Wednesday, November 09, 2005


We weren't really planning to have kids yet. Kris was just out of college and I had just started teaching at a new school. We had moved from Canton to Marietta, and although it had meant increasing our rent by half while reducing our apartment space to half, we were happy.

Marietta was better than Canton in many ways. More to do, more restaurants, a shorter commute for both my wife and me. It was far enough away from our parents' church that we finally had a good excuse to pick our own, which was a big step for my wife, who had only known the one church, and a big step for me, because it meant a return to the PCA (and yes, I'm that nerdy).

So here we were in a tiny new apartment and big new jobs. I was finally teaching something close to what I had studied and prepped for, and Kris had finished her internship at the State and actually had a real job there.

Then she missed.

This never happened. Atomic clocks have nothing on my wife, and we knew that missing meant something. We panicked to a certain extent. We had wanted to have kids; it had been a discussion topic on one of our first dates. We even knew how many we wanted (3 at the time, haha). But we had never discussed when, and it looked like "someday" had suddenly become "today."

Rushed to the local Kwik-E-Mart (which we called the Porn Mart for obvious reasons), got a pregnancy test, peed on the stick, and waited.


Relieved and yet disappointed, we celebrated and comisserated with wine (which would later cause mental anguish) and by calling everyone we knew to tell them we were not pregnant. Some were happy, some were sad, some (like us) were both at the same time.

A few days later, when life did not resume its normal course, we got another stick, this time from a more reputable medical test vendor: Publix. Repeat the peeing and waiting.

Positive. Hello Timothy.

Ten seconds of "Dear Heavenly Father, what do we think we're doing?" followed immediately by calling everyone we knew to tell them that indeed, we were pregnant. We were ridiculously happy.

We already had the boy name picked out: Timothy. I was emphasizing my philo-PCA-ness by naming a child after Tim Keller (Craig and Andrew were vetoed), and Kris thought it sounded nice. Girl names were another matter altogether.

We fought. And fought. And fought. Pre-marital counseling, coupled with the newfound joys of living in a confined space with a willing member of the opposite sex had given us an essentially easy first year of marriage (I highly recommend both pre-marital counseling and pre-marital virginity). We had sailed through one, but the second would prove a bear, mostly because of The Siege of Girlnamegrad.

So we decided to hold off on the girl name until we found out what gender the baby was. 21 weeks is a long wait, although we had burned off about half of that during the hostilities. Still . . .

Joys abounded. I had always wanted a family, had always loved kids. Here it was coming true. We had worried that we wouldn't be able to have our own children, but now it seemed we could (if we only knew).

But there were difficulties as well. Kris had to drive from Marietta to the State Capitol complex and back every day, about a 2-3 hour round trip with traffic. Coupled with pretty bad morning sickness, her commute was miserable. So she quit that job, her dream job, after 9 months there.

Then came The Cyst. Our biggest pregnancy scare of them all came when, after one of the early sonograms, they told us that there was a cyst in the baby's brain. It was perfectly normal, they said, everyone has it. (Wait for the big but.) But . . . it should have gone away by now and it hasn't. They scheduled us for a follow-up sonogram 2 weeks later.

We should have known, given the length of time until the follow-up, that it was nothing. But it was our first time around, and it was our baby. And the word "cyst," when combined with the phrase "your baby's brain," has an ominous, horrible, hollowness-inducing sound. I cried, a lot, mostly at night when Kris was asleep (but sometimes when she wasn't). We prayed a lot too.

Two weeks later, and it was gone. "Just like we thought," said the pediatrician, whom I vowed at that moment would not be involved with any subsequent children. But our baby was fine.

But the apartment was too small! Oh, and how. One bedroom, kitchen & tiny dining room, and a living room. 800 square feet of newlywed DINK coziness. And now we must move. At first we thought only of apartments, and we searched. Anything with 2 bedrooms was too expensive in Marietta, so we looked all over, including Roswell and closer to our church. But those areas were even more expensive.

At some point I looked at a comparison of renting vs. owning a house, and we realized that for less than the monthly cost of a 2-bedroom apartment we could have a 3 bedroom house to clean plus a yard to mow. Nonetheless, I bought a Saturday paper, found a house, drove by it, took my wife to see it the next day, and decided to buy the house. All in about a week. It is good, sometimes, to live with a decisive woman.

[focus on the baby, focus on the baby . . .]

