Categories
Teenage Pregnancy

Failure to launch – 33 weeks and 2 days

“Sarah….Sarah…”  In some recess of my dream, I can hear my name, whispered.  “It’s Jay.  Is your phone on silent?  SARAH.”  My eyes snap open.  “It’s Jess.”  Dee has his phone in front of my face.  A quick look at the bedside clock and I see it is 1 am.  I grab the phone.

“Jay?  Are you okay?”

“Hi, Mum.  I just wanted to let you know I’m on my way to the Pregnancy Assessment Unit.”  I sit bolt upright in bed.

“Why, what’s wrong?”

“Well, we picked up my friends from the airport and took them to dinner.  During dinner I started to feel sick.  We went home and I went to bed at around 9:30pm but at 11pm I started to feel really unwell.  Then I started to feel some really funny pain.  Painful pain.  I phoned the PAU and they said to come straight in.”

“Are you having contractions?”

“I don’t know, the pain is different though.”

“Right, I’ll just get dressed and meet you at the hospital.”

“Don’t Mum.  Let me get there and have them assess me.  I am sure it is just braxton Hicks.”

“Okay.  But phone me the minute you get there or know anything, okay?”

I lie back down, turn over and close my eyes.  My eyes open.  1:15am.  I close them again.  Open.  1:20am.  Close.  Open.  1:20am.  It’s no good.   I decide to get up.  At least get ready if something is happening.  I pad through to the laundry.  Grab some jeans, a top, underwear.

I text Jay.  Hi Love.  Are you there yet?  Any news?  My phone buzzes.

Hi mum.  Am at the hospital.  I think they are going to admit me.

I ring Jay’s number.  “Hello?”

“Hi, darling.  What’s going on?”

“Well they have me strapped to this monitor thingy and they said that my contractions are very regular.  They have called the doctor, but they think I’m going to be admitted to the birthing suite.”

“Have you got your bag with you?”

“No, I left it at your house.”  I roll my eyes.  Jay hasn’t been with us for two weeks.  Constant little reminders that she is still a teenager.

“Right, I’m coming.”  I immediately jump into the shower.  I know it seems strange to shower at such an emergency and I know Jay will know that I am doing this, but I really don’t want to go to the hospital looking  like Madusa.  It takes me 15 minutes and I am done.  I rush around the house, trying to think about what she might need.

“Dee,” I whisper.  “I’m off to see Jay.”   His sleepy eyes open for a moment.  “You’ll have to take JC to school, or get your dad to take him.”

“I’ll take him,” he says.

On the way to the hospital I receive a text.  I’ve been admitted to the birthing suite, room 3.  My god.  Is she in labour?

I arrive at the hospital.  I rush into room 3.  Jay is on the bed strapped up to the monitor.  I can hear the whooshing of Baby C’s heart beat.  Em is with her.  A midwife is fussing over her.  I kiss Em hello and move round to kiss and hug Jay.  “Are you okay?”

“I’m 4cm dilated and they think I am in labour.”  4cm.  That’s active labour.

“What do you mean, think?”

“Well, they said that because it is a premature labour it might just be a false start.”

“But if you are already 4cm, doesn’t that mean you are in labour?”

The midwife interjects.  “It is not uncommon for premature labours to have false starts.  My instincts says that Jay is well into labour, especially by the look of her contractions, but we need to monitor her and check her cervix again in four hours.”  I look at the clock.  It is 2:30am.

“Have you let your mum know, Em?”  He nods that he has.

“She’s going to wait and see what happens before coming through.”  Fair enough.  We have had enough false starts for one pregnancy.

I turn to Jay, “Are you in pain?”

She shakes her head.  “I don’t feel like I’m in labour.”  I look at the monitor and the graph being fed out of the machine.  The peaks are as regular as clockwork.

“Well, it certainly looks like you are.” I say.  “Can you feel them at all?”

Jay nods.  “They are just super-big tightenings.”

Can this be it?  Can I becoming a grandmother, a Gogo, today? I suddenly miss my mom so much.  I want to share this with her so badly.

The midwife inserts a canula into Jay’s arm.  They are giving her antibiotics as a precautionary measure because she is so early.

Em looks tired.  “Why don’t you get some sleep, Em.  You are going to need all the strength you can muster when Jay finally needs to push Baby C out.”  He nods and settles down on the mattress offered to birthing partners.  They have been busy and have no spare blankets for him though.  Public hospitals, you have to love them.  I give him one of the baby blankets I have thrown into the bag.  It’s tiny on his small frame, but it’s something at least.

Jay and I talk and eventually settle down to sleep ourselves.  She on the bed and me on two chairs I have pushed together.  It is 4:30am.  At 5:30am, we are woken by the staff doing the routine obs.  Tee also arrives.  At 6:30am, the doctor checks Jay’s cervix.  Still 4cm.  We cannot believe it.  Jay sighs.  “Only 4cm?  I can’t believe it,” she says.

The day continues along with very little event.  A couple of nurses come in and out.  We are told what to expect when the baby comes.  He won’t be going into NICU, but will go into the special care nursery.  He should be able to breathe on his own, but won’t have the sucking reflex yet, so will probably need a nasogastric tube.  He will look like a normal baby, just a bit on the small side.  When he is born he will be put onto Jay’s chest.  It is important for her and for the baby to have the skin to skin contact.  We nod and get excited at the prospect of our little angel.

At 2:30pm the doctors arrive again.  They check her cervix and she is still only 4cm.  The contractions seemed to have died off a bit as well.  We try not to think that the baby might not actually be coming after all.  Surely, this is it.  I say what everyone is thinking.  “Well, I want the baby to come.  I know it is only 33 weeks, but everyone keeps telling us that he will be fine, that he will just fatten up in the special care nursery.  I am tired of this.  I want to hold my grandson.” Jay nods.  This is taxing on her too.  Tee and Em also nod in agreement.  Em has taken another day off work.  That will be 5 in total on false alarms if this baby isn’t born today.

“Well,” the midwife says, “the longer you can cook your own baby, the better it is.”  I know she must be shocked by my announcement that I want Baby C to be born a full 7 weeks early.  I don’t care.  I am tired.  Jay is tired.  All this too-ing and fro-ing is taking its toll.  Jay and I have only had an hour’s sleep.  Surely it isn’t unreasonable to expect a baby cuddle at the end of it?

A doctor comes into the room.  “Jay, we are concerned that your heart rate has been consistently high since you arrived here at 1am this morning.  I am going to take some blood to check you do not have an infection, or if there is something else wrong.”  We look at the heart rate monitor.  Her heart rate is over 100 and she has been in bed all day.  “Are you anxious?” the doctor asks.  I look at him incredulously.  No, mate.  She is 19 and about to deliver a baby.  A baby that will be a full 7 weeks early.  A baby that, if it comes today she will not be able to take home.  This, after being up and down to the hospital god knows how many times with numerous false starts.  But, hey, she is not anxious at all.  Jay shakes her head.  “I’ll be back later to take the blood.”

By 4pm, the contractions have almost completely died off.  My heart sinks.  I know deep down inside that Baby C is not going to make his arrival.  I really wish that I had not put as my facebook status that I may or may not becoming a grandmother today.  Another bloody false start.  I look at Jay.  She is exhausted.  A full 16 hours of contractions, some of which were really painful, and now nothing.  The doctor arrives to take blood.  “We have had a talk, and have decided to send you to the post natal ward.  We won’t bother checking you again.  I think it’s safe to say you are no longer in labour.  We do want to continue to monitor you though.”  He takes Jays arm and inserts a needle into it.  It misses the vein and he has to do it again.  The second time, she lets out a cry and all the anticipation and disappointment comes to the fore.  She bursts into tears.  Em hugs her.  I hug her.  But it does nothing to stem the flow.  My 19 year old baby has been through enough.  How much more does she have to take?

