Monday, July 30, 2007

Cynicism and Condescension

Those are the two poisons that this marriage can no longer abide.

This is something that I have learned over the past year or so. These lessons have been hard won and you'd think that they'd be seared into my memory indelibly. But in fact I feel like I'm trying to hold water in my hands. It's as if I look away for a moment the understanding disappears. Or like having something under a microscope, if I vary the power of my gaze I lose track of what level that important knowledge was on. So I'll write it down. Here and there, so that I have something more tangible to remind me.

I recently read Stumbling on Happiness which suggests that our brains 'help' us out by sugar-coating memories. That's nice of our brains but if you buy the theory, as I do, it does give reason to be paranoid about forgetting these lessons. I don't want my brain to rewrite history, I want to remember what sucked and why. I want to remember how much it sucked, not that it was kind of a drag. My marriage was pretty fucking rotten for a while there and it hasn't been easy pulling it back from the abyss. Not easy but worth every minute spent. I also don't want to exaggerate my history. There were good times mixed in with the long stretch of awful. But those gave my brain an excuse to ignore the worst for far too long. It gave my brain a pass to say, "Wait! Remember this day? That wasn't so bad right?"

Why focus on this now? Today? Well, I know that we are approaching a critical junction in time. I am still scared that we could backslide to that place where I feel invisible and dismissed. When this baby is born will we allow ourselves to be so overwhelmed with gratitude and joy that we start to forget what else has been at stake? Will we turn our focus to the new baby, to making sure the Bunny is okay and lose track of our relationship, on which all else in the family depends? I think it was with the Bunny's birth that we started to lose our grip with each other the first time. She was so fun, so perfect, so distracting that we didn't notice how little attention we paid each other. Then suddenly we were those angry strangers, not on the same team, not supporting each other. I was being ignored, studiously and I became an angry bitch with nothing but criticisms to defend myself against the emptiness.

I don't want to go there again. I wish I felt confident enough that it couldn't happen but when dh appeared to not email or call me from the road for a day (somehow his email address had been filtered to trash?) it was my worst fear resurfacing. Okay, fair enough, he did send an email, not his fault that I didn't get it. But I think the fact that my trust has been so damaged that my brain didn't even come up with the possibility of an email glitch is one of those red flags not to dismiss.

So we'll continue to work at it and I'll keep making notes to remind myself. And when I feel like I'm in danger of irritating dh with my insistence that we aren't there yet I'll try to remember that he should want to get there as much as I do.

I'm wide awake.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Recovery Days

Well the family is gone and quiet has returned. The Bunny and I are still feeling a little zonked
so we've been trying to take it easy.
Yesterday was my first Non-stress Test and it was a good education in how unlike a homebirth this
is going to be! Baby passed with flying colors, I was a little less
successful but knowledge is power, forewarned is forearmed etc etc.

Basically the labor sala is this small windowless room painted half pink
and half blue (maybe this is normal? I've never been in L&D in a hospital before). For the test (foreshadowing what is expected for labor)
I was told to lie on my back with the external fetal monitor and a
contraction monitor strapped on. When I asked the nurses if I could sit
up they said no so I sat up anyway (in case I'd been unclear about what
I was asking) to their consternation. After they got me back on my back
they did jack up the bed a little but it was still pretty
uncomfortable. They didn't want me to lie on my side either. It took
them about 5 minutes to even find the heartbeat because they never
bothered to feel around on my belly to check baby's position. At one
point they were pleased to find my heartbeat (except that they thought
it was hers) so I jiggled my belly to see what position baby was in,
mentioned that the HR sounded too slow to be the baby and then pointed
to her back so they could find the real one. Not terribly inspiring,
especially when Alison mentioned that the head nurse has been the head
nurse there forever. Finally they got it all set and left and then
after about 5 minutes Doctora arrived and must have noticed that I was
having trouble breathing, getting a little frantic and overheating and
she let me move to my side. As soon as I did baby's heart rate got
noticeably faster and she started moving around like a happy little
monkey. Alison asked if I was going to have to keep this stuff strapped
on in labor and Dra S said yes, of course. I was still feeling pretty
sweaty and freaked out about the time spent on my back so I said that I
couldn't imagine lying still through labor, couldn't she check me every
five minutes with the doppler or something? But she said no, and later
I realized that really (okay, Alison pointed it out) that is what we're paying her for. In the event
that Baby thinks she might just check out we want to know immediately
and get her out of there so I'll spend the next five weeks trying to
wrap my mind around lying down through labor. It isn't going to be fun
though. I really really hope that once we get labor going it is as fast
as the last two lest I completely freak out, tear my clothes off and go
raving around the hospital like a lunatic.

