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Archive for December, 2008

38 weeks today. And today instead of the CNM we saw the OB, and he made it very clear that I should not still be pregnant; that I should have induced seven days ago, get the baby out safely and be done with it. We should not be holding faith that because things look good so far, we should wait till 39 weeks to think about induction. He did not explain why hospitals, guided by principles of the American College for Obstetrican-blah-something, will not allow for scheduled induction prior to 39 weeks. I did not tell him what I have read in silent horror about how things can go horridly wrong during an induction. It almost feels as if we are fighting a battle. If something (G-d forbid) happens to this baby, he’s going to tell me, “I told you so. You should have gotten her out at 37 weeks.” And if we have gone with an earlier induction and something happens, will it be any comfort to me to be able to say to him, “I told you, 37 weeks was too early.”

Crap. Crap. Crap. CRAP. And, sh*T.

(bangs head against padded cell. spits. hisses. bangs some more. cranks up music.)

So far, everything looks fine. Normal. Textbook perfect.

Only we know it takes less than a fraction of a second for disaster to strike.

I have this looming sense of doom that is hard to shake.

I also go into loony states of dreaminess where drool flows out of the corner of my lips, smiling to think of us cooing and oogling over a sweet, fresh, young life.

And then sense-of-doom starts to rattle my door-knob, hankering to join the party.

I look around at all the things we have dragged out, have bought and stowed away, in anticipation of her arrival, and I wonder if I am nuts, and there will be a primal, animalistic urge to get out the boxes from the garage and put everything in the boxes and sealed. Just. in. case.

I hold hope, yes. Light strikes into my padded cell and I observe the swirling particles of dust dancing in that stream of light, while staying in that spot of darkness. I wonder about the dust.

It is so darn freaking hard, and I don’t suppose the next seven days will get any easier. If all goes well, we will have an induction in a week. If all goes well, we are going to welcome our fourth child into this world, in a week… maybe earlier, should she decide to come earlier.

I am hanging by the shreds. On the brink of explosion from holding in hope and anxiety and goodness knows what else. I can’t think much ahead. On New Year’s day we are planning on the greet-the-new-year hike, and then that’s it. Just waiting and trying not to die myself first.

Apologies for my silence.  You all are still never far from my thoughts. I am just… anxious. Really anxious… …

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Thank you, for all your kind comments and support… it means so incredibly much to me at this time. Truly. I don’t know how to articulate this to you, but I think you know.

So I said I will watch the dawn crack through this morning, because I needed some convincing that the light will indeed return after a long, dark night. It’s beautiful, that cast of gold that washes over everything just as the sun makes itself visible above the horizon… and then, that golden haze fades and everything looks sharp, clear and bright. (And it was a long night, as Val is fighting a nasty flu right now, and is at her grumpiest and weepiest.)

But, somehow when the light shifted, I was not so sure. I felt as if I need to capture that golden light in something, a box, perhaps. And then to hide somewhere dark to examine that light, to make sure it was not a hoax.

My brains, how it plays tricks on me. Life, how cruelly it teases!

I think I am going to be sparse and silent the next days, but know that I am thinking of all of you… and I leave you a video of my girls dressed as elves, doing a disco dance. I hope the silliness of it will bring you a small measure of cheer:

http://elfyourself.jibjab.com/view/13uMCWUHL1RqmntKkUXY

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Dear sweet little one,

so close and yet so far. You understand? I can easily reach down and feel the sweetness and comfort of your form- your spine, your feet  and tiny fists pushing against my belly as you try to find a comfortable position. Your father said the other night it felt like someone trying to find a comfortable position in bed.

Yet, so far. Because I cannot look too much ahead. Sometimes it seems like the moment when I will finally feel the warmth and weight of you in my arms will never, ever realize. It may be a few weeks more to go, but it seems like it is eternity upon eternity aways. I am not impatient, but I do feel scared. I feel scared, even though I have been surrendering. Every day now, my mantra in my head is– Breathe. Surrender. It hurts to grasp so tight, so I uncurl my fingers and let go.

But I am not letting you go. No, I won’t. You are too precious. These last days we have are priceless. Every day I measure the light and the space around me, wondering when you will burst into our lives, our world, cutting and shattering everything with your scream.

