Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Oh Boy

After Stress Test #1 Fail, I decided to go prepared to Test #2: a half-caf loaded with ice, milk, and a ton of enda-Splay. Normally just one of these things (something caf, something cold, something sweet) gets him going but I wasn't taking chances. And the poor kid's heartrate went off like a racehorse and they made me move on my side. But we did pass within 20 minutes, so, um, yay? Oh and also? It was 9 a.m. This is important. So yesterday, Test #3, I tried the middle ground: decaf iced tea with sweetner. On the way down in the car he was gyrating and kicking so much I had to grip the steering wheel and focus. We got there, got settled in the comfy chair, and . . . out. Naptime. 10 a.m. is naptime. It has been historically since I've been feeling movement, and I'm guessing it's because 10 a.m. is usually my most active time of the day and normally not paying attention so he zips out. He wakes up around lunch, and goes pretty much nonstop until I fall asleep. A few kicks and turns in the a.m., and then out for the pre-luncheon siesta. Sadly, every goddamn NST I have scheduled is at 10 a.m. and we can't reschedule unless I'm interested in July.

We are screwed.

Anyway, we failed again (though not as badly, I got him to kick a few times at the end) and were sent to the biophysical u/s where we also sat around and poked and waited until he felt like moving.

Lo and behold, Dr. Hotshit was reading the NST results, and we had a nice little chat in the hallway. She told me even though I didn't likely buy it, what she saw today was passing, normal, fine. We went over his overall movement, how he compares to Bella in the "moves most of the time" department, except more uncomfortable. (Monday night watching basketball half asleep, it felt someone was rearranging my organs ("This would look much better over HERE,") and occasionally giving my lower rib a swift chop. I kept wincing and repeating "Movement is good. Movement is good.") She said schedules were good things, and he's clearly on one as evidenced by last Tuesday. She concluded that this last bit of the pregnancy was going to be the most stressful and was very sympathetic to my angst.

At which point the baby shifted his ass from my right side to my left while kicking a leg up and she saw the whole thing through my t-shirt and said, "See! He's moving now!"

I told Mr. ABF my concern is that subconsciously perhaps I want this child so much that I'm making this shit up. Is that even possible? I feel my rational self is overly -concerned with movement, but maybe the wee voice in my head is telling me everything is fine when it's not? Maybe these are contractions, not movements? (As if that appendage sticking out a good 1.5" from my side the other night was a contraction; and the NST's show absolutely nothing in that department). I guess what I want is a health professional to confirm and validate the extraordinary kick-boxing routine that happens daily.

Fuck the middle ground, big guy: Friday I'm freebasing coffee grounds and popping easter candy in the car on the way down. You're gonna hafta deal.


At a therapy appointment within a month or two of Maddy dying, I remember walking through my progression of rationalization regarding no more kids. I would have another, but I would be bereft if I didn't have a girl. If I had a girl, I don't know what I'd name her, because I felt like the best names were gone. And bam, lightbulb, what I really want is Maddy back, not another baby.

I felt that way for quite some time.

When we finally decided to give this one more go, I was rather torn as to what I wanted. On the one hand, prior to Maddy, I think I always wanted a boy. Stranger boy babies roaming around public spaces used to just jump into my heart and rend it into a thousand shreds; girls never. They did nothing for me. I honestly never encountered a girl baby that made me want to procreate like the boys did. One sweet boy on a jogging path who accidentally turned and called me "Mommy" transformed me into a veritable pile of goo -- I may have flushed my pills upon my return home. I thought both Bella and Maddy were boys prior to birth (they were surprises).

And I thought now a boy would be nice: it would be different, it would signal the difference. This was a completely separate decision, a totally distinct child. There would be no "replacement" bullshit talk. I would never accidentally refer to him as "Maddy."

On the other hand, the second they said "Girl!" after Maddy was born, I knew that's what I wanted all along. It felt so right to have two girls. It felt complete. I now loved girls, I longed to raise them. And for 20 minutes, my family as it was felt absolutely perfect and I couldn't imagine that I had ever thought of any other arrangement.

And to lose that perfect moment and not be able to get it back, or fix it, or recreate it in another form kinda bugs. I had my family, it had two girls. That's what I wanted, again.

So it was with some disappointment that we received the news back shortly after week 12 that the chromosomes proclaimed XY.

I stared into space. I told Mr. ABF. He stared into space. Out loud, we both admitted our disappointment.

A boy. A boy.

It took about a week for me, and then I was fully on board. I would be fine for all the reasons I had already stated, and knew that in fact, it might turn out better this way -- less deja vu, less pressure on us all including him should he live beyond birth. I remembered the jog trail incident and thought I'd be ok if this turned out. I'd be more than ok. Mr. ABF took less time to climb on board, he was fine with it by nightfall.

Bella was another matter.

