Friday, June 27, 2014

Hello, Goodbye

Well, you've probably guessed by now that Manuji is here, and no longer Manuji.

Please say hello to Maxwell Robb, born at 12:25pm on Saturday, June 21st via emergency c-section.  He weighed 8lbs 2.5 oz, and was 21 inches long.

The birth story is a long one and I have so much to say about it.  But he is here!  Max is here!  And he's healthy and beautiful and safe and funny and all we ever hoped for.  And for the record - yep, the stripping of membranes did work and started my labor on Friday night.  But again, I'd like to do the birth story justice.  Hopefully one of these days Max will give me a few minutes to write it out.

Max's middle name is "Robb" which is also my father's middle name.  Not only my father's middle name, but his mother's maiden name before that and also the name the everyone who knows my father calls him.

I can't remember if I mentioned this in my last post, but last week (which now seems like an eternity), Dad decided to enter hospice care.  Last Thursday, Jeeves and I went out to visit Dad and were pleasantly surprised to see him in decent spirits, and not at death's door as my sister had described.  Before I saw him, I had a whole maudlin speech prepared in which I was going to tell my dad how much he meant to me (which he already knew), how much these last 5 years have meant to me, and that I would take care of my sister when he was gone.  But since he was doing so well, I held off.  But we did tell Dad Max's full name and he cried about the inclusion of Robb.

I didn't talk to my dad on Friday - he didn't answer his cell phone which is not surprising because in his failing health he was constantly leaving it around and forgetting how it worked.

On Saturday, when I came out of surgery, there were many texts from my sister.  Dad had fallen badly in the shower at the assisted living facility and hit his head.  He had a seizure and was sent to the ER.  There he was diagnosed with a brain bleed.  He was admitted to the oncology ward in a coma.  My sister didn't think he'd last very long.  As a hospice patient, he was just on IV fluids.  So, as I held my son for the first time, I cried that my dad was dying and hadn't even known I was in labor.

On Tuesday morning, as I prepared to be released from the hospital, my sister told me that the hospital had called - Dad had died.  We never got to see him, never got to tell him, even if he wasn't conscious, about Max.  

This has been the best and the worst of weeks.  I'm not sure how I've made it through.  But Max's sweet face has helped.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Fun with membrane stripping

40 weeks and 3 days pregnant.  OB appointment this morning.  The ultrasound tech assured me that Manuji's head is quite low (it sure fucking feels like it too).  My amniotic fluid continues to be perfect, and good ol' Manooj appears to be super happy and comfortable in there.  Growth estimate is 8lbs 3 oz.  

Today we had Dr. D, whom we both like very much.  We discussed picking an induction date for between weeks 41 and 42.  I should step back a little.  First off, my practice/hospital will only schedule inductions (other than ones where the mother's health is at risk) Sunday through Thursday.  The induction starts in the evening with cervical ripening, followed by a Foley balloon, and if necessary (and it usually is), Pitocin.  

The second element is that I watched my sister get induced at 41 weeks with my first nephew and it ended in a c-section, and the whole thing seemed awful and I'd like to avoid it.  

When we started this journey, I felt pretty strongly that if everything was okay with the baby, I'd like to go to 42 weeks before induction (not too many doctors, mine included, will let you go past 42 weeks, and based on the studies, especially for women my age, I understand why).  

Then this week, and deserving of its own post, something happened.  It's been a really rough week.  On Tuesday, Dad went to his oncologist and they decided it was time to stop treatment and start hospice care.  I had wanted Dad to have a blood transfusion in the hopes that it might help his anemia and give him some relief from the fatigue.  But his doctor felt it would not do any good.  Later, when I talked to his hospice case manager, she told me she thought the doctor was right - that at this point, the cancer would just eat up all those red blood cells and it might actually help the cancer grow even faster.

