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.


  1. Anonymous4:38 PM

    Sending all my positive vibes/chi/prayers to your Dad for a bit of relief for the time he has left, and for you so that baby Manuji makes a swift and smooth appearance in the world (and healthy!).

    While I understand your sisters desire to be so positive, it's unfair because a) it makes others feel awful who don't see it as unrealistically perfect as she does and b) it doesn't solve anything...if you never acknowledge there's a problem or obstacle nothing ever gets fixed it just gets worse. I'm glad you realized she was projecting her desire for it to be ideal onto your Dad, but it sucks that your feelings and even your Dads had to suffer for it. I really, truly, hope that your Dad is able to have some good days going forward - especially when Manuji arrives. Assisted Living facilities are always hard to adjust to, but at least there is someone there to make sure if he takes a drastic turn, he gets to the Hospital. They're not ideal, but - to be honest - it's a shitty situation, and at least it is the lesser of the shitty options to deal with a shitty situation. My heart goes out to you and I really hope you all get some good days.

    Baby Manuji....hurry up!

    I'm thinking of you all!

  2. I'll take an ice cream cone, only it is 62 to degrees outside, so maybe a hot chocolate? Sending lots of hemoglobin boosting energy your dad's way!

    I love the doctor that said cervical checks are dumb! And while we're at it the idea that the cervix dilates 1cm/hr is a dumb one too. Sending a nudge to Manuji that he should leave the womb and join the party out here!

  3. I will take an ice cream bar, the kind with tons of crispy chocolate, and for you I will send lots of lovely natural labor vibes—a quick and relatively easy birth, and a good immediate latch, annnnd hey, how about great hair while we're at it?

    If I could give you those things, of course your father's health would be first… I hope it's just the hemoglobin and that after a transfusion the transition to the facility is easier for him, and he is able to enjoy other people cooking for him and maybe enjoy the company of some other residents. I just keep hoping that this time will be spent joyfully holding his new grandson. I have to hope for the best, no matter what. I know you must be terrified to lose him, as I am sometimes terrified to lose my parents, even though I am lucky to have mine healthy. Your fear is grounded in immediacy and I know it must be incomprehensible at times. I wish I could soothe it, but life is awful like that—we can see the people we care about suffer, and there is no action to share the burden or relieve the pain. I can only offer a hand and an ear and hope that something I say does you some good.

    Thinking of you ever day, hon.

  4. Happy due date! Always sending prayers!