Saturday, September 19, 2009

Confusion Concerning Divorce and Remarriage

This last week in Sunday school class some questions arose concerning divorce and remarriage. We were studying 1 Corinthians 7, a seminal and often confusing passage on marriage. A concise document outlining what I believe to be a biblical view on this subject can be found at

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Front Porch Entrance: The Birth of my Belle Part 16

The rest of the morning went quickly; it was a busy one for Ava. She had her first guest, Jerry (her soon-to-be uncle), her first breakfast, her first look at her brother, and her first blood draw. Jerry and Suz ran to Café Brazil for our breakfast, Mommy provided Ava with her first breakfast, Luke came down and met Ava, and dad got the unfortunate task of holding Ava while she was first pricked on the heel and then poked and prodded until enough blood had been collected to send back to the lab.

By eleven o’clock we were packing to go home. Katherine had labored for two and a half hours. We had been at the birthing center for five hours. As we drove away, Katherine and I began to process about the morning. In the course of our conversation, I used the term “kids,” which caused me to pause. “That’s weird,” said Katherine. “It is,” I replied. Fifteen minutes later we arrived home to begin our new adventure as the parents of two.

The next day I would take Ava to meet her pediatrician. The following day would bring reinforcements. First one set then another set of grandparents would make the trip to come and love on our growing family. Ten days later, we would all return to the birth center to leave Ava’s “mark.” Every baby that is born leaves an inked foot print at their ten day check-up on the walls of the birth center.

Ava was unique as she left two prints. She left her first tiny, little footprint under her big brother’s mark on the stairwell of the old Victorian house that had been built about the time her great-great grandmother was born. The second footprint was placed all by itself, alone just as her two parents had felt during the early morning hours of August 26 when she had decided to make her entrance. This tiny marker in the middle of the front porch of the birthing center seemed fitting as it would proudly proclaim to those who come and go the story of a special little girl who made a front porch entrance.

I love you, Belle!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Front Porch Entrance: The Birth of my Belle Part 15

The night before I had begun to think again about the name Ava Marie again. I liked the meanings of both names. I had commented to Katherine that I liked the name because its meaning was derived from the Greek. I felt that this would help to balance and close out our seminary career, Luke (also a pseudonym) being a name that I came to appreciate in Hebrew and the name Ava Marie would coincide with all the Greek that I had taken. I also loved the middle name as it met my desired condition of royalty and would provide a future nickname for my little girl, “Belle.”

After twenty minutes of indecisiveness during which I repeated both names numerous times out-loud and come no closer to a decision as I liked both names equally well, I decided to take the advice that I give the students when preparing them for a multiple choice test. ‘When in doubt between two options, always go with your gut reaction as it is more likely to be right due to the mind’s intuition.’ “Her name will be Ava Marie!”

While the nurses bustled about taking blood, temperatures, and making sure Katherine and Ava Marie were comfortable, Katherine sat and recited the verse that I had picked out for Ava Marie. Along with meaningful names, I enjoy picking out a passage that I can specifically pray for each child. Luke’s was Proverbs 3:2-3. I greatly desire that he be a man of both kindness and truth. Ava Marie’s passage was chosen from one of the passages that Katherine and I had memorized during the spring. The beautiful benediction found in Jude 24-25 states,

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord be glory, majesty, honor, and authority, before all time now and forever, Amen.”

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Front Porch Entrance: The Birth of my Belle Part 14

I turned and walked back inside. Upon returning to Katherine’s side, the three of us plus one baby offered up a quick prayer of thanksgiving. The baby’s entrance while dramatic and been smooth despite the chord being wrapped around the neck and Katherine had had no tearing. Opening my eyes from my brief prayer, I realized that we still did not have a name for this little girl.

I began to discuss this with Katherine and Suzanne. “So do you think Gabrielle Victoria or Ava Marie (this is a pseudonym). I could tell that Suzanne liked Ava Marie, but she wisely withheld her opinion. I asked Katherine, “Which name do you like the best.” She replied very contentedly as she held our little girl, “I don’t care, you decide.” This caught me off guard: my usually opinionated wife didn’t have an opinion! The final decision was going to be totally up to me. Surprisingly, I found this to be the most overwhelming part of the entire morning as the bestowing of names is extremely important to me and I was not prepared to make a final decision.