The doctor finally gets the blood he needs and leaves the room.  “I’m not staying here.  I will discharge myself.”  I hug her.

“You have to stay love.  You are 4cm dilated.  They are worried your waters might break.  You have to stay here.”

“I’m not going to have the baby, Mum!  I’m going to go to full term and all this will be for nothing!”

“It won’t be for nothing, Jay, we will have a beautiful, healthy baby!” Em says.  He sounds hurt, like she doesn’t get it.  I want to intervene.  Tell him that she does get it, that she is just tired.  But I don’t.  They need to work it out.  She just sits there, her big tummy jutting out, and lets the tears flow down her cheeks.  Em hugs her warmly and she nestles her head into his shoulders.  Tee and I go for a walk, sit in the visitor waiting room and have a cup of coffee.  The kids need to be alone.

Twenty minutes later we return.  Em is getting ready to leave to go home for a much needed shower and change of clothes.  He is going to bring Jay’s friends from the UK to visit her.  Jay’s friends!  They have travelled all the way from the UK to see her and now she is stuck here in this wretched place.  Tee and Em leave.  I sit with Jay.  Tears are still streaming down her face.  I want to tell her to be patient, to understand that this is a good thing.  Good for the baby.  But I know that saying it won’t make her feel any better.  The mother side of me gets the better of me.  “It is what it is love.  We just need to be patient.  It is good for Baby C.”  It doesn’t do any good.  Tears continue to stream down her face.  “I just want to go home!”  She lowers her head and sobs.  My heart breaks into a thousand pieces.  How much is one 19 year old meant to take?

A different doctor comes into the room.  “Okay, we have arranged for you to go to the post natal ward.  We will see you in the morning and reassess you then.”

“Does that mean that she will be able to go home tomorrow?” I ask.

“Provided she has settled down, I don’t see why not.”  She looks down at Jay’s chart.  “Although at 4cm dilated, that may not be the case.”  Jay lets out a little moan of anguish.  “It’s just that at 4cm dilated,” her fingers part to show how much 4cm is, “if your waters break, the cord could slip through and it could end up badly if you are not at the hospital.  If you were at full term, we would be inducing you now.”  I had not thought of the implications of that.  I look at Jay, but I can see she can’t think that far.  She just wants to go home.

The doctor leaves and I just cuddle her.  “It will be okay, my love.  We will look back on this in a year and wonder why we got ourselves so stressed.”  There is no consoling her.

It is 7pm.  I have only had an hours sleep and I need to get home.  With no baby on the way and with Em on his way back with Jay’s friends, it is time for me to leave anyway.  I kiss her goodbye and drive home.  By the time I get home twenty minutes later, I am dead on my feet.  Dee heats me up some leftover dinner which I eat.  I know it is not part of my diet, but I am past caring.  I watch a bit of TV, but my eyes are struggling to focus.  I am cold and tired.

As I slip into my electrically warmed bed, I feel my body release the tension it has held all day.  It does not take me long to feel the sweet taste of sleep overtake me.  Another false start, another failure to launch, but we will persist, we will endure.

Categories
Depression Teenage Pregnancy

A surprise baby shower – Sunday 22 April – 29 weeks and 1 day

I haven’t felt much like writing in the last few days.  This is because I have been exhausted.  The reason is two-fold.  Firstly, I ran out of my anti-depressants and my thyroxin and didn’t renew the prescription for a few days.  Whilst I am sure that it takes longer than a few days for the medication to work out of my system, I start to feel REALLY tired after a couple of days without them.  By day three, I am shattered and a few days after that, I even start having suicidal thoughts.  This is an unfortunate symptom of clinical depression.  BUT, I get my prescription filled and I am slowly starting to feel like I am not wading through thick mud every day.

I know I am naughty for neglecting myself in this fashion.  It isn’t fair on my family, and especially not fair on Dee who gets to the see the really ugly side of me when I start the slippery slide down the emotional roller coaster.  I don’t like the ugly side of me.  It isn’t pretty.  It used to be that I would ignore my medication and try to pretend I didn’t need it.  The truth is I saw it as a weakness.  Now I don’t.  It is just what it is and I manage it pretty well.  Except this week, when I forgot.

The second reason is because I haven’t had much to say.  Which is weird because I ALWAYS have a lot to say.  I look at the screen of my lap top and can find no words.  I imagine this is what writer’s block is like. If I was a writer.  Which I would like to be.  One day.

The week has been long.  JC returns to school and Jay remains in hospital.  She is lonely and feeling very depressed.  Em has been off colour and has decided not to visit her for fear of her getting an infection that will bring on an early labour.  I visit every day, but I am, sadly, not enough.  I know this, accept this.  I can’t bear, though, to see my daughter so down, so lost.  I decide to do something to lift her spirits.  But what?  She cannot leave the hospital.  I decide to organise a surprise baby shower at the hospital.  It is risky.  Baby C may arrive early, be sick and yes, heaven forbid, actually not make it.  Do I let this risk prevent me from throwing a shower that should be every first time pregnant woman’s right?  I don’t think so. I speak to the nurse running the Medihotel and ask if I am able to do this.  She thinks it is a brilliant idea.  We can have the patient lounge.

I contact Tee and she agrees to help.  She contacts the women in her family and I contact the women in mine, plus a couple of friends that are still in contact with Jay.  We decide to hold in on Sunday (three days away) just in case Jay doesn’t make it to 30 weeks.  I send out email invitations and only one person cannot make it.  We have 14 people coming.  I wonder how many people the lounge can accommodate and hope it will be big enough.

Dee and I go shopping for balloons, decorations and a baby shower gift.  For a while I am feeling free, not constrained by the stress of the threat of a premature baby that has filled every waking moment (and some sleeping ones) since this ordeal began.  Dee doesn’t see what all the fuss is about.  Men!

The day of the shower arrives.  I make a carrot cake (Jay’s favourite) and some triangle sandwiches.  I collect the helium balloons I have ordered and make up the thank you gifts for everyone.  Dee and I make our way to the hospital (I have roped him into helping me set up).  Tee is waiting for us.  “The lounge is busy.  There is a doctor in there with a patient.”  I immediately think the worst for the patient.

“That’s okay, we can wait a while.” I say.

We wait outside the ward.  We don’t want Jay catching us out.  After ten minutes it occurs to me that the doctor and patient could be an hour.  Everyone is due in 15 minutes.  My phone rings.  It is Jay.  “Turn it off, turn it off!  She will hear it!”  Dee says.  I frantically try to silence my phone.  Where is the silent button, dammit.

I make a snap decision.  “Let’s just surprise Jay in her room.”  Everyone picks up their stuff and we make our way to her room.  I am carrying the 16 balloons I have ordered.  I knock on the door and walk in.  “Surprise!” I say.  “We have organised a baby shower for you.”  Jay looks surprised, but not as thrilled as I had hoped.  “Mum, I am in a lot of pain.”  Bloody murphy’s law.  On the day of the shower she would be in pain.

I place the balloons down.  “How bad is the pain, love.”

“Really bad, Mum, worse than when I ended up in the birthing suite.”

“Typical,” I say, “just our luck.  You will probably give birth in the middle of the shower.”  We all laugh, but I wonder if that is going to happen.

Jay is more buoyed.  The patient and doctor have emerged from the lounge.  “You just relax whilst we decorate the room.”

