Wise people (the peaceful people who meditate and quote Confucius) say that things are the way they are, and they aren’t the way they aren’t, and all pain in life comes from the struggle of not accepting that things can never be any other way than how they are in this moment, because that’s how they are.
Yeah, well, those people can bite me.
Because here’s the thing: I’m supposed to be 7 months pregnant right now. That’s how this is supposed to go. Instead, I’m tracking my basal body temperature, and peeing on ovulation predictor sticks. If it was happening to somebody else, anybody other than me, I’d laugh a cynical laugh and think that it was somebody’s idea of a cruel joke.
Oh. And the best part. I get to pay for all of this fun. I just got a bill today for the useless epidural. After insurance, which I am blessed to have, I still get to pay $180 for the privilege of having a giant needle stuck in my back which didn’t do jack squat anyway.
The hospital stay will cost me about a grand, and they didn’t even have HBO. I mean, seriously, if I’m going to pay a thousand dollars to stay somewhere for one night, I would appreciate some super-fancy shower gel and some decent food, thank you very much.
Merry Freaking Christmas.
Well, on we go with the show.
I delivered Baby Teysko on a Tuesday night. I started cramping around noon. I called the doctor at 3. He asked me if my cramps were coming in waves, or if it was more of a stabbing. I had no idea – I just knew it hurt. So I waited an hour, realized it was coming in waves, called back, and he told me to come see him.
A note on Dr. J. No, not the basketball star. My OB. I have a total doctor-crush on him. He was my doctor when we lived in East LA. Three years ago he was doing a little fibroid surgery on me. I was all laid out in the cold operating room, with the warm towels on me, and they were just about to put me under.
Dr J came into the room with his surgery outfit on, and he said a quick hello to me before turning around and starting to lecture to the residents who came into the room right after him. The medicine started working, and I started drifting off to sleep. The last thing I remember before passing out was Dr J reaching his hands back to rub my feet while continuing to talk to the students.
I love Dr. J.
As I was passing out, I said to myself, “Dr. J, I want you to deliver my babies.”
Even when we moved to the mountains, I continued to drive the 77 miles to see Dr J.
So, back to the cramps-coming-in-waves. Dr. J said to come see him in labor and delivery. I told hubby, who got ready to take me. Just as we were leaving, I thought I’d pee, because I was pregnant, and peeing was my new favorite thing to do. That was when my water broke followed by lots of blood. Only, as I’ve said, I didn’t know it was my water breaking. I just knew it was bad.
I screamed. Hubby called Dr J back, who said to go to the nearest ER. We hightailed it down the mountain. I gave Hubby complete permission to drive like he was in a racing video game. By that point, I was gushing blood. I’d stupidly thought that one pad would be enough. Nope. I’d lost over a liter of blood when we arrived at the ER, and that was even before delivery. I didn’t know it was possible to bleed so much and not die. Actually, in the days before modern medicine, I probably would have died.
I remember walking down the steps to our car as we were leaving. Hubby had ran ahead of me to open the car door. I was walking slowly; our steps are uneven, and I didn’t want to fall on top of everything else. I was holding my belly and saying, “Not yet, Baby Teysko. It’s not time yet. Please. You’re not done cooking yet. Stay put. We’re getting there as soon as we can, and they can make it better. But just don’t do anything yet. We’re not ready for you.”
I had a friend whose baby had tried to show up early, and she was put on bedrest. On the drive down I thought maybe I would be put on bedrest. I kind of enjoyed the thought of bedrest. Being a queen, and having everyone fetch me drinks and books and ice cream.
I think about how I had said that to Baby T, and how he didn’t listen to me. I’ve asked my doctor if I’d gone to the hospital earlier, would they have been able to stop it. He shook his head. No, they wouldn’t. The water was infected, and you can’t administer medicine to amniotic fluids.
