The Globe and I were in the hospital for a few days – due to him possibly deciding to come out early. I’m back home now, writing, with a bunch of drug prescriptions, some of them quite fun. Inside of me, The Globe is busy imitating a starfish.
May has finally become kinder in Moscow, dominated by birds. I actually heard an honest-to-God nightingale in the park by my house the other evening. With my husband back in town for a little while, we played Björk to The Globe. Odd, how I didn’t like her much before, until my life changed.
When I once asked my husband why he chose me, considering the fact that it was an unlikely choice, he replied something along the lines of that we never know, at what turn life will hand us a gift. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that there are many gifts I have failed to notice before, stuff life has held for me in an outstretched palm, like a kid eager to show off a Junebug – stuff you miss particularly when confined to a hospital bed, stuff like a book, a park bench, a decently written article, a giant mug of green tea, a zombie movie.
Physically speaking, I am less free now, because I have to put my health and the kid’s health first, but there are doors and more doors opening inside of my mind. The changing circumstances have made me adapt and hone new talents. I write more than ever, when the shoulder doesn’t hurt. I can make steamed fish and rice now. I am no longer terrified of IVs.
I hate hospitals, but I have been reminded, once again, that certain medical care systems that are in place in Russia are vastly superior to what we have in the States. Even as a foreigner with an entirely basic insurance package, I received treatment – and received it for free. And they were prepared to keep me there for a long time, if necessary – and treated me well. I am having a baby, and babies are important to Russia’s demographics crisis, but at least the government is doing something about improving prenatal care. The cases that get highlighted in the press are the horrible ones, no one wants to read about how “we had a scare and then it turned out to be OK, because of the exceptional doctors and nurses”, but really, even rural doctors will tell you that improvements are being made.
In the beginning of this month, I visited Vyazniki, Vladimirskaya oblast, about a 5-hour journey from Moscow. It’s a small town where the views are great and the roads are crap (and parades still go down these roads). Our family friend, Seryozha, works as an anesthesiologist at the local hospital there – and is regularly called in to help with epidurals for women in labour. It’s not a modern ward they have over there, but women are allowed to request epidurals freely – a huge change from ridiculous Soviet times. Seryozha, who’s one of those doctors who cares, is really pleased with how the maternity ward operates. And if demographics are indeed to improve, this should be the case all over Russia.
Meanwhile, husband’s off to film on location again – for his diploma project – and The Globe and I will be mostly alone, watched over from a safe distance (the word “distance” being key) by my mother, who’s in town. If things should go well, and I will be in no more need of hospitalization (please, God, please) until the bairn is actually due, I’d like to take my mother to some plays, and hopefully finish my own. I’d like to work on more articles, including my remaining theater columns, and I’d like to sit on park benches and watch the sun going down, and be OK. The Globe can feel the adrenalin in my blood. I want him, also, to feel some love, and remember that the world he’s joining isn’t always enveloped in shitstorms.
The woman I shared a hospital room with is called Lyudmila. She’s got one kid, aged 18 and already off to do his army service, and is awaiting fraternal twins – Sofiya and Spiridon. Last year, Lyudmila lost a baby at 38 weeks, her heart stopped beating while she was still in the womb. “We don’t have much on the gravestone,” she told me. “An angel, and the day of her death.” I hope Sofiya and Spiridon come out just fine. We listened to their hearts before I left and they were going pretty damn strong.