My Daughter Is A Miracle | Circa August 28, 2009

[From My Journal Titled “A Mother of a Birth Story”, Part 1 | August 28, 2009]

My daughter is a miracle. From conception to birth she battled to be born.

Even now, as we gaze into each other’s eyes when she nuzzles and nurses, I’m amazed she is really, truly here. 

Still, I can’t get enough of her and nibble her tender toes, cheeks and belly. Her skin is warm and sweet. I rub my face against her downy auburn hair and am thankful she’s alive. I’m relieved we both survived. 

Trying to believe …

Pregnancy wasn’t easy. I suffered secondary infertility after the birth of my oldest son. I was diagnosed at 27 with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). My odds of conceiving again were very slim – and that would be with the help of fertility aides.  

One doctor told me it was a miracle I had my son.  

Another said, after ruling out Cushings disease, it was the worst case of PCOS she’d ever seen.  

The syndrome did more than clump my eggs and prevent conception. It ravaged my health. In less than eight months I gained almost 100 pounds. My blood pressure skyrocketed to stroke levels and I was put on meds. My hair thinned to the point of embarrassment.  

I went from outgoing and active to depressed and closeted. My only thought was another baby. I hated my body for denying me.  The searing grief was eventually numbed under the thick callus of time. The pain didn’t truly dissipate until the birth of my youngest son. He joined our family through adoption.  

After a few years hemming and hawing about adopting again, my husband and I decided we were content with two. So, as you can imagine, it was a heart-jolting surprise to find out after 15 years I was expecting again. 

When a tubal pregnancy was ruled out, everyone — but me — rejoiced. The protective callus I thought was gone had come back. 

“I thought you’d be happy. This is the baby you wanted for so many years,” my husband said.

“No. That baby is down the hall, sleeping in his room.”

He gave me a perplexed look.  

“It’s going to take me awhile to wrap my head around this.” He was right. I ought to be shouting with joy so loud the neighbors heard. Instead, I was terrified

What I wouldn’t tell my husband … what scared me so badly … women with PCOS had high early-pregnancy miscarriage rates. I wouldn’t feel better until I could hold the baby. 

I promised myself I’d relax if I made it to 12 weeks – the time when the fetus would take over my faulty production and produce its own hormones. 

Even when that goal was reached, I didn’t unknot the yarn of worry that wound through my gut. My uneasiness was justified. At my 15 week obstetrician appointment. …


[From My Journal Titled “A Mother of a Birth Story”, Part 2 | June 29, 2009]

At 30-weeks pregnant, even I had to admit my health was disintegrating.

“How do you feel?” The nurse asked as she prepared to take my blood pressure.

“Terrible.” It was difficult to explain. I felt a massive pressure on my chest and it was so bad I slept propped on pillows to breath easier. Conversations were exhausting. Even watching a TV show was too much. I couldn’t focus enough to follow along. Anything physical, like walking from the couch to the bedroom, and I was sapped. A lengthy nap would follow.

The nurse placed the cuff on my arm, squeezed the bulb and released. She bit her lip as she watched the numbers.

“How bad?”

She hesitated. “Umm, not good.” On her way to the door, she paused and looked at my feet. They were so swollen I worried about getting stretch marks on my ankles. “The doctor will be in soon.”

Jim walked through the door next.

“Sorry, I got here as soon as I could.” He was still wearing his work uniform. “What did they say?” 

“It’s not good.”

He sat down in the chair next to me and squeezed my hand. I slumped against him.

Dr. Oswald entered. He was reading a chart and talking. I wasn’t sure if it was to the nurse, himself or me until he looked up. “This isn’t good. No, no. I’m very worried.” He sat down on his stool. “You have elevated levels of protein. Your blood pressure is too high.” He flipped through the papers again. “What are we going to do?” 

