Day Three

October 3, 2008 at 7:04 pm 2 comments

A metal table housed a tiny television in the corner of the recover room.  The walls were bare and a very pale shade of blue, almost gray.  A nurse was quietly putting away supplies on the other side of the room.   She was blurry.   I blinked a few times before realizing a clouded partition stood between us. 

She noticed my arousal and came close to me.  “Kak vwee cebya choostvooyeteh?” she asked.  She was a petite woman, young, her plain brown hair was tightly pulled back in a pony tail.  Her demeanor was not friendly but more business-like.  I thought about the nurses I had the two other times I gave birth.  They were much more friendly and talkative, they smiled a lot and lingered. 

I said I was fine and asked about my daughter.  The nurse told me my husband had gone home for a few hours of sleep but will be back soon.  The baby was in the nursery on a different floor.  “You’re husband will explain everything to you when he gets here.  For now, you should sleep,” she said, already walking away from me mid-sentence. 

But I couldn’t sleep.  I was left alone in my own body for the first time in nine months.

For the next two hours I waited for my husband.  Periodically I tried to wiggle my toes.  I looked down at my stomach a lot shocked that the baby was no longer there.   I dozed a bit and prayed popcorn prayers in and out of sleep, “let the baby be OK, let the baby be OK.”      

My husband showed up around eight o’clock.  His chin was stubbly and he wore the same clothes from yesterday. 

I remember the first time I felt an attraction to him.  He was interpreting for one of my teammates leading a Bible study on the book of John.  Somehow by my junior year in college God had gotten my attention enough to tell me to go to Ukraine as a missionary for a year.  My apartment building was next door to where he lived at the time.  Our group was the second set of Americans he had worked with.  He interpreted, helped people buy groceries, paid their bills, walked them through the metro system.  Sometimes he’d stop by my apartment and ask to borrow some music from America. He was kind and serious, quiet yet outspoken when it counted.  He was the only Ukrainian working with our American organization who really did not care for America.  We became friends.  And that morning at the Bible study on the book of John I was convinced his clear blue eyes were focused on me. 

In the hospital room he bent down and kissed me like he kisses his mother.  Absolutely no pucker or pressure, just a slight brush of the lips.  “How are you feeling?” 

Again, I asked about the baby. 

“She’s on another floor in this hospital in an incubator,” he said.  “She was in a bad shape when they took her from you”.  Though raised speaking Russian, my husband speaks excellent English.  He only makes mistakes in English when he is tired or nervous. 

It was like my husband was telling me a story about someone else.  I didn’t remember anything about my daughter’s birth.

He continued, “She wasn’t breathing and was very little and all shriveled up.  They resuscitated her.  She has some kind of blood infection too.” 

I looked out the window.  It was raining outside.  I thought about people getting out of the shower, having coffee, leaving their apartments to go to work.  “The doctors said she wouldn’t have made it till morning.  She’s cute, but I have to tell you something….they suspect she has Down syndrome and at this point the doctors aren’t even sure if she will make it.  The head of pediatrics is coming to talk to us this morning at nine o’clock.” 

Sergei’s hand trembled as he handed my a few pages.  “When I got home this morning I went on-line and tried to find something about Down syndrome.  I didn’t have much time, but I did find a few things.”  One page read “Myths and Truths about Down syndrome.”  The other page was an article written by a woman whose granddaughter had Down syndrome.  With the arrival of our daughter, my parents now had eight grandchildren.  I thought about them half way around the world, seven hours behind us in time.  Both sleeping soundly in bed.  My father’s snoring filling the house.

The fact that my husband looked on-line for information about Down syndrome made my stomach flop. 

“Does she look like she has Down syndrome?” I asked. 

“She has a full head of hair, just like our other babies.”

I found myself trying to move my heavy, lifeless body over to the left side.  Suddenly, all I wanted to do was sleep.  I called out to the nurse and asked for another pillow.  It was painful to move.  My legs were numb and heavy.  I managed to get over to my left side with the pillow between my legs.  There, I had finally gotten in the correct position to sleep for a pregnant lady.  Only then I remembered  again that I wasn’t pregnant anymore.  My baby was somewhere in the hospital, alone and sick.  And she may have Down syndrome.

After a little while my husband left me to go check on our daughter.  And I burst into tears.  I cried loudly for a few minutes and then tried to gather myself.  The nurse watched me through the cloudy partition.

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Entry filed under: 31 for 21, Books and Writing, Down syndrome, Family, Former Soviet Union, Gillian Marchenko, Grief, Having a baby, Hospital stays, Kiev, Loneliness, Love, Missionairies, Mothering, NICU, Parenting, Prayer, Russian, Sickness, Special Needs, Ukraine.

Day Two Day Four

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. jooleebrooks  |  October 4, 2008 at 7:35 am

    Gillian, it must be so hard to go back through these memories. Thank you for posting. My heart goes out you both now and retrospectively, wishing I could’ve been a friendly nurse in your room!

    Reply
  • 2. qdawg  |  October 7, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    this part of your story reminds me of how often we go about our lives not even be aware of the pain and sufffering our close friends and family are going through….

    Reply

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