I decided to call our parents and our other sister Rebecca (Julie and Sherwin were out of the country). I called each of them and gave them an abbreviated run down of the last three minutes. My dad asked, “What’s her name?” I said, “I don’t know…” He then said, “Today is Nanny’s birthday.” Nanny is my great grandmother, our daughter’s great-great grandmother who was turning 99 years old.

I then went back to agonizing over the name. We had been leaning toward Gabrielle but had not come to a conclusion about the middle name. I had decided that I liked middle names that connoted royalty or possibly the name of an English battleship from when England was at the height of its power and ruled the seas. Names such as Repulse, Bellerophon, Hercules, and Audacious somehow just did not seem appropriate though I liked the name Victoria which matched the criteria for both battleship and royalty.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Front Porch Entrance: The Birth of my Belle Part 13

I hustled out of the room to help Suz set up the pack-in-play so Luke could sleep upstairs. I then began to unload all of the bags that we had packed for our expected extended labor which was over in five minutes. I came back inside excited and then remembered the advice that a kind seminary professor had given me when Luke was born. “Michael,” he said, “When Luke is born go outside and take a mental snap shot of what you see so that you can relive the moment for the rest of your life.” I had followed his advice and a couple minutes after Luke had arrived I had gone through the front doors of the old Victorian house where he had been born and taken a mental “snapshot” of the late October early morning. The almost-full moon had been draped in the horizon and the quiet cool night air had caused the leaves in the trees located in the park next door to merrily dance. It was a perfect picture.

I headed to find my mental picture for my daughter, but as I again stepped out of the old Victorian house, I realized that the mental image that would be forever etched into my mind would be me standing over Katherine as she labored alone on the front porch while we waited for help to arrive. This memory would not be replaced.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Front Porch Entrance: The Birth of my Belle Part 12

“There’s the head,” Cherie observed. I looked down; everything was moving too fast to distinguish a head. Katherine cried out again and gave a powerful push. The baby shot out. The torpid shaped little body looked strangely un-human. Katherine’s entire body sagged. Cherie lifted up the tiny little bundle and handed the baby to Katherine to be held. The baby whimpered.

“I’m going inside to get the precept cart,” Cherie announced. We were alone again on the porch. I stared down at my wife holding my second child in her arms. We didn’t even know the gender. The baby looked a pale blue and wet. I wondered if it was breathing. Cherie returned to cut the chord. “We don’t even know the gender,” I said. She said, “I already felt (the gender).” I asked, “Is it a boy?” She said, “Do you want to know?” My statement now seemed silly as we stood on the porch. I hesitated, “Sure.” Cherie examined the baby, “You have a girl.”

Another car pulled up. I saw Suz coming up the steps. Cherie began to cut the chord. Cherie turned to Suz who was now standing on the porch and ordered her inside to strip the bed. Katherine was to be moved inside. Cherie tried to move the baby, but the chord was caught in the blanket wrapped around the baby. She worked some more and then turned to hand me the baby. I stood there clutching my newborn daughter. I took a closer look. Her eyes were closed. Her entire body was blue and her little face was a dark purple. She was not moving and I again wondered if she was breathing. Everyone was now inside and I followed them in holding my precious cargo determined to give her back to Cherie so that she could work on the baby.

Katherine was climbing into the massive king bed assisted by Cherie as I entered the room. I stood there in the middle of the room holding the baby. Cherie came to me and took the baby saying that she needed to be warmed. I watched as she carried her over to the giant armoire which contained the resuscitation unit. At that point, I looked down and saw blood all over my white t-shirt from the severed umbilical chord.

Cherie flicked on the heat lamps and began to snake a small tube with a suction bulb on the end into the baby's mouth. I assumed that she was clearing any fluid out of the baby’s airway. Again, I wondered if she had been breathing. It had been several minutes since birth and I was concerned. Thoughts of close friends who have had trouble with their daughters nagged in the back of my mind. The baby began to cry and kick her legs. I breathed a sigh of relief and moved over to Katherine's side as she lay in the bed. “Way to go, babe! You did it! We have a little girl . . . a little girl . . .”

