mama's pregnant blog

of bellies and belly-achin'

From BabyCenter:Your baby now weighs about three-quarters of a pound and is approximately 10 1/2 inches long. His eyebrows and eyelids are fully developed. And you can certainly feel him move. He's oblivious to your schedule, though, so don't be surprised if he starts working out just when you're settling down for the night. If you're having a girl, her vagina is formed now, though it will continue to develop until birth.

2005.01.02 we lose a grandma and an aunt

Today was one of those days that should be rated NPW (no pregnant women). Do you think it would be possible to just skip over certain days of your life to make things easier on your child's brain development? I should have spent today locked up in an aromatherapy chamber with no contact to the outside world.

It hadn't started easily, what with leaving Jonathan at the Seattle airport and getting only three hours of sleep before I had to awake and drive his battle buddy to his Portland port of call. I had just settled down to a fitful sleep when Jonathan called to say he'd arrived in Oklahoma City and would be taking a bus, immediately, to the base. He loved me and missed me, and I could hear it in his voice.

I had all but decided I would skip church and sleep in blessedly late when the phone rang again. I picked it up and Matt was already talking with his sister Erin. I heard, "...they just took her away..." through tears and I hung up. I assumed that they were talking about their Mom, and she'd been taken to a "home" - she'd been assigned a hospice in-home nurse the previous Monday, as she'd been doing badly.

20 minutes later Matt came upstairs to tell me the real news - mom had died. Those of you who read all my blogs know that she'd been dealing with cancer since, well, as long as I'd known her. Probably five years in total. The cancer had started in her breasts, and been cured, then resurfaced, moving around her body, landing in her hips most recently, and spreading from there. We'd been prepared that she wouldn't last through 2005, and things had been getting steadily worse, but she had seemed somewhat stablized with the hospice care and we'd imagined she would live several more months.

While I've talked much about my general feelings towards her - anger would be the best word - I certainly wasn't eager for her to die. And most certainly, I wasn't eager for it to happen while my husband was flying across the country to return to his last two weeks of basic training. Instantly our lives - mine, my husband's, Everett's, my two brothers-in-law, and all the rest - were thrown into chaos.

Over his "Christmas exodus," Jonathan had left specific instructions with his sister and one of his uncles (who both live in the house where mom was being cared for) as to who to call and what to do if his mother either took a sudden and definite turn for the worse (i.e., doctors saying she had days to live) or she died. So I started calling around to find out if, indeed, Jonathan's base had been contacted to get the message to him. His brothers had no clue whatsoever and commenced getting drunk, along with my least favorite "family" member - Michael's fiancee, Holly.

His sister, Betsy, the organized one who always knows everything, didn't know. His sister Erin, the chaotic one, couldn't be reached. His great-uncle Lorrie, the mean chintzy one who didn't seem all that sad about the death, answered me with an, "like we can find it now!" So I started looking for numbers. I found a base number that seemed appropriate - Family Emergency Services - and left a long, confused message on the impersonal machine.

A few hours later, after agonizing over this and watching Holly turn from the annoying overbearing person she is normally to a raging selfish violent drunk, Jonathan called. Of course, I was the first to tell him, he seemed so quiet and sad when he called that I thought he already knew. But he had just been processing leaving me and returning to the military. He'd be "stepping" to a three-day field training exercise the next morning at 3:30 a.m. He couldn't believe it, and proceeded to find the right phone numbers for me.

An hour later, I was on the phone with the Red Cross' military emergency person, giving him the details so the Commander would be contacted and informed, and Jonathan could request leave for the funeral, which had been scheduled for Friday morning (although no hospital or funeral home was involved, leaving me to give the Red Cross people Jonathan's great-uncle's phone number). Now, we just had to figure out how to get everyone - me, the brothers, Everett, and Jonathan - to Las Vegas by Friday morning. Unfortunately, we were all broke. Luckily, I was to be paid on Wednesday for my first month's work - work which would be interrupted, again.

