|The new view from here.|
I stepped into last week with the expectations of things going pretty much according to our new norms. There were two nonstress tests (NSTs) scheduled. A maternal/fetal medicine consult. An ultrasound to check amniotic fluid levels. My weekly progesterone injection. A day of Lego Robotics for the big boys. A possible outing to visit our local children's museum. Oh-- and a holiday.
Less than twenty-four hours into the start of the week, it was very clear that my plans were not God's.
At my NST on Monday, the machines picked up fabulous fetal movement and heart rates. The baby looked great, the nurses told me. But there was one little problem. In twenty minutes of charting, I had five decent, sizable contractions.
A quick check of the amniotic fluid Baby is swimming in found it lower than the week before, but still within the realm of ".... yeah, we'll just keep an eye on that."
From there, it was off to Triage.
And that was where my plans for the week-- for the next three weeks, actually-- were completely derailed.
Too much dilation, too much effacement, and too many doses of heavy meds designed to stall pre-term labor followed. I feel blessed that I only spent one night in the hospital, and am now sitting on my own couch, baby still safely inside, wiggling and kicking and reminding me every moment that the goal is one more day, one more day.
Still, you can't be the mother of a large brood and not find bed rest somewhat limiting. I can knit to my heart's content-- and have quickly learned how to do so on my left side. I can address Christmas cards, fold laundry, edit our nonprofit's newsletter, read countless stories, play tea party, cuddle with the puppy. But I can't make dinner, bathe little bodies, help find a lost necklace, wipe dirty bottoms, put away groceries, make snacks.
I've been forcibly wrest from many--most-- of the duties that normally fall into the "mom" category.
Everyone here is stepping up beautifully. We had a gorgeous spread at Thanksgiving, thanks to Mr. Blandings and Jo. Mr. Blandings has taken on coordinating with friends for meals and running the ship in every other way. What I can see of the house is neat and tidy, thanks in no small part to Logan, who has taken it upon himself to be the clean-up crew. Jo made the traditional holiday kick-off shortbread yesterday, and it smelled heavenly. And Atticus has learned more about laundry in the past four days than I think I knew when I went off to college.
We've had no attitudes, no bickering, no rolling eyes. Just cooperation and a general spirit of "Let's get this done, guys" that is pretty typical for my crew. The difference this time is that it's not just casual helping. This is a real season of real need. This is, "Look, I need you to basically be a grown-up right now. I need you to put what you want aside and do the hard stuff. Can I count on you?" And the answer, the one that I always hoped I'd hear when the chips were down, has been a resounding "I'm part of this family. I'm all in."
Our goal at this point is to keep Baby Blandings inside until December 10. In some moments-- like when I think of all the Christmas sewing I'm not doing, or how heartbreaking it's going to be to miss out on the trip to the tree farm-- it seems so very far away. In other moments-- like when I count down the days until we wake up on Christmas morning-- it seems frighteningly close. There are newborn diapers to wash up, a cradle to ready, a car seat to wipe down, meals to freeze.
And here I am. On my left side, watching the fire in the fireplace, listening to the puppy snore, counting stitches as I knit, waiting for the family to return from church.
In any case, this is where I find myself. Still grateful that God has this. Very grateful that I am not on a constant magnesium sulfate drip (oral meds are much, much easier to stomach!) or, far worse, spending my days in a NICU ward. Biding my time. Waiting. Feeling grateful for the blessing of the people around me. And anticipating good things to come.