Our kitchen table has four chairs, and for several years, we had our family of three at the table for four. But three chairs filled felt right at the time.
Except when it didn’t. A few years ago, that fourth chair became this thing for me, like it should have A Person for it. There was a feeling that someone was missing nagged me through many breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Someone was supposed to be there. I had no idea who, but I knew someone was missing from our lives.
The empty chair started to hurt to look at, especially during the years of negotiating infertility.
But last week … on August 23, after two years of trying for a baby, after 38 weeks and two days of pregnancy, after staring at that fourth chair for all of those days and wondering if anyone would ever claim it, we finally found Our Person to fill the seat.
(His bum is very tiny at the moment, but he’ll grow into the chair eventually.)
Welcome to the world, my sweetest little boy. We love you in ways and for reasons too numerous to count.
So this week got a little crazy in a slightly unexpected way, with our son arriving a few weeks early via a planned-but-just-not-on-the-day-we-did-it c-section, and I’ve been in the hospital all week re-educating myself on how to care for a newborn and how to recover from surgery. More on that on Monday, but for now, I wanted to duck in and say Hello! and also to post something that I never got around to posting due to chaotic arrival of our son.
Kerri: We’re doing this again, the whole “you have a movie coming out so I ask you questions that are tangentially related to the movie.” This time, the film is THE SEA OF TREES. I put that in all caps because that’s what I’m supposed to do with movie titles, right?
Chris: Right. And TV shows are in quotes.
Kerri: I’ve learned so much already. But I’m also familiar with the storyline of the movie, so can you fill my pancreatically-challenged readers in on what they can expect?
Chris: A drama.
Kerri: As a writer, you write a lot of stuff. As an interviewee, you don’t say much.
Chris: I just told you about using all caps for movies and quotes for TV shows; that’s interesting!
Kerri: ARGHH in all caps, my love. Moving back to the movie, can you give me a brief synopsis of THE SEA OF TREES?
Chris: A man suffers tremendous loss and ends up on a journey of reflection.
Kerri: It sounds a little heavy. And also I have read the script so I know that you’re leaving some kind of important stuff out. Like the suicide forest.
Chris: That’s a real place in Japan; it’s called Aokigahara, which is also known as “The Sea of Trees.”
Kerri: Okay so now we’re getting somewhere. So what’s the deal with this forest?
Chris: It’s also referred to as the perfect place to die.
Kerri: We’re not going there, right?
Chris: We have a second kid now; we’re never going anywhere again. Anyway, for whatever reason, about 100 people or so commit suicide in that forest every year.
Kerri: Again, you’ve written a family film.
Chris: Well it’s not exactly HONEY I SHRUNK THE KIDS, but it’s definitely not a scary movie, either. It’s a drama. It’s a story about a guy whose wife dies, and when he can’t go on anymore, he decides to take his own life. Only he goes to The Sea of Trees to do it. But when he gets there, he finds another man who is desperately trying to find his way out of the forest. In agreeing to help the other man find his way out and survive, the main character undergoes a process of restoration and regains his own will to live.
Kerri: I’ve been a fan of the script since you first showed it to me several years ago. [Editor’s note, which is also Wife’s note: I really loved this script.] Is this one of your favorite scripts that you’ve written?
Chris: It is, because it’s a step outside of my usual fare, where most of my stuff is in the thriller genre. It was nice to do something that was more of a straightforward drama, and I was really grateful to see the script so well-received.
Kerri: THE SEA OF TREES is a departure from that expectation of “Hey, is Chris creepy in real life?” sort of thing. Are you becoming less creepy with time, thematically?
Chris: If I can’t pay the bills with this drama stuff, I’ll go back to being creepy.
Kerri: No, seriously. Is this the kind of stuff you prefer to write?
Chris: Yes and no. It doesn’t matter to me, too much, what the genre is. I just want to tell good stories.
Kerri: So the movie stars Matthew McConaughey, Ken Watanabe, and Naomi Watts. And your daughter had a chance to meet them, only she was less interested in their celebrity and instead immediately asked where the bathroom was.
