Monday, April 30, 2012

The part were I nod and smile

Nurses on my unit had to take care of a patient the other day who was admitted for vaginal bleeding (again). She tested positive for pcp (again). The big difference this time? This time she delivered her 24 week fetus who will likely die.

On the day before, a woman came in to the hospital with a big group for their pre-natal class and tour. During the first half of the tour, she felt a little wetness. She thought her water broke so she came into our triage to be checked out. Within 30 minutes we were delivering her baby via emergency c-section for a placental abruption at 34 weeks gestation. I hadn't seen that much blood in a long, long time.

Last week we had 5 losses. Two sets of twins and a 39 week, full term pregnancy.

The week before that I had my hands wrapped around the trunk of a baby born not breathing, with no heart rate, limp and cold and blue as a river stone. One and two and three and breathe and one and two and three and breathe and one and two and three and breathe and... 3 minutes of chest compressions on a three minute old baby whose cry (finally!) filled the room like a giant, exploded whipped cream canister.

Whenever people hear that I work in L&D they always say the same thing: "Oh! That must be so great! Always good news!". Yeah. Not so much.

When we have a happy family, happily expecting a baby that is born (and stays) alive, we fall over each other like court jesters on ecstasy. We sniff that high like you read about. We draw in the moment and squeeze it down tightly into our guts because we know we'll be drawing from that endorphin bank account all too soon.

I have this really incredible job. People don't see what we see. So I'm here to hand you the binoculars every once in a while.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Niagra Fell. And broke. Part III

So, the intervening weeks between installments can squarely and categorically be blamed on my family and the chaos that can go into running it.

Our babysitter has been in CA so... So things have not been what you'd call "stress free". My inlaws filled in many of the gaps (and aged a decade in the process). I got an ear infection, a migraine and my vengeful period (not simultaneously and not necessarily in that order. Relax.) The kids were on alternating weeks of Spring break, my oldest had a birthday and the youngest has hit his terrible twos at 3 and a half. Hot husband's shoot schedule has been without mercy and when he's here, he's at breakneck speed trying to finish up a new bathroom before our AU PAIR ARRIVES ON FRIDAY!!!!!!!!!

Yeah. Au pair. It rolls in the mouth and off the tongue like the very best chocolate covered nugget of scrumptious-ness. I suppose the universe and her history will tell me that a storm, tumult, revolution and evolution always precedes the emergence of change, newness and calm. I'm sure madame universe would tell me that and I'd punch her in the face anyway.

The au pair is coming from Sweden and I can't friggin wait. I can't wait to have an adult female here. An adult female whose sole mission is to help us help our family negotiate the miasma we exist in.

Anyway, that's the pre-amble. Here's what you came for:

We woke up that second morning feeling pretty damn good. PJ was a wee-bit pissed off we weren't going to the water park again but we plied her with more blueberry muffins and eggs and all was well with the world (lemme fit in, however, that I tried to give Lincoln one of his medications at breakfast because I had forgotten to administer it the night before. It did not go well and in retrospect, he may have never recovered from that moment over the course of the day ahead).

The drive from our hotel to the Falls was crackling with tiny sparks and tingles of excitement. We were all jazzed up and enjoyed marveling at the dichotomy of the local landscape. Casinos can do that to a town. Pawn shops and freak shows and ice cream shops and liquor stores and fancy hotels and seedy motels happily co-habitate in the town of Niagra Falls and we were soaking it all in.

Penelope didn't care, though. She had developed a glare, a stare and a veneer of discontent that the Bronte sisters wish they could have described. We did our best to alternatively ignore her mood and to coax her out of it. Ha. Ha ha ha ha ha ha! Resilience takes many forms, my friends.

We found a place to park and we bit that fucking bullet and got out of the car.

It was a gray, spitty-rain kinda day. It wasn't nice out and not having the cooperation of the weather with cantankerous, unpredictable children is a cruelty I'd not wish on my enemies.

