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Archive for the ‘family’ Category

“Those first days I felt so helpless.”

I knew right away that my daughter wasn’t like normal babies, she seemed weaker, less alert, less capable. These feelings made me want to help her all the more and increased my feelings of helplessness. What the hell could I do for her?

She was put under an oxygen tent immediately after being born. Her mother wasn’t able to hold her for more than a minute before the nurses whisked her away to her plastic tent. My daughter was in the hospital for two weeks before the doctors told us it was ok for her to come home. Every day was an exercise in super-human patients; Isabelle would take one step forward and one step back, then another step back, and another.

I was at work when they finally told us we could take her home. I didn’t believe it, neither did her mother. We had been waiting so long for her to come home but we didn’t want her to leave too soon. In the hospital she was surrounded by machines that told us exactly what was going on with her heart, nurses were on hand twenty-four-seven, doctors came by in scheduled intervals to check on her; she was in the best of care. What hope did we have of offering her that kind of care at home?

 

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“…Isabelle was born right on time, in the middle of the night, in the middle of winter”

Now winter in San Diego isn’t a real winter so get the images of cold, storm filled nights out of your head. When my fiance told me her water had broke I rolled over in bed and asked if it could wait till morning. Then I asked her to double check and repeated the late hour. She just stared at me till I got up.

The pregnancy was fairly routine, more checkups than a normal pregnancy would have: the doctors wanted to keep an eye on my daughters heart. Lots of reading up on Down Syndrome and what to expect, lots of meeting with my daughters Cardiologist learning what to expect. A lot of talking and expecting, and expecting.

When we  got to the hospital they had to induce labor. What followed was 18 hours of increasingly painful contractions for my fiance. Or at least they seemed to be from my point of view; not much was happening so I kind of nodded off in the middle a bit (never gonna live that one down.) But I was wide awake for the big part. Isabelle’s heart rate started to dip so things became very hectic very quickly.

The doctor attached a giant suction cup to Isabelle’s head and told us that my fiance had about four big pushes before they were going to do a c section. She did it in one. I was terrified. I was frantic, I didn’t know what to do, what to think, what to …expect.

Isabelle was born right on time, in the middle of the night, in the middle of winter. She took my breath away and then she was rushed to the NICU.

Her heart was weak, it had holes in it and couldn’t properly oxygenate her blood so the nurses took her down to the NICU(Natal Intensive Care Unit) and put her under an oxygen tent. I followed along, never letting her out of my sight. I thought to myself that this is what I’m supposed to do, I’m supposed to keep watch on her.

Those first days I felt so helpless.

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It’s been so long since I’ve written anything. My writing chops have become stale, worm-eaten and moldy. Time to dust them off and write something, anything.

So:
The last two years have been uneventfully eventful; by which I mean a lot has happened in my life, a lot of changes, but nothing spectacular or particularly special. I have become a father and then a fiance and someday soon I will be a husband. To be sure that is not the normal route, but it’s not that unusual either. We talked about our relationship when we found out a little one was on the way, we wanted to make sure we were on the same page, we weren’t going to stay together just for the sake of the child. I mean how back-ass-wards would that have been? If we didn’t have any other reason to stay together than a child how horrible an example would we have set for my daughter? Especially as neither one of us mince words or is of a sparkling disposition. So we stuck together, intent on seeing where our relationship was going to go. Then the big news hit us, our daughter was probably going to be born with down syndrome and she would definitely be born with a heart defect that would require open heart surgery before her first birthday.

Yikes. Ouch. Ugh.

Time to bear down and prepare myself for a long life of disappointment, for all my expectations falling short and the fun of having children sucked out parenting. Big breath fella, man up, suck it up and soldier on, she’s still going to be your child, you’ll do what you have to.

Isabelle was born right on time, in the middle of the night, in the middle of winter. 

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When she told me I didn’t react. I stood there thinking to myself “Is the part where I laugh? Or where I cry?” I didn’t do either, instead I sat down next to her and said, “ok,” and let the world wash over me.

Time seemed to both stop and rush forward, my breathing became shallow, I stood up and wandered around the hotel room… Why does life altering news have come to me in a hotel room?
She left to take a walk and I, I went to the bathroom to puke, ended up hyperventilating and falling into the bathtub; all-in-all a better choice. That done I went back to the bed and sat there. “I’m going to be a dad.” The thought rolled ’round and ’round my head forever. “I’m going to be a dad.” with each repeat of that thought new emotions and ideas crept up. “I’m going to be a dad. I am not ready for this. Me? A dad? Oh man, the world is not ready for this. How could this happen to me?! Well I know how it happened… I’m going to be a dad! This is so cool. I can’t wait to teach the kid all about old cars and baseball and… wait, what if it’s a girl? I’ll still teach her about old cars and baseball and fishing and… What am I going to do?! I’ve never done this before! How do I do this? What do I do now?”

