|February 9, 2015||Posted by Lisa under Uncategorized|
My dad passed away on February 3rd. I wrote this and read it at his service.
Over the past few days I’ve come to realize that my dad was so many different things to different people. To some of you he was a loyal friend, to Renee he was a loving husband, to some of you he was a supportive co-worker. He was a brother and a grandfather. And to me, he was Daddy.
I am Daniel M___’s daughter. I am a wife and a mother and a lawyer and a friend… and before I was any of these things, I was Dan’s daughter. He told me, almost every year on my birthday, that when he met me for the first time I grabbed his finger and I looked him in the eyes, eyes that look just like mine, and I smiled at him. (My mom was quick to chime in that the first time she met me I peed on her.)
I’ve heard about and known men who couldn’t put their feelings into words. Whose loved ones never heard from them how they felt. But that wasn’t my Dad. And I am so lucky to have had a daddy who told me every chance he got that he loved me. That he was proud of me.
My dad adored me. He made me feel so beautiful. I made sure to always look my best when he saw me, because his eyes would light up and he would say, “baby!! You are beautiful! My beautiful girl!” About 10 years ago he told me I have a ballerina neck. I walked around stretched out, contorting myself, trying to show it off, for days. He made me feel like I was the most beautiful person, most special person, my dad had ever seen…until the day my daughter was born. Then he would call and say, “How’s my baby?” And I would say, “I’m great daddy.” And he would say, “Not you! Alice!” Thanks, Dad.
He taught me how to hand embroider, how to play gin rummy, and how to multiply by the powers of 10. He had the most beautiful handwriting, and I loved the way he signed his name: Two big loops on top, two big loops on the bottom, not the slightest bit legible.
To me, my dad was big, soft and warm hands, and I held them as often as I could. My dad’s smell was Jim’s—coffee and pancakes and eggs, mixed Paco Rabbani cologne and the wool of his suit. I can still feel the scratchy wool on my cheek from when I was a little girl and he’d pick me up to kiss me, and then his whiskers rough on my face.
He was a big smile and infectious laughter. So much laughter that he couldn’t finish sentences. His favorite stories were of how my kids were giving me a hard time.
You know how your parents drive you crazy telling the same stories over and over? He had two. One was that he smoked until he was 40. I crawled over to the ashtray and got a used cigarette butt out and put it in my mouth. He looked at me, took the lit cigarette he had in his mouth, put it out and never smoked again.
The other, and he was incapable of telling this one all the way through without laughing so hard he’d have to start over, was about the time he took me to the school track to run with him. I must have been about 3 years old. So he’s running laps and I start out with him, but at some point he looks back and I’m cutting the field right up the middle so I can keep up. He thought it was hilarious.
He was hilarious. He was a teller of tall tales. Literally. He always said he was 5’7”, but his military papers said he was 5’4”. He always told me that he was taller than me. Last Friday we were walking up and down the hallway of the hospital, not speaking. It was the first time he’d been out of bed in a couple of days, and he was working hard, concentrating on his next steps. And then he muttered, almost under his breath, “I’m taller than you.” Instinctively I said, “No you are not!” and when I looked up he was laughing, smiling at me with those big chocolate eyes.
He was charming. He told me that when he joined the Army at 17, he didn’t know how to speak English. The Army shipped him off to Germany, and he didn’t know German, either. So he’d go to bars with his friends and sit and just smile. The German girls thought he was shy, but really, he just didn’t know what anyone was saying. Last week I was sitting by his hospital bed watching his nurse, who couldn’t have been more than 25, giggle and tell him how cute he was. Such a charmer.
My dad was kind. He was generous. He was never judgmental. He treated everyone he came into contact with with dignity and respect. He never gossiped or spoke poorly about anyone. He was wise- book smart and philosophical. He told me that big people talk about ideas, average people talk about things, and small people talk about other people.
I remember long, long lectures on politics, sports, law, The Middle East, authors, my job, etc etc. A few years back I noticed that the lectures had stopped. It was around that same time that he told me that he never worried about George and me… and I took that as such a compliment. Now that I’m a parent I realize what relief it must be to know that your children are going to be ok no matter what. I’m so proud that he knew that I would be.
Most of all, I think I will remember my dad as being happy. He was truly happy. George and I had lunch with him almost once a month, and we’d go in the middle of the week, kind of beat down by our jobs and the daily grind, and we’d sit with him for an hour and talk and walk out feeling so sunny, so optimistic. He was the happiest person I knew. I asked him once how he stayed so positive all the time, and he put his coffee down, sat back and smiled and said, “I don’t sweat the small shit.”
I think that’s the most important piece of advice he ever gave me.