The Falls are LOUD and HUGE. I felt an incredible sense of privilege to be standing before them and I wanted to convey my gratitude and I wanted to experience the cell-splitting sense of humanness welling up inside of me... but... Penelope was there too. Penelope. Gray as the day and as full of power as the crushing water all around us. Penelope.

The smallest girl in the world can not only suck the air out of the room, she can suck the energy out of Niagra Falls.

Nothing worked. No amount of cajoling, carrying, kindness, understanding words, sternness... nothing. She was bloody miserable. And it went on and on and on and on and on and on and on...

We took turns carrying Lincoln, Ruby and Chris and me. Lincoln who was like a live wire in the presence of all that water. I swear he would have jumped out of our arms and into the driving force of the blue-green-black-white spray if we'd let him. The day had become painful.

When the oasis of the gift shop appeared, we dove in like starving refugees. Nope. Failure. What about making a souvenir out of a crushed penny? Yes. Yes! YES! She was happy, she was smiling. She wanted to do that. Oh God. I felt like a 2 week constipation had been relieved. Chris took the opportunity to investigate the surrounding attractions and we were ok. We were ok.

He came back and told us he bought tickets for the elevator behind the Falls. I was psyched! So was Ruby! We were obviously delirious. I know you know, but it could not have been a worse move.

The ride down was had in relative calm. PJ had resumed her uncomfortable posture, though and Link was acting slightly agitated. When I held Penelope up to one of the viewing windows underground and she saw the water gushing down in torrents in front of her face, she gasped and was so clearly and beautifully wowed. The mood stuck. She held my hand gently and asked magical questions and let me love her.

Lincoln had lost his mind. The combination of the tight tunnels and cacophony of sound was the nail in his coffin.

We got out fast and hightailed it to the car. He was like a bucking bronco on meth as we put him in his car seat. He was screaming like a three year old crack baby beginning withdrawal. I suppose I don't need to mention that it was bad in our world at that moment. So bad.

At one point I released him from the car seat and let him flail in the openness of the minivan. That action and what proceeded were not proud parenting moments and I'll leave it at that. No one was hurt yet no one was unscathed.

Chris got out of the car with the girls and took a desperate detour to the Ripley's Believe it or Not! Museum and I took Link back to the hotel. I cranked the rearview mirror down so I could spy the twisted and miserable visage of my sweet baby boy. I asked him if he was hungry. He said yes.

We stumbled into Perkins clutching each other. As soon as we were handed menus he pointed to the picture of a plate of macaroni and chess and said "this". He sat on my lap to eat it. And he did so in complete silence. I sobbed into his downy head and hated everyone and everything. My son does not deserve a difficult life; difficult emotions and moments. He is a gift and he deserves the world. Right then, though, if he could talk in full thoughts and sentences, I believe he would have told me that the whole world and everything he could ever want was in that plate of pasta. Right then, he was happy again.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Niagra Falls. I mean fell. Part II

Having your husband enter your hotel room in the middle of the night after you thought (assumed) he was asleep in the room (bed) with you all along is a leeetle bit disconcerting.

Having your husband climb into bed smelling slightly boozy and whispering in your ear that he just won $400 at the casino clarifies things quite nicely.

It was a nice memory. That pre-dawn report of money won. It was nice. Nice and nicely shattered by the two young ones clamoring for breakfast at 7:30AM.

Hot husband was out cold. Comatose and curled up, swathed in the post-coital web of a successful night at the tables. And Ruby. Goddamnit! Can I be here? PLEASE? I mean, her without having to go to middle school again? All leggy and gorgeous. Sound asleep and draped across her bed like an offering to the gods of A SOLID NIGHT'S SLEEP.

Another glance around the room and it was clear that ding! ding! I was the winner of an early morning trip to Perkins restaurant. Turns out I won the shit out of breakfast: Eggs, blueberry muffins and three kinds of syrup can do that for a person. It also turns out that I didn't have to assassinate the waitstaff since the coffee was prompt, hot and damn good.

SO. Fast forward to the indoor waterpark. It was a gamble, sure. But as doubling down was the way we were rolling at the moment...

