(Warning to readers: If you are a pregnant woman, please don’t read this entry. It talks about birth pains. You can come back and read it later if you want to.)
It’s been really hard the past couple of days. As soon as I think we are on top of his medication and he seems peaceful, he gets agitated again. Every day we go through meetings with the hospice nurses, have new orders written, get on a new schedule, only to have it change again by evening. As of now, he’s getting a higher dose of morphine every hour, but he also has a fever, fighting the toxin buildup. We are keeping cold compresses on his head, and I’ve come around to the need for Ativan (shocking, right?) to help with his temporary anxiety.
I thought it would be a lot more peaceful. That it wouldn’t get me so stressed out at the end. That’s the idea you accept when you first come into hospice care. I suppose its like going into childbirth. You hope for the best case scenario, you make a list of your preferences, and then for some reason, you ABSOLUTELY EXPECT those things to happen, when all those things you hoped for were mere guidelines. Why should I be so surprised a Dying Plan would be any more successful than a Birth Plan? In my experience, though I held on to that due date like an anchor for the whole pregnancy, Justine still arrived in her own time, an excruciating 8 days late. I did not receive the epidural I’d felt entitled to, regardless of the fact that she was born in posterior position. I swore to myself I’d never forget that pain. I’d worked to hard to get through it to just forget it, as all the old wives told me I would. Truth is, that is why I even talk about that pain from time to time…not to dwell on how hard it was, but because I never want to forget it. Experiences like that deserve to be remembered, I think.
Now, because I did have a natural birth, my recovery period was very quick. I know this isn’t that case for many mothers. The old wives were right in this: the pain left immediately, and I had this wonderful gift of a little baby of my own. I also remember the words “Its a GIRL” bringing me back to earth. Suddenly, I was no longer a pregnant woman, but a MOTHER. I’ve been one ever since, but I refuse to forget the experience that got me there.
Vernon was with me then too. I look at him and remember this feels so much like labor. We do know that Mother Earth is releasing another of her children, so why should we expect different pain. There is pain every time a child is born (we like to think more to the mother than the child, but we don’t even know that for sure) but then…there is so much LIFE. We just have to comfort and encourage him till he breaks through. Not an easy task, but soon he will be a graduate of earth in a perfect body (whatever that means, we’ll find out soon enough) and I will be a widow (a title I accept with great honor.) I am not afraid of either of those new roles—indeed, I welcome them. But I hate the pain that gets us there. It’s been more work than I expected.
Everyone dies differently. Every birth is unique. And for everything in between, there is even less of a map (thank God for that!) 🙂
For now I watch the clock and listen to his changes of breath. Counting the time between morphine doses is like counting the time between contractions. It’s been steadily decreasing.
“You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” —John 16: 20-22