Tuesday, January 13, 2009


I had to cancel on my sister for tonight. Because I forgot we had other plans, forgetting stemming from my continued inability to synchronize the days of the week with the days of the month in my head. January is messing with me. Ugh...

The thing I canceled, likely moved to tomorrow actually, is our monthly sisterly date. So ok, it hasn't been every month, but we have done well. Usually we go out. This time we are supposed to stay in and mess with the me-s on our new Wii Fit (pooled New Year present from said wonderful sister and BIL and our wonderful parents-- see, blogging can be profitable; um, no, parentals don't read, sister does). Stay tuned for my "actual" age. I am kinda not looking forward to learning what it assigns me. Or exactly how round it makes my me. Can we say embarrassing?

Anyway, I was thinking today of how the sisterly date thing started. My first period after A was weird. [Warning: avert your eyes and scroll for a few if you are not interested in exactly how weird it was.] It took longer to come than the literature says. It sort of started, then disappeared, then started for real. And then on day three of for real got much heavier. Which never happened to me before (or since). [Ok, you can stop averting now.]

I made a mistake of mentioning the weirdness to my mom, who promptly decided that SOMETHING WAS WRONG, and commenced pestering both me and my sister that I should go be seen. Knowing that sometimes the price of peace is doing what she asks, I called. And was told to go to maternity triage. The same triage where I learned that my son had died. Exactly eight weeks before that day. Um-hu.

Luckily, my sister came with. While they ran blood tests, we talked, we snarked, we trash-talked about the long arms of the law mom that caused us to be there in the first place. We laughed, bitterly and sarcastically, but we laughed. And afterwards we went to dinner. And resolved to do that again, once a month or so. Minus the trip to triage, if possible.

I wonder if we looked weird, not two months later, laughing in that place. I wonder what the nurses and midwives who staff that room thought. If they thought our (my, really) reaction strange they never said a word. The one nurse gave us a look after one of our very dark humored jokes, but she rolled with it. And was nice to us.

In the many visits to triage I ended up making in my pregnancy with the Cub I never got anything but kindness from them. Even when I knew I was probably overreacting to this symptom or that, they assured me that they had absolutely nothing better to do, that whatever I needed to do was fine, that they weren't tired of seeing me. (I think, actually, the next time after the visit with my sister that I walked into triage was the time that Dr. Friend and his wonderful ultrasound machine on wheels saved my sanity.)

The reason I am seemingly unable to let go of the memory of us on that triage visit, it having been called up by the sister date thing, the reason I am wondering how we looked... Hey, I know we are judged everywhere. Are we grieving appropriately? Healthy? Or what is it, are we grieving still? Everyone's a critic, I know. It just that it still blows my mind, though I know it shouldn't, how sure some people are of their own infallibility. And how close to the bone they can cut. And how there are some quarters we just don't expect it from. It must be nice to live your life that sure though. Must be simple. Prosecutor, judge, jury, all rolled into one, no defense attorney necessary.

It didn't happen to me this time, but to a friend. But it comes on the heals of another friend getting gobsmacked with a similarly ridiculous and unexpected weirdness, though in another realm altogether. And I stand here, squinting as if at a bright light. Really? Really? The world, is it this fucked up? Still?

So tell me your stories, please. Desensitizing therapy, I suppose. Tell me of how you were stabbed in the back. Or tell me of how it was for you going to the maternity floor, after. Or how you think it might be, whenever you get to go.


missing_one said...

Well, I guess this isn't the same, but similar since I'm fighting with my doc, who has been with me through two losses to get me a referral to see a specialist. I sorta feel like she should give me what I want because she knows what I've been through and make it just a tad easier for me, you know?

loribeth said...

Reading your description of you & your sister laughing & wondering if you looked weird reminded me of one particular support group meeting. I forget what we were talking about or how it happened, but all of us wound up in absolute hysterics. Grief group?? Um, yeah, sure! ; )

One of the "ground rules" we lay out at the beginning of each meeting is "It's OK to cry, that's why we bring the Kleenex." To which we have added, "It's also OK to laugh." Nobody but us bereaved parents might understand the joke or the ridiculousness of some of the situations we find ourselves in... but it's nice to be able to laugh instead of cry once in awhile, even if the humour can be pretty black at times.

