Appointment

Ready or not…

Our daughter was born 12 weeks early at 1 pound 15 ounces.

I’ve had burgers bigger than that.

I’m not sure how this post as a whole will come together. I’ve decided to write it in parts. I’m not sure of the pace or structure. I’m only sure of the intent. I hope you stick it out with me.

I’ve been to every doctor appointment since finding out we were expecting. I just felt I needed to be there. In those appointments, I’ve gotten to be in the room for an awkward Pap smear. Awkward (for me) conversation involving stretching and comfortable positions for the next 9 months. Ahem. For some reason though, I didn’t think I would go to appointment #7. We were at the point where there wasn’t much going on. It became a “check vitals, doctor asking about diet and pain, I’ll see you in two weeks” kind of thing. Pretty standard procedure. I left for work on September 5th, telling her I would probably skip this one. She agreed and said it was no big deal. No ultrasound, she understood.

The appointment was at 11:30am and around 10am I texted her and told her that I had decided to go. No real reason other than I had gone to all of them. I kind of liked the streak and the bonus points. In appointments past, I would pick her up since she works really close to the hospital. I asked her if we could just meet at the hospital this time, that I needed to get back to a busy work day. She agreed. I was on my way around 11am and texted her again, telling her I’ve decided to pick her up. Again, it’s what we do.

We get to the appointment and our nurse is the best. She’s funny, always making us laugh. A great personality that always made visits enjoyable. Court needed to go to the bathroom and did as I went and sat down in the room. She came in and we talked about nothing. Everything was normal like it had been many times before. Then it became not so normal until it became terrifying.

About ten minutes later our nurse walks in and in the calmest voice, which was very unusual for her, said, “I don’t want to alarm you, but we may be checking you into the hospital right now.”

Ton of bricks for two please?

The nurse explained that this is being done right now so that they can get her blood pressure back under control so that preeclampsia won’t become a big factor.

My wife immediately starts blaming herself. Crying. Going through the whole “I should have done this, I’ve should have done that” thing. All I’m thinking is 28 weeks. 28 weeks.

Our nurse leaves and the doctor comes in. She’s pretty much a no nonsense kind of doctor. Fast forwarding just a bit when my wife was needing to stay a few extra days in the hospital due to her blood pressure, our doctor literally said, “well, your body just needs to get its shit together.” Who doesn’t love that doctor? Anyway, she comes in and basically says we need to get to the hospital and get Court on a monitor, get her blood pressure back to normal so that we won’t have to deliver this baby this weekend.

I don’t think I processed what she said. All I knew was that we were at 28 weeks. I wasn’t hearing what was being said. I had a Champ Kind moment.

“No…It’s the pancake breakfast. We do it every month.”

I just kept thinking it was impossible. We still have 12 weeks left. We will go and get her blood pressure down, see an ultrasound to show that the baby is hanging out all healthy and will be home that night.

One interesting fact. Our doctor set this particular appointment up a week early because she was going on vacation the afternoon of the 5th. We weren’t even suppose to be there for that appointment. This normal appointment where I wasn’t going to pick her up or even show up for.

Now we are checking into the hospital for a possible emergency delivery. And a pair of the widest eyes ever known to man.

Next post: High Risk

The Most Clinical Announcement Ever

With this cake in front of us…

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and roughly 60 sets of staring eyes, we cut into this thing and both were shocked. Then things took a turn to awkward when I had a nervous, weird moment of clarity and clinical discovery and proclaimed to the audience that we were in fact having a vagina.

I don’t know why I said it either.

So yeah, our girl is coming and I’m already scared for our bank account with the way Court has been eyeing baby clothes. And the fact that I’m closer than I’ve ever been with buying a shotgun. I figure it’s never too early to perfect my “get off my lawn” pose. A shotgun should do it.

Which Kind Do You Want?

Short post.

We find out on tomorrow if we will have a little pee-pee or not. Well, not technically. We are actually having one of those reveal parties on Saturday. The kind were you open big box of balloons or cut a cake to see the color representing the sex. We are doing cake because balloons aren’t as delicious.