Em arrives and Jay and he hug.  It has been five days since they have seen each other.  It is so cute, I can’t avoid doing the mother thing and taking a photo.  “Mu-um!!” Jays exclaims.

We decorate the room and let Em and Jay in to sit down and relax.  Everyone arrives and before long the “party” is under way.  The food is lovely and the presents are amazing.  Jay and Em are clearly chuffed to bits and I feel good to have this opportunity to make Jay feel a bit better.  I am grateful to Tee for helping me make it possible.  Photos are taken to mark the occasion.  Funny baby stories are told – Em’s aunt’s story of her delivering a neighbour’s baby on the front lawn is my personal favourite.  We all laugh and chatter and I can see Jay is really enjoying herself.

By the time the shower is over, Jay’s pain has subsided and she is back to being in good spirits.  She retires to her room, pretty exhausted.  Tee and I clean up the room and leave it as we found it – a clinical looking tv lounge for patients of the medihotel.  We decide to leave Jay and Em to enjoy their time together and to ponder their stash.

I arrive home.  Dee has cooked dinner but I am not hungry – too much cake!  I sit down and curl up to watch TV.  Dee curls up next to me.  He leans over, “You did a good thing for our daughter today.”  I smile.  It was a good day, yes indeed, a very good day.

Categories
Autism Teenage Pregnancy

One mother of a day – Tuesday 17 April – 28 weeks and 3 days

Today is the first day of second term.  JC is up and ready by 6:15am.  He wants his iPod with its promise of fan fiction and knows how to get it.

“What about a shower?”  I ask.

“I already showered last night after my hair cut and dad said I can shower tomorrow morning again.”  I groan, without opening my eyes.  Why does Dee promise these things without discussing it with me?

“Okay,” I say.

Urgh, back to the routine of the school term – up at 6:45am (which in reality is closer to 7:45am), get breakfasts, make lunch, take JC to school (silent trip), do housework (yeah, right!), pick JC up from school, silent trip home, make dinner, eat, tv and bed, and then start it all again the following day.  God, my life is boring!

This time, of course, I have to visit Jay in hospital.  I take JC to school and he listens to his horrible white-noise music whilst I listen to the radio.  I want to say something to him, but can’t think of anything that might inspire him to hold a conversation.  I wander how he is feeling about returning to school, but choose not to enquire.  I drop him off a full 25 minutes before the school bell.

“Good bye my boy.  I love you!” I yell as he walks away from the car.  He doesn’t even acknowledge me.

I have read many books on autism.  In most of them they concentrate on getting a diagnosis when the child is young and the importance of an early intervention.  Most of the case studies used are children that are young or pre-teen in age.  They don’t mention what it is like to bring up an adolescent who is on the spectrum.  Well, frankly, sometimes it sucks.  You want to connect with your child, especially at this time when they are starting to begin to understand adult concepts, but not only do you have the autism to deal with, you also have the prepubescent teenage hormones to contend with as well.  It’s not a great mix, I can tell you.

I drive away heavy hearted.  I decide to improve my mood by spending money (how else?).  Jay needs some new underwear so before heading off to see her I pop into K-mart.  I wander around and eventually decide on some panties, a bra and some socks.  I also decide on some fruit for her and some games for us to play in the hospital – card games, chinese checkers, dominoes.

I arrive at 10:30am.  Jay is still very depressed after last night’s ordeal.  She ended up in the Pregnancy Assessment Unit because she had quite regular tightenings and some painful contractions.  After a 45 minute wait she ended up having an internal examination that showed she was still only 2cm dilated and that her cervix was still long (despite being open).  She was embarrassed and felt that she had caused a fuss for nothing.  She phoned me at 10pm in tears.  I managed to talk her through it, but arriving at the hospital now, it is clear she is still feeling really down.

“Are you still feeling down, love?’

“I feel stupid.  This whole thing is stupid.  I’m never going to give birth early.  Why can’t they just let me go home?”

“Well, if you make it to 32 weeks, they will let you go home.”  I begin to think that after two weeks of being 2cm dilated and nothing happening, that there is a real chance of her going to full term.  I secretly start to get excited even though I know it will be a long 12 weeks.  “And if you make it to 32 weeks, Jay, that will be absolutely amazing!”  The look on her face tells me that she doesn’t share my enthusiasm.

It must be difficult to see past being stuck in bed – to when she will get to hold her son, healthy and well, and know that it is because she remained on bedrest, that she carried him to where he was safe enough to be born.  I know she cannot see that far ahead.

“I bought some stuff for you.”  I plop the bags of goodies on her bed.  She looks at them unceremoniously and I feel a little hurt at what I perceive to be ingratitude.  “Have you had a good look?”

“Yes.”

“I bought you some nickers, bra and socks, plus some games and some fruit to keep your energy up.”  Just in case she missed something.

“Thanks, Mum.”  I can see she isn’t impressed, and why should she be really.  She is fed up, bored and most of all stressed out from not knowing when her baby son is going to arrive and what the outcome of that might be.  God, I’m selfish sometimes!!

“How about we play one of the games?”

“Okay.”

I haul out the tin with the four card games – Old Maid, Crazy Eights, Go Fish and War.

“I don’t know how to play any of those, Mum.”

“That’s okay love, they will have instructions and I used to play these with Gogo and I am sure it will come back to me.  These will be great for you to play with Baby C as well.”

We decide on Old Maid first.  We deal up and start playing.  Before long, the events and depression of last night are gone and we are having a good laugh at who is winning and losing.  All four of the games keep us entertained and in good spirits for a good hour and a half until Jay’s lunch arrives.

“We have a spare lunch, Sarah, would you like it?”  The nurse says.

“Yes, I would.”  It is some veal concoction, but I am hungry and it does not taste too badly.  I like the vegetables – pumpkin and potato.

After lunch, I wheel Jay downstairs for some fresh air in her wheel chair.

“Why can’t I walk?”

“Because you can’t.”  Sometimes, the mother response is the only one that is needed.

We order hot chocolates and talk about what we need for the baby.  We have had this conversation before but I want to start getting things on a more regular basis.  I would like Jay and Em to have everything they need for when Baby C comes home.  I write the list down in my note book.

After the excursion I take Jay back to the ward and notice that she is sleepy.  It is time to go and let her have a nanna nap.  I kiss her goodbye and leave.

I drive home.  I have an hour to kill before I have to pick up JC.  A friend of mine has emailed me about a program for children on the spectrum who are at risk of disengaging from education.  I wonder if JC is disengaging from education or if he is just disengaging from society, or even just me.

I drive to pick him up.  He keeps me waiting a good 15 minutes.  “Where have you been? ” I say, trying not to sound too irritated.

“Just walking around the oval, listening to my music.” If you can call that music.

“Okay, in you get.  I thought I would treat you to a Red Rooster meal today.”

“Is this because you want an ice cream?”  Damn!  He knows me too well.  Next door to Red Rooster is Hungry Jacks and I love their 50c ice creams.  I feel ashamed that he thinks that I want to treat him just to satisfy my own needs.

“No, it isn’t, it is because I’ve spent all holidays up at the hospital with Jay and I thought it would be nice if I treated you since I haven’t had chance to do that.”  This is, in part, true.

“Fair enough.”

We drive in silence for a bit.  “I am very mature, you know,” JC says to me.

“Are you?  In what way?”

“I just use big words in context.”

“Can you give me an example?”

“No, not really, but I can use words that other people don’t know what they mean.”  I don’t doubt this, but I haven’t experienced very many “big” words from him recently, although he says things that blow me away all the time.