So, Dad started hospice care.  I'm going to save all the stuff that happened with that for another post, but the day after that, Dad had a really bad day and I started to wonder if he'd make it to meet the baby.  After seeing him yesterday, I feel like he will make it and will be cognizant when he meets his grandson.  But I don't feel very comfortable letting it go until week 42.  And Dr. D said that at my age, they prefer a woman go closer to week 41 than week 42.

Jeeves and I discussed induction dates, and I definitely want to wait until after I hit 41 weeks - I want to give this kid a little more time to come on his own and avoid what I suspect is going to be a miserable experience that may very well result in me having a c-section.  We had to pick two dates - first choice and second choice.  We'll find out if we got our first choice on Monday.

In the mean time, Dr. D offered to strip my membranes.  In case you don't know what "stripping the membranes" is, it means that the doctor inserts a gloved finger into your cervix and gently separates the bag of waters from the cervix.  This should release prostaglandins, which can kickstart labor.  All of the studies I have read indicate that stripping the membranes is safe and can help labor start naturally.  The only real downside is that it is uncomfortable and can hurt and may not work.  

Warning - I'm going to describe the stripping, so if you find such talk gross skip the stuff between the stars.


I was hooked up to the fetal monitor, and Dr. D started the exam.  She had a hard time reaching my cervix (I have a posterior cervix) but was ultimately able to get to it.  In order to do it, she needed to push the baby down, but she was finally able to get her finger into my cervix and do the sweep.  It was very uncomfortable and it was hard for me not to clench up.  Lots of pressure.  Not a lot of fun.  In retrospect, I should have had Jeeves stand next to me so I could squeeze his hand.  I think that would have helped.  When she finished, I sat up and I had pretty strong menstrual-type cramps.  They subsided.  


Dr. D stepped out to start the process of scheduling the induction date in case I don't go into labor before that.  I was still hooked up to the fetal monitor.  And as I sat there, I started to feel not right.  I started sweating profusely, my heart seemed slow, and I felt very woozy.  The room looked funny.  "I don't feel so good," I told Jeeves.  He asked if he should get the nurse and I said yes.  Dr. D came back in a moment later, put the table back and had me roll onto my side.  Apparently I was having a vagal nerve reaction - my vagus nerve had been stimulated, probably because of the discomfort from the membrane stripping.  As soon as I was lying down and on my side, I felt much better.  I drank some juice and stayed like that for a bit, and was able to get up and go a little while later.  The fetal monitor indicated that I had a couple of contractions - one I did not feel at all (it happened while I was worried that I was dying during the vagal reaction) and the other I felt a little.

Jeeves made me take a cab home, which was the right thing to do, but it made me sad because I had so wanted to stop at the pastry shop next to the subway.  Oh well.  Once home, I basically slept for two hours - the appointment and near-fainting had wiped me out.

Now we wait to see if this worked.  Dr. D said if it works, I'll go into labor within 24 to 48 hours after the stripping.  I've had some contractions, but nothing worth timing, and cramps for a chunk of the day.  I don't want to get my hopes up.  I know how incredibly lucky I have been in my life - I have the most amazing husband and a good job, I was able to get pregnant through IUI, my pregnancy was relatively uncomplicated, and my dad managed to last 5 years in pretty good health with stage IV colon cancer.  So I don't want to complain.  But the last couple of weeks, it's sort of felt like we can't catch a break.  The timing of Dad's decline has been terrible, and I just want this little boy to come out and meet his gramps.  It would be nice to get a win.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Father's Day, still no sign of Manuji

I mean, no sign other than the little feet he likes to jab sharply into my side.  I was hoping he might surprise Jeeves and be the best Father's Day gift either, but no.  As Jeeves puts it, Manuji is enjoying his rent stabilized apartment... even if the quarters are getting a little tight.

I'm 39w6d today.  Due date is tomorrow.

