Okay, it's been almost a week. I've tried three or four times to sit down and write but something either comes up or the sight of the cursor makes me break down. But I'm not a big dweller... I'm a mover-onner. As much as I'd love to wallow--and trust me, I have and will continue to have pockets of time steeped in desperate mourning and loss--I gotta get moving on from this spot.
But first, lemme tell you what happened.
Thurs. January 7, drunk with happiness at no longer having the stent, I nearly glide on air all morning. I walk into my OB's office and am delighted by the pictures of my baby on the screen. She says it's growing fine. Tall even. But then, at the end, she says, "I'm a little concerned that there's not very much amniotic fluid in there." But she doesn't say it like she's concerned. Then, she tells us that we need to go get a test right now. She talks about possibilities, but she doesn't seem too worried, so I don't worry.
We go immediately to the hospital where I get the same interne guy I got last time. And like last time, he says, "Go ahead and get situated" which means "take off your panties, spread your legs and show me your stuff." I do. And while my legs are spread and my junk is all out there in the breeze, he and his assistant flirt and talk about their holiday activities. They do a "leak test" to see if there's any fluid in the canal. Then, they do an ultrasound and confirm a lack of fluid. Then, as I'm still doing the spread eagle, they call in another chick. She comes in and verifies that yes, there's a lack of fluid. We are told to sit in the waiting room for the results and for an appointment with an even higher higher-up.
The higher up gets there, I lay back (no spreading this time) and let him confirm, there is a low level of fluid and he says he'd like me to get another ultrasound with a stronger machine so we can see if the baby has kidneys. But after much standing around and waiting, we find out we have to come back the next day.
They call to say the leak test came back negative... that means there's something wrong with the baby. Maybe no kidneys.
I go home and cry myself to sleep.
Friday, January 8, I go in and see a lady who barely speaks above a whisper who says, yes, I'm low on fluid and she can not yet see any kidneys. She wants to redo the leak test and then wants me to come back to see someone on Tuesday for a Pre-natal Diagnostic to figure out what the heck is going on and how to proceed.
I go home and start Googling. I read horrific things like Potter's Syndrome and shit like that. But, I also go onto CharlotteMommies and talk to my fellow mom's and ask if anyone has ever been through it and yes, there are a dozen moms who tell me that they were found to be dehydrated and were sent straight to the hospital to be put on observation and IV fluids and ended up having their babies just fine. There was only one whose story was not similar and whose babies didn't make it.
I sent Sam out for some Power Ade and started drinking like crazy.
Tuesday, January 12, I go in and talk to the doctor. After a million questions, he puts me up on a bed and does an ultrasound. There's more fluid!!!! AND we can see kidneys!!!! My baby is SAVED!!!! All the drinking, all the PowerAde has WORKED!!!! But instead of confirming that, he says that it could not possibly be dehydration. He does find a weird thing hanging off the side of the baby... It looks like a membrane, like there was a twin in there who passed away. I'm not sad about that. Those things happen. Or maybe, he says, it's a bit of the placenta that has pulled away. But he doesn't seem to worried about that. He doesn't say anything about bedrest or anything else. He simply says, come back in a week. He does ask me, before we leave, if I came in there thinking that the pregnancy was "foutue" which literally means "fucked." I told him no. The baby has kidneys. I saw kidneys. That's all I wanted to hear.
Tuesday, January 19, I go in, ready to see that the baby has lots more liquid because for the past couple of days, I haven't felt it move. I took this as a FABULOUS sign because it meant that he had more room to move around. All of my fears are gone. All of my problems solve and I am confident that I'm going to see an even bigger, more healthy baby.
Only....... in the back of my mind, I worry that I haven't had to pee as much. That my boobs hurt in a strange way. That I've LOST four pounds. That I haven't felt the baby move. That I've had nightmares.
But all of that stuff has been pushed back into a dusty closet in my mind and the door has been locked.
I get up on the table. The ultrasound thingy is pressed onto my belly. Immediately, I see that the shape of my uterus is not round. It's all funky looking. There doesn't seem to be more liquid. The baby's head looks, sorta.... caved in on the sides... I see no movement. "I don't see a heartbeat," I say to Sam.
"It's not good Madame Tissot," the doctor says.
I nod, still not wanting to believe what I know to be true.
My baby is dead.
"It looks like the pregnancy has terminated. And there are signs that it has been this way for a couple of days."
