Archive for July, 2009

It’s not you, it’s me

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

So I’ve been telling a few friends and acquaintances here around the parish about my placenta previa – asking for prayers, setting up some emergency support networks, letting people know who need to know that I might be out of commission with little warning anytime in the next three months. Not surprisingly, word has started to circulate on its own, a little. I hadn’t told our parish administrator yet (though I probably should have), but she’d heard from a mutual friend and asked me about it this morning. We had a good chat about it, and it’s good that she knows.

Just now a parishioner and good friend of our parish administrator stopped by my office to say hello. She was pretty clearly fishing for me to tell her about it (e.g., “You seem a little… everything going OK?”). I don’t mean that in a bad way. She’s a compassionate and helpful person, and has clergy in her family – she knows some of the strains of our particular lifestyle and is very supportive of me and my family. I’m perfectly fine with her knowing what’s going on. She will be kind, and will not be ghoulish.

But I didn’t tell her, because I just didn’t feel like talking about it. I couldn’t summon the energy to explain what’s going on, and make all the appropriate noises about how everything’s going fine so far, and we just have to wait and see, and yes, I’ll let everyone know if we need any help. I just couldn’t do it.

I think I’m getting one more little piece of this clergy role: even when something’s not OK for me, because of who and especially what I am, I feel some pressure to make it sound like it’s OK for other people. The people here whom I started telling first were the ones I felt most comfortable being not-OK with, but as more and more folks know, I’m going to have to pull myself together and get used to putting across that “yes, it is a little worrying, but everything’s fine so far and we have excellent care, and we know we have lots of support here in the parish” line. Convincingly, and as many times as necessary.

I wonder if I should email the parishioner who stopped by, and explain?

What’s up.

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

So: second pregnancy. A cinch, right? Everything went pretty fine the first time, and this time all the systems have been tested, right? I’ll carry to term without a single issue and push this puppy out in two hours flat, no meds. It’ll be great.

Except not so much.

My 20 week ultrasound showed complete placenta previa. I’ve been thinking of posting on this for a while, because I’m telling people about it in a tentative kind of way, but today I can finally post it because today I finally found the perfect explanation of what placenta previa is. It’s here, on the wonderful blog of a funny, eloquent, foul-mouthed woman named Julie who went through this about five years ago. (There is some language here, for the sensitive, but her sentiments resonate with me. Tilt and I particularly like this line: “Nearly 100% of women diagnosed with placenta previa will, at one time or another, freak the fuck right out.”)

We’re in kind of a wait-and-see phase now. It’s pretty normal for a woman with complete placenta previa to have an episode of moderate bleeding that resolves, sometime in the late second or early third trimester. (I’m at 25.5 weeks – late second trimester.) I haven’t had any bleeding yet, which is good, but an episode like that wouldn’t necessarily be a big deal either, as long as it resolved. I may end up on bedrest for some amount of time.

We’re scheduled for a follow-up ultrasound on August 6. There is a slight but nonzero chance that my placenta will move out of the way, totally or partially – even partial placenta previa is somewhat less risky than complete. We’re still pondering whether to stick with our (kind, but out of her depth) midwife through that appointment, or transfer care now to an OB-GYN practice and start working with someone who’s walked this road before. Obviously, if the ultrasound shows continued previa, we will transfer care at that point. But it’s reasonably likely that nothing much will happen between now and then – previa is more likely to cause issues starting around 28 or 30 weeks – in which case sticking with our existing arrangement a little longer, while learning about possibilities and options on the Internet (and trying not to freak the fuck right out), makes some sense… maybe. We don’t need advice on that issue, thanks; we’re just thinking it through. 

How are we? OK, mostly. It’s hard sometimes feeling the baby kick and squirm, and knowing he or she is healthy and strong now, but that his/her health may be compromised later, depending on how all this plays out. Lower-than-average birthweight and some NICU time are pretty common for previa babies. I’m fine with the prospect of a C-section – I’d rather not, naturally, but they’re good at that and I know so many moms who’ve had them, and who say, Yeah, it sucks, but really it’s not so bad. 

I count the days and weeks. I never thought I’d have to do that – that I’d be one of the pregnant mothers watching each day tick by towards 28 weeks and the next big landmark in fetal viability. This Sunday, we’ll hit 26 weeks. So far, so good, and that’s really all there is to say. 

I pray a lot. You can, too – for us and for all the other parents facing pregnancy complications. We welcome non-theistic warm, supportive thoughts, too. And we’ll keep you posted.

Gringos on the moon

Monday, July 20th, 2009

A quick glance at the NYTimes headlines, to see if I’ve missed anything of note while out of town for a lovely weekend with my aunt & uncle, reveals much coverage of the moon landing anniversary and puts me in mind of a story my first cultural anthropology professor, Carol Greenhouse, told in my first cultural anthropology class – the one that won me over from wanting to be an archaeologist. 

I’ll get these details wrong – I heard this story about 15 years ago – but the gist of it is this. Dr. Greenhouse must’ve been an undergraduate anthropology student in 1969 – she graduated in my father’s class from Harvard, as it happens. The summer of the moon landing, she was doing some fieldwork in a remote region of Mexico. The evening of the great event, she was out in a field with one of her local informants. They looked up at the moon together, and the local man remarked, “You people are up there now.” 

The insight that produced for the young Dr. Greenhouse is that concepts like “mankind” are really easy to deploy when you’re a member of the privileged group. That Mexican peasant didn’t see the moon landing as a human accomplishment. He saw it as white people taking over one more chunk of territory, as white people are wont to do. 

What is it with white people? Always going somewhere. In East Africa they call us wazungu – singular, mzungu. The etymology is unclear but one explanation I’ve heard is that it means “wanderers”, as in, “Don’t you people have homes to go to? Why don’t you go back to England/Portugal/Belgium/… and leave us alone?”….

Zag’s idea

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

This morning Zag told us, “Next time I have a bad dream, you could cover my whole face with parsley!” 

(We sometimes give him a leaf of parsley when he has an upset tummy… but we do not usually apply it topically.)

Then he mused, “Or maybe sagerow?”

Sagerow? we asked.

He replied (and I quote), “It’s a sweet-smelling herb. You know, like in the song? Parsley, sagerow…”

Sibling envy

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

We’ve had a lovely holiday weekend. My cousin C and her family, and my cousin J and his friend J, converged in our neighborhood to celebrate and hang out together. We chatted, we ate, we set off our own fireworks in our driveway instead of fighting the crowds in town to see the big display. It was a lot of fun. They all headed home early this afternoon. (And this evening, to round out the weekend, our friend B hung out with Zag while we went to see the movie “Away We Go,” which is utterly delightful.) 

Zag and C’s youngest, SC, who is 6, get along so well. They instantly become siblings, in both of their imaginations. They hold hands and hug and play dress-up. Zag wants to defend her when her big brothers tease her. When she’s around, we hardly see him or hear from him. He wept extensively when the family left after lunch. (more…)