Make it better.
|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.