Monday, December 31, 2007

Things Have Not Gone as Planned

I am not sure what is worse -- having to call 911 while speeding along on the highway because it looks like your baby is about to stop breathing, or having called 911, discovering all circuits are busy. Then calling back again and getting a busy signal. Then calling back AGAIN and finally getting someone on the line after maybe six minutes of waiting.

Short story: Went to Tahoe Saturday, by Sunday came back home due to Little A's worsening illness. It's a four-hour drive. Halfway home we decided we needed to go to our local children's hospital rather than home. One hour from home we realized Little A was rapidly deteriorating and we couldn't wait to go to the hospital we wanted. So we called 911, and were directed to the nearest ER. Since then she's been transported to the local children's hospital, since it's one of the best pediatric care units around. Little A has a bad case of pneumonia. That means Big A is spending New Year's Eve with her cousins in Sonoma while her father and I spend it with her little sister at the hospital.

Little A is tired and bewildered at all the poking and prodding. Especially the poking: that child has had TEN IV sticks so far because her veins are so teeny that the IVs keep blowing out. And while supplemental oxygen is her best friend right now, she keeps trying to rip off the masks and cannulas. After last night, shows of fiestiness make us feel great. I never thought I'd squeal with delight when my kid lobbed a bottle over my shoulder at frustration with being forced to wear a mask. Life is surprising that way.

At any rate, she is holding her own now, and after last night that's saying something. We are hopeful she'll be home again in just a couple more days.

More soon. I'm off to quickly shower and defoul myself before heading back to the hospital.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Have Yourself a Wheezy Little Christmas

At this moment I should be in a mountain cabin, drinking wine and resting after a day of playing in the snow with the kids. Alas, Little A came down with a cold that got progressively worse all week long. By Wednesday it was bad enough for DH to call the pediatrician's office and get blown off by the on-call physician, who felt we should just give her some Tylenol and wait it out. By Thursday morning Little A refused to play or eat and whimpered every time DH or I put her down. I called the pediatrician's office again and apparently sounded agitated/paranoid enough to score an appointment this time.

Little A was lethargic when I got her in the car to go to the pediatrician's office, but she sounded raspy and terrible by the time we arrived. As I undressed her for the exam, I noticed her arms and feet were the color of raw steak. We couldn't get a pulse ox reading due to equipment issues at first and abandoned that task in favor of giving her an albuterol treatment with the nebulizer right away.

My kids have both had occasional wheezing episodes with certain illnesses that required albuterol. Little children hate having a nebulizer mask over their face, but to me albuterol is an old friend. After just ten minutes a child who sounds like an rattly old air conditioner suddenly sounds clear. Magic nebulizer machine, magic drug!

Except not this time. After a full treatment, Little A still wheezed badly. The nurse set up another albuterol vial. Little A was so sick she wasn't even fighting the mask. The machine hissed, and my heart palpitated. Everyone was very professional in the office, but I caught the look between the nurse and the doctor, and I knew that if she didn't improve from this second treatment, Little A was probably going to the hospital right after this.

Thankfully as the second vial finished, Little A sounded better and had more normal skin color. Her pulse ox reading after two treatments alternated between 92 and 93. Not great (normal range is 96-100) but not in the holy-shit-dangerous range, either. Lord knows how low it was before the two treatments, but I suspect that had we got that first reading, she might be in the hospital right now based solely on that.

As it was, they monitored Little A at the pediatrician's office for another forty minutes and then sent us home with orders to give albuterol every two hours for the rest of the day. Little A is now also on oral prednisone and another inhaled steroid. If she wheezed again on all the new drugs, we were told to take her directly to the hospital. DH and I are exhausted from getting up in the middle of night to administer drugs on the proper schedule. But by this morning at the pediatrician's office, her oxygen saturation level was up to 96, which is a good sign that she is on the mend.

Unfortunately, a 96 percent oxygen saturation level isn't quite high enough for her doctor (or us) to feel comfortable going up to the very thin mountain air of our rental cabin several hundred miles from home. So today we stayed home instead of traveling. Poor Big A doesn't grasp how sick her sister was, and so was incredibly upset that she didn't get to see the snow as previously promised. We're hoping that we might get up to the cabin sometime tomorrow, if Little A improves further overnight. That would still give us a couple days in the snow. But either way, I'm just really thankful that if she had to get so sick, it could happen at the doctor's office, and not in a cabin (or car) in the middle of nowhere.

So if all goes well, I'll be in the snow tomorrow, not to return to the Bay Area until the holiday is over.

Happy New Year, everyone. Here's hoping that good things lie in store for all in 2008.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Back to the Sea

Two years ago tomorrow DH drove us wordlessly in the winter morning gloom, rain ricocheting off the car with an unrelenting ping, ping, ping. We parked on a street adjacent to the surgery center and waited until the last possible moment to go in. Sad as the world is round at not being able to fix our broken baby, we came down from our house on the hill to the hospital, came down from the lofty aspirations of parents to be, came down to an unthinkable, brutal place where all the outcomes were the same, and we could only say when or how. We came to the hospital in deep despair, but also in hope. We would curtail our baby's suffering by doing what we did that day. And we would reach out and grab hard at a shard of the dream that we might be able to go on, to try again, to have a healthy child someday. When it was time we got out of the car and trudged into the surgery center. The rain fell and fell, pooling in the streets where it drained down the storm sewers back to the sea.

