Sunday, April 18, 2010

Mommy Meltdown

Rugby I understand. On Saturday mornings I stand out on a field in short shorts, just begging the other team to try to catch me and knock me down, daring them to try to get by me. I do this with the understanding that it will hurt: my muscles, my lungs. I do this knowing I am smaller than most, and much, much smaller than I feel.

But the pain is real and tangible. And that is something I can wrap my throbbing head around.

* * *

On Tuesday I had a panic attack. Or something that sounds like what a panic attack is. It started in the morning with me knowing I had 30 papers to grade. Actually, now that I'm trying to tell you about it, I can't really remember how things went down. I'll just say that on my days off from school I get nothing done. My days off go like this: get up around 8 or 9 (I try to sleep in). Mindy gets up around 10. She pumps her boobs. I drink coffee. It's 11 by the time that's done. Mindy's mom comes to the house. I've made breakfast once or twice. We get to the NICU by 11:30 or 12. Then it's time for lunch. We go out because I haven't been very good about grocery shopping lately and people keep asking us to lunch or dinner. Lunch is done by 2:00 or 2:30. We come home. Mindy pumps some more. We return phone calls and emails. I go to rugby practice or I make dinner or we go out to eat. Then it's 7:00 and we sit and watch shitty t.v. then it's time for bed.

On the days I teach I get up at 6 and don't get home until 4. Then it's time for dinner and then bed.

* * *
A scrawny knee flying into my crotch caused it to be bruised and swollen; my ear got smacked when I got tackled. I'm even wondering if I have slightly bruised ribs from running into my own teammate. My knees are scraped, of course. I played rugby Saturday.

Every part of me hurts. Finally. It's a relief for the pain to take over my muscles now, and not just my brain. This kind of pain is what I'm used to. It's familiar, it means that I had a good time, it means I'm still alive.

* * *

Another thing that made me freak out is people. They're everywhere: calling, texting, emailing, showing up to my house. Mindy went into the hospital March 4. In the hospital nurses come in every two hours to check on you or give meds or whatever. Even through the night. Mindy and I are used to quiet. We're used to sitting on our couch, surrounded by cats, watching PBS. So, the 2.5 weeks in the hospital were annoying, with all the people.

Then she was out of the hospital and her mom was here. I love my mother-in-law, but to always have someone around drives me crazy. I'm an only child who needs a lot of alone time. She was gone for less than a week, and for less than a week Mindy and I enjoyed each others' company. I made dinner. We cuddled. We cried and laughed and planned.

Then my mother-in-law came back and is just in the process of leaving as we speak. So, another reason I freaked out last Tuesday was because of the the people. 5 weeks of having other people in our relationship.

Another reason? Platitudes. Tons of them, well meaning but ultimately mind numbing, crazy making or too dramatic.

1. Just take it day by day
2. god gives special babies to special people
3. god only gives you what you can handle
4. miracles happen every day
5. you're going through hell
6. having a baby changes your life forever
7. you don't know what love is until you've had a child
8. think positive thoughts

you get the idea. I know, I know, everyone just means well and everyone wishes he could help in his own way. You're wondering what I might say to someone in this same situation? It's exactly what a good friend said to me, "This shit is fucked up." And that is the truest and most helpful thing anyone has said.

A friend drove in from Texas to give me beer, bread pockets stuffed with meat and onions, and roughly 4 hours of a listening ear. Then she left. It was perfect.

* * *

Saturday, when I saw the knee coming toward my crotch, there was nothing I could do to avoid it. I mean, I saw it coming, but it was all so fast, and no, it wasn't on purpose. I tackled her. We fell to the ground. There is a moment in a rugby tackle, if you do it correctly, where you are lying with your head on her hip, your arms still wrapped around her legs, several people standing over you fighting for the ball. It was in that moment that I lay still, letting the pain wash over me until it burned my ears.

Not one person on the other team felt sorry for me. It was a beautiful, perfect day.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Die, Die My Darling

You know what, people? I'm fucking pissed. I've made it to that point. Ok? Are you happy?

Today I felt for some reason that I should see Cyrus on the way home from work. He kept jerking and I was like, looking for a nurse. And I was like, "I think he's having seizures" And she was like, "no." Then she leaves and comes back with the resident and the attending. So, they give him more drugs.

Not just an hour ago they called us and said he'd been seizing since then and kinda hinted we should come in (read as, "your baby could die"). They still don't know the cause. His organs are still in good shape. So, once we got there, he seemed alright. But, oh , the drugs and the waiting. The fucking waiting.

I just told Mindy that I've imagined putting my fist through several things today. I've stared at several objects and envisioned a) if my fist could go all the way through b) what it would feel like when my knuckles hit said object c) if my fist would be able to be pulled out without being damaged further.

Here is a list of things I considered:
1. The dashboard of the car (instead, i squeezed the life out of the steering wheel)
2. The brick wall in my office
3. The woman who hovered over the toilet and obviously peed on the seat which would cause people to have to hover. (Quit fucking hovering you assholes--you're the source of the problem you seek to avoid.)
4. The dashboard again
5. My laptop screen
6. Every mother yelling at her kid (a lot walk by my house)

I didn't hit anything. Even at rugby practice, I didn't really hit people because they're my friends. And I like them.

I could cry, but it doesn't help; it only causes me to get a headache.

