Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Nadia Rose

Eight years ago I was in the hospital. Confined two days before, exactly four weeks before my due date, with the second episode of bleeding from my (as it turned out, partial) placenta previa.

The first night I was there, the 8th, I had a roommate. She was about 31 weeks along then, her first pregnancy. Around Christmastime, something like seven weeks earlier, a scan found severe growth restriction in her daughter. Severe as in that 24 week singleton fetus was nowhere near a pound. She was in the hospital that night because the doctors thought she'd might've reached a tipping point on the in vs. out safety scale, and they were going to decide, early in the morning, whether to do the C-section right then.

I wasn't allowed to get up on account of the whole previa thing, and she couldn't or wouldn't, I don't remember anymore. We talked through the so-called privacy curtain that night. In my memory, the lights in the room, or most of them at least, were off. In my memory, we talked in the dark. We talked for hours. So it is not exactly surprising that though I saw her in the light of day the next morning, and though I saw her several times after, it is her voice, her turns of phrase, and not her face that I remember.

I remember how she called one of the doctors in the practice Doogie Howser, because he-- DUH-- looks like the character. I still refer to the doctor by that nickname. I remember how she described the daughter of an acquaintance who was born weeks and weeks early, but only had a few minor challenges, fine motor skills, that type of thing, a few years later. I could tell that was her guiding light, her hope.

I remember her talking about the doctor who became her MFM after that scan at 24 weeks. I knew him too. A very big shot, chief of ultrasonography at the whole place, he showed me an extraordinary human kindness in the early, spooked days of my pregnancy with Monkey. A kindness I sorely needed because this was my second pregnancy, first ending in a miscarriage barely two months prior. For my roommate, he went beyond a kindness. He had her come in for a scan every weekday of those seven weeks. A short respite in each day for her, reassurance of "for now." I remember her talking about how scary the weekends were, having to make it from a Friday scan to a Monday one. I remember her saying that the doctors admitted to her some time earlier that when they first diagnosed the IUGR, they thought the baby wouldn't make it, and they thought that might be the best outcome for the baby. But not anymore, not since she's hung on for so long, not since she's put on that little bit of weight that she did.

I asked if the baby had a name. Nadia Rose, she said. Another trick of memory-- I don't remember my roommate's name anymore, but I remember her daughter's. I asked why she chose that name, and she said she just liked it. She talked about hope too, and I asked her if she knew that Nadia meant hope. She didn't, but she was glad I told her.

In the morning, after a somewhat prolonged back and forth among no less than three doctors, they decided to do the section that morning. I think I thought they would bring her back to our shared room after. But they didn't, and I was still on bedrest. I don't remember if I tried asking the nurses for information, but I know I didn't get any. A couple of days later as they wheeled me down to the clinic for the big ultrasound, my former roommate flagged me down. She was smiling. The surgery went well. The baby was very small, only about a pound. But she was in NICU and doing well. Come visit us sometime, she said.

I was hospitalized one more time that pregnancy, at 37.5 weeks. My MFM came on the floor with the morning shift, and that time his instructions were to get up and walk around. If I didn't start bleeding again by the end of the day, he'd send me home.

So I walked around the floor for a bit, and when nothing dramatic happened, I went to the NICU. Nadia Rose had one of the four glass-enclosed cubicles in the front of NICU. She was tiny and had a whole lot of wires about her. My former roommate was out, but I got to talk with the father for a bit. She has been doing real well, he said, but it is tough. This life, the NICU life, it's hard. And not just emotionally. I remember him talking about parking, and I remember thinking it odd in the moment that this would be what he'd gripe about. Now I think it a very human thing, to gripe about parking after the tubes and the wires and everything else becomes normalized into one's reality. And besides, he had a point-- they had to pay $6 for parking every day. And if they wanted to leave and come back, another $6. And they were looking at months more of this.

So, about that... A few days after I'd had Monkey, and we'd gone home, I had to go back to the hospital to be seen. Let's leave the gross and embarrassing details out of it, and just say that they needed to make sure I was healing appropriately. After they did, I made JD go by the NICU with me. As it turns out, the desk lady only buzzed me in because she thought I was a NICU mother. When she figured out I was trying to see someone else's baby, she focused on getting us out the door. I kept asking for Nadia Rose, explaining that she's my roommate's daughter, but the desk lady wasn't budging. She didn't know who I was talking about, or didn't want to tell me. I got her to let me look into what I thought was the cubicle where she was those couple of weeks earlier, but she wasn't there. Another baby was. After that it was quick work of kicking us out.