Many women who end pregnancies when they discover something is profoundly wrong carry a picture of a healed, whole version of their children in their minds. They think of themselves as having delivered their babies from affliction, and see them as perfected now. This strikes me as lovely. But for better or worse, I have never been able to separate out the Trisomy 18 from the rest of my child. It was in every single cell, indivisible from the rest of the baby. It's just who she was. Yet while the trisomy changed so many things, the one thing it never muddied was my love for the baby. I loved her the same before we knew there was a problem as I did when I got the amnio results. I loved her the same when I scheduled the termination, and after. I loved her no differently than I loved my living children when they swam in my belly. At first this was a source of pain, the sameness of the love. But over the years the knowledge of it changed into a source of solace. I can live with what happened because I feel my motives in what I chose were good ones. And maybe that's the most grace and healing one can hope for in the end, when it comes to the death of a child.

Love you, baby girl. Miss you, too. Always.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Better Living Through Random Products

Has anyone else seen those ads on TV for the Dyson Air Blade?

Older Dyson ads always struck me as funny because of the way the earnest inventor tells you he spent years creating his high-tech masterpiece of a ... vacuum. Hundreds of prototypes, untold vacations and episodes of What Not to Wear missed, all in the name of reinventing an appliance that, as far as I can see, works reasonably fine in its cheaper, more technologically outdated, non-Dyson version. It takes a special combination of brains and passion for cleaning to make something like this. To then explain the details of invention in such excruciating detail in TV ads makes it obvious that Dyson truly believes you too have been suffering over inefficient vacuum suckage all of your life.

And now James Dyson is back with another product I didn't realize needed improvement: rest room hand dryers. Or as Dyson dubs it, the Air Blade. He says the problem with other hand dryers is that people would rather wipe their hands on their pants than use them. So inefficient! So unhygienic! Dyson, random appliance messiah, to the rescue!

At first I couldn't figure out why the Air Blade was being advertised on prime time cable TV. It is a product made for public restrooms, which the average television viewer has no part in outfitting with new equipment. But then I realized that selling the Air Blade is likely only half the point for Dyson. Those ads are a public service announcement for fellow OCD sufferers like himself.

I can only assume he'll be bringing us a nose vacuum (aka Kleenex 2.0) next year.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Oh My Darling Clementine

Today is one of those days where I'm trying to edit a chapter, talk to an author about some delicate matters related to his book, order two birthday cakes, complete a pile of preschool re-enrollment paperwork for Big A, buy enough booze and soft drinks for brunch with 20 people, pick up the girls from daycare/school, drop off a coffee urn my friend is borrowing for a holiday party, address and mail two-dozen holiday cards, clean the house from top to bottom, and finish decorating for Christmas -- all while doing the usual usual dinner/play/bath/bedtime ritual with the girls.

So, it's a little crazy. Yet I've had an extra bounce in my step as I've hustled around today because of the news that Beruriah's big boy Samuel is safely in her arms today. Yay, baby Samuel!

As might be guessed by my to-do list, we're having a party this weekend. A combined bash for DH and Little A, whose birthdays are only 4 days apart. Last year on DH's birthday he got the present of bringing Little A home for the hospital for the first time. She was so teeny, cute, and jaundiced that I called her my little clementine, after the petite orange citrus that comes into season each December.

Here we were, just home from the hospital, looking worn out and sleepy:

And here is my Baby A now, full of vim and (sweet, maybe balsamic?) vinegar, fighting with her sister over who gets to break the tree ornaments first:

Ah. Life is good here. Really, really good.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

An Amusing Month So Far

Big A: "Mommy, is Santa going to bring me presents?"

Wabi: "Sure, as long as you're a good girl. Santa gives toys as a reward to good children. But really, really naughty kids get coal."

Big A, incredulous: "He's gonna give me a COLD?"

Wabi: "No, not a cold, coal. It's a kind of rock."

Big A: "He's gonna give me COLD ROCKS?"

Saturday, December 8, 2007


Thanks, Complicated Mama, (aka Whatthef*uck) at Letters to the Babies that Lived, for tagging me for the Blogher Me and Mine Meme 100. Soooo let's see if I can follow the meme directions on 4.5 hours sleep without screwing up ....

1) My blog is called Wabi-Sabi Life, I'm Wabi, and my ridiculously bare about-me page can be found here. Really, the blurb on my sidebar sums it up best: Lost one baby, almost lost another, and nearly died myself -- all in less than a year. Just trying to walk the line between dwelling on it too much and ignoring it altogether. I vascillate between parent-oriented posts, prochoice-type rants about the undercover-nature of pregnancy termination for medical reasons, and discussions about my grief over what happened to me and the baby I lost.