I wasn’t sure if question was rhetorical – so didn’t answer. When he finished reading his notes he took a long look at me. He didn’t like what he saw. “I think you need to go to the hospital. This is very dangerous. When it happens, it happens fast.” He was referring to pre-eclampsia.

I was almost too tired to talk, much less disagree. 

“What insurance do you have?”

I couldn’t remember.

Jim said, “Blue Cross.”

The doctor rubbed his forehead and frowned. “OK, here’s the thing. You have to go to the hospital downtown. Your insurance doesn’t have a contract with St. Agnes.”

“Oh. I thought I’d be at the one in Clovis.”

He shook his head. “They won’t admit you unless you are at least 36 weeks. They don’t have a NICU either. St. Agnes does and I could treat you there – but I can’t at Fresno Community.” 

That didn’t make sense. How could I be at the Fresno hospital if he couldn’t see me there? My confusion must have showed.

“Mia, call Dr. Howard’s office.” The nurse quickly left the room while he continued to talk. “He’s the specialist there.”

Panic fluttered like a baby bird in my chest. “You won’t be my doctor anymore?”

“If you make it to 36 weeks, you can transfer to Clovis and I can deliver the baby. Or you can check into St. Agnes and work with your insurance company later to cover the bill.”

It was too much to absorb. I was sick, exhausted and worried my daughter wouldn’t live to take her first breath. It never occurred to me I wouldn’t have my doctor. Regardless of how bad it got, I trusted him. If we were going to make it — he’d be the one to pull us through. … Maybe we should go to St. Agnes and fight the insurance company later.

The nurse opened the door and leaned in. “Dr. Howard is on vacation all week.”

“Who’s covering for him?”

“Dr. Terry.”

“Get him on the phone.” Dr. Oswald stood up and motioned for us to follow. We stood next to the nurse station and waited while she dialed the phone. The doctor asked, “What do you want to do?

Huh? What was there to do? “I don’t know.” I wasn’t really sure what he was asking about. Maybe it was about the hospitals. He talked some more but my brain completely spaced. 

Next thing I knew, Jim was escorting me out of the office to our cars. I grabbed my keys out of my purse.

“What do you think you’re doing? You’re not driving. I already called mom — we’ll pick it up later.”

I paused. “What are we doing?”

“We’re going home and waiting for him to call us. He’s getting it set up for you to be admitted.”

“Oh.” 

Jim opened the car door. I sat down and buckled up. I didn’t know how were going to manage with me in the hospital — but I knew we were in for a helluva a ride.


[From My Journal Titled “A Mother of a Birth Story, Part 3 | July 22, 2009]

At 30-weeks pregnant I was being admitted to the high-risk antepartum unit. The trip to the hospital was an exhaustive blur. Forget preeclampsia, I needed sleep.

“Where do we check in?” said Jim after he braked for a red light.

“I don’t know. The emergency room?” We didn’t get a tour of this hospital – or any maternity ward for that matter. “That’s what the Clovis hospital had us do.”  We’d gone there when I was 27-weeks pregnant for tests.

Jim headed that way. Well, at least in the direction we thought it was. The street the entrance used to be located had a multi-story building plopped in the middle. I surmised it must be the new trauma wing.

“Well, where do we go now?”

“I don’t know.” The last time I was here was on Jared’s birthday 16 years earlier. So much had changed. Maybe we could go home, grab a few hours of sleep and then come back.

“Just drive around it until there’s a sign.”

Sigh. It was better to just get this over with. Besides, if we went home I wouldn’t get any rest.

Nights were the worst. The ache, pressure and sickness increased ten-fold as the birds, freed from the city’s busy noise, began to chirp in the twilight. Fear, panic and discomfort kept me awake until morning light brought relief – proof I survived to live another day.

Many times I felt desperate and would reach out to Jim in the dark for help. Before I could press my fingertips on his bare shoulder, I’d scold myself.  He was working fulltime, handling all the household chores, cooking dinners, raising the kids and taking care of me. The last thing he needed was to have his sleep disturbed. Besides, I wasn’t feeling worse – merely letting heavy thoughts trample in the quiet.

