The morning after you died, my doctor arrived very early. The first thing she said to me was that it wasn't my fault. Of course I couldn't believe that yet, not really, but I listened. And when I told her I wasn't sure why I wasn't really feeling anything yet, asked her why I wasn't crying, I remember her saying something else.
"This hasn't hit you yet," she said. "This is going to be hitting you for awhile."
My family came to visit that night. All of them. We sat around the room and I can remember telling stories. I can remember laughing. Almost feeling normal. They brought Roberto's and someone gave me pizza, and I remember it had no taste. My favorite pizza in the world and it had no taste.
The day before your little brother was born, I got my nails done. Well, I went to work, I had a panic attack, and I got my nails done. In that order.
I was to report to the hospital around midnight, and I guess some people might have stayed home. I guess I could have sat in our brown recliner folding pre-washed onesies and receiving blankets, only I hadn't pre-washed anything. The only pieces of clothing that existed for this baby were sitting in an empty room. Still in the packaging.
So I went to work to keep busy. And I scheduled a pedicure for the afternoon, before my last NST at the hospital.
Only it didn't work that way. Driving to the nail salon he wasn't moving as much as I'd like, he never moved as much as I'd have liked. So I pulled into the salon parking lot and promptly turned around, and I drove to the hospital instead.
They were perfectly understanding, as they always were. Hooked me up to the machine and your brother was dancing like crazy. In fact, he was moving so much that they could not establish a satisfactory baseline heart rate, so I remained on the monitor for one hour and thirty minutes.
Finally the nurse got the doctor, who assured me that the movement was good but that a further test was necessary, just to rule out anything worrisome. Your brother was never this active for this long. It wasn't normal for him.
I was moved to one of the ultrasound rooms and a biophysical profile (or BPP) was completed. Basically, the baby is watched and timed for thirty minutes, and must complete a series of tasks within that time frame to "pass". These tasks include minor and major movements and practice breaths. Of course by now he had presumably fallen asleep, taking the full twenty nine minutes to pass.
The doctors and staff assured me that the baby was fine, that everything was going to be fine, but I wasn't convinced. So I waddled back to the parking lot, becoming hysterical the moment I shut my car door. I couldn't have possibly gone home and stared at the clock for seven more hours, so I drove to the nail salon. Again.
The woman who gave me my pedicure was nice, and it was surprisingly calming. I remember talking to her about a Pinterest recipe and for a moment I wasn't mentally counting kicks.
Twenty minutes in I heard someone yelling. We turned to see another very pregnant woman at one of the manicure tables, standing and screaming and demanding to see the manager. Apparently she had asked for pink tips on her French manicure. Four fingers in and she noticed they were white.
"I'm HAVING her on Thursday!" she barked. "They need to look right for our pictures."
I looked down at my belly and I was immediately jealous. So very jealous of this snotty, awful person yelling at the teenage technician. The way she had said it. "I'm having her." Like she was confident. Like she was a guarantee.
I cried the whole way home because I wasn't confident, and because I had bitten all of my fingernails to the skin, (hence the lone pedicure), and because the only thing I was sure about was that something bad was going to happen before midnight. And seventeen hours later I held your brother in my arms. Screaming and pink and alive. And the very last thing on this Earth I cared about were my pretty blue toenails.
I think about her now, that lady.
I think she must be enjoying her new baby girl, as I'm enjoying him.
I think of her perfect pictures above the stone mantle. I see her pushing the stroller in her yoga pants on a Sunday. And there are mountains of pink dresses and ribbons and tulle where she is. And I'm jealous, but I wonder.
I'm sure her smiles come easy. And I'm sure her nails are perfect.
But I wonder if her pizza tastes as good as mine.