Friday, May 31, 2013

Away We Went

Memorial Day weekend may have only been a paltry three days long, but I latched onto it with an intensity that bemused the boy (and me, to a certain degree).  I was determined to make a mini-vacation out of it, if for no other reason than I have been in school for a long ten months now and I just wanted a break, dammit, but nope, school goes until the end of July.

We couldn't go more than four hours away because of work and school and those other things called "real life."  Also the dog had to come (again, real life).  So my hastily planned weekend basically consisted of three things:
1) Pit stop in Waterbury, VT to go to the Ben & Jerry's factory
2) Stay in northern New Hampshire, because Franconia is pretty and there's a yummy pancake restaurant.
3) Find a B&B that allows dogs, doesn't cost an arm and a leg, and has a room.

Oh, and go hiking.  Fresh air is good for my junky lungs and I wanted to get away from people.

Despite a profound lack of sophisticated thought and planning, we had a blast.  It rained almost the entire time.  It got down in the 30's at night and even snowed three inches (yes, really).  But it was really, really nice to go somewhere different and climb through mountains and wade through a freezing river and play Trivial Pursuit on his Blackberry on the drive home.

Whenever we go somewhere other than here, there's a part of me that lights up and thinks about, Well, what if we lived here? and I have all sorts of fun imagining things like living in the foothills of the White Mountains and driving a four-wheel drive pickup truck out to births, and growing a garden and hiking with the dog.  And it's not like There is better than Here, I think it's just about it being different.  But when my neighbors (who are now my friends) with the baby say things to me and him like, "You're not moving away from New Haven after you graduate, right?" while I snuggle the baby and blow raspberries in his neck, it makes me think to myself, Or, well, I guess we could stay here and be close to Boston and New York and family and friends and I'd grow a garden somehow and as long as we get a goat someday that I can name Cooper, it'll all work out that way too.  I guess what I'm trying to say is that maybe I'm finally realizing that where you wind up living the majority of your life isn't necessarily a conclusion that you draw with a whole lot of profundity.  Maybe it's more like where you end up and where you grow roots and where you fall in love with building your world around you.  And maybe no matter how much you love where you are, you still go somewhere different and romantic for a weekend and think, Hey, what if...

And maybe there's nothing really wrong with that at all.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Things I Stumble Upon

Sometimes I feel like a sloppy drunk, wandering around the internet.  I click on links that people post and send me and then I continue on, crashing through this virtual world, stumbling through blog posts and articles and opinion pieces.  Often I'll leave six or seven links open on my browser for days before sitting down to read them.  Inevitably, some are not worth it and I abandon them two paragraphs in.  But some are amazing.  And I finish those and then have nothing else to do about it, so I guiltily close the tab that I've been faithfully preserving for days.  But no longer, dear readers.  Now - I pass my favorites on to you (like everyone else in the blog world already does).  But I don't care.  This is a bandwagon of sharing that I am happy to board.

Embracing your microbiome.

Words matter, but love matters more.

We don't know enough about suicide, which means we suck at preventing it.  Which is scary, since it's on the rise.  One of the most important things I took away from my psych rotation was how important it is to screen - and how to go about screening - everyone for suicidality.  Yes, even happy people who are planning families and having babies and seeing their midwife for routine visits.

Something we've been talking about a lot lately in school is dying, and how we do it.  I've seen enough already in ten months to know exactly what I don't want done for me (just about everything).  Maybe this is why health professionals and doctors have the kind of deaths we all want to have.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


You know what's awesome about birth, babe?

What's that?

It's was one of the biggest days of these two women's entire lives, because their babies were born, and - and - you get to be there for it.  And for me - all it is is Thursday.  But for them - it's a day that they'll never forget.  I can't believe I get to be there for all of those days for the rest of my life.

Well, I can't think of anyone better to be there for them than you.

I'm so lucky.  I just can't believe how lucky I am.

So are they, he tells me.  And I laugh because this can't possibly be my life.

And yet it is.