We went for the weekly OB appointment on Friday.  Fluid is still perfect.  And cervix is still shut tight. We met our last new doctor and I asked her if I should be concerned that my cervix is doing jack shit right now.  She said no.  She said, first, that it's my first, and first babies typically come after the due date; and second, she thinks these cervical checks are kind of dumb.  As she put it, she's had plenty of patients who had nothing going on call 3 hours after she saw them because they are in active labor. And she's had patients who were dilated 3cm just hang out like that for weeks.  Still, if I am pregnant at my next appointment (this Friday), they'll want me to schedule my induction.  I must have made a stricken face because she immediately assured me that it doesn't mean I'll have to be induced, just that they want to put something on the calendar.  So, she wanted me to think about choosing a date between weeks 41 and 42.  Jeeves and I are mulling it over.  At least part of the date choice will be contingent upon which doctor is on call.   I just keep hoping this will start on its own.

After much nagging from Jeeves, and a bit from Dad when he's actually with it, last Thursday was my last day of work.  While sitting at my desk was a piece of cake, and it's super air-conditioned in the office, and it was also a good way to take my mind off of when Manuji is coming and what's going on with Dad, the commute was getting a little rough.  New Yorkers can kind of be jerks and I couldn't always guarantee that I'd get a seat, the subway platform is HOT right now, and the stairs were becoming more of a struggle as my pelvis is starting to ache more.  So, no more work.  I miss it, and I felt depressed about it on Thursday.  Does that sound stupid?  I feel like everyone I know was so excited to stop work.  Maybe because my job was part-time and low stress, it seemed sad to stop.  And the other nice thing about it is that most of my co-workers are older and have already gone through losing a parent, or dealing with a frail, elderly parent, so they've always been very supportive and I find hearing their stories helpful.  For instance, last week my co-worker, J, (early 60s, has 4 grown children) told me that her mother was very sick when she was pregnant with her third child, and died about 3 weeks after she was born.  I look at J and think "She's okay.  She made it," and it makes me feel a little better.

Last week my sister took care of the stuff that needed to be done in order to get Dad into assisted living.  She also took Dad to his oncology appointment and called me up on speaker phone.  I wondered at first if I should just let her handle it, but in the end, it was good I was on the phone call.  Dad was kind of out of it, my sister was completely focused on getting the stuff she needed from them in order to get Dad into the AL place.  So as for Dad's cancer care, it basically became a conversation between his nurse practitioner and me.  Dad's hemoglobin is still very low.  This was surprising since he received two units of blood two weeks before.  But, it was also a little bit of a relief for me because it explains his weakness, fatigue, and confusion.... Honestly I had been worried that he was in the early stages of liver failure from the metastasis.

Anyway, we held off on more chemo, and we decided to wait one week to see what happens with the hemoglobin.  If it stays low, then he'll do another transfusion.  I fully expect tomorrow that his hemoglobin will be quite low.

Okay, long post about moving Dad into assisted living and my neurosis, so feel free to skip if you're just here for baby updates.  

On Friday my sister and BIL moved Dad into the assisted living place.  Thursday and Friday were struggles for me.  My sister texts me about 8000 times a day regarding Dad.  And while Dad and I were still talking once a day, my sister made it sounds like Dad was calling her all the time, and that he was cheery and happy about his move.  It's completely stupid, but my feelings were kind of hurt.  When I would talk to Dad, our conversations were short, he sounded tired, down, and not like himself.  When I would ask him about the move, he'd tell me he was scared and anxious.  What I should have realized is that a) my dad is really sick right now and when he doesn't feel well, he talks a lot less and shares a lot less and basically is like a cat and wants to curl up and be left alone; and b) that my sister sees things how she wants to see them.  But I didn't.  I'm a giant pregnant woman and I'm emotional so I took it personally.

Sissy texted me a gajillion times on Friday regarding the move and made it sounds like Dad was doing GREAT and was SO HAPPY to be in his new place.  When he called me, he mostly wanted to know where his handicap hang tag is (my sister has it), and he sounded out of it and tired.  We got off the phone, and an hour later, I had a bunch of texts from my sister with the blow by blow of what Dad had eaten for dinner and how he had sat with some man named Sal.  I was jealous again.  How come Sissy is getting these nice, detailed reports, and I'm getting the grouch who wants his handicap hang tag?  I tried calling Dad and it was clear he had turned off his cell phone.  I felt like crying.  "She's projecting," Jeeves said.  "She's projecting how she feels about the place onto your dad."  But part of me was so sure that he was just mad at me for some reason.  Or now he had Sissy so he didn't need me for anything and our daily phone conversations were just a task for him.

