August 6, 2008

... while you're making other plans

Yup! That's when life is happening.

So there we were, on vacation with another family in an area of Hungary which is about as rural as you can get, and pretty much as far away from home as you can get. It had been a grand week away from the rat race, with a family our family dearly enjoys spending time with. A week filled with common meals, cooked together and served at a long table under a shelter with a terra cotta roof. A week of afternoon coffee in comfortable chairs under tall shade trees, reading, talking and watching the children erect huge sand castles in the oversized sand box. A week of going out after the children were in bed and lying on a bench to watch the stars (which you just can't do in Budapest).

It was Saturday night. We were partially packed, and the plan was to leave late the next morning. I'd taken Monday off, so I'd even have a day to get my head ready for the working grind that was to resume on Tuesday.

That was the plan, anyway.

Szilvi got me out of bed before midnight to inform me that she was bleeding. Very lightly, but there was some blood, nonetheless. And she'd been getting contractions that were too frequent, and too intense. The baby isn't due until the middle of September.

Thank God for mobile (cellular to you Yanks) phones! Szilvi called the doctor who has attended all the home births of all our children. She said we needed to get to a hospital so they could give Szilvi a steroid shot that ripens the fetus's lungs in case there's a premature birth.

Great! The last place I want anyone I love is in a Hungarian hospital. It's not just that they are severely underfunded and underequipped. That could be dealt with. But the truth is that Hungary's health-care system is one of the last bastions of totalitarian mentality. Please leave your civil liberties and your individuality at the door. You have just become an object. You have no input into the decisions being made regarding you, and you have no right to information beyond what they want you to know. Democracy never made it into these walls.

But, OK, we had to do it.

The ordeal at the hospital was tolerable. An ultrasound revealed a tiny tear in the placenta, but no continued bleeding. Szilvi got the steroid shot, and an anti-spasmodic shot to stop all contractions. Szilvi was placed on 24-hour observation, and was put on a drip IV against the contractions. I had to go back to the vacation house alone. I had to be there when our two-year-old son woke up.

The next day I quickly took a few bags full of supplies to Szilvi (remember I said the hospitals are underfunded?) and was informed that if by midnight (i.e. 24 hours after being checked in) there was no evidence of bleeding or contractions Szilvi might be released. But then again, she might not be. Blood tests showed she's anemic (which we knew; she's always been anemic), and that might be reason to keep her. Whatever. The doctors were being cagey.

Should we stay another night at the vacation house? Should we go ahead and go home and come back for Szilvi when she's released? I kept wandering around the house and half-heartedly packing (packing for a family of six is serious business!) and not figuring out what to do. Finally it hit me that I could take the children back to Budapest and leave them in Szentendre with their grandmother. A call to grandma (Did I say Thank God for cell phones?) confirmed that I could do that. Packing began in earnest. I made it clear to my older sons that my being without their mother made it imperative that they take responsibility and help me. To my delight, they responded; especially Alex, the older one. He really took responsibility for his youngest brother.

We left after dark, and formed a two-car caravan with the other family. I made sure my sons had the phone numbers of the parents in the other car, and vice-versa. Alex was very proud to be my copilot; handing out food and drinks, looking for road signs, fielding phone calls from the other car.

We arrived in Budapest real late. At grandma's I bedded down with my two-year old. He was confused. That morning his mother had disappeared without a trace or without an explanation. Then we left the vacation house without her, and then we went to grandma's. Poor kid's head was spinning. The next morning, he rolled over, put his hand in the hair at the back of my head (which he often does with his mother) and softly uttered the one word: "Mommy." My heart melted. This kid needed his mother.

Szilvi was released the next day, and the father of the family we vacationed with drove me down to pick her up (he has a bigger, more comfortable car).

On the way home (have I mentioned Thank God for cell phones?) I called my office and arranged to take the rest of this week off. Szilvi's doctor told her to spend a few days in bed, after which she would be severely limited in what kind of physical activity she could engage in. The usual cooking and housework were out of the question. So I'm doing the housework, and Szilvi's mother will be coming over every day once I start working again next week.

Life truly is what's happening while you're making other plans.


anthromama said...

I wish good health to Szilvi and the baby!

Thank God for cell phones, and for grandmothers and good friends. And for not being in the hospital.

Theo Huffman said...

Yes, indeed! Thank God for good friends, and grandmothers!

Eve said...

Theo, I'm so glad to read that Szilvi and all of you are OK--and the baby too! What you wrote about your two-year-old putting his hand in your hair melted my heart, too. They do need their mommies. And daddies! Good job with all the manly energy, marshaling the troops and getting things done.

Rima said...

Greetings Theo and family...
Just stumbled here by chance and wanted to say hello... a great blog, I shall be adding you to my rambling links list :)
All best wishes for health and happy days from Scotland