Having a boy or girl doesn’t mean all that much. At first it was girl. Then it switched to a boy in the past couple weeks or so. Not sure why. Then I thought why be choosy? They will both probably poop on my arm or pee on my face at least once. Then the fact of whether or not they have a pee-pee doesn’t mean a whole lot.

I want the one with less poop. Is there a test for that?

Name Game

Names are funny.

For the most part at least. There are way too many parents throughout the years of history that decided to either commit to a name while under some kind of influence or decide that is in fact okay to name their kid after uncle Dick or aunt Wanda.

No. It’s different now. You can’t get away with that. I do realize that we are now in the day and age of kids growing up as Apple’s and Pilot Inspektor’s. Don’t even get me started on North West. I do think there is middle ground here. There has to be something between Clifford and Moon Unit.

With me, my parents had me down as Brandon for months. As soon as I showed up, my dad said, “what about Jared?” (Yes that is how you’re supposed to spell it), but when they went to have it put on the certificate, I guess they decided to spell Jared with throwing darts at random letters on the wall.

Also, everyone has opinions on names. So I have a few rules for the coming months. Rules that everyone should adopt.

First rule: Don’t tell anyone anything pre-birth. Best friend, no. Excited mother, sorry. Lowe’s checkout girl, too bad. True story. I don’t need the look of disappointment from people when they aren’t excited about our choice.

Second rule: It’s our choice. Whatever we decide goes. If we want to name the kid Blazing Saddles, you will smile and enjoy the uniqueness of baby Blazing.

Third Rule: “I would never name my kid that.” Well, it’s not your kid. You’re aren’t allowed in the hospital. Go away.

Fourth Rule: We will have thought about this name. We will be confident in this name. It won’t be changed just because you tilt your head and go,”Oh.”. If it’s normal, it will be spelled normal. If its unique, it will be spelled as normal as possible. Don’t try to offer up a different spelling. No, we won’t be changing it to end in a “ie” when a “y” works. Or vice versa. No matter how much you play up the, “but it makes it unique!” card.

Fifth and final rule: If you really do object, just lie to our faces. It really does make it easier.

“Hillary?”
“Here.”
“Thomas?”
“Here.”
“Blazing?”
“Here.”

Heh.

First Visit

Anytime I’m sitting in a waiting room, I’m usually sick or hurt. Something is usually wrong with me. Making sure that our baby-to-be is breathing and in the right spot is a whole other kind of thing. The week before this first appointment was stressful with just not knowing for sure that what you want to happen is actually happening.

Court had a good solid list of initial questions for the doctor. Grown up stuff. Things you actually ask a baby doctor like, “What can and can’t I eat?” “What about Zertec?” You know, normal things. I on the other hand, wondered if she would be okay to keep weed-eating the yard throughout the summer. Because that’s our thing. She weed-eats and I mow…(doctor looking at me, judging me)…hey, it’s a big lawn. It’s like mowing Kansas. Would you like to mow Kansas? Okay, it’s OUR agreement.

We received a lot of info about what to expect. What can help now, like drinking 200 glasses of water every day. Maybe not that much but the doctor did say that she wanted her pee to be clear by noon. Every day. I think that’s about 200 glasses. We went over the list of the OTC drugs that are okay and those that aren’t. Court is an iced tea junkie and the doc has her down to one a day. I’m pretty sure this will affect me more than her.

Count one for mood swings.

I also got to sit there while she got a Pap smear. I say that like I was next to the doctor eating a sandwich. I was in the guest chair frantically looking at Facebook while the smearing occurred. So there’s that.

It all still seemed surreal, even during the visit, right up until she jellied up Court’s belly and the rushed sound of a tiny heartbeat came through. Our next visit we find out the sex, but in that moment, everything became real and directly in front of me. I’m really going to be a dad and whatever is breathing in there, I’ll love and protect until I die.

Finding Out

So as you all know by now, we decided to make one of those baby things. We’ve always sort of talked about it but after 2013 rolled in, we really talked about it. We thought that maybe the summer might be a good time. That turned into the spring. Sometime in the spring turned into as fast as we could possibly get to the bed. Okay not really like that but we did feel ready. We knew it was what we both wanted and neither of us were drunk. Good start.