Michael and Matt, midst dealing with Holly, who wouldn't leave the house so the brothers could talk in peace. She threatened to give back her ring. She insisted they go to the local dirty bar, then got mad when the bartender hugged Michael.

The day ended with Jonathan calling right before bed to ask me to make all the flight arrangements, figure everything out, and Holly falling asleep in the basement after punching her fiance in the neck and arguing for an hour with her brother-in-law to be. All in front of pregnant me and poor neglected Everett.

More than anything, I didn't want to interrupt Jonathan's impending graduation - less than two weeks away. I wanted him to graduate, wanted him to finish something, wanted him to be a success. And I didn't want family guilt to stop it.

I fell asleep angry, sad, worried, stressed. I apologized to little Truman for all I was putting him through. And again, I hugged Everett as tight as I could.

2005.01.04 a blur

Two days of frantic work, phone calls, trying to get ahead, pay bills, figure things out, not yell at my grief-stricken but typically helpless brothers-in-law. We have decided that the four of us - Matt, Michael, Everett and myself - will drive the 20-some-hour trip to Las Vegas, I've determined we should go straight through, leaving tomorrow afternoon. I've tried to work the money situation out and can barely afford to pay the bereavement fare for Jonathan to fly to Las Vegas. He'll have to request a grant, or loan, from the Army Emergency Services, himself. I talked to him once today, he called from his drill sergeant's cell phone in the mud and chaos of his FTX.

All through it, Truman is kicking like crazy, doing his little somersault thing, strong as can be. I keep apologizing, but it seems that he doesn't mind much. He just keeps on kicking.

2005.01.05-06 18 hours, 35 minutes

After working out all our financial issues, scanning and sending Jonathan's pay stubs, orders and flight details to his drill sergeant, commissioning my dad to come in and fix the car window, again, so it wouldn't be three inches down the whole trip, packing like I was drugged, and emailing everyone who HAD to know to say I'd be out of email for the next five days, barely remembering to pack some prenatal vitamins and making some delicious bagel-cream cheese-veggie sandwiches, I took the wheel of my car and started my stop watch.

At about 9 hours 30 minutes, I handed the wheel to my chewing tobacco-fueled brother-in-law and fell into a half-sleep in the back seat next to Everett. While my body was relatively comfortable, my belly wasn't, and I kept waking up to try to help prop Everett's head or my belly up.

We stopped a little before 5 a.m. for gas and I woke up, and so did Everett. He insisted on coming in with me to get potato chips - "Limon" flavor. We must have been in Bakersfield, or Barstow, or something. We'd gone nearly 900 miles already. I felt capable of driving the rest of the way, and put Michael to sleep in the back seat.

For the next hour, Everett and I talked as we drove through the gorgeous predawn of the Mojave Desert. It was so quiet, so calm, and the sun was casting the barest hint of light into the sky ahead, onto the mountains all around. I could barely see the silouettes of Joshua trees near the road as we raced through. Everett demanded that I change his diaper, now, so I pulled over on the side of the nearly-empty road and changed him as he stood on his seat.

Soon Everett was asleep, too, and as the sky became more pink and the clouds more purple, I started feeling a strange pain in the top of my belly. It wasn't normal, but it wasn't especially severe. I talked under my breath to the baby, who didn't seem to notice anything wrong in his little home.

After the sun came up, we stopped in Death Valley for coffee at the Mad Greek, which was, indeed, crazy. I was a little buzzed on lack of sleep, caffeine, and eagerness to see my husband again. By the time we pulled into the driveway in Henderson, Nevada, it was about 10 a.m., 18 hours and 35 minutes after having left.

The rest of the day was barely a memory, as I waited for Jonathan to arrive at the airport and kept Everett - well-rested after more than 12 hours of sleep - entertained and away from the oodles of breakables. By the time I picked Jonathan up, most everyone was drunk, again, and chaos reigned in the particular way it does in the family. My grandmother-in-law had planned the funeral - no music, no remembrances, no ashes, no personality - without any consultation or thought of Barbara's children (in my mind, the most injured parties and the ones who most deserved their way). They were angry, and wanted to say words about her, to get the ashes to the church. But there was no way of arguing with Grandma, who simply went to bed, and no way of getting the ashes by the 10 a.m. service. Jonathan decided we should take Michael and Matthew back to the hotel room with us, but fortunately, his brothers had the good sense to decline and take their rightful place on Grandma's couch.