“So, about the holidays…”

“Fiji, I want to go to Fiji.”

“Well, yes, I know that, but I am thinking of July.  Where would you like to go in July?”

“Fiji.”

“We can’t go to Fiji in July.  That’s January’s trip – maybe.  How about the Worlds, would you like to go to the Worlds?”  I am referring to the adventure parks on the Gold Coast.

“Nah, maybe another year.”

“What about Disney World in Florida?”  I have no idea what makes me say that. “Not for July, but maybe in January.”

“Yes, I guess.  There are hot chicks there.”  I laugh.  The typical 14 year old boy shines through every now and again.  We discuss the likelihood of there being more good looking girls in Florida than in Melbourne, but he remains convinced that the girls will be better there.  We discuss what Disney World is like and I try to give him a picture of when I was there some 20-odd years ago.  He mentions that there is now a Harry Potter land, either in Disney World or on its own, he isn’t sure which, and he doesn’t know if it is in Florida.  I did not know this.  We move on to discuss J.K Rowling and her nett worth (around $1 billion) and how foolish the 12 publishers that rejected the first Harry Potter manuscript must feel.

I am actually having a “normal” conversation with JC.  I am in heaven.  I love the fact that we are laughing together and actually discussing a future trip together and even, maybe, writing a story that might make us rich one day.  Yes, people, we are dreaming together!  Oh, how I wish I could bottle this moment and bring it out every time I feel so disconnected!

All too quickly, we arrive at home.  JC grabs his red rooster bag and heads indoors.  I grab his school bag and head inside behind him.  He walks into his bedroom, closes the door.  He emerges in his boxer shorts to put his lunch on a plate.  I sigh.  Back to our normality.  But I am not sad.  Because I had a moment with him.  And that moment, as any parent of a child on the autistic spectrum will testify, tends to carry us quite far.

No Baby C and a conversation with JC.  Oh yes, today has been one mother of a day!!

 

Categories
Autism Depression Teenage Pregnancy Uncategorized

Birthdays and autism – Monday 16 April – 28 weeks and 2 days

Today is JC’s 14th birthday.  He wakes up this morning at 6am to get his presents.  Despite not showing much emotion, we have fun watching him open his gifts – The Simpsons movie, one of his favourites of all time, and a new gaming computer.  We imagine his excitement even if we can’t see it.

“Do you want to set up the computer now, JC?”

“No, it’s okay.  Dad can help me do it tonight.”  I’m immediately deflated.  Where are those days when he used to get so excited about his presents and would lose his temper when something wouldn’t work or we couldn’t get it put together quick enough?  Am I insane for missing those days?

Dee senses my disappointment.  “How about Mum helps you build it later today?”

“No, I think you better do it.”  An added insult to my injury – now I’m perceived as incompetent.

“It’s okay.  JC wants time with his Dad,” I say.  I tell myself this to make myself feel better.

JC grabs what he really wants, his iPod so he can read Naruto fan fiction, and heads off to his comfort zone – under his blanket in his darkened room.  Dee takes a look at the PC he has bought online and finds a part lose.  He then sets about getting ready for work.  I climb back into bed where my two dogs have made themselves comfortable.  As I cover my body, neither of them move for fear of being moved off.  I don’t want to move them, I need some loving.

I fall asleep and when the phone rings it is 9am.  It is Dee.  “Hey, my love.  About the computer, is the Windows 7 disc with the package?”

“Uh, I’ll just check.”

“Are you okay?”

“I was asleep.”

“Oh, sorry.  Well, can you check for the disc?”

I have a quick look.  “Nope.  No, disc.”

“Okay, I’ll get in touch with them.” And with that Dee is gone.  The dogs have not moved and dare not look at me.

I make myself a cup of tea.  It is cold and I do not feel like getting up.  I return to bed and phone Jay.

“Hey angel, how was your night last night?”

“Oh, hey, Mum.  Yeah, it was okay.  I didn’t sleep until 12, but it was okay.  How is JC?”

“Yeah, he enjoyed his gifts.  In his usual spot now, though.  I’m going to stay at home with JC today love.  He goes back to school tomorrow, so I’ll come then.”  I know that me being at home will make little difference to JC, but I feel at least for his birthday, for the first time in two and half weeks, I should be available to him for the entire day.

Jay understands.  “That’s fine Mum.”  We talk a bit more about how she is feeling.  The tightenings have really subsided.  She is bored and wondering why she can’t come home.  The boredom is relentless.  I try to encourage her, to reassure her  that she is busy incubating her son and that she is doing such a fabulous job.  We talk about staying in bed for the day.  It is dreary outside and seems to be the perfect day for a pyjama day, a frequent event that used to frequent our family calendar when we would shut out the world and just be together.  I miss those times.  We agree on a pyjama day by distance.

I lie for a bit and realise that Dee’s folks are likely to pop round for JC’s birthday.  No pyjama day for me.  I get showered and dressed.  The door bell rings.  It isn’t Dee’s folks but the new part for my dyson vacuum cleaner.  I am excited to get it.  I fit it and am delighted to see my cleaner is operational again.  I whip around the house with it, filling the canister with all the nasty dust that has been accumulating on my carpets for a good couple of weeks.  Don’t be fooled.  I am what I term myself “A housekeeper’s backside.”  I hate housework and any form of domesticity really.  I do it out of obligation, occasionally, when I can no longer get away with not doing it, usually when we are expecting guests because I am absolutely petrified of being  judged an awful housewife, since that is meant to be my job.

I walk into JC’s room.  It is a mess and full of dust.  “I want to hoover in here, JC.”

“No, I’m in bed.”  The noise is too much for him, so he needs to vacate the room for me to do it.

“I know, but I need to clean it.”  I know this is futile.  I will have to do it tomorrow when he returns to school.  I walk out as he says again, “No.”

I make him and I breakfast.  Bacon sandwich for him, a bowl of sultana bran for me – because I want to lose weight, of course.  He devours the sandwich.  I try to broach the subject of leaving the house.  “Perhaps you and I can go and see a movie.  Battleship is meant to be really good.”

“No.”

“Are you sure?  It’s a lovely day and it would be so nice to get out…” before I have finished my sentence, JC gets up and walks away.

“I don’t want to go, Mum.  It’s my day and I just want to be left alone.”  He walks back into his room and closes the door, a little too hard for my liking.  I sigh.  I feel disconnected from my son and I have no idea how to make the connection with him.  Such it is with autism.  Always living in their own world, with no room for outsiders, or anyone really.

I retire to the sofa and turn on the television.  At least the house is dust free for a while and at least I have a day of relaxation to enjoy.  I hope Jay is not too lonely, but I know that I will be there with her for a good few hours tomorrow so try not to feel too guilty.

I spend much of the day watching TV, making lunch, tidying here and there.  It is relaxing, although I find I am tearful throughout the day.  Depression is such a bitch sometimes.  Even when I am relaxed, those dreaded tears sneak up on me.  But I am relaxed and that is a good thing.  I think about Baby C and wonder how he is doing in his little cocoon, blissfully unaware of life outside the womb and the flurry he has caused.  I smile, because I am sure it won’t be long now and a new adventure will begin.  At least JC got his wish, Baby C will not be sharing the same birthday.  Funny how even if you have autism, you don’t want to share your birthday with anyone, you just want it to be your special day.

Categories
Autism Teenage Pregnancy

Trying to juggle it all – Friday 13th April – 27 weeks and 6 days

I have woken up very tearful today.  Not because of Jay, but because of JC.  Yesterday, I came home and he was in his underjocks, lying in bed in his darkened bedroom, reading.  He had not eaten the lunch I had put out for him.  Since I was early coming home from the hospital, I offered for us to go to movies.  He usually loves the movies.