She was under the assumption that it might take months for this to work. First try was a miss. We were both kind of sad about it. Which I’m glad since it kind of confirmed that it’s what we wanted. She was more sad of disappointing me. Crazy girl.

Second try was different. I knew it was the one that got through. Hiyo! For some reason, I just knew. And let me tell you, waiting weeks for an answer isn’t the greatest use of my time.

It finally came time for her to start her period. It didn’t the first day. Or the second. Third day came and went. We had one test at home that was the +- type. We read that it’s better to take in the morning when the pee is more…concentrated. Gross. It was 5 in the morning and she had to go.

“Hey.”
“Huh?”
“I have to go to the bathroom.”
“Well, it’s in this room, right over there and it’s 5:00 in the morning. On a Sunday.”
“…do you want me to pee on the stick?”
“Get it.”

She goes and closes the door. Enough time elapsed that I was back sleeping soundly. She comes out, turned on the light and rushed to my side.

“I can’t tell, the line is faint. But it’s a plus. I think you can see the plus.”

I sit up to look at it. I’ll be honest. I have no idea what I’m looking at. Good thing that it had a diagram of what I should be looking for. A minus that’s always a minus. And then a minus for no and a plus for yes. I turned it upside down and back around.

We had a faint yes.

We confirmed it later that afternoon after purchasing a fancy digital number that told me in English that she was in fact knocked up.

So looking back, we dated for approximately 6 months. Planned a wedding for 6 months after that. Became pregnant about 4 months after that. That’s a lot of firsts and a lot of moments for a year and a half. But I found her. And we did it all at the right time.

And now I get to learn about breast pumps and something essential called a changing table, which I thought could be any table. Or couch. Or the floor.

Seriously, it could be any of those things. Yuppies.

Crutches

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Even with the fact of being here my whole life, it never gets easy to watch. The heart dropping sense of hopelessness never fades. Even if you live here and have never been through a tornado, as Oklahomans, you feel as if you do every single time one comes around. It’s engrained in all our lives. It can literally turn your world upside down. We know what to do after the storm too. You hold up your neighbor. You hurt as they hurt. You become the others crutch so you can help them get to the other side of all tornadoes: healing.

I have been through a few tornadoes. None that was a direct hit to my home but a couple that were within a few miles of me. That sounds pretty far to pretty much everyone except those that live here. When a storm can reach over two miles in diameter, those “few” miles become pretty important.

I was at work about 20 miles from Moore when it came through a few days ago. My wife, even further. When I heard it was headed for Moore, I shut down and was glued to my phone. My parents live just outside of Moore. I have friends in Moore.

I got home that Monday evening and started watching the news. I didn’t know the magnitude. At work I watched the weather on my phone to see how bad my drive might be. Even when you are used to these things, you never really expect what they can produce. I walked into my living room that evening where the TV was telling me about 250 mile an hour winds. A destructive path of 30 square miles. Showing bloodied people walking in the streets. Children wet and muddied from head to toe. Family pets scattered across the debris. Cars on top of cars. Shards of wood impaled through curbs.

Through cement.

Then comes the news that to this day I still think about. The elementary school that was flattened with many children unaccounted for under concrete.

You hope for the best news possible but you also at the same time understand that the very worst news is about to be reported. The very worst.  And you grab whatever you can find for crutches.

Every time I think about it, I find myself holding on to something. A chair, the wall. Something. You don’t have to be directly involved with anyone in that school for your heart to drop. You need to simply have one.

One reason for this emotion may be in relation to the fact that we will soon be bringing our own baby into a world where you simply can’t protect them at all times. Imagine you are a parent of a student they can’t find and authorities won’t let you near the place you dropped them off that morning because it’s too dangerous to try searching yourself. Imagine it.

When the moment comes to call a search and rescue mission into a search and recovery for a class full of 3rd graders, life doesn’t make sense anymore. You can’t process that with any sort of sensible intellect. It’s impossible to do.

But somehow you do. Somehow you learn to process it. It may take a long time. But eventually you do. The human spirit is funny that way.

I saw a story on Facebook that was being passed around of someone trying to find this little girl. Not sure if it was her uncle, family friend, I don’t know. I shared it on my page. His words were in such a manner that you could read his fear. You could sense his desperation. I found out today that she didn’t make it. She went to school and didn’t make it home because of the weather. I’ll never understand it.