I blush, because as he put the ultrasound wand to my belly he had asked if I had felt the baby move. I had said, yes, and had thought to say, "well, I felt SOMETHING, but I'm not sure what" but thought better of it. At that moment, I'm wishing I had. I'm embarrassed that I seem to have been caught in a lie. And I think about that some more because if I stop thinking about that, I'll have to think about the fact that my baby is dead.
I'm looking at his limp figure, curled up inside my body, not moving. The doctor turns on the speaker to look for some sign of heartbeat. There is none. I start crying. The doctor turns off the machine and says he'll give us a minute, but what he means by that is that he'll go on the other side of a short partition. Fucker.
My first thought is this: "I'm going home." And then, "I want my mommy." And then, "I hate France." And then, "I need to text Flavia and tell her that I can't make it to the movies."
I have gone insane. I can't think about the baby. I can't think about anything. I don't want to face this doctor and his smug face and his lack of concern and his bullshit. I hate him. But he makes us sit down and wants to tell us how things work. I'm thinking I'll be admitted right away, they'll induce, I'll deliver, they'll do a D&C and I'll go home that night or the next day. Babyless.
But it's France, you see. That bitch France. Things couldn't possibly be quick or uncomplicated here. Things MUST drag out and hurt as much as possible. Otherwise, they would have fucking put me in the hospital for observation and fluids a week prior, right? That's what would have happened in the States.
No, the way things work in France is that I have to take some pills to "prepare my uterus" (that means stop the pregnancy for real) and then, I have to wait a few days to let that medecine prepare me. To carry my dead baby around in my belly. Then, I'll be admitted on Thursday and STILL NOT INDUCED until Friday morning. I'll have my D&C immediately after and will go home on Saturday morning. Think about that. What takes one night in the States (even if it costs more) takes five days in France. I'm not even allowed to take my "abortion" pills right away. I have to wait until 8pm that night to take 'em.
I go and have blood drawn in hopes of finding out what went wrong. But I sit in a dimly lit waiting area while people clomp by in their fucking high heeled boots (it's boot season here right now) and drink their coffee and laugh at each other's jokes in the break room right near me. I'm told over and over "courage"... Why the fuck should I be expected to be courageous? Why can't they just not say ANYTHING and leave me alone. Let me to think and let my loss sink in. I was supposed to have a baby. I'm a healthy young woman who has babies EASILY... Why was all this shit happening to me and my baby? And then, things flitter through my mind... the kidney stones. The stent. The way my belly was flatter IMMEDIATELY after my stent removal. They way the urologist told me with a weird look that he had emptied my bladder for me after the surgery. What was that about? Did he accidently bump into something? Did some of the medicine I was taking to keep my body from rejecting the stent backfire and cause the placenta to tear away? Did the stent rub against something in there and cause a leak? Did the general anesthesia have a strange side effect that made me lose my baby? Was it the morphine? Why? WHY was my baby dead and why were these fuckers laughing over their coffee while I sat there trying to figure out how I was going to survive this?
She took about 15 vials of blood and led us into another room. She gave me a box of pills and explained again, not to take the pills until 8pm. She blah blah blahed over and over. And then, she talked about funeral shit. Cremation. What happens if we decide to declare the baby, but DON'T want to be a part of the arrangement for its remains. When she said that we could bring a lovey to put in his coffin and that he'd be buried in the hospital's baby cemetary, I lost it. Body-wracking sobs. I couldn't look at her or listen to her any more. She said, "courage." I wanted to beat her face in.
She said I'd have to see an anestesiologist right away in case I'd want an epidural (*eye roll*... I've never HAD or NEEDED a fucking epidural and my last baby was over 8 pounds) and because I'd have to have the D&C right after the delivery so that they could get the placenta out... Because my body wouldn't know to expel the placenta. I frowned at her, because I know my uterus.
I met the anesthesiologist. He was kind. He said that he didn't know I wasn't French until I said that I didn't know how to say "rotator cuff" in French. He said, "You have absolutely no accent." I wanted to beam, but I couldn't. For obvious reasons, my mouth wasn't working. He checked my heart and blood pressure and re-explained what would happen. I told him how I had awakened mid-surgery when they put my stent in, just as a precaution so he'd make my knock-out medicine nice and strong. I can still remember his face. It was so so kind. So warm. The eye contact, the soft voice, the smile at the corners of his mouth. The sense that he understood what I was going through and that he respected me and wouldn't condescend to me like all the other French fucks.
