plethora of mini holidays -- one consisting of a whole damn week -- since due to snow and previously scheduled days off) Bella's class made "wish clouds." I'm not sure what the impetus was here, but up they went hanging on a clothesline -- puffy clouds bearing the children's names and from each dangling a few smaller clouds with wishes, handprinted and designed by the students. I finally had a moment to check hers out last week, and found it illuminating. One stated, "I wish I could meet you" and had a picture of the big dipper on it. Huh. From what I gather, this is quite literal -- she would like to travel to space (she really doesn't know about constructs of heaven so I'm not alarmed. Yet). Another said, "I wish my campus was more beautiful," which I found a wee bit disturbing because for an urban campus, I do find hers quite beautiful. We had a longer discussion about this where I explained right now, sans leaves and green which only exposes trash and blocks of dirt-colored unmelted snow, her 19th century enclave replete with two graveyards isn't horribly attractive. But that I'm sure come spring, the same space will be exploding in bulbs and flowering trees and green and will look like a small oasis. I'm not sure I sold her on this point.

The third cloud said, "I hope my brother doesn't pinch me." Which is part of a long, long story that involves our collective family's initial disappointment with the sex of the current fetus in residence. Which I should probably expand upon some time. Which I also should -- at the very least -- note we've all gotten over and are fully on board with team baby brother. But -- cute I suppose. And a bit forward looking, even for her.

And dangling there was a fourth cloud, without a wish at all. It said, "I miss my baby sister." And it damn near brought me to my knees in the middle of a screaming, crazed bunch of five and six year olds.


Bella's class is currently in the midst of learning about the world wherein parents come in and explain some fun things about a certain country, and then they make the flag and locate the country on a map and partake in said "fun things" -- food, dances, more food, crafts, and food. Nothing says globalization like food. Last week she came tripping home excited to show me a very small box. "They're Worry Dolls, from Guatemala," she said lining up the matchstick figures on the counter from small to big. In her best lecture voice, she explained that you tell the doll a worry before going to bed, put the doll under your pillow, and in the morning your worry will be gone.

Where on earth have these been for the last three years of my life? I could use a whole fucking city of these things!

"Do you want one mom?"
"YES!" I practically shouted while (almost) grabbing one off the counter.
"What worry do you have?" asked Bella curiously, to which I stupidly responded, "Hahaha, I have so many! What will I choose?"

And then I noticed the slight look of alarm on her face. Maybe that wasn't a great thing to tell your five-year-old, that mom is worried about Haiti and Chile and global warming and whether her brother will live beyond May. "I mean, I worry that the alarm won't go off in the morning!" She seemed to relax at that.

That night she whispered her worry to her doll, and I missed it (slightly intentionally) only catching the last word: "Florida." Where, it turns out, she is headed for a mini-vacation over spring break with Mr. ABF and MIL while I bask in the glory of an empty house with loads of sleep-in and movie time for moi punctuated by ungodly early mandatory parents' meetings for things like spring t-ball. I digress: I wonder what on earth she's worried about? That Disney will inexplicably shut down?

I walked in this morning and cheerily said, "So! Did the worry doll work?"

"NO! I'm still thinking about it," she said rather pissed-off-edly, while pulling the doll unceremoniously from under her pillow. "Did yours go away?"

"Yes!" I said. (I didn't really play along. Way too tempting.) "I'm using your doll tonight," she decided.

Oh, if only there were enough dolls for all the worries. I think I'd resemble the Princess and the Pea, with a pillow stacked high on wee matchsticks.

But she's growing up, my little girl: some things you can't wish for, and some worries linger 'til morning.


If there were enough dolls: I have somehow ticked up to the eve of "30w." I'm amazingly still balancing on that tightrope with the shark-infested "fear" tank on the one side, and the molten-hot acidic pot of "hope" on the other, my toes dipping in neither.

