I sat in silence for most of the car ride home following the depressing post-cerclage news. Somehow I had to psychologically adjust to strict bed rest—and the prospects of spending Christmas in a prostrate position—in the guest bedroom.
I wanted to lounge in the living room in front of our Christmas tree, fully enjoying Parker’s descent on toys and opulently wrapped packages. But I had to force myself to examine things pragmatically and dispassionately, as a model stoic, afraid to laugh, sneeze, or weep because of the pressure they’d place on my stressed uterus and my “hanging-by-a-thread” cervix. I was already trying to protect myself by cruising into emotionless mode.
Two months earlier a friend said I was “heroic” to attempt another pregnancy. “Either that, or I’m an idiot,” I’d quipped. Back then I could afford to be quippy.
Now, I wasn’t feeling heroic, like an idiot, or like a heroic idiot. I wasn’t “feeling” much of anything.
Except lonely, vacant, and scared.
My mother battled guilty feelings for leaving me to vacation in Germany, despite my assurances to her that there was really nothing she could do for me. Actually, I was relieved when she left. I needed to be left alone to rest, and rest was not something I would likely get with another person in the house.
I was more concerned about Parker, who once again appeared agitated about my health and new confinement, and who manifested his fear in a show of disdain and rebellion for his grandmother’s new position of authority. My mother frequently visited my room to insist that I mediate issues between them. That was one thing I couldn’t afford to continue. And I knew it.
A week later, Chris drove her to the airport on a beautiful Saturday morning. By Sunday, the church had organized a squad of people who could bring meals to the house on a rotational basis, take care of Parker, pick him up from school, and be called upon in an emergency. They now seemed determined to correct the lack of support in the past—during Victoria’s death—and rallied together to provide whatever they could.
By the following week, I’d arranged for a friend who lived in our community to come in twice daily to prepare meals for me and to drive Parker to and from school. Our insurance company had flatly denied home health care for me, calling it a “social issue.” Somehow, I didn’t quite understand how needing to eat while bedridden was a “social issue,” but being unwilling to subject myself to the emotional strain of trying to get them to change their minds, we decided to pay my friend for her mileage, home care and housekeeping services. And she seemed pleased to have the work. She provided great conversation and cared for Parker like a member of her own family, even taking him to the doctor on one occasion and transporting my dog to the vet.
She also gave tremendous foot massages, which I relished, and needed. Without her selfless sacrifices, we wouldn’t have made it through the second week.
By December, Chris had acquired the beeper and given me explicit instructions one morning to call him sometime during the day to see if it worked. Dutifully, I dialed the pager number and awaited his call. Unfortunately, my poor, distraught husband forgot that he’d given me those instructions, and I answered the phone call of a panicked man, panting heavily from the sudden adrenal jolt and sprint to the phone. He’d abruptly left a meeting in terror, certain that I’d gone into labor. I thought it was rather amusing. He was just relieved that I was okay.
I don’t think he ever got used to that pager going off, but I enjoyed the comfort of knowing I could reach him any time of the day. His co-workers, however, also wanted to be able to reach him at any time through that beeper, but he solidly refused to relinquish the number. Some of them couldn’t understand why he got to have a beeper and they didn’t. Some things you just can’t explain to people if they don’t want to understand.
I quickly became an expert on side-lying food consumption and realized just how grateful I was to the bendable straw inventor. My days revolved around meal times, until my digestive system decided to shut down just two weeks into my confinement. Former scrumptious delicacies were replaced by liquid fare consisting primarily of prune juice, or a tomato and sauerkraut juice mixture, apricot juice, vanilla Ensure, and an occasional evening snack of canned spinach.
But all embarrassment and modesty had to be laid aside because my system would just not cooperate. Sitting patiently in the bathroom, absorbing arresting reading material wasn’t an option. I couldn’t risk any possible increase in pressure on the cervix. So, every other day, my patient, loving husband rose to the occasion to administer an enema to me. Thankfully, the little squeezy bottle contents did the trick, and I’d be good for another forty-eight hours.
Although, instead of gaining weight, I rapidly lost muscle tissue and bone calcium. The baby took everything it needed, while I received leftovers. Within two weeks, the novelty—if there ever was any—was over, and boredom set in. I searched continuously for reading material and radio programs to whittle away the creeping hours and minutes. Afternoons—the very worst part of the days—seemed to stretch endlessly before me. The mere anticipation of Chris’s arrival caused time to dawdle lethargically forward, and the monotonous stream of talk shows and soap operas blabbering from the television dulled my senses. With cable unavailable in our remote farming community, and only two channels from which to choose, I could only flick back and forth between limited miscellaneous airway litter.
This was going to test my fortitude.
Christmas. There was always Christmas to look forward to, when Chris would be home for a week, and Parker would be on vacation from school! There was always the hope of Christmas! If I could just motivate Chris to put up a few decorations and a Christmas tree—despite his ever-increasing cranky and ambivalent attitude—we might enjoy some of the season’s spirit and salvage the holiday.
But that was looking like a big “if.”
NEXT WEEK: Christmas…and daily survival…
Until next week,
Thanks for joining me!