Saturday Jeeves and I went out to see Dad and we planned to go by the house to get him more stuff he would need.  I should add that according to Sissy, this new place was going to make sure Dad ate his meals, they were going to make him wear one of those fall buttons, they wouldn't let him hide in his room.  I didn't care so much about the last thing, but I really wanted to make sure he was eating. 

So, we get to the place, get into Dad's room, and.... wow.  He was in his bathrobe and underwear, not wearing his teeth.  He wasn't a total disaster, but look, a couple of months ago it would have been totally beyond Dad's comprehension that he would allow his son-in-law to see him like that.  It was 11:30 in the morning.  "Did you have breakfast today?" I asked.  "No, didn't feel like it.  Just coffee."  We encouraged Dad to get dressed and slap his teeth in, and we got him downstairs for lunch.  He got a bit better after he ate.  But in general, he was worse than when I saw him the previous weekend - he looked exhausted, was easily tired from very short walks (with his walker), had difficulty moving about, etc.  And he was pretty easily confused.  I would ask him a question and he would either not answer me at all or would trail off and forget what we were talking about (kind of like when he was severely dehydrated back in March).

As for the place itself - it's nice, his room is decent, it's got a handicap-accessible bathroom, with a built-in seat in it, which is great for Dad.  There are no stairs, nothing for him to trip over.  The staff was, by and large, incredibly nice and friendly and helpful.  The downside?  Jeeves and I found it pretty depressing.  There were a few able-bodied elderly people there, but most of the people were in wheelchairs, unable to get anywhere by themselves, sitting in a common area after lunch waiting to be taken back to their rooms because they couldn't do it themselves.  A number of them seemed to be suffering from some dementia or Alzheimer's.  It was kind of a sad place, at least in the dining room.  My sister had kept telling me this place was like a "cruise on land" and it was frickin' Shangri-la, and she wished she could move in.  All I could think was "I'm going to make sure I have some sort of plan in place for myself when I'm old so I don't wind up here."  Honestly, it reminded me of a nursing home a lot more than I thought it would.

After lunch, Dad couldn't find his wallet.  Jeeves and I tore the room apart, but couldn't find it either, and so I reached out to my sister.  She thought he might have left it at his house.  But she didn't see what the big deal was - "What does he need his wallet for?"  In fact, I got the notion that she was glad he didn't have it - just one more way of keeping Dad in the place.  Oh, and when I asked her what the deal was with the fact that Dad hadn't had breakfast today (weren't they supposed to "make" him go eat - her words!) she was like, "No, he said he didn't want to eat, and they won't make him."  Uh, okay.  Look, it's fine.  But she was definitely selling me an inaccurate bill of goods last week.

We swung by Dad's house, and I was irked to find how Sissy and BIL had left the house - dishes in the sink, lights left on, refrigerator full of food.  We packed up the things Dad needed that hadn't been brought already, I dealt with making some phone calls for him, and I turned the house upside down looking for that fucking wallet.  I became more and more panicked about it.  First - Dad keeps his social security card, his Medicare card, his photo ID, blah blah blah, in his wallet and getting that shit replaced would suck.  Second - I knew that if we didn't find the wallet, Dad would be convinced someone at the facility had stolen it and that would completely impact how he felt about the place. 

Back at the facility, we brought in Dad's stuff and started setting it up.  Dad was just waking up from his nap.  We started rechecking everything in the room for Dad's wallet, and I was just starting to give up hope, when I checked his pajama bottoms.... and found his wallet.  Why did my dad put his wallet in his pajama bottoms?  Who knows.  Probably he was feeling distrustful.  It doesn't matter, we found it, and Dad, Jeeves and I were all very happy.  Dad admitted that the missing wallet had made him start to feel unsafe in the place.  And what did Sissy have to say when I told her we found it and where it was?  She wanted me to take it away from him.  I'm not kidding.  Remember how I said back in December that my sister tends to infantalize my father and it bugs me?  Yeah.... 