So, that was my daddy. I’m so glad to say that I loved him the best that I could, and I think he did the same for me, and the only regret I have is that I won’t get to hear him say, “Lisa, this is your dad…” on the phone (which he said every time, as if I didn’t know his voice). I’ll miss holding his hand and having lunch and taking a selfie to post on facebook. I’ll miss the way he made me feel so happy after just a few minutes talking to him. I’ll miss how he teased me about being taller. I’ll miss how he adored my kids. I’ll miss all of his wisdom, I’ll miss how beautiful I felt when he looked at me, I’ll miss feeling that he was proud of me. But I am so thankful, so grateful to God for giving him to me. It has been, and always will be, my honor to be Dan’s daughter.
|May 17, 2014||Posted by Lisa under Uncategorized||
Gosh, she’s honest. She’s been licking me. She pretends she’s a baby puppy and sometimes that includes licks. I hate it. I don’t want to be licked by my daughter. So I talk to her like they’ve taught her at school. If you don’t like something, say something. “I don’t like it when you lick my body. Please don’t do it again.” And then acted as if she was going to do it again, tongue out, eyes shining, so I told her I’d put her in time out if she did it again. I reminded her a couple more times today of what would happen if she licked me. Each time she said, ‘But I like to lick you!” And then right before bed, I was hugging her tight and she put her face in my chest and licked. So, I told her to go to time out, she said no and started to cry. She went into the kitchen and a minute later I hear her dad say, “Well, mommy doesn’t like you to lick her body. When someone tells you not to lick their body, you aren’t supposed to do it anymore. When you tell your friends not to do something, you don’t want them to do it, right? Mommy doesn’t like it when you lick her.” And then, through tears, “But, but! I like to lick Mommy!” She walked back into the living room and looked up at me through wet eyelashes. “I’m sorry I licked your body, Mama.” “Thank you, baby. It’s ok. Thank you for saying you are sorry.” “Well, I’m just sorry a little bit for licking your body.” And then her dad took her to bed before she could get into more trouble.
|November 6, 2013||Posted by Lisa under Uncategorized|
On 10/7 I was 41w1d and absolutely miserable. I went in for an OB visit and I was 4cm, almost 4.5cm dilated, 90% effaced and baby was still at a -1. Seeker did two very rough checks, swept the membranes and trying to get something started in there. There was a lot of blood immediately and I thought maybe my water broke, but a quick test revealed it had not. Seeker offered to break my water or to let me walk around for a couple of hours to see if anything started on it’s own. If not, he said we could come back that afternoon and he’d break my water if that’s what we wanted. He assumed just breaking the water would be enough to push me into active labor.
We went home and got our toothbrushes, decided to have lunch and then go back to the hospital so he could break the water bag. Cue freakout from me. I went for a short walk and bawled with every step, afraid that maybe it wouldn’t work and I’d end up on Pitocin again, afraid that I was ruining the perfect little family I had by adding a stranger, afraid that Alice wouldn’t understand. When we took her to school that morning I stayed in the car so I hadn’t even given her a last hug and kiss. I was suddenly desperate to hold her and smell her head.
I’ve never gone up to visit her during the day for fear of confusing her, but I called her school to see if they could prepare her for me coming by and then leaving, because I felt really strongly that I couldn’t go through with the water rupture until I could hold my first baby again. They said they would, and if she was sad when I left they’d help her through that.
We stopped by to visit and she was finishing lunch. We told her Grandma would pick her up that afternoon and the next time she saw us we’d have Baby Brother with us. She showed us the remnants of her peanut butter sandwich, gave us good hugs and kisses, and we left. I consider it one of the great achievements of my life that I didn’t cry while at the school. I almost made it back to the car before breaking down again. Winning.
So we went to lunch and George had a sandwich with two bratwursts in it that was excessive and too big to be eaten by one person in one sitting. (He finished all of it, obv)
I called the OB’s office to let them know we were coming back to get my water broken and, after several calls back and forth, G yelling in the background and both of us getting really upset, they told us the earliest they could do it was the next morning, basically because I wouldn’t be attended to by my OB if I did it that late in the day. Deflated and irritated, we went back home to get some sleep and mentally process that Monday was not the day we’d meet our son, but maybe the next day.
We napped and cuddled and spent a couple of quiet hours at home before going to get Alice (she must have been so confused!) and then we invited ourselves over to Brandi and Evan’s house for dinner. I just needed to laugh and be around friends.We got there around 5:45 and Evan and George left to go get pizza. I hung out with Brandi and noticed that the cramping I’d been feeling all afternoon started getting a little more intense.
