Monday, December 20, 2010

"This baby just wants to be seen today"

I am sitting in our family room, as I scan the room, I enjoy what I see.  To my right, is our wood-burning fireplace, moving left is our lovely Christmas tree, then the tv and then, the corner where our overstuffed chair and ottoman set.  On the wall behind them, the pictures of our sons.  Jacob's first school picture is outstanding.  Truly!  I know I'm his mama and I'm supposed to say things like that, even if he looked awkward or had a really cheesy grin. But his first school picture is perfect.  Jacob is prone to a lot of cheese factor when he gets his picture taken  and this photo is a perfectly, relaxed smile with twinkly eyes.  To the right of Jacob's picture, is his baby brother's 16 week ultrasound picture.  This is one of the few stories we have, in Levi's short time, which we draw much comfort.  We draw comfort because the Master Conductor, orchestrated a masterpiece, this story is the bridge.  In the midst of dark pain, when you can still see the twinkle dust of hope - there is no denying the mastery of an Almighty God.  I find it's imperative to have faith, so we don't miss these magnificent cues.  The mornings I knew I had a doctor's appointment, were so exciting.  I knew I'd get to hear Sugar Bean's heartbeat.  "Just one more month, we'll get to see the ultrasound and possibly find out the sex and see him or her again.",  is what I remember thinking, on the drive to Waterloo.  Jacob was in the backseat.  He got to hear the heartbeat with me at the 12 week appointment.  "Swoosh swoosh swoosh, " could be heard from my firstborn.  He was making the sound of what baby's heartbeat sounded like at 12 weeks.  I will say, it was amazing and made me sob, when I heard Jacob's heartbeat the first time, at his 12 week appointment.  However, add him to the equation of experiencing the doctor appointments with me, for Levi, and it's pure ecstasy.  To live those moments through the eyes of a child and one that is going to be a big brother...well...I find myself reliving the appointments to keep hope alive and to give me a jolt of joy, even now. 
We are in the sterile, bright room.  Jacob is sliding back and forth on the vinyl loveseat, as I'm laying on my back, with that gooey jelly they put on your tummy to slide the wand over to pick up that heartbeat.  The first nurse, couldn't get one.  I didn't think a thing about it.  I got a lot of jelly to get that little wand through to begin with, add the scar tissue of a c-section with Jacob and I figured, "Oh...she just needs to push a little harder.  It's blubber, I can live off of it for 6 months."  She gives up and says with a smile, "I'm going to get the doctor's nurse to try.  This baby may just want to be seen today."  Kristy comes in, the doctor's nurse, and poo poos the first nurse's efforts.  "Let's just try this....baby can be positioned that it's hard to get through the scar tissue of your c-section."  Jacob is sitting still now.  I look at him and smile really big and with a lot of effort to get twinkles coming through my eyes as Kristy is not having success either.  I start to panic.  "Keep it cool, Beth.  Jacob will be fine as long as you keep your cool."  Kristy gives up, "Let me get Dr. Weno to give it a try.  This baby may just want to be seen today."  Jacob asks something about not being able to hear a heartbeat yet, as the nurse exits.  He comes to the side of the table and lays his head on my hand.  I caress his chubby cheeks with my palm and fingers, look into his eyes and say, "Nope, not yet.  but they will...and if they don't, we'll get to see picture of Sugar Bean like we did at our last appointment."  Jacob flashes me the cheese, while his large, blue eyes turn into squinty slits, because his cheeks have pushed up so far.  The Dr. enters.  She's calm and lovely.  She's very feminine.  Maybe all the other staff are too, but she's wearing regular clothes and every hair is in place.  I close my eyes and - not a joke - do my best to will Sugar Bean to move so we can get their heartbeat.  I just remember thinking waves of love and warmth and how excited I am about him or her - in hopes that they will get where we need them to be to get their heartbeat!  Jacob is setting perfectly quiet, looking at me, getting his reading of me.  I smile at him, a tear has now gone down my cheek, but I keep smiling.  I've always called Jacob my human barometer.  He instinctively measures the air pressure - he is an excellent judge of character already.  This was a quality I recognized in him, even at infancy.  The doctor says, "This baby just wants to be seen today.  I'll get an ultrasound ordered." 
Jacob and I head to the ultrasound room.  I am trembling.  She runs the wand over my tummy and the picture shows up on the screen.  AMAZING how much bigger Sugar Bean is in 4 weeks!  I smile and know all is ok, fear dissipated.  The ultrasound technician gasps at how big "he" is.  "I can't believe how big he is!" She exclaims.  Jacob picked up on it right away, "He? It's a boy, mama?"  I am now crying without sound for two reasons.  Number one - it's exciting to find out that I'll have TWO sons!  Number two - daddy really put the hammer down, which he rarely does, and he wanted it to be a surprise.  The technician looks at me, panicked, "Did you want to know? I just can't believe we can tell so clearly at 16 weeks....is it ok?"  I told her yes I wanted to know, but now there was no way to keep it from hubby since Jacob knows.  So, I just gotta figure out how to deal with that because he really was adamant about not wanting to know until birth."  I was actually afraid to tell Steve.  Any of you that know Steve, know it's absolutely ridiculous to be afraid of anything with him.  But I was.  She apologized and said all looked well with our growing son.  She hurriedly gathered us out of the room.  We met back with the doctor and that went well, so we were on our way home.  I called Steve and he was elated to find out he would have TWO sons as well.  =D  It was fun to have new pictures of our baby boy.  I placed them on the refrigerator...honestly, not really knowing exactly what I was looking at - just so excited to have bragging rights on the fridge.  Ok...so now I can just relax.
Nine days later, my water broke, which is for another post.  Three days later, our son was gone.  Two more days after Levi died, we had just returned from University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Labor & Delivery ward.  I walked into the kitchen, holding our Levi's remains, in the pretty angel urn.  I set him down, on the counter.  Turned on the light over the kitchen sink, proceeded to get a glass of water from the tap.  I was going to need that Ambien before I walk back the hall and realize there will not be a baby coming for that bedroom back there, in February.  I took the pill, turned, facing the refrigerator and continued to lean against the kitchen sink counter.  There were the 7 pictures we had between the 12 and 16 week ultrasound pictures of our Levi.  "Oh dear God...how many more times is this kind of moment going to happen to me?  How many more reminders of my dreams for this little one are there going to be????, " I thought to myself.  At this point, I really did feel numb.  It was all unbelievable.  Then....in the dim light of the dining room light and kitchen sink light, I saw him.  The second ultrasound picture from the top - from the 16 week appointment - was Levi's FACE!  Wait.  What?  I thought I was seeing things.  I doubted myself instantly.  "STEVE!  Do you see him?  Is that his face?  Come here.  Is this for real?"  Steve came running.  We were both standing inches from the freezer portion of our fridge, looking at this ultrasound picture.  I wasn't crazy.  I wasn't hallucinating.  There, at 1:30AM, two days after Levi being removed by a D&E procedure, most advised because of the level of infection, in my body - I was getting to see our son.  I've posted the picture.  We framed it, along with the prints of his hands and feet.  It is the only picture I have of Levi's face.  If you look, just to the right of the center of the photo, you'll see a face with eyes closed that greatly resembles his big brother's infant pictures. Maybe we couldn't hear his heartbeat that day and it had nothing to do with my blubber or scar tissue.  It had everything to do with our Creator and our son knowing, we would just want to see our baby today and everyday. 

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