We drove the 25 miles to our hotel/casino (the only one available in the overbooked-for-CES town) in Jean, Nevada. We waited for 15 minutes, laden with bags and child desperate to play with some of the forbidden "games" nearby, while they figured out that they had made my reservation under "Dilbert." (they suck, hmmm?) They didn't seem to care that I was pregnant and cranky. We put Everett to bed and spent an hour or so enjoying our hard-won time to ourselves. Despite the sadness, stress, craziness, drunkeness, and family tension - it was fantastic. We fell asleep easily in our casino bed.

2005.01.07-08 in which everything is changed, changed utterly

We woke up early the morning of the funeral, but still were late. It snowed, in Las Vegas, of all places. Neither of us had gotten directions to the church and I had to run to our room and then wait in the snow as Jonathan returned from his detour to get treats for Everett (gatorade and doughnuts). Thanks to the funeral's coincidence with the peak of the Consumer Electronics Show, traffic was terrible. We arrived at the church 20 minutes late, and wet from the snow, which had now turned to rain.

We got there just in time for the end of the "homily" preached by a man none of Barbara's kids had ever met. Almost immediately, Everett started being silly, spitting at me and then hitting me when I shushed him. So I spent the rest of the funeral, oddly enough, in the crypt room at the back of the church (where, I believe, ashes were stored), trying to keep Everett from climbing up the spiral staircase that was in the room.

The reception was brief and strange; Barbara's husband, my evil step-father-in-law, left almost immediately. Good riddance, we all thought, hoping he would never call or write again. A few family members and friends asked about little Truman and fussing over Everett's cuteness (as he stuffed chocolate cake into his little mouth - who has time to worry about a toddler's diet during a time like this?).

We returned to grandma's house, the whole crazy group of us, and tensions were already high and getting higher. There would be an official "wake" that evening and it was like we were all waiting to be released from some terrible detention. I sat for a few hours in the living room with Grandma and Great-uncle Everett (my favorite and the kindest, most generous member of the extended family, little Everett's namesake). Jonathan came in to read part of his eulogy - the one no one would let him perform - to Uncle, and as he cried through it, I cried too, for his mom, for him, for my boys who would have only one set of grandparents.

There was a movement among the kids to split up a large box of mom's photos and memorabilia, in the living room where I was sitting with Everett, trying to keep him entertained and work through my growing feeling of general cruddiness. I chalked it up to stress, lack of sleep, and terrible diet, but my belly kept hurting and I kept feeling worse. Sitting down on the floor was difficult, and I was more than angry when my stressed husband asked me to take Everett away, as his whining was getting to him. What about me, I thought. Everett had wet through his diaper and the only pair of pants I'd thought to bring with me from the hotel. He'd drenched his shoes in the puddles at church. I took him, wrapped in his star blankie, to Kohl's up the street and proceeded to buy several pairs of pants, a pack of socks, some new shoes, and a couple of new maternity tops. For some reason, chasing him around Kohl's, struggling to get his new clothes on him before they'd even been purchased, was beyond my limit and it was all I could do not to break down in tears in the middle of the junior's section as I wrestled the shoes onto his feet. I felt so abandoned, but how could I be angry with all Jonathan was going through?

By the time I returned, things were going from bad to worse. The parcelling of the memorabilia had been cancelled amid too many lost tempers. The brothers were all drunk, and so was Barbara's brother, Uncle Donny, whose out-of-control abuse of my husband was the last straw. He said his goodbyes - he'd be leaving at 10:30 the next morning and we wouldn't have time to stop back by - tearfully, and at the last minute he packed up the brothers, too (who I was supposed to pick up the next morning after dropping Jonathan off at the airport for our trip home). We were all going back to our roomy-but-not-for-four-adults hotel room.