At 5pm, we walked Dad down to dinner (at the end of the hall, Dad had to sit down while waiting for the elevator - that's how quickly he tires), and headed home.  I burst into tears in the car.  He's worse than he was a week ago, and it's hard to watch.  I'm glad he's in this facility because it's much, much safer for him to be sick in this place than sick at home.  But it still makes me incredibly sad.

I told my sister about the visit and she got upset, periodically cursing "Shit!" at things I told her.  She was also upset that he wasn't wearing the Life Alert pendant that she signed him up for (I refrained from telling her "I told you so" - those pendants are great, but only if the person will actually wear them and it's always been clear that Dad will not wear one).  I tried to reassure her - he's not doing well, but he's in the right place, she did the right thing getting him into this place.  

So, I guess the moral of the story is that I realized that my sister was indeed projecting her feelings about the place onto Dad (and she still is - yesterday there was a whole debacle about how she wanted me to press him to join the walking club).  She kept talking about how great this place was going to be for Dad, how it was going to totally turn things around for him, how he should have moved in there a year ago, and I realize now that Sissy doesn't understand that Dad's problems are stemming from a systemic disease, and that she thinks this place is going to magically turn my dad into a different person.

I'm hoping against hope that we can get the anemia under control so that Dad's last few months can be a little more comfortable.  I guess we'll see what happens tomorrow.

If you made it to the end of this post, you seriously deserve an ice cream cone.  Positive vibes, prayers, whatever your thing is - if you could send them to my dad, and also to me in the hopes that I have this baby soon, I would really appreciate it.

Monday, June 09, 2014

39 weeks, still pregnant

Well, it's been quite a week.  I'm 39 weeks pregnant tomorrow.  Yep, Manuji is still inside.

Update from last Friday's OB appointment.  This appointment was with the unflappable Dr. R, who we saw several times at the beginning of my pregnancy when my regular OB, Dr. C, was unavailable.  I really like Dr. R because she's chill and seems like low intervention.  Anyway, not much to report.  I had another growth scan and Manuji is allegedly measuring about 7lbs 8oz.  But I think these growth scans are really just guesses.  My fluid levels are good.  My cervix remains shut tight.  And that's about it.  I go back this Friday, where unfortunately I have to meet a new doctor.  I'm tired of new doctors.  Still having mostly painless Braxton Hicks contractions.  Every once in awhile I will have a painful one, but that's about it.

In my pregnancy group, more and more of the women have had their babies and the posts are about breastfeeding and what not now.  Three of the women who have given birth were due after me.  Only one was scheduled (due to severe pre-eclampsia).  The other two had their water break and then labor started.  I am starting to have this sinking feeling that I'm going to go well past my due date and ultimately have to be induced, which I really don't want, but what can you do?  I'm more and more uncomfortable and tired and it's starting to feel like this baby is never going to come.

Jeeves and I (well, mostly Jeeves) have made great strides in preparations - Baby's room is basically done (just waiting for some pictures and picture frames), we went to IKEA and finally got lamps and a rug for the room, stroller has been put together, car seat is in the car and we have an appointment to have it checked to see if we did it right.  My hospital bag is packed.  We bought snacks to take to the hospital.  We quiz each other on the steps for infant CPR.  So now we just wait.   

The biggest updates involve Dad.  Whenever my posts are mostly about Dad, I have less readers, but this blog is a good form of therapy for me, so it's fine if you want to check out now. 

