I have been working in a hospital on and off for more than a third of my life. I'm used to the noises and the fluorescent lighting and the terse whispering and the weary-looking eyes of nearly everyone there. And unfortunately I have spent way too many hours in hospital waiting rooms. But when I found myself sitting on a cart in Emergency Department Pod A trying to wrap my mind around the fact that my water broke 23 weeks too early, I went sort of numb--and all I could think about was my brother.
Is this what it felt like for him all those endless mornings at 4 a.m. when he was getting prepped for surgery? When everyone was bending over backwards to make him smile or be comfortable and nothing really worked but he pretended that it did work just to make them feel like they were helping? Did it hurt him this much every time a nurse went digging around for an IV? Did his muscles cramp up like this? Was it just as annoying to have to drag a beeping pole to the bathroom while holding the back of a gown closed? How did he lie like this for WEEKS at a time? I was only there for three days. Oh my God it must have been so much worse for him. HOW did he endure this? How did he not complain more? How did he get through this over and over, so many times? I just wanted to see his face.
But I couldn't call him. He was in St. Louis, probably sitting at his desk toggling between work and ESPN. He was looking forward to holding his niece or nephew someday. Making plans to indoctrinate the child to root for Chicago teams despite the kid having 50% Los Angeles DNA. I kept picturing his expression on the FaceTime when I told him I was pregnant (he was the first person I wanted to tell)--usually so stingy with his smiles, he was absolutely beaming. It had been a tough time and it was nice to give him something to be happy about. A few days later, I got a text picture of him holding a friend's newborn and he looked so happy. I could just picture what a tremendous uncle he will be. For years I have said my children will call him the Hindi name for Mother's Brother: "Mama," and he has threatened all kinds of bodily harm if I made good on that promise. But as soon as he heard there was going to be a Baby, I was certain he would love my kid more than anything in the world--even if she called him "dookieface." This news was absolutely going to break his heart. If I could delay that in any way, I was going to.
A few hours into my stay, Jon and I were trying to decide how to tell the doctors we weren't going to listen to their stern recommendations. I decided it was time to call my brother. I gathered my composure and picked up my phone.
"Shut up, I'm already on the road."
I don't allow myself to think about what was going through my husband's mind on the 40-min drive to the Emergency Room, and I don't want to know what that five-hour drive was like for my brother. Jon has since said that anytime he sees someone frantically overtaking people on the road, he imagines them worried and rushing to a loved one, so he just gets out of the way.
Jon never left my side for more than a few minutes throughout the entire ordeal. My mom and dad were on the other side of my hospital bed. And then my brother burst into the room. Things did not magically get better. We were still helpless and losing our child. But when I looked around and saw that my team was complete, I finally let out a breath.
Many times I have tried to explain how I feel about my brother. Maybe everyone thinks of their siblings this way, I don't know, but making sure he's ok has simply always been a life requirement. I remember tiptoeing into his room at 3 a.m. to see that he was still breathing when I was 10. He came to visit me in Champaign after he got his drivers license, and on the way home his car broke down on an unlit stretch of Interstate 57 at Sauk Trail; the sheriff lit some flares and just left him there. My then-boyfriend couldn't understand why I was pacing around in tears thinking about my brother, scared and alone, waiting for hours after the flares went out for my parents to get there. And I cried just as much as our mother did at his college graduation.
I feel like an overbearing just-as-bad-as-mom who lectures and worries and causes the biggest eyerolls imaginable. Most of the time, I probably am. However, my brother dropped everything, threw together a bag, jumped into his car and drove 282 miles just to be in the same room as me and all he said was, "How could I NOT be here? You are my sister."
People say that you don't know what it's truly like to care about another person's wellbeing until you have a child. Having had one--albeit very briefly--I agree. But I think I already had a pretty good idea.