By the time the guys got back with the pizza around 6:30, I could tell these contractions were a little different than the ones I’d had every night for the past three weeks. I couldn’t sit down because there was pressure on my bottom, but I was ravenously hungry, so I stood and danced around the room, eating my pizza and drinking a glass of prosecco. I mentioned to George that I thought I’d better call and get my mom on the way, as she was coming to stay with Alice. We finished up eating, hugged our sweet friends goodbye, and drove the few blocks home.
My mom showed up a few minutes after we got home and I noticed that my contractions had spaced out a little to about 8 minutes apart. I texted my doula and asked if I should pump a little to get them going again. She said to try for 15 minutes, so I did, and sure enough, that got them started and somewhat regular. It was around 7:30 at this point and I had to stop to breathe through them. They were anywhere between 4 and 5 minutes apart. I texted my doula and asked if she could stop by after her class, which was down the street, and she said she would. I wanted her to look at me and assess whether I was in real labor or not. After three weeks of teases I didn’t trust myself not to get super excited and go in to the hospital only to be sent home.
I got out the labor ball and sat on it a while. I asked George to put on a Louis CK stand up comedy show so I could laugh while I labored. The three of us, Mom, George and me, watched and waited and laughed, me motioning to George when I needed to hold onto him during a contraction and then going about our business in between.
By the time Shelley, my doula, got to the house around 9:30, George had just thrown down the mandate that if I had two more contractions as hard as the ones he just watch me go through, we were going to the hospital no matter what Shelley thought. She walked in and helped me through a couple, then said yes, it looked like I was working through them, and to her it looked like active labor. She said if I was ready we could head to the hospital at any time.
I was torn. On one hand, I didn’t want to have my baby at home or in the car, and on the other hand, I didn’t want to go to the hospital and be out of my home setting before it was necessary. After a couple more contractions, I decided to go ahead and go, much to George’s relief.
We said our goodbyes to my mom and hopped in the car. I only had two contractions on the way to the hospital, which means they’d slowed to about 8 minutes apart again, so I was disappointed. The last thing I wanted was for it all to stop.
George wheeled me in, they showed us to our room, and the nurses asked if I wanted a gown or to wear my own clothes. I told them my own clothes. They asked me a ton of registration questions, I got annoyed, asked the nurse why she needed to know if I conceived this baby via fertility assistance… and then apologized for being bitchy. I explained that labor makes me grumpy. She said she couldn’t imagine why.
When she was done she checked my progress. I was at 4.5cm at around 10pm, still 90% effaced, baby at -1. By now I’d say I’d been in early active labor for a couple of hours, having to stop talking during contractions but pretty happy in between them. They were about 4-5 minutes apart.
As soon as I got in the bed, my doula started rubbing oils on my feet and legs, massaging them as the nurses bustled around me. She plugged in a tiny crockpot of essential oils to make it smell less like a hospital. When the nurses left us alone she dimmed the lights and basically just did all she could to make me comfortable. I instantly knew we made the right decision in hiring her and I was so glad she was there.
For a long time I danced. We didn’t have music on for a lot of it, and after we did it was Lionel Richie Pandora. It was supposed to be Spa Pandora but when I turned it on and heard Endless Love (it was tuned to Lionel from my walk the day before), there was no way I was going to change it. So, we danced, swaying my hips slowly from side to side and singing in the dim room until the next contraction came. George would stand up from where he was sitting on the bed in front of me and I’d bury my head in his chest, holding on tight to his sides, slowly breathing and smelling him and trying hard to keep my jaw unclenched.
Eventually I got in the shower after Shelley (doula) assured me that nothing I was going to do at this point was going to stop labor. It felt amazing. I felt like I was in the shower for over an hour at least, maybe two, until my feet hurt from standing up. Shelley put my labor ball in there for me to sit on but I had to stand for contractions anyway. When my feet felt like they might fall off, I reluctantly got out.
I should note that at this point I got dressed in a bra and skirt. Last time with Alice I was in too much pain to even think about getting dressed again after the shower, so I spent the last 6 or so hours laboring naked.
At this point contractions were strong and hard and I was not very happy at all even in the breaks between. I knew I couldn’t make it much longer. The nurse came in around that point to check me again, saying it’d been three hours since the first check and she needed to update the doctor on my progress. I felt like I’d been working pretty hard for about three hours at home and three hours at the hospital. I’d done so much work prior to that night that I was certain labor would be short… after all, I was almost half way dilated when I walked in.
She checked me and shook her head a little, took a breath, and announced that I was still at 4.5 cm dilated.
And that’s when I lost my shit.
I started crying and screaming. I felt so defeated. I was working, really working through all of these contractions and if after all of that work I hadn’t made any progress… I just knew I’d be in labor for days. And not dance and sing labor. Hard, can’t talk even between contractions and OHMYGOD I am going to die labor. I told everyone that I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t go on. They reassured me over and over that I could, that I WAS, but I knew better. I was done, I didn’t want to do it anymore, please make it stop.
