Life

To Dad, Love Sam

Nature Boy – eden ahbez

There was a boy
A very strange, enchanted boy
They say he wandered very far
Very far, over land and sea
A little shy and sad of eye
But very wise was he

And then one day,
One magic day he passed my way
While we spoke of many things
Fools and Kings
This he said to me

The greatest thing you’ll ever learn
Is just to love and be loved in return.

Once upon a time, in a previous lifetime when I was falling apart to come together, I was obsessed with playing cards. Solitaire was my constant companion; I played hour after hour, shuffling and reshuffling, black on red, red on black – a coping mechanism to soothe and wait for the world to make sense again.
In my present life, I do not play cards that often. Instead, I collect them. Each deck I acquire, either from a place visited or just an old, interesting design, reinforces the awareness of how far I have traveled. They are markers of all dark things conquered – trophies.
Nowadays, I use many distractions, FB, Pinterest, old videos, but mostly I’m found with my nose stuck in a crossword puzzle book. Codewords, cryptograms, syllacrostics and the occasional word find are my solace and escape today. They keep my mind awake and numb at the same time. They are also a touchstone to my Dad. “Great for waiting,” he said.
That’s what I brought to him in the hospital: a crossword puzzle book. Something to pass the time between the alphabet barrage of testing: EEG, ECG, EKG, CT,  PT, EIEIO…
Dad was not the best speller in the world, so sometimes his solutions to crosswords were a bit inventive. We think it has to do with the fact that he really should have been left handed, but back in the 30s left handedness was still seen as well, suspect – especially back in the dirt farm area Dad came from. The teachers tied down his left arm so that he would learn to do all with his right hand. It worked to a point. He ended up ambidextrous – I play cards and use a computer mouse left handed thanks to him – but his spelling was always lousy.
I was lucky to pass the time in conversation, as well as, work a puzzle or two with him that week. The talks were long overdue. We talked and talked for hours. I kept asking if he wanted to rest, but he kept declining, saying he wanted to chat.
We spoke of his love for literature and science. We pondered the energy of the universe – that energy is neither created or destroyed – and how he thought there is ancient energy all around us. He asked to borrow some of my archaeology books so that he could learn more. He said the subject always fascinated him – proper archaeology, too, not paleontology. We talked of passing age milestones; the psychological sense of relief both my sister and I felt when we successfully passed the age of 21, the age his sister was killed by a drunk driver. We talked about the new home Bashert and I just closed on and the things we were going to have to do to our fixer-upper, including the floor.
Dad told me that when he worked for Taylor Furniture as a young man, he hated when people would come in to look at flooring because he would have to move entire rolls of linoleum around from the back of the store to the front sidewalk and then back again. He would go “find” something else to do when he heard anyone mention flooring. That’s my Dad; work smarter, not harder.
We laughed at silly things and I kidded him about wanting his comb, so he could pretty himself up for the nurses. But he had eyes for only one person. Mom.
Mom, his favorite subject. He kept coming back to her. He told me that there was a beautiful nurse on the floor, but that she had nothing on Mom. Even when he was all woozy and waking up from one of the tests he went through, his first thoughts were of her. He wanted to go home because he, “missed his girl.”
On the Friday of his week in the hospital, he finally fell to sleep after Mom and my sister Calico Nell arrived. I guess he felt comfortable with Mom there. I visited with Mom and CN for a bit and then left, giving Dad’s toe a little squeeze as to not wake him, but to let him know I was going. I whispered love and that I really enjoyed talking to him about everything and that I would see him later.
CN told me the next day that Dad was upset that he didn’t get to say goodbye. I thought about calling, but she told me that Mom was visiting on her own for the first time. The weather had been so dicey the rest of the week, CN was driving her in to visit. I didn’t want to disturb their time together. Let him have those moments with ‘his girl’. I’m glad I made that decision. I had my time.
Dad died that night. Massive heart failure due to previously unknown, plaque filled arteries. He died of a broken heart and ours broke in the process.
I’ve had my head stuck in word puzzles ever since. Two months, now. Concentration on anything else hurts too much. Between bereavement, foot ailments and my own discovered hypertension, work has been a struggle. Our house, while coming along is still in flux. Schoolwork sits untouched, unread, unfinished, unwritten. But damn it, I have conquered the Dell no-clue, codeword puzzle. In ink.
Each book I finish stands in a stack, another legion of trophies to mark the passing of dark places. I am not sure how high the stack will have to be before most of the darkness fades, but for now it’s great for waiting.
I love you Dad.

Advertisements

People Watching

I am a people watcher. Not a professional mind you, no license or training from a top secret English Council, no just strictly amateur here. It is a great boredom eraser. Sometimes, I invent lives for the people or sometimes I just give them fun names and watch their antics. Take the other day when I was stuck in the Financial Aid office of my university.

The Financial Aid office moved to a new location this summer. It was formally housed on the second floor of three story Georgian style mansion built in the early 1800s. Payne Hall was originally a storehouse and makeshift prison as part of the Augusta Arsenal. Housing financial aid there always seemed fitting to me. The new location is just as old, but much smaller and previously used as such varied things as the purchasing office and art studio.

The old office had a high service bar behind which the helpful and optimistic financial aid assistants barricaded themselves against the constant torrent of often simultaneously confused and bitter students. The new office has no such physical impediment. The old office also had seating for about 15 people; the new office has zip, nada, not one seat for those who wait in monetary anxiety.

The new office is not designed to have customers, so when the new semester begins, as it doing so now, the little entrance way quickly becomes crowded and all are pressed together. Ten to twelve people fit in the little alcove if they do not mind invading each other’s personal space and everyone has used their Dial. So it was among these circumstances I was able to get some practice in people watching.

For the first part of my wait, it was pretty much your usual college kids making sure all was good with their scholarship and grant money. Our local university is in the middle of a hostile corporate takeover, so it is plain to see why they are worried. The move is not going smoothly.*

After a while, and outside of all the PDAs some individuals started to stand out. The No Child Left Behind Family, Baby Dyke, Junior Businessman, the OMG sisters and Chickie Babe. What can I say? I was there for a long time…

The No Child Left Behind Family consisted of at least five kids, I think, there may have been more. It was hard to tell as they continually floated from inside to out and back again. They were all pretty interchangeable, except for the kid in the wheelchair stuck in the corner and left to play games on a phone. I never did discover who was there to talk to the assistants, the mother or any of her brood.

Baby Dyke came in with a YMCA swim instructor t-shirt and life guard red swim trunks. Tall and thin, she sported a mohawk that fell into soft curls in the middle. Even this girl’s hair could not be straight. She carried all extraneous objects in the waistband of her shorts. Phone, wallet, keys, each was pulled in turn when needed. The reason she stood out to me was really one single comment. Upon being told she would need to supply a copy of her last year’s W2, she said and this is a direct quote, “You mean the IRS keeps copies of that?”

Junior Businessman came decked out in a three piece suit. Truly, an entire three piece suit and a briefcase to top it off. I am not quite sure who he was