Saturday, June 30, 2007

Time flies like an arrow*

I like numbers. And patterns. I actually don't know whether it's about "like" or about "see," and I don't know whether it's a blessing or a curse, but I remember what day of the week something was, or what date, or some other random stuff. My pregnancies with Monkey and A, for example. Not only were they due within a day of each other, five years apart, but the calendar lined up so that their due dates were the same day of the week. Five is a nice round number. Aligning days of the week was nice too. So over the last year I seem to have trained myself to think in five year increments. Which didn't help me at all when I was trying to figure out what was it about my birthday falling on a Thursday that seemed to be buzzing in my ear. But something definitely was.

I knew that my birthday party, if I was to have one, would fall on the fifth monthaversary of A's death. And that, this being an odd month since, we don't get one for his birth. I wouldn't have minded skipping a party altogether. But we usually celebrate JD's birthday together with this friend of ours, and we call the two of them "twins" because they are, you know, both of them Gemini. We weren't in the country for JD's birthday this year, so the twins didn't get a party. I felt bad about that, especially since it's a round birthday for them, and since the other twin is a great friend and one of our biggest pillars of support. This despite (or because of?) being due four weeks after I was due. Her baby was supposed to be A's best friend. He's a good baby, and looks nothing like A.

So we had a party for all three of us. I wanted to make it mostly about the twins, and I like to think I succeeded. The heat wave seems to have passed, the grill worked overtime, all the corn was gone in minutes, baked potatoes lasted a bit longer, as did most of the salads. It was nice. It wasn't even that hard for me to pull off-- JD did all the meat marinading and grilling, so he was probably much more tired than I was. We make a good team, he and I.

Ironically, it was actually thinking about the party being on the 30th that helped me figure out what it was with a Thursday birthday. Last time I had a birthday party on Saturday, June 30th, was six years ago. And that Thursday, two days earlier, on my birthday, we found out that we were pregnant with Monkey. My idiosyncratic early pregnancy symptom-- inability to carry a tune (must be something about changing the geometry of my insides because I get used to it later and can sing again)-- was on display, but no one knew. It was our secret, and it made me giggly and happy. Giggly used to be my middle name, but this was barely two months after our miscarriage, so it was just making a reappearance. I remember very few details about that party, but I remember feeling pretty high.

The pregnancy test was in fact a birthday present from an amazing person and a great medical practitioner. My rule for this blog has been that I change all names to protect the innocent. I use my real name, and A has his own first initial, but I make up names (usually in a way that amuses and/or makes sense to me) for everyone else. I am about to break that rule. Because if I am going to talk about this woman, I am going to call her by her own name. So... if you are a reproductively challenged female who was in some way affiliated with my particular institution of higher learning up to about five years ago, you without a doubt know who Nurse Practitioner Karen H. is.

I met Karen shortly after a doctor affiliated with a shmancy hospital ordered tests, looked at the results, and concluded that I should take 3 months worth of Provera and call her in the morning. Karen, looking at the results of the very same tests, followed by one look at my face, attractively decorated with acne and sporting enough hair to keep an aesthetitian employed very nearly full time, diagnosed me with PCOS. She did many remarkable things after that, none more so than ordering tests to help map what was happening with me once I actually started to ovulate. She drew day 3s, and LHs, and mid-luteal progesterones. She drew them as many times as I wanted them, and she called me back with the results as soon as she had them. My inner fan of control was in hog heaven. But more important than that was that because I could correlate test results with my body's cues, I learned to read those cues. Pretty darn well. She was also the one to order my hCG tests, and to suggest that we draw them with progesterone. She is who said we should repeat them every two days, with progesterone. She was the one to call me with good news, and bad news.

So the test on my birthday? That was several days before my period was due, but a week after a kick-ass mid-luteal progesterone result. I asked if I could have the test on my birthday, since the progesterone looked so good. Sure, she said. So this is how I knew I was pregnant. And this is how I knew, two days after the party, that while hCG was going up nicely, progesterone was dropping. Another test later she prescribed progesterone suppositories. I think Karen may very well be the reason Monkey made it. And A, out of the first trimester, because five years later I knew what to look for.

When Karen retired, earlier than she wanted to, my friend Aite and I got her a basket of flowers. If I knew how hard it is to find a GYN like that, I would've gotten her something else. Like a pony. Or her own private clinic.

Come to think of it, last year I took the blood test on the 29th, and got the call with the positive result on the 30th. It's a big day, I guess.

So here I sit. Five months later. One year later. Six years later. Today thinking of A was pleasant, almost sweet. Bittersweet, really, and wistful. Even the reminders of his absence stabbed but didn't tear. I miss him all the time, but today it wasn't a weight dragging me down. The past seems to come to me in waves, but I can also will it to come. The future is covered in haze, the kind that nothing brings on as surely as the decision to attempt procreation. And because of where I come from this time, the haze is particularly thick. A little disorienting, actually. But I guess it's just like anything else in the last five months-- one foot in front of the other.

*If you are that particular flavor of geek, yes, I did take a compilers course. I even have a diploma or three that are vaguely related.


Aite said...

I think about Karen H. often. Every once in a while I Google her and try to figure out how I could get in touch with her, let her know how I am doing. She was the only medical professional who exchanged meaningful emails with me.

Are you sure we gave her flowers? I don't remember that. I do remember we got her a weird rectangular wind-up toy with eight spindly legs on the corners. We set it loose on the floor of the OB/GYN waiting room, and it jumped up and down, landing on different sets of its four legs. We told Karen that's how we'll be without her, going crazy.

Aurelia said...

It's nice to find a medical professional on our side sometimes isn't it? Someone who will give us the treatment we need, and not simply pat us on the head and dismiss us. It's sad she's gone!

I'm sorry about your anniversaries. These dates passing can be so difficult. I'm thinking of you today!

BasilBean said...

I was just reading through my comments again and it occurred to me that the ticker was misleading. It did read "one year and five months" on the 30th, but it did on the 1st as well. William died on February 1st, 2006.

I like numbers and patterns as well, and can relate to feelings and experiences being connected to memories of the past. I admire that you were able to throw what sounds like such a lovely party for the twins (and yourself). My birthday is coming up and I would rather skip it this year.

niobe said...

and fruit flies like a garbage truck?

It's intriguing to hear a description of someone else's view of the world, especially when it's so entirely foreign to my own experience. I can't begin to imagine noticing patterns in dates or realizing that certain events line up neatly with other events. I couldn't possibly remember -- even if I wanted to -- the date I got a positive pregnancy test or what day of the week my birthday fell on. I think I would feel completely overwhelmed if everything was not only itself, but a reflection and a reminder of something else.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. You have been through more than anybody should have to go through. I can really relate to your grief as my daughter wasn't stillborn but needed massive intervention at birth due to oxygen deprivation in the womb. Unfortunately the brain damage was so bad she will be like a newborn for the rest of her life requiring 24/7 care. I grieve for the little girl she would have been and all the medical interventions she now requires. More so right after she was born I often wondered (and sometimes wished) if it would have been better for her not to have been resucitated. (We were not given that choice) The doctors said 99% of babies with her in utero complications are born stillborn. After her birth I knew the best medicine for me was to have another child. Not to replace her but replace the bad memory of her birth and give me something good to look forward to. It was a terrifying 9 months but everything worked out fine and we had a another son. I wish you the best and remember to take it one day at a time.