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Front Porch Entrance: The Birth of my Belle Part 11

“I can feel the head,” Katherine shouted again. I glanced at Katherine and then anxiously looked down the street. The lone runner was now directly across the street from the house. Katherine moaned. I wishfully pleaded in my mind that Katherine would not have a contraction as the runner might take notice of the half-naked woman kneeling on the porch with a man bending over her. Immediately a contraction began and Katherine moaned loudly, the runner took no notice. I rubbed Katherine’s back while straining for head-lights.

“I have to push,” Katherine gasped. “I can feel the head.” I reached down to see if things were really that progressed. I jerked my hand back. We were going to have a baby, now. I began wondering if I should go get Luke’s blanket to place under Katherine. Katherine was now forcefully pushing while clutching the bench.

I saw headlights speeding down the road toward us. Katherine screamed. I tried to encourage her. “Cherie is here, hold on!” I watched as the little VW Bug coasted to a stop. I looked back down to see my wife, oblivious to the world, seconds away from giving birth to our second child.

At that moment it was like everything went into slow motion, like the scenes in Face Off or The Matrix. I moved back to Katherine’s side as Cherie leapt up the steps. “I’m going to have you lay down on your back,” she said to Katherine. I moved in to help Cherie move Katherine, who was in mid-contraction and pushing, shift from her kneeling to laying on her back.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Front Porch Entrance: The Birth of my Belle Part 10

Katherine staggered around the porch like a drunk woman as my adrenaline-flushed mind tried to calmly take in my options. I encouraged Katherine to kneel down next to the ornate wrought iron bench on the porch. I threw my shirt down on top of the bench and helped Katherine to her knees. I stood there for what seemed like an hour, but in reality it was only seconds. I strained to see headlights coming down the street. The street was dark and only a lonely jogger could be seen about a quarter of a mile down the street. It was about five thirty.

My mind whirled, “I could break the glass pane of the front door and open the door from the outside. Should I call 9-1-1?” Katherine wailed in pain. I reached for my cell phone and scrolled through my numbers hunting for the mid-wife’s cell. There were two numbers stored in my phone. I wasn’t sure which I should use as Katherine had been making the prior phone calls. I bent over Katherine and touched her shoulder to try to get her attention. “Which number is it?” I asked.

I hit the send button and the phone began to ring. “Pick up, PICK UP,” I thought. No answer. I snapped the phone shut. “Should I call 9-1-1,” I wondered again. I looked down at Katherine, “The baby is coming,” she yelled, “Help me take my pants off!” At that moment, I smelled a strong pungent smell. I realized with horror that Katherine’s water had just broken! She was struggling to get her pants off. I helped her remove her pants which were already half way down her legs. The thought of my wife kneeling on the porch half naked briefly crossed my mind, but the thought vanished as it seemed of little concern in the immediacy of the moment.

Another contraction hit as Katherine continued to push. “I can feel the head,” she screamed. I hit the send button on my phone. “PICK UP!” my mind screamed. The phone ring and then the other end picked up. “I’m four blocks away,” the voice on the end said. “Hurry,” I begged. “Katherine’s water just broke and she says that she can feel the head.” “I’ll be there in a minute,” the phone went dead.

I stroked Katherine’s head, “She is almost here,” I comforted her. “The baby is coming,” Katherine responded with her voice pleading for me to do something, anything to help the situation. I called Suz. I didn’t wait for a hello. “Suz, the baby is coming. When you get here, I am going to toss you the keys and let you take care of Luke. He’s in the car, strapped in his car seat.”

“I’m leaving now,” she said.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Preservatives Anyone?

A little history lesson. Herod the Great loved his second wife, but he didn't trust her. For that reason he had her killed and then preserved her body in a vat of honey. He kept her in his bedroom and from time to time would bring her out so that he could spend some quality time with her.

My wife informs me that my lists are boring (I think they annoy her). So in honor of 9/9/09 (a "lucky number" in China) I have decided to move all of my lists to this date for the sake of the order of my blog and the sanity of my wife.

I love you honey!

List Making: Bane or Blessing - Part 2

Having observed this bane, blessing phenomenon. I have decided that I will begin to post my lists. I do this for three reasons.