I know that this is not my fault. I know that this is something that just happens sometimes. I know that intellectually. But in my heart, I believe that I failed Baby Teysko. That I wasn’t a good enough mother to him, that I didn’t get him to the hospital in time. And I feel so guilty for that. He trusted me to give him life, to bring him into this world, and all I could do was mumble some instructions as I was going down the steps?
A grieving mind thinks funny things.
Another thing that has wracked my brain in the two months since the loss was the memoir in O Magazine that I had read the week before. It was written by a man whose wife had a miscarriage somewhere around 18 weeks. She delivered at home, on the toilet, without knowing what was going on. He described what the fetus looked like. I found it ridiculously disturbing, and knew that I shouldn’t be reading it, seeing as how I was pregnant. But there hadn’t been a warning.
As a side note, I wish graphic parts of books and articles would feature warnings before and after them, so if you get grossed out, you can skip ahead and know when you can resume reading. There was this scene in the Pillars of the Earth sequel where a guy gets punished for stealing from the church. I knew I’d have nightmares for weeks if I read it, so I tried skipping ahead. But the problem with that is that you need to keep reading to see when it’s over. So I still caught more of the scene than I wanted. There should have been a line delineating the start and end of the gore.
Same with this O Magazine article. It should have had a disclaimer at the top: If you are pregnant, we still think this article is appropriate and uplifting for you to read. But please skip the entire 38th paragraph. We’ll highlight it in yellow and put stars on the top and bottom. You will sleep better this way.
Anyway, that scene haunted me for the nine days between when I read it, and when I lost Baby T. I’ve wondered whether thinking about it as much as I did somehow contributed to the loss.
My therapist (yes, we are in therapy) has said that it’s impossible. That I can’t think like that. That nothing I thought or did caused the loss. But there has to be an answer that makes sense. There has to be something, somewhere that will tell me why this happened. Even if it was the O Magazine article, I wouldn’t get angry. I’d just know for next time.
Because that’s the scariest thing, you see. If I can know what happened with Baby T, I can know what not to do next time. But if I can’t know, then there’s no way that I can ever make sure that this doesn’t happen again.
I’ll tell you what; finding strength I didn’t know I had, getting closer to my husband, learning how to let go – these are all good lessons that I am learning from losing Baby T. But I’m not up for learning them another time. I don’t need Advanced Serenity Prayer Studies.
And that’s the kicker of the whole thing. There’s simply no way to state unequivocally that I won’t have to go through this again. My support group (yes, we are in therapy and a support group) is great, but after hearing everyone’s stories, I’m absolutely petrified by all the myriad of ways that a baby can die. I know that chances are I won’t have to go through this again. But chances were that I wouldn’t have to go through it the first time.
1 in 4 women experiences a pregnancy loss. That means that 3 in 4 don’t. Those are pretty good odds. But I was on the losing side of the statistics once, and who’s to say that I wouldn’t be again? So if I could just find the answer. If I could just find someone who could tell me, “we know, 100%, that it was the Japanese place you ate on October 1. It caused the whole thing. Avoid miso soup next time, and continue doing everything else you were doing, and you will be just fine,” then I would be ok. I would hate it, it would still suck, but I would at least have an answer.
The lack of explanation, of reason, is one of the worst things. Because now it carries through into so many more areas of life. Maybe tomorrow I’ll get struck by lightening. It’s a very small chance, but it could happen. Suddenly life has become dangerous and fragile.
You could take that knowledge and hide in the attic for your entire life. In which case you’d probably never be struck by lightening, but you’ll still eventually die of something. Or you could use it as an excuse to go crazy – go base jumping off the Empire State Building or something. I am trying to find the middle road, but am drawn towards hiding-in-the-attic end of the spectrum.
I need to remember that Baby T doesn’t want his mama hiding out in an attic, though. At least, I don’t think he does. So I get up, and I put on clothes and I face the dangers of the world for Baby T, because he can’t, and he never will. But I can for him. It’s a bit schmaltzy, but it truly is what is keeping me somewhat sane these days, knowing that I need to be the best mama I can be for Baby T so that he’s proud of me.