“Nah, I’m good.” his favourite saying.

“How about a walk.”

“Nah, I’m good.”

“Is there anything you would like to do?”

“Nah, I’m good.”

“JC, you have to do something.  You have not left this house since you broke up from school.  Plus you have not really got dressed for the entire holidays.”

“Well, why do I have to, I am only at home.”  Guilt perforates my entire body.

“Well, let’s do something.”

“I don’t want to, Mum, how many times do I have to tell you.  Now, can you get out of my room.”  His room is in fact our other lounge, which he calls his room.  It is his sanctuary and he doesn’t like anyone else in it, unless you are capable of playing Call of Duty with some level of competence and I certainly don’t fit that bill.  I get up, walking out of the room feeling dejected.  Without warning tears stream down my face.  I worry so much about JC.  How is he going to cope in the real world.  I feel I am failing miserably at teaching him the life skills that are going to be necessary for independent living.  I wonder if he will ever leave home.  I wonder if we will be his carers forever, even though he is intellectually capable.  He refuses to do anything and try as we might, we cannot get him to budge on anything.

Communication is almost impossible with JC.  He has no desire to see his sister in hospital and literally lives in a world that is of his own making in a space that is probably nine square meters.  My mind is racing with all the possible outcomes life may have in store for him.  I feel I have neglected him these past two weeks, despite knowing we would not have left the house in that time.  I decide to try again.

“Do you want to go for a milkshake?”

“No, Mum, now leave me alone.”

Dee gets home and I am in tears.  “What is in store for us, what is in store for JC?   Dee he won’t even leave his room now, he is like a vampire sitting in darkened room.”

“I’ll talk to him, but when I am scratching his back, he will be calmer then.”   Dee received a back scratcher for christmas from Jay and it was honestly the best gift.  Now JC has to have his back scratched/tickled every night.  We realised quickly that this a sensory thing that calms him – he is most receptive at this time.

I retire to bed with my laptop to research PDD NOS and adolescent social skills.  A study I find says that around 50% of ASD adolescents are socially isolated, never leaving home and never being invited out by friends.  JC fits this perfectly.  They also are the most socially isolated cohort out of all people with disabilities.  I find this disheartening and not encouraging.

Dee comes in.  “Right I have got him to agree to go on holiday with us.”  Like he has any choice in the matter.

Still, I wake up this morning teary.  I phone JC’s psychologist on the way to the hospital.  “I am deeply concerned about JC.  He has now taken to not getting out bed and reading in a darkened room all day.  He won’t even come out for meals.  All he says is that he wants us to leave him alone.  I am so worried about him and his outlook.”

“I can’t see you without JC, Sarah, because Medicare won’t allow it.”  Damn!  JC refuses to see the psychologist any more and I have been advised not to push it.  “I can refer to you to other services.”  By now I am at Jay’s room and tears are streaming down my face.

“No-one seems to understand.  No-one knows how worrying it is for us and also how isolating it is.”

“I know Sarah and I am worried about your mental health at this point.  You need to see someone.”  No, I need to get support for my child with autism that won’t leave the friggin’ house.  I take the numbers down of the services and smile at Jay.

“What’s wrong Mum.”

“Just JC love, I worry so much about him.  I just wonder what his outlook will be and sometimes I just do not have the energy to fight him all the time.  My own depression doesn’t help.”  Jay nods, but looks worried.  “Don’t you worry, love.  it will be fine.  I’m just not having a good JC day today.  He is so isolated and it worries me so deeply.”

We change the subject.  “So, off to the clinic.”  I notice a heat pack on Jay’s tummy.  “Have you had pain today?”

“Yes, I have and some major tightenings.”

“Well, let’s keep an eye on them and then we can let Bec know.”

I take her downstairs.  It is still hot and stuffy and absolutely heaving with pregnant women.  Bec keeps us waiting quite a while.  Eventually she calls us into her office.  “You look well, Jay.  Nearly 28 weeks, who would have thought?”  Jay nods.  She does look well.

“Jay has had some pain today.  Should we be worried?”

“I don’t think so.  If baby is going to come, it is going to come.  You are in the best place possible.  But you do need your anti-D injection as you will be 28 weeks tomorrow.  Once you have had that, you can go back to the ward and I will see you, hopefully in two weeks time.”  Bec smiles and hugs Jay.  She is really fond of her.

Jay has her anti-D injection,  which she is surprised to report is painless, and we make our way for lunch.  It is not very nice.  I take Jay back to the ward and we watch a bit of TV.  I start to get tired and decide to head home.  JC is still in his pyjamas when I get home. It is 3pm.  Dee’s dad has brought JC lunch, so at least I know he has eaten.  I sigh.  I clearly have some acceptance skills to work on.  I contemplate ringing the referral people, but decide against it.  I am way too tired to retell our life history to yet another professional.  It can wait until Monday.

I am unable to sleep.  My mind is racing all over the place. JC wants to stay up late (again) and Dee is tired, so I again agree to stay up.  I don’t mind.  I cannot sleep.  Eventually at 2:08am I go to bed.  I realise that Jay has finally made it to 28 weeks.

As I fall asleep, I wonder if there is reincarnation and if there is, how it is that I got such a hectic life between all the death, alcoholism, autism and teenage pregnant daughters I have had to contend with.  What kind of action brought about this karma and am I clocking up good karma for the next life?  I am feeling sorry for myself, I know, but hey, it is 2am!!

I close my eyes and sleep finally comes to me.  Please, please let Baby C make it to at least midday tomorrow!!

Categories
Teenage Pregnancy

The diabetes test – Thursday 14 April – 27 weeks and 5 days

Jay is nearly 28 weeks.  Despite the doctors being absolutely convinced that she would go into labour at 26 weeks, she has done a wonderful job of keeping Baby C in utero and now he will be bigger and stronger.  His survival rate just shot up as well.

It has been a difficult week for Jay.  Being in the medihotel has the advantage of a good night’s sleep, but has the disadvantage of not being checked up regularly during the day by midwives.  The isolation is getting to her.  She is bored and I worry about her depression getting worse.

“I don’t know why I am here.  I may as well be at home.”

“The nurse explained love that you could come home but the risk to the baby if it comes early and is a quick labour is high – there would be no-one to resuscitate the baby if he needed it.  She said that the biggest determinant for a successful outcome is where you are located at the time of the birth.”

Jay knows this, but I fear it does nothing to ease her boredom.

I go in every day to see her.  We go downstairs, have coffee and a danish, and then chat.  We go back upstairs to her room and watch TV.  After a fashion, I then leave and usually someone else will visit later in the afternoon and evening.  On occasion Em has not made it in the evenings and this has upset Jay.  I understand.  I would not be happy either if my partner did not come to see me every day, but I cannot decide if that is an unreasonable expectation or a legitimate gripe.  She texts me I’m teary.

I know love, I will be there in the morning, I text back.

And I do arrive, every morning.  We are on this journey together, after all.

Today, I have to take Jay to the pathology lab for diabetes blood test.  She is not happy.  “Right, Jay,” the nurse says, “I need to take blood, then you need to drink this glucose drink, then I need to take some blood one hour later and then again an hour after that.”

Jay looks at me.  “Why do I have to do this, I don’t have diabetes.”

“I know you probably don’t, love, but they have to check and at 28 weeks is the best time, I suppose.  It is important to know.” Jay does not like needles.

“Small scratch,” the woman says.  Jay winces. She drinks the sickly sweet drink.