I've come to realize that a lot of people use the term "expecting," as in "Oh! Are you expecting?" (Which superficially is quite hilarious, seeing as I look as though I'm due next week. To hell, people.) And which I internalize as, "No. We're actually not expecting much of anything. I am pregnant, though." And usually leads to some awkward conversation that I try and shut down fairly quickly. I think a lot of parents from Bella's class either know the whole story or are really picking up on the vibe, because they've been remarkably and blessedly silent and free from dumb chit-chat and stupid questions . . . so far. Phew. But I'm wondering, when exactly did this turn of phrase come to enter the pregnancy lexicon? For some reason I find it hard to imagine that centuries ago they were using a similar turn of phrase when infant and maternal mortality was more norm than I'd care to consider, but they were big on euphemism. Maybe they were all expecting the other very bad scenario, so it was a pleasant surprise when it didn't happen.

The appointments are now going by in a blur, and I'm already up to every-other-week at the OB, and am on the cusp of my bi-weekly visits to the MFM. The theme of the last month has been "Spatial Movement," and while some days I don't feel kicking per se, I do feel as though someone is sitting on a desk chair and swiveling around in my midsection, occasionally tipping feet up or stretching up hands or falling out of the chair completely (not realizing that copy machine he thinks he's putting his ass on is really my bladder).

I have yet to purchase anything, nor will I. I learned from Bella that one really needs nothing, and from Maddy that one really doesn't want much to clean up should things go south. Diapers and a car seat do come in handy with live infants, and there's a big box store between our house and the hospital. If Baby comes home, Mr. ABF can stop on the way and pick them up. Sadly, I'm not very long for the name-game either -- it usually disintegrates fairly rapidly into "Haha, let's name him [fill in the blank name that sounds like something from Hobbit/Star Wars/generic WWII film/bad contemporary teen drama program]!" or finding alternative ethnic-sounding names for the dogs. After swearing up and down on a stack that I would not consider the boy names from either Bella or (especially) Maddy, they're back on the list because, well, we really don't have a list. I'm sure like the girls he'll be "Baby Boy" for 48 hours and then we'll land on something and hopefully it won't be too crazy. Like Angie said, it's very hard to imagine this guy. I can't see him, I can't fathom that he'll ever come home and be anything other than a pipe dream.

And I'm not so far gone that I'm going to wish for anything.


Because February usually sucks in toto: We had a million snow days. February was an educational loss, unless there's something to be learned from Mario and please tell me what that might be. Max had ACL surgery. He's going great and his recovery is ahead of schedule. I had to do the Heimlich on Mr. ABF. For real. Please refresh yourself on this -- we were both calm as cucumbers and it worked like a charm (even with me very pregnant, and him quite a bit taller to begin with) and neither of us freaked out . . . until the next day. When we went through all the stupid things that could've happened, but didn't. Anyway, go look it up and remember. You never know. And finally, after experiencing some bizarro drops in heartrate and blood pressure (for someone with historically low HR/BP) my father is getting a pacemaker next week. I'll take whatever wishes/prayers you have to give, but really our main concern is hospital-induced infection because that seems to be going around and is likely what could go wrong with a minor, more-or-less "outpatient" procedure.

Hope you're well.


G$ said...

The clouds, the clouds, ahh Bella. I love her stories. I want a worry doll too.

30 weeks and lots of appointments, oy. Hang in there, I am cheering for you, Bella, Mr. ABF and this sweet little guy.


Lila said...

"I miss my baby sister."

Oh, this made me cry. We do, too, Bella.

angie said...

Wow...amazing post--each part had its own wonder and response. I ask myself the same questions that Bella asks--what happens if the baby comes home? what happens if the baby doesn't come home? I am still flummoxed. The clouds brought me to my knees here in the privacy of my own office. I am interested in hearing about the boy story, especially as we have had the same kind of initial gender mourning in our house, even though we are now contented. Keeping your dad in my thoughts, and you too. This is such a weird existence where we can't really see the future through the haze of disbelief, yet can't much ignore that in a few short months everything will be completely different. xo

niobe said...

This says much more about me than about you, but this post is seriously depressing me.

