Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Trying to Breathe

I am trying like hell not to have a panic attack.  North Dakota is a rather unfriendly place and I don't want to leave my heart here.  He is so frightened and I am trying to be strong, but what the hell are we going to do?  Today was his first day at the new job and he came back to report that he would have to shave his beard.  This may not sound like a big deal, but it is SO a big deal!  We have been together for 6 years, and I have never once seen him without facial hair.  He is 31 years old and has had a beard all of his adult life.  He was so sad; he looks like a kid when he's clean shaven.  A kid I have to abandon on Thursday.  Before I met Jerry, I didn't know it was possible to love someone like I love him.  I had boyfriends that I knew I didn't love, but I thought that maybe it was just as close as I was ever going to get.  And then I met him. Just after I got accepted to nursing school in Miles City, I got a job as a cashier at a truck stop near my parents' house.  Jerry would come in every day after work. Jerry was a logger back then and it was love at first sight for me.  I didn't even know his name, but I knew I should ditch the loser boyfriend so I could be free to learn (in my defense the boyfriend was a real jerk, so don't judge me).  I met him and it didn't matter that I was moving 500 miles away in a few short weeks, that I had no idea how things were going to work out or how to make a relationship succeed in those kinds of circumstances.  It was head first for both of us.  Serious from the moment we made eye contact.  Among other things, I wish my children the kind of love that their father and I are blessed with.

And here we are.  With this huge distance about to swallow us up.  I don't know how we will make it work, but I know we have to.  It is so scary to have no idea what the future holds.  I am grateful we all made it here in one piece, but it is a fricking long drive from Western Montana to Dickinson, North Dakota.  Jerry left the day before the kiddo and I, since he would be driving slower pulling the camper the theory was that I would catch up with him about midway.  The truck had a small mechanical issue two hours in, which didn't prove to be terribly expensive, but was anxiety inducing since it was after 7 on a Sunday night and the town he was stranded in was small and didn't have any part stores open.  I finally tracked down a road side mechanic to bring Jerry the right tool for the job (Jerry can fix anything--it's having the right tools that trips him up) and he drove to the halfway point.  I was testing the boundaries of sleep deprivation as a result of having to work the early shift the previous two days and staying up late to get ready for the big trip.  I went to bed after midnight and was up at 0530 to head out.  Thirteen hours later, we arrived at our campsite (gorgeous view, showers, and private) to find that our cell phones did not get service.  I was told when I made the reservation that our cell phone provider worked "great" out there, and since the cell phone is Jerry and I's only means of communication when I head home on Thursday, this was a big problem.  Also, the camp was 58 miles out of Dickinson--a pretty hefty commute.  And a wifi connection was a distant dream.

So this morning the kiddo and I headed back into Dickinson to search the surrounding area again for an alternate campsite. I was reduced to unsuccessfully trying to "borrow" wifi from local businesses while idling in their parking lots and driving through outlying towns looking for campground signs.  The result:  Belfield, North Dakota, a mere 20 miles out of Dickinson.  Less privacy, no shower/toilet facility (it's being remodeled).  But also a shorter commute, cell phone service, and an internet connection.  Tomorrow I am off to a sporting goods store to purchase one of those outdoor shower bag and tent stall doohickys in the hopes that it will suffice for washing until the shower facility is finished and/or we find him an apartment.  Ugh.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

North Dakota!

The days are passing in a sort of lazy, nonproductive fashion.  I am enjoying the opportunity to catch up on sleep and television.  Today is the sort of day that comes along every so often where I cannot stop wondering why my son did not survive.  Why my family?  Why my son?  Matthew was born at 27 weeks, a gestational age that is extremely premature but often has a survival rate of greater than 90%.  And here is my family, lodged in that 10% window.  Can't win the lottery, but with odds like that maybe I should be investing my paltry savings into lotto tickets.  He had made it through so much already, it is so baffling that he just slipped away one day. A rural hospital that was completely unprepared for him and I. A bumpy flight to a larger hospital.  Patent ductus arteriosus.  No brain bleeds at two weeks old.   Tolerating small feedings well.  No necrotizing entercolitis.  When I place myself back in that time, the most prominent emotion I feel is bewilderment.  Complete bewilderment.  I cannot describe how disorienting it is to feel as though you are still supposed to be pregnant.  No wait, you aren't pregnant, but your baby son is in the NICU and he is doing ok.  No wait, your son has suddenly died and you are sitting in your empty living room, the last place you are supposed to be, writing his obituary.  I didn't even know what low birth weight meant before I was staring at my firstborn child through the incubator port holes.  I didn't know that "low birth weight" comes with IVs and ventilators and hushed tones and breast pumps.  

The Man and I are about to embark on a huge change in our lives.  He has accepted a new job and I must stay put through next June to finish my nursing degree.  That means a 650 mile difference between us, with the kiddo and I staying put and the Man working long hours far away.  We are terrified.  It's a pretty drastic step to take for work and I don't want my last year of nursing school to get screwed up because I am all alone with a four year old and with no one to back me up.  My mother is a tenuous kind of support at best and I really don't have anyone else.  One week from today we will be headed east to get him settled.  I can stay for four days and then I have to be back to work some shifts at the assisted living facility.  It appears that I will have to quit my job by August.  I want to be back and forth as much as is possible for the rest of the summer so that we can be together, and once school starts back up I really won't be able to arrange the extra child care outside of school and daycare hours and I will need some weekends to be free so that I can meet up with the Man.

I am hopeful that all these big changes will result in positive changes for us in the long haul.  If the finances are in good order by next summer, we should be ready to buy a piece of land and a house by the time the kiddo and I join him in North Dakota.  Real estate prices are still pretty reasonable over there.  We should also be able to start trying to get pregnant sometime after December or perhaps March; a new baby will arrive not a moment too soon as far as I'm concerned.  As long as my nursing degree is complete we will be good to go.  Send your thoughts and prayers our way--we can use them right now!