But I have to believe in something bigger. I have to believe in the strength of devastated parents that will find the will to make steps to recovery. I have to believe in the amazing strength of a state that has had its legs taken out time and time again, but stands tall. Always tall, even while on crutches at times. And I do. I see it every day.

We will soon see all the destruction carried away. Lives rebuilt from the ground up. It’s different here in Oklahoma because we know that whatever comes at us next, we each have an entire state to hold us up.

For us,  Oklahoma isn’t just where we live. It simply means something more.

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It’s All Different Now

Well, here it is.

After a few months of sitting on my hands with news, I finally get to turn this barely functioning blog into a productive member of blog society. I have a new venture that will be a huge feat on a couple levels. Level One- I’m inconsistent here. No, really. Level Two- I’ll probably be busier now trying to find writing time than before when I had all. kinds. of. time.

I’m going to be a dad. On purpose. Bam.

We found out the Sunday before our last few days with Bailey, so you could say the emotions surrounding everything had been at threat level midnight.

I’m excited, terrified and overflowing with emotions that would probably rival most mental patients. Not the same emotions of mental patients mind you, just…overflowing. And good thing for the kid is that he or she will have this online journal to use as reference material when they visit their shrink in 30 years. I’m nothing if not here to help.

I never thought that when I changed my blog to Never Had One Lesson, that it would become the perfect definition for this journey. I have plans to contribute many a post about becoming a dad. What to expect, what naive expectations I already have. I mean I don’t even know why it shouldn’t just take a week or so to potty train a newborn. And just a tip, a baby can cry in a garage just as much as they can cry in a closer nursery room. Fact.

I’m beyond excited and more in love with the wife than ever before. It’s only a few months in and I have no idea how she does it. I get bloated after good pizza so I just can’t even imagine all of that.

So, here’s to Never Had One Lesson as an expectant dad.

I pray for us all.

Millie

We were both late for work. I guess a normal, productive time to leave for work for us is usually around 7:40am or so. Any later than that, it’s a race to the desk. Before that and you’re just showing off.

It was 8:15am.

I’m following her towards the front entrance of the neighborhood and I notice her brake lights in front of me flash but didn’t see anything in front of her. She stopped and opened the door. I thought she must need to tell me something but forgot how cell phones worked. I noticed her looking down at a very waggy tail.

The puppy was probably 3 or 4 months old. A boxer brindle. Her first thought was “she has a collar but not a tag.”. My first thought was “Turn around, get and your car and go back home. Now.”. We looked around, trying to see if anyone was out looking for this pup. Not a soul. We decided that we would take her back to the house where at least she’s safe and deal with the flyers and owner search that afternoon.

We magically maneuvered Lyla, our chocolate lab, out of the way without her getting any glimpse whatsoever of this puppy. It was for her own good.

We tried leaving the addition again only to be stopped by a lady looking around outside her house. Court probably thought, “This is probably the owner.”. I thought, “Drive woman, drive!”. The fact is that Court is better than me and she stopped to ask if this “owner” was missing a dog. Of course she was. She said there was a hole in the fence that she’s been “meaning” to fix. At least I know that if I end up fighting her for custody, I’ll know I’ll be fighting an idiot. I know I gave Court the “do we hafta?” look because she responded to me with the “turn back around” look.

We didn’t even try to hide her from Lyla this time. The puppy was waiting patiently at the back door as we picked her up and took her inside. Lyla’s tail was the happiest out of everyone in that house. It was refreshing and kind of sad at the same time.

Before she loaded up the pup in her car, I rubbed her head and gave her a kiss. I then became really upset. This innocent puppy smelled like smoke. Assholes. I proceeded to let my wife know just how mad I was with exclaiming a very harsh, “tell them to fix their fence!” She responded with a quiet “we can’t change the world.”.

We drove off and stopped in front of this broken fenced lady’s house. I found out that her name was Anna. The dog, not the lady. I think the lady was Cruella. Court did the drop off and we left. Late for work.

To tell you the truth, both of us felt kind of heartbroken. It’s weird how losing one can make you jump quickly to another.

