Day 10 in the hospital: I’ll probably be in this Salt Lake City hospital for another month at least. I don’t know what I’ve been doing. The nurses moved me up two floors and removed my catheter and the magnesium drip. A couple days later they gave me a room with a view of mountains instead of concrete.
I have ultrasounds twice a week, a massage therapist once or twice a week and a therapy dog visits every Wednesday. Yesterday I was sitting outside taking pictures of flowers and enjoying the sunset for a few minutes when a bird pooped on my head. Today my assigned Doctor- a redheaded liberal from the Netherlands- brought me some real underwear and DVDs. The food isn’t terrible.
Right now Tracy the RN is giving me the NST for the afternoon (non-stress test to monitor the baby). She came twenty minutes ago and slathered blue goop over my stomach. She then left and my currently sober husband calls to talk about our new house (he has just moved with my dad’s help to Taos from Jackson).
Tracy, my mother-in-law, is spending every moment with her dying mother and instead of driving my dad she’s trying to get a shuttle to take him to the Santa Fe Airport. I was imploring Charley to find a way to get dad there without a shuttle since he was an old man with one blind eye and had already spent too much time and money to get all the way down there.
“I’ll call you back this monitor isn’t working,” I say. I call the nurses’ station and explain the problem. Tracy the RN has to be called back to my room because the paper trail fun baby’s heart beat wasn’t moving and they’d lost her signal.
“What’s the baby’s name?” she asks. She has so much makeup on and such a prune face (that people get after years of too much drinking) that I found it hard to look her in the eye. “She doesn’t have a name yet, just baby girl.” This wasn’t entirely true. I was pretty settled on Dakota but Tracy the RN left me hooked up to the monitor for twenty extra unnecessary minutes so I didn’t want to tell her anything.
Tracy looks at the books I’d bought from Goodwill on a clandestine Uber trip two days earlier. Some Hunter S . Thompson, Lord of the Rings, a Pride and Prejudice reboot and Carlos Castaneda. “You like to read?” she asks lazily, shifting the monitor around my 30-week belly.
“Yeah, I do….” Finally the familiar sound of a galloping horse (my baby’s heartbeat) fills the monitor and the paper trail of her movements and heart start scrolling out again. Tracy the RN pulls my striped belly band over the two goopy monitoring thingamajigs and leaves the room for another twenty minutes or so.
Susan the RN comes in.
“I’m afraid I have some bad news,” she says. My heart sinks. Oh god what now?
“Open flames aren’t allowed in the hospital, I’m afraid we have to put out your candle… And it smells so good,” she frowns. I sigh. The news could have been worse. Could I have incense? She didn’t know. It’s not an open flame. Maybe try it? She winks.
Nurses remind me of well-mannered schoolchildren. They’re rarely happy or excited about what they do but they do it exactly as instructed and without complaint or any personal input. Doctors tell them how to behave and they behave. Then they gossip in the back about who and what and so and so. They’re not exactly happy but they’re comfortable with what they do.
Dr. Lukenaar has been a life saver. I’m lucky to find yet again a pocket of miracles in such a conservative, buttoned-down city. I wish I could be in my new house in Taos but until then I have this chill, liberal doctor, these DVDs, these busy nurses with all their various personalities, and this mountain view.