I was still feeling cruddy, and when Jonathan kicked out the brothers so we could spend some time alone, I didn't want to do anything like what we'd done the night before. I laid down with him and Everett (who'd fallen asleep early) and almost fell asleep, but couldn't. The pain had started to bother me, now, and was bad enough that I couldn't find a comfortable way to lie. It was about 11 p.m. I told Jonathan how it felt, and he told me, "you had so many scares with Everett, they all turned out to be nothing, I'm sure this is nothing, too."

But, as I told him as he tried to drift off to sleep, this wasn't nothing. This wasn't anything like any part of my pregnancy or labor with Everett. This was a somewhat severe pain on the top of my uterus - not contractions, not Braxton-Hicks, nothing in my back, nothing on the sides of my uterus (where the intestines often kick up some nasty gas pain), not the muscular soreness. This was really quite uncomfortable.

I decided to call a hospital. The labor and delivery nurses always were helpful at Good Samaritan Hospital when I would call them with problems during my pregnancy, labor and delivery of Everett. I picked out the University Medical Center, which seemed respectable, and was immediately told that I wasn't getting any advice from them, it was come in or nothing.

As I called, my brothers-in-law came back in. It was about midnight, and Jonathan was mostly asleep, telling me that I was fine, he was sure, I just needed to lie down and relax. For a minute, I tried to, but that made the pain worse and suddenly I knew this was bad. Very bad.

I called down to the front desk, asked which was the nearest hospital. They were so unconcerned I felt a little panic set in, and said the nearest one was 20-some miles away in Vegas. Any thoughts of calling an ambulance were discarded - I can only imagine how long it would have taken an ambulance to get to Jean, Nevada, from god knows which nearby hospital.

Thank God for my brothers-in-law, who were wide awake despite their grief and could recognize that I was not making this pain up. They somehow aroused Jonathan from his slumber and insisted that I not hold Everett any more, who was now crying for mama, awake and feeling the heightened stress of the room.

Somehow, we packed up the bare essentials, Everett, the brothers, and my husband, and got on I-40. No one had any idea where this hospital was, except for me - I'd glanced at the map in the phone book and had seen that it was very near the freeway. I'd taken the page out of the book, but couldn't find it now. The pain was getting worse, so much so that I started breathing the short breaths of the very-much-in-pain, and couldn't finish sentences. We were going 100 mph on the dark Las Vegas freeway and the only thing I could think about that was: we'd better not get pulled over, I couldn't stand to wait the eternity while a cop walked from his car to ours. I was starting to imagine insisting that Jonathan just keep going were a cop to pick us as a target. But, as usual on I-40, there were no cops.

Jonathan kept asking where the hospital was in his sleepy stress, my brothers-in-law were suggesting we should stop and ask. No, I said through clenched teeth, we're going until we see a hospital sign. We'll figure it out. The pain kept getting worse but I knew I wasn't in labor, so had the minutes it would take to get to the hospital I'd picked out. They had an NICU. They must have the best doctors. He very much wanted to pull over and call 911. But I kept him going, starting to cry out under my breath, "God let the baby be ok, God please let the baby be ok."

Even now, I can barely say what was going through my mind. I kept thinking about something I'd read on premature babies that said something like, "babies born between 24-28 weeks were..." I couldn't remember what the study involved, but remembered the dates. I was at 22 weeks. It was too early - or was it? The baby was big. I had a fair idea I knew what was going on. Placental abruption. I knew my placenta was up there on the top, I'd just seen it in the ultrasound a few weeks before. Someone I knew well had gone through placental abruption late in her pregnancy - her doctor didn't diagnose it correctly and she delivered her baby, already dead, a few days later. I'd heard the story early in my pregnancy with Everett and it had always stayed with me. It was why I never ignored pain that didn't fit classification. It was why I was so scared.

