I’m still wondering how it happened. How I got to a place where I am crying hysterically, sitting in the back of a cab, at 9:45 a.m. on a Tuesday morning. My cab driver, frantically looking in his rear-view mirror at this mess of a passenger, while I sob uncontrollably and warble into my phone to DH about my lost kupat cholim (health insurance) card.
I’m declaring it a 9th month meltdown, a moment in time where everything just crashes, and one is left with no choice but to give in to the surge of emotions.
It started a few months ago. March 1st was the date, the date I had set in my mind to get everything ready for this baby. I had postponed washing baby clothes, shopping for drug supplies for the hospital, packing a hospital bag, making various doctor and grooming appointments, and all the last minute details one leaves for the ninth month, for March 1st. Today is the day that I can officially begin getting ready P”G for the next stage, for the arrival of this baby. The baby that we’ve spent more than 9 months worrying about, thinking about, and talking about, will P”G no longer be just a hope but a reality.
I still don’t know what the baby looks like and it’s absolutely terrifying me. With Baby J., we have an album full of 3D and 4D photos of her. I had memorized her little nose, the cleft in her chin, her wide set eyes, every little detail that I could take from a 4D ultrasound photo before she was born from inside of me. I had bonded with her, dreamt about her likeness, imagined the color of her eyes and the texture of the thatch of her hair, so that when she was finally placed into my arms, I almost recognized her.
We have not one photo of this baby’s face. This baby never cooperated with the ultrasound so instead, I have an album full of numbers, percentages and week estimations. I know the baby’s approximate length and weight per weeks, I know the length of the femur, the diameter of the head, and have CD’s of that baby’s spine. I have counted this baby’s ribs, bone by bone, and have watched the baby kick its little legs in rapid succession as the wand passed over my belly. But, when it came time for a 4D shot of the baby’s face, we don’t have much. There’s one shot of the baby with the umbilical cord obstructing the face (this left me with nightmares for days because I was scared the cord was too close to the baby’s neck), with scrawny knees drawn into the chest and two little fists balled up shielding the eyes. And then, a couple of weeks ago, the baby turned head down towards the cervix, and facial shots were no longer possible.
I don’t know why this is upsetting me so much, but it is. I have had dreams of faceless babies, of holding a baby and counting its toes and fingers, but not being able to see the face. Of being handed a baby who is completely covered, and for the life of me I can’t get the blanket off of the face. DH thinks this is the baby’s way of telling us that we know too much, since we already know the sex. That the baby wants its face to be a complete surprise, so when it comes out, we will have something that we don’t know.
And yet, it’s this unknown that is truly terrifying to me. I stay up wondering, will this baby look like Baby J? Will the baby look like me or DH? We are so different looking and yet, we gave birth to a child who shares the best of us. Here we know that Baby J. has my coloring, my hair, my stubborn personality, my musical acumen, blue eyes that most likely came from my side of the family. She also has DH’s big cheeks, cleft chin, bone structure, a nose that I swear is my mother-in-laws, a love for dancing that also came from my mother-in-law, his mannerisms, and a love of drawing and building that makes me wonder if she will also be an architect one day. But before she was born, we already knew she had DH’s cleft chin and a cute, button nose that we have rained kisses upon for 2+ years.
We do not know what this baby’s nose looks like. Whether the baby has a cleft chin, wide set eyes, a thatch of hair on its head, etc.
I think the anxiety of not knowing the baby’s likeness has really gotten to me, especially now that we’ve reached March 1st. A date I prayed would come and that all would be okay with the baby. And now that, B”H, things are still okay, everything is hitting home.
So, when I started not feeling well 2 days ago, I also started panicking. I can’t be sick on March 1st! That’s the day I have to find and wash the baby’s clothing. I need to find the outfit I want to bring the baby home in, wash it, fold it and put it aside for packing. I can’t be sick! But, unfortunately, man plans and G-d laughs, and for some reason I was due for another illness this winter.
I spent the better part of last night, sitting up in bed, struggling for breath, as each exhale whistled in my chest and the noise kept me from sleeping. Exhausted, I managed to get up with Baby J. at 6:30 a.m., make her shoko, put on her music and play with her until it was time for me to get dressed. I had a 9:00 a.m. doctors appointment at the medical center, and I was pretty sure it would be a waste of time. Pregnant women can’t take antibiotics.
DH dropped me off at the top of the street and I took the elevator down towards the 3rd floor, signed in, and patiently waited my turn. My eyes grew heavy with sleepiness but I fought through. Finally, the doctor called me in and then remarked that she has seen every member of my husband’s family this week. We all had a variation of the same illness: bronchitis. She put the step stool down next to her examination table and told me to hop up. And I lost my footing, flipped the stool over, and went down hard like a water buffalo falling in slow motion into a mud pit. Only, there was no mud pit, but hard floor and an even harder metal exam table. Fortunately, I braced my fall with my left hand and didn’t go down as hard as I thought, but was I embarrassed to have tripped over my own feet!
After a brief examination, I was prescribed antibiotics for both the bronchitis and sinus infection, some topical cream for the lesions on my stomach that have gotten worse as the tightening of my skin and my allergy to the daily aspirin have left me looking like I’ve had a romp gone bad with Wolverine, and some anti-histamines for Baby J. I thanked my doctor and took all my prescriptions downstairs to the pharmacy. While waiting in line, I started to fish out my wallet to get to my kupat cholim (insurance) card. I had it out and in my hand when the doctor called, asking me where I was, because she accidentally wrote all my prescriptions in my mother-in-laws name. She immediately came downstairs with correction pages and, as I struggled with my bag and wallet, another call came in and I had to fumble through my bag for the phone once again. It was DH; I told him I would call him back since it was almost my turn.
And that’s when I realized that my kupat cholim card was gone. Disappeared. I looked through my wallet again. Nothing. I searched on the floor. Nothing. I looked through my pockets. No card. Then it was my turn. How was I going to pay for all these prescriptions plus the 10 boxes of Clexane shots I still needed, without an insurance card? I started to loose it and, as the pharmacist started to fill the prescriptions, I squatted on the floor and tore through my bag.
A bag filled with reams of paper that, now blank, used to be drugstore, supermarket, restaurant, and parking lot receipts. A bag that contains Baby J’s first pacifier, 2 suppositories that I was given after my C-section 2 years ago, expired heartburn medication and wads and wads of used tissues. I don’t know how it came to be in such a state, I’m a pretty meticulous and tidy person, but I had let this one bag go. Sure enough, the card was no where in sight.
Fortunately, the pharmacist was able to use Baby J’s kupat cholim card for all the medication and I was on my way. I made it upstairs and out the door, inside the cab and belted in, before the meltdown.
Both DH and my sympathetic cab driver managed to calm me down, urged me to get some rest, and then figure it all out when I woke up. I trudged up the steps to the apartment, got safely inside, wiped away some of the tears, and upended the entire contents of my purse onto the couch. And sure enough, hidden between doctors notes and used tissues, was my kupat cholim card.
A few deep breathes later, followed by a tall glass of water, I called DH to let him know, walked into my bedroom, and fell fast asleep (clothing on). And thus ended my 9th month meltdown.
I’m hoping it will be the last, but I’m pretty realistic to know that until this baby is born, emotional breakdowns might be par for the course.
They always say the last leg of the race is the hardest, looks like I’ll be stumbling towards the finish line. Fortunately, I’ve got a wonderful husband who is here to help pick up the pieces. And, with G-d’s help, there will be a healthy baby waiting for me at the end.