I realize that I have complained a lot this year about how little my sister has done with regards to my dad's care.  But I feel like I need to give a little background on that.  When Dad was diagnosed 5 years ago, I lived at home with him so I could save money and pay off debt.  I was dating Jeeves, but we weren't engaged and he was living in Connecticut.  I had a demanding job, but the point is, I had the time and the will and I lived with Dad - all stuff that made it logical for me to be his primary caregiver.  Meanwhile, when Dad was diagnosed, my sister was four and half months pregnant with her third child and her second child had just been diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum.  For many years during Dad's treatment, he was doing very well and tolerated the chemo and needed minimal help from us.  I would go with him to doctor's appointments and keep track of his health history, but he didn't need help at home.

Meanwhile, my sister had a rough couple of years with her kids - coming to terms with the severity of my nephew's autism, dealing with her youngest, who definitely went through the terrible 2s and 3s.  My brother-in-law (whom Dad and I are not a big fan of) hired an au pair from China (my BIL is originally from China and this girl was actually someone that his family knew from back home) who was very young and had limited experience and spoke little English.  She wound up making my sister's life harder - it was like having a 13 year old girl in your house, except she was supposed to be working for you.  After a year, they terminated her contract and she went to work for someone else.  Then, two years ago, on Father's Day, Dad and I went to Sissy's house for a barbecue and we found my sister in a nearly catatonic state.  The next day she was involuntarily admitted to a hospital.  She got better, but after awhile she stopped going to therapy and stopped taking her medication (with my idiot BIL's full knowledge).  A year ago, she wound up back in the hospital, this time voluntarily.  They finally have her on a medication that helps and that she likes, and she's stuck with her therapy.  And they finally seem to have gotten her diagnosis right - Bipolar Disorder II.  She's doing much better now.  

I just give you this background so you can see that Sissy being much help to Dad was just not likely to happen.  In addition, Dad, although he loves and is close with my sister, did not particularly want her help.  He didn't see the point in her helping with his medical care since she knew very little about it.  And because Dad dislikes and distrusts BIL, he is reticent to confide certain things in Sissy.  This is not to say that I was not seriously pissed off when she was no help back in March (at a point in time when her kids are all in some sort of school, and she is healthy).  But part of the problem has been that she has not been able to help for the last few years and I have not asked her to help, nor has Dad.  But she's trying really hard now.  And Dad is accepting her help.

So, the quick update on Dad's situation.  Last week after learning about the fall he took where the paramedics were called, both Sissy and I started talking to Dad about assisted living and I sent Sissy a couple of places that are near his home.  On day one, he was resistant and said he wanted to hire his cleaning lady to run errands for him.  But I got him to agree to let Sissy take him to visit the assisted living places.  Day two, Dad and I started talking money, and he basically said he didn't want to spend any money on any of this stuff because he wants to make sure he's leaving it all to me and Sissy.  I convinced him that this would be the best gift he could give Sissy and me, and that he needed to stop being cheap about spending money on himself and he needed to think of this as spending money on me and Sissy (which he not cheap about at all).  Day four, Sissy and BIL took Dad to see the nicer of the assisted living places and Dad, miraculously, really liked it, although he became very distrustful when my stupid, stupid BIL was so vigorously selling it.

On day five, Saturday, Jeeves and I came out to see Dad.  We spent most of the day talking with him about assisted living and he basically admitted that he was ready to go in right now.  He's terrified of falling again, and is basically trapped in the house.  He's weak and fatigued.  He can't live alone anymore, he needs help.  And he's finally, mentally, gotten there.  Day six, Sissy talked to the people at the facility and they set up the nurse assessment, which was today.  Sissy attended.  It went well, and it looks like they could take him as soon as this Friday.  Sissy has to coordinate a bunch of stuff involving Dad's prescriptions and a tuberculosis test.  I know it's a bit stressful for her, but she's managing.

So this is great news.  Dad will be in a safe environment and he will eat more, and get physical therapy.  I really think this could make what time he has left a lot more pleasant for him.  And it will obviously be a load off for Sissy and me.