We hang around in her room for an hour and go back to the lab.  A different nurse takes the blood this time.  Again we hang around in Jay’s room for an hour.  “Mum, I’m feeling faint I am so hungry, I am sure this is not good for the baby.”  No, I wouldn’t imagine starving since 9pm the night before is good for the baby.

“It will be alright love.  Only another hour and you can have lunch.  My treat.”

The hour passes and we head on down to the lab.  The first nurse is taking the blood this time.  I feel we are playing pass the parcel with Jay.  She attempts to take the last vial of blood, but misses the vein.  She digs around.  Jay is clearly in pain and appears to be going a bit pale.  Eventually, the nurse decides to try another vein.  Bingo!  She’s in.

I treat Jay to a pizza for lunch.  She has lunch waiting for her in the ward, but she prefers pizza.  She keeps showing me her war wounds.  Four little prick marks in her arms.

We head back to the ward after her lunch.  A gentleman wreaking of smoke enters the lift.  I wager a guess that he has some mental illness.  He is extremely dishevelled, twitchy and his pyjamas are hospital issue.  A guess, but having been a nurse in a previous life, they are usually correct.  Jay has her phone in her lap.

“Nice phone cover,” the man says.

“Thanks.”  Jay keeps her head down.  Her back is to me as I have wheeled her into the lift.  The man is next to Jay.

“Can I have a look at it?” he says.

She hesitates.

“Can I have a look,” he says again, holding out his hand.  She nervously hands the phone over.  He looks at it and as the lift pings on our floor, he hands it back.  I quickly wheel her to the ward, checking slightly over my shoulder to make sure we are not being followed (just in case).  We get into the room and Jay gets onto the bed.  I can see she is upset.

“Are you okay, love?”

She bursts into tears.  “I didn’t know what to do, I just didn’t know what to do.”

“He didn’t mean any harm love and if he had kept the phone, I would have said something.”

She looks at me.  “Why didn’t you say No, Mum, that he couldn’t have the phone.”  She feels I haven’t protected her.  I suddenly feel awful.  Did I not protect her?

“Well, in my experience, it is usually best not to provoke people like that.  They don’t usually mean any harm.  We were in an enclosed space, and I was afraid that if we refused him, it might provoke him.  I didn’t want that.”

Jay nods, and I hug her as she cries softly, clearly very shaken up by the experience.  This shouldn’t happen in hospital.  This whole thing should NOT be happening to my daughter, dammit!!  She is way too young!

Eventually it is time for me to leave.  Jay is tired.  I draw the blinds and turn off the room light, kiss her lightly on the forehead and whisper for her to get some sleep.  I know that is exactly what I am going to do when I get home, but not before I stop at Red Rooster and get some chicken for dinner.

Another day and Baby C is still in there.  How lucky can we possibly get?

Categories
Depression Teenage Pregnancy

Moving to the medihotel – Wednesday 10 April – 27 weeks and 3 days

My phone rings before I have managed to get out of bed.  It is Jay.

“Hi love, how are you?”

“I’m okay.  They said that they are going to transfer me to the medihotel today.  I said that if they can transfer me there, can’t they just let me go home, but they said no because if I deliver early, and they said I will deliver early, there will be no-one to resuscitate the baby.  I guess I get that.”

It is hard for her.  She is 19 and having to remain on bedrest for what may end up being weeks.  Not likely, but it could be that long.  It is boring for her and I worry about her frame of mind.

“It is good news that they are moving you love.  It means that the imminent danger is over and we may even get a couple  more weeks yet.  This means you will be closer to 30 weeks which is brilliant!”

I know she doesn’t see it that way, such is the “I want it now” teenage mind.  “Yeah, I guess.  What time are you coming over?”

“I’m just getting ready and I will be over soon, okay.”

I hop into the shower.  A dull headache is brewing but I choose to ignore it.  JC and I have our breakfast.  He wants plain bread only – easy to eat, doesn’t have to stop what he is doing.  I refuse.  He has to have something on it – vegemite or peanut butter.  He chooses vegemite.  I break my own rule and allow him to eat it on the settee.  I’m too tired to fight so don’t even start it.  He says “Yay!”

I make JC lunch, left over sausages, baked potato and vegetables.  I cover the plate, place it next to the microwave and tell him that his lunch is there, to put it in the microwave for 2 minutes for lunch.  “Okay, Mum,” he says.

I make my way to the hospital.  My headache is getting worse, but I ignore it.  I have decided I am old way to before my time.  I have a plethora of illnesses that someone my age shouldn’t have – hypothyroidism, meniere’s disease, spinal stenosis, gastric problems, not to mention depression, alcoholism, extreme fatigue all the time and obesity.  Oh no, this just has to change.  I need to be here for my grandchild and for my children.

I arrive at the ward and Jay is all ready and waiting to be transferred.  She has packed her things into bags (of which there are way too many) and is eager to move.  We are told that she will not be moved until after 2pm, so we head downstairs for a coffee and pie.

“I am a little scared of giving birth, Mum.”

“I know love.  But it will be okay.  Hopefully with them moving you to the Medihotel that means that they don’t expect it any time soon.”

We haven’t spoken about what happens after the baby arrives.  I guess there isn’t much point until he makes his appearance and we know what his chances are.   The not-knowing just looms over all of us like a black cloud.  I think that we will all be relieved when he arrives so we know what we are dealing with.  It is difficult because we don’t want to wish his early arrival, but want to know what it is we will have to cope with.  Catch 22.

We make our way up to the ward and Jay eats her lunch.  We pile up her belongings are taken over to the medihotel ward.  It is a 10 bed unit on the same floor.  It is for people who are at too much risk to go home, but aren’t sick enough for ward care.  Jay fits the profile perfectly.

We are greeted by the ward clark who shows Jay to her room.  She has her own room with bed, tv and ensuite.  It is really nice.  “All meals are to be taken in the dining room.  You help yourself to breakfast and lunch and dinner is brought up from the kitchen.  Please put your dishes into the dishwasher when you are done.”  So this is a self-help, self-care ward.  Fair enough.

We return to Jay’s room.  “This is really nice, Jay.  Finally, you will be getting some decent sleep.”

“But I am going to be lonely.”  I sigh.  Her frame of mind is really starting to worry me.

“I know love, but between Em, Tee, Dee and me you will have plenty of visitors to keep you entertained.  Make the most of the rest love.  When Baby C comes there will be no rest, you know.”  Jay looks very tired.  “How about a cup of tea.”

“Rooibos tea?”  It is Jay’s favourite, a taste from our old South African days.

“Of course,” I smile.  I grab two tea bags and head to the kitchen.

“Here we go.  One rooibos tea for you and one for me too.”  Jay smiles.

My headache is steadily getting worse and is that a sore throat I feel?  I decide it is time for me to go home.  “You are really settled here, love, so I am going to head home.”

“Okay.”

“Get some rest, Jay.  Sleep.”

“I don’t like to sleep during the day.”  She is really fed up.

“Okay.  Well, do what you feel is right for you angel.  I will see you tomorrow.”

We kiss goodbye and I make my way home.  My head is now thumping, my throat is sore and I am aching all over.  Oh please, do not let me be coming down with something.

I get home and take some headache tabs and lie down.  The house is a mess and I cannot muster the energy to do anything about it.  I phone Dee.  “Can you bring pizza home for dinner, I just can’t cook.”

“Order it online, love, I’m going to be a little late home.”

I order it online.  JC is thrilled.  Dee gets home and I take another couple of tabs and head off to bed.  My head is thumping and feels like it is too heavy for my neck.  I lay as still as I can because moving my head hurts like hell.  Eventually I drift off into a quite deep sleep.