Because (a) though it's not at the top of my list, I sometimes worry -- completely irrationally -- about that third possibility and (b) No one misses my twins. Not even me.

loribeth said...

Children are so brutally honest sometimes, aren't they? And wouldn't it be nice it those worry dolls really worked??

"Expecting" is a term I've heard since I was a kid, long before the "What to Expect When" book. But yeah -- those of us who have been through dbmland know you really can't expect anything except perhaps the unexpected.

I hope your dad's procedure goes well. Hang in there...!!

Hope's Mama said...

Lots in here - don't know where to start, such a great post.
Only to say that I understand that feeling of being suspended between fear and hope.
You've done so well to make it to this point - there really isn't long to go, even though to you it may as well be another 10 months, not 10 weeks..
We're all here for you Tash.
And hoping for you.

erica said...

I didn't buy anything, but Dot's father picked updiapers beforehand. I remember thinking they'd be easy to get rid of if we had to.

I wish the worry dolls worked, for all of us, but especially for Bella.

Life in Eden said...

The clouds story was precious and bittersweet. The worry dolls made me smile (I mean I find the D-place scary).

Hoping your alone time is peaceful. Thinking of you.

k@lakly said...

The balancing between the hope and the fear. That sucks. It just does. But glad the little guy is at least accomodating with nudging reassurances and the occassional tapping organ inventory check by his wee self.
The gender. I went back and forth on what I wantd after Caleb. Another boy, or would that be too painful, feeling like replacement, or a girl or would that be too painful, always missing the boy that got away. In the end, I went back to the old "as long as its healthy and therefore ALIVE" I'll deal with the other crap later. When later came, it dawned on me that either way, the missing, it was mostly unchanged by the birth and so the sex part didn't really matter as much as I thought it might.
And then of course there were/are the lost hopes of the second daughter I always wanted. Still haven't really figured out what to do with them. They feel ridiculously indulgent now, all things considered.

I love the simple honesty of Bella. Of course she does. Miss her. And I would have been cuddled in a heap, right next to you...sighs.

30 weeks. Wow. Have they/you decided on when to pull this little man out?


Michele said...

"expecting": I love your comments. So true...


Megan said...

Ack. I'm very newly pregnant and I'm hoping Leo will be too young to understand what the big belly means (should I be so lucky to get that far).
'Cause I will not be able to handle that conversation as simply and lovingly as you did.
And yes, we hoped for a girl but felt not a moment of disappointment when Leo was born. The only annoyance is the people who opine that it's good he's a boy because we won't "confuse them." Yeah, dead babies and live babies are SO easy to confuse, asswipe.
Anyhow, 30 weeks is AWESOME, Tash. Hang in there.

janis said...


thinking of you.

Val said...

Glad to hear Max's surgery went well!
Usually that's a home run all the way round...
Tell Mr ABF to chew his food better ;-)

CLC said...

What's the game plan to get this little boy out? Will you wait until it happens on it's own or are you thinking induction? I've got no opinion or assvice. Just curious.

I wish worry dolls really worked. I would invest in them if they did. Hope Bella's worries aren't too adult like. Hope your dad does well with the pacemaker. Fingers crossed.

Another Dreamer said...

I like your reaction to the "expecting"- so true.

Very strong post.

Worry dolls... we all need those I think.

Sue said...

When I was a kid, maybe 10 or 11ish, someone brought me a small wooden box of trouble dolls; they were no doubt some thematic relation to Bella's worry dolls, and worked the same way. There were maybe 5 or 6 of them in that little box. After a bit, I wound up making wishes, for a good day, or for something good to happen the next day. (A scary little peak into my childhood psyche...) Bella is an amazing child.

Been thinking about you, Tash.

AKD said...

I know this is an older blog, but I just wanted to comment on it quick.

Bella sounds like just the sweetest heart on earth. I'm so glad that you have a little girl who is so full of thoughtfulness and concern for her siblings.

I'm also avoiding buying anything like the plague. I just can't bring myself to spend hours online researching everything - it's too scary. Wishing you a safe and healthy remaining 9 (8?) weeks.