After three wonderful weeks in Juneau, Alaska, teaching, learning, and roaming the fjords and waters, we land back in Los Angeles just long enough to squeeze in another artificial insemination before Lyena is off to a dance workshop in Oakland. When we get in to see VaJayjay he explains that, statistically speaking, we’re right in the target for a pregnancy. He keeps reminding us, like a mantra, that “We’re just waiting for that one good egg.” All of the physical signs are strong, he says. It really should happen anytime now.
We’re about a week into our trip to Juneau, Alaska when I get word my dad is being moved to Johns Hopkins Hospital. There have been some pretty big mistakes made at the nursing/rehab center he’s currently in and, though he is making small improvements, they’re not enough to outweigh the errors, so he’s moving to a center he trusts. This is good all around. The doctors at Hopkins have proven worthy of dad’s faith, and if he’s going to get better, he has to trust the people caring for him. And it appears to work — almost immediately, his health shows strong improvement.
During one of the calls to Lyena while I’m in Maryland helping care for my dad, she gently floats a reminder that there’s baby-making to be done and if we want to give this round a go, then the window is a small one. The problem is that I’m currently in Maryland, Lyena is in Los Angeles and in less than a week, we’re both supposed to be in Alaska. As it’s very hard to do what we need to do while we’re 3,000 miles apart (and I am completely unwilling to let someone else do my bit), one of us has to fly to the other.
It appears we picked a good month to take off. Not long after we make the decision, I get a call from my sister, who is, once again, at the ER. This time, however, it’s not my mom that’s sick, but my dad. He was having some trouble breathing, so she took him to the hospital to get checked out.
We need a break. After several discussions we’ve decided it’s time for a respite from fertility for a bit. We’re both feeling a growing sense of desperation and anxiety about getting pregnant – or, perhaps more accurately, not getting pregnant – and we’re also starting to get concerned about the financial load of all of this baby-making, so we’re going to take a month off and give ourselves a little break.
After traveling from the West coast to the East coast to visit my mom, then traveling back to the West coast to have sex (yes, actual sex followed the syringical sex at Dr. VaJayjay’s), it is now time to head back to the East coast – this time for work. Lyena has been hired to perform her one-person show, Caterpillar Soup, at a theater in Vermont and I get to tag along as her Technical Director.
After about a week back in Maryland, it appears that my mother is doing better than we – or at least I – expected. She gets tired easily, but is generally strong. The living room has been converted into a makeshift hospital room, complete with hospital bed, oxygen tanks, charts on clipboards and bottles upon bottles of pills, but other than that, it feels much like a normal visit home. It’s not like she’s out of the woods or anything – she is still in hospice care – but her quality of life doesn’t seem significantly worse than it has been over the last couple of months.
To recap, last week I found out that:
- my mom is in the hospital
- my mom needs surgery
- my wife is pregnant
- my mom has less than six months to live
- my wife’s pregnancy won’t last
- my mom’s surgery was unsuccessful
- my mom has days to live
- my mom has more than days to live
- my wife is no longer pregnant
[NOTE: This is Part Two of Chapter Nine. If you haven’t yet read Part One, please do so first, or you will be missing some context.]
After being bumped two days already, my mom’s surgery gets bumped yet again, however we are promised it will happen that afternoon or evening. I find myself wondering just how many transplants and heart surgeries there are in any given week in Baltimore. My begrudging is begrowing.
You ever have one of those weeks? One of those weeks when so much comes down all at once that the only choices are 1) fight or 2) curl-into-the-fetal-position-with-a-bottle-of-scotch-and-a-binkie? It was about to be one of those weeks.