I am getting big, and heavy. Ginormous. But  not waddling too much. Yet. Still, I am like a beached whale if I lay down. Gladly I bear this weight, knowing that you are growing bigger day by day, piling on the essential, cute blubber of yours. My pants are not holding up because the waist-band keeps slipping down, off the bulging belly, and my shirts keep riding up, creeping over the big round curve you have carved out of my body. When I described this indecency of exposure to your father, he said I must be having the time of my life! In some ways, yes, I am having the time of my life. Despite the sadness that tinged every single moment of excited anticipation, I feel joy deep down, its roots stemming from you. I am grateful that you are here. Not here yet, but at least, here. You understand?

Today the doc asked again, if I want to induce at 37 weeks. I declined. It’s too risky, I think, especially knowing that my body does not do well with inductions. So, if no issues arise, you keep growing and stretching and kicking in there, ok? You can choose your own birth date, your own birth time, however you want to make your exit and grand entry. Of course, the highway will not be ideal, or in a restaurant… but we’ll just deal with it when it comes, no worries.

To feel such deep gratitude, to feel such lack of control, makes for a giddiness I cannot describe- sometimes it feels I am not walking on ground, or on this earth. Maybe one day you will understand. I can’t wait to meet you, to listen intently to what you have to tell me, to learn with you and from you, to expand the boundaries of my world to inlude yours. I can’t wait, I just can’t wait for that ending to come; that ending which hopefully will also be a beautiful beginning. I await. Breath held.

Love you much,

mama

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear Ferdinand,

it’s been a long time since I last wrote you a letter. But you are never far from my thoughts. You have permanent residence of space in my heart, you know that. I still cannot believe that you are not here with us. I still cannot believe that you chose not to come. It just rips my heart out every time.

Recently, I have had a lot of flashbacks. You know, of that fateful day when we found out that your heart had already stopped beating, and that it was too late to do anything, except to birth you, and hold you and then bid farewell, to your physical body, and all the potential of you and your life entwined in ours.

In a sense, I know that my mind is doing weird things to me, trying to super-impose the past upon the future, the yet-to-be. And sometimes, I get really frustrated, because I did not want to see doom all the time. But, I also realize, that these painful flashbacks is my body’s and mind’s sub-conscious need to intensely grief and mourn for you. Yes, because amidst the crazy swirl of emotions in anticipation of your younger sister, there is that glaring void that is you. There is the bittersweet realization that what is all going on now, is because we lost you. There is that heart-wrenching ache of your absence in our lives. Every month, I still think in my head, how old you would have been. You would have been 17 months, you know? Toddling around the house dragging a hurricane of chaos behind you, driving your sisters nuts with your need to touch and explore everything that previously belonged exclusively to them.

But that space, that home, once reserved for you, with much anticipation, will never be lost. No amount of tears will fill it up. No amount of joy can displace that gaping void. No amount of effort on our part, no matter the amount of tears and blood it involve, will ever summon that hole in our hearts to close up. You are so sorely missed, by all of us. Your sisters still speak of you, and it makes me sob every time, still. No fire will burn away the bittersweet memories of your brief presence in our lives; no flood powerful enough to wash away the ache and pain and love. You are etched in our hearts, forever.

Still missing, and so much love,

mama

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seasonal post

Usually, when I start the car engine, the radio comes on and my dial is almost always set to NPR. But sometimes I am not interested in what they are discussing and I will try for a different station. And there is a holiday station, that has been playing holly jolly songs since November. That drives me nuts.

The ho-ho-ho of this supposedly merry season wears me down. I just want to hibernate, and enjoy some quiet, not jingle-bell rock or whatever tra-la-la’s.

It’s not that I dislike winter, or hate the holidays. Actually, I love winter. I am no grinch, I can reassure you of that three times over. I guess I am just getting old. Or maybe this season is overly commercialized and I have become overly self-righteous.

In any case, what I have been thinking about this season is more of the darkness and the light. I have explored it in today’s post over at GITW, if you may be inclined to read.

Also, since this is a seasonal post, I thought I would share with you a picture of my girls in a silly mood, perhaps all buzzed out from the holiday decorating and the holiday jingles. I hope you will enjoy this picture, and many warm greetings, from this crazy household (in every sense of the word) to yours–

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We’ve all been there… we’ve all said, yeah, we could plan, right down to every minute detail but of course we have absolutely no control. Control is an illusion. Especially when it comes to living babies.