As I left the hospital, I had only one thought.... That at least if my baby had to die, he got to do so inside my belly where it's soft and warm and safe instead of outside in the cold mean world of France.
Sam and I went out to eat. I ordered an alcoholic appetizer drink and then drank a LOT of wine with my meal. And then, when Sam said something about something, I said, "Yeah, of course, after the baby's born." And then, I thought about it. After the baby is born. Dead. And then, I lost it again, right there in the restaurant. And then I got drunker.
I went home and slept. And wept. All day. I took my three pills and then updated my status on Facebook to reflect the short version of our news. It just seemed easier to do that than trying to call people one at a time. I just didn't have the words and didn't want to see anyone. Or even talk to anyone.
Ten minutes after I took the pills, I went to the bathroom and saw that I had some spotting. I figured my body already knew that the baby had died and had ALREADY prepared itself to let the baby go. The pills would help, but I had a feeling that my body already knew what it had to do.
I had cramps all night.
Wednesay, January 20, Sam took the day off. He helped me with the kids and then watched a couple of movies with me while they napped or played in their room.
I had cramps all day. I had contractions all night. And nightmares.
Thursday, January 21, I had plans. I had a house guest coming in for the weekend to stay with us while she went to her classes during the day. I didn't see why we should cancel that, putting her out in the cold, just because of our predicament. I would be at the hospital, theoretically, the whole weekend anyway. So, I decided to prepare some meals so that Sam would only have to warm them up for her and the kids. Sam took the kids to school and came back and got me. We went to the supermarket and got provisions. I had contractions the whole time we were in the supermarket, but that never stopped me before. We got home, Sam cooked the taco meat while I diced tomatoes (nearly taking off my left ring finger with a knife--Sam said we should go in early to the hospital so they could give me a couple of stitches on my fingers). At 11:15, Sam went to get Lily because exceptionally that day, her cafeteria had gone on STRIKE. Yes, folks, you heard it correctly. Cafeteria workers all over France (and basically all French "support staff") decided to go on strike. As if my life wasn't shitty enough, we had to worry about getting Lily and feeding her/taking her back, while I sat at home in labor.
I woke up knowing that the baby would be born that day. I've had four babies. I know what it feels like. The contractions I was having were fairly regular, so I knew that they wouldn't need to induce Friday morning. I knew that I'd have the baby without assistance some time on Thursday. So, knowing that, I didn't eat breakfast and I didn't eat lunch because I knew they'd need me fasting in order to safely perform the D&C under general anesthesia.
So, I sat in my office playing Spider Solitaire while Sam and Lily ate taco salad. But while Sam was gone getting Lily, I had already started feeling "serious" contractions. Those are the ones you have when things are getting, well... serious. When you know that it won't be long before you have to push. I started to worry that I might have the baby at home. With Lily there. And then, by noon, I knew that it wouldn't be long. I called a new American friend I've met recently. She has a daughter who is in Lily's class. And they live about a block away from Lily's school. AND, I "storked" her right after the birth of her baby here a few weeks ago, taking her meals for a couple of nights while her husband was away. So, I was pretty comfortable leaving Lily with her.... And at this point, I didn't see that I had any choice. I felt like I was imposing, but the contractions really were getting serious. So, I called and she told us to come over right away.
I sat in the car and timed my contractions. Really starting to get worried. But also, buzzed by the experience of labor. I kept waffling between the exhileration of feeling my body work and the horror of the knowledge that my body was working to bear a dead baby. I was scared, because I knew I'd want to see the baby and I was scared I wouldn't like what I saw. By then, I had already had two days to mourn. To say goodbye. To resolve myself to the fact that Flavia and I wouldn't be pregnant together. That I'd never be able to nurse this baby. To stare at its sleeping form lying in bed next to me. To nuzzle its soft head. No. I was about to bear and then bear witness to what would probably not look very human. I mean, the doctor had warned me that it wouldn't be "un beau bebe" (a pretty baby) when I had asked if I'd be allowed to see it. Can you believe that? Who ASKS if they are ALLOWED to see their own baby? Who has to ask that? It's France. I'm telling you. It has beaten me down. I've become subservient to the bitch.