1) Warning: If you are not a list maker you should probably jump ahead to reason number two. If you are a list maker you understand the very real danger of "lists chaos" - a bunch of lists that just float around in your head and life which for the sake of sanity need to be organized, sorted, and accessible. If you don't do lists and you just read that, I'm sorry, but I warned you.

2) Non-list makers greatly benefit from the structure of the lists of others . . . at least this is what I observe from my wife who only makes lists or invokes me to bring order to her events and circumstances (a strength of the list maker) when she is so stressed and overwhelmed that she is close to shutting down

3) Transcribing my lists onto this blog has been on my list of things to do for a week and it must get done today or I will have a bad day

So brace yourself because on 8/23 at 4:30pm my blog will post the most random litany of lists you have ever seen! Please feel free to comment with additions to my lists.

A Front Porch Entrance: The Birth of my Belle Part 9

We could now see Baylor hospital, the birthing center was located right next door. Katherine moaned loudly as another contraction racked her body, “I need to push!” “Hold on babe, we are almost there,” I assured her. As we turned onto Swiss Avenue, I could now see the birth-center. My heart sank, there were no lights on in the house and no headlights in the street. We had beat the mid-wife to the birth-center. As we sped toward the house Katherine gasped in pain and again pleaded with me to hurry.

I pulled up to the curb in front of the house and very intentionally put the car into park. As I was trying to decide what we should do, Katherine made up my mind for me, “I have to get out,” she almost shouted. Quicker then I thought possible she scooted out of the car. “She must be about to throw-up,” I thought. Vomiting is a common part of transition in labor, as the body does it’s best to empty itself before birth. When Katherine had thrown-up during her first labor with Luke, it had caught me of guard, but I had remembered this and had been waiting for this sign all night.

But Katherine didn’t pause and I was surprised to notice her rapidly moving up the two flights of steps to the front porch. The engine was still running and Luke was still strapped in his car seat. I had the presence of mind to roll down the back window next to Luke before turning of the engine and leaping out of the car to follow Katherine up the front steps to the porch where she was trying the door handle which I knew would be locked.

It was one of those weird moments during the labor process when you realize that your wife’s mind is on auto pilot. She has enough presence of mind to make decisions, but not enough awareness to take in all the details. I had experienced this during the car ride as Katherine had adjured me twenty times in four miles to hurry while I had been running red lights and flying through school zones.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Front Porch Entrance: The Birth of my Belle Part 8

Katherine’s last contraction had dissipated. She turned to me with a panicked look on her face and with the calmest voice possible after having just finished a 60 second contraction said, “We need to get there – fast!” “I know,” I said, “I’m going as fast as I can.” Another contraction began to grip Katherine as I hit a straight section in the road and punched the accelerator. The engine revved and I looked at the speedometer. I was going 45 mph through the neighborhood school zone.

About halfway to the birth-center (a 15 minute trip) we hit our first red light on Lemon Avenue. Surprisingly there was a car waiting next to us at the light. I looked past this early morning traveler’s vehicle down the one-way intersecting street to see if any cars were coming. “Should I run it?” I half asked myself and half asked Katherine, she nodded as she was in the middle of another contraction. I buried the accelerator to the floor. I mean, common how many times do you get a valid excuse to run a red light? The back tires peeled out! My two-year old responded with a “Vrrm Vrrm” from the back seat. Katherine urged me on, “Go faster, run the lights,” she said as she half-coherently nodded her approval more to herself then to anyone else.

As I ran the light, I wondered about the neighboring car that had just witnessed my flagrant violation of traffic code. “I sure hope that they aren’t a rule follower,” I thought to myself. “If they are they are probably hopping mad.” I then began to wonder how fast I was driving. Having been told in between every contraction that we needed to hurry, I realized that my inhibitions might be a little low and that caution may indeed be the better part of valor.

I glanced down again at the speedometer; I was doing fifty miles per hour in a thirty mile an hour speed zone. Fortunately, the multiple intersections mandated that I slow down a little. I decided that this was probably for the best as an accident at this point would have me delivering the baby not to mention put my car back in the shop.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Brother Meet Sister

In honor of Labor Day, here are several pictures of Luke meeting Ava Marie for the first time. These were taken about two hours after the birth. Doesn't my wife look great!