This lesson cut really deep for me when Ferdinand died. We planned for the two girls to be playing with a little brother, and they shall teach him what a true gentleman is, and how a knight will behave towards the ladies. We shall have a lovely family time up at our cabin for the six weeks, because R has six weeks of paternity leave, and he had planned to take full advantage of it. (After Ferdinand died, that leave is revoked. Instead, we filled out papers for him to go on “sick leave” so as to take care of a “sick family member”.) We had planned for a waterbirth out in the beautiful natural surroundings of our cabin.

We had planned, we had planned… and we had worked hard for our plans to come through. We did not just sit and dream wishful thoughts, thinking all will be well and aligned for us.

But sometimes even dedicated hard work has to go unacknowledged.

**

So, when we discussed about trying again, we talked about whether we should try to do a homebirth again. R was adamant that a hospital birth is the way to go. A lot of monitoring, he muttered. I had asked him, “Do you no longer trust in the human body to do what it needs to do?” I think in fact I was asking him, “Are you doubting what my body can do? Do you think I killed our son?”

And he said No, but now I trust technology.

Later, we agreed that technology only gives an illusion of control. Sure, it had helped save lives, but it had lost its grips on many lives too. How often have we seen in movies, the patient dying, as the machine keeps on churning and chiming? It beeps urgently that something needs to be done, but what can be done? Nothing but to pull out the plug and pull over the blanket, and say, “I am sorry. We tried.”

So, with my twice-weekly monitoring, I have been asked, “Does it give you assurance?” — Not one bit. Sure, I see the baby on the ultrasound; I watch her little heart diligently and miraculously pumping along. I watch the fluctuating number on the fetal monitor that tells me her heartrate. I watch the black squiggly line as the paper spit out from the machine, showing me the pattern of her heartrate. At all those moments, she is real and very alive. But, I know too well now anything can happen at any given moment. And I will not be counseled for a decision in advance. I have been bracing, expecting to see the heart suddenly stopping, or that the machine no longer registers a heartbeat.

Death is a certainty. That I am sure of now.

Yesterday, my CNM was on vacation, so I saw the OB. Since we don’t know who will be on-call when I go into labor, I see the OB from time to time, just so he knows I exist. He suggested that I consider an early planned induction, right at 37 weeks. That means, two weeks from now. Given we do not know what happened the last time.. better to get the baby out early, he said.

But, I argued, my body may not be ready. The baby may not be ready. An induction could result in complications.

He nodded and agreed. Very fair, he said. But he said to think about it. Earlier is better.

We drove home and then I sat down and bawled. I was totally keeled over. I felt I was dealt a hard blow right in my belly. My nose felt like someone had punched me brutally.

I am not ready yet. No, I mean, I am anxious to see her. I am dying to hold her in my arms and smell her and love her and hug her tightly. I want to see her sweet little face and I want to hold her fingers and stroke her feet. I yearn to touch her warm skin, feel it next to mine. I cannot wait to have the girls’ faces bowed over hers, admiring her every feature and singing and cooing to her. I want R to finally be holding a live baby in his arms.

But, dare I call the shots? Dare I be insolent again?

Who am I to decide? How am I supposed to decide?

If I say yes, will my body cooperate? Will our baby be ready to meet us? What if it all goes wrong and something disastrous happen (again)?

If I say no, let her come in her own time, will it all go smoothly then?

I have been sitting and trying to visualize. It is hard, because I am getting flashbacks so often. Too often the ending I see is yet another death.

I have slowly come to surrender to the outcome, which is beyond my control. I have prepared myself for a long, brutal labor, full of anxiety, trepidation, tears and all kinds of crazy emotions.

But now suddenly, I have been asked to take control. Not of my emotions, but of the outcome of this pregnancy. To decide when and whether to do it.

I can’t.

Either way I know I have no control. But no matter what, I have to make a choice. Even to choose not to make a choice is a decision in itself. At some point, I have to make some kind of decision, and be held responsible for it.

I’ve been trying really hard to listen for an answer. But all I hear in my head is a jumble of that distant screaming, a newborn shrieking and a river of gushing tears.

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Thank you so much for all your comments on my previous post. I know I want to write a post in response regarding that p-word. er, just not today.