As Sam walked away with Lily, I could see in her eyes that she understood. I waved at her and flashed her my most convincing happy smile, but she looked right through me. She knew.
We got to the hospital and they got me right into a room. The midwife who took us in had NOT read my file and didn't know anything about us, so she asked the most inappropriate questions, like, "Has anyone already checked your dilatation?" and just things you would ask someone who might be having a baby a couple of weeks early... not less than half way through their pregnancy. She had me get into a pair of those funky underwear and gave me a pad and told me to lie down so she could check my dilatation. She said that I was about 60% effaced and dilated to a 1. And then, she left.
Sam had to go move the car so it wouldn't get towed. I figured we had enough time for that. When he came back, we started timing my contractions. They were pretty regular. About three minutes apart and about a minute long. The weird thing is, normally when I have contractions, they're way up in my ribs, you know? Because that's where your uterus ends up at term. But these contractions were way down in my belly... even below my belly button. I'm pretty much a champion laborer and deliverer. All OBs who have delivered my babies have been astounded at my uterus... Like my French, my uterus is something of which I have always been proud. And I so got into the whole fun of being in labor that I completely forgot why I was there.
The only thing that really reminded me was having to fill out the "Stillborn Baby" form. I had already decided to name the baby Heath Ledger. We had toyed around with Heather if it was a girl, but I'm a big fan of keeping a name the way it is, boy or girl (I would have named my first one Ryan whether a girl or boy), so I decided it would be Heath even if it was a girl. A few minutes later, a face popped into my mind. A smiling face with glittery eyes. "Give me that paper," I said to Sam, and I scrawled the name Aaron in front of the Heath Ledger. Aaron, my friend from college who passed away without my even knowing it until over a year later. Aaron Heath Ledger Tissot sounded like music. I could always remember two of the brightest lights who'd been extinguished way too early by naming my own after them. He would join their ranks. Wherever wonderful people go when they are taken too soon.
Sam played with the TV but only one channel would come on and it was infomercials non-stop. A girl came in with a clipboard and asked if we wanted to pay to have TV for 24 hours and asked us to pay the 3.50 Euro fee (yes, that's $5... it was like being on a U.S. Airways flight and wanting a beer).
After about an hour, it appeared that my contractions had stalled and I started to feel tired. I had contracted all night and all morning and I think the lack of sleep and the force of the constant effort had made me tired. Sam said he was going to go down to the front desk and get the administrative stuff out of the way since I seemed to be in some sort of break period. He lowered my bed and told me to nap. I lay on my side and opened my book.
I had a strange contraction that pushed out some fluid. I felt something twist and figured it was because I was lying on my side.
I felt something come out. Something wet and small. I knew it was probably blood, but figured that lying on my side was probably not a good idea anymore because it would leak all over the bed. Plus, I had the urge to pee. I got up and headed toward the bathroom but stopped because I had a contraction. When it passed, something small came out.
I said, "Oh no."
I pressed the nurse call button.
I called Sam. Got voice mail.
A nurse came in. I said, "Something's coming out." She left to get help.
I called Sam again. Voice mail.
Something big and warm came out and I spread my legs to let it fall into my hospital shorts.
I knew it was the baby and I was horrified that I had given birth to my sweet dead baby in my pants. HORRIFIED. As if things weren't shitty enough. Right at that second, but just for a fraction of a second, I hated God.
The nurse and Sam got there at the same time. I was leaning over the bed, my face stiff. The nurse told me to lie down. I said, "It's the baby. The baby came out. It's in my pants."
She didn't believe me. She said I needed to lie down so she could check. She put a bedpan under me.
She pulled my shorts down.
The baby fell into the bedpan and I felt the familiar tickle of the umbilical cord hanging from my vagina and rubbing against my labia.
My thought: My baby is in a bedpan.
I looked at Sam, who held my hand. "It's the baby, isn't it?"
He said, "No."
"Yes it is. I can feel the cord."
The nurse started to pull on the cord as if reeling in a fish. Then I saw Sam's face change and contort into a sob.
"It's the baby, isn't it?"
He nodded and squeezed my hand.
I heard the familiar sound of clamps on the cord. And a snip.
"I want to see it!!! PLEASE!!!" I said as the nurse tried to carry it away. "I want to see my baby!!!"
"Ma'am," she said, "we really need to get you upstairs to the block so we can get the placenta out. You can see it afterward."