Finally, I saw the "H" sign and pointed frantically, having to explicitly direct my woozy husband as to exactly which lane to get in, where to turn. After several wrong turns within a few blocks of the emergency entrance, we finally made it. And as I practically sprinted toward the door, a man with a cigarette lazily walked toward the door, too, clearly marked "No smoking within 50 feet..." Despite my pain, my anger was laser-sharp, and I shouted at him to get that cigarette away from me.

I walked into a crowded waiting room, and wasn't going to mess around. I told the receptionist that I was having pain, I was 22 weeks pregnant, it was bad. She called for a transport, and had to keep calling, as it didn't come right away. Jonathan got me a seat, but it hurt worse, and I stood up, but I could barely stand from the pain, so I sat down again. "I'm 22 weeks, honey. 22 weeks, ok?" He always forgets my gestational dates, I thought he needed to know.

As the nurse wheeled me up to the labor and delivery ward, I told her everything, my dates, my pain, that it wasn't contractions, that I was far from home. It seemed like forever before we arrived somewhere far away in another waiting room. I could hear a baby's heartbeat whoosh-whoosh-whooshing on a monitor. I could feel the baby inside me kicking and turning, and I started to cry. As we waited another eternity and I started to mix my pain breathing with pain moaning (kind of an ooo-ooo-ooo-oohh-ahhh-ooh), I told Jonathan, "I don't want to have this baby now!" and he thought I said that I didn't want the baby. "No, not now!" I said. "I don't want to have this baby, now, here, in Las Vegas!"

I was thinking of Julie, whose baby was born at 30 weeks' gestation and who was required to shack up at a hotel near the hospital, several hours from their home. I couldn't do that, couldn't stay at my grandma-in-law's house for months while my baby gained strength (if, in fact, they would let me deliver him at this point). I didn't know if I could endure the first months of my son's life, with Everett, here, and screw up Jonathan's military career utterly.

It was another eternity, waiting while I heard what sounded like unhurried doctors and nurses in the maternity triage room nearby. I couldn't stand the pain, but I could, I had to. I was going through my dealing mechanisms mentally, and I couldn't think of any because of the pain, so I just dealt.

Finally I was wheeled into the ultrasound room and sat up on the bed, where I explained my entire life as a pregnant person while the doctor peered without much comment at the images of my baby and uterus. "Is the baby o.k.?" I asked, desperate to know this, although I could feel him kicking and turning. "I'm just making measurements," she said, unhelpfully. But is he OK, lady?

I can't really remember what we talked about, there, but I brought up placental abruption. Could it be? I asked. Yes, she said, it could be. Two things would cause pre-term labor: placental abruption, or an infection. They were going to have to figure out which it was. She moved me to a bed in the triage room. I remember undressing so quickly and thoughtlessly (it was all women in triage, but Jonathan, anyhow) that the nurse almost leaped to close my curtain. I never closed my gown properly, my fingers couldn't do it and I didn't have mental time to get help, and I didn't really care, anyway. They took my blood pressure and my temperature - I watched as the monitor blinked to its decision. I couldn't figure out from my angle, lying on the bed (with a blanket wedged under me to keep me off my back, causing even more pain), which numbers were which, but whatever way it went, I could tell that my blood pressure was its normal healthy lowness. I knew I didn't have a fever. Nothing pointed to infection. They sent my urine to the lab and left me alone to cry quietly in pain, as Jonathan went to call the base to say he wouldn't be back that morning, after all.

A while later, still without pain medication, the doctor came to me. I told her through tears that I had a really high pain tolerance, that this was way worse than anything I'd experienced, even those contractions after they gave me Pitocin when Everett was born. They were awful. This was awfuller. This was 10. And the odd thing was, it wasn't in waves like contractions, where you have one, then you have time to relax, you feel almost normal. This pain was constantly terrible, with slow undulations of being absolutely awful and gigantically awful. I was crying out, I didn't care that the 15-year-old mama in the curtain next to me heard my moans. The doctor patted me on the arm and said she'd get my morphine soon.