I did kick a rugby ball a few times, but the impact wasn't satisfying enough.

There are things I want to scream:
1. It's not fucking fair
2. Are you fucking kidding me?

Again, I know we got ourselves into this. But, you know, like, I've been a good person. I love people, I do, even though I sound sarcastic and I don't show it by hugging and kissing. I love my family and friends. I give homeless people money. I pick up litter. I yell at people who throw cigarette butts out of their cars. I give old people my seat. I open the door for just about everyone. I'm thankful for every fucking awesome thing that's ever happened to me. I've learned from every single fucking mistake I've made. I try to be open minded. I don't speed. I try not to take anything for granted.

So, is it too much to ask that we have a healthy baby? Just one? Can't the universe give us one of the millions?

Oh, I know. There are no answers. There's nothing you can say to make it better. And I don't want you to. Don't tell me that "God only gives us what we can handle." I don't believe in God. I haven't in a long time. And if that were true, then people wouldn't kill themselves. Obviously, things become too hard to handle. (no, i would never kill myself, if you're wondering. I'm terrified of death)

I don't know why I'm angry. I'm trying to reason why all of this so hard. If Cyrus died, it would suck. Mindy worked so hard while she was pregnant. I mean, he was made from love. I'm not sure how many people can say that. Mindy quit drinking coffee months in advance; she took Tylenol once or twice; we changed our cleaning products; Mindy made reusable baby wipes; we were gonna use cloth diapers.

I can't tell you why I wanted to be a parent. I keep asking why I did it to myself, and if it's been worth it.

It hasn't. I'm not sure what made me decide that being a mom would be alright. I guess I love Mindy so much, and we thought it might be nice to bring a kid into that--to show that kid how to love the way we do. Just one kid.

But so far, this is stupid. There's no logical reason for Mindy to have an incompetent cervix. But maybe trying to be logical is my problem.

I've said in one of the blogs about Cyrus' conception that I had to pretend that our situation was normal (you know, getting pregnant in some doctor's office)--that this is how everyone has done it.

I stick by that.

Before we started all of this I found pregnancy scary and gross. I was hoping that seeing it first hand would change those feelings. What a fucking joke.

It's worse. Everything is worse. I don't know how any of us turned out with all our limbs in the right spot and enough brain cells to reason.

I'm mad. Mad at nothing but myself. Seeing Cyrus in is little plastic cage makes me sad for Mindy. I mean, I don't like seeing him like that, but Mindy, my wife, my beautiful, much more significant half, worked hard and felt him in her womb.

The reason I cry and get angry is because Cyrus is love. He is the embodiment of our love and future and dreams. If he dies, then so does a part of us. So does our innocence, our naivete, our youth. The light in our eyes.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Parade

I've never been fond of Easter.

It was on this day in 1986 that my uncle was killed in a car wreck. It was on this day in 1996 when I flipped my car into a ditch with my 11 year old cousin in the seat. We made it out unharmed, but we probably shouldn't have.

So, it wasn't much of a surprise when we got a phone call at 5:00 this morning from the NICU telling us that Cyrus was having seizures. As we lay in bed (the first night that Mindy allowed herself to sleep straight through without pumping milk every 4 hours) with the phone on speaker, we listened as the young resident told us he was back on the ventilator, that he was given phenobarbital, adavan, that he wasn't getting any milk, that he'd be put back on the TPN, that he might have a brain bleed, that he might have an infection, that he might just be too tiny to handle everything that's been happening to him.

We went to visit him around 10:00 this morning. His blood pressure was low, so they gave him a bolus. We learned that the preliminary results of the head ultrasound showed everything was normal. Mindy signed a paper allowing them to do a lumbar puncture, leaving the line for "Father" blank, as we've been doing at the Social Security Office, on his Birth Certificate, on the Medicaid paperwork. I am less than a ghost in his life. And I feel badly for Mindy because she's had to make all of the phone calls as well as sign everything.

It was only a few minutes ago that the NICU called again to tell us his blood pressure is still too low. They've given him dopamine. He's on two or three antibiotics, one that would help Meningitis (if he happened to have it--we can't know yet because that's what the lumbar puncture tells us and they can't too it because of his blood pressure). He is still under two pounds. I can't even begin to imagine what all of those drugs will do to his body.

When we were staring into his isolet this morning I asked the resident, "Like, when do you tell us we're being too extreme?" She smiled at me, confused. "I mean, if he should die and we're not letting him." She assured me that they were very honest in those situations. I begged her to be blunt at all times; it's all I can handle. I can't stand someone dancing around a subject and using too many words.

I want to be mad at someone or something, but as I've written before, we've done this to ourselves. We made the choice to have a baby and we accepted all of those risks. I guess I was more ready for a miscarriage at 10 weeks than this. I never thought of this.

My tears stopped weeks ago. It's Spring. Magnolias and daffodils. I've grilled twice. I bought new clothes. Mindy and I haven't made love in at least two months.

10% of babies in America are born premature. 1% of women have an incompetent cervix. I can't even tell you the percentage of women who have that plus a placental abruption. With those odds, all I can hope is that this luck stays with us, these tiny chances we seem to be hitting.

If it keeps going, the numbers, then Cyrus will make it out alive and well and just as normal as anyone.

If it doesn't: it's still spring. I'm still in love. And it will have been just another long, dark winter.