At 11pm, Dee makes it to bed.  He wakes me, despite trying to be as quiet as he can.  “How are you?” he whispers.

“My head still hurts, but not as bad.  I’m going to stay at home tomorrow and rest.”

“Good idea.  Oh, by the way, the electricity guy is coming tomorrow at 8am.”

“Fuck, Dee, really?  On the one day I decide to stay at home?”  I calm down.  It’s not his fault.  “Sorry, okay, no problem.”  And with that I fall back to sleep.

My dreams are fitful.  I dream of my mom.  I can never hear her voice.  It is the one thing I miss about her the most.  Her voice.  It was the first thing that the lung cancer took from her and it is the one thing I miss the most.  I long to hear her say “It’s okay, love, it will be all okay.”  I guess a girl never ceases to need her mom, even when she’s passed to the other side.

Categories
Teenage Pregnancy

Knitting and leaving the ward – Monday 9 April – 27 Weeks and 2 days

As I open my eyes to the start of a new day, I wonder how much longer it will be before Baby C makes his arrival.  Having the threat of a preemie baby, and all of the implications that brings, consumes everything.  I am unable to think of housework (which at the best of times is a push for me anyway), or any of my other responsibilities.

My maternal instinct to protect Jay from any eventualities – eventualities that I dare not even think about, but are there, looming, ominously threatening – is incredibly strong.

My phone buzzes.  The doctor has been.  Because I have been settled for a few days now, I am allowed to go downstairs in the wheelchair. 

I’m just getting ready, I will be there as soon as possible.

I want to come home.

I know love, but they said they would consider sending you home only after you got to 32 weeks.  I feel like I am forcing my child to stay in boarding school when she is so miserably unhappy.

I get ready and drive to the hospital.  It is Easter Monday, so again Dee is able to be with JC.

Before arriving at the hospital, I stop off at the shops.  It seems ages since I have been shopping.  I wander around, looking to get Jay something.  I am feeling uninspired, but end up getting her a sweet scarf – winter is on its way after all.

I amble into K-Mart.  Easter eggs are on sale.   We definitely do not need those – Jay has one enormous stash.  I stumble upon some wool and decide to buy a baby knitting pattern book, some wool and needles.    Yes, folks, I am turning into the proverbial granny!

I arrive at the hospital and Jay is gagging to get out in the wheelchair.  We make our way down to the lobby and enjoy a meat pie and hot chocolate together.  We follow this with a lovely Danish – yes, okay, the diet is not going particularly well.  Jay’s mood is lifting and it is lovely to chat to her.  We talk about the baby, the people who are coming and going in the ward.  She is getting to experience a myriad of different mothers and is already determining the kind of mum she wants to be – protective, nurturing, caring – I had no doubt this would be the case.

We take a wonder around the hospital shop and giggle at my less than expert wheel chair driving skills (the aisles were very narrow is my excuse and I am sticking to it!).  I buy Baby C a gorgeously cute beanie and Jay buys herself some more puzzle books and magazines.

We return to the ward and I start my knitting (why am I cringing?).  “Do you want to learn to knit, Jay?”

“No.”  A response that was a little too resolute and quick for my liking 🙂

“Oh, okay, then.  I guess there are some things that you just cannot pass on to your daughter.”

Jay does word searches and I begin to knit.  We chat some more – always about babies in some way or another.  The gift that I have been given through this very trying, emotionally exhausting time is not lost on me.  I love how we are getting so close.

“Listen, Jay, when Em arrives, I am going to go okay?  You are really well settled now and you don’t need me here all day.  Em will want to be with you on your own anyway.”

“Okay, Mum.”  Followed by, “I want to knit.”

“Do you?  How about I bring some stuff for you tomorrow and I teach you?”

Jay nods.  Em arrives and I pack up and make my way home.  I am tired from a late night and am looking forward to getting home.  I seem to be tired a lot lately.

I get home, and lay down on the settee.  I sleep for two hours.  Thank goodness for long lazy weekends.

Dee has prepared dinner whilst I slept and we eat at the table – the first time all three of us has eaten together for a while.  JC is in good spirits and we talk and laugh a bit.  It is good to feel this sense of normality.

JC wants to stay up late again.  I am desperate for an early night but agree to stay up with him (bloody school holidays).  I watch episodes of “One born every minute” on UKTV.  I love to watch what each family goes through as it welcomes a new life into the world.  I imagine myself in that position in a few short weeks (with any luck).

JC’s movie finishes and he goes off to bed.  “Good night, JC, I love you.”  He grunts.  His latest thing is that he refuses to tell me he loves me.  I am saddened by this, but also know it is a teenage boy thing.

I log onto facebook and Jay has posted a photo:

I totally love it.  Aw, baby girl, thank you so much.  I love you so much.

 I love you too.  Thank you for everything and being there for me xxx.

 I climb into bed.  Another day is over, Baby C has made it through and my daughter thinks I am the greatest.  Damn, it’s been a good day!


Categories
Depression Teenage Pregnancy

Easter, loss and an overwhelming sense of fear – Sunday 8 April – 27 weeks and 1 day

Another day and Jay has still not gone into labour.  It is Easter Sunday.  She sends me a text to say that she is well and that, in fact, her contractions have largely subsided.  She really wants to come home and wonders if the doctors will allow it.  I don’t think that is a good idea.  I am convinced that Baby C has only made it this far because Jay has been forced to remain in bed.  I know she won’t have  the same resolve at home.

I make my way to the hospital.  As soon as I arrive, Jay says “Have you heard, Mum?”

“Have I heard what?”

“About that woman you saw in the NICU?  The Olympian?”

“Who?  Brooke Hanson?  What about her?”

“Mum, her baby died last Tuesday.”

I feel like someone has taken a club and just knocked all of the wind out of me.  I had read the newspaper story pinned up downstairs in the hospital lobby.  It had said that her baby had been born at 28 weeks in July last year.

“I-it died?”  My voice faltered.

“It was on the news.  Apparently her baby had a severe lung disease and a heart condition.”

I cannot believe it.  I had passed Ms Hanson on the way into the NICU this past Monday that we had our tour.  She was with a man whom I now know to be her husband.  I distinctly remember she was smiling (was that the smile of hope?).  I had seen the newspaper article in the lobby and had assumed that her baby was fine and that she was visiting now an ambassador or something for the NICU.  I had no idea her baby was still there.  I feel sick with sadness for her loss – a loss that occurred the day after I saw her.

The reality of the situation Jay is in has hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks.  I want to run out of the ward, and find somewhere quiet to let out the enormous scream welling up deep inside my belly.  I don’t leave Jay.  Dee arrives with her Easter eggs and we laugh and joke for the morning.  The nausea resides permanently in my stomach, though, all day.

Tee arrives before her shift in ED.  I tell her about Ms Hanson’s baby.  “It just goes to show that even at 28 weeks the baby is still very sick.” I say.

“Mum, don’t.”  Jay says, shaking her head.

“No, I’m not saying anything bad will happen, Jay. After all, Baby C is double the weight that Brooke’s baby was when he was born.  I’m just saying I think it is important we remember that at 28 weeks the baby still has a long way to go.”

Jay just shakes her head resolutely.  I know just the thought of it is too much to bear and I drop the subject.

Eventually, I make it home at around 4pm.  I have left the hospital earlier than usual and I know Jay isn’t happy about it.  I have to leave – I feel oppressed in the hospital, I need to get home.  I feel guilty for not being strong.

