Snow always looks prettier when you’re watching it from a warm, dry place. Even more enticing if you’re looking out at it from the hallway at the hospital where you’ve spent the last 28 hours.
When you are on call and you know it’s going to snow overnight, wearing open-top shoes are probably not a good idea, because there are only so many snowplows and a lot of sidewalk.
And if you are wearing shoes which do not cover the tops of your feet, and you are walking through unplowed parking lots, it’s helpful to remember where you parked. This saves you not just time but also helps head off a post-call meltdown.
Prairie Home Companion is probably the best thing on the radio. Particularly when you’re really tired and heading home to your family. Love it.
The only thing better than a post-call nap is a post-call nap with a two and half year old wearing the same Batman jammies he’s had on for the past 36 hours, and who smells like the peanut butter sandwich he just finished eating for lunch.
Sometimes pepperoni, cheese, crackers and apple slices are just enough for dinner. Especially eaten on the couch next to the same two and a half year old (wearing the same Batman jammies) while watching football.
Sleep is good. Time at home with my family is better.
I had a miscarriage.
I haven’t said those words out loud yet. I know I will have to at some point, but for now it’s still unspoken. I don’t quite know how to articulate the story of a spot of blood, an ultrasound with an empty gestational sac, a weekend of intermittent cramping and more bleeding, another ultrasound, and finally, anesthesia, dilation and suction of my failed pregnancy.
Fail. It’s a loaded word to apply to such a situation, but appropriate. I was pregnant. Our fertilized egg made a placenta, a gestational sac, a yolk sac, but no baby. For nine weeks I carried a collection of cells, dreamed about girl babies with blond hair and blue eyes, threw up in the mornings, rubbed my stomach, and picked out names. Then I found out there was never really a baby there. At first I felt slightly better (or maybe just less bad) that my baby hadn’t died because she was never there in the first place. How can I mourn a baby who only existed in my heart?
Because I loved her. Because I wanted very badly to meet her, to kiss her and nibble on her fingers. To introduce her to her big brother. I am part of an online bulletin board for moms, and the women there who have lost babies to miscarriage invariably call them their angels. I can’t think of this baby as an angel. I don’t know when we get souls, if a yolk sac is enough to earn you immortality, or if a mother’s dream is enough to conjure you into existence. She is a ghost, my little ghost baby, and she is real to me. I’ll cry about her loss, I’ll grieve for her, I’ll remember my hopes and dreams for her. And I’ll love her.
I’ve been needing something to jumpstart my blogging recently. The biggest problem I have is really that I have so many things I want to say, I’m having a hard time condensing into something coherent and meaningful. So I’m going to start with Sunday Scribblings this week, we’ll see how it turns out. The prompt this week is: “Fellow Travelers”
When my son was born, I was in medical school and slogging through my last year of clinical rotations. There were several of us who had babies that year, and I was the lucky recipient of commiseration, advice, and general moral support from my fellow travelers on the motherhood and medicine pathway. We pumped breast milk together in the call rooms, we traded tips about baby food, and all used the same babysitter. It was a wonderful thing, to have friends who knew, really knew what it was like.
Now that I’m a resident, I’m the only intern with a child, and actually one of the few women in my class who is even married. Most of the women in my intern class are single, stick-thin marathon runners who are into going out post-call and singing karaoke. They tell me, “I don’t know how you do it”, and the truth is, I don’t either. I have no one who gets this. My mother is nearby and God love her, is tremendously supportive, but only in the general sense of offering desperately needed encouragement and occasional help with laundry. At work, I feel like I’m a world apart. From a career standpoint, I’m just starting out and I am so far down the ladder sometimes I’m not sure I’m even standing on the bottom rung. But from a social standpoint, I’ve been married almost five years, I have an amazing little boy, and I wish there was someone who I could see in the hallway at 2am and trade a knowing smile with.
But there isn’t. And it’s okay, most of the time. I’m thinking of myself as a trailblazer. So what if I’m different than everyone I’m working with? I love my life, I love my job, and I adore my family. At home I’m mama and wife: chief tickler and bath-giver, and head-scratcher extraordinaire. At work, I’m an intern: order-writer, scut-monkey, shaker of hands and caffeine queen. For now at least, I’m a lone traveler.
We’ve been working on speech with our son, who has a remarkable (and sometimes disturbing) capability for receptive language but has been a bit lazy with his expression. My pediatrician said that it can happen with parents who are really in tune with their children’s needs. I think maybe he was trying to make me feel better about Finn being a little bit behind, but I appreciated his effort. We’ve been working on naming body parts, learning people’s names, animal noises, and other assorted phrases (such as “milk please” rather than shrieking and gesturing in the direction of the sippy cup).
He has said “Dada” for a long time, using it as a generic term for parent and sometimes grandparent. He has recently rediscovered “Mama” and much to my delight has been shouting my name with glee every time he sees me. We’ve been trying to get him to say each of our names by asking “Where’s Daddy? Where’s Mama? Where’s Finny?” and in each of those cases, he can point to the right person including himself. When asked “What’s my name?” he can identify Daddy, and can identify Mama. And when asked what his name is, he replies “Mama”. No matter who is asking, no matter how many times we ask, very firmly, very definitely, he has decided his name is Mama too.
I know this is probably just a quirk of the seventeen month old brain, getting names confused, but I know how he feels. I’m working a terrible schedule right now and haven’t seen him nearly as much as I want to, and when I’m at work for the thirtieth straight hour I feel his absence like a missing limb. I keep closing my eyes and remembering when I carried him inside me and his movements were the rhythm of my day. Remembering when he was a newborn and slept only in my arms for his first two weeks of life because we were both too exhausted to stay awake when he nursed. Remembering the first call night I spent away from him and the many call nights yet to come.
It’s been seventeen months since he was physically a part of me but it hasn’t gotten any easier to be away from him. I work an average of seventy hours a week, and on days when I work will spend at most three hours of awake time with him. And yet, the division between us seems to be only physical. When he falls down he still throws himself into my arms for comfort, my belly is still his preferred raspberry target, and he still interrupts his play time just to give me a kiss. I’ve been terrified of ruining our relationship with my awful schedule, but somehow, we are stronger than ever. We are Mama, undivided.
For Mama Says Om.
One Sunday morning, the Pumpkin was running around the living room, while my husband and I lay in our pajamas on the couch contemplating what form of idleness our day would entail. We noticed that the key ring, a favored toy of our son, had taken a new position; that is, he no longer felt it adequate to hold them in his hand. He wanted to grip them in his eight teeth while gesturing dramatically.
Notice the knee bends here. This is the beginning of his new dance move, which is like a grand plie. He does this to any sort of music, and it looks particularly out of place when performed with anything modern. Imagine a ballerina dancing to hip-hop. A twenty-nine inch ballerina. With a diaper on. Shortly after this picture was taken, he launched himself at me, intending to land in my arms I think.
He didn’t quite make it.
But, since he is experienced in the ways of tumbling, he bounced right back up and continued his previous activities.
If there is something in life better than this, I don’t know what it is.
my happy thought is
light green footie pajamas
on sunday morning