We didn't get to see the sala de expulsion (delivery room), I figured one unpleasant revelation at a time and
I've got one of these tests scheduled each week from now until the end
but it was emphatically stated that babies are not allowed to be born in
the room I was in. At least if the pattern holds I won't be in there for too long. And, I'll need to make this a mantra, the important thing is that baby comes out healthy and well. I'm a grown up and I can withstand a lot of discomfort. It won't kill me. I've said I'd do anything for a healthy baby. Time to put my money where my mouth is.

Dh is up in SJI checking out that 16 acre parcel. According to last night's email it is a major disappointment. He says it feels chilly and damp and there are no good clearable trees for building, all too small. He said it reminds him of Storrs. Deal killer for me, for sure. He also said it was 13 miles from Friday Harbor, also kind of too far. However, he mentioned that the Beaverton Valley place had gotten a subsequent offer to ours which was lower so he was going to see if there might be more room for movement on that now. I hate to feel so helplessly wanting that place. Objectively I know that it is an overpriced disaster area but when I think of it all I can picture is us living a comfortable happy life there, turning it into a real cozy home. I see myself puttering in the kitchen, the Bunny catching the school bus, the cat prowling around the meadow, Dh out in the garden. Oh well, what will be will be.

I'm suddenly feeling the extreme need to lie down and snooze while the Bunny is busy with her favorite show but I do have more thoughts I need to get out of my head! I'll be back. I swear.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Here is the incredible little dress that DrJen made for Baby. I am not only impressed that she knit it (because as a non-knitter it feels magical to have something so perfect made by a real live actual friend) but that she had time to knit it what with being a mom to four kids and a doctor! I am truly in awe. It is so soft too, it will be in the to-go bag for the hospital fo' sho'!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Sleep is Optional

Yawn, stretch, coffee. Repeat as necessary.

So this not sleeping through the night thing is continuing and now I know who the culprit in my schedule is. Baby! Well, I guess I can't blame her if she's getting bored and feeling cramped. And I honestly do not mind waking up to feel the little wrist circles and calf stretches she's working on in there. Every movement continues to be a pleasure. For all the roller-coastering my emotions are on throughout this pregnancy, and even with the itching and depression of ICP coming and going as it is, this has been a pretty comfy 7 months all told. Some days when I'm not worrying about something else, I worry about that. LOL

I'll be back. I'm trying to sort through the variety of thoughts about all this family swirling around and I want to jot down some thoughts on the property we are under contract for on San Juan Island. But first I need more coffee and my guests are about to need breakfast.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Things I should have said

So, once again as I was awake at an odd hour last night I was thinking about things that linger on in my brain and thought perhaps writing it down would help purge it out once and for all.
Right before bed I got an obnoxious email from some random stranger who had initially contacted me about the house being for sale. She got all crazy about how insane I was for suggesting that this place could be run as a B&B when that was clearly a fool's errand. Yeah, whatever. But it did get me thinking about the times when people have said things so unexpected or so thoughtless or inappropriate or astoundingly callous that I have not been able to respond satisfactorily. So here's one response that I would have given in that fake time-stands-still kind of way had I been able to overcome my astonishment.

Cristiana: "You know, I really know how you must feel. My second baby didn't take a breath for almost two minutes when she was born and I was right there feeling so strong and connected to all women. As mothers we really understand what it is like to have to face life and death."

Me: "Well actually you probably don't really have a clue how I felt. There is a world of difference between a baby that takes a breath and a baby that doesn't. When your baby takes a breath your adrenaline probably kicks in and you get all shaky but you're elated that she's breathing now. You probably put her to your breast, feel her little limbs start to respond. You deliver your placenta, cut the cord, get cleaned up, wrap up baby in a blanket and hold her and marvel at how perfect she is and what a miracle that she's okay.

When your baby doesn't take a breath someone cuts the cord and starts trying to breath for the baby. She doesn't respond so they whisk her into another room to try something else. You are left sitting in a half full tub of water, blood and meconium, praying silently and shouting to the baby in the hopes that somewhere somewhere in her she can hear you and can respond. Finally it is clear that she is not going to take a breath.

She is not going to start. She is not going to move or cry or nurse or be any warmer than she is at that moment. You find yourself lying on a bed waiting to expel the placenta. Your baby is grey and naked and lying inert on the far side of the bed. Everyone around you is in such shock, so horrified at what is happening that so far no one has even thought to swaddle the little body. You start to go into shock yourself. This is a scenario you never imagined and you start to shake uncontrollably.

Later, you are still in bed holding your lifeless baby and you have to make a decision. Should you send her to the coroner to be cut open and autopsied or do you send her to the funeral home to be cremated? Cutting her open may not bring you any answers and will certainly not bring her back. Cremation sounds sensible, you have 24 hours to choose but already her body is stiffening and the blood is pooling and creating strange dark patches on her skin and you don't want to remember her like this. And you don't want to ever let her go.