It's also been emotionally tough for me.  Never mind dealing with the realization that Dad's time is extremely limited, my terror over being an orphan, how he's not even gone yet and I miss him already.  I've come to realize that so much of my identity has been wrapped up in being Dad's caregiver, and I haven't been able to do that for a couple of months now.  Sissy is taking over that role, and it's really, really hard for me to let her.  On Saturday when I was out there, I noted the things that Sissy did not do over the last few days - she did not check Dad's prescriptions and get them refilled, she did not make sure he had enough Ensure, she did not realize that Dad is not eating dinner anymore because he's too fatigued to do anything other than microwave food for himself (everything she had bought him at the store required cooking), she did not change his sheets, or run and empty the dishwasher, or check to see that his bills are being paid.  I should note that these are all things my dad has done for himself when he is feeling well, but since he is sick right now, these things stop happening.  And at first I was annoyed that she had not done it.... and then I was weirdly pleased.  Don't judge me - no one judges me more harshly than myself on this.  But I was weirdly pleased because it meant I was still a necessary part of the equation.  I hadn't been totally replaced.

For the last five years, I have been the good daughter who takes care of Dad.  And now I'm the swollen, pregnant daughter who can't do anything for her dad other than call him.  I know that this is okay, I do.  I know it's okay for my sister to do this job for the short amount of time it takes to get him into assisted living.  But it's also really hard for me, even though all that should matter is that Dad is being taken care of.

Anyway, that's the story.  I'll wrap this up with what I've been saying to basically everyone lately.  How old are your parents?  Are they currently in decent health?  Start talking to them now.  Ask them what their long term plans are.  Do they live in a house with a lot of stairs or a house where the only full bathroom is up a flight of stairs?  I wish Dad and I had had that conversation earlier.  It honestly did not occur to me that he would get so frail so quickly.  I always assumed that at some point he would have to stop chemo and that he would have to do hospice care, but the actual logistics of this did not occur to me.  Or to him, I think.  So do yourself a favor and talk about it now.  Or buy your parents a copy of Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? 

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

38 weeks, more Dad stuff, and the saving grace of a good book

38 weeks today.  Manuji is still inside.  I get painless Braxton Hicks contractions every day from time to time and a couple of times I've had a painful one that stole my breath.  But that's about it.  

Things have been rough.  Dad had the blood transfusion last Wednesday and it went fine.  He said he actually felt a little better.  But he was still pretty fatigued on Thursday.  On Friday at 6:30am, I got a text from my sister (she was supposed to go visit Dad that day) and he had called and told her not to come because he had been up most of the night in terrible pain.  She said she was thinking she should still go - what did I think?  You should go, I told her.  I called Dad and he told me he had woken up in the middle of the night in horrible pain - he said the pain was worse than when he had his bowel obstruction (which, as far as I could tell, was the worst pain he had ever had up to that point).  But Dad has a prescription for oxycodone, so he took that and the pain was still there, but a lot less.  

I'm going to skip over a lot of stuff that happened that morning.  The short route is that Dad's nurse practitioner did not think it was a delayed reaction to the transfusion - she thought it might be the cancer nodes pressing on nerves.  She did not think Dad should come into the doctor because his doctor would probably have him admitted to the hospital for a bunch of tests and she didn't think that was a) necessary or b) a good idea.  She advised him to keep taking the oxycodone.  Dad and I wound up having an argument over the phone while I was sitting in my OB's waiting room.  I am not going to repeat it because it just upsets me.  But again, the short story is that I was asking him questions and what not and got yelled at for being a "nag" and in my opinion, Dad was being supremely rude to me, so I told him I would talk to him later and got off the phone.  Shockingly, my blood pressure was only 100/60 after this conversation!  Couldn't believe it.

Sissy went up to Dad's that day and spent time with him.  She felt he was okay not going to the hospital, and she ran some errands for him, got him food, took out the garbage, etc.  I was really glad she went.   Dad and I talked later and he apologized for being mean.

