Monday, January 24, 2011

It's my pity party and I'll cry if I want to

Exactly seven days ago, I was complaining about how difficult it was to get around with what I'm assuming is going to be a 32-pound newborn and a pulled groin muscle.

Then I fell down the stairs.

The overwhelming first response that everyone has is "Oh my gosh, is the baby alright?" I know I've been a vessel for the past 35 weeks, but never is it more apparent than after an injury. When I respond positively, the matter is seemingly resolved. Nevermind that I required an emergency room visit for myself and am completely unable to care for my daughter, get up a flight of stairs or even shower.

Growing frustrations aside, that, of course, was my first concern, too. In hindsight, it may have been what caused my primary injury. My overwhelming instinct to protect my midsection led me to fall in such a way that contorted my leg. I felt my right heel graze and miss the step, and as I fell, I used all of my strength to grab onto the handrail and wall to prevent myself from going down belly-first.

My right leg ended up bent behind me, and I landed with all of my weight on my ankle over and over again as I bumped down the remaining steps until my other foot hit the floor and stopped the momentum.

It's amazing how much clarity you have after an injury like that -- even at 3 a.m. on only a few hours of very uncomfortable sleep. I'm sure it's the body's natural surge of adrenalin, but I had enough coherence to mentally assess myself and know that the baby was fine before the pain took over.

Fortunately Jerry heard the fall. In any other circumstance, he could without exaggeration sleep through a parade marching through our bedroom. But, as he put it, "The thump woke me up."

Normally I resist seeking medical attention at all cost. My skin could be melting off my face and I'd be holding my lips together long enough to get out the words, "Lets give it a day or two and see if it improves."

But after Jerry helped me limp to the couch in tears and I saw the shape of my ankle, I immediately agreed to go to the hospital with a secondary ulterior motive of demanding an ultrasound if nothing more than for peace of mind.

After my mother-in-law arrived to be there for Allison when she woke up, we made our way to the emergency room in the dark. It wasn't exactly the trip to the hospital that we had been planning on. Strangely, I found myself wishing I was in a completely different type of pain.

The difficulty that my pregnancy posed was immediately obvious. The receptionist didn't know whether to send me to the maternity ward upstairs or admit me into emergency. Ultimiately the maternity staff said they weren't capable of dealing with an ankle injury and agreed to send someone down to run some tests once I was in a room.

Next came the X-ray talk, which left me in tears. Again. Normally it wouldn't be a question. Ankle injuries are apparently very tricky and almost impossible to diagnose without them. But they're also a risk to the fetus because it could lead to increased risk of cancer later in life, which immediately had me shaking my head and refusing to cooperate.

The physician's assistant didn't seemed to be surprised by my response and added that I could always give it a few days and call an orthopedic surgeon if things regressed.

When I asked for a rundown of the worst-case scenario, she said a very bad sprain or break would require surgery in which they would induce labor because I'm almost full-term, allow me to deliver then immediately move me into an operating room to cut open my ankle.

Lets just say I wish I hadn't asked that question.

Nurses came and went with ice packs and orange juice in hopes of getting the baby moving. Another woman wheeled in a computer to record all of my medical coverage information. And eventually a nurse from maternity found a strong fetal heart rate after struggling amidst a wildly warping belly.

When the doctor arrived, she took the ice pack off, gasped and said, "You're getting an X-ray" all in the matter of seconds. When I started to protest, she added, "I have two kids, I completely understand your hesitation, but if your baby was born prematurely right now they'd do an X-ray directly on its chest to see how developed the lungs are."

She continued to explain that the low dose of radiation used for an ankle isn't likely to even be an issue, especially considering it's on the part of my body that's furthest away from my torso.

I conceeded. And requested five of those heavy protective aprons but was happy when I was given two.

The diagnosis was a bad sprain, and at the time I felt a great sense of relief. But after a week of complete inability to put any weight on my right foot at all, zero progress and being confined to a couch when I have about a million things I should be doing ... I'm having second thoughts.

All of the research I've done online leads me to the conclusion that clean breaks heal much more quickly. Stage-three sprains can take up to six weeks to moderately heal (which takes me exactly to my due date) and up to a year or more to fully heal.

Even typing that makes me angry. I'm so mad. I'm mad at myself for not staying in bed. I'm mad at myself for not being able to care for my daughter. I'm mad at myself for causing such an inconvenience to the rest of my family.

I've been on the couch for seven days. Seven entire days. I use crutches to get to the bathroom and back, which even this morning left me in tears from the pain that shoots up my leg and stops mid-calf. And that's from doing nothing. Just holding my foot in the air behind me and lightly resting it on the floor for a few seconds so I can go to the bathroom and hobble my way back to the couch.

The swelling is still pretty ugly even though it has improved a little. The brusing is yellowing, which is about the only positive sign I have at this point. Everything else has me down today. I tried pouring myself a glass of orange juice while Jerry was getting ready for work and ended up sobbing because I couldn't find a way to carry it in my teeth back to the couch.

I hate that I've had to cancel all of my portrait sessions. I hate that I can't get Toby food when he's looking at me and whining to eat. I hate that I have to "take it easy." I hate relying on everyone else for everything.

I just want to go back to waddling around. Desperately.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Anyone who gets within five feet of Jerry for more than five minutes knows he wants an iPhone. Ever since I got him an iPod Touch for his birthday two years ago, he's been obsessing, but with the majority of our friends and family on the Verizon network, it just didn't make sense for us to switch for the sole purpose of him getting a particular phone.