Tash said...

When we got back the typed comments on our meeting with the doc's at Children's about Maddy's pathology report, the second line was, "The parents seem to be grieving appropriately." And I thought,

WHAT THE FUCK?! If I walked in any more weepy would you have dinged me? If I had walked in any more sane and collected would you have told me I needed to be with it a bit more?

But you know, I love these people, they're among the more sympathetic I know. So I think what happened is that we sounded like composed rational adults who had lost a baby -- and we even cracked a couple jokes during that meeting. And sadly, to a lot on the outside, I think cracking a joke of any sort also translates into: they're over it. They're ok.

Jackie said...

Cracking a joke is sometimes the only thing to do when there is nothing else to do.

I am definatly one of those laugh at inaproprate times type of people.

Jackie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hope's Mama said...

well i just visited the maternity ward at my hospital (see latest post) and it was brutally hard, given i never got to visit there. i have been back to our hospital so many times now, i'm not really afraid. and my husband works in the hospital right next door, which is joined. so i'm not too scared of it. but come and talk to me when and if i ever enter birth suite 8 again. the special suite. where horror lives where i think they send all those poor unlucky women like me....

S. said...

Ah, Julia. You know mine made it, but the touch-and-go trauma still happened in that ward, and I feel so conflicted about it. They saved her life, and we've had the nurse who caught her breathing trouble over to dinner, we loved her so much, but the neonatologist also f*cked up the diagnosis so that Z. was separated from us, needlessly, for that week when I was so battered and she needed me so badly.

Anyway. They closed it. They closed the maternity ward where I delivered Z., where my homebirth midwife had admitting privileges that kept me under her care right through my transfer. They turned their staff of midwives, l & d nurses, and ob/gyns who supported the midwifery model out into the cold. They closed the ward where they saved Z.'s life and then took her from us.

Hospital-administration idiocy. It wasn't profitable, but they didn't understand what the people there had created well enough to market it to the birthing moms desperate for it: an entire maternity department that embraced the low intervention movel, in a hospital setting? A place where women had real choices? Women who knew about it came from 50 miles away. It would have been crammed to the gills if they'd known to tell people what they had.

I didn't ever want to wind up there again. But I badly wanted it to stay open.

christina(apronstrings) said...

i wonder if it wasn't somehow good therapy to go two months later?
i don;t know if this is what you are asking for....but when my dreaded IVF that wasn't due to poor response was going on at my RE --my SIL was trying to not go into a somehwat early labor-at the HOSPITAL next door. So, of course i went to see her. On the maternity ward. Which wasn't fun. But i went because i wanted to see her, and of course deliver the trashiest of trash magazines-like US Weekly.
But.it.was.the flippin.maternity.ward!!! In the biggest hospital in the SE.
What's weird wasn't the babies that i walked past, the pregnant women, the nurses...*it was that i know NO ONE got it. * that not one person would understand why i was averting my eyes, or getting teary eyed. Not even my SIL or family.
So, that's my story and i don't regret going. or when i kept going to hold my little niece or rock her for weeks after my SIL's stay.
Man, i really wouldn't have cared if i would have known how the story-my story would have spun out a year later. damn the universe and it's lack of a crystal ball: )

Anonymous said...

Your relationship with your sister sounds so incredible. I always wanted a sister growing up, and reading about your relationship with yours is the reason why.

I don't care what people think in times of grief, we all do it in our own way.

Let's see, I could have gone to the maternity ward two years ago. I was clearly not pregnant, but in the hospital with a bile duct obstruction. There weren't any beds in the hospital, so I have been kept in the emergency room for 3 days. They came in and announced the good news - they had a bed for me! I asked where, they said the maternity ward. I refused to go. I told them I absolutely would not go to the maternity ward and started to sob about what a cruel joke it was. They looked at me like I was insane. I kind of was, I was in pain, hadn't slept in 3 days and was higher than a kite on morphine. But I knew enough to tell them there was no way I was going to the maternity ward. So, I was stuck in the ER for another night. That was fine with me, the horrible, too small, uncomfortable gurney I was on was clearly more comfortable than going to the maternity ward.