Right. So we move into the house, fix it up, and have it ready to go.

The boy was due November 8, and so, as is the wont of first-time fathers, I planned to be off work the week following November 8. As a teacher, you don't want to miss a day without a plan. You especially don't want to miss an entire week without a plan, in the event of something, say, like the early arrival of your firstborn.

November 1st was a Saturday, and we attend the Bat-mitzvah of the daughter of a good friend of mine at school. There was wine and dancing and loads of fun. The next day, Sunday, we went to church as usual. My wife claims that contractions started that morning at church. Since she had never experienced childbirth before, and since she has the pain threshold of a Samoan warrior-chief, she didn't recognize them for what they were. So we had some friends over for lunch and then we all took a walk.

By the time we got home from the walk, Kris did recognize the contractions as being the painful things that mean a baby is coming, and she quietly but firmly ordered me to get everyone out of the house. I complied with mute obedience.

By now, it was early evening and we were having a baby. In what would become a tradition, we got a watch, a pen, and paper, and then sat down to watch TV. At my wife's choosing, we watched a horrible Disney live-action, multi-culti version of Cinderella and then my wife watched X-Files (which I couldn't watch if I wanted to sleep without nightmares; I think I read a book instead). When X-Files was done, Kris announced that it was okay to go to the hospital. So we did.

In a fit of ravenous stupidity, my wife decided to do "natural child birth." Contrary to the actual definition of natural birth, this does not mean lying down in the woods somewhere to give birth to a baby that might get eaten by wolves before you can get her back to your grass hut. It actually means loading yourself down with all sorts of crazy ideas and expectations concerning the wonderfulness, wholeness, and warmth of the motherhood experience, all the while ignoring the benefits of living in the greatest civilization in the history of the world. In short: pain, and lots of it.

Again, I complied with mute obedience, relaying the mantra of the expectant father, "Yes dear."

But the boy was slow to arrive. Take childbirth, with all of its attendant pain. Now add the iron will of a crazy woman who is going to deny herself so much as a couple of Bayer in order to "experience more fully the lifegiving bond." Now add 7 extra hours or so.

That's right, but there's more.

To make him come faster, they gave her Pitocin, which has two effects. First, it makes labor quicker. Second, it makes labor more painful. Having ruled out pain medication, it's a toss-up to me. I will note that my wife mended her ways with subsequent births, and was actually seen grabbing syringes off of carts in the hallway the second time around.

Where were we? Ah yes, mind-numbing pain.

At some point on Monday morning, for about 15 minutes, I fell asleep in a chair. It is at this time that the only extant picture of me in the delivery room was taken, thus cementing my reputation as birthing light-weight. Whatever.

At last, around 11:20 AM on Monday, November 3, Timothy was born. Certain things were bigger than expected, especially his hands, feet, and . . . well . . . you know. He had lots and lots of very dark hair, which never did fall out. He was our only non-bald baby, the Anti-Sarver if you will.

Stories abound, about taking him home for the first time (I drove about 20 MPH the whole way), about changing his diapers (I sang a Radiohead song and startled him so much he peed in the new diaper), about how he always looked so intently at you, as if he knew exactly what you were doing . . .

But last week he turned 8, which is a big number for a little boy. And I wanted to get this story down so he could read it one day.

Happy Birthday, Timothy.

Update: My wife has now read this, and she has some corrections. The second test was purchased at K-Mart, although she doesn't remember there being a first, negative test. On this, as in many other things, we disagree. Which means she's wrong. Ahem.

Second, she objects to being compared to a Samoan warrior-chief. Fine. She has the pain threshold of a delicate but tough flower. That sounds just as good.


At 6:58 AM, Blogger Georgia on My Mind said...

Well, I'm trying to leave a comment, but I can't see the keyboard through these tears! Thanks for recalling such sweet memories.....

At 10:54 AM, Blogger Becki said...

:( Nobody EVER told us about the CYST! And the 2nd sonogram! And the crying!

It was a fun, fun time and I'll always remember it fondly. Thanks for letting us be "first grandparents" and allowing us to be a part. Memaw and Gaga

At 10:57 AM, Blogger 4BoyDad said...

With all due respect, you're wrong about that. We did tell you.

And we've told you several times since then, and you always claim that it's the first you've heard of it and excoriate us for not telling you.

But now, now I've got a record of this conversation, and a URL to link to for next time. Mwahahahah.


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