I walk indoors and Dee is in the garden, marking out the lines for the new beds.  He immediately sees I am upset.  “I’m so frightened.  Brooke Hanson’s news has really shaken me.” I say.

“So, what are you saying, it’s going to die?  You can’t think like that.”

“Dee I am not saying that, I just have this stuff inside, this fear, and I just need to let it out.”  I start getting anxious.

“No, Sarah, we just cannot think like this, we have to be positive.”

I glare at Dee.  I feel oppressed and frustrated.  God, men can be so obtuse at times.  I walk away to the bedroom, fall onto the bed and bury my head into the pillow.  I allow myself to let the tears flow.  My eyes sting and the tears are hot, but I don’t care.  I cry and cry.  I cry for the loss that may never occur, the loss of the normal joy of pregnancy my daughter is mean to have, the loss of the happy expectation a grandmother is meant to feel, the loss of my mom who should be here to support me whilst I am trying desperately to remain strong for my own daughter.  I just cry for all the loss I feel I have ever felt and will ever feel.

After 15 minutes, the tears stop coming.  I lie on my bed for a while.  I know I need to be strong for Jay, but I don’t want to be strong right now.  I keep thinking about Brooke and her loss.  It has really touched me in a way that I never thought a stranger’s loss would.  It is too close to home.  The reality is that pregnancies are meant to be nine months long, not 27 or 28 weeks long.  It takes that long to grow a healthy baby.

Eventually, I get up.  Dee is in the lounge watching TV.  I sit down next to him.  He has no idea that I have been crying.  I don’t care and I certainly don’t want to talk about it.

I look on the internet for more information on preemie babies.  I find a lovely site www.miraclebabies.org.au.  It is packed with great advice and information.  I text the link to Jay.  We are going to need all the support we can get.

I decide that I need to do something constructive with the time I am with the Jay.  I think about knitting preemie baby beanies.  I look for some websites for knitting patterns.  There are a few around but it is ages since I have knitted and my skill level is basic at best.  I make a mental note to pop into a knitting place to get some needles and wool.   I find one close to the hospital.

JC wants to watch back-to-back movies.  It will make it a very late night, but it is school holidays and it is a ritual with him during the holidays.  Dee and I both agree to stay up.  I, for one, am far too tired to put up a fight.

After watching Real Steal with Hugh Jackman (gotta love Hugh!), Dee asks me if I am okay.  “Not really, no.   The Brooke Hanson thing has really shaken me, Dee.  It has made me realise just how serious this all is.  They fought for nine months to save her little boy and she still lost him.  Even if Jay makes it to 28 weeks, it is no guarantee.  I know we need to be positive, and take one day at a time, but I can’t help it, I am scared.”  Tears are streaming down my face and I am burying my head in his chest.  I can’t help the snot escaping from my nose.

Dee strokes my head.  “Let me tell you something.  We are a strong family that has always stuck together.  No matter what shit is thrown at this family, we will hit it head on and we WILL deal with it and make it through the other end.  We have no idea what is around the corner, but I do know that somehow, together, we will get through it.”

I am sobbing and nodding.  I am tired, afraid and worn down.  I am frightened for what might be and I am so guilty for allowing the weakness of doubt to enter my mind.  But I also know that fear is natural, and I know for myself that I have to allow this to surface so that I can wake up tomorrow, ready to face another day and to be there for Jay.

The time is 1am and JC has finally finished his movie marathon.  I am ready for bed.  I am emotionally and physically exhausted.  I have eaten way too much so I am feeling bloated to boot.  Bloody emotional eating!  As I fall asleep, I wonder if there is a support group at the NICU for the family of the parents of the preemie babies.  If not, I wonder if I might start one.  It would be good to connect with people who know what it is like to go through this emotional rollercoaster – and our preemie hasn’t even been born yet!

My eyes are swollen and heavy and it isn’t long before the sweetness of sleep overtakes my body.  I shall be ready to fight another day.

Categories
Teenage Pregnancy

Boredom and Colds – Saturday 7 April – 27 Weeks

27 weeks today!!  We have made it to 27 weeks.  Jay is such a clever little girl!  Sorry, such a clever young woman!

I wake up feeling heaps better and am eager to get to the hospital.  I get up, get showered, make sure JC has his breakfast and head off to the hospital.  It is the weekend and Dee will be at home all day meaning I don’t have to worry about leaving JC for extended periods of time.

I arrive at the hospital and Jay is in bed.  I have brought her clean clothes and underwear.  She is clearly pleased to see me.  Although she is having tightenings, there are no associated pains.  It definitely looks good for 27 weeks and 1 day.

It is a boring day really.  I am on my laptop and Jay is on her phone for most of the time I am there.  We talk a bit, play a bit, eat a lot.  This waiting game is taxing.  Jay does not understand why she cannot go home now.

“You know why, Jay.  You are a high risk pregnancy love.  They can’t risk sending you home.  You know it isn’t going to be long, it is just a matter of when.”

“Well, when is it going to be?  I’m tired of waiting.”  She sounds so fed up.

“I know love, but every day that passes that Baby C is in the womb, is a good day, it is better for him and also for you.”

“I know, but I am tired and bored.”

It is a less than ideal situation.

Dee arrives with JC.  The woman opposite Jay has a very skimpy nightie on and I see JC dart a look in her direction.  I place him in a chair with his back to her.  He immediately pulls out his iPod and starts reading his Naruto fan fiction.  I tell him to say hello to Jay.  “Hi Jay.”  That’s the social niceties over for him.

Dee chats to Jay.  She is pleased to see her dad.  “I haven’t had any sleep dad.  The babies are so noisy and the mums are just as noisy.”  She tells him of the one woman who was next to her who was admitted last night.  This woman was the same age as Jay but further along in her pregnancy.  The doctors had discovered a heart defect in her unborn baby and had informed the young woman that her baby would not survive.  They had taken her off for an emergency c-section.  It had upset Jay so much.  “I cannot even think of losing the baby.  I just can’t allow myself to think like that.”

Dee and I nod.  It is something none of us can think about.

Em phones, he isn’t feeling well.  Jay rightly advises him to stay at home to get better.  We talk about him being ill and the very real possibility of him not being allowed into the labour ward if he has even a cold.

“So, what if I go into labour tonight,” Jay snaps, “they’re not going to allow him in?”  She is irritated, petulant.  A sign that she is still a teenager, despite what is happening to her.

“What can I tell you Jay?  I want to shock you and say have him there, Jay, but then risk the baby dying.”  I am irritated too.  She just doesn’t get the seriousness of it.  Why would she, she is only 19.

She glares at me.  “Fine!”  She starts to shut down.  This is her way of letting me know she doesn’t want to talk about it any longer.

I sigh.  “Jay, the baby will have no immune system at all.  Even the common cold could kill it.  I am sure that if we let them know that Em was feeling a bit ick today, they will swab him and take his temperature.  If he is fine, they will let him in.”  She nods.  I want to shake her, to let her know that she cannot risk the baby even if Em misses the birth.

It is not my decision and I am angry at myself for feeling like this.  Jay just wants him to be there, I understand that.  I quickly calm down.  After all, she is settled at the moment and may not in fact go into labour tonight or even for the next week.  This spat is probably for nothing!

I leave for home early, Jay is fine and I think we need some space.  Only a week into this and we are both grumpy and tired.  I feel terrible for not being stronger, not being more in control. My eyes are scratchy on the way home, a sure sign of my tiredness.

Another day has passed and even though it is only a week in, I wonder how much longer we can all manage with the not knowing – the not knowing when he will be born and the not knowing how he will be when he is born.