A Front Porch Entrance: The Birth of my Belle Part 7

I could feel the engine of our Ford Taurus misfiring as we waited for the large parking gate to slide open. Our mechanic who had replaced our compressor the week before had informed me that our car was only running on five of its six cylinders. I had dryly responded that that was my life. After he informed me, the husband of a pregnant wife who was due any day, that the compressor in my only vehicle was bad and would have to be fixed to a tune of $1000. To add injury to insult it would take three days to fix. That Friday when we picked up the car, the mechanic had assured me that the car would have more then enough power to run on five cylinders. We were going to put that to the test now!

It seems that cars and deliveries of children in my life must somehow be correlated. Twenty-two months before the day before my son was born, we had sold a car. I can still remember Katherine, nine months pregnant in the hot Dallas heat, sitting in the front seat while I had conducted the transaction.

Now Katherine was sitting in the front seat of our five cylinder car having a massive contraction. As she moaned in pain, I glanced into the rearview mirror to see my wide-eyed almost two-year old in the back seat. I wasn’t sure if he was scared, confused, or just sleepy. He probably thought we were going on vacation, except for his mother’s moaning and panting in the front seat. He clung tightly to Fluppy, his worn stuffed dog, while sucking furiously on his “woobie.” (Kramer men do not have pacifiers, its too sissy; they have “woobies!”)

“Should I call Suz, now?” “Yes,” Katherine replied. I dialed while the car coasted out of the garage. The phone rang. A sleepy voice answered, “Hello.” “Suz, it’s Michael, we are on the way to the birth-center. Katherine has been in labor for a while and it is progressing fast. Can you meet us there?” She said that she would be there as soon as she had changed her clothes and brushed her teeth. The plan had been for Suzanne, Katherine’s sister, to meet us at the birth-center in order to take care of Luke. She had witnessed Luke’s birth and was excited of being part of the birth of his sibling.

The streets were deserted and the lights flashed an eerie yellow. I slowly began to accelerate. I then called each of our parents, they had both requested to be contacted when labor began. My conversations were concise and three minutes later, I was done.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Front Porch Entrance: The Birth of my Belle Part 6

After returning from the car, I sat on the floor of the bathroom timing contractions . . . 3:56 – 55 seconds, 4:00 – 45 seconds, 4:03 – 45 seconds, 4:07 – 40 seconds . . . Katherine got out of the tub choosing to labor on her birth-ball (an exercise ball). At this point she complained of pressure in her bottom; she also began to express that she felt panicky.

The contractions were now really strong, I could tell because Katherine would reach out to hold my hand which made it hard for me to time the contractions. I adapted. 4:44 – 20 seconds, 4:46 – 30 seconds, 4:52 – 45 seconds, 4:54 – 30 seconds. Katherine called the mid-wife and I got ready to wake Luke up. Return with a changed and very groggy son, I found Katherine had now moved to the living room. We had been given the green light to leave in order to rendezvous with the mid-wife at the birthing center. Katherine groaned as she hit the peak of a contraction. As it subsided she looked up at me intensely and said, “We need to go now!”

We gathered Judah and a couple small items and headed for the door. At this point we were having contractions every two minutes. I hoped we would be able to make it down the hall to the elevator before the next contraction set in. It took us three contractions to get to the car. Another while I strapped Judah into his car seat.

It was dark as I navigated out of the parking lot.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Front Porch Entrance: The Birth of my Belle Part 5

The night Katherine began to have her contractions, we had climbed into bed at 11pm after a flurry of activity. At that time I was having more than a little consternation because we hadn't come to a definitive conclusion about a girl's name. The middle name that would pair with Gabrielle was still up in the air and the imminence of our nameless child's birth was pressing down on me.

On the bright side, I had packed my bag and made a short list of things of essentials that I would need to throw together before our departure for the birth-center, the Dr. Pepper two liter for caffeine, my Jack Daniel’s BBQ sunflower seeds in case the labor went especially long, and a pocket knife in case I needed to cut the umbilical chord in the car, which I am told you are not suppose to do. The whole time I wondered to myself, “How do you prepare for the arrival of another child?”

I went in to check on Luke. There by the side of his crib, I mourned the passing of his early years and the unexpected change that having a sibling would bring. He would no longer be the baby. He would now be the big brother. Along the side of my post-it note list, I summed my feelings, “Totally Unprepared!”