We didn’t talk all day. We usually text a few times a day. Not that day. I couldn’t stop thinking about those few minutes. How that puppy made us feel. How she made Lyla feel.

The next day, Court worked from home. Yeah, she’s one of those people. I went to work and pretty much had the same day as the day before, filled with thoughts of a smoky boxer. My actual work day sucked as well so when I got a text from Court asking when I would be home, I was less than enthusiastic. She did say she was excited to see me so that helped the drive home. As I walked in the door,Lyla comes running up to me. She’s always the first one up. It always makes me smile. Then Court walks around the corner and asks how my day was. I guess the look on my face wasn’t the best as she asked if everything was okay. I assured her that it was and then she sat me on the couch and told me to close my eyes. She walks out of the room and a few seconds later returned and I got the green light to open.

I assumed she has found something she had lost. Made me sugar cookies. Got Lyla a new collar. Bought me the movie Flash Gordon that I’ve been trying to find since the 80’s. In those few seconds, my mind thought of many different things but not one of those things ended up being this thing.

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The night before we had discussed the possibility of getting another dog. We had one issue and it kept us going back and forth on the issue. She wanted a puppy. I wanted a shelter dog. Never did I think those two wants would come together but here’s my wife finding a sheltered puppy. A shelter had a dog that just had a litter. Here’s the bonus: the shelter she found is a no kill shelter and when they place one of their dogs, they go to a kill shelter and take one back. So I look at it that we saved ours from a possible life in a shelter and saved one from a kill shelter.

Instant life changer.

Even after the amazing moment of getting to know this new lab mix of a puppy we named Millie, it’s still difficult not to think that someone is missing. No doubt that Millie will help us heal, especially Lyla. The funny thing is that Lyla has been thrusted into the big sister role. A role that she has been relishing in so far. But it still feels that Bailey is missing. Or simply missed. Definitely missed.

Millie will never take the place of Bailey. One thing is for certain though, the moment I saw Millie, I already knew I loved her like I did Bailey.

Smokey or not.

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Bailey

This will probably be the hardest thing to write about for the simple fact that I’m waiting for it to get easier. Week after week, it’s not getting easier yet week after week, I feel the need to write the post. Here it is without a second thought or edits. I think it’s just easier that way.

Putting down a dog is the hardest thing to do.

Dang it. Okay, I might need to edit that one just a bit. I am in the right mind when I say that no one should ever outlive their children so no, I don’t think putting a dog to sleep is worse than the heartbreak of losing a child. I’m also not in the category of those that view pets as children. That involves dressing up your pets and putting the small ones in strollers. Not cool. Here’s where I might get most disagreement: Dogs are better and kinder than most humans. There is no doubt in my mind.

Bailey was my wife’s chocolate lab that turned 8 a few months ago. I was lucky to get to spend that last year and a half getting to know her. Before I came along and ruined everything, Bailey got the best spot on the couch, the premium spot in the bed and most importantly, total attention from Court. I did however bring Bailey my year old chocolate lab Lyla, who took to Bailey like they were long-lost friends. They both now had someone to run around the backyard with while we weren’t home. The both now had someone to show where the newest scent was and where to dig the best hole. Lyla showed Bailey that it would be in the middle of the backyard. Bailey never showed dirt under the fingernails so we think she may have told Lyla to do the digging and she would be the lookout. Sneaky. Lyla got Bailey to run up and down the yard for no reason other than to simply run.

Bailey was the best hugger. I know that sounds weird but what do you call it when you are sitting on the couch and she jumps up next to you and buries her nose into your armpit? There was nothing to do but put your arms around her. She loved letting us know that it’s breakfast time around 5:30am each morning and if we were, I don’t know, asleep, she would bang her tail against the dresser that at 5:30 in the morning sounded like shotgun.

I would give anything to hear that shotgun tail.

This past December, Court had to leave for the week for work so I had the dogs by myself for the first time. She was coming home on a Friday and that morning, Bailey decided that she wasn’t going to eat her food. This dog usually inhales her food. She barks at you before you get to the food tub because you aren’t getting the food fast enough. She didn’t take one bite. She was very lethargic and barely ate anything that weekend so we took her to the vet that next Monday. Her platelets were extremely low causing her appetite to drop plus her liver enzymes were extremely high. As I type this, I’m not sure what all that really means. We got her some injections and some pills to give her to get everything back to normal and it did. Within that next week she was back to eating like a nutjob and running up and down the backyard with her partner. It’s easy to think everything is back to normal.