"No, I want to see it now."
The nurse or midwife or whatever she was looked at Sam and pleaded with him to talk to me. For once, in our lives together, Sam looked at her and said, "No, she wants to see it."
"Is it a girl or a boy?" I asked Sam.
The nurse looked at him. I had said it in English.
"She wants to know the sex."
"It's a little boy," she said.
I burst into sobs. I wanted a little boy so so bad. Ryan had pleaded for me to make him a brother. A boy. It's what I wanted. I wanted him!
"I want to see him now."
"Ma'am, it's really a very shocking sight. I think it's better if you go upstairs and have your 'curetage' right now and then see the baby when you get back. If you see him now, it can raise your blood pressure. That could be dangerous for your surgery."
I wanted to say, "If you DON'T show me my baby, my blood pressure's going to be worse." but I couldn't find the words.
"I think she insists," Sam said.
The nurse raised my bed and brought a tiny bundle wrapped in one of those plastic/cotton pads they put on your bed to catch leaks. She pulled it open and I almost gasped. I looked like a huge blood clot. Just a red handful of tissue.
But then she turned it. And I saw a face. A beautifully, completely formed face. She moved the other fold of tissue back and the baby's mouth dropped open.
Lolo, I thought.
She said, "Do you want to see his little body?"
I said yes.
She moved the tissue. I saw a little limp arm at the end of which was a tiny limp hand, resting on a belly.
Ryan, I thought, when I saw the hand.
Lily, I thought, when I saw the belly.
I looked at the face again. The little nose. The closed eyes. I saw glimpses and ghosts of both myself and Sam. There in a little red, skinless, form. Gorgeous. A representation of all that is good in the both of us. All that is beautiful.
And suddenly, I was filled with a strange feeling.
I felt peace wash over me and I was overcome with joy and honor at having gotten to carry this little body inside me, even for such a short time.
I was completely and utterly in love with this tiny little boy.
"Thank you. Thank you so so much," I said over and over to the nurse/midwife.
She said, "There's no reason. He'll be right here when you get back. I promise. And you can see him whenever you want."
Another very sweet nurse came over and started an IV and the two of them wheeled me to the elevator, still in my bed, and took me upstairs to the operating room. After we got there, the main nurse explained to the doctor the situation. Saying that I had lost the baby at 18 weeks, that the baby had come even earlier than planned (he was supposed to be born the next day) and that I hadn't birthed the placenta. And then she said that I was bleeding a lot
I felt a contraction. I grunted. Something came out into the bed pan. The nurse lifted the sheet and her eye brows raised. That had been the placenta. That's not something they were used to because apparently, placentas don't come out on their own at that early in pre-term. Again with my superuterus.
The elevator door opened and the anesthesiologist stepped off it and smiled at me. "Remember me?" He said with a warm smile. I smiled back. He seemed so fatherly and kind that just his presence soothed me.
The sweet nurse gave me a small shot glass with a sweet liquid to drink that was supposed to lower any reflux during the surgery.
They wheeled me into surgery room and asked me if I could move from my bed to the table. I did. Because of the chilly room and the drop in hormones, I started shaking, my teeth chattering. They got some warm blankets and stretched an upper body warmer (flooded with warm air), adjusted the bed and got me prepped for surgery. The nurse at my head stroked my hair gently. The kindness in that touch made me start crying. I'm so used to such a LACK of tenderness in this place that just that small gesture caught me off guard. She then put the oxygen mask on my face. I shook it off and told her that I was a bit clostrophobic, so she held it above my mouth.
After a while, they said that if I didn't get sufficient oxygen into my blood, they wouldn't be able to start the anesthesia, so in the end, I had to deal with the oxygen mask pressed to my face. I was told to breathe deeply to make it go faster. I did. It did. And before long, they said they were pushing the first dose through.
They asked me if I felt the room spin. It did, but I was still awake. They pushed the second dose through. My eyes closed, my arms nice and warm, my legs up in the air, strapped to leg stirrups.
I woke up in recovery and the first thing I said was, "I had a little boy."
Sam came in long enough to tell me he had to go get the kids. Said he'd be back later.
They wheeled me to my room. I asked to see my baby. The nurse brought him back in. He was cold--I assume because he was being kept in a cooler--and the nurse had put a little white bonnet on his head. His face had already deteriorated a bit, but his little hands were just as well-formed as at the beginning.
