Today I avoided activities, cancelled plans, stayed home. I have a pretty good excuse: Ulysses is having major surgery in a few days and I can’t chance him getting exposed to any of the usual Fall sniffles that might be floating around out there. Respiratory infections plus general anesthesia do not a good combination make. But that’s only part of the story. The part I didn’t mention is that, to tell you the truth, I don’t really feel up to talking much right now. I can barely write well enough to convey how I’m feeling, but when I rely on spoken words, everything comes out wrong and I sound like a dope.
Today it has been exactly one year since I was obliviously, delightfully pregnant, and my biggest worry was whether the baby was breech or not.
“Your baby has Lobster claw syndrome” the radiologist told me, “and other problems, too.”
If you are a radiologist having to break the news to a pregnant mother on her due date that her baby has any anomalies at all, it is egregiously unprofessional, cruel and stupid, actually, to use outdated, offensive slang as your opening line.
“This is why you should have had a twenty week ultrasound,” the radiologist went on to scold me. I remember his insensitivity and I still feel sick and angry.
Within a few hours of that unscheduled, position-checking ultrasound, I was swept into a machine of maternal fetal medicine clinics and level two ultrasounds and lots and lots of doctors. This whole year has been full of so many doctors. Do you know how many doctors have used the term “lobster claw” while speaking to us? Just that one stupid radiologist. He should have known better. It was hard enough to digest so much surprising information without having to hear it couched in dehumanizing terminology.
By this time of night a year ago, I’d already learned that my baby was a boy and that he had a serious heart defect, in addition to his physical differences. We were told he probably wouldn’t survive his birth. I cried a lot.
And can you guess how many other doctors have ever scolded me for not knowing earlier about his differences? Not one, just the radiologist I saw a year ago. Knowing earlier would not have changed anything.
That baby has been surprising us since the beginning.
Lately, I’ve been surprised when I manage to eke out a whole hour nap from him. That baby is too busy to sleep. I strap him on my back and hope he zonks out quickly and deeply enough for me to get something else done while he’s sleeping back there. It’s not ideal, but it beats sitting incessantly in the rocking chair.
Today I woke up and remembered the foggy drive I took to my midwife’s office one year ago today. I remember hoping that it would be my last prenatal visit, hoping the baby would come soon, knowing my house was all ready, feeling excited and happy. When I made the return trip several hours later, I was someone else. I wasn’t happy anymore. I was devastated. Everything had changed.
I want to tell One Year Ago Me that the heaviest loads will get lighter, that the everyday will be full of the mundane, that the sweet small things that make it all worthwhile will be just as sweet, but matter even more.
(vanity, thine name is not iphone self-portraits! i’m trying not to be too critical of that quick shot i snapped of myself and uly this afternoon, because i think it’s a good picture for today, where we are. it’s been a hard year, but we’re ok. and that foggy changing leaves picture was actually taken a year ago today on the drive to my midwife’s office.)