“Here it is.” Jim had drove the loop and found the new entrance. He pulled up to the curb. “Go get signed in while I park.”

I was thankful the automatic doors were only a few yards away. It was raw willpower that kept me upright. Beyond the entrance was a guard stationed behind bulletproof glass. I had to talk to him before being granted access to the waiting room.

Only, he directed me to a different area of the hospital. Pregnant women were to report to the third floor from a location on the other side. I almost cried.

It took a few minutes, but I shuffled out and around the building. Jim caught up with me and looped his arm through mine for support.

“Are you going to be able to do this?”

“No, I need to sit.” He guided me to an empty seat and then went to find a wheelchair.

There weren’t any. So after a few minutes I stood and we made our way to the elevator. On the third floor, a guy behind a counter had me sign lots of paperwork. He explained what each was for but I couldn’t focus. I could barely sign. Once that was done he directed us to the fifth floor.

It felt like a never-ending hell of constant motion. The carrot that kept me going was the hospital bed. If I could just make it there, I’d be OK.

On the fifth floor we were guided down a long hallway to the antepartum nurses’ station.

Finally, we were in the right spot and I was shown my room. Now all I had to do was layback and let them slap a blood pressure cuff on me. Then I could sleep. I’d even succumb with relative peace knowing I’d be monitored overnight.

I should’ve known better.


[From My Journal Titled “A Mother of a Birth Story”, Part 4 | August 7, 2009]

Getting to the hospital room had been a challenge. I was 30-weeks pregnant, battling preeclampsia and ready to drop. 

The risk I’d deliver my daughter prematurely was as high as my blood pressure. And that was the best-case scenario.

After I had changed into a gown and climbed into the air-pressurized bed, I wanted to sleep but there was too much commotion. It didn’t matter. I was light-headed with relief.

The nurse and her aide orbited like satellites while my husband sat in a chair, out of the way. Between the two an IV was inserted, a pressure cuff wrapped and a baby monitor strapped. 

Circling intermittently was a tech to draw blood, a woman delivering dinner, and two giggly girls with a portable ultrasound machine to measure fetal growth and amniotic fluid. There were others, but I was too spaced to register what their duties were.

I answered health questions, often with my husband’s help, and handed the nurse my gallon-size Ziploc bag of meds. While she entered the types and dosages, my husband called to update my parents.

After that I was mentally scattered by a constellation of little things: The singing of the American Idol contestants on the mounted TV, the peeling beige wallpaper under the window, the tightening cuff on my left arm, my husband’s voice, the clear bag on the IV stand, my purposeful deep intake and release of air, the amplified heartbeat of my baby and the coordinating etched paper rolling off the printer.

The tension on my upper arm released and I glanced at the monitor. The numbers were shocking.

“Is that right?” It couldn’t be.

The nurse’s aide turned the monitor. “Don’t watch – we’ll take it again.”

“Let’s have you lie on your side and relax,” said the nurse as she came around the bed and looped a flexible measuring tape around my bicep. “Yeah, that’s the right size cuff.” She walked over to the switch and dimmed the lights.

My husband patted my leg.

I followed directions and rolled on my side, lowered the bed — as far as could be tolerated — and closed my eyes. Then I pictured sitting in the shadow of Morro Rock while watching the water roll into waves and break on the jetty. The power of the ocean was strong and peaceful, the two things I needed to be.

When that image faded I thought of a January night when I wore a newborn Craig in a sling and ambled in the backyard. While he nestled deep in the warmth of the fabric pouch, cool air and starlight soothed. As I tread the moist earth and damp grass with bare feet, I felt connected to a larger all-encompassing maternal energy.

An abrupt arm squeeze disrupted the visual. The cuff inflated and I did my best to keep still.

When the numbers flashed the aide pursed her lips and the nurse frowned.