The nurse brought me papers to fill out, with a clipboard. Jonathan was putting Everett and Michael to sleep in the car. I scribbled halfway through the form, then couldn't anymore as the pain went to gigantically awful. I just sat there with my hands over my eyes, moaning and praying.

They brought in a resident, who looked at my ultrasound and said competently that there was an odd bit of fluid around my placenta. I told her that I was 22 weeks, but the baby was measuring big for his gestational age. Jonathan had returned by this point, and she told us quietly that, at this stage, the baby just isn't prepared to live outside me, no matter how big. There are key developments "in the lungs?" I asked, yes, in the lungs, intestines and brain, that just can't occur outside of the womb. The fetus just wasn't viable at 22 weeks, or even 23. She sounded as if 25 would be iffy, too. If I was to go into labor - if I was to start bleeding, if my cervix (nicely closed) was to open, if these contractions did anything - the baby wouldn't be saved.

Jonathan and I both didn't see much hope, here. She never really brought up the possibility of a partial abruption; she seemed rather certain that something was happening tonight, the only question was, why. They gave me morphine, finally, and admitted me. There was nothing I could do but pray.

Jonathan said he was going to take Michael, and Matt, and Everett back to the hotel, and went to deal with them as I was moved to a room, where the morphine slowly calmed the pain enough for me to deal. I sat there in my hospital bed, in a strange place, with my blood pressure monitor making regular contractions on my arm, with my head full of achiness and talked to the nurse as she drew blood and asked me question after question for form after form. Her name was "Clo" and she'd lived in Las Vegas 25 years. She came with a husband who was trying to make it in the music business. He didn't, they broke up, she stayed for the job.

Around 4:30 a.m., Jonathan and Matt returned, saying that Michael was now sleeping in the car with Everett, they didn't want to leave me here alone. The morphine was starting to wear off and the pain was rising again. I told him to call my parents, tell them what happened, ask them to pray. It seemed the only sensible thing to do. By 5 a.m., he was back in the chair next to me, and fell asleep while the nurse dosed me with morphine again.

My labs came back all normal, and I snoozed and woke, feeling the dull ache underneath the mask of morphine. Sometime during this process, Clo brought a detailed form about my medical history and started asking me questions, like, "Have you ever had any surgeries before?" (duh, c-section) and "What is your goal from your care today?" (she found the right one on her own: "to continue a healthy pregnancy") and "are you under any stress?" (YES!) and "what are the sources of your stress?"

I listed off a bunch of things, rapid-fire, like: husband in army, two part-time jobs, death in the family, pregnancy, toddler. As she went on to ask me other questions, through my half-sleep, I kept coming up with other sources of stress. Boy, I'm one mixed-up ball of stress. Jonathan had been asking to every doctor or nurse who took my history: "could this be caused by stress?"

Although I would have liked him to be comfortably in a cozy armchair right up next to me, having Jonathan there made me feel safe, and every time I woke up I wished I could squeeze his hand. Soon it was shift-change time, and I was told by my new doctor (Dr. Gonzales) that a perinatologist had been paged and would diagnose me upon his arrival.

When Jonathan awoke around 7:45, I asked for more morphine and sent him to take his brothers and Everett back to the hotel, for real this time. I couldn't feel the pain so sharply, but didn't know if it was because the drugs hadn't completely worn off or if it was getting better. Again, I fell asleep with Headline News on the television (Brad and Jennifer kept separating in my dreams...). After what seemed like an eternity of half-sleep, the perinatologist arrived with much fanfare. Dr. Gonzales helped me into another gown so I wouldn't flash the early morning nurses with my fabulous buttocks and thighs riddled with bed wrinkles.