"Can I touch him?" I asked, timidly.
I played with his little toes. Patted his belly. Took his tiny fingers on the end of my index finger and held his little hand. Again, I was filled with gratitude and love. So strange. I think the nurse started to worry about me getting too attached or maybe she was worried about him being out of the cooler too long (as we had agreed to an autopsy) because she put the little napkin back over him. I patted him and said, "Goodbye sweet baby boy."
I now wish I would have insisted on spending just a little more time with him. Or maybe even holding him in my arms. I didn't because I felt prohibited. But he was mine. I wish I would have realized it then. But, at least I don't wonder. At least I got to touch him and stare at him. Memorize him.
After she left, another nurse came in and gave me a stack of pads and brought me a snack of tea and biscottes. I watched bad TV and couldn't believe I had paid for it.
Sam got there later. We talked. We cried. We laughed. We cried some more. He left. He called me on my cell and let me talk to my babies.
I didn't sleep much. Sometimes I just stared, thinking, wondering how I was ever going to get over things. Sometimes I read. Either way, I counted down the minutes until the nurse would come in and give me the sleep aid Sam had requested for me before he left.
Even with the sleep aid, I woke up at 4am unable to sleep. I read. I dozed. I woke up and read some more. I tried the TV but the later (or earlier) it got, the worse the TV got.
I ate my breakfast at 7 when they brought it and then counted down the minutes, watching CNN, until Sam would get there around 9. At 9:05, I picked up my phone to call him but he walked in.
We had been told the day before that before we would be allowed to leave, we'd need to speak with a social worker to figure things out about Aaron's remains. Sam wanted to know if the hospital could cremate and then let us pick up the ashes or if we had to do everything through a funeral parlor, but we were told we'd have to talk to the social worker about that and that she would be by in the morning.
That, and a quick consult with the doctor was all we'd need to get out of there.
We played cards all morning, trying to forget why we were there... Why he was off work... Why we were able to sit there in the middle of a work day and play Milles Bornes. Hours went by and this social worker chick never showed up.
Finally, at 11:30 (which is just barely "sometime this morning" as 11:30 is "almost lunchtime"), the social worker came in wearing, you guessed it, BOOTS and clomped over to my bed. "You requested to see a social worker?"
I looked at Sam. He looked at her. "Well, no, we were told we'd need to talk to you about the remains." He explained to her, as she took my belongings off of the chair next to the bed and moved it over to sit on it (!!!), what we wanted to do. When he got to the part about picking up the ashes, she said, "Uh, no sir. That is impossible."
Had she said it in a nice, polite, respectful tone, I might not have gotten so mad. Had she seemed like she had even fucking GLANCED at my chart and gave a shit that I had just lost my little boy, I might have been able to hold back. But she was a bitch. That's the nicest word I have for her. Sam tried to explain that we wanted to take the ashes to the States. She said that there had been a new law passed and that that would be impossible. Again, she said it like we were stupid, like we should have KNOWN that and that such an idea was idiotic to begin with.
I couldn't hold back any more. "That's ridiculous. You're telling me that if I were in France as a tourist and one of my children died, I wouldn't be able to take the remains back to the States? I doubt very seriously that that is true."
She said, "I'm sorry, but I do believe it's very complicated. You're not allowed to take the remains back to your residence."
"Look, I don't care if they put the remains in a locker until I get on the plane, but I'm taking my baby back to the States if I have to go to jail to do it."
Let me inject here that before seeing Aaron, I didn't care about "remains." And for the most part, I still don't. When I die, I want my parts split however peeps can use them, the leftovers can go to science and if they wanna do something with me after that, they can cremate me and have Sam spread my ashes at my Grumps' waterfalls in Arkansas and if he needs a place to come "see" me because he wants to be "close" to me, let it be there. He can even plant an azalea or a field of daffodils for something, because if I hang around here, odds are good, it'll be there around those falls... the wonderland of my childhood. I just can NOT imagine going back to the States and leaving my tiny boy here. Does it make any sense? I'd feel like I left a part of me here in France. And I want NOTHING to do with that.
"I'm going home," I said under my breath. But I meant it. I think it was when that social worker looked at me over her glasses and started talking down to me that the camel's back broke in half. I decided then and there that I wouldn't be coming back to France after the February vacation we had planned in VA. I would take the kids with me (or not, if Sam wanted it that way) but I was NOT going to come back.