It was around that point that Shelley suggested maybe an IV narcotic would help me relax at least between contractions. I’d had Stadol during Alice’s labor and it didn’t really work at all other than to make exactly one contraction less intense. But at this point I was desperate and needed some help, in any form, so I eagerly agreed. The nurse quickly came back and administered it and I lay down on the bed to get a little rest in between the contractions. They still hurt as much as ever, but at this point it was about 1 in the morning and I was so tired it was nice to get rest.
But the contractions were getting more and more painful and I grew more and more convinced that they were going to kill me. I asked George and Shelley what they thought about just trying an epidural, although we all knew the chances of it working were slim at best. They agreed if I wanted to try I should, so the anesthesiologist came in and tried to place it. And tried and tried and tried. And then she went to place someone else’s epi, came back and tried some more. Finally, after over an hour of trying and not being able to place it, she gave up. But I guess deep down I knew it wasn’t going to work, so I wasn’t surprised or disappointed.
During this hour I’d been having the strongest and longest contractions I’d ever felt. I’d say they were just as strong as the Pitocin contractions I’d felt with Alice, but the difference was that I did get a break in between them. Some of them double peaked and were almost 2 minutes long, which seems like a lifetime when you are trying to stay calm and still so that an epi can be placed.
In retrospect, I think having to remain as still as possible for the epi was the best thing for me to concentrate on at that point. I couldn’t moan or move. I had to sit on the bed as motionless as possible so that the anesthesiologist had the best chance of placing it. So there I sat, in the worst pain I could imagine, silent and still. George was in the room but the nurse told him he couldn’t be the support for me, so he sat nearby watching and whispering that I was doing a great job, that it was working, that he loved me, that there were only so many contractions I had to go through and to just concentrate on the very next one. He later told me he thought the contractions had stopped because I was so still and silent and the monitor that tracked contractions had fallen off. He said I looked so peaceful he wondered if labor had stopped.
And I was peaceful. In pain? Absolutely. But I knew I couldn’t sit there, motionless, by my own volition. I needed help. So I prayed. I prayed and pleaded for Jesus to help me, to come and sit beside me and help me hold still.
“Jesus please come, please come to this room and sit right here beside me and please help me. Please please because I can’t do it myself and no one no one can help me but you. Please please please. Help me be still, help me ”
And He did. He came and he sat by my side and he held my hand and I concentrated on a button on a machine next to me and together we got through the pain of the contractions and the constant pokes of the long needle being inserted into my spine over and over and over. He was there, in the dim light of my room, making me feel so peaceful that my husband who was watching my every move wondered if the contractions had stopped. They hadn’t. They were coming, on top of each other, as strong as ever, as long as ever. And I was still. We were still.
So, the epi didn’t work. I was offered another dose of Stadol as it had been a couple of hours since I’d had the other and I gladly accepted it. I didn’t realize the nurse had already administered it, although I later heard her tell the doctor she’d already given it to me. She told me she needed to check me again.
By now I guess it was about 5:30 in the morning. Maybe later. Time really didn’t have any meaning at that point because I just knew I was doing to die soon and I wasn’t able to keep track of how long it was going to take. I lay down again to be checked.
I remembered to relax my pelvis as much as I could so the nurse could get the best reading possible. She took a while to perform the check, her face blank as she did so. She was still checking when she quietly said, “Well… I have some good news. You are almost completely dilated.”
COMPLETELY DILATED. I asked her how much more and she said, “Actually, no more. You are at a 10.”
A 10. I was at a 10. Which means the hour or so when I sat and held hands with Jesus and was still when it was impossible to be still, when the pain was so horrible I thought I would die right then and there, that’s when my body was opening up. I went from 4.5cm to 10 in about an hour. And it was time to push this baby out.
Dr. Wang, the on-call doctor, came in, they set up the bed for pushing, a ton of people rushed into the room, and they told me on the next contractions I could push if I wanted to. Every time I pushed the baby’s heart rate would drop severely. It turned out that his cord was wrapped around his neck in a place that kept him up high and stopped him from descending, which could explain why I was walking around at 4.5cm without going into active labor. Every time I pushed him down the cord would wrap tighter, his heart rate would drop, and they had me stop for a few minutes.
George described the scene later to me: there is a nurse at the monitor for the baby announcing how low the heart rate has dropped, I am screaming and in pain, people are telling me to push but then stop very quickly… no one can stop to explain what exactly is happening to him or what the possible outcomes could be. He said he didn’t fully understand what was going on but that, good or bad, he knew it would be resolved quickly. All he could do was stand next to me and wait. It must have been horrible for him.