Today is our beautiful nephew Declan's first birthday. Just 366 days ago we were hoping to get a glimpse of the guy. And for the last 365, people all over the country eagerly await each photo update and hope for the briefest chance to hold him. A curious little man, he's crawling at top speed, tasting everything that's cold and shiny, and climbing stairs. They're taking him to his first professional football game (San Diego Chargers) to celebrate. As far as I can tell, he's having a blast. I'm sure Uncle Jon approves.
Today is also the 92nd birthday of my Godmother's mom. Everyone knows her as Ma. She's sweet and vibrant, and she can hang with the multiple energetic great grandchildren she watches during the week. She made me her time-consuming family recipe, Methi Laddu (Fenugreek bars full of all kinds of nutritious stuff that's helpful for post-delivery moms) to help me get strong after Baby. She added extra sugar to cover up the bitter taste, and I ate every last one.
I realize I have been saying it lately--maybe I'm just getting old-- but it's amazing how quickly the time goes tripping along.
Here are some lessons I learned in the last few hours:
1) IF you spent a lot of time pondering paint colors and finally made a decision on just two colors to use throughout your ENTIRE home with a certain brand, STICK TO THAT DECISION.
2) BECAUSE it will be very easy to get swayed into changing to "close enough" colors when you can only meet the person painting your house at dusk after a grueling day of work. Mostly because you discover he gets a discount on a different brand because it will save a) time and b) money.
3) ESPECIALLY because you will want to throw yourself out a window when you walk into your home and realize that instead of gray, every single wall is one of two shades of purple. Not because it's ugly, but because it wasn't what you wanted and it was ALL BECAUSE OF HASTINESS.
4) AND THEN you will have a toddler-style meltdown because you realize that yes, you guess you DO remember signing off on a swatch called "Mysterious Mauve," and you did mention that it looked kind of purple at the time, but didn't really think hard about what that means. You'll want to kick your own butt into next week.
5) SO you start scheming to try and mask the color with lighting and draperies and distracting furniture, but you know in your heart that every time you look at any wall (and they're EVERYWHERE) you'll be reminded of what a moron you are. And you decide you MUST find a way to ask the guy to re-do it, even if your budget is at negative eleventy hundred dollars already.
6) OH BUT THEN the painter quotes you even more than you dreamed it could cost, a ridiculous amount when you find out YOU HAVE TO BUY THE NEW PAINT, and you calculate that this re-do will cost exactly 75% of what the original quote was, even though that quote included many tasks that would not need to be re-done. But the dude now has the upper hand, so there's not a lot of room to negotiate, what with you buying $30+ gallons of paint.
7) THEN you will hem and haw and imagine you just inherited a ton of money to re-do this, knowing inside you must do it to protect your sanity.
8) AND THEN you will cry, thinking about all the stuff you would rather do with that money.
There were several projects we wanted accomplished before we moved in, so we set a move-in date for September 1. Almost a month should be long enough, right?
Several things about the house needed to be updated before we moved in--more posts on those later.
We hired a contractor, painter, cleaning service, but were thinking we could move ourselves in (after all, Jon and I ended up moving all our stuff into the apartment from the condo by ourselves in 2010).
During the last week of August, it became clear that we were not going to be able to get out by September 1. We extended our lease at the apartment a week.
Things are coming together at the house! Jon and I are doing a lot of stuff ourselves, including taking off the baseboards in the bedrooms, which we are guessing are original to the house. Behind the baseboard along the wall where our heads will go when we sleep in our future bedroom, we discovered a mummified bird. While the Internets say that's a bad sign, I've decided that because we found it and will be removing it, we are helping ourselves.
We are having a horrible time packing the apartment. HOW did we manage to get all this stuff into a one-bedroom apartment? (Note: Do NOT pack up the kitchen first. You will be very sad when your time at the apartment is extended and you cannot use or eat anything you already have).
Also? I have a ton of stuff in my childhood bedroom at my parents' house. Jon has no idea how much stuff. And I had promised it would only stay until we bought our own house...
Oh, and work and comedy are still clipping away at a breakneck speed.
Our house was featured in the latest The Second City shorts competition entry (Jon, Madelyn and company won 2nd place).