Today is another grey day in Minneapolis. E. and I are hunkered down at home after her early morning PT appointment. She’s napping in her crib upstairs, on her back. Her arms are stretched out wide like she fell asleep while making a snow angel.
Whenever I have even the possibility of a free moment, a tiny wave of panic washes over me. I have, possibly, a forty minute stretch all to myself! Oh my G-d! I could write or work out or do my hair or take a nap or have a snack. I want to do all of those things, all at once. WhatshouldIdofirst? Then after darting around trying to get a lot of stuff done in a short amount of time, I choose something and settle in to it.
Choosing something usually helps. Just in general.
E.’s upper GI X-ray came back abnormal. It showed that she has a midgut malrotation (AKA twisted up intestines). Our plan is to meet with a pediatric surgeon in a few days to get an opinion on whether or not to pursue a corrective operation. It’s not clear if this is just the way that she is, or if this is the cause of her feeding difficulties. This is exactly why I don’t like all these tests: they often give us more questions, potentially without clear answers.
We will explore the possible benefits and the risks of the surgery. And then we will be the ones to decide, as her parents, which course to take. There’s so much decision making involved in this whole parenting thing.
You know what I’d really like to spend my time as a parent choosing: where to go on vacation. That’s the kind of choice I’d like to grapple with. How about a weekend? Or a full twenty four hours.
I’m the kind of tired that even the best coffee in the world can’t make right. It’s not from my own worry, which so far, I’m managing just fine. The only sleep that I have lost this week is because E. is getting up again about two to four times a night. I think it’s teething, but teething is like the El Nino of babies. We blame everything on it but really, we have no idea.
I never should have posted that she reached seven am to seven pm snore sessions, which is basically baby nirvana. It was an amateur move to think that it would stay that easy and consistent. Nope. We’re up, again and again. It’s like Groundhog’s Night around here.
When we are huddled together in those moments, and I’m rocking her back to sleep with her milk-scented body against mine, I don’t mind at all. It’s magic and evolution rolled up into one. E. and I are a united force, we’re in it together. But before and afterwards, that’s when the sleep deprivation hurts like nothing else. It’s literally a physical pain.
Someday, it will be different. I’m going to go on vacation with Cedar in the bright hills north of Santa Rosa. Although we can’t leave E. just yet, when she’s bigger and stronger, we will catch a flight to California and pretend for a weekend that it’s just the two of us. We will pack our swimsuits and my favorite coconut scented sunscreen. I love love love smelling like the beach.
I’ll only bring dresses without pockets. And I’m not going to pack my winter coat. Even though it’s cool there at night, I don’t care. I’ll bring a little light day bag just because I can, and I’ll fill it with vacationy things like scarlet red lip gloss, and a featherweight scarf. I’ll plan on showering each morning, because there’s time to wash and dry my hair. I’m bringing at least three books (fiction and fiction and fiction) and two magazines. We’re going to find a spot where the ocean meets the redwoods and stay there all day. Me and Cedar. We’ll rest and watch the waves, our bodies hot-but-not-too-hot under the sun, surrounded by snacks. Grown up snacks. Like a good brie, maybe some all fruit apricot jam, a nice loaf of brown bread. Green olives. There will not be a cracker shaped like an animal or sipey cup in sight.
This whole thing with E. will change. I will go on vacation again, I will fly away on a plane someday without bringing so much as a diaper along with me. And if it doesn’t change— well, holy hell, especially if it doesn’t change, then I’m still going to get out to California.
While we were waiting for the PT therapist today, I was looking around the lobby, sitting on one of those plastic lined chairs with E. There was a tiny girl coming down the hall with a pint-sized walker and white-blond hair, just like my girl. She might have been two and half, maybe three. And she was almost glowing as she took those steps towards her appointment. She looked eager and alive; she was working so hard to move towards the place that she was going. It was beautiful. It was clear that it was something so new. Her parents, watching her walk, were doing that proud parent cheer that I know all too well.
I had to look away because I felt the biggest sadness jump all over me. I wasn’t expecting it. What I felt, in the midst of all of the hope, was a pit in my stomach. Wondering if that would be E. someday. Wanting to stay focused on the resilience and the strength of this child, and my child, too. Trying to hold on right there. And then having my mind and heart skip like a stone into the struggle of it all.
Because I don’t want any child to have to go through this stuff. The surgeries, the assistive devices, the medical testing, the appointments. The waiting, the unknown. And then, since this is what it is and there is no going back, thank G-d we have these surgeries, these assistive devices, these medical tests, these appointments. There is certainly no going back.