The Closer You Are To Fine

June 14, 2008

We spent most of the afternoon, yesterday, at the hospital. It is not a happy experience, taking your baby to the hospital. Even when you’ve mentally psyched yourself and have told yourself that it’s nothing it’s nothing it’s nothing it’s just tests they’re just being cautious it’s just tests there’s nothing wrong, it’s rough. When they tell you that you need to bring your baby to the hospital for tests, that they need to check his spine, that he has some markers for spinal problems, for serious things but maybe nothing but still maybe serious, that it might not be anything but maybe it’s something so it must be checked, it must, your heart constricts and you hold your breath.

And you can manage the constricted heart and the withholding of breath until you get there, to the hospital, but once your baby – your tiny, tiny baby – has been stripped of his tiny clothes and is laying naked on the hospital bed – a vast expanse of cold sheet beneath his tiny frame – the machines looming, menacing, around him, you struggle. You crouch beside him, cradling his head and nuzzling his cheek, babbling whispers of love into his ear, willing him to not cry, to not squirm, to let this be over, fast.

And when he does begin to cry and squirm it feels as though your heart has retracted into the furthest recesses of your chest to cower and hide.

You say to the ultrasound technician, can I lay down beneath him, put him on my belly, my chest? Can we do it that way? He’ll be calmer. And you think, I’ll be calmer.

So you remove your shirt and lay yourself down and ease your naked, struggling baby onto your own naked belly and you cradle his head between your breasts and you breath. And you breath. And you breath. And he settles into you, letting his little body relax from the arch and flex of discomfort and fear and settle, softly, into the curves of your belly and breast and lay there, eyes fluttering, cries turning to gurgles and squawks, and he rests. Happy now, safe now.

And it occurs to you, as you lay in the dark, on the hospital bed, an ultrasound wand hovering above your body, the light from the screen of the sonograph flickering just out of sight, that this is just as it was some weeks ago, before he arrived, when he was still in your belly, tucked away safe in your belly, and you were wishing with all your heart that he’d come out soon so that you could hold him your arms and nuzzle his little head and keep him safe here, in the outside, out in the big wide world but always, always pressed close to your heart.

And he did, and you do. And you tell him, in the softest of whispers – and you tell yourself, in the loudest of internal cries – that he is safe, that you will keep him safe, and that it will all be fine, no matter what.

And he is, and you do, and it will be. It will be.

(We don’t know the results of the ultrasound. We probably won’t know for another week. I’m choosing to not dwell on it. I’m choosing to simply believe that it will all be fine.)

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    wright June 15, 2008 at 5:52 am

    HUGS! I’ll say a little prayer for you.

    Jozet at Halushki June 15, 2008 at 9:45 am

    You’ve captured it all perfectly.


    He will be fine.

    kgirl June 15, 2008 at 11:07 am

    oh gawd, many, many ‘he’s fine’ thoughts coming your way. holy shit. scary. but he’ll be fine.

    Don Mills Diva June 15, 2008 at 11:18 am

    Oh Catherine! Of course he will be fine. I know it. HUGS.

    Mandy June 15, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Sending good thoughts. And I love the tribute to the Indigo Girls.


    marymurtz June 15, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    Oh, what a mommy….in the midst of such fear, you paint such a beautiful portrait of motherhood.

    Prayers headed your way that all will be okay.

    GoMommy June 15, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    I will be thinking of you and your family…

    Her Bad Mother June 15, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    Yes, he has the sacral dimple, among other things, and the corresponding concern about spina bifida, etc.

    But we’re not thinking about that. It’s all fine. (REPEAT AS MANTRA)

    Beck June 15, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    There are things that you just have to get through as a mother. And then you’re through them and everything is generally okay, however things work out.
    Soldier on.

    Jenifer June 15, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    Sending all my good thoughts your way. :)

    crazymumma June 15, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    And it is back to the damn waiting. The eternal time.

    I choose. Along with you that he will be fine.

