Monthly Archives: November 2007

The Final Countdown

Because it seems incomprehensible that I could be pregnant until 40 weeks, and beyond possibility that I could go even further, this pregnancy now has a maximum time limit of 27 days from today.

Perhaps for that reason, or perhaps because my friend and I played much 1980’s Trivial Pursuit in Josh’s absence, I have had Europe’s 1986 single “The Final Countdown” stuck in my head for going on 24 hours. I don’t actually know much about 1980s pop culture, I realized, except inexplicably in the news category. I apparently paid far more attention to politics than anything else as a kid, because if the answer was Lloyd Bentsen or Nicolae Ceausescu, I was set. Just don’t ask me anything about Debra Winger or Def Leppard.

If I were doing blog mimicry, and representing Niobe, this post would have stopped simply with a YouTube video.

For being fairly unconscious of the world outside my Lego collection for most of the 1980s, I have strong memories of certain events. Many of them are not even remotely accurate – a good argument against oral history that tries to do much beyond explore memory. For example, the execution of Ceasescu, in my memory, happened at precisely the same time as a wall fell in Germany, which is not so off, but did you know that the Romanian dictator’s worst crime was scooping out his enemy’s eyeballs with a spoon? And that around the time he and his children were being executed by communists, reporters from NBC were taking the first tour ever of the Hermitage? And of course there was Oliver North and the return of our “hometown hero” from his stint as a hostage in Lebanon, heralded for me by a field trip to an airport populated by cheerleaders and high school bands. Such would be the story if we trusted a little girl from the midwestern US to tell it.

Every such story needs a soundtrack: a crazed medley of The Final Countdown plus Scorpion’s Winds of Change. Which about captures the nature of my memories of the period. I was old enough to realize, and people were constantly telling me, that we were living through significant times – times of great change. But as for what was changing, I hadn’t a clue. It’s a blurry mess in my mind, characterized by loud music and tears for a past I hadn’t experienced and a future I wasn’t even imagining.

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Rewriting History

A very close friend of mine said yesterday that she hopes at some point I’ll be able to look back on this pregnancy somewhat fondly.

I said I hope so too, and sure enough, it is possible.

Last evening, I drove myself to the yarn store (yay! for increased activity). I spotted in the back seat, an artifact from earlier days in the pregnancy. A pink bucket from one of our many early visits to L&D, kept there just in case my morning sickness became motion sickness. And, without qualification, I laughed at the memories. I guess, if I’m honest, it was more of a, “phew, I’m so glad that’s over,” than a, “Oh what happy times,” laugh, but it was there none the less.


We have a new reason for this baby to wait a bit longer to be born. Our digital camera broke, and we’re awaiting the arrival of its replacement via Ebay. Otherwise I’d put up a link to my growing collection of crochet projects.

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Who’d have thought it?

I look no closer to labor this week than last week! No pressure on the cerclage, no dilation. I am so relieved, and somewhat in shock. It looks like this baby will be born at TERM. I don’t think I ever imagined I would actually make it.

I’ve probably said this before many times here, but I didn’t allow myself to actually think this could work. I comforted myself with the thought that we were truly doing everything. But to think that I could actually carry to 37 weeks or beyond? I’m living in surreality.

I lived for 21 weeks or so after learning I was pregnant again, with terror at the thought that my baby could easily die. After 25 weeks, I prepared myself to accept the responsibility for having gotten pregnant again knowing my own history. I tried to grasp the profundity of risks to which I was consciously and voluntarily subjecting my child. I thought a lot about how if I gave birth to a child who suffered because of his prematurity, that it would be no accident, but because I had dared to take this chance. At 30 weeks, when survival seemed likely, I still feared he would die if born, but also feared more tangibly the prospect of months in the NICU, and still worried over the risks of prematurity-related disabilities. I knew we could and would handle the demands of a special-needs child, yet I dared to have hope we would make it to 34. And here we are at 35w 4d with no sign of labor. It will be a surprise now if I don’t make it to 37 weeks. Not only are chances very great that I will bring this baby home eventually, but it’s most likely that I will get to bring him home right after he is born. Of course I know it’s not guaranteed, but the risks of my own personal history are gone. Clinically, I am at “normal” risk levels now.

And I am happy. Yet even still I feel guilty. Guilty that I’m trying to be ready to welcome this little guy home, rather than caring for Natan. Rather than visiting doctors and therapists and acclimating him to the world. I have no delusions that a baby born as early as he was, had he survived, would not have faced incredible challenges. But not knowing how severe they would have been, I would prefer he was alive. Instead, he’s buried in a plot in a cemetery and we will be moving away in less than a year. Instead, I’m sitting here contemplating the birth of his brother, and grateful that he’ll have an easier time. Again, no promises, but chances are. I feel Natan’s absence profoundly. My peace at having made it so far with his brother doesn’t change that. Nor does it change that I would rather have him here. Or erase the trauma of losing him. I still, even though the risk is gone for this baby, play over Natan’s birth in my mind, wondering if anything could have been done differently, wishing it had gone differently. I am so grateful I don’t have to worry about any of that with this baby, but I feel an intangible guilt, as if I’ve gotten off too easily this time.