Chris: I remember that day on set.
Kerri: That wasn’t awkward at all. And obviously Birdy and I didn’t fly to Japan to bother you on set. This thing was local-ish.
Chris: It shot for a week in Japan, but I wasn’t there for any of that. The rest was shot in various parts of Massachusetts, and I was on set for a lot of those days because I was a producer on the film as well.
Kerri: Normally, you bust my chops during the course of these interviews. Why are you being so well-behaved tonight?
Chris: Because I want to think that I’ve matured a little bit.
Kerri: I can wholeheartedly attest to the fact that you have not.
It’s been very quiet here on my blog, and this is because my body and mind entirely are being slowly devoured by the baby. I’m nine days away from my scheduled c-section (but past 38 weeks, so could go into labor on my own any time) and my body hasn’t ever been this pregnant before.
The baby apparently likes being in there, though. He’s content. Happy. Laid back and chillin’.
… good for him because I’m not as content or comfortable, by comparison. My body isn’t tiny to begin with, but a full term baby in my not-very-tall frame is making me waddle. And whine. And I might have burst into tears when I had to pee for the third time in thirty minutes while taking Birdy school shopping. Or when I realized that I saw 1 am, 2.30 am, 4 am, 5 am, and 6 am as a result of waking up and needing to scurry off to the bathroom multiple times due to a baby hanging out so low in my body that he could touch up my pedicure with ease.
And then there’s that weird rush of guilt for not feeling consistently hashtag blessed or hashtag grateful about the opportunity to experience pregnancy, to be having this baby. Getting this baby going was the longest and hardest thing I’ve ever done, clocking in at almost a full three years between the “hoping for baby” and the “holding baby in my arms.” I am beyond excited to meet my son. I am also beyond grateful to be bringing another little friend into our family. But here at the end of the pregnancy moments, I’m very, very whiny and my brain is in a dark space that I hope lets up a bit once I’m not as physically pressured. I’m gigantically pregnant and I kind of feel like a blob of discomfort. I’m beyond tired of sharing my diabetes with someone else, the pressure to be in range exacerbated by the panic of having diabetes adversely influence my child’s development.
I’m sort of emotionally done being pregnant, but my body isn’t quite done yet.
My body and I are at odds about this fact.
Weirdly enough, my body is completely fine with still being pregnant. Blood pressures were good in the first trimester, low for the second trimester, and have just started to creep back up a tiny bit in the last week or two, but I’m still not on any kind of blood pressure medication (was taken off it at the beginning of the second trimester, once my pressures were registering so low that it was causing exhaustion), so that’s a success. During course of this pregnancy, the protein levels in my urine are checked weekly and they’ve only flagged as suspicious once (about two month ago) and even the twenty-four hour urine collections came back entirely negative. My weight is stable and in range (though still WHOA because 38 weeks pregnant). I barely have any swelling in my feet and ankles. My A1Cs have been a source of pride for me, and hard-earned at that. Even my dilated eye exam (they do one every trimester) came back so unremarkable that I’ve been “downgraded” to visiting the eye clinic once a year instead of every three months.
This pregnancy, when pitted against the one with my daughter, is much healthier, by comparison. And for that, I am really hashtag blessed.
But today, at 38 weeks along and the weight of his little world on my pelvis, I’m hashtag tired. And hashtag done. And hashtag secretly hoping they decide that tomorrow is a good birthday for the little nugget because that would be fine by me. Once I am able to give him a good snuggle and kiss his head, I’ll be hashtag grateful all over the place. And hashtag complete.
At this point in my previous pregnancy, I had already been in hospital on bedrest for two weeks, so this whole rolling around on the “outside” while a few days shy of 37 weeks pregnant is new to me. The emotions I felt on bedrest were really volatile and I cried a lot and HEY that same shit keeps happening even though I’m not on bedrest currently. Which means that my third trimester experiences are consistent, at least emotionally.