I pushed for about 15 minutes, I think. Three times through a contraction, stopped until the next one, pushed again, stopped and did it again. Shelley told me to open my eyes and look in the mirror… I could see my baby’s head crowning. I didn’t see anything after that as I was concentrating on pushing… through the pain. I wasn’t numbed this time like I was with Alice so I felt it all. The baby, the stretching, the tearing… the ring of fire, which is so aptly named because, damn, that burned.
And then he was here. His head, then his body, all covered in slime and glistening. George cut the cord. The NICU doctor looked him over to make sure the Stadol hadn’t affected him. George stood with him and took pictures and talked to him. I overheard a nurse call him Edward, so I asked George if that’s what we named him. We hadn’t made a final decision as far as I knew.
“We named him Edward?”
“Yeah,” he nodded and smiled back at me, then looked at the baby. “It just felt right. Edward George.” I laughed. Alrighty.
The NICU doctor brought him over a couple of minutes later and out him on my chest, telling me that he was absolutely perfect and she couldn’t see a reason why he should be away from his mama.
I snuggled him close, put his mouth to my breast and he latched immediately. He stayed for 40 minutes. He was home.
|October 2, 2013||Posted by Lisa under Uncategorized|
Alice was born at 40w3d. She had to be kicked out with pitocin and an 11 hour labor. Her brother seems to be equally comfortable. Tomorrow I’ll be more pregnant than I’ve ever been.
Baby boy hasn’t made his appearance yet, but it looks like his entrance into the world is imminent. George is antsy, Alice has no clue aside from being excited that her Gamma will come stay with her for a couple of days very soon. I bounce between being super excited, being super nostalgic, being super sore so that I can’t think about anything else, being ambivalent, being tired of it all… Das Hormones. It’s serious shit, y’all.
I am on every other day visits to the OB. Today I had a non stress test and a biophysical profile on the baby. Everything looks awesome. They said I had the placenta of a 20w pregnancy (very healthy looking), plenty of amniotic fluid, baby is measuring perfectly, he’s making breathing movements. I have no swelling, my blood pressure is great, and I actually feel pretty incredible (other than the head in my crotch. That sucks. Unpleasant. Understatement.) I’m 4cm dilated, 85% effaced, baby is at a -1. He scored an 8 of 8 on his biophysical test.
I am so proud of my body. I’ve been having contractions on and off for over 2 weeks and I am almost halfway fully dilated. That’s 4 LESS cm that I have to go through active labor in without meds. After 20 years of having difficulties and limitations with my body because of my spinal fusion, it seems I’ve found something that my body is really, really good at. And it’s something that is pretty damned impressive. I make babies, and my body slowly and steadily prepares itself for their exit. Hearing all of the great news today made me so happy and invigorated after being a bit disappointed when my due date came and went… and when George’s birthday came and went the day after.
My body is doing exactly as it should be, at it’s own pace. Beautiful.
My body cannot prepare me for the emotional upheaval of adding an entire person to my life. A person to have and to hold, to nurse and cuddle and love and worry over. Nothing can prepare me for that. So I’ll concentrate on getting him out, safe and sound, and then I’ll dig in to the work of my life. To mother another precious baby, nurture his relationship with his sister, and sit in awe at the miracle that George and I get to play a part in. Again.
|July 24, 2013||Posted by Lisa under Uncategorized|
It shrank! It has shrunken! It’s a good size. (name that movie!)
We went today for a follow up on the left ventricle and it’s smaller and almost in range of what is considered “normal”. The doc said that there is absolutely nothing to worry about. We have a health baby boy (omg, no shrinkage in that dept!) who weighs 3 lbs 11 ounces. He’s measuring at about 50th percentile and is 2 days ahead of schedule size wise.
My baby is healthy. I can’t even describe how good it feels to type that out.
It was good timing that we moved this past weekend because I barely had any time at all to worry about brains and fluid and shunts. At night G and I would put our hands on my belly and instruct baby boy that he needed to work on shrinking that left ventricle because mommy and daddy were in the middle of a move and already very stressed and, frankly, we just didn’t have time to worry about it.
Thank goodness he listened.
Also, in unrelated but almost equally good news, Seeker OK’d me to start taking 2 max strength Zantac per day instead of just 1 and a ton of Tums. When I confessed that I am also popping Tums like candy he said that I could continue to do so with his blessing. THANK GOD. There is just so much room up in there and apparently baby boy has no respect for one’s esophagus. ZANTAC and TUMS! Keep ‘em comin’!
|July 15, 2013||Posted by Lisa under Uncategorized|
We’re moving. In May we were telling people how we’d never move out of Circle C and our house, and by June we had our house listed and had put in an offer on a couple of centrally located homes. They don’t call us the Whishy Washy Hoyts for nuthin’. Low interest rates and high prices in Circle C have lured us closer to downtown. In a week we’ll be calling North University home, just a couple of miles from our offices and closer to… well, everything but our old house.