Ruby was gone in a flash. Waterslides? Check. Waterslides with tubes? Check. Hanging out with the family? No. Not even close.

It was really fun. For a about an hour. Link was so stoked for all the water. He stood at the edge of the little kid's area and did his best arm-twirling, mouth whooshing, leg tensing dance of approval till he felt big boy enough to climb the stairs and try the slide.

He's just incredible, internets. He is the most beautiful baby. And the two or three times he made it down the mini incline took my breath away to see him so happy. Then came the random-spouts-of-water-that-hit-smaller-than-average-three-year-olds-square-in-the-face part of the day. GAME OVER.

Had it been any other day, any other play-date and it would have been the end of the line for the girls, too. Lincoln is the priority. His emotional safety trumps all. But it wasn't any day it was this day and on this day I had my husband. My husband who lives and breathes this boy. He swooped in, dried his tears, squeezed him tight and bought him chips ("ipps") at the snack bar.

Then there were two. Me and the PJ. In the wave pool. FOR DAYS. Mama. Mama. Mama. Mama. MAMA! MAMA!. mama. mama. mama. Girlfriend can perseverate with the best of them.

We were traveling with a great, mellow family and my people's personal craziness was fully accepted and ingested with the gallons of over chlorinated pool water we were imbibing.

Really, to be honest, our first full day (and night) was a relative success.

Me and the hot husband didn't get to get down, we didn't get to the casino (or anywhere else) alone. But we did enjoy dinner with our friends (all 11 of us!), the girls didn't bicker and Link recovered nicely from the waterpark experience.

We went to bed happy AND we woke up happy the next morning. And we were psyched to take the kids to the Falls.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Niagra Falls (on its face) Part I

Ooof. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

Having children is hard; traveling with them is maniacal. Traveling with children who have emotional & sensory needs above and beyond the norm is SUICIDAL.

As if the 7 hour car ride wasn't enough of a deterrent. Whatever. We put three kids in a minivan at 2PM (naps be damned!) and hit the muthahumpin road to Ontario, bitches.

Penelope was predictable: Like an adorably quirky OCD cuckoo-clock, she asked every 20 minutes WHEN WILL WE BE THERE!?!?!?!

Ruby ate al the snacks I had procured in 17.9 minutes (a personal best).

I'm still processing the pit-stop for dinner at an Arby's somewhere near Binghamton.

And Link, sweet Link. My man held it together till hour 6. Then the wheels came off. And he burst into flames. And he ate our brains.

Going across the border was fun. The guard asked my husband if he was being punished and told me he'd sanction giving the children alcohol if we felt it was necessary.

Poor Link was out of his mind by the time we got to the hotel. Mercifully, he was asleep within minutes, the Hot Husband found mama a bottle of wine, himself a bottle of bourbon and the girls dialed Nickelodeon in on the TV.

We made it.

The shortest distance between two points

Lines: Boundaries, links, paths. Lines get drawn, crossed, smudged, broken, traced...

When I drive I take incredible (foolish) comfort in lines. I feel safe between the lines, strong and protected. I have my path, you have yours let's get where we're going and let's not die in horrific crashes along the way, ok?

When I drive I talk to the lines; pretty talk. I coax and cajole them to stay strong and straight. I tell them about their power and praise them for their obedience.

When I drive I think between those lines; I think about how I wish all the lines in my life were so stable, so solid and so loathe to be crossed.

When I drive I have conversations with all the people in my life who treat lines with disdain. People who cut and dismember them. People who sever connections, fail to recognize patterns and who swerve perilously, erratically and without pause INTO MY FUCKING LANE.

I am a good driver (regardless of the absolutely insane way I was taught to drive: USE THE TRANSMISSION TO SLOW THAT CAR DOWN, GIRL!) I color precisely between the lines. I have empathy and compassion and know how I got here and how I'm going to get... there.

My mother was in a car accident the other day and she landed square in my lap. I guess I don't need to mention how disorienting this was for me; for me and my lines.