Which sets the stage for yesterday. I had an appointment at the maternal fetal medicine offices and then at my endocrinologist, both up in Boston. Usually, the ride takes me about an hour and 45 minutes, but I give myself 2 hours and 15 minutes every time, to anticipate traffic. Yesterday, the ride took two and a half hours because of wicked traffic on Brookline Avenue, which made me late for my scheduled ultrasound.
I do not like to be late. And yesterday, being late made me all emotional. My car crawled up Brookline Avenue while I imagined having to reschedule my appointment for the following day, making the stupid drive all over again. By the time I pulled into the parking garage, I had six minutes to find the right hospital wing and check in for my appointment.
Which, of course, I did not do efficiently. Late pregnancy hormones and emotions have my brain mostly scrambled, so I ended up in the wrong wing of the clinic, nowhere near where I was supposed to be. My blood sugar started to tumble at this point, bringing emotions even more to the surface while I left a trail of glucose tab dust along the hallways of Beth Israel. Add that to the fact that I was late and mildly lost in the myriad of signs and corridors and I lost my cool.
Man, I felt stupid. I was crying while waddling through the hospital, asking random people how to get to the proper hospital wing. Their directions weren’t making sense to my slightly hypoglycemic head. I could not pull myself together, awash with frustration and embarrassment and unable to control the emotional maelstrom swirling around me. I was unjustifiably angry that the best care for myself and my kid included a four hour road trip for every doctor’s visit. I was so tired from the low blood sugars that kept me up from 3 – 5 am and were the most symptomatic I’ve had in ages. I was angry that I couldn’t guarantee safety for my child as a result of my own health garbage. I was afraid that the stress of the moment was kicking my blood pressure into dangerous ranges. I was a frightful mess and it wasn’t anyone’s fault but mine but holy moly, I was blowing up balloons by the dozen for this ridiculous pity party I was throwing for myself.
By the time I arrived at the right place, I was 15 minutes late and trembling. And angry. So when the nurses were waiting outside of the bathroom to grab me for my appointment, I snapped at them. When they took my blood pressure while I was crying (could NOT stop for some reason), I knew the result would be elevated and would trigger a whole catalog of panicked responses from my healthcare team. Of course it was high, and of course I snapped at them again. Not their fault that I was late and my BP was high, yet they were the unfortunate recipients of my rage.
When the nurse I’ve been working with and a new doctor came in to discuss the results of my ultrasound (baby is fine) and my blood pressure (elevated for reasons I knew but they couldn’t pretend it couldn’t be a symptom of preeclampsia), I was still ranty and snapping. I could not calm down and I felt terrible – TERRIBLE – that I was lashing out at a medical team whose purpose was to protect my health and the health of my baby. But I still couldn’t get my shit together and acknowledge that for more than five minutes.
I was a rotten patient, all frustrated and angry. (The ultrasound technician told me it was okay and that they see a lot of emotions during appointments, and I felt myself simultaneously apologize and then get all upset again. No control.) I snapped at healthcare professionals who were not to blame for my terrible mood. I could not control my emotional responses to their reasonable requests. I’m embarrassed at how I acted. I hate admitting all of this.
The appointment circuit was finished later that afternoon, after everyone had reached the conclusion that I was able to go home until the next appointment (later this week) and reassess then. I apologized to the people I had acted bananas towards and drove home, hoping to be more emotionally stable the next time.
I need to see this pregnancy through safely, but the last nine months have really opened my eyes to what I need to receive, as a patient, and just as importantly, what I need to bring to the table, as a patient. Sometimes I can’t effectively perform as a full-time pregnant person, or a full-time person with diabetes (and clearly I’m struggling with doing both of those things at the moment), and I need to own that part of my healthcare experience. Or at least stop crying in the stupid elevators, making everyone on there with me think I’m about to give birth in front of them.
I am not a doctor. I am not a certified diabetes educator. I have no medical degree. Nothing on this site should be taken as medical advice, and if you are taking it as medical advice, I suggest you contact your doctor immediately for issues other than diabetes.
This is my diabetes life - if you are interested in making changes to yours, you need to consult your doctor.
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