The discussion went on and on while I stared at the wall, thinking about my garden. When it was over, she got up and went to her desk because she needed to do some research. She'd be back later.
Sam stared at the floor.
"You have to call someone. The U.S. embassy. A funeral parlor. Someone. SOMEONE has to know how this goes, Sam. And it's not that empty-headed bitch."
He continued to stare at the floor like he couldn't hear me.
I lost it. I grabbed my phone, called Flavia and had her give me the phone numbers for a funeral parlor, the U.S. Embassy in Paris and the Consulate's office in Lyon.
"You gonna call, or are you gonna make me do it while I sit here and bleed out the rest of my baby into my pants?"
Okay, I know it was harsh but I was PISSED. I feel like if you PUT UP with incompetence the likes of that social worker, you are, in essence, encouraging her to stay the way she was. She needed to be called out. She needed to be corrected. It should have been OUR DUTY to keep her from doing this to another couple some time down the line.
Sam called and got the info from the funeral parlor. Sure enough, there are new laws. If you take the remains back to your house, you have to sign a paper. Otherwise, you can leave them at the funeral parlor for up to a year. As far as repatriation, we might need to call the Embassy to get some kind of form, but with the birth and death certificates, we would probably be in the clear.
An hour later, the bitch came back and told us some OTHER story. I just smirked and rolled my eyes. Sam told her he had called the funeral parlor.
She looked at me and asked if I needed a psychologist. I remarked that she was trying to make an effort, so I said, "I appreciate that, but I've found that French people react differently to situations than Americans do, so I'm not sure a French psychologist would really be able to understand my particular reactions. But thank you. I'm a member of a mommies forum, though, so I'll take solace in my mommy friends."
She didn't seem to like that answer, but shrugged and rolled her eyes.
She then asked me if I wanted a puericultrice to come to my house. I thought about this... Pueri is the prefix that has to do with babies... I don't have a baby. Why would I want one of those? So, I asked, "Um, what is a puericultrice?"
She looked at me over her glasses like I was an idiot for asking... though I had JUST told her that I was American and said, as if speaking to a child, "A puericultrice is someone who knows everything about babies and the care of babies."
"So, why would I want one?"
Sam interrupted because he heard my voice escalating. I think he could tell I was about to deck the bitch.
I just leaned back and watched the muted TV until she left.
As soon as she left, the new nurse/midwife came in the room with a phone and said, "Um I have an American insurance company on the phone for you. They want to speak to you."
Sam took it, started in French and then switched to English. He started to tell the story, but he was leaving things out, so he passed me the phone. I told the nurse on the line everything that had happened since the beginning of the problems (going to the emergency room in the States back in November) up through Aaron's delivery. She said she just needed someone to give her that information but that, in order to send through a "recommendation for coverage" she'd need to hear all this info from a doctor or medical professional. She said that she had asked the woman who had answered the phone but that they would give her no information. I took down her number and said we'd have a doctor call her back.
The nurse/midwife came back in and I told her what the call was about. "Oh," she said, "well, I'm not allowed to give out information without your permission. If you'd have just given me permission, I'd have talked to them."
Okay, but um, I didn't know that's what the call was about... She had just walked in and handed us the phone.
"Well, tell them to call back with a French translator and I'd be happy to talk to them."
At that point, I ALMOST wrote down a little note, giving her written permission, but she was, at that point, in the middle of taking out my IV, because, get this, I didn't have to talk to the doctor AFTER ALL. So, I didn't need to talk to the social worker, and I didn't need to talk to the doctor, so WHY THE HELL was I still at the hospital when I could have been home in my own bed?
Sam and I left the hospital and went straight to the movies. Why not? We were out of there just in time to go to the movies. Sam had taken the day off. What ELSE were we going to do? Sit at home and stare at the walls?
As soon as the movie was over, we went in the van to get the kids. As I was sitting there in the van, waiting for Sam to come back, a pair of boys crossed the street and because Sam had parked on a crosswalk, these 10 year olds started cussing at me as I sat in the vehicle. I could have flipped them off. I could have stuck out my tongue. Instead, I just stared at them. Filled with ire. Packing my suitcase in my mind.
When I saw my kids, I had to pretend to be okay. I had to BE okay for them.
The rest of the night and the days that followed are all jumbled...
