Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pretty sentences

Friday before last the Cub ended up spending a night at Children's. See? Not that hard to type. In the end wasn't even that hard to deal with. Not even anything to worry about. A blip, really. But for some reason I couldn't bring myself to post about it. In fact, as is glaringly obvious from the absence of you know, posts, I couldn't bring myself to post about anything.

We were only in the hospital for 25 hours, gone from home for 28 or so. And yet nearly nine times as much time has passed since we got home before I was able to start this post. (Yes, I calculated that. Cause I am geek, which I do believe I have confessed to before.)

I think I know why. While it ended up not being scary, it didn't start out that way. It started out with me on a Friday morning standing over Cub's crib thinking I must be too sleep-deprived to see straight because what I was seeing wasn't computing. I was seeing the area above the Cub's upper lip, that little triangle of flesh that points to the nose, go blue. So I picked him up, and watched the color return. I carried him to our bedroom, and then proceeded to watch him for a bit. He did that a bunch more times, and I decided that what I had in front of me was a certifiable sick day.

Our pediatrician was out of town, which I knew sort of by accident. But that meant I was prepared when I called his number and got forwarded to a covering physician. Who told me she would see us at 10:45. Sometime in the course of the morning there was a time when he was oh so sleepy, and he was going blue again, and for a split second there I thought he looked like he was slipping, checking out. I blew on his face, and rocked him, and patted his back and his chest, and it was over, probably in under two seconds altogether-- breathing regularly and all pink, though still sleepy.

So here's the part where I have to admit that there was an extra reason I was so freaked out. See, they heard a faint murmur while the Cub was in NICU. But based on his oxygen saturation, and a couple other tests, they concluded that he was not in any danger or need of additional tests. They thought the sound would most likely go away as he grew. But the murmur was still there at our two months appointment, and so our pediatrician referred us to Children's to a big shot cardiologist. The appointment with Dr.Heart? It was scheduled for the Monday after the weekend in question. So wheeee.... I am sure you can follow my mind down the particular rabbit hole it went upon seeing blue, yes?

So long story short, we saw the covering doc, who said she didn't hear anything respiratory, tried to get us seen by the cardiologists right then, was told no dice and to go to Children's ER. We did, told them the whole story, they listened, to us, then to the Cub, then said bronchiolitis. Bronchio-what now? Inflammation of the bronchioles, tiny air passages in the lungs, usually caused by a viral infection. They thought RSV, but later tests said no, so likely a sneaky cold virus that got where it wasn't supposed to go. Of course, if I haven't bored you to tears yet, and you were following along, you might wonder how come that pediatrician said she didn't hear anything respiratory. If you do, you wouldn't be alone-- in fact JD is still sputtering mad about that part. I am just baffled, but whatever. Moving right along.

Children's is efficient, and so on top of things. The Cub got his tests, which all confirmed the diagnosis, and the little bit of treatment there is to give for this thing. They heard some wheezing, so if he keeps doing that we will have to at some point talk about the A word, asthma. He was obviously sick, but also incredibly amused. All the new people, with their smiles and their shiny name tags that swing when they bend over him-- priceless, I tell you. He charmed them with smiles and with his newly-acquired skill-- getting his fingers where they need to go so that he can suck on them. He did drop his oxygen saturation once, but he recovered on his own. They kept us overnight mostly as a precaution, because he had pneumonia as a newborn. Insult to the lungs and all.

We had a mostly quiet night, with a couple of drops in oxygen saturation, but he always recovered on his own. In the meantime I learned that it is not uncommon for babies to go blue around the mouth, and that the one to really worry about is blue lips and/or tissues in the mouth. In the morning the doctors listened to the Cub, declared him sounding better than the day before, and therefore clear to go home. Which we did, happily.