Katherine grimaced as another contraction swept over her body. I waited for it to pass and went to hunt for my stop-watch and the post-it pad from the night before. We began timing the contractions 2:56am – 30 seconds, 3:03 – 1 minute, 3:07 – 30 seconds. My sleepy brain struggled to do the math of the contraction duration. 3:11 am – 30 seconds, 3:16 am – 30 seconds, 3:21 am – 40 seconds, 3:25am – 40 seconds, 3:31am – 45 seconds . . . we began to talk about calling the midwife. We waited a couple more contractions and then made the call.

The transition for most first pregnancies from pre-labor to active labor is marked by 5-1-1 = contractions five minutes apart, lasting one minute each, for one hour. It is at the 5-1-1 benchmark that mother’s are instructed to start for the birth-center. Active labor for 2nd pregnancies is not as predictable.

In between the contractions Katherine answered the midwife’s questions though I suspect that at four in the morning the mid-wife was struggling. It was decided that we would wait until the contractions became more extensive (both lower and upper abdomen) and longer in duration. Katherine was ordered to take a warm bath in order to help her body relax. I made my third trip down to the car to make sure we were loaded so that when we decided to leave we would be able to make the 15 minute drive to the birth-center.

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Front Porch Entrance: The Birth of my Belle Part 4

Naming kids has always been a challenge. I make it hard! Not only must Katherine and I both love the name, but the meaning of the name must also have significance. While the first stipulation is challenging, the additional need for meaning makes the naming process almost impossible. This was compounded by the fact that we didn’t know the gender so we had to come up with two names.

Girl names were easy as we had already identified two that we liked when we had hunted for our first son’s name. A boy’s name was much more challenging. We had labored (snicker) intensively over our first son’s name and in anticipation of the upcoming struggle of finding a boy’s name. So I scheduled a date at Barnes and Nobles where we drank coffee and poured (he he) over books of names for two hours. We left with a tentative boy’s name. We left feeling productive (no stop, you’re making my sides hurt!) with two first names for girls and a first and middle name for a boy.

As we got closer to d-day (“delivery” day) we began to think more about possible middle names for girls. Katherine had suggested Kate while we were on our Barnes and Nobles date. I was not convinced. I threw out a name "Belle" for which Katherine didn’t care for at first, but after “checking” it with some of her friends she declared that she liked it.

About a month from d-day we began to tell our friends that we were leaning toward Gabrielle for a girl. At some point, we both agreed that we preferred Gabrielle (French) to Gabriella (Spanish). I thought the name was pretty while Katherine thought it was spunky. We both liked the meaning, “God is my strength,” and the fact that having a Gabrielle would round-out our family collection of archangel names (Michael and Gabriel; I guess we aren’t counting Lucifer), but we were undecided about the middle name. We thought Kate went well with Gabriella, but not as well with Gabrielle.

A week from d-day we realized that I liked strong middle names which Katherine says caused me to pick masculine middle names like Roussou, Striker, Blaze, and Bruce (well maybe not the last one). I then was able to articulate that I liked middle names that connoted royalty . . . or names of ships in Her Majesties Royal Navy. I also liked middle names that would allow for nicknames. Luke is my “little lion.” I taught him to roar by the time he was twenty months old. I want Luke to be bold and fearless as a lion. I want all of my kids to have nicknames that can be an added personality to their character.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Front Porch Entrance: The Birth of my Belle Part 3

While business and the transitions of life impeded any hope for time to sit and ponder the impact of a second child, the real problem lies in my very analytical approach to life. Not being the mother who wakes up to the kicks of a child en utero, I struggled to come to grasp with the reality of a second child because life looked the same to me. Katherine’s pregnancy had not caused our life to slow down and an unborn child has little need apart from a nap taken vicariously through its mother from 1-3pm every day. Sure, I would often wake up in the morning to see my wife’s stomach contorting like the body of a character out of the movie Men in Black who is about to reveal the presence of an alien inhabiting its host, but this is just a weird extraterrestrial phenomenon not a profoundly life altering occurrence.