And that is the beginning of what it feels like when your baby doesn't take a breath. Only the beginning. And if your baby has never ultimately failed to take a breath you will never have a fucking clue what it feels like."

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Bunny Rides!

Chiara's Horseback Riding Debut
Yesterday was the Bunny's first Horse Show (I think I had my first at 31 after roughly 9 years of lessons!) and she was great! Now I know I'm hardly unbiased but she had terrific form and such poise, it was unbelievable that she'd only been riding at all for week! I am so awed by her self confidence and her ability to put it all out there at 5 and half! She just blew us away completely.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Week in Review

Well, to start things off how about some pictures?

How is that for cute? That's Chupalupa the mini-donkey baby born at the Bunny's horse camp this week. The Bunny is loving her horse camp and dh and I are puffed up with pride (to say the least) that each time we go to pick up her instructor tells us what a natural she is. Her cousin is joining her and it's great that they both have something to occupy their afternoons when they would otherwise be needy and cranky I'm sure.

Her cousins have been visiting for a week and sad to say the older of the two girls is as strange and hard to reach as ever. Dh and I can't quite put our fingers on what is going on with her. It isn't at all clear if she is simply uninterested, totally narcissistic, or somehow developmentally delayed but something seems off. I haven't had the experience before of watching a child develop from an infant into a toddler into a little girl, except with the Bunny with whom I have little objectivity, and it saddens me that every encounter leaves me feeling uneasy for this child's future. The Bunny adores her though, in part because they have always been paired due to their very close birthdays and because they were both the first children for this side of the family. She hasn't seemed to notice anything amiss in her cousin's reactions or enthusiasm but instead is sure that her own love and enthusiasm is all they need. I hope that that insensitive love continues to be strong and blinding and perhaps in time it will help her cousin to pull through the gauze which she so often seems wrapped in.
The little sister is a real study in normalcy by comparison. She's cute and impish and likes to be the center of attention. She is the first little tomboy I've had the pleasure to know in this new generation. All the girls the Bunny knows from school are heavily into princesses and dresses and pinkness. This little one prefers Spiderman to Ariel and baseball caps worn backwards to chiffon and sparkles. It is a breath of fresh air to say the least! When we were out at the pond swimming last weekend she would launch herself off the edge of the shallows onto a boogie board toward the middle of the deep end, completely sure of her own ability to kick herself back to the edge when she was ready. I was keeping close to her as she was so far out and so small but if I put a hand on her board to steady her she would push it off with a stern reminder that she was not in need of assistance.

Friday, July 6, 2007

The Doldrums of ICP


That's how it feels. I think I've been hit with another symptom of cholestasis. Depression.

I started noticing a week or so ago that I wasn't getting anything accomplished. Like probably everyone else in the world I've got a nice long list of things I'd like to do when time allows. Well, in the past week I've actually had plenty of time but no gumption to do. One day I even pulled out my sewing stuff in preparation to sew the Bunny a skirt. But that's as far as it got. A few days later I stashed the sewing kit again before a realtor tour.
It's an insidious thing, depression. You think you're tired, even though you slept fine. You're not hungry or maybe you are but you don't care enough to go cook up a meal. Or maybe you're not but you find yourself eating a muffin anyway. The smallest inconvenience stops you in your tracks. You can't quite squeeze out the smile you know someone deserves. Your inner voice grumbles. You lose your resiliency. It takes twice as long to get out the door, you keep hoping you don't really have to go. I sobbed for an hour after seeing 12 more dead US soldiers on the Newshour. They deserve my tears, but still.

At least now I am pretty confident that it is a symptom of this curious, deadly disease I'm harboring. The only blip on my blood tests now is a *very* slight dip in my blood proteins. My OB explained that that number would dip significantly if anything was wrong with my liver, so far so good she says. But I itch all over. Like sitting in an invisible swarm of mosquitoes.

Today I saw my OB and told her that I'd found studies online saying that multiple courses of steroids have more risks than benefits for babies. She wasn't pleased. She told me that she would never prescribe something that could harm me or the baby. She clearly resented the implication. I felt really bad questioning her judgment but I'm the one I have to live with. Still, it was hard to sit there and look her in the face as she told me how misguided I was. Dh was there. He kept quiet. Originally I'd hoped he could pretend to have been the one to find the information and pretend it was on his orders I hadn't gotten my shots. But when the time came I was the one who had the printouts to give her. He said afterwards that he hadn't wanted her to feel ganged up on and that he is confident that by our next meeting in three weeks she will have found a face-saving way to agree with me. I think he's probably right and I don't want her to feel like we're ganging up on her. But it still sucked in the moment to be the only one on the other side of that line, sticking up for myself by myself.