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Good for me

I loaded the dishwasher today. Very exciting. I am still on a reduced activity/modified bed rest routine but it’s getting ever more difficult to restrain my desire to clean and arrange. Not to say that Josh isn’t doing very well at doing everything, but I still want to clean the bathroom, the kitchen, the walls, the blinds, and rearrange drawers and closets that don’t really need it.

If I have the cerclage removed on Wednesday, Josh’s mom is driving up on Thursday to be with me while he’s at the conference. Thinking about labor reminds me – Mary is being induced tonight. Think of her, her husband, and their new little boy.

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Featured post

Everyone should read Julia’s post today. Even my non-grieving readers.

Well, everyone should always read Julia’s posts everyday, but I wanted to point it out in particular today.

At your convenience

Back to our regularly scheduled posting…Fine doctor’s appointment this afternoon. We had a fetal NST because I didn’t feel him much this morning but once again he revealed that he moves quite a bit more than I can feel. Sometimes he gets himself in a position where I can really feel his movement, sometimes not. I will be so glad when there’s no longer a placenta blocking him from me (and all that other stuff too). Which might be very soon.

Dr. K said that if she feels any tension or if I have dilated at all at next week’s appointment (Wednesday, 10am) she will remove the cerclage and take me off nife.dipine right then and there! Otherwise we will wait until the following Tuesday.  We of course have no idea what will happen in either case, but I could be in labor a week from right now. Ack.

That’d actually be okay. It’d be better than labor over that following weekend because unfortunately Josh has to be at a conference in New Orleans then. Bad timing, we know, but it’s unavoidable, he has to go. We have, if I still have the cerclage in and am on the nife.dipine, arranged for a friend to stay with me over the weekend. Not sure what we’re going to do if the cerclage comes out and the drugs stop. Clearly Dr. K is right that the cerclage needs to come out if it’s at risk. So we think we’re going to ask his mom to come in that case. My mom, as well meaning as she may be, would not be the best partner during labor. She does not do well around blood or with pain, and really, really thinks that every woman should just have a c-section. As does my sister. Josh’s mom is more laid-back and had asked anyway a while ago if she could be there. I said no then – I’d prefer just Josh be there – but we shall see. I know we had discussed doulas here, but after a lot of thought I decided I’d really rather just be with loved ones beyond the medical personnel. Especially now that I’m going to definitely be at New Hospital, I feel extremely comfortable with the hospital staff.

We shall see. Hopefully this baby won’t decide to arrive during Josh’s 48-hour absence.

What could be funnier than a crocodile who works at a zoo?

I need a break from posting about pregnancy and paranoia. I promised months ago a posting about my favorite cartoon characters, Cheburashka and Gena. I forget what I wanted to say and why I wanted to say it. A description of them alone wouldn’t be very interesting so I’ll tell you about them in a personal context.

A bit over five years ago, just a couple of months after returning to the country from Israel and a few weeks after starting graduate school, I decided one Saturday evening to attend a party hosted by other grad students. It happened to be the night before Yom Kippur would begin. It had been a long time–a very, very long time–since I’d attended such a party. The loud music, drinking and heterosociability had become foreign to me during my residence in a religious community in Israel, but after a glass of wine or two I relaxed, remembered and started having fun. I spent most of the early part of the evening avoiding a business school student who wanted to babble at me about something. I wasn’t interested enough to admit I could hardly hear a word he said. I kept excusing myself, only to have him find me again. Finally, I escaped to the kitchen and got myself involved enough in a conversation with another student from my department, who I’ll call Chuck even though he’s a friend and I’m sure he would hate that. Chuck and I were talking about I don’t remember what although I know it was interesting. At some point I noticed a cute guy in a glasses and a green sweater standing next to us, looking anxious. I stopped and asked if he wanted to say something. He replied, “Uh, yeah, I think you’re standing in front of the bottle opener.” He wanted a beer. He has since said he wasn’t hitting on me, but I remember feeling like those were the best first words anyone had ever spoken to me. Given that the guy was Josh, though, I turned out to be right.

I don’t actually remember how we got from that first moment to the rest of the night. I know we hung out until past 3am, and that I paid very dearly for that during Yom Kippur. Exhaustion and fasting are a bad combination. At some point, the whole affair was almost ruined. We were on the porch of the house, and he went inside to get drinks (I think) and when he came back, I was buried on the couch we’d been sitting on by the department drunk, a very proud Polish guy who’s actually really from Boston. Josh wasn’t impressed. Fortunately I managed to ask him to help get the other guy off me, as we weren’t making out – he’d passed out while talking and fallen over. After he woke up, he began trying to say vulgar things to me in Russian (why I don’t know – I never claimed to know Russian), but according to Josh was just making an incomprehensible mess of the whole thing.

