This is the fourth and final post in a series chronicling our last holiday season before baby arrives -- as they say, life is never the same afterward, so in the interest of capturing a few snapshots to remember this time, here are some jottings from moments that have lingered with me over a multi-destination Thanksgiving week.
Dr. Sis is already in bed with her iPhone docked and its music playing when I come out of her bathroom the night before the baby shower. Rolls of teal tissue, turquoise wrapping paper, and silver ribbon lean against one another in the corner amidst shipping boxes I have been instructed not to poke around in -- quarters in Dr. Sis's Boston condo are cozy, leaving few options for hiding gifts except covering them in plain sight. I climb under the comforter, trying not to disturb a second pile of boxes on my side of the bed.
The clutter, some hardly shower-related, spills into the living room in the form of shoes, books, cleaning supplies, grocery bags. In my own home, the mess would drive me crazy, but I respect that this is my sister's space and that she's a junior resident. That she can find time to feed herself is already a feat on her demanding schedule. Preparing to host a party? Unimaginable. And yet, that's exactly what she's been doing all evening, to my amazement. She and Marketing Sis have already wrapped a large pile of packages now nestled on an arm chair in the dining nook, waiting to be opened the following afternoon.
Through my homebody's eye, I see more than just gifts buried in the corners of this condo. It's a part of Dr. Sis's life, which I've lost the ability to inquire about without feeling like I'm intruding. She is, and has always been, someone who gets her joy from being around other people, usually in spaces not her own -- or maybe it's that she immerses herself in that which is outside her home because the world behind her own door is something she'd rather not steep in alone for too long. So things pile up and get left behind as she comes and goes, stopping to sleep but not, I imagine, to be still here. Whenever she is home, she runs Pandora or tracks from her iTunes account, the music, it seems, a buffer against too much rumination.
I want to be wrong about all of that. Except, perhaps, the part about joy -- if she really does find her happiness outside, out loud, out and about, more power to her. Just because I'm a homebody doesn't mean I think she ought to be.
On this night, I'm not sure what kind of mood she's in, but heart-to-hearts have been rare between us, so I don't expect to plunge into any heavy conversation. We have so little time and we both need sleep; it would be unwise to tread too far into those questions I'm dying to ask anyway. What is it to be where you are now, doing what you're doing? Who's in your life these days? What makes you tick? Basic things I thought I used to know about her.
I admit I haven't been forthcoming with the same information myself. When I have offered up those pieces of my life to her, though, I've never felt satisfied with them. The true answers to most of those questions are that I don't know, it's complicated, things are still a work in progress, I need more time to think. And Dr. Sis, an analyst by nature and in her line of work, delves deeper, harder, faster than I can regroup to get more detailed answers out. She has to be direct, efficient in diagnosing her patients. I don't like feeling like a patient when we start talking. Tell her this, and she'll likely respond, "Really. Well, say more about that."
It's like falling into a trap. A heart-to-heart shouldn't feel like a catch-22 -- and yet. And yet. I wonder if having a mind as sharp as hers is partly why she keeps her music running. I imagine a brain like that needs a regulator, to quiet its inclinations to examine, evaluate, spin. I know reflection has been a big part of Dr. Sis's medical training, but too much introspection can be more harmful than helpful. Writing has its similarities.
Dr. Sis is poking around on her laptop, so I scoot down under the comforter away from the light from the screen, even though I'm not quite sleepy. I expect her to drop off soon -- she's just come off studying for and taking a two-day certification exam on top of taking call over part of Thanksgiving weekend and hosting a Turkey Day dinner -- but Dr. Sis turns toward me, a thoughtful expression on her face, and begins prodding at my belly.
After Marketing Sis's unabashed interactions with her unborn nephew, this doesn't surprise me. I'm amused at the difference in each sister's approach, though. While Marketing Sis has talked to, laid an ear against, and even kissed the belly, Dr. Sis methodically examines it for landmarks. She palpates low, just as my OB has in recent weeks, looking for identifiers I can't name. "He's supposedly rotated downward," I say. Dr. Sis nods and continues to press and poke, her other hand now at the top of my abdomen as if to take the measure of her nephew's body.
"There's an appendage," she says as he squirms a little.
"How can you tell?" I ask. Even though my sister's focus is not in obstetrics, she has done a rotation in the field and delivered her share of babies. I'm awed that she can find a fetal heartbeat with just her stethoscope, fascinated that the random movements I feel under my skin make a difference between heel and head to her. The baby, not so much -- he suddenly kicks vigorously beneath my sister's fingers, as if perturbed. We look at each other, both a little startled, and laugh.
"I'm sorry," she says to the nephew. To me: "When those parts are next to each other but you can feel them moving independently, that's how you know." Dr. Sis makes a flippery motion with her two hands as our middle school swim team coach used to show us when we were learning how to execute an efficient flutter kick.
Then she lets the belly be, respecting its resident's protests. Too much, those kicks seem to say. For once, though, I don't mind the prodding.
For more from this series, please click here.
1 day ago