Category Archives: “Baby Fever” – Excerpts from novel in progress

Sidelined

A tug on my arm woke me up. The tug was immediately followed by Nicholas’ gentle voice saying, “I’m hungry Mommy.” The clock radio read 7:03 a.m. Donald was gone.

All it took to appease Nicholas was a bowl of corn flakes. I munched on my peanut butter and whole grain bread and watched him methodically use his spoon as he took great care not to spill any milk.

Donald returned at 7:40 a.m. with bagels and cream cheese. “They look divine. Except I can’t eat them. White flour,” I reminded him for the umpteenth time.

“I forgot. Sorry,” he said sheepishly.

“Nothing says sorry better than scrambled eggs,” I replied in my best Mary Poppins voice.

At 9 a.m. I was finally able to push Nicholas and Donald out the door. The neighborhood park was barely half a mile away, and if Nicholas didn’t get there by 10 a.m., he would be shimmying down the curtains.

I immediately fell back to sleep until 11 a.m. when they arrived home. The six hours from the night before and those two hours only added up to eight hours though, and I woke up groggy and instantly realizing that I was missing my seminar. Still feeling uneasy about the baby, I comforted myself by visualizing the grey and white wiggles from the sonogram the night before.

Donald was itching to play tennis and “hang out.”  Although the basketball courts were a five-minute drive from our house, the neighborhood bar was only an additional three-minute drive. I knew he’d be gone until dinnertime, but I smiled and kissed him good-bye.

By 4 p.m. Donald had been gone four hours, and Nicholas was restless. The rain had kept him inside Saturday, and he wanted to go to the park again. I didn’t have the strength to take him. Donald wasn’t answering his cell phone, but luckily Legos came to the rescue.

While Nicholas focused on making a roof, I fumed. What the hell was Donald thinking?  This was supposed to be my rare weekend off mommy duty.  He wasn’t supposed to have even been able to go out all day.  I spent all that time in the hospital going through another miscarriage scare and am supposed to be in bed all day, and he can’t pry himself away from his bar stool?

I caught myself spiraling further and further into negative thinking and struggled to refocus by watching the intent expression on Nicholas’ face as he methodically assembled a structure. For such an athletic child, it constantly amazed me that he could get lost for hours in his Legos.

Donald finally showed up at 6:30 p.m. and headed straight for the refrigerator to retrieve a cold Budweiser.

“You ruined my weekend. I had to stay in all weekend,” he said as he slammed cupboards while looking for his favorite beer huggie, the one from University of Texas at Austin, his alma mater.

“You are so full of shit. I missed most of my writing seminar. I spent hours alone in the ER and almost lost the baby. And you were out most of the day,” I blubbered.

“This is why I didn’t want another baby, more work for me.”

I burst into ugly sobs and left the room.

It’s the alcohol talking. He’s making dinner. If you’re lucky, he won’t burn down the house in the process.

I know he only partially means what he says, part of him is so excited about the baby, I can hear that in his voice when he tells other people we’re expecting and when he talks to Nicholas about having a sibling.

Is he lazy or just an alcoholic? Is it he’s stuck in a college sophomore mentality because that’s when he started partying so hard? Is that just his personality?

He has so many good qualities, I try and focus on them — but it doesn’t seem like he pushes himself to grow.

 

 

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Blood

As I entered the bathroom stall I could still hear the instructor’s words in my head. He had spoken with such enthusiasm about the techniques he had developed for screenwriting that I was already brainstorming scenes. Until I noticed the red stain on my blue and white pinstriped underwear. Blood.

My chest tightened as I flashed back to that morning. I hadn’t been sure whether the faint rust-colored stain less than the size of a dime had been old or fresh. I took some deep breaths and decided to check again at lunch.

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It had started to rain heavily, and my socks and flared jeans got soaked while walking to lunch, a nearby Subway. At lunch there was no more blood, and I began to relax.

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I settled into the lecture and discretely removed my socks. While I furiously took notes, the bottom of my jeans slowly went from drenched to damp, from midnight blue to faded denim.

At our late afternoon break, I rushed to the bathroom. There were definitely more blood stains on my underwear. My heart skipped as I realized that I had been slightly cramping on and off even though I’d been sitting down almost the whole day. With a history of miscarriages and my 40th birthday a memory, the cramps were scary no matter how much my high-risk OB reassured me. When the cramps had been on and off almost all day, I would spend the next day in bed or all evening after work anyhow, and then they’d stop.  But that day I had been cramping on and off for three days.

The spotting was ominous. I knew I had to leave the screenwriting seminar, even though it would not break for another two and a half hours.

The wind and rain chilled me as I trudged to the car. The Gothic setting matched my bleak mood. Disappointment crept through my body until I felt almost weightless. I had been looking forward to the weekend seminar for weeks. It had been one of my rare “me” things.  It was my gift to myself for finishing two and a half long years of pursuing my teaching credential.

The rain had washed my Matrix. Yet again, I was grateful that I had a red car, because I often had trouble remembering where I parked it. Once I navigated my way to the 405 freeway, I forced myself to look on the positive side — I had left with the course materials in hand, and I had absorbed so much during the time I was there. The steady rhythm of the windshield wipers helped me mentally recite the two shortcut writing techniques, which would expedite my rewriting of the first drafts of the two screenplays I had been working on. I always worked on two writing projects at the same time, because when one stumped me, I would turn in relief to the other one.

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After the ER doctor examined me, there was some more blood, not a lot, but enough to stain the paper cloth on the examining table. My cervix was slightly open, and he contacted the OB on call who said I needed a sonogram.

I kept telling myself to “turn it over” and not to panic, which helped.

At 9:30 p.m. I got the sonogram. Because I was scheduled for my 16-week one the following Tuesday at the same hospital, the cute, young sonogram technician performed the comprehensive sonogram, which involved lots of shots of the fetus from different angles.

Right away I could see the heartbeat and was reassured. The baby-to-be looked so scrunched up, but the technician said that’s the way they all looked. I could see that the fetus had grown a lot in the three and a half weeks since my last sonogram, which relieved me too. I had only gained a pound in those three weeks and was not definitively feeling the baby move yet, so it was nice to see proof that the baby-to-be was still alive.

I had been feeling rumblings, especially after I ate.  I would wonder if it was the baby, but they were so faint that I was never certain.

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The news report from the car radio informed me that the rainfall had already broken records for March, three and a half inches in one day.

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I got home at midnight. Nicholas was awake. All I could glean from prodding Donald, passed out on the couch, was that Nicholas had fallen asleep at 7 p.m. I fixed myself some scrambled eggs and read Time for Bed to Nicholas until his eyes shut. The sound of the rain hitting the windows lulled me to sleep.

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