My houseguest came. During dinner, two bouquets of flowers were delivered--one from Rachel in CLT and one from Mariann here in the States (Mariann is the friend who watched Lily and walked her back to school while I gave birth to Aaron). My houseguest having learned "feet" that day gave me a foot massage. The left foot was heavenly and it is all I remember. I fell asleep near the beginning of the right one. The next night, she massaged my arms.
I hid out as much as I could this week. I didn't want anyone to ask me how I was. I didn't want to find myself curled in a ball on a floor somewhere sobbing. Instead, I cleaned and organized. I didn't sleep much.
Sam moped because I wouldn't stop talking about leaving. Taking the kids with me. He didn't want to stay in the apartment all alone. He'd miss his kids. He'd miss me. I tried to get him to see how great it would be for him to have some time to himself. He could ride his bike during lunch. Run at night and on the weekends. Lose some weight. But he still moped.
Then, I had a Eureka moment in the middle of the night. I had a new plan. I would stay in the States, but only with Ryan. That way, the girls would keep Sam busy and keep him company. They'd be in school all day long, he'd spend a couple of hours with them at night and then they'd be in bed until morning. He'd have to practice putting together their outfits and we'd need a Lily solution (she'd need someone to walk her to school, feed her lunch on Mondays and watch her all day Wednesday) but for the most part, it seemed do-able. Sam was absolutely against it from the start, saying we shouldn't separate them. But he told me later it was because I had talked him into spending more time on himself, going to the movies and riding his bike. While I think he probably deserves that kind of alone time, it's going to have to wait until he retires.
Throughout the week, we found Lily solutions. By yesterday it was pretty much official. We found out tonight that we can even do an air shipment of some of our stuff... meaning that Ryan and I will have beds and a couch instead of camping out on air mattresses.
I'm ecstatic. I can't get out of this place fast enough. I'm mourning the little pockets of happiness I've found here, but since Aaron's passing, they're not the same. There's a shadow on everything.
Going to the States is going to be so good for Ryan. I've already researched modern Kindergarten in the States (a lot has changed... when I was a kid, it was about coloring, cutting and pasting... go figure) and I'm excited for Ryan to have this opportunity to prepare for first grade. I have spent so many hours trying to search for good things that have come out of Aaron's death and this is one of the big ones... I wouldn't have gone home had Aaron not left me... and without going home, Ryan wouldn't be starting Kindergarten. Without starting Kindergarten, I am CONVINCED Ryan would have had a tough time in first grade.
That, and the garden. Because I'm not going to spend my days lying around on my butt. I've been dreaming of getting this soil under my fingernails since BEFORE we came to France. I'm finally going to have my farm. I'm going to spend my days working on the woods and the gardens and whatever else needs to be done. I'll invite my hippie Charlotte friends to come up and help on the weekends if they wanna. I have a couple of friends whose families live in the Lynchburg area who'll come to visit from time to time. I have at least one long lost friend I re-discovered during my last visit to VA who lives in VA!!! (Hi Travis!!!)
And maybe, just maybe, I'll finally finish revising my books and get those bitches published. I feel like I owe these things to Aaron. Nothing could ever make his death "worth it," but at least his passing will have sparked something positive instead of the wallowing in despair it COULD have triggered, right?
I have two big regrets. One is that during the early months of my pregnancy, Sam and I had a fight. I actually said, "I'm worried about this baby because I don't want to be with you any more. What kind of beginning is that for a child?" What I was essentially saying was that things would be easier for everyone, including the baby, if the baby weren't born. I'd take that back in a heartbeat if I could. I never EVER didn't want that baby. I was mad when I said that. I'll never say anything like that out loud again and I'll try very hard not to think it.
The other thing is, early on in my pregnancy, I said, "I'm not going to spend 10 months lying around on my ass. If this baby is going to survive being a Tissot, it's going to have to pull its own weight and hang on tight." I've never regretted anything I've ever said more than that right there. I'd lie around for the rest of my life if it would bring my Aaron back.
But I can't, and it won't, and he won't. And it's time to move on.
So, I'll be ending this blog a little earlier than I had planned. Not tonight of course. I'm here for another two weeks. But after that, if you wanna know what I'm up to (up to my elbows in dirt, hopefully), you'll have to go to the new blog...
I'm looking forward to moving on. I hope you'll come with me.