I decided to switch Alice to her new school a week early to try and stagger the huge changes. It’s the sister location to her old school, so the play based approach to learning is the same (tons of outdoor play, hippies), which eased my mind a little about the change. We visited one afternoon and Alice was wet and painted in green within 10 minutes. She felt at home there.
We drove by yesterday to remind her where it was and what it looked like. We talked about it before bed, and again this morning when she woke up. Then I split my jeans getting into the car, officially bumping myself up to hippo status, putting us a little behind for the morning.
She was happy in the car but mentioned she didn’t want to go to her new school. We’ll just try it out, I said.
We got there and she was a little overwhelmed by all of the new faces, but quickly warmed up when she found some “yeggos” to play with. A couple of the other girls had taken their shoes off and were playing on the couch, and Alice happily joined them. She ventured out to the playground, and asked me to play with her. I told her that I couldn’t, I’m headed to work, and she frowned. Then she raised her little blonde head and bravely asked, “Ok, Mama. You go to work, but you play wif me yater?”
Yes, baby. I’ll play wif you yater. And than you for being so brave and not crying when mama left, because you know I would have been a mess had you been sad. You are so fearless and sweet. I hope you have a great day.
|July 12, 2013||Posted by Lisa under Uncategorized|
Last month, George and I invited my mom to our 24 week appointment. It’s a fun one, with a 4D sono and lots of pictures and sneak peeks of baby’s face.The three of us sat in the dark room and watched, open mouthed in awe, at the pictures of our sweet baby kicking and smiling and stretching. Mom and G left before I saw the nurse, who informed me that the sonographer was unable to see all 4 chambers of the heart, so I’d be getting another 4D scan the day of my next appointment in a month. She assured me it was an imaging problem, not a problem with the baby, and there was nothing to worry about.
I had a nagging feeling, so George told me to call back when I got home to get reassurance. I did, another nurse confirmed it was nothing, so I did my best not to think about it for the next month.
My next appointment fell on a day when George had to be in New Orleans for work. My mom was swamped at work and couldn’t get off… so I decided to go solo, convinced that it would be fine. A little nervous. When I got in the sono room the tech immediately started measuring baby’s brain. Over and over. I got impatient. Stop looking at his brain! Make sure you can see all 4 chambers of the heart!
“Wait,” I tell her. “I thought we were looking at the heart today?”
“No. The brain. The left ventricle was enlarged last time, and it’s getting bigger.” She keeps measuring. Click click click.
My world shrinks. Everything that matters is on the tv screen in front of me as she measures and measures and measures again. I asked her what that means. It could mean nothing, it could mean my doctor would want to monitor it… she isn’t sure. His left ventricle is out of the range of normal, but not my much. She flips to 4D and shows me my son’s sweet, peaceful face. A hint of a smile. He kicks me. She turns off the sono, turns on the lights, and grimly wishes me the best of luck. Thanks.
Numb. I’m numb and stunned and somehow still walking out of the room and into the hall and I dial George’s number. He’s in a meeting and texts me to ask if everything is ok. I text back.
“So it wasn’t his heart. It’s his brain. And apparently the left ventricle is enlarged. And it was last time and still is now. I haven’t seen my doc yet so I don’t know what that means.”
He calls immediately and asks all the questions that I can’t answer but that I need to have answered. Now. Not in an hour or two while I wait for my doc to catch up on patients. Now. I hang up with him, go to the front desk, tell the staffer that I just had a sono, something is wrong with my baby’s brain, and I cannot, will not, be able to wait to see the doc. I have to be next, I have to be next. I’m crying like I assume only a mom who is worried something is wrong with her unborn son’s brain is cries, which is to say I am borderline hysterical. She immediately picks up the phone and turns away from me. When she turns around she’s wiping tears from her eyes and says I’ll be next. “You’ll be next, go sit down, it’s ok, you have to stop crying so I can, too, ok?” Ok. Because I guess when a mama comes to your desk crying and begging to be next in line because she just got really bad news… the only thing you can do is bump her up on the schedule and cry.
I wait in the exam room and wonder if they come in and I’ve got my forehead on the floor in prayer, would it be the first time they’ve had a patient do that? Surely not. But my body doesn’t allow such positions anyway, my belly is so big now, so instead I sit and pray but it’s really just begging. Please please please please please please please. Please make it stop. Please fix it.
It’s still an hour before Seeker comes in to apologize for the misinformation about the heart, confirm that, yes, this is a brain abnormality, draw a diagram, show me the worst case scenario (a shunt to drain the ventricle after birth) and tell me that it likely will never come to that. Cases such as these are almost always resolved prior to birth. He schedules me to come back in two weeks for another scan. He bets it’ll be gone by then. He talks to me as if I’m not sobbing, slow and kind and I wonder if he knows that I can’t process any of it.