2) Sure, I'd like to be profiled as a family blogger on Blogher, here's the linkback to the orignal post on this ...

3) I've been blogging for nine months.

4) Bloggers I'd like to tag are Labor Nurse at Rebirthnurse, Patty at Monday Changed Everything, and Meg at The-Para-graph.


Me and Mine Meme 100 Directions:

    1.) State the name of your blog, your real name or your online name, and link to your "about me" page.
    2.) Say you want to be profiled on BlogHer as a family blogger and link back to this Me and Mine 100 original post,
    3.) Tell how long you've been blogging.
    4.) Pass this meme on to three other bloggers that you think should be profiled/interviewed, and ask them to do the meme. (Kindly link to the bloggers you select.)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Drafting a Letter for the Holiday Cards ...

Dear Family and Friends,

Happy Holidays! I know, I know, long time no holiday letter from us. But life has been rather crazy in the past few Decembers. As some of you know,
because I told you, although only 1 out of 5 of you bothered to respond to the news in any way, so I am making a point of saying it again in December 2005 we were reeling from a pregnancy loss and just couldn't get the cards out. Oh, and family? It was a termination for medical reasons. My baby had a fatal genetic disorder, and I felt this was the best choice. But I couldn’t tell all you Catholic relatives this, because you’d have responded so poorly. Then last December, happier circumstances a terrifying pregnancy filled with illness and preterm labor culminating in uterine rupture left the cards unmailed again, because we were scrambling to care for Little A, who arrived earlier than planned.

Little A has thrived this year. She left the hospital weighing 4 pounds, 13 ounces because she shoved her feet through a scar on my uterus at 35 weeks and had to come out via stat C section before I bled to death and now weighs over 21 pounds. She looks just like DH, and is sweet natured like him, too. And Big A? She maintains her dramatic personality but now beyond the toddler years, she has mellowed into quite the funny and charming preschooler the neighbors no longer ask if we are torturing her because the tantrums are so loud. She is usually a very kind big sister, even when the baby eats her artwork or yanks her ponytail.

I took off the first six months after Little A’s arrival and am now back to work part time. I started writing a blog that none of you will likely ever know about, too. DH continues animating the _____ game franchise at _____. We still live in our little 1950s house in Oakland and have been renovating bit by bit. This year we got new kitchen countertops and replaced all the windows and exterior doors. Next year, if we get our do-it-yourself mojo back, we will tackle building a window bench for the corner breakfast nook.

And that’s about it. Hey, did I mention that after the uterine rupture I can’t have kids anymore? I guess it was an ordinary year in many respects, but after the past few Decembers, ordinary feels extraordinarily good! We are grateful to have a quiet holiday this year, and dearly hope that 2007 was a gentle, happy year for you all. And if it wasn’t a great year and you don’t have it in you to send out the delusionally perky holiday cards, don’t worry. We get that, too.

Best Wishes to All. – W.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Possibly Bad News

Going through old email today looking for an address for a holiday card, I happened across a reply someone sent me to a message titled "possibly bad news." And I realized by the date stamp that two years ago today, I received my crappy NT scan and maternal serum screening combined results. Two years ago today, I was sitting at this same desk working (with my gestating baby's last ultrasound pic up as my computer wallpaper, no less) when the perinatologist called to say my baby had a one in five shot at having either T18 or T13.

Hanging up the phone that day, I had absolutely no idea how badly everything would go after that. I had not yet done any research on trisomies 18 and 13, hadn't had to make any difficult choices yet. I didn't know that if it turned out to be a worst-case scenario diagnosis, that it didn't guarantee me an ok ride the rest of the way after that either, that there would be horrible and serious complications in the termination itself that would permanently alter the course of future pregnancies. Finally, it would have been completely outlandish, the idea that just a year later my uterus would give out and rupture. If that had been my fortune, I'd have squinted at the soothsayer and laughed. Who has so many worst-case scenarios happen in a row like that? How many times does probability just have to let you know you are its bitch?

And then just as suddenly, I was no longer probability's bitch. Little A was ok despite her early birth and the uterine rupture. Aside from being unable to have more kids, I'm ok too.

But I realized upon seeing that "Possibly Bad News" email that I still have absolutely no idea where to file that year of hell that started with the crappy NT results in 2005 and ended with a crash C section for Little A in 2006. I don't understand why everything went so wrong. Perhaps even more strange, I can't really grasp how it finally went right, either. Is God benevolent? Or is God a mean girl/queen bee, whipping me around at whim.

I'm grateful, but utterly confused. No answer I can fashion does the questions formed in 2005-2006 justice.

So I cried at seeing the old email, but it wasn't very cathartic, just a few strangled sobs. I feel like I've got rock salt and dirty snow slushing around in my chest and now I have to run off and pick up the girls from preschool/daycare. Hopefully I won't look like too much of a basket case when I do it.