I had never really “seen” this baby. We could guess at its gender through the speculations of our midwives who claim to be fairly accurate in their ability to prediction the gender of a baby by its heart rate, but this baby had not been consistent. One appointment it would clock 160 beats per minute and the next appointment it would be 138. “So she says it’s either a boy or a sleeping girl,” my wife would tell me. I would think sarcastically to myself, “That’s great you have just confirmed my deep suspicion that I will soon have either a boy or a girl!” This 50/50 was no problem for my wife, who would flip back and fourth depending on the heart beat and the “expert” opinion coming from her last appointment.

At first I refused to assign a gender to my unborn child as I felt this would set me up for disappointment if the results went contrary to my speculations. I don’t deal well with surprises and the only thing that I was willing to speculate on was that I thought the baby would come after the due date. I have found that a great defense mechanism for surprises is to not allow myself to get excited about the unknown. I like the tangible things in life like little boy bits staring back at me on the tv monitor in the ultra-sound room, excited phone calls to parents and friends, and having a name picked out a month in advance.

None of these were afforded to me to aid in the mental prepared of the birth of my second. Instead, I had my wife’s contorted stomach and an erratic heartbeat.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Front Porch Entrance: The Birth of my Belle Part 2

I had been as excited as anyone when we found out two days before Christmas that we were having a second child. That night, our second night staying at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Indianapolis, was a sleepless night for me from what I suspected at the time was the massive amount of caffeine that I had consumed at P.F. Changs. I had run into their “Great Wall of Chocolate,” a marvelous desert with multiple layers of rich chocolate cake and sauce, after drinking two large glasses of Dr. Pepper. The result of my collision with caffeine was my inability to sleep, yet in hindsight it may have been the impact of the very sobering news that I was going to be a father for the second time.

My unpreparedness was reinforced by our decision to forgo an ultra-sound. Katherine had carried extra amniotic fluid during her first pregnancy and because of this we had taken the precautionary action to have several ultra-sounds to confirm the health of baby and mother. Because of our past experience, I assumed that our chance of a repeat scenario with our second child was high. This line of reasoning led me to hold off from paying for a preliminary ultrasound and instead I chose to wait to pay when it became a medical necessity. Secondarily or maybe foremost, I also felt the financial responsibility of being a seminary student who would soon be facing a job search during a substantial economic downturn. My logic easily aligned with my inherited nature of being frugal and Katherine’s romanticizing ideal of the unknown being adventurous. Ironically near the end of the pregnancy it would be Katherine’s adventurous spirit that would waiver while my frugality held fast to the end.

The absence of an ultra-sound had a strange effect on my ability to come to grips with the reality of having a second child. To be fair, my last nine months have been filled with unknowns, scattered with transitions, and at times emotionally exhausting. The last nine months have encompassed my last academic semester, the completion of my thesis, seven months of job hunting, the end of a part time job, the beginning of two part time jobs, five trips from Dallas, the selling of a car, the buying of a van, and the list goes on . . .

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Front Porch Entrance: The Birth of my Belle Part 1

It has now been one week since my little "Belle" made her entrance into this world. What follows is her story . . .

“Michael . . . Michael I am having contractions.” My eyes opened and I saw my wife in the light shining from the bathroom. She was leaning in the doorway steadying herself by the door frame. As this information penetrated my sleep-filled mind, I tried to see the clock which glowed back at me. It was 2:45am. As the adrenaline began to sweep through my body, I didn’t notice the usual ache that comes from being rudely awaken after only three-and-a-half hours of sleep.

As I clambered out of bed my mind began to actively take hold of the situation. The feeling was not a state of panic or surprise, but the processes of mental preparation that you go through when you go through a check list for a big event. Katherine was 39 weeks and 6 days pregnant. Her official due date was the next day (the 27th). Any feelings of anxiety or lack of preparedness for the arrival of our second child, I had experienced the night before when Katherine had informed me during a break in our movie (Babbet’s Feast) that she was having contractions.

The contractions were not consistent enough to load up the car or wake our sleeping almost two-year-old son, but they were frequent enough to cause a flurry of packing once the movie had concluded. Katherine’s bag had been packed several weeks ago. Luke’s three days prior. My bag was yet to be packed, possibly a reflection on my unpreparedness or possibly my unwillingness to acknowledge the imminent arrival of my second child.