Of course between then and the cardiology appointment, I was still in my tightly wound "what was that?" mode. The appointment, first thing Monday morning, went great. Dr.Heart still hears the murmur, though it was hard to hear, what with the freight train in his chest cavity that is bronchiolitis in retreat. The doctor thinks there are a couple of possibilities, one more likely in his mind than the rest. In any case nothing needs to be done for now. We need to come back in three months for a follow up which should hopefully give a clearer picture. But even the worst possible diagnosis given his current condition likely means nothing needs to be done until he is at least four years old. Thus, I am now pretty relaxed about his heart.

See? In the end, not scary at all. So why couldn't I make myself write about it? It's not like I haven't been online in the interim. I have been reading and commenting like a woman possessed, trying to catch up on everyone. I have made a nice thorough dent in what was a scarily big number of posts in my reader. But I haven't written. Why?

I think I figured it out.

Last week on Glow Tash published her interview with Elizabeth McCracken about her memoir An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination. It's a great interview. More like a conversation, actually. Reading it is like listening to two smart, thoughtful women talk. The subject just happens to be dead babies and how we talk about them.

So somewhere in the interview Elizabeth says that writing pretty sentences is a form of therapy for her. And I thought "heh, me too." And read on. But then, days later, as I was trying to figure out why I fell so silent on my own blog, it occurred to me that maybe, somehow, having decided to write about the stay at Children's, I was now stumbling over my need to write of it in pretty sentences. Now I am almost sure that was it.

What I am not so sure about is why do I try for those pretty sentences. It's not just a dead baby thing for me, but it is an especially dead baby thing. Why do I dote on these sentences more than other sentences? It's not, I think, to pretty the subject matter up. I don't think dead baby mamas in general and I in particular try to make our stories more palatable with language. In fact we often search for words and sentences to express just how raw and overwhelming this bereavement thing is.

So it may be, I am thinking, that we (I, really-- I can only speak for myself) seek to make them more captivating, if that's the word. To make our stories, our voices, our children matter. Wild theory, that. Don't even know how much I believe it myself.

The other explanation I came up with sounds perhaps a bit more grounded. Writing is unhurried, if we are willing to give it the time and space it needs. Writing, unlike talking, gives us a chance to see whether we actually said what we meant to say, and to adjust if we didn't, tinker with it until it's a perfect way to express this one particular thought. And that's, I think, why it works-- finding a way to express a thought occasionally allows us an opportunity to let go of all the thinking and struggling we did with this particular subject. Writing, then, is like graduation for thoughts and emotions.

And yet, neither of these really explains why, as the days wore on, I still wasn't writing about the Cub's adventures at Children's. This I think is a whole separate beast. This is me twisting myself into a pretzel to make it sound all along like it was just a virus. It wasn't like that in real time. In real time it was scary for a while. I think I found yet another fucked up thing about my new dead baby normal-- I react to possible issues like the sky is falling because, once, it did. But when it turns out to have been less scary, I downplay it, with pretty sentences, and humor, and deflection because it wasn't, you know, the sky. Falling.

So how do you write? Why do you write?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

We were not neglecting our yard...

We were allowing for the possibility of some found art creating itself...

Yeah, that's it!

Well, that's my story anyway, and I am sticking to it.

Friday, November 7, 2008

This and that

Thank you, all, so much for your kind comments on my last post. That was hard to write, but necessary. It helps that it was met with such gentle kindness. Thank you.


Twelve weeks ago yesterday my sister told JD that she thought it was kinda funny that she was hoping we would have the baby already, so that she could start getting more sleep, and we could start getting less. The her getting more part was because she stayed up every evening waiting for the call in case she needed to come over and stay with Monkey while we headed for the hospital. The us getting less part... well, that's pretty obvious. For some reason neither Adelynne nor I got, JD didn't think it was funny, or even kinda funny. Me? Since that Thursday was something like the fourth consecutive evening of contractions until wee hours of the morning (with a non-negligible number of nonconsecutive days in the weeks prior) I a) thought the joke was hi-effing-larious, and b) didn't think it was possible for me personally to get any less sleep than I was getting at that point.