What on earth does this have to do with a cartoon? Nothing, really. Except that Cheburashka reminds me of the very happy, very early days of our relationship. Not so long after that night, we got talking about language acquisition – still a popular topic for us. We must have been talking about watching television in our second languages, because one of us began talking about a cartoon about a funny little creature unknown to science. I remember saying, “wait a minute, and does he have a friend, Gena, who’s a crocodile who works at a zoo but at night goes home and reads philosophy books?” Josh knew it well. And we laughed hysterically over the brilliance. I’d had no idea it was a Soviet-era Russian cartoon. I’d seen it translated into Hebrew and watched it on late-night television in my early days in the country. We got the DVD, spent a wonderful night watching it, and ever since it has been in my mind, our cartoon. Other people have songs or places. For me, we have a cartoon. Never mind that we share it with millions of Russian and Hebrew speakers around the world. Cheburashka and Gena are ours.

I’m willing to share a little bit of them with you all though.

Crocodile Gena has a song, about a rainy day and his birthday. Here it is in Hebrew: Crocodile Gena’s Song I’ll translate only if someone really wants me to.

When I was in Moscow well over a year ago now, I wanted something Cheburashka. I settled on a matryoshka, pictured below, during the first afternoon I was brave enough to not only venture out on my own, but to venture into stores I hadn’t been in already with Josh. When I became pregnant the first time, Josh bought a Crocodile Gena toy, which is right now hanging over what will hopefully be the baby’s changing area. I’ve been waiting a long time for that and it is to the far right in the photo.


I hope this baby gets the chance to get as much fun out of them as we do.

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34 weeks looming

I am not even considering the blog challenge to post every day in November, because the fact that it is November 2nd and I’ve already missed a day is not a good omen for success.

I am spent. Even as physically this week has been fine, emotionally I am exhausted. Worrying. I have so many thoughts going through my mind that I can only stare at the computer screen, and write long rambling paragraphs as I try to work through my feelings. I decided not to subject you to them – if only because I really have no idea how I am feeling right now.

I am worried because it has now been almost ten months since Natan died and it’s looking like I’m not going to wake up and find out it was a nightmare. This is my life and the world has moved on.

We’re reaching two major milestones at the moment. First, we spent yesterday afternoon and evening, well into the night, making space in this apartment for a potential homecoming. Not too much has changed, and if disaster occurs, we won’t need to undo anything. We packed up stuff that we won’t need before we move again this summer and we moved furniture just in case we need room for a crib. But if not, it can just stay where it is. We put a very mobile chair in the spot where the crib could go. When I say “we” I obviously mean Josh with me watching. I had marked November 1 as the day I’d be willing to make arrangements for a possible baby in the house – figuring that I could really go at any moment now with the baby possibly needing only a short NICU stay, and then it would be seriously difficult to make room for him here. We have very, very few baby items on hand – 20 BumGenius diapers, some clothing Kate brought us, the blankets I crocheted and a hat – but there will be space for more if the time comes. And then of course we are 12.5 hours away from 34 weeks.

We had to move Natan’s box from the armoire where it had been living to re-install the changing table part. Thrice mused the other day that she is not sure how to respond to the coincidence of my grief for Natan and this pregnancy. She is right that I’m upset if people don’t acknowledge my first son. I can’t really respond as to how I want people to act or what I want them to say. I know I am deeply grateful for friends who do say his name, and talk about him. I know I am angry with those who don’t – but I am not angry simply because they don’t. In those cases there’s history beyond it. I appreciate so much all the love and compassion I’ve received, and if some of it is sometimes imperfect, I’m okay with that. Some days I want and need to speak about him, his life, his birth, his death, and some days I cannot. Friends and family and blogreaders are somewhat required, I guess, to walk a careful line with me, and I love those who are willing to try.

One thing that’s apparent, however, is that while this pregnancy is healing me, that healing is incomplete. I can only imagine the safe birth of this baby will bring more incomplete healing. It will heal the terrible fear I have that my body is incompetent to nurture a child. It will heal the terrible fear that I may need to learn to live life without living children. But my ache for Natan is still overwhelming. For a short while, I found his pictures, his footprints comforting. Right now I am overwhelmed, by an ache for him, by sadness and continuing shock over what happened and the sight of his box brings a mixture of pain and love.

I am worried. Worried that people will think this baby’s birth erases Natan. Worried about dealing with a grandparent who has never acknowledged his first grandson but who constantly wants updates on this pregnancy. I am worried because that makes me feel like an incubator, and a broken one at that. I am worried that something will still go wrong. I am worried that something preventable will go wrong and I will miss the signs.

I am worried because we are headed towards some inevitable conclusion and I have no idea yet what it will bring.

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