“What is it?” I needed to know. When getting a shot, I was the type that had to watch. Better to be prepared and informed of when the pain would pierce than be surprised.

The aide turned the screen.

It was worse than the first reading. I was astounded – who knew blood pressure could go that high?

Oh, this was wrong. In the past if I relaxed it responded by getting better – not worse. I thought I had some influence over my illness. If I just behaved and followed doctor’s orders the baby and I would be OK.

Sure logic didn’t dictate that – but I’d never been up against something so big. My body was on a path of destruction and I was powerless. No amount of internal calming and fortifying would deter or slow it.

Now what?

The nurse talked on the cellphone and the aide wrapped my bedrails with blankets and then secured them with tape.

“What’s this for?”

“In case you have seizures.”

Seizures?

“It’ll protect your head.”

Huh? A bubble of hysteria lodged in my throat. I was going to be saved by thin blue cotton blankets? Hey no worries, they got this covered. Literally.

It was the funniest thing I ever heard. So funny I laughed … then panic hit like a Mac truck.

I couldn’t breathe. It felt like ants were crawling on my head and my cheeks were numb. Something was loudly pounding and my chest felt like it was going to crack.

The world tilted and my stomach seized. Before I could vomit or blackout, a gentle voice said, “What’s wrong?”

The soft syllables acted as a crown line for my floating sanity. I used nurse’s words to stabilize.

“I … I’m sorry.” I sucked in a long breath. “I think I need a Xanex.”

It had been years since I experienced a full-blown anxiety attack.

“OK, I can ask the doctor.”

After a few minutes I was shaky but better.

The nurse had called the doctor and returned. “Dr. Thomas prescribed the Xanex.”

“OK.” So that was the doctor’s name. I’d forgotten. “Uh … forgive me, but what’s your name?”

She smiled with what looked like kind patience. It was the same look I’d seen others give elderly, forgetful family members. Guess it wasn’t the first, or even second, time I’d asked the question.

“I’m Jenny.”

Jenny.

This time I’d keep her name like a shiny treasured rock in my pocket. 

Everything else was out of my control — but remembering the names of the strangers that were going to save me?

That was the one thing I could do.


[From My Journal Titled “A Mother of a Birth Story”, Part 5 | September 4, 2009]

Anxiety burned my senses like stomach acid. It was too much. I was 30-weeks pregnant, in the hospital with escalating preeclampsia and being treated by strangers. 

For the first time I had no influence over my situation.

What was going to happen to the baby and me? I wanted my doctor. He was my anchor, the one medical person I trusted without reserve. Why didn’t I choose to fight the insurance company and go to the hospital where he could treat me?

It was too late now. I was here, admitted and too sick to change.    

“Dr. Terry will be here soon,” said Jenny, the nurse.

I was too nervous to take the requested Xanax and declined when Jenny offered it.

What if it made me sleepy? Yes, I was exhausted and my body demanded rest. Crawling into bed was the only reason I trudged the hospital hallways to antepartum. But now, I felt like a lame zebra in lion territory. Survival instincts demanded I stay alert or something would bite my ass.

To me, that something was meds.

My experiences with them were wonky. I flat-out hated narcotics. Codeine made me jittery and unable to sleep. Vicodin wasn’t much better. And sleeping pills? Ugh, I liked those even less.

But I knew something worse was on the horizon. I’d read about it on Babycenter.com’s community boards. It was the one drug every pregnant woman hoped to never take. It was the one I feared the most.

“Will I have to take magnesium?” I asked the nurse.

“Well, it’s a possibility.” She checked my arm, wrist and hands for a good vein to insert a second IV. 

“When the doctor gets here he’ll take a look at you, the test results and decide what’s next.”

She found a promising spot on my hand, inserted the needle, taped and capped it off. The heplock would be used later to draw my blood.