I hope you enjoy your wii!! I want one.

erica said...

The one real problem with the hospital where Teddy was born and died is that they didn't have a place for moms who'd lost their babies or moms of NICU babies. One night in the maternity wing, my husband and I watched the Olympics at especially high volume to try to cover up the cries of someone else's child. I think we joked about it, but (perhaps mercifully) the memory is a bit blurred.

Jade said...

the whole experience in itself was incredibly angering and sad. i'll never know if the fetus could have survived becaus they were too busy covering their asses. also, why do they have the early pregnancy loss clinic on the maternity ward? that is just awful.

for a week and half i was told something was abnormal but they couldnt give a diagnosis. they kept telling me i would rupture and after a week and a half of varying opinions, i finally gave in. the whole experience was dehumanizing. i went from the maternity ward to the cancer ward to feling my body lose the life inside of it. after losing a child to adoption, its a godsmack alright

wannabe mom said...

my little twist tie procedure (cerclage) was done in the same hospital where the twins were born and died. the entire experience was anxiety-ridden; the one hour travel time, the freeway exit, the whole foods, the hospital parking lot, the front entrance. i will be happy to never go there again.

k@lakly said...

You know, going back, I wanted to see where I had been on those days but I couldn't do it. I felt almost like a gawker at a horrific accident scene, wanting not tolook but unable to turn away. Except I was the accident too. In the end, I averted my eyes, unable to acknowledge even to myself, how truly ugly the truth is.

Sisters are the best. Mine reminded me too, that it was ok to laugh after dead babies. I needed that.

red pen mama said...

When we returned to the hospital where Gabriel was delivered, we were meeting with a perinatoligist [sic] to see if they had any answers to why he had been stillborn (short answer: no).

As we were waiting for the Dr. -- who was fabulous, by the by -- we could hear them monitoring the heartbeat of another to-be-born baby in the room next to us.

The doctor was taking a long time. The heartbeat just went on and on. Finally, my husband walked out of the room and found a nurse or a tech. He said, "Listen we've been waiting for awhile, and I know everyone's busy, but could you please turn down that heart monitor because my wife and I just lost our son, and listening to it is torture." He may not have been so polite.

Someone turned it down right away. The doctor showed up pretty soon after that and apologized.

I returned to my midwives with my subsequent pregnancies, and delivered my girls at the same hospital.


Miryam (mama o' the matrices) said...

I've made so many ER trips where some doctor walks in and starts staring, because the tragic, chronically ill kid with volume after volume of medical files - is laughing at a really lousy joke. Or shooting a paper airplane down the hall. Or invites the doc in and slaps a tourniquet on the holy medical arm.

My favorite was the day that the Eldest offered to put an IV in on the ER intern. We were all watching to see if the intern had the cojones to take the kid up on the offer. He didn't.

(The kid made the same offer to one of our homecare nurses later that week, and she didn't blink. Fabulous woman.)

Usually, the nurses are in the background, watching the kid, the docs, us, and laughing their asses off. Because you have to laugh. You just do.

Except when you need not to laugh, at which point who gives a flying fart as to what the other people think? Your moment, you get to react to it.

But you asked for a story: I think a lot about the day? night? we were told that the Eldest had hemophilia, and our world cracked and fell apart. But I see now that we were sitting in a ward of bleeders and cancer kids, and our world got cracked by something so, so minor when compared to the infant ALL that had been handed to the little girl down the hall.

But nobody told us that, they just let us be frozen and fractured and scared, and sat with us while we tried to understand what questions to ask, or where the air was hiding. I'm so grateful to the heme/onc docs and nurses for that respect, that time and space. It was our moment, and they stepped back to let us choose how we needed to have it.