She came back into the room and we looked at each other. “We’re going to be parents.”

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My father was a writer. He wrote once.

He created a world where, even now, people live and breath, love and laugh and die. He created the entire universe, all that would sustain life in his world, which, even now I don’t know the name of. Then he stopped, he quit. He put the world away, the fascinating cascade of characters and their stories. All locked up in a drawer now, put away in a filing cabinet along with his tax returns and mortgage papers.

I think about  that world every once in a while. I wonder if Loden or the Tanklen are still around, if they are angry at being forgotten, being shelved, filed away. I still don’t know what happened to the children, nobody does, not even Loden and he’s the one who most needs to know. That great mystery lies hidden behind my birth certificate and the title for the jeep. I asked my father once why he stopped. He  said he felt there was no merit in it; he felt that it wasn’t unique enough or that there were plenty of other stories out there.

I wonder how Loden feels about that; his bones were cast in gold and nobody knows why. Well my Dad does, but he’s keeping it to himself.

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Not so quiet an eve’ning; I mean the woods out back are quiet but in here… Conversation runs rampant the music is just a little too loud, which makes the conversation a tad louder than it needs to be and the whole room is filled with the noise of it. Topics run the gamut, from yesterday to the day just after birth, the booze flows freely and often. Family and friends drink and laugh and are all full of goodwill and good food. The house is warmth and affection, rivalry, revelry and all the old arguments of long friendship. Old stories relived and retold, new jokes and old.

These are the moments that make the stories we retell at future gatherings, we will hear again for the hundredth time each foible of tonight, re-live the meal, what was the name of that dish? And laugh again at the jokes and hi-jinx of this eve’ning.

The laughter is infectious. The dinner table is such a small thing, seats only four, yet it fits the whole room. The same conversation and camaraderie cover the crowd, from one wall to the other. It moves like the waves, in sets followed by calming surf-noise, a sort of silence. A static/surf filled silence. We move then in smaller groups, little swirls of conversation moving among the flotsam and jetsam of dead topics upon the sand of the eve’ning till we re-collide and start a new set of waves. Soon the tide will shift and there will be a breaking up of us, each to their own devices but for now we laugh and drink and talk and remember till the call of good-night!

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(A commission from my mother)

Little sisters are evil.
Big brothers are mean.
She always tattles.
He never plays nice.
My friends think she’s cute.
He thinks my friends are hot.
I tell them she’s satan in disguise.
I tell them he’s a good-for-nothing jackass.
She’s their favorite.
He gets away with everything!
I can’t get away with anything!

And that’s the truth of it, I could never get away with anything with my sister around. My roving out-of-body-closely-related conscious. Annoying little twit! Of course if anyone so much as looked at her funny I would kill them… are at least give them a good wuppin’.
Little sisters are at best an enigma. They come along and suddenly we have to worry about scratched knees and lost barbies!! What the hell is a Barbie anyway?!? Of course the attention goes away from me, I’m old news now. Siblings, they aught to make a law that allows you to strangle ’em every once in a while. ‘Course I’m sure my parents would have loved to do that to one-or-the-other of us or both of us on multiple occasions.
I never understood my sister’s crisis. I mean I could have understood if it was something like, “I don’t know how the shed blew up. It was there one second and BOOM!! gone. I have no idea how it happened.”(And I still don’t); that makes sense right? Not, “Susie doesn’t like me, and I have no idea why!!” all while bawling her eyes out. Ugh!
Our early years together, before I moved out and got a job and became “A PRODUCTIVE MEMBER OF SOCIETY!” were non stop arguments. I mean it was ridiculous, we’d say hello to each other and bam! Right into a knock-down-drag-out fight. It would have been a lot more peaceful if she would just admit that I was right, but NO. We’d go round after round, well into overtime about god knows what all, just so that she could say at the end, “Ok your right, I’m sorry. I should have seen it your way from the beginning.” Yeah right. More often than not parents would step in and then I’d start showing them, in a calm and collected manner I might add, just where I was right and why she should be apologizing to me and so on and then she would just sit there and blubber out some incoherent sentence about how I was a big meanie. And who do think they sided with?! Yup, you guessed it, tears carry the day, disgusting! So then, after I apologized (against my will!!) and spent time in my room, life would go back to normal… sigh, little sisters, I told you they were evil.
Now I call her pretty much every week and we stay caught up on each others lives. She asks advise on things and I give it even if she doesn’t ask because I’m a big brother. I send her money when she needs it and we laugh and talk smack about the parents and all that good stuff. She’s a pretty decent friend, I don’t know what I would do if anything happened to her. Heh, little sisters, like I said: ‘at best an enigma.’

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