Notes on a hospitalized pregnant woman Pt. 6

Day 12: August 23rd. Evening.

The NST results (twice a day) are perfect. Great “acceleration”. Great “variability”. This test takes up 1-2 hours of my day. 

The fetal nonstress test records my baby’s every movement, her heartbeat, and my contractions or lack of contractions. It even makes little squiggly notes for every laugh and cough. For instance I am reading Lindy West’s book “Shrill”, and every time I laugh, a little line on the scroll of paper will spike up. The nurse assures me that a contraction would be a lot curvier like an anthill.  

The test notes the littlest changes in heart rhythm when baby goes from resting to moving, and makes sure baby is healthy and getting enough oxygen.

Even as I’ve sort of settled all my cards on the name I want- Dakota Raine (unless the girl comes out looking like a completely different child- Fiona, Nora, Margot, Sophia, Trinity, WeirdSpecimenOfAMiniatureHuman) I can’t help continuing to call or think of her as “baby”. Not my baby or the baby but “baby”. Maybe I could just call her Baby, she’d inevitably grow up to meet her dance partner and soulmate Johnny at a resort in the Catskills, and she’d never have to sit in the corner. 

This is what happens when you’re a long-term patient with an imagination: lots of tangential associations and daydreams. 

Day 13: August 24. Baby: 30.6 weeks (more or less).

Linda the RN thinks I seem more anxious than I was a few days ago. Linda makes me anxious.

“Do you want some Zoloft!” Her voice is high and excited, like an older, blonde, Chinese-manufactured Amy Adams.  

“What? No.” No! I don’t want Zolofffffffttt. 

Later I run into Dr. Lukenaar with the auburn hair.

“Do you think I need anxiety medicine? My nurse thinks I look anxious. What do you think?”

She doesn’t really think I need it.

I am anxious though. I keep worrying Charley will meet some skinny Taos hippie or talk to his ex -baby mama a lot or drink again. Of course he will drink again. I worry about my baby and I worry about this high blood pressure and my inability to control my nerves that seem to jump even when everything around me is relatively calm.

“Try to relax, mind over matter,” one nurse says. Okay, but telling me to relax and pitching platitudes is not relaxing, Jeannine. Jeannine the RN reminds me of the quiet but responsive good girl in the back of geometry class with surprising math skills, who’d laugh at a joke but wouldn’t really get it. 

I sneak another Uber to Goodwill and Walgreens. I’d highlighted my auburn hair a nice shade of cantaloupe not unlike Donald Trump’s face and I immediately needed to exchange it back to its previous, normal hue. I also need more DVDs and baby clothes and maybe a magazine with Jessica Alba on the cover.

An hour later I am back in my room and Linda the blonde RN scolds me for not being back in time for all my blood pressure medicine. Linda reminds me of the girls in high school who want so bad to be popular that they’re nice to everyone and gossip about everyone and don’t have a clue what they’re doing and what they like. I usually avoid these people more than I avoid paying my school loans off or eating mayonnaise. 

I take my pills, fix my hair, play with the Wednesday therapy dogs and then get my lunch, blood pressure test and NST all at once. 

NST time is a good time to lie in bed and think about everything. Today’s focus: my ex, Adam. First, I was looking at a Facebook post about my old coworker in Eugene and her daughter. And then I saw, in her friend’s list, my ex. The same ex I worked with at the health food store and became friends with for a year and he same ex who I kissed over a spatula with chocolate sauce and a 19th C algebra book one night after I’d moved into the apartment below him. The same ex who wanted a place with me for one year and “space” for the next four, and who wrote me when I was teaching in Korea and who came at the same time I came. 
So my NST is extra long because the monitor fell off and now my heart is sad again. Where the hell is the NST technician? My lunch is getting cold and fuck Adam and his one-expression girlfriend. I am hungry and I miss Charley. 

Later at a Reiki session: “What do I do? Do I lie down? Do I close my eyes?”

Diana the RN also is Diana the Reiki specialist. She is small and mousy, like an old, weathered marathoner. She turns on soothing jewelry shop zen tunes and places her little fingers just above my head. That’s when my legs started twitching. As she settles on my head, my face, my upper chest and stomach, my legs grow increasingly restless. By the time she is at my feet they are twitching sporadically, and I pretended to be asleep while Diana swiftly gathers her little musical charm bag, raises the blinds, and shuffles out of the room. 

I sit up and hit my legs: “shame on you”.