Most of the weekend he was on oxycodone and if you've ever had a conversation with someone on painkillers, well, it's not the most fun.  By Sunday he went off them and found that the pain was basically gone.  So that was a relief for both of us.  On the other hand, he talked to his brother on Sunday, and apparently came clean about what's been going on.  Dad and his brother (who lives in Canada and is not able to travel down here because he cares for his very ill wife) are extremely close.  So telling his brother that he thinks he's run out of options for treatment and that he's nearing the end was very depressing and difficult.  Dad and I both cried about the situation over the phone.

One of my hopes for Dad was that he would have some time between end of treatment and disease progression where he felt well and could do stuff that he wanted to do before dying.  I am scared of disease progression happening without any respite and him basically being in a drugged stupor from now until death.  I am scared of him refusing to stop chemo and just getting sicker and sicker from the drugs that are no longer helping him.

One of the benefits from the weekend, though, was that Sissy asked me if I thought she should go with Dad to his doctor's appointment next Tuesday.  YES, I said.  That is a good idea.  So she is taking Dad to the doctor next week.  She will also call me from the office and put me on speaker phone so I can hear what happens.  

Today, Sissy went to visit Dad and texted me, "Did you know that Dad fell outside the cleaners and hurt himself?  The paramedics were called."  Uhhh, no, I did not.  Apparently it happened a couple of days ago?  I'm not totally clear on when it happened.  The paramedics bandaged up his arm and he's okay, I guess, but jeez.  Sissy reported that he's still very fatigued and depressed.  We have both noted that he is easily confused (especially about dates and days of the week).  The depression is to be expected.  We're both trying to talk Dad into going into assisted living, like, immediately.  Who knows if he'll agree.  Seems unlikely, but maybe.  I basically thought I was having a panic attack over this whole situation.  The timing of it all could not be shittier.

Another sad part to this story is that in the few minutes a day where I start to feel happy about having a baby soon, I wind up feeling guilty for feeling anything other than sad and scared about Dad.  Jeeves told me that I can't let this overshadow my happiness about Manuji - that after everything we went through to get here, he deserves to be celebrated.  He's right, of course.  But it's still kind of hard to give myself that permission.

And how's Manuji?  Well, at the OB appointment last week, the ultrasound tech declared fluid levels perfect and noted that he was lower than the week before.  Dr. C was able to feel his head (during the most aggressive and unpleasant pelvic exam I've probably ever had), but noted that my cervix is still closed tight.  And that was about it.  Back in this Friday.

Late third trimester report - hand/finger pain, swelling, and weakness continues; some back pain, especially near the end of the day; pelvic pain; fatigue; lots of peeing; frequently hot.  Shortness of breath seems a little better (except when freaking out about Dad).  I've been taking a bath every night in Epsom salts with eucalyptus spearmint scent.  That's pretty much the best part of the day - when I sit in the bath and feel temporarily weightless.  Wish I had a pool!  

I guess a lot of this post is about control.  I've been feeling scared about the baby because I have no control on when he's coming or if he's going to come without help.  I'm scared of induction and a c-section like my sister had with her first.  I'm trying to let that go - whatever is going to happen is going to happen.  And Dad - that's all about control too.  For both of us - we have no control anymore over his cancer and how or when he's going to die, and he's desperately clinging to his independence which he just can't do anymore, and I'm dealing with the fact that I can't control his situation.  

I know I used to write about the books I was reading a lot.  I haven't been reading much since the move.  It's been hard for me to get caught up in a book.  Over the last 4 days or so, though, the one thing that's really helped take my mind off of what's been going on (besides ice cream and pastries) is a book.  My friend Tati lent me Night Film by Marissa Pessl.  I can't put it down.  It's not even YA!  Or SciFi/Fantasy!  I'm not done with it yet, I will give a fuller review when I'm done.  But what a sweet pleasure, to lose oneself during troubled times in a book.  I'm grateful for that.

There's been other good stuff - infant CPR, I got fitted for nursing bras, and Jeeves has had a serious case of the nesting (he even installed the car seat!).  But for now, I will leave you, and hope I have better news to report next time.