Dh knows what it's like to feel ganged up on. The past couple of weeks have been rough ones for him. We've come so far together since February 2006 when we were practically strangers, angry ones at that. But we aren't through the thicket yet no matter how much we want to be. But I have a different point of view about what it takes to get there, one our therapist shares, and so every week he feels like it's two against one, like he's being bullied. I hope that his defenses, old ugly ones that in the past drove me into the worst place I can imagine going, are in their death throes. I am daring to hope that they are. And yet it is such a delicate balance. Encourage, bait, pull, side-step, redirect, confront, comfort. It feels like we are looking down the same path but where I see a little bit more rough going and then a beautiful clear opening beyond, he sees a dark, dangerous cavern with no light within to guide us. And yet, despite this depression which is tugging at me, I feel so much stronger than I have in years. I'm ready for this final battle to pull him through the wall, the forcefield that surrounds him and lies to him of its protective nature. It can't keep out how much I love him, how much I want to free him. And he can't suppress his love either, he's got too much that needs to get credit, too much for such extreme caution. I know he will soon be startled with the clarity that's coming. It is so close. We can practically touch it.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Burnt. Out.

How I wish there were those useful little smileys that they've got over at MDC! Today's would be :irked:
Yet again I find my pulse racing with annoyance at the maids. I try to keep in mind that they are probably burnt out too. Yet when I walk past the same basket of folded laundry that has been sitting on the folding table for 5 days I find it very difficult to sympathize with how bored they must be having so little work to do. When the doorbell rings while I'm on the phone and I know three paid employees are having coffee in the kitchen and not one of them bothers to check on the door I fume. When they dump the shopping on the counter and don't bother to take the next step of putting things away I want to bang my head against the wall. I just wish I was sufficiently fluent to put my thoughts into spanish. But then, that's just not done here is it? It's considered the height of rudeness to angrily point out what a crap job someone you are paying is doing. It just isn't nice.

And then I'm hanging around wasting a gorgeous day because some guest forgot to bring her passport to the airport with her this morning. Sure, that happens to everyone eventually but she didn't bother to call until an hour before she was due to arrive (read: 2 .5 hours after the driver we sent to pick her up had to leave to get her) to let us know. And the message that she left didn't include any information about her traveling companion who presumably made the original flight.
Did this kind of thing always happen and I've just completely run out of patience? Or is it really happening more often and travelers have gotten both more stupid and more inconsiderate?
Who knows? All I know is that I'm sick of the guests and I'm sick of the maids! Time to go!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

White Rabbits Before Breakfast!

Happy July!

8 weeks to go before we meet baby!
This week's pregnancy saga: finding out that multiple courses of steroids are *not* recommended by the NIH or the ACOG, but *have been* recommended by my OB! Big sigh with me friends. Argh.
So, this week's fun agenda task is telling my oh so sweet and thus far accommodating OB that I'll be blowing off her instructions to start getting steroid shots and waiting until week 33 to have a single course instead. Fun fun. I will go and have my blood test done and I will go and get my liver ultrasound. And I will continue keeping up with the supplements, water intake and sporadic itching.

Our possible sale/lease fell through on this place. But we may have a light at the end of the tunnel on Cabras! And, the place we want on San Juan Island has had a modest price reduction. Laughable as it is still overpriced by a solid 100k but going in the right direction. And we're still crossing our fingers that nobody else will appreciate its diamond-in-the-roughness and it will languish unsold through to the fall.

The bunny had her end of year show at school which was overlong and included a skit about discrimination with MLK done in blackface. Nice. I had no last minute nostalgia, just a desire to hightail it outta there and to not look back.

Looking ahead to this week's events I'm anticipating calls from my mom. She has been with my brother in England for the past two weeks and had gotten the news that she lost her job the day before she left. Apparently she's been sick for her entire visit, no surprise there after years of pent up bad feelings in her difficult job. She called and left two messages asking me to return her call. Unfortunately that was pretty much the last thing I felt like doing. My brother had let loose with some seriously offensive crazy stuff which highlighted a deep seated resentment of me and dh way back in February. Though he did send an eloquently worded apology he then explained to my dad that he's still pissed at me. So in my mind that basically negates the apology. He has always enjoyed writing opinion pieces intended to sway audiences and this was just another opportunity for him to try to play it. Not happening. I have too many other more important things to concern myself with these days. So, no call back to mom. I just didn't feel like dealing with the inherent awkwardness of getting him on the phone. That and the fact that the only place I have his current home number is in those incredibly offensive emails and would inevitably reread the trash talk if I went to find the number. Sooo, long story short, if she does get home I expect to have to go over all of that with her, listen to her appeals for family unity (though they clearly have fallen on deaf ears over there) and then sidestep any implication that she's welcome to come live with us as she is undoubtedly headed for hard times ahead.
I must sound so cold. But, if there's anything I learned this past year it is that opening the door to crazy stuff only makes me feel bad. But it still sucks to have to deal with it.