    Lisa b June 15, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    Are they just checking to see if the cord is tethered?
    I really wish that these were reported immediately to the mothers. Nothing like doctors in a room and wavering between could be nothing or could be serious to ratchet up the stress level.
    Julia also has a sacral dimple and the way people were talking about it I figured she was good as dead. It turned out to be NOTHING at all beyond a dimple.
    Fortunately/unfortunately she had the ultrasound when she was still an inpatient. I was told it was fine then I come in a week later to find a team doing another ultrasound and almost had a stroke.
    The staff doctor happened to be in the hall and I managed to ask why she was having another ultrasound. Turned out that another department had requested one not realising it had already been done.
    Really I feel for you. Truly not enough is being done to support the mental health of the mothers.
    Poor mummy, poor baby. It will all be fine.

    Rachael June 15, 2008 at 10:48 pm

    Heartbreaking. I will pray for your little one, and send good vibes your way. He will be great.

    Tobi June 15, 2008 at 11:11 pm

    And even if it isn’t fine, it’s eventually fine. We have had a series of terrifying, unrelated, but increasingly complex, health issues with our little girl, beginning with the call from her pediatrician’s office saying: Get her to the hospital right now, when she seemed fine to us. I thought that those hospital visits would eventually get easier for me, but they haven’t.

    HOWEVER, deep breath, you and your little one — and his dad and sister — will pull through. Wounded, perhaps, but stronger.

    By the way, if I’m not mistaken, HBM, you’re in the Toronto area, yes? One of our first hospital visits with our daughter was to the ER at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children following a seizure. We were travelling through Ontario (we live in Minnesota) and felt so fortunate that this happened in Toronto. She was in the hospital for 4 days and got amazing care. Not only did SHE get amazing care, so did our family. We – my husband, my 3 year old son and I – were terrified, exhausted and disoriented. But they made us feel at home and protected. They even had a sibling care area for those times when my husband and I needed some uninterrupted time with our daughter or her doctors. It was a phenomenal facility, and they told us more about our daughter’s condition(s) that any of her many doctors could tell us back in Minnesota. If I could travel there every time she needed care, I would. So perhaps you are already using them — but if not, I have nothing but praise for that place.

    I hope all goes well.

    Vicki June 16, 2008 at 8:26 am

    I will be keeping you and your little ones in my prayers. I know it is a scary thing but I promise you that you will get through it. I hope it is all a big hub bub about nothing. He will be ok. He will be magnificent.

    Baby in the City June 16, 2008 at 9:33 am

    It is simply one of the worst parts of being pregnant and having children: the numbers game. The odds are totally in your favour, just as they were with the amnio, but still. We all can all empathize with the waiting, the wondering, but really, truly, as it almost always is, it will be nothing. He is fine.

    Anonymous June 16, 2008 at 10:25 am

    oh catherine sending big hugs to you and yours…will be praying for jasper….LAVANDULA

    Dette June 16, 2008 at 10:38 am

    You are a wonderful Mommy – I know everything will be fine simply because of how you love him.

    With your entire heart and being.

    Prayers for strength and goodness are coming your way.

    P.S. Beautiful post. Absolutely adoring!

    Anne from the Pump Room June 16, 2008 at 11:19 am

    I hope everything is fine. My little boy had many heart tests (they thought he might have Long QT, which, thankfully, he did not) and he had reflux. He was just so tiny and miserable 90% of the time that I use to cry and just wish he was back inside of me and safe and protected for a little while longer.

    Angella June 16, 2008 at 11:28 am

    Really hoping and praying that everything is fine.

    FishyGirl June 16, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    Oh, dear, been there, done that, got the scars.

    Thinking of the whole Bad Family, my dear. J will be fine, more than fine.

    Christine June 16, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    i’m sending lots, and lots of good healthy thoughts your way.

    i bet the little angel will be just fine.

    hang in there, mama.

    womaninawindow June 16, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    Little he is simply beautiful. He will be fine. He better be…that’s me trying to f with the powers…intimidate them on your behalf.
    What a beautiful family!

    twelvekindsofcrazy June 16, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    Your family is gorgeous. Your baby is so blessed to have such a loving mother. Sending you good energy.