Today I will send you to the works of a photographic artist based in London. His name is Nicholas Hughes and I find his work to be rather breath-taking. Frozen moments. Poetic. Meditative and contemplative. Even melancholic. His latest series, “In Darkness Visible” seems to have found that place where darkness and light fuse seamlessly. Darkness, and light, have been on my mind a lot of late. I have snatched one of his images to stick below; if you are intrigued, see more here.

p.s.: and yes, that little baby came through. Safe and healthy. My heart shuddered with joy upon hearing the news. It always makes me so happy to hear a bereaved family receiving a new life. And it always scares me to shit, that I will again be that odd statistic. That, nope, my little one did not make it again. Life is shitty sometimes.

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That’s how my brain works. It is all over the place.

Alternatively, I could title this post: A Proustian journey through my brain.

Wouldn’t that sound so much better? Except, who am I fooling? I commented a while back on Julia’s blog that I post in order to cleanse my head (and my guts). I do not form pretty sentences, I just come here and vomit all over. Then I feel good, wipe the remaining spit off my face and I feel I can get on with life again.

So, without further ado, I present you, oh-brave-ones! with my innards… …

Staying in the present is hard. Those Zen masters who sit so still and do not bat an eyelid and simply utter, “Here. Now. Breathe. In. Out. Here. Now. Present.” Well.. I would like to bat their heads a few times and pour ice-cold water down their necks. uh-huh, I do. Staying in the now… is very hard. It’s tough. I try. I really do. I breathe in. I breathe out. I repeat my mantra of Now, Now, Now. Be HERE. Stop running away, stop turning back, stop craning forward. Get here now, and stay.

But, everytime I step into the room for the ultrasound, I shudder. I make myself look into the technician’s face. Look at her, she is not the same person. LOOK. She. is. a. differenet. person. It is NOT the same all over again. I make myself look around the entire room. Look, it is different. Not the same room. This is smaller, see? But as she lowers me down and dims the light, it feels as if she’s putting me into a time capsule, and there is no way to run. The door is closed. I make myself look at the screen, which, unlike that time, is not turned away from me. Look, look at that. There’s the baby. She’s moving, can you see? Look at that heart beating, hear it. Every single time, I wonder, will the heart stop beating justas we are all gazing at it?

**

We each have our little silent horror movie. I have, for a long time, wanted to ask R, especially after an ultrasound, what exactly did he see on that fateful day. The screen was turned away from me, but he could see. I looked at his face but he was not giving anything away. All I saw was a focussed look and a neutral face. When I asked, what do you see? He said, they are taking measurements. I wanted to ask him, what does a deadbaby look like on the screen? What does a still heart look like? Is a baby with no more amniotic fluid around him a horrifying sight?

But, I never asked. I think, if I do, he will answer me honestly. But, I never did ask. I did not want to tear open the wound again. I have wondered if it may lighten his burden a little to talk about it, to share the terrible details of it all… but somehow I feel it would only be all the more traumatising. So, I always swallowed the question. We will each have our own little horror movie that we play silently to ourselves, over and over.

**

Names. I looked into books with names of all sorts. There was this entry:

Panda: Resembling an animal that eats bamboo leaves.

Very funny, really. Very funny. Except I am not sure if I am more appalled or more shocked. Or just plain incredulous. Panda. Pppfff. Indeed.

And Val, her head in Fairy-lala-land these days, came up with some suggestions.

Like: Isabel.

Like: Ninja.

Like: Far-nini

Like: Mar-nini

I told her: erm, I don’t think I like so much names that ends with nini’s or lala’s or similar such sounds.

She said: Oh, ok! But, these are great fairy names, with wonderful meanings, you know? Didn’t you say the meaning is more important?

Yes, yes, I did say that. But still….

And, when I look through the book of names… I will come across familiar ones. Some that belongs to babies whose parents are missing them so achingly. And I will whisper that name, over and over, asking in my head, “Why? Why did you not come? Where are you now?” And I will bow my head and remember, and names and faces form and swim in my head and my heart throbs.

**

“Pleaseis not a magic word. I don’t know who started this, who taught this first, but let me tell you this, I do not believe for a second that “please” is a magic word. NO.

Some weeks back, I overheard R asked Val, after she asked him to do something, “What is the magic word?” and I immediately stood up, got in the way and said to him sternly, “Please is not a magic word. What are you teaching her?!” And I turned to Val, “You remember, right? Please is not a magic word.”

“Yes, mom, I remember. We use it because we respect our friends, because we want to be polite, but it does not mean it will get you what you want.”

Exactly.

But, I have been using that p-word a lot.

