Notes on a hospitalized pregnant woman Pt. 43

Today I watched two movies and spilled rice on my shirt.

My nurse is either really busy or unhappy. In the morning she get my pills together in a little cup and I somehow manage to throw my hand up in the air like I have Tourette’s, and all the pills fall under the bed and around the room. 

Ssooooooooorrrryyyyy, Bernadette.

The cleaning lady today says I look like my doctor’s sister. She thinks I look European (“in a good way”) and like I’m not from America and like I am different and wow, my new blonde friend, that is probably one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me. 

I’m also relieved my doctor is laid back and talks with me every day. She has the same political views as me. She says there’s a lot of fear in our country. Fear and hate. And other countries are watching us with embarrassment. But she loves where she lives. She would go back to Holland but her husband won’t leave the states and this has become home. 

I am exhausted. An anxiety pill fails. It makes me feel like a zombie and I don’t want it again. I’m like a snail during a freeze or a bear in winter. My walks have been replaced with naps and short shuffles. I am watching myself not living.

The nurse hands me a little blue pill. She says the doctor wants to start me on some Sertraline.

“Some what?”

Some Zoloft; see if that helps. The doctor has noticed my list of worries. She’s noticed the nuances of my brain and the ways I probe for more and talk about Charley, and she thinks I might be at risk for postpartum depression. 

I’m reminded of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”. Sefelt, an epileptic, refuses to take his pills and has a seizure.

“I don’t really want to take any pharmaceutical drugs for this,” I’d said. “I don’t know. Maybe. I mean no, no. I don’t want it.”

I need something for feeling like I’m entering a black hole. I make a Spotify playlist for Dakota and place my phone on my belly. I played violin and piano growing up. I’ve always felt music drives creativity and imagination. Good music (so not “American Idol”), heightens consciousness and sparks critical thinking. It helps with confusion, loneliness, anger, depression and anxiety.

Sadly, most of the music catered to babies and children is total crap. The baby music market is just an overload of poorly packaged, soulless, mechanical, mindless crap. There are fake instruments and synthesizers, noise recorders, and computerized voice manipulations. Why would I want to expose my daughter to more ear-grating nonsense than she’s going to have to deal with just going to school, watching tv, going into a Toys R Us, or even being in society? I’d rather expose Dakota to “adult music” and real music, with real voices and real instruments.  After all, that’s how you nurture a real human.

Dakota kicks a few times to “Fur Elise”, ignores Bjork and Radiohead, furiously dances to Weezer, and seems to really enjoy Mozart, and kicks all the way through “Serenade in G Major: Eine Kleine Nachtmusik”. 

The “Mozart effect” was first described in a scientific study published in 1993 in the “Science” journal. It involved teens listening to Mozart’s “1781 Sonata for Two Pianos in D major”. Students were shown to perform better in reasoning tests than those who listened to something else or nothing at all. Many studies have since said any stimulus at all helps, and classical music alone doesn’t make a difference. However, classical music pathways in our brains are similar to the pathways we use for spatial reasoning, and learning to play an instrument can have longer-lasting positive effects on spatial reasoning.

Albert Einstein once said, “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.” Victor Hugo also once remarked that music fills in what words cannot. Even thought, before it’s structure by language, converses with us through pictures and feelings. We intuitively know our answers before language can express, formulate and even manipulate what we know and believe. At least, that’s how I see it.

Classical and jazz have been known to have a more complex musical structure than say Taylor Swift or “Rockabye Baby!”. Babies as young as three months can pick out musical structures and recognize classical music selections they’ve heard before.  

Children who play instruments growing up have increased executive functioning skills (help with planning, focusing, remembering, multitasking), and self-regulating skills. The fine motor skills of reading music exercise auditory, visual and motor cortexes. Creativity and logic are stimulated. Scientists have documented an increase in the size of the corpus callosum, which allows for the integration of motor, sensory, and cognitive performances between rhe right and left sides of the brain.

I personally don’t know all of the science behind it, but I do know that when I was regularly involved in orchestra and choir as a child, I was also calmer and acing all my tests. And when I wasn’t as musically involved, I was often in detention or just plain unhappy.

When I turn on Miles Davis- “Round Midnight and Summertime”- Dakota’s foot slowly pushes out a few times to the beat, as if to say “Hey mama, doo bah doo bap bah doo bah”. I have two contractions in a row.

The “Schindler’s List” theme, by John Williams, incites more kicks. John Williams wrote the music for “Star Wars”, “Empire of the Sun”, “The Shining”, “Jurassic Park”, “Indiana Jones”, and many other Spielberg and blockbuster movies. The “Schindler’s List” song begins first with an orchestra featuring violin then orchestra featuring piano. Dakota kicks through the piano crescendos and is quiet through the strings.

Of course, Dakota kicks whenever she feels like it. She kicks when I drink soda or cranberry juice. She kicks when I’m watching “Baby Mama” or “When Harry Met Sally”. She kicks when I’m exhausted and napping and when I’m in the shower and eating grilled cheese sandwiches.

Charley calls. He replaced his phone and he’s going to an NA meeting. He hopes I’ll be back soon and that things will be easier. It’s too hard for him, all these damn animals and responsibilities. He feels overwhelmed. He needs me to be the “homemaker”. I tell him I’ll be like Virginia Woolf but he doesn’t now what I mean. 

I want this to be a happy time, I tell Charley. I want to return to a clean house with a crib and a clean carpet, I tell him. I’m sort of dreading the part where I come home and it’s a mess. 

But I love you Charley. We can do this, right?

Ideally, you will stay sober, get the house clean, and get a license.  (You’ll let me be silly.) We’ll stop worrying and complaining. (You’ll let me argue and laugh at stupid things.) You’ll be strong. (And grow up.) You’ll come to SLC and we’ll all three go home to a place worthy of a baby. 

Soon I’ll leave Utah, and Dr. Luikenaar will lend DVDs to new patients. The nurses will keep working 12-hour shifts. Tika, the Nepalese girl, will have her baby girl even though she wanted a boy m. Everyone will keep working, struggling, listening to music, being happy or sad. Everything continues on without us. 

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