Once outside, I thought I looked in the wrong cubicle. But I couldn't be sure. JD, who then didn't know about the lengths of NICU stays, didn't get why I was so upset. I knew, though, and so I had to explain it to him. If she wasn't there in NICU, if I didn't just screw up the cubicle, or if she wasn't moved to the common room in the back where less fragile babies were, then she didn't make it. Then she died. But I didn't know for sure. And I had no way of finding out.

I thought of them, my roommate and her Nadia Rose, through the years. I hoped they made it, but always I didn't know. I still don't. After A died, I thought of them more often. And for some reason I wanted to know enough that at the Cub's anatomical scan appointment, supervised by my former roommate's ultrasound wizard of a doctor, the one who showed me that very human kindness, I blurted out my question. I asked him if he remembered Nadia Rose, baby of a patient from more than six years ago by then. The one he did daily scans for, the one with severe IUGR. What happened to her, I asked. He said that he honestly didn't remember this particular patient. That sadly he has too many patients who match the description. But also, and this I should've known, that even if he knew exactly who I was talking about, he couldn't tell me because of the privacy laws.

This past weekend, at Monkey's gymnastics competition, there was a girl with a name that reminded me again, essentially the same name, but spelled a bit differently. And a hyphenated last name-- not the same child. But thinking back, I realized that it was February when I met her mother. A bit of mental calendar flipping later, and I was sure-- her birthday was coming up. February 9th, somewhat early in the morning.

And this is where I am stuck. I don't know the proper grammar form to use now. She is eight now? She'd be eight now? I hope her mom, my former roommate, is busy with party plans for the coming weekend. But I also know it is very possible that she is walking through her hard season now, her grief season.

I don't really know how to end this. I hesitate to say Happy (belated) Birthday, because I don't know whether it was, whether it can be. So maybe just this then-- Nadia Rose and Nadia's mom, wherever each of you is now, I hope you are both happy.


ezra'smommy said...

this post gave me chills. beautiful.

loribeth said...

This post made me think of "It's a Wonderful Life," & how our lives touch so many people in so many ways that we could never dream of.

Dh & I have made some great friends through our support group, but there were many, many other clients, some with horrific, sad stories, that I sometimes think about & wonder whatever happened to them.

Beautiful post, Julia. I hope they are happy too.

Beruriah said...

Eight years? Wow. It seems utterly insane that I remember when Monkey was five.

Nadia Rose is a really beautiful name. To me, it doesn't sound like a name that matches with phrases like "clean your room," "do your homework!" "stop bugging me, I'm on the phone (or in the bathroom)." But I hope it is.I hope they are both well and happy.

Beautiful post.

CLC said...

I hope she made it too. Beautiful post.

Mrs.Spit said...

I am desperately hoping, there is a little girl running around, and her name is Nadia Rose.

I am hoping that she hates it when her mum calls her by her full name and it drives her crazy that her family talks about those early days and calls her a miracle.

I'm hoping that all she wears is a pair of glasses, and this year the prescription was really stable, but her parents relented and bought her new frames, not because she needed them, but because she wanted those awful thick chunky green ones.

I am so hoping.

Tash said...

Happy Birthday Nadia Rose, regardless.

And to Nadia's mom and dad, whatever your situation this week, you walked through the valley of hell and I hope you're both still upright, regardless.

Odd what one remembers. (This is an utterly morbid thought, but sometimes it's easier to figure out if she died than lived -- does the hospital have some kind of public memorial? A service or a garden or a newsletter that would list donations? Perhaps you could do this by process of elimination.)

janis said...

What a story, thanks for sharing.

Maggie said...

what a lovely post!

k@lakly said...

Wow. So it feels akin to(and of course, so much larger than) starting the best book you've eevr read and never being allowed to know how it ends.
I'm with Tash, it's icky but, may be easier to prove the negative in this case. Which makes me ill to consider.
I hope you are able to prove the opposite. I hope Nadia Rose is here somewhere and can tell us that a happy ending came form her stay in that NICU.

And, I have to say, I miss you. It's great to hear from you:0)

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a beautiful post.

Bluebird said...


j money said...

wow what a beutifull story ...was this a real expiriance??