It doesn’t even occur to me to be anxious that I have to wait two weeks to see if it’ll get better. I am already down in a bad place and I fell when I heard “brain abnormality”. I walk out of the office, trying to make sense while I explain to G what Seeker said even though I barely heard it. It’s not fair to him, and though I should be able to I still can’t answer his questions because everything stopped running in my head way back in the sonographer’s room.
I walk and talk and look up and see my mom. G has told her something is wrong and to come over. She sees me look at her and immediately switches her face from panic to calm and reassuring. I answer her questions with even less detail than I did with George, because that’s all I have left. She takes me to get lunch as I’ve been fasting since 10am, to get Alice, and home. I feed Alice and sit on the couch and try to engage with her because she has no idea that there is a loud siren in my head screaming BRAIN.ABNORMALITY.YOUR.BABY over and over and over.
My mom bathes her and puts her to bed and leaves because I tell her over and over that I’m fine, I’ll be fine, it’s ok. She calls 20 minutes later and I’m still in the same place she left me, unable to stop sobbing, and she says she’s coming back and I just say ok. Ok, mama. Come back. I was wrong and I can’t sit here by myself and hear the screaming in my head. Come back.
Alice has trouble falling asleep, and an hour later I hear a quiet whimper that gets louder and louder. “I want my mama to make it better… I want my mama to make it better… I want my mama… make it better…” She’s gotten in my head and is saying the words, the only words, that I can think to myself over the screaming BRAIN.ABNORMALITY.YOUR.BABY. Mama come back and make it better. Come back and fix it. Please please please fix it.
I go in and she isn’t talking about her baby brother. She’s talking about her diaper which is half off and in her grogginess she can’t reattach. I am so grateful to have an excuse to scoop her out of bed and cuddle. We sit in the rocker in the darkness, her warm body wrapped around my belly and her head on my chest, her breathing matches mine and for the first time that day I notice that I’ve been telling myself to breathe all afternoon, as if I don’t I’ll stop.
I rock her longer than she needs and put her back to bed. I wait for my mom to come, for my mom to fix it, for my mom to make it better. She comes in and I’m in bed and she says she wants me to talk to her so I’ll feel better. But I can’t, and I tell her I just need to sit and be quiet. She nods, doesn’t say another word, and gets into bed with me. She sits and she’s quiet and I’m not alone and when I wake up an hour later to the screaming in my head again, she’s still there. Sitting and quiet. Sitting vigil so I can sleep. No, she can’t fix it. But she can make it better.
The next day is better. I know George is coming home that night. If I can just hang on 20, 12, 5, 2 more hours… he’ll be home and I can climb into his lap and bury my face in his neck and he’ll go over everything the doctor said with me and I won’t feel so floppy… like I don’t have bones, which is how I have felt for the past 30 or so hours. I do a pretty good job of ignoring the screaming in my head.
He calls me before he gets on the plane, texts me when he makes his connection, again when he arrives at the airport, and again when he gets to his car. “About 20 more minutes, baby. I’m coming home.”
He gets home and walks in and again says how sorry he wasn’t here, as if he could have known. He lays beside me on the bed and we kiss and hug and hold hands and we don’t let go. “You’re not supposed to ever leave me, you know.” I say, teasing. “I know, baby, I tell you that all the time, but then somehow it happens anyway.” He kisses every inch of my face and then puts both of his hands on my belly and kisses it, puts his forehead on it and closes his eyes. He stays there for a long time.
He holds me holds me holds me. We talk and I can feel myself relaxing, letting go. The man who made this baby with me is here and together we work through the possibilities, the options, the worst cases, the probably nots. We talk about all of the friends and family and even acquaintances who have heard about the baby and are praying for us. The screaming in my head turns to a nagging whisper.
Alice starts to cry out in her sleep, and although we both know she’ll go back to sleep on her own, he goes in and rocks her and gets almost all of the sweet warm baby snuggles he’s been missing out on. He comes out smiling.
We can do this, he and I. So we will do it. We’ll wait two weeks and go back for another scan and we’ll tell ourselves and each other that it’s going to resolve and our baby will be fine because he has to be fine. We love each other too much for anything less. And even if it’s not fine, it will be… eventually. With a love like this, everything always turns out.
|June 13, 2013||Posted by Lisa under Uncategorized|
Dad and I dropped you off at school this morning. It’s a change in routine, usually only one of us is there. You walked in and ran into you teacher, Daniel’s, arms and laid your head on his shoulder with your eyes scrunched together, mouth in a huge smile. You love him. Then you introduced him to us, although we’ve known him for the same two years that you have. We unpacked your bag and kneeled down for kisses and goodbye hugs. Dad went first. I was next and noticed you were breaking all of the chalk pieces in half that were set out to draw with. I suggested that it would be sad when your friends showed up and had to draw with broken pieces of chalk, so maybe it would be better if you didn’t break them all, and then everyone could have a whole piece. You set down the chalk that was about to meet it’s demise, turned and raised your head to look at me, your big and round blue eyes meeting my brown. You put your hands on my shoulders and calmly said to my smiling face, “Go home, Mama.”
