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12/09/2004

Since you asked

Are you still in Connecticut?

Yes. Paul and I have settled in to stay for as long as Charlie does. We're about 200 miles from home. Paul's aunt lives in the area, and my friend T. is about an hour and a half away. Otherwise we know no one. I spend a lot of time thinking about how strange it is that our son was born in a place where we have so few ties.

We're at a hotel that offers a kitchenette; atrociously unreliable wireless Internet; unpredictable and infrequent housekeeping; and a cable lineup distinguished only by several channels of what Paul calls HBTV — hillbilly TV, which features one or more of the following:

  • motorcycles;
  • hot rods;
  • tattoos portraying either Jesus (crown of thorns optional, eyes-rolling-back-in-head mandatory), a busty woman, or a pissed-off Tweety Bird;
  • no women, aside from the aforementioned flesh-based renderings thereof, or stylized nipply silhouettes silkscreened on T-shirts or airbrushed onto gas tanks;
  • extravagantly coiffed facial hair; and
  • at least one chinless cast member speaking in an unintelligible southern patois.

What about getting Charlie moved closer to home?

We started discussing about this before I was even allowed out of bed, while I was still involuntarily scratching myself all over as if I had nosocomial mange. The doctors here are aware — perhaps hyperaware — of our desire to have him in a hospital near where we live. They talk about it more than I do, solicitously and kindly but with warning after warning about not moving him too soon. I've had to reassure them that we don't expect Charlie to be moved, don't want him to be moved, until he's stable. "Until a week after he's stable, in fact," I keep muttering under my breath, trying to pass off my crazed-she-bear-protecting-her-clawless-cub rictus as a beatific maternal smile.

The first step is to get him off CPAP, where he no longer needs mechanical assistance to keep his airways open. If he continues to improve at his current rate, he may be off it as soon as the end of next week. If his progress stalls or he has a setback, it's anyone's guess.

The second step is to figure out how to transport him. It seems like a simple feat; every day, sicker people than Charlie are taken farther than he'd need to go. The difficulty, however, is not a logistical one but an administrative one. First, the transport team at our nearby hospital won't come get him — we are currently far beyond their radius for pickups. Second, our insurance company is not especially interested in paying for a transport they don't consider medically necessary.

What's most likely to happen is that the hospital here will send an ambulance to take Charlie home, staffed by one of the NICU nurses to watch over him during the trip. It is probable that we'll have to pay for this up front and fight with our insurer about it later. The money seems unimportant just now. I am currently looking into selling a kidney on eBay to cover the costs, as soon as I can figure out how to take photos of it. (Would you bid on a kidney without seeing full-color, high resolution pictures?)

How are you recuperating after a dangerous, sudden-onset illness; an emergency C-section; and five days in the hospital?

Fabulously, thank you. Directly after Charlie's birth, my recovery began -- delivering a baby is the only cure for pre-eclampsia and HELLP, and it is most frequently an immediate one. At the time of my release I was told I needed no further followup beyond a two-hour glucose tolerance test in a few weeks. (I am avoiding describing it as my hospital discharge; I shudder every time I see the big sign in the parking lot that directs visitors to MATERNITY DISCHARGE.)

The only lingering effect has been fatigue. Five days in bed, even when you're getting up periodically to stumble down the hall to the NICU, or more frequently to change the giant maxi-pads intended to absorb the MATERNITY DISCHARGE cascading down your legs every time you stand up, ruining the only pair of socks you have, staining the grout between the bathroom tile, making great clotty puddles that cause the janitor to slip and break his femur in two places, spawning a river of gore that rises so fast it drowns the hapless Latino family gathered outside the nursery to wave at their own newborn...

Where was I?

Oh, yeah. Five days in bed will tire you right out. After my first postpartum shower, I crawled right into bed and slept for an hour. Today, twelve days after Charlie's birth, I am not so easily exhausted, and can manage a turn around an entire grocery store without having to send Paul back to the entrance for one of those electric scooter carts. It's progress.

I no longer look pregnant in the slightest now, if the shocked saleslady who showed me nursing bras is to be believed. But then it was only in the three weeks or so prior to Charlie's birth that I'd even really started. I'm tall to begin with, and Charlie was transverse, so while I was somewhat wider, I wasn't that much deeper. Besides, my magnificent rack minimized the prominence of my belly, creating a chiaroscuro so masterful Caravaggio weeps in Heaven.

My incision, speaking of things that might weep, is healing nicely. It's numb and stubbly and my belly still bears a faint yellow shadow of bruising, but there's no lingering pain, either from the cut or from the parting of the muscles beneath. Out of my prescription of 30 Percocets, I took one, and am carefully hoarding the rest.

They'll certainly come in handy for my upcoming nephrectomy.

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