It's been an interesting, in the sense of that famous, but apparently fake Chinese curse, couple of weeks inside my head.
It seems strange, incongruous, that the baby I feed sweet potato to, the boy who flings himself at me, laughing and squealing, off the side of the pool, and who doesn't mind getting a face full of water from the shower head or from a wave in the ocean, the baby who really likes his boob juice, the boy who is, I swear, at once the sneakiest and the sweetest thing there is, that he is the same baby whose health, quality of life, and, possibly, the very life, hung in the balance* a year ago. A whole year ago. Just a year ago. Exactly a year ago. I am having trouble processing this.
Last year I ended up in the hospital at the tail end of the first of two weeks we were supposed to have been at the shore. It's a tradition now-- our large and noisy group of friends rent a bunch of condos in a development by the shore, some for a week, some for two. It functions a bit like a commune-- we cook and eat in subgroups or all together, we keep track of each other's kids, feed them, run sleepovers.
It is a great place. And I have a complicated relationship with it, revolving around my reproductive status. The first year we rented there, I was just pregnant with A, first trimester and shoving progesterone up my hoo-ha. The next year I wished I was pregnant, and the year after that was last year. With contractions and the hospital.
This year's week at the shore worked out to be the same week on the calendar as last year. I realized that well ahead of time, and I knew it would make things tough for me. I was right. Packing for the shore was anxiety-inducing. Actually being there was uneven-- at times relaxing and nourishing, hanging with the usual suspects or with friends who flew in from out of town just for the weekend, and at times difficult, inherently, or because of a friend's careless remark.
Last year we were sharing a condo with the family whose youngest son, M, was supposed to be A's best friend, due as he was mere four weeks after A. This year they have the whole place to themselves-- they had an extra person stay with them most of the week, and needed the bedroom. But that person left Saturday, and they offered us her bedroom so we could stay through the weekend (unlike these friends, we were only staying one week this year, and were supposed to have left Saturday too). That is how come we ended up staying an extra night in the very same unit where we spent the week last year, from where I drove to my appointment the morning of the day that ended with me hooked up to the magnesium pump.
That morning I was up early thanks to some painful contractions. I didn't know if I would get to come back after the appointment. I thought there was a nontrivial probability that I wouldn't. Because of that, I wanted to get a few things done, to make things easier for JD and Monkey in case I end up in the hospital for monitoring. Coming up the stairs from the basement after throwing in a load of laundry, I saw JD in the big chair reading to Monkey and M, the two of them nestled on either side of him. I stood there for a while, taking that picture in, the would've been picture of my family. Yesterday coming up the same stairs after throwing in another load of laundry, I happened onto Monkey playing on the carpet with the Cub and M. She was very good at corralling the over two and the not yet one, and oh, but the scene echoed.
A year ago now things were already looking up-- I had made it through the 48 hours needed for steroids to do their thang, and my contractions were behaving. Earlier that day Monkey came for a visit. She'd had nightmares after JD left the shore to join me at the hospital. Not really surprising-- nearly eighteen months before that week her mom left for a check with the doctors, then her dad left to be with mom, and when they came back, they told her her baby brother had died. When her small face appeared in the doorway, her eyes were wide with fear and desperate need to have that fear be unsubstantiated. She was so tentative walking into the room. Suddenly I could see just how small six years old really is. JD had told her about the machines in the room, and the IV bags, and that I would be in bed, and she eyed all that. But it was the belly that held her hope, and, unlike that last time, it was still big and round. And there was a sound in the room-- baby's heart rate monitor, which I had asked the nurse to leave on pretty loud. A bit later, when she got comfortable with her surroundings, and JD went to the bathroom, she danced to that sound. That was one of the sweetest things I've ever seen.
*Then I didn't think his actual life was in any real danger due to the onset of labor any more (as opposed to the possibility of him dying inside of me, of which I was scared up until he was actually born), since he was past 33 weeks at that point. Now I think it was. I mean to write about that sometime soon.
P.S. Free your goat Friday was on vacation this past week, along with us. It will return in only a few short days. Get your goats ready, people!