Dr. Roberts, the perinatologist, was a tall man whose features I can't remember but whose presence electrified a room. He was so clearly knowledgeable and competent that I trusted him without a moment's thought. While he and Dr. Gonzales let me walk - on my own! - into the ultrasound room, he gave the rundown on the conference he'd just returned from in California. It was put on by the CDC, and they were discussing a quick test for AIDS. Doctors from Oregon and Idaho had been in attendance, and my ears perked up. While we waited for the ultrasound to be free, he put on a little talk to all the nurses and doctors who quickly gathered around him, basking in his presence. I felt like not such a scumbag (because, it seems by the way the nurses look over their eyeglasses at you, most of the patients here in the Las Vegas county hospital are scumbags) when he included me in his discussion as the representative from Oregon, and I already felt like an intelligent human again, mussy hair and unattractive two-gown combo and morphine hangover and all.

So I was calm when we took over the ultrasound room, and as Dr. Gonzales asked question after question of the master (why is the image so fuzzy? because we need a new ultrasound machine, of course) I could feel the non-worried vibe. He pointed out the blood and clotting around the placenta, and while Dr. Gonzales wondered how you could tell if it was blood or a clot (you can't, he said, from which I assumed that he just knew, he was that omniscient), I asked if it was reversible. "Just a minute," he said, as he answered Dr. Gonzales' question. and, "To answer your question, it's entirely reversible, in fact, you'll be fine."

oh. my. God. I've never felt so mentally cleansed as in that moment. He went on to describe the bleeding, that must have been caused by some trauma from a blow to my uterus or a fall (neither of which I could remember having happened to any great extent). It was already healing, which was why I wasn't feeling any pain now. The baby was healthy and, if I spent the next two weeks on bedrest, I could expect to carry my baby to term.

He said I could go to the bathroom, and work on my laptop, and (most wonderfully) ride home in the car. The fetus wasn't viable, he said, so if I were to go into labor on the journey - there would be nothing anyone could do for the baby, so there was no need to stay within a few miles of a hospital. This made me happy, yet sad, as he was writing off my baby, but I didn't have to stay in Vegas for two weeks. He said I could go home now, if I wanted, get dressed, eat real food.

Well, "now" was a stretch, I called Jonathan at the hotel (he'd driven 26 miles on I-40 North before realizing that he was supposed to go South to reach the hotel, and thus, just finished his journey) and he said he'd get there to pick me up in an hour. I was ordered a lunch and finally I could watch TV without that sick feeling in my head (the one that prompted me to avoid the Newborn Channel, a sappy production of iVillage, during the night). I ate an odd lunch of beef and acres of cubed carrots and potatoes and gravy, leaving the high fructose corn syrup-filled fruit punch unopened (my nurse later forced me to use it to wash my prenatal vitamin down - I took the smallest sip imaginable). Happily, Jonathan arrived while I was eating. I was given my papers and waited an HOUR for the damned transport to take me away (are you busy today? I asked him. No, it's slow on the weekends, he said. Slow enough for you to take an hour smoke break with your buds, I guess). I got into the car and have never been so happy to drive away.

Four miles later I took a sip of the water Jonathan had bought me and immediately threw up all my beef and potatoes and carrots over the car floor. I sat there shaking, with vomit in my hair, on my face, all over my pretty coat and my favorite maternity pants, the ones I'd made when I was pregnant with Everett. I walked into the gas station Jonathan pulled into, with a change of (dirty) clothes from the back of the car. It was, of course, a casino, and I could feel the eyes of everyone there on me, thinking, boy, she's had a hard night of drinking.

I washed my hair and face in a damned automatic faucet, smokey women coming in from the casino, and changed my clothes right there in front of the mirror. I couldn't believe how hellish I looked, worse even than I felt. I looked like nothing more than a junky from the streets, come in to wash her hair before she headed out for her next fix. When I got back to the car, Jonathan was studiously scrubbing the carpet with two different kinds of cleaner. My sweet fastidious husband, who won't even carve a cooked chicken because it grosses him out, did it all without cringing, while I sat in the back seat, trying not to cry.

It didn't feel "over" until I had reached the hotel, hugged Everett (who was happily playing with his trains on the floor of the darkened room while his uncles slept), gotten into bed, and slept. It still doesn't feel over.