Most of my conversations lately are with nurses and run along the lines of:
“Any bleeding? Contractions?”
“No. But the baby is kicking the shit out of me.”
My legs are restless from being in bed all day. It’s a catch-22. Stay in bed and turn into an invalid like Colin in The Secret Garden, or go out and raise my blood pressure and tempt fate and get stink eye from the nurses. So I only go out to the front of the Women’s Pavilion and sit by the bees and flowers and the fountain with little rocks that splash drops of water on swollen pregnant feet if you stand near enough.
I spend most of the day nibbling at food, watching movies and coloring my hair with henna that smells like dirt and desert plants.
The nurses are all: “Get some rest,” and “You need to sleep,” and then they wake me at 4 am for more blood pressure medicine.
Of course it could be worse. Much much much much much worse. At least it’s not 1865, when anyone, including children, would get “soothing syrups” made with 65 mg of pure morphine. Toddlers would end up strung out or dead.
At least it’s not 1949, when anyone with depression or anxiety could end up with a lobotomy with an ice pick to the eye.
At least it’s not 1690 or 1850, when patients were bled to death, sometimes with barber scissors or leeches, to make room for phlegm and black bile.
At least it’s not 1923, when dehydrated tapeworm pills were sold to desperate housewives going on a diet.
At least it’s not 1859, when a doctor could stick his hand down your bloomers to cure “hysteria,” which could also be cured (depending on your husband’s wishes) with a lifetime membership to an insane asylum.
And at least it’s not 6500 BC, or 1558 AD, or 1664 AD, or even 1962, when doctors would attempt to cure pounding migraines with trepanation- the drilling of holes in your skull.
The baby is kicking the shit out of me. I quit the baby name polls and started talking to Baby with the name of choice so I might as well start using it: Dakota. Dakota Raine Turner, the next chapter in my life. The biggest chapter.
All of the other chapters are quietly filing behind this most important chapter:
Birth; the very murky toddler chapter; the Air Force Base chapter; the failing to ride a bike or tell time fast enough chapter; Fort Worth and the private creative arts academy chapter; the parents living in separate towns and fighting a lot chapter; the reunion of parents in Huntsville, Texas, and perpetual trips to the principal’s office chapter; the coinciding speech therapy chapter; the middle school in Wyoming and crying in the therapist’s office because everyone was a rich bitch chapter; the high school and weekend sports trips chapter…
A detour where it’s the summer after high school and I’m exploring myself on mountaintops, reading lots of philosophy books and feeling very enlightened…
The first year of college in Eugene chapter; the college and boys who didn’t like “labels” chapter; the falling in love with a long-haired new age cashier who needed space chapter; the term in Spain chapter; the teaching in South Korea at a conservative public school for a year chapter; the backpacking Asia solo chapter; the unemployment in Portland chapter; the grad school and DUI crash and simultaneous strain to be a successful artist in the Bay Area chapter.
Detour to the Sierra foothills for a summer, “digging for gold” and hiking the dusty red Rim Trail with a volunteer vest and gold pin.
Then a return to my hometown and attempt to be a successful journalist chapter; the sleep with various men chapter; the meet the love of my life who happens to also be an alcoholic and fall into a roller coaster of love chapter; and now the Taos with my new family, our six animals and my little baby girl chapter. The BIG chapter. This is it. Dakota Raine Turner’s first chapter. She’s kicking the shit out of me and I love it and I love her.
4:11 am Hi. I’m a little disoriented. My chin feels oily and my hair smells like plants. Yes, I’m awake. Marusy the RN doesn’t know how to sneak in and out. Marusy is not Susan. Marusy with the dripping lipgloss checks my blood pressure with the light on and I think maybe it’s breakfast time. No it’s 4:11. It’s been 2.5 hours since I was googling “pregnancy” and “boogers.” The computer is glowing and Marusy, with the sporty headband and buck teeth, is running around with the lights on, looking for my labetalol.
This is a good time to remove the blood clot preventing leg sleeves attached to the foot of the bed, and go to the bathroom. This is a good time to feel grumpy and discouraged. Fuck Marusy.
I take too long between unhooking the leg sleeves from the machine to going to the bathroom and then rehooking the sequential pressure device sleeves to their respective SCD hoses, so the monitor starts beeping at me, first a tenor beep then a contralto and a mezzo-soprano and a Wagnerian soprano robusto and lastly a high and airy coloratura soprano.
I finally redress my calves in the pump sleeves, and the beeping subsides. I drink at least two cups of water foreshadowing tranquility followed by another urge to pee and repeat the calf sleeve removal and redress ceremony in 15 minutes. I’m going to go ahead and blame Marusy for this.