“What’s it feel like?” Fear crackled on my skin and zapped the air from my lungs. My blood pressure was high, really high. The magnesium would prevent seizures. 

“She read too much about it online,” said my husband, seated in the corner chair. “I told her she shouldn’t. She’s been scared about it for weeks.”

It was true. I’d obsessed.

“It can feel warm at first. Some patients say it’s like a case of the flu,” said Jenny. “Some aren’t bothered. Everyone’s different.”

I wanted to hope, but with my adverse reactions to drugs I didn’t dare.

The door to the room opened and light filtered through the privacy curtain. A man entered with the nurse’s aide.

“Hello. I’m Dr. Terry.” His greeting boomed with authority, but he smiled wide and put out a hand to shake.

Half of my face and body went numb. This was real. The guy with all the power had arrived. Maybe he was going to tell me the baby had to be born tonight. 

That or worse – the baby wouldn’t live. Those were the only fears I had stronger than the magnesium. Not even my anxiety of a c-section could compete.

My husband shook the offered hand. The nurse relayed my stats and test results. Then doctor sat down and addressed me.

I don’t know what he said. By this time the focus I forced myself to maintain broke loose and wandered as free as a homeless dog. The singer on the mounted TV from the show ‘American Idol’ felt more real. The kooky contestant Tatiana was going on in her manner and I laughed.

“Did you see that?” I pointed to the screen above my husband’s head.

Both he and the doctor looked at me intently. It seemed odd until I realized I was behaving inappropriately. 

“Do you know why you’re here?” asked the doctor.

I wanted to giggle, roll my eyes back and fall asleep. Good lord, he was the doctor. Shouldn’t he know? “Uh. Dr. Oswald sent me here.”

“Yes.”

“I’m not feeling well and have preeclampsia.” I blathered on some more, not quite sure what I was saying but trying to get the answer right. 

Anything he needed to hear. Just fix me doc. OK?

“I’m going to make this very clear,” said Dr. Terry. “You’re here to have a baby.”

Oh, a baby. Was that all? I’d been so focused on the medical hurdles I hadn’t thought about it like that. Well, I wasn’t able to think of much anyways. The last bit of stamina I possessed dissipated and I watched lips and people move.

Dr. Terry left. The nurse and aide quick-stepped around the room. Their activity made as much sense as watching colors shift in a kaleidoscope.

An abrupt, harsh scratch on my chest startled me.  “What are you doing?”

The aide glanced up. “This is for the EKG.”

Huh?

“We’ll watch your heart as we give you the injection for your blood pressure,” said the nurse. “It’s a strong medicine, we just want to make sure you handle it well.”

And if I didn’t, then what? … I decided not to ask


[From My Journal Titled “A Mother of a Birth Story”, Part 6 | October 2, 2009]

Please let this work. And please, don’t let it kill me. 

Nurse Jenny pushed the plunger on the syringe and watched the monitor as the medicine flowed through the heplock into my vein. 

At 30-weeks pregnant, the goal was to keep the baby and me alive. The hope was to give her more time to develop and grow.

It was no longer a question of if she’d be premature due to preeclampsia but when. How soon would the doctors have to intervene and deliver her to save us both? No one on the medical staff could give me an answer or even a guesstimate. The outcome depended entirely on how my body responded to the medicine and how long my daughter could stay strong in a hostile environment.

The EKG must have showed my heart was able to handle the push of drugs because both the nurse and aide relaxed.

“How are you feeling?” asked Jenny.

I didn’t feel different. Still the same level of miserable. “Fine, I guess.”

My husband shifted in his chair. He’d been leaning forward and patting my leg. It wasn’t until he removed his hand that I noticed the comforting gesture. “How long before we know if it worked?” he asked.

“Pretty quickly.”

“If it works, does that mean I won’t have to take the magnesium?”

“Hmmm.” The nurse’s lips twitched. “If it works, you might not have to.”

