Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Life and Death

While pregnant, I'm sure that I think about death a lot more than most pregnant women do.  It seems 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.  I worry about the possibility that he will die, leaving me alone with four kids to raise.  He has gained a great deal of weight since we got married and this 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 with my family and then moved back to our home state.  Many times in the last few years I've expected to get a phone call - one 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, as one of my dearest friends went and shot herself in the head while I was watching her young children.  But my brother 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. So he is still technically alive, but with no hope of actually surviving.  For now, he and all the family are in a state of limbo, but will 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 and 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.