Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Life and Death

I'm certain that I think about death a lot more than your average pregnant woman.  In fact, my first thought upon finding I was pregnant again was that this new life will surely die - it's just a question of when and how.  In creating life, we also create death. A morbid thought, but very true.  For me, pregnancy and death are so intensely intertwined that it feels as if I'm hanging out with death for the entire duration of gestation.

Thoughts of death extend beyond the baby to also encompass my husband, who has gained a great deal of weight since we got married. Morbid obesity (emphasis on morbid) weighs heavily on my mind every day.

In addition, I have been extremely worried these past five years about my youngest brother, who has schizophrenia.  For six months when Anastasia was a baby, he lived here in Minnesota with my family so he could escape the toxic environment of our parents' house. Following his stay with us, he moved back to our home state, though not back to our parents' house.

Many times in the last few years I've expected to get a phone call telling me that he had died. There have been many hospitalizations, even incarcerations and violent episodes, as well as disappearances and other intense drama.  I was surprised when he survived a particularly rough patch two years ago.

That summer still took a devastating turn when one of my dearest friends committed suicide.  We'd spent the morning together and I was the last person to really talk to her. She went and shot herself in the head while I was watching her young children.  Death is never far, it seems. But my brother survived and went on to have some stretches of relative stability.  Until now.

Last Friday I got the call that he'd shot himself in the head.  This is not at all shocking, but still terribly sad. The great tragedy here is schizophrenia, not death.  As horrifying as suicide is, I cannot say that I'd have chosen differently if I'd been in his situation.  He suffered tremendously and though I'm sad for my own loss, I'm happy that there can be peace for him.

Currently he is in the hospital, but we're told brain death is inevitable.  He is apparently an anomaly in that he is still able to breathe on his own more than three days on. Though he is still technically alive, there is no hope of actually surviving.  For now, he and all the family are in a state of limbo, but we'll soon have to gather for the funeral. Provided this limbo doesn't drag on for weeks, I should be able to travel.

The baby is now at 33 weeks and there's been no indication of problems.  No sign of cord trouble. No sign of growth restriction.  Perfect scores on the weekly Biophysical Profile. This is amazing and wonderful!  There's no way of knowing whether this is the result of being on blood thinners like last time, or simply random good luck.  Whatever it is, I'll take it!  At this point I have great hopes of a cradle for her and not a grave.

So that's where things stand at the moment. An unexpected life still going strong and an expected though tragic death.  Once again, I'll be going to the cemetery and visiting the graves of now three of my siblings and my two baby boys.

UPDATE:  Five days after shooting himself, my brother died. I was able to travel and be with my family for the funeral. Going to that cemetery again has set off a lot of anxiety for me, especially since I had a scare with baby after returning home.  When checking her with my Doppler, I picked up cardiac arrhythmia.  A biophysical profile (BPP) showed no distress for baby, but that did little to lower my anxiety.



"They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it's night once more."
- Samuel Beckett