The hospital bag is packed, the car seat is installed. It’s the end of the world as we know it.
Today we will head to UIC for our latest check-up. Since tomorrow will mark 36 weeks the stitches that have held our Little Cap in will be removed. Will we suddenly be transformed to “normal”, come home, have dinner, and meet our son in about a month? Or will he come out tonight? We can’t know. It’s exciting and terrifying and confusing and wonderful all at once. We’re still hoping for full-term at 37 weeks, and it would be especially nice if he waits until the school year is over. But, if he comes today, he should be sufficiently baked to avoid big pre-maturity issues and a really long hospital stay.
On Friday I had my last day of work. My co-workers, many of whom I hadn’t seen since January or February, threw a surprise party and everyone enjoyed many goodies. My supervisors even sent me home with toys and books for LC (yes, at least one of them has a counting theme – can’t start too soon on the Everyday Math). I finished editing a unit guide, copied everything that I could imagine being important to a flash drive, turned in my computer (I will truly miss the joys of a PC) and said my goodbyes. My first four days as a “stay-at-home-mom” (or SAHM for those of you who like internet-speak) have been exhausting, and there isn’t even an out-of-womb baby yet. Oh my.
Friday evening we had our last “official” pre-baby date. Thanks to Angela and Insoo we had some very tasty steak at Wildfire and (I, at least) felt pretty fancy. After hauling my belly onto the CTA and indulging in such rich food, I slept in until 10 on Saturday, enjoyed a gigantic breakfast made by Eric and didn’t really bother to move until 1:30. This does not bode well for mothering! On Saturday evening and Sunday morning we went to church. Otherwise I shuffled about doing putsy baby-prep and resting. Eric has been diligently grading in case room 219 has a substitute for a few days. We plotted out a good one-week meal plan and got all the necessary ingredients for a nicely stocked fridge. The last time we did this together without visitors in town was three days before bed rest began. Will this food really be eaten before it goes bad?
Today I am trying to be somewhat restful until 2:00 when I can head out for the doctor’s appointment. It isn’t easy getting around and picking things up anymore (and bed rest pretty well eliminated my ability to even see messes), so I’m doing a pretty good job on the physical side of rest. My mind and emotions, however, are on overdrive trying to anticipate what life will look like with LC in our arms, trying to wade through the events of the last year in my mind, and trying to calm myself down from questions, excitement and worry.
A little over a year ago I was taking the day off of work to accompany Eric to the hospital to have mysterious heart palpitations checked. A few months later we were married and I learned to love my unemployed life, perhaps a little too much. A few months later I was a nervous wreck on the couch texting Eric who was stuck to an IV in an ER far off in the suburbs with a terrible infection (caused by a scratch in his toe???). A few months after that I was employed and we were falling in love with the new life growing in my womb. We were getting used to the idea of being parents and enduring first trimester nausea with lots and lots of Eric’s homemade baguettes. About two months later we were back in the ER, this time in Minneapolis where Eric was diagnosed with Deep Vein Thrombosis in his leg. And about two months and many injections after that we were in the ER at UIC. That time I was the messed up one, with an incompetent cervix. And the next week we were back in the ER with preterm labor. After sending Eric to work since he missed several days with the first hospital stay, the high-risk doctor making rounds came to tell me that they would keep me for awhile, and that “You won’t be having a nice juicy baby, this is an uphill battle. I want to be realistic, it doesn’t look good.” And a little more than three months after that brings us to today. There’s a healthy husband at work, a big juicy baby inside me and I’m sitting here rejoicing in every one of his little kicks and hiccups.
My mind is trying to make plans and pictures of what the next 12 months will look like. But, it seems my heart has learned something and is shouting, “STOP! You don’t know anything!” Will I really rest once my son is squirming in my arms, my husband has a (reliable) clean bill of health, and I fall into a routine in my new vocation? No, I will probably wake the baby just to make sure he’s breathing, nag Eric about healthy eating and exercise, and need a million reminders to have patience while completing repetitive tasks. That is… if any of those things happen. Will our son come home with us from the hospital? Will we wake up tomorrow morning? Things that seemed so reasonable and normal are no longer “for-sure”. (Okay, there are a few “for-sure” things, like the fact that Blue Cross Blue Shield must hate us. That’s pretty much etched in stone – we are so thankful for health insurance!)
While it has been a scary year full of “life and death” type situations, I’d much rather be faced with these kinds of uncertainties in my life than the unfaithfulness, injustice and violence that rears its nastiness in so many lives. In the midst of worry and fear-of-loss, I am learning little by little to fear only God and my own tendencies to be selfish and uncaring. Hopefully, I’m learning to love fully and without regret. Presently, I am being poked in the ribs by a little boy who has completely won my heart and already cracks me up. So, I gently poke him back, pray that he will have an intelligent soul, and rub my tummy with trembling hands. Lord have mercy!
(For those in the internet world who are facing pessimistic words from doctors and your own bed rest central, check out sidelines.org, it’s chock full of people who know just how important that 24 week milestone is and will cheer you on. And for those facing miscarriage, still birth or loss of an infant, I don’t know what to say, but this book: namingthechild.com looks like it could be helpful. I’ve met the author a couple of times and read some of her other work, I think she’s pretty great. Also, she’s speaking in Hyde Park on June 10th.)
We’re safely back at home free of stitches with a baby still snug inside, hooray!
Now that I’m happily off bed rest I took the CTA to the appointment. No problems there. But when I stepped off of the train I managed to turn the wrong way. There was a compass rose stamped into the cement outside the train station. (I know, I know, a degree in Geography too. Please, it’s the UofC, we all know it’s not applicable.) A few blocks later, once I was thoroughly confused into the maze of Rush Hospital buildings (yes, that’s the wrong hospital), I called Eric. He tried to point me in the correct direction with my scanty landmarks and street names. Then I spotted St. Basil’s church and thought he might have steered me wrong. So I called him again. Sure enough, that landmark plus Eric’s sound mind set me right.
And then it started pouring. I got thoroughly drenched in a three block’s walk despite my raincoat and really fast waddle.
I got to the appointment with 5 minutes to spare, and Eric arrived soon thereafter before I was called back.
I think the doctor thought it was weird when I asked to see the stitches (more like a drawstring) once they were finally out. It was long and thick and pretty amazing. Honestly, why wouldn’t you want to see the thread that kept your baby inside? It’s not like I asked to keep it. Although, now that I think about it, that would be a pretty unique baby book element.
The doctor pronounced me two centimeters dilated and then we showered the midwife with questions about labor and delivery at UIMC. While we decided not to switch back to West Suburban (due only to the headache it was to switch back), we have decided to deliver with midwives at UIC. We like Dr. Ahn, a lot. But she’s a high-risk doctor and we’re not really high-risk anymore. It’s almost a guarantee that we won’t know the midwife we labor and deliver with, but if we delivered with Dr. Ahn, we wouldn’t know the nurses who would be doing the vast majority of our labor support either.