Welcome to the world, baby girls.  Today was an awesome day to be born.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Canyon Overflows

I spent the last six Thursdays with some of the sickest kids I've ever seen.  Tracheostomy tubes hooked up to ventilators, CPAP forcing in air that is 80% oxygen, twenty-four hours a day.  Continuous EEG monitoring because she had seven seizures in two days.  Cranial skull fractures so bad that the subarachnoid hemorrhage is causing his spinal cord to swell in its bony casing and he may never walk again.  Sick upon sicker upon sickest, and every single one had a mother.  I met them all.  I talked to them all.  I wrote my name on their white board, explained I was a student nurse and that I'd be helping out their little one that day, and I tried hard to remember their names so that I wouldn't have to call them "Mom" when asking questions or explaining procedures.  
Mothers who knew every medication their child had ever taken, who knew more about his G-tube feedings than I did (by a long shot), who could push an antibiotic and antacid cocktail into it with a smile on their face while they told me about the last 18 months of having a son born chronically ill.  
Mothers who sat anxiously by the bed of their toddler who had bounced around inside the car the night before, unrestrained by a carseat when they were T-boned at 2 AM.  Who rocked back and forth and yelled at me for not giving her baby more pain medication for the craniotomy she'd just had and then apologized in the next breath and told me it wasn't her fault and she was so scared because the DCF worker had just been here and what if she can't take her baby home with her.
Babies who fall out of third story windows.
Babies who weigh thirteen pounds at fifteen months old.
Babies who took too much heroin at their prom last night and may never wake up again.
Babies who haven't woken up in five years and who will never learn to talk or walk or smile or eat.
Mothers at their side, every single one.
Mothers who did everything right, and whose babies were born with illnesses they cannot pronounce.  Mothers who made every mistake in the book, and whose babies fell at fate's hands in the most unexpected way.
Their love was fierce, and it filled the room.  It fought for its right to exist and hold sway in this strange place of plastic and metal and tubes and beeping monitors and no privacy and none of us knowing their child the way they do.  It made them protective and questioning and demanding and sometimes difficult and utterly incomprehensible but it was holding us all in an orbit around the tiny body in the bed and it made me stagger in the face of its enormity, every single week.
And every week, I would escape to the medication room and lean my head against the racks of IV fluids and think to myself, somebody loves you like that, too.  What do you do with a love that big?  Every braid, every bath, every school form signed, every batch of brownies stirred with her hands over mine, each one a hospital bedside vigil.  Every act as filled with a canyon of love as the next.  Sometimes I lay awake at night and wonder, panicked, if she knows how much I love her.  I want to fly through the night air home to hug her and whisper in her ear that I love her bigger than the moon and the ocean and the dirt and the trees and how I can never say it enough and please don't ever leave me because you won't hear it enough times before then.
Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers of the world.  But especially to mine.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

It's Something in the Water Here...

My friend dropped her five-month-old off into my bleary arms at 8 AM this morning.  It's her first day of work at her new (grown up RN!) job and I never pass up a chance to snuggle her little man.  A couple hours later, the boy called me to say he was leaving for work if I wanted to come outside for a hug (the benefits of living on the same street abound).  As we were standing on my front stoop, and the dog was wondering what exactly this small squishy creature was that I was holding instead of petting him, my mouth said this:

"Sprocket, be nice to the baby.  You're going to have to get used to them, you know."

And my brain did this:


He (the boy, not the dog) was unfazed.  He knows I want kids.  We have had this conversation before, he and I.  I honestly don't even think he noticed.  We chatted about how Sprocket had most likely never seen a baby before, and I asked him about when he'd be back tonight, he smiled at the baby and kissed me goodbye and it was totally fine except for in my brain.

Here's the thing: I am acutely aware of the intensity with which I often want children, and I do an excellent job 99% of the time of ignoring it.  But sometimes I forget to ignore it, like now, when I am finishing up my pediatrics rotation and heading into maternal-newborn, and babysitting for the cutest baby ever is not helping things.  It also doesn't help things to see classmates and friends of mine with little ones, because my brain is all like, "See?  If they can do it, so can you!"  And then I tell my brain something that I have to repeat a lot, which is, "Just because you CAN do something, doesn't mean you SHOULD."

It's not like I'm feeling the pressure of my biological clock, or worried that there will never be another right time in my life to have kids.  It's honestly as simple as, I want a baby.  And I'm so much healthier now, and it makes me feel so good about how much better equipped I am to be a mom because of that, and hey, bonus!  I met someone I want to have kids with and shack up with and shout at from across the dinner table when we're old and grey.

In the meantime, I'm going to try to keep the baby fever comments to myself, lest I scare away the other half of this future equation.