Of course my sister got her wish mere hours after voicing it. Which, I thought, was an excellent deal for all involved. As a bonus, it turns out that I was right in the predictions department too-- I am not getting any less sleep now than I was getting that week. Except now that it has been over thirteen weeks of that much (ha-ha!) sleep I can say with some authority that the sleep deficit thingy really does accumulate. Drats.


As we say in the Old Country language, these days only a lazy person is not writing about the election. Not that I don't have thoughts, but I (see above) am having some difficulty rubbing neurons together to produce complete sentences. Except this tidbit affords me an opportunity to both rant (mini-rant, honest; I promise-- mini) and brag. How could I possibly pass on that? I am only human, you know. So here goes.

After the 2004 election I noticed that a lot of conservative pundits acquired a new favorite line-- "And this is why you lost,"-- deployed, it seemed, any time a representative of the other side of the spectrum expressed an opinion about the state of the electorate or the tactics used to drive turnout or to "assist" voters in making up their minds. Used to drive me bonkers.

So in the spirit of joyful reciprocity I would absolutely love to say that the reason R's lost so thoroughly this week is that the country is no longer buying their divide and conquer, us against (and better than) them politics. I would love to be able to say that the Republican presidential campaign jumped the shark the moment Sarah Palin declared that she loves to visit real America, the pro-America America, implying, of course, that there exists, outside of those there fine small towns, fake America, consisting of the not pro-America parts of America. I would love to be able to say that that was why they lost.

I am realistic enough to know that that wasn't why, though I maintain that a country where it would absolutely have been the why would be an incredible place to live. And I persist in my belief that this country can one day be that country.

Meanwhile here in the fake America Monkey's class has been learning about the American flag. They learned all kinds of good things about where it came from and how you show respect to one. And, in preparation for the school's election day assembly, they learned a song.

P.S. This poster, that, of course, is still hanging on the board, was a completely spontaneous and independent project. Weird, don't you think, given, you know, that we are centrally located in the beautiful downtown, fake America?

P.P.S. We keep forgetting how well Monkey can read these days. We were watching the news the night the story of that quote broke, and when Monkey walked into the room, we paused (long live TiVo!) the news right as they were playing that quote while they also showed the transcript of it on the screen. She read the quote right off the screen, and she got offended. The stick your tongue out at the screen, and do a high kick in that screen's general direction kind of offended. So we talked about how these feelings are understandable, but how the real way we fight back against that kind of rhetoric is by voting and volunteering.

In the meantime I keep marveling at the amount of stuff (in areas of citizenship and dead baby studies just to name a few) that my six year old gets instinctively that some so called adults completely fail to grasp.


Speaking of jumping the shark, I do not appreciate it when the shows I make time to watch regularly do the jumping. Have you guys seen the episode of House from last week?

Um... seriously? First of all, lactose intolerance and milk allergies are different and distinct, and the terms may not be used interchangeably. A much bigger deal? No adoptive parent worth their salt (or past a good agency's approval process) would ever try to talk a birth mother out of her new decision to parent. Like, NEVER. Ugh...


I need tips for not forgetting medication. My thyroid is on its regularly scheduled post-childbirth adventure, providing me with an array of fun symptoms the worst of which is tachycardia. Which means heart medication, for symptomatic relief. Beta blockers, yum!

I am on the kind that is compatible with breastfeeding, but which needs to be taken three times a day. And there is my problem-- I have, in the last week, forgotten at least one pill a day more times than I care to admit, and yesterday I forgot two in a row. I am trying to take them after a feeding, to be extra careful. But I tend to need to do X, Y, and Z right after a feeding, plus, as I mentioned above, I am freaking exhausted, which, in my experience, does not help with keeping to the mental to-do list. Hence, unsurpringly, I sometimes end up forgetting to take a pill. So what do I do to avoid forgetting? Other than hiring a personal assistant to keep track of such things, I mean.