In the meantime, he's been stalking online tech talk forums, over-analizing every bit of news to be released from Apple and praying. I won't even get into the whole "if I had a penny" thing because our house would've been crushed from the weight of all that copper.

So when Apple announced yesterday that Verizon would be taking pre-orders for the iPhone in a few weeks, his enthusiasm was, well, full of Jerryisms.


Never mind that my birthday and due date are next month:

After I reminded him as much:
"Oooh! Maybe it'll come on your birthday, then we can BOTH get presents! ... And mine will be better than yours."

"Right around February 16th, you'll be like 'When's this baby coming?!' and I'll be like, 'WHERE'S MY FRIGGIN' iPHONE?!!!"

Sunday, January 9, 2011

newspaper column

Everyone has a few undesirable moments in life that they're never going to live down, regardless of how much time passes and how many great things they accomplish.

I'm sure Bill Clinton, Martha Stewart and Michael Vick would be nodding their head in agreement.

Fortunately mine all fall into much less severe categories, but every once in awhile, my parents, friends and husband like to remind me of things that make my nose instantly scrunch up in embarrassment. I know they love me and that it's all in good fun, but I wouldn't mind zapping them with a memory obliterator either.

The one that seems to come up most frequently is the time I nearly killed my husband with salmonella poisoning on our third date.

I had invited him over to dinner at my apartment, and because I really liked him, I went all out. I ironed my only tablecloth, Googled how to fold a linen napkin into an impressive shape, and prepared my best chicken recipe with chocolate molten souffle for dessert.

By the time Jerry arrived, my little place looked incredible and the food was ready to be put on the table. When we sat down to eat, everything was going great until he politely said, "Um, I think the chicken is a little undercooked."

Until then, he had been dutifully trying to stomach what was obviously inedible. But when he got to the center and the chicken was completely raw, he spoke up. I hadn't noticed because I was probably too preoccupied making sure all the other details were perfect.

Knowing what I know about him now, it's nothing short of astounding that he didn't spit the chicken out and run to the bathroom gagging. A few years earlier, he was hospitalized when he and his his college roommates ate undercooked chicken from a George Forman grill. Even though it had nothing to do with the product itself, Jerry still gets nauseous just passing them on display at a department store.

Embarrassed and apologetic, I quickly put the chicken back in the oven, and we made the most of the meal by eating the side dishes first. Eventually I pulled the chicken out again, presuming it would be cooked to perfection and reserved it.

Jerry took another bite and I saw his eyes widen. When I checked my piece, it was inexplicably as raw as when I had put it in the second time. Then I discovered that I hadn't remembered to turn the oven back on.

We got a good laugh out of the oversight, and the chicken was finally edible on the third try, but little did I know it would become the standard by which my cooking would be judged.

I have literally made us thousands of meals in the seven years since then, but the infamy of the undercooked chicken lives on. On the bright side, even my worst culinary disasters aren't as bad as "The Salmonella Dish," as we've dubbed it.

Granted, it might be easier to get over if Jerry wasn't a great cook himself, but I think I've more than proved my kitchen prowess.

I suppose if one incidence of undercooked chicken is the worst black mark I have on my record, I should willingly embrace it. Maybe by delicious meal No. 500,000 I'll have outgrown the teasing.

If not, I'll tell him to stick a fork in it. It's done.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Baby Jesus has nothing on my kid

About a week before Christmas, Allison's nursery school put on a Christmas pageant. I had zero idea what to expect other than probably a laugh, because the only instructions I was given from her teacher included "dress her in red or green and drop her off here at 6."

I tried getting details about the performance out of Alli, but even though she's fully capable of communicating, she's much like a teenager who can't be bothered to pass along any vital information. I expected having to play 20 questions in order to find out about her day when she's 14, but 3? JUST TELL ME WHAT YOU COLORED DURING CIRCLE TIME. Honestly.

On the night of her pageant, she was very excited to wear her "beauuutiful" new Christmas dress. And because I hadn't taken any photos of her yet for family, which I do every year to give as gifts, we got ready a little early, went up into the studio and played around for a few minutes before we left. She even let me curl her hair for the first time ever, which let me tell you, is like a major culmination of all of the times I played dress up with my dolls as a little girl. My heart nearly burst out of my chest.

And if that wasn't enough, watching her perform with her class turned me into a puddle. I was brimming with tears as I laughed, then I'd get angry because I couldn't see through all the moisture in my eyes.

Because she's in the school's youngest class, they went first. Her teacher escorted them down the aisle to the stage, each of them carrying an instrument and looking a little shell-shocked even though I'm sure they practiced for weeks. Allison lit up when she passed us sitting with her big cousins and Jer's mom, and it was almost as if you could see the switch in her demeanor. She was ready to perform. She beamed, started taking big marching steps and shook her tambourine in rhythm.

When she got on stage, I noticed for the first time that she's literally a head taller than everyone in her class, but what struck me most of all was how overly animated she was. I know she comes from a long line of performers on my side of the family, but it's almost as if she had no nerves at all. It was incredible to see.

They sung a few Christmas carols including "Away in a Manger" and "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" complete with hand gestures. One of her classmates tried stealing baby Jesus out of the cradle in front of them, but Allison carried on as if the distraction wasn't happening, dutifully placing her hands together when she was supposed to and swaying her hips to the music.

When they finished, she basked in the applause -- jumping, squealing and clapping along.

It was honestly the best Christmas present I've ever received. I miss the tiny infant I used to hold in my arms, but watching her grow is nothing short of incredible.