Right. You got this. Sorry.
|May 9, 2013||Posted by Lisa under Uncategorized|
So… this is me.
I needed a head shot, quickly, and I just so happened to have dinner plans with my homie Mollie last night, who is a photographer, and a close enough friend that I can boss her around, so I told her to bring her camera to take my picture before dinner. Then she bossed me around, told me to look here, smile, and we were done. This is the first pic of me that I’ve liked in a long time because a) I think I actually have a natural smile, rather than the “possessed OMG look how happy I am” smile that I usually wear in pics, and 2) I am pregnant, but you can’t see my bump so I can use this for a while, but I do have the pregnant boobs which are really just regular sized boobs for a normal person, but whatever, bonus.
Why did I need a head shot?! So glad you asked. I am going to be a speaker at the Texas Style Council Summer School this year. I am going to be showing people how to accessorize and which shoes to wear with what. HA. Stop laughing. Actually, don’t because I was cracking up as I was writing that. Obv, I have no business advising anyone on wearing anything. Every time I have something to dress for I have to ask George, Alice, my friends in the computer, and my neighbor if it looks ok and I know my ass is huge but is it REALLY huge in this and ok, what about necklaces and oh, can I borrow that one? Yesterday I had to run down the street to a friends house to steal dresses, then come back and have a fashion show for George, then have him pick a dress so I could pick a different one.
Anyway, I’ll be hosting a Q&A for the style ladies to ask me anything as a lawyer and then I’ll try to answer their questions or at least get their card so I can look up the answers and get back to them. The fun part is that I get to attend the rest of the conference, so hopefully being around pretty ladies who dress great will rub off on me.
Participating in an event like this isn’t exactly going to put me in my element, but it feels good to be doing something just for me.
|May 3, 2013||Posted by Lisa under Uncategorized|
Baby soup. ex: “What’s that, Mama?” “It’s my bathing suit.” “Oh! I yike your baby soup. It’s so bootiful.”
Funny tail. ex: “I want a funny tail in the back like Mama. Mama, put my hair in a funny tail like you. You want a funny tail, too, Mama?”
And she used to say, “starburrs” for strawberries, and “blalalala” for banana, and
pooputer” for computer, and “happy circle” for hexagon, but because time is evil, she is growing up, and now says all of those things the right way.
I brush my teeth and she asks for her toofbrush, because, “I want to be Mama.” I do my hair and she mimics, because, “I want to be Mama.” Not like Mama, she wants to be Mama. My heart is full and my ego swells and I soak it all up because I know in less than 10 years she’ll be asking me to drop her off around the corner for fear that the other tweens know that her mom drives her to school without makeup on. I love that she can communicate with me, that she can tell me what she’s thinking (this morning she saw a monster from a space ship but it’s ok it was a nice monster), and that I can tell her I love her and know that while she can’t fully grasp how much, she can hear it, and she can say it back. This age is amazing. This girl is amazing.
And the sweetest is this:
Staring hard at my belly last night, she peered right into my belly button, patted all around and said, “Yittle brudder need to come out so I can give him a tiss.” And I died, right there, thinking that maybe this two kid thing isn’t going to be so bad after all.
Oh, blog, I forgot to tell you that I’m gestating. It’s ok, the rest of the world already knows. It’s a boy. We are calling him Baer, unless I freak out at the last minute and give in to G and make him a junior. I feel amazing lately, after a rocky first tri where I was sick and went on meds that had horrible side effects. But it’s been smooth sailing now for a month or two and, after about a day of HOLYSHITIKNOWNOTHINGABOUTBOYS… I’m excited. After the nurse told us there was a penis on the baby she left, then came back to make sure I was ok, so shocked was the look on my face. Oops.
So, a boy. I’m starting to look at little blue onesies and room decor. We are all slowly potty training– as much as we can with only two hours at night with her and weekends. Yesterday was a banner day with three times gone in the potty, lots of smiles and cheers and proud looks on chubby toddler faces. We’ve also started swim lessons, and if last week’s first lesson was any indication, it’s going to be amazing. I’ve been counting the days until we can go back. Just one more sleep. It was a half hour of her giggling. I can’t think of anything better.