That wasn’t comforting. How soon was ‘quick’ in medical terms? Maybe she already knew the answer but couldn’t say because she wasn’t the doctor and didn’t make the decisions.

I don’t know why I asked. Deep in the pit of my gut, I knew. The horror stories I’d read about it in the pregnancy forums flipped through my memory like a Rolodex. Be strong Gen. Don’t freak. Breathe.

My husband twisted and looked at the clock behind him. It took me a moment to make sense of the hands: It was midnight. Already.

“Babe, I should get going.”

No! He couldn’t leave me. Not now, not yet and certainly not before I it was confirmed I take the mag. “Jim …”

Guilt chased the panic. He looked haggard. For the first time I noticed the wrinkles around his hazel eyes. He’d already been handling the household, the kids and meals for weeks while I was on bed rest.

He didn’t sleep much and often worked overtime. I wasn’t sure how he was able to handle everything and still be so gentle and attentive with me.

“Please don’t go. I can’t do this on my own yet.”

I felt like a burden. It wasn’t that he wanted to leave me, but felt he should relieve his mom. She was watching our kids and had to be at work in a few hours. So did he. At six in the morning his grandmother would arrive so he could commute. She would get the kids ready and off to school.

“Just stay with me until I know.” He knew what I meant.

Jenny finished entering data into the computer next to my bed and then answered her cell phone. It was the doctor. She relayed numbers and information to him that I didn’t understand. After a few uh huhs, more medical jargon and confirmations she hung up and said, “Dr. Terry has ordered for you to be put on the magnesium.”

I didn’t feel the impact of her words at first. They floated through my ears like a dream. Then, after the verdict made itself comfortable in my conscience, it doused like a bucket of ice water.

This was real. So. Freaking. Real. Oh my god, why didn’t I take that Xanax I asked for earlier and then refused? I yelped or yowled and struggled to sit up more. The pressure on my chest and ribs was too much to bear with the added weight of fear.

“Calm down, calm down.” The nurse patted my hand.

My husband was by my side, stroking my hair. “It’s going to be OK. This is going to help you.”

“Do I have to?” Please, say I have a choice. I can’t do this.

“Babe, you don’t want to have seizures do you? Those could damage your brain permanently.”

I had a lot of brain. Most of it wasn’t used right? No, that wasn’t rational. That was fear and I needed to push past that. I couldn’t be so afraid that I’d prefer brain damage.

“OK. You’re right.”

The nurse got the medicine ready and injected it into my IV.

I counted each second as it passed. I was OK. So far, all was good. I’m here and I’m alive. My husband is here. The nurse is here. I can hear the TV. I’m OK. I’m fine.

All I had to do was breathe and be brave. Besides, wasn’t being brave about working through fear and doing it anyways? I could do that.


[From My Journal Titled “A Mother of a Birth Story”, Part 7 | November 17, 2009]

The magnesium didn’t hit like a Mac truck. Instead it wound lazily through my veins radiating warmth. 

OK, I could handle a flush of heat and a bit of weirdness. This wasn’t so bad. At 30-weeks pregnant and in antepartum with outrageously high blood pressure, I needed something to work. My baby needed more time to develop and grow.

Since I was doing fine, my husband didn’t need to stay. He had to be at work in a few hours. “Go home and get some sleep.”

“Are you sure?” He looked haggard. The long hours of his job added to taking care of the kids, cooking dinners, cleaning house, washing the laundry and worrying over me for the past two months showed.

“I’m going to be fine.” I did my best to sound confident. “Give the boys a kiss… I’ll see you tomorrow.”

After he left, Jenny, the nurse, checked my vitals and the graph paper that charted the baby’s heart rate. “Hmm …” She reached over, adjusted the belts and monitors strapped around my stomach and said, “There we go. She was hiding.” The machine amplified the sound of a quick-beating heart. “Why don’t you get some rest? The lab will be by to draw some blood in about an hour.”