    Mom101 June 16, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    You’re amazing Catherine. Just amazing.

    White light, lots of it, headed your way.

    jen June 16, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    Thank you for the sweetness of your words and the tender way you shared such a scary experience. My heart caught as I read of your fears, thoughts, concerns, cries. Having a newborn of my own, I stopped when reading and had to look at him sleep. My heart said a little prayer that you and your sweet baby will be ok. Thinking of you…

    liz June 17, 2008 at 1:00 am

    Thinking of you and your sweet baby and loving that you thought of lying down with him on you for this test.

    Jaelithe June 17, 2008 at 11:05 am

    Thinking of you and Jasper.

    It’s excellent that they let you hold him. I wish I could have held Isaac during all the tests he had as a baby for the (benign) tumor that used to be on his skull. Instead they just put him in a baby straight-jacket and strapped him down to a cold metal table and forced horrible-tasting sedatives down his throat to keep him still. I felt awful. I would have gladly taken the extra radiation from a CT scan that wasn’t for me if I could have held him instead.

    Jasper is going to be okay. How could he not be, with such a great family?

    Rusti June 17, 2008 at 11:51 am

    I’m sure he will be just fine too! My thoughts & prayers are with you as you await the results…

    Anonymous June 17, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    I will pray for you and your boy.
    Whatever challenges come to our life, as long as it ends in blessings and positive note, it does not matter.
    May you have the happiest ending to all these ordeal

    Diana June 17, 2008 at 6:55 pm

    I wish I was better at this, I’d say something soft and warm and fabulously comforting. Something so much better than “it will all be ok” but I’m not. So that will have to do. And I guess that’s ok, too. Because I know it will be. It will. He will. You will. All of the bad family will be perfectly OK.

    Laura June 17, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    Best wishes to you and your family.

    justmylife June 17, 2008 at 10:32 pm

    Sending good thoughts your way! Prayers for you and him both!

    Shamelessly Sassy June 17, 2008 at 11:52 pm

    I’m keeping you all in my thoughts.

    Christine Bilek June 18, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    Amazing post, you were brilliant to think of putting him on your belly and chest. Great job, mama. Keeping you in my thoughts!

    Shannon June 18, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    You already know this – but you are a fantastic mother. Sending good vibes your way….

    Katie Kat June 19, 2008 at 9:55 am

    WOW, I am in tears – moved by the soulful and amazing way you described such a terrifying event. I could just FEEL the baby calming down as he lay on your belly and FEEL the emotion of how he had just been in your belly weeks before.

    Truly, truly a beautiful post (poetry). Sending all the good vibes your way possible.

    Kia June 19, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    Wow, you’ve put into words a horrible experience (taking your infant to the hospital for any kind of test) that no mom should ever have to deal with. You said it beautifully. It brought back vivid memories of taking my son for chest x-rays when he was an infant. You handled your experience so much more graciously than I did. Kudos!

    winomom June 20, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    You’ve got too many comments to read this, but anyone who’s had to have the tests, understands. Our baby spent a couple of days in NICU after birth. Horrible. Then upon being returned to us (I was still in – c section), we had the Bitch Nurse from Hell, who literally snatched him from my breast to do yet another blood draw. Made him scream, she was rough, I almost took her effin head RIGHT OFF HER BODY. That protective thing? It’s BIG.

    Her Bad Mother June 20, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    winomom – I read every comment. thank you for yours.

    bethiclaus June 21, 2008 at 1:16 am

    Alliclaus had to have a CT scan when she was a baby to rule out encephalitis as the cause of her very large head. I remember how scary it was to see her laying there and knowing there was nothing I could do. As always, you have put an experience into words that I could never have written myself, despite its resonance with me.

    Cynthia Samuels June 23, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    Lighting a candle, saying a prayer.

    Michelle June 24, 2008 at 11:42 pm

    I’ve already seen the update and posted a comment there. Seriously though, this is the most incredibly touching blog post that I have ever read. Ever.

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