When I gaze at the image on the screen, I plead to the little one, please please please, stay with me. Please do not die. Please live. Please come to me. Please. Please. PLEASE!!! I know, this world is just absurd, ridiculous and sucks in many, many ways. I will not argue with that. But I promise you, there are good things, beautiful things, delicious things, and I will show you them all. I will give you all the chocolates you want. But please, please come. PLEASE. PLEASE. PLEASE!!!! Please do not die. Please do not change your mind about coming to this realm. Please, just come, please be born alive and stay alive. PLEASE give me a chance to be your mother. P L E A S E.

No, it is not a magic word. It will not get me what I ask for. But I use it anyway, I ask anyway… what else is there for me to do?

**

Futile battle. As the days flit pass, and the leaves quiver and flutter, I feel as if I need to prepare. But exactly what? I don’t know. Battle?

I polish my armor till they blind. I sharpen a quiver of arrows, and I spit and polish my sword sharp and good. I prepare myself mentally, telling myself not to flinch if I need to draw a line of red around my enemy’s throat with the tip of my glistening sword.

But, what battle is there? Who am I fighting?

Nobody but myself. Nobody but the demons I have unleashed myself.

Those of fear and doubt and doom.

I manufacture them in my own head, release them into the room and then I have to strike them all down.

I wear myself down. This has to stop.

**

Put me in a padded cell. For a while, I had a post in my Drafts folder that had that title- put me in a padded cell. I titled it but did not write anything. It was just how I felt, weeks back. Like I am going nuts. Then a few weeks back, I deleted it. I felt I was in a pretty good place. And then, now, I think, yes, put me in a padded cell. But, don’t forget the creature comforts either.

With each passing day, I watch the stakes get higher. Anxiety level fluctuates, and her heartbeat, her activity level, they fluctuate too. I cling on to the shreds of hope. Then I let go. I surrender. I know where I am in this whole grand scheme of things. If you squint and look really hard, I am one of those dots. I repeat to myself: Don’t Expect, just Accept. Life is big, Death even bigger. I cannot fathom the Mystery of it all. I keep wondering and demanding the answers. Why me? Why Us? Why these babies? What is the reason?

But the answer… it sounds like chance. It sounds like the randomness of Life. It Just Is. I was not hand-picked. Well, maybe I was, but I will never know.

So, I decided, I will stop wondering, and stop demanding for the answer. I will surrender, give in, accept. I will Marvel. I will do my best and trust. (Although that is damn freakin’ hard.)

I feel as if we have made it a long way… but the last time, something went terribly wrong in the last weeks. Exactly what, and exactly when, we do not know, and probably will never find out. So, I do not know what I can do this time to alter the outcome. The thing is, I am not the one in control. I wish I am. I wish I get to flip the switches and navigate and map out the route. Maybe I get a small, tiny measure of say, somewhere, without even knowing it. But for now, I need to let go… of my ego.

We’ve been reading this book for bedtime, this book called The House Above the Trees. At one point, this little girl, Hepatica, who is sp special she can see the Forest People, she was running with this Wind Creature called Cloud. She could not keep up, determined though she was, and Cloud told her, “Let go.” and she let go of his hand, and stood and sulked. But, what Cloud meant was, You need to let go of yourself! Do not try to keep up with me. Do not be afraid that you cannot keep up with me. They tried again, and this time, she let go, not of his hand, but of herself, and her fears, and then she began to fly along, the speed of the wind, weightless, fearless, limitless.

I need to let go of myself too.

**

Many people on my mind. People who have come into my lives via all sorts of channels and means. People whom I never expect to meet. But, I think of them.

Today, I am awaiting, breath abated, for news that a little one had indeed arrived. Safely. The mother, a friend I have never met. Like me, she lost her previous little one at full-term, after a 12-week miscarriage. We have been walking together, me watching her back all the time. Last week, she wrote, I am afraid, I am going for a planned induction. I have never done this. What to do?

Talk to the baby, I told her. Talk to her, she will listen.

Soon after, she has lost her mucous plug. She wrote me she is going to take a walk in the woods to center herself. No internet access at the hospital, she said. If all goes well, I will write you Monday. Today is Monday. My heart is hanging in the air. Please. I repeated in my heart and in my head. Please come. Please let the news come to me fast. Good news.

I await.

Thank you all, for walking along. My heart, it is battered, but still warm, throbbing, and daring to hope.

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