Sat 5 Apr 2008
this week has not been a pleasant journey.
drowning in work after an unanticipated ‘vacation’ spent getting pretty blue thread stitched into my lady parts, i came down with Oscar’s cold on Monday. then i saw my regular hometown OB, who felt me up and could find no evidence of any cervix left at all, other than the stitch. so my pelvic rest got upgraded to real, bonafide bed rest and we got ordered back to Halifax for another appointment this Friday. and i was not to drive, so Dave booked yet another day off work. i sent copious work emails from our couch, feeling out of the loop and out of control, and tried not to over-research the failure rates of cerclages and the chromosomal risks of fetuses (fetii?) without nasal bones at 12w4d and scar tissue septums (septii?) in uteruses (uterii?), and i waited for Friday with the dread of someone who feels like bad omens are in the air. about thirty hours before we were to leave for Halifax, i woke up in the middle of the night nauseous and wretched, and not the kind of nauseous and wretched that goes with pregnancy. the kind that goes with flu. turns out when Oscar woke, with alarming screams, that he’d been having the same problem. his crib, floor, and wall were newly decorated with memories of the previous evening’s strawberries, and the whole room was pungent with sourness, dried vomit caked in his hair. his father bathed him, washed the contents of the bed, scrubbed. i lay around on the bathroom floor trying to smile at my miserable child whilst moving as little as possible.
twenty-four hours later, with no further signs of illness from O and my own day of retching behind me, Dave packed the car, and i reclined the passenger seat, and the three of us started of for Halifax, where my little family would visit cousins and i would – my doctors had cautioned – likely be admitted, either for another cerclage (for double luck) or to be deposited head-down in a craftmatic without even bathroom privileges for the coming, um, next three months.
it was a sunny morning. i ate an Egg McMuffin and marvelled at its rubbery goodness after thirty-six hours of nothing but the back and forth of juice and bile. Oscar was conducting an elaborate kissing session between plastic ponies and Thomas the tank engines in his car seat, and we were arguing with the CBC morning show. it was the high point of our week. and then, with little warning, a high-pitched squealing noise issued from the back seat, a whine that built in pulses into the gutteral, shocked, wet shriek of alarm that a not-quite two year old strapped into a car seat and throwing up most of what he’s eaten in the last twenty-four hours emits when he finds himself sick in a moving vehicle. one gush. O’s shirt, pants, and the car seat take most of the hit. two gushes. Thomas and friends are showered in half-digested blueberries. three gushes, and half the back seat of the car is awash in puke. it’s a Kia Rio. we pack tight. and we are past the point of turning back, especially since this appointment is so urgent, but we are also still three full hours from our destination.
so i swivel in my seat and try to comfort the poor child until we can stop at a gas station and Dave can lift him from the car and carry him through the cold, busy parking lot, drenched in vomit, for a change of clothes and a wash up. i scrape the reeking back seat and its contents with baby wipes, my throat revisiting my McMuffin with displeasure. Dave returns, deposits a now cheery, freshly-dressed Oscar onto my lap in the front of the car, then removes the car seat and takes it away to scrub it. i pine for the vinyl seats and sticky car seats of my childhood, with their uncomfortable but blessedly non-vomit-absorbing qualities. Oscar has a little of his rice milk from the car cooler. Dave re-installs the soaking wet car seat, covering it with a recycling bag so O won’t shiver to death. we set off again.
an hour later, same whine. i swivel again, quicker this time, ask Oscar if he needs to stop. we’ve just missed the exit, but i am nothing if not courteous. he tries to say yes, and loses his rice milk all over himself. we go to the next exit. we stop. we are less thorough this time. we dispose of pukey recycling bag, wipe down seat, change O’s clothes, place him on a bed of Irving plastic, give water, no milk, start off again. the appointment time is looming.
twenty minutes later, same story, except that this time his poor little stomach is going for the big guns, bringing up the deep, undigested bits like he’s auditioning for a part in “Stand by Me” and his eyes are big and frightened and the sun is beating in on the car and the reek is overwhelming and i am on my knees, beltless, in the front seat trying helplessly to calm him and comfort him except i am losing it myself and i start to sob and choke, half-sick, too much, overwhelmed, careening down the highway backwards in a little silver car that smells like a frat house puke party when i am not even supposed to be sitting up straight and i try to say, “it’s okay baby” except i still have a cold and i’m crying so it comes out as gibberish and all i can think is my god, this is the stupidest trip in the world and yet i cannot think of any options we had to do anything differently and this, this, is what really does me in, the utter powerlessness of it all, my inability to help my child or my unborn, to keep either safe and i collapse back in the front seat crying like a baby and then the cell phone rings and Dave, looking for an exit, picks up and says, “vomit express” and i say “no, vomit comet!” and we laugh because hell, what else are you going to do?
so we pulled in, and Dave cleaned him up again, and then the poor little creature, bless his heart, fell asleep in his wet, stinky, garbage-bag covered car seat and Dave cancelled the visit with the cousins and booked a hotel room for he and O and they dropped me at the hospital and in i went, just on time. and my doctor greeted me with a hug and a concerned, “are you by yourself?” and i explained and they ushered me in for the ultrasound and we discussed worst-case scenarios and they called in the med students because i’m special like that. but then she pulled up the screen and there it was, not only that same big round-headed baby with its beating heart but a cervix, with a good centimetre or more still above and below the stitch, not perfect but as good as they left me and fine, fine for the moment and my doctor looked stunned and measured again and there were smiles and congratulations all around the room. we did not see a nasal bone yet again but one of the med students ran to get my screening results and the Down Syndrome risk, all things combined, is that of a 27 year old mother which i most assuredly am not and so i am good with that, far more afraid of my body failing this child anyway than i am of anything else. noses are not the most important thing. and the septum – which is likely a scar tissue product of last fall’s D&C – is not likely to cause any significant problems until somewhere between 28-32 weeks anyway, which if my cervix holds til then will be a bridge we cross when we come to it.
and so i got to walk out of there, still on orders of fairly strict bedrest but not bedpan-style, not head down, not hospitalized, not yet, and i got a cab to the hotel and found my boys, still with the slight stench of vomit about them, and we got to be together and so the week, for all the wretchedness of its journey, has ended far better than i ever thought it would, even in destinations not quite planned.
though i’m not looking forward to the drive home.