She stopped eating again around the end of February. All she wanted to do was sleep and by looking at her, you could just tell that something wasn’t right. We got her in and her platelets were even worse than before. Liver enzymes were back to normal but her white cell count was registering off the charts. Her healthy cells decided to attack her. She also developed a mass by her tail that was causing issues with her walking. This mass was checked earlier and was found not to be cancer. Just a dumb mass. At this point she was too weak to stay home and with her still not eating, she stayed at the vet for a week. She did show some progress as she would fight and eat her food. And she would fight and drink water. The vet told us that he had seen a lot of dogs that give up. Bailey was fighting to get back home. We had hope. We still didn’t know what to pinpoint the problem to, but we had hope. Court would go see her everyday, just so Bailey would see someone familiar at that place. Bailey needed it. Court needed it more.

After a week at the vet and some tests, we found out that her pancreas was enlarged and her intestines were inflamed. She had a lot of fluid built up in her abdomen that was tough to see. We did however get a big blessing. We never got pictures of us with the dogs that we had wanted for a long time. Our good friend Sheradee stopped her routine and came out to the vet office to give us a mini-shoot with the dogs. We can’t thank her enough with what she was able to give us that day.

The vet then contacted Court and I’m thankful I was with her when we got the call. They called to let us know that what they are doing isn’t going to work anymore.

They couldn’t pin it on cancer without exploratory surgery and we were both in agreement that we didn’t want to put her through that. Court has a great relationship with the vet and she asked him what she should do. I still don’t know how she was able to ask that question, knowing what the answer would be.

The vet, who I’ve only been using since I met Court, is an amazing vet with the best manner when it comes to pets and from what I was about to find out, how to answer this question.

He said without surgery to go in and try to find something that we may not find, therefore unnecessary, you have to think about letting her go.

We brought her home on a Monday, knowing that it would probably need to be done that week. Also, it gave Lyla some time with Bailey. A few friends stopped by to see her and it was nice to see so much support from amazing friends. I was at work on Tuesday when Court called me. Long story short, she was ready. We wanted to make it to Thursday, maybe even Friday but when you think about it, that kind of Thursday or Friday could very easily be turned into a Monday or Tuesday.

You will never be okay with the day you drive your pet to the vet for the last time.

I don’t really want to share that ride and that afternoon here simply because given the circumstances, I don’t know if it could have gone any better. We had time with her as we drove to the vet. We got to spend some amazing time with her in the room. She was even given two pieces of chocolate cake that she inhaled in two bites. I think that will be the memory I will hold onto for the rest of my life. How happy that chocolate cake made her for a few minutes.

She had the hands of those that loved her the most on her. She did glance back once at the vet as he initially stuck her hind leg, but after that she never took her eyes off of Court. I believe it was her way of reminding us that she’s okay. After a little less than a minute she laid her head down on the blanket.

We were given some time after to simply sit with her. We ended up sharing stories and laughing. The shotgun tail of course got the most laughter from us both. When it was time for us to leave, I could see the panic in Court’s eyes. We got past the hard part, right? Well, maybe that wasn’t the hard part. Maybe driving away minus one was going to be the hard part. I knelt down and kissed Bailey on the forehead and whispered in her ear, “Thank you for the best spot on the couch and I will love Court for the rest of my life”. I know Bailey didn’t hear it, but I also know that she already knew it.

I hugged Court and we managed to get back home. It has been a few weeks of tears and healing. There are moments that stop you and make you think that it’s not real, that Bailey is still at the vet getting better. There are days that you laugh at all the things she would do and you are reminded at just how blessed and lucky a person can be.

Bailey loved Courtney with everything. And she trusted me not to screw that up. She even taught Lyla a thing or two. She taught Lyla that breakfast started at 5:30am too.

You win, sweet Bailey girl. You win.

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Left: Lyla Right: Bailey – I think this was them laughing after Bailey told her about the 5:30 breakfast time.