I tried to comply, but the pressure in my chest, the medical scent of alcohol, weirdness from the magnesium, rub and burn from the monitor straps and strange room wasn’t helping.

“Want me to lower the bed or get you a sleeping pill?”

“No.” No way and no how to sleeping pills. If I died tonight I wanted to know it. 

“Actually, I want to sit up more.” After a few adjustments, I was finally able to relieve some discomfort and doze.

When the lab tech arrived, I forced a smile and tried to be socially polite with some small talk. It was too much. My focus slipped into a kind of twilight. Meaning? The tech spoke. My lips moved and I felt the vibration of my voice in my throat, but had no idea what we were discussing. How could that be? Maybe I split into two people.

At some point the tech left. By then, he was just one of the many shadows that entered and exited my room. My eyes couldn’t focus to clarify faces and name badges. That, and I was too tired to try. 

When I felt my body tilt and turn, I knew it was the nurse adjusting the monitors again. When my hand lifted and was set back, it was another blood draw. It wasn’t until I felt a burning slap and rush with an intense urge to vomit that I sat up and joined the external world.

“What’s going on?”

The nurse was standing next to the IV pole and watching the attached machine. “Your tests came back and the magnesium level wasn’t high enough. Dr. Terry ordered a bolster.”

Her words felt like déjà vu. No, wait. She told me this already. Another more intense wave hit me. “Oh my god, I feel sick.”

Jenny placed a bag attached to a plastic ring in my hand. What in the hell? She motioned how to use it.

Oh, a barf bag. Literally.

I dry heaved into the blue vomit catcher. My skin crawled and the pressure in my lungs and ribs intensified. Was I going to bust open or implode? 

Everything ached. I had to get out from underneath this. Must escape. When I tried to swing my legs over the bed and physically leave the pain behind, the crushing weight of my illness followed. I was pinned and couldn’t loosen its grasp.

It was then my sense of time busted from a linear line and fragmented into overlapping pieces. Oddly, the sick bag amused me. It was a much better design than a bowl or bucket. So much more compact and transportable too.

Peppered in my bizarre thoughts like buckshot, were the voices of the nurse and aide, the harsh squeeze of the blood pressure cuff, another bolster or two of mag, sounds of from the TV, cell phones chirping and carts being wheeled down the hall. And somewhere, someone was mowing the lawn.

I wasn’t sure what was real anymore. Beyond the tan privacy curtain and teal walls, I saw Craig run into traffic. When I shouted for him and reached out, it was air I grasped. A young Jared walked between the staff’s colorful scrubs and doctor’s white coat. He was headed down a path through some trees.

He was sad, overwhelmed. I felt angry.

Angry … why?

My husband was at the end of the path, saying, “You’ve got to see this.” Oh, I remembered. That was the weekend we camped in Yosemite with friends. Jared was in kindergarten.

And I was angry. I was as mad as a mother bear because my cub had been insulted. I was informed Jared should be excited and happy to be outdoors by one of the friends. He shouldn’t be lagging on the trail, hanging onto my leg and acting overwhelmed. “The kid was weird,” she said.

There was something more … something dangerous. Panic and pain alternated and tapped like drum beats. I wanted to scoop Jared up, get back to the car and drive home.

I wanted. to go. home.

A nurse’s aide walked through the hallucination. I didn’t recognize her. “You called?”

Did I? It was hard to know. Maybe she wasn’t real.

Maybe none of this was real.

The only thing that soothed was the thub-thub thub-thub sound coming from the hospital machine.

Published by Eve Reiland

Contact | internationalbadassactivists@gmail.com Note: My cognitive abilities fluctuate and so does my ability to read and process written or verbal information. Currently, reading new information past a paragraph or two, short ones, is impossible without support. Please keep emails short as possible. Currently, I’m overwhelmed with a few health challenges and have been incapable of processing emails for a couple of months now. Please bear with me. I do the best I can with the abilities I have at the moment.

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