Yours and Mine

There are many stupid events in my life. Times when I proceeded to take actions that hindered our financial progress or caused unnecessary family strife. One of these occurred within days of my daughter’s birth.

The arrival of each of my three children are shrouded in activities and memories. For my first child, I was in California when my wife went into labor in Virginia. I performed a frantic dash across the country and arrived for the final hours of labor. (See First Birth Part 1 & Part 2).

My daughter’s birth was less hectic. The crisis leading up to her appearance revolved around finishing her bedroom in time. We had purchased a three-bedroom house a few years before. Our finances were thinned to the point we could not replace all the carpet and curtains in the bedrooms.

Shortly after moving in, we found out my wife was pregnant with our son and we scrimped and prioritized finances to get carpet and drapes in his room. We received gifts of furniture and baby items from family and friends in time for him to have a place to sleep.

Our finances continued to be tight, as they are for many young families, and the looming arrival of the baby girl increased the pressure on us to carpet the bare concrete floor in her room quickly.

Another mixed blessing was the gift of a new dishwasher from my parents. They generously bought a very nice unit that promised to be QUIET. We just needed to install it. We could have had it installed for us, but wanted to take the opportunity to change the kitchen layout a bit. The location of the old one was inconvenient for emptying and my wife preferred it to be somewhere else. (Yes ma’am)

The new location required cabinet removal that revealed tile floor irregularities. While fixing those, we discovered a sink drainpipe leak. New counters, new sink, new pipes, new tile, and new dishwasher all got installed the weekend before birth. (Whew!)

That same week, a brand new credit card arrived in the mail. Somebody out there thought I was good enough for a gold card. I was stupid enough to believe I deserved it and could afford it. Within days after my daughter’s birth, I went out and purchased a brand new computer on it.

I picked up the car keys and moved towards the front door.

“Where are you going?” my wife asked.

“To buy a computer on the new gold card.” I answered.

The look of shock and exhaustion on her face was not warning enough for me to register my stupidity. I was a MAN. (Young and stupid to the maximum possible)

“What? You got a baby. I’m getting a computer.” I proclaimed in one of the most idiotic statements of our lives.

We have pictures of me holding my daughter on my lap as I struggle to type around her. You all know how much I spent–way more than I had planned. It’s never just the machine, is it? There’s memory to upgrade, accessories to collect, software to buy, connection to the outside world (phone line, modem, router, cable,…)

New Dad Footprint Sweatshirt

“I am an idiot.” I told the airline customer service representative. “I just came through my connection at Charlotte, North Carolina. I left a personal item in the gate area. Can you have someone check for it?”

“Certainly sir, what’s the item?” she cheerily replied.

“It’s a blue sweatshirt with baby footprints glued to the front left chest area with the words ‘New Dad’ written in fabric paint.” I said.

“You’re in a lot of trouble if that item gets lost, aren’t you?” she smiled. “Sounds like a very special item.”

“It is. My wife traced the footprints of our newborn son from his hospital birth record, transferred them to felt cloth, cut out the pieces and glued them to the chest area right over the heart. She added the words with fabric paint.” I rambled.

The representative spent a few minutes on the phone with someone at the Charlotte hub. She described the item and where I thought I’d left it. Several minutes passed as they walked through the gate area checking for it. I sighed with relief when they reported they had found it.

“How would you like to get it back?” she asked.

“Well, I’m flying out again in three days. How about you get it sent up here and hold it in baggage claim as a lost item. I’ll go through there on my way in and pick it up.” I suggested.

“We can definitely do that for you,” and relayed the instructions down the line.

“Now, if I could just avoid seeing my wife around the house for the next three days.” I thought

What’s the best present you’ve ever received that was handmade by the giver, not store-bought? Tell us what made it so special.

Big things come in threes

At birth, he was pink and perfect. Ten fingers, ten toes, all parts of him so tiny, so beautiful. The tears shed by my wife after her all-night labor expressed her joy in a way no words ever could. He was our first child. The first grandson on both sides of the family. The future unfolded into eternal potential as we looked at him.

Three weeks later we thought we were going to lose him. He was projectile vomiting after every feeding and losing weight fast. A note in his medical file stated “failure to thrive” and we shed different tears now. We frantically changed doctors almost as fast as we changed diapers. Each one shook their head in puzzled concern as they listened to us describe everything we did, saw, and thought.

They repeatedly asked us the same questions with no better result or diagnosis. “Does his poop stink?”
What kind of question is that? We were first time parents. What did we know? Sure, baby poop stinks. What does that tell you, doctor? What they didn’t do was provide any frame of reference. Say, compared to sauerkraut left out of the fridge overnight that has warmed in the morning sun at the breakfast table alongside leftover sardines in mustard, does his poop stink?

His pitiful crying pained us terribly through each dark night. We rocked him, held him, tried to feed him again and again. He always threw up. Nothing stayed down long. The exhaustion and worry drained our strength. We kept trying new doctors.

We finally encountered a gentle older doctor who patiently listened to us like all the others. Unlike them, he didn’t ask us to describe poop potency. He nodded at appropriate times and ordered an obscure test. “Just to rule out this one possibility.”

Two days later, we had a diagnosis, cystic fibrosis. We had never heard of it. We were completely unprepared. We needed to learn. The journey of our lives had just taken a major turn.

Today you can write about anything, in whatever genre or form, but your post must mention a dark night, your fridge, and tears (of joy or sadness; your call).

First Birth Part 1

First Birth Part 2

First Birth (Part 2 of 2)

Tim awoke to the captain’s announcement in progress.

“…we’re in a holding pattern over Nashville. The airport is fogbound and we’re awaiting a break in visibility to get clearance to land. We’ll keep circling for now, but if we don’t get an opening in the next 20 minutes, we’ll be moving to an alternate city to land. We’ll keep you posted.”

Tim reached for the in-flight magazine to look at the airport maps. He tried to guess where they would go if they could not land here. What would be his connection to Norfolk? How long a delay would he agonize through as his wife continued her labor? Was it over? Had he missed it? Would he arrive only to see the baby already here? Continue reading

First Birth (Part 1 of 2)

“I need you to come home, my water broke.” Tim heard over the hotel room phone.  He was stunned into silence.

“But you’re three weeks early. You said it would be okay for me to go on this business trip.” he stupidly replied.

“I’m having contractions. The baby is coming. You need to be here.” she insisted.

“I’ll do everything I can to be there. Try not to have the baby before I arrive.” he moronically stated.

They hung up and he called the corporate travel agency at the 24-hour service number. It was almost 11 pm in Los Angeles, California and he needed to get to Norfolk, Virginia fast. Continue reading