Bella claims to miss her sister, and this is obviously more the idea of a sister than Maddy exactly, but I concede her point. And whenever she talked of another sibling, she always used a feminine pronoun, despite my telling her that you can't choose what the baby will be, it just happens. (We're saving PGD for another conversation, clearly.) I think in her head she misses what she could do with this mythical, mystical sister that slipped through her fingers: she imagines, I'm sure, sharing clothing and toys, having a playmate who is interested in the exact same things (the rainforest; Wii; climbing trees), and a sibling with whom she would never, ever fight or disagree with because they'd be having way too much fun discussing stuffed animals or The Killers or whatever.

So when I was still a bit vulnerable about the whole boy thing, we told her we were having a baby.

"Another baby sister!" she exclaimed, and her face lit up.

(Gulp.) "A baby brother," I said quietly with a smile. "It's a boy."

And her face collapsed. Her lip trembled, and big fat hot tears began to roll.

And I almost crawled under the table.

It turns out the only little brother with whom she's intimately familiar belongs to her best friend from pre-school. And people, that child is Damien. He is undoubtedly possessed. How a sweet family can consist of two wonderful fun parents and an adorable girl and somehow claim to be related to this devil-child is simply beyond me. Clearly a case for bizarro nature, not nurture, or something.

And Bella began to wail about how horrible this particular little brother was.

I'm not big into hiding my emotions in front of her anymore (see: Me calling another driver an asshole this afternoon) but I seriously bit my tongue and held it together when all I really felt like doing was crying with her. We gently explained that she would be much older than her little brother than her friend was, and ergo the relationship would be much different. He would get away with far less, things that probably bothered her friend wouldn't bother her because she would be mature. Besides, we'd make sure (gulp, again) that he wouldn't behave like that.

"Ok," Bella said sniffling.

And by bathtime, she was on board team Baby B. (B for Brother, that is. And what he's called in our house.)

Once and awhile she pats my stomach and says, "I wish he was a sister," and all I can do is validate that feeling with a carefully pronounced and un-elaborated, "I know."

And she more than counterbalances those moments when she's with someone she hasn't yet informed, and pats my stomach and says to them with a sly smile and a low conspiratorial voice, "I'm getting a baby brother!"

We're to the point now where I'm starting to get worried . . . for her. For my husband. I feel as though I've steeled myself the best I can, and having made it through once, I'll likely find my way out of the rabbit hole again. But them? I realized last night, watching them goof around on the playset swings while I futzed with dinner, that this is what's going to break my heart -- their crushed dreams, not my own. I still can't imagine this boy. I can't pretend excitement I don't have and won't until he crosses my threshold in a carseat and not a box. I can't force myself to hope. I can only be, and hope if it does turn out, that he's not a pincher.


k@lakly said...

I never really worried much for the husband as I think/thought his denial about a good 'ending' was even more steely than mine. I did fear for the kids tho. But never once discussed it with them, other than answering the inevitable ?'s like "is this one going to live?", or, "will this one die too?", or "Is this one past where Caleb was when he died?"...all the same things that had fluttered and banged around in my head too. And I answered mostly with "I don't know's" or "I hope so" etc...
They took some comfort when I was well past the point where Caleb died, but, obviously with your 'milestone' so vastly different, that comfort will come when you do truly know he is ok.
My daughter wanted a little sister too. She was a bit bummed to learn that Cason was a boy after he was born. But bless the L&D nurse who told her, she will be the only princess in the house and will rule the kingdom. Lit her right up and she hasn't ever looked back to the idea of a baby sister for herself. Her mom has tho....
But I love me my boys. All of em.

I wish I had magic words that could shove all the fears aside and let you believe in yourself, in your body and in the future. But I know, there's no such vocabulary. I'm glad your doc at least tries to understand that you have to prepare yourself for both endings. Even though we also know, you can't really do that either.

I hope this little guy enjoys the caffeine and doesn't mind much his schedule being tweaked for the sake of mom's sanity. And FWIW, I will gladly send a Starb.ucks gift card your way to help keep the little man awake on those days that they are hooking you up. Just let me know where to send it:)

Just a few more weeks Tash. It'll seem like forever, but it won't be.
Hanging on and hoping, always.

Hope's Mama said...

Oh I can relate to this post so much. The disappointment was in the air for us too when we got the boy news. I mean it didn't last long, but we'd always thought Hope was a boy, then she was born, and she wasn't and we thought yeah, a girl. That's what we wanted. But she was gone. We did sort of want to "replace" her, or at least reinstate ourselves as parents of a daughter. One who would live. But that wasn't to be and we now have our beautiful Angus, and you know I wouldn't change it for the world. I'm like you, I now see baby boys and I melt in to a big pile of mush. Girls don't do it for me anymore, not so much. Guess that's just self-preservation though. One day we do hope to parent another little girl.
Hang in there, Tash. So close now, even though I'm sure it doesn't feel that way.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Tash. I have nothing clever to say at all, and I would so have loved to utter something cathartic and peaceful. Sigh. Ain't happening. I'll settle for telling you that I wish you very, very well indeed. Hang in there, lady.

loribeth said...

I feel for you & for my friends who have to deal with their other children's fears & expectations during a subsequent pregnancy, on top of all your own emotions. Some of the things these kids say just amaze me.

It will be interesting to see what sort of sleep schedule Baby B follows once he makes his debut. ; )

Hang in there...!!

moplans said...

fingers crossed he's not a pincher.
Hurry up May.

moplans said...

fingers crossed he's not a pincher.
Hurry up May.

Toni said...

oh Tash -- I so empathise. The waiting is beyond words.
There is so much CRAP that goes on in our heads and hearts that Normal People never have to think of...
so many fears and considerations.
It sounds as though you are doing a wonderful job of raising Bella through it all, I take my hat off to you. What a minefield! so much potential for a mis-step, but you're allowing her to have her own experiences.
I'm thinking of you every day, waiting and hoping and praying.

Cyndi said...

I love the way you write - I'm cracking up one minute and tearing up the next. You have quite a talent there, lady. Free-base them coffee grounds, he'll deal.

Azaera said...

I wanted a girl too, so badly, especially after I lost Sophie. When I found out Skyler was a boy I was disappointed. I kept hoping maybe they were wrong. I felt selfish for it, but it was how I felt. Until the moment he was born and they put him on my stomach and nothing else mattered. He was himself, he was mine, he was perfect and I love him with every fibre of my being.

Honestly though I do hope this next one is a girl.. Sigh. I'm sure Bella will come to love her little brother. I know I love mine, as much as a pain in the @ss as he is.

Natalie said...

Ahhh, Tash. So much of this rings true for me... except the other way around. We cried, too, when we found out this was a girl. I always wanted a girl. Like you in reverse - it was always the little girls who made my heart turn. Then we got a little boy and yes, it was perfect. That was what we were meant to have. And now, a girl. A girl. My mind swam. My husband looked shaken. It took a week or two to get over that. Still I see little boys and feel a heart lurch. I love my little girl, so much already. But I am still sad I'm not getting that boy I was promised two and a half years ago.

And about the NSTs.... that's my worry. Somehow they always schedule my appointments during naptime, too. She's sleeping at almost every ultrasound. Good for measurements, bad for actually getting to see how she really is in there. But yes. I do have worries sometimes. I'm so sure everything is okay, but is that just because I want it to be? It's been 2 years since I was last pregnant. Do I really remember clearly? Agghhhh. Sometimes I think these appointments and tests cause more anxiety than they solve...

Betty M said...

Nothing helpful to say except roll on May and wishing you the least stressful NSTs possible from now until then.

angie said...

I relate to so much of this post. The girl/boy most especially. I think I am still grieving that part--not having sisters to raise, even as I am in love with this boy. I love sisters. I love girls. I remember thinking when I found out the boy news, "But how am I going to play football with him?" It sounds strange I know but tomboys are all I know.

I can only say this: excitement and imagining him here and seeing him in your life isn't a prerequisite to appreciating him when he arrives. I couldn't even imagine him as I was being induced. I even remember vaguely feeling silly for having asked Sam to put the car seat in the trunk on the way to the hospital. But then he came out. And I didn't cry, or feel emotional about that, but I just felt an amazing sense of love, just like with my girls. And he is his own little dude, and he is a joy.

I know there is no magical mantra to get you through this time. It is the last mile that seems the longest and hardest. I think freebasing coffee and getting his schedule changed is a fine thing to do. All I can say is you can do this, Tash. xo

G$ said...

Do whatever is needed to get through the NST's - coffee free base sounds delightful.

I'm having the same gender I lost and at first I wasn't sure how that made me feel. I kind of wanted a girl so I could differentiate this pregnancy from the last better. But when they said boy, I was both disappointed and happy. We can never win I guess.

Hang in there Tash, you can do hard things.


Dora said...

I suggest a frappucino with an added shot or 2 of espresso. You're nearly there. Waiting with you.

I'm sure he won't be a pincher. He'll be a sweet, delightful boy who will adore his big sister. If he does pinch, is it considered acceptable to tape down his thumbs? ;-)

tree town gal said...

I cannot add anything more beautifully than did k@lakly... right down to the starbucks card.

The "only girl" worked well here, too, when my daughter thought she'd prefer a sister. But I explained her stuff would not be usurped by a slobbery little sister stealing dolls and clothes. And indeed the toddler brother prefers her soccer ball and old dump trucks. My daughter still dresses up her brother to her will, when she can catch him, and laughs hilariously at the result. I still can't believe we have him. For you -- the same golden result.

CLC said...

This post resonates with me is so many different ways. Thinking of you Tash. Those tests are wonderful and a curse all at the same time. I wish these last few weeks fly by for you.

Jericho said...

You are so real in your posts---it brings me joy. I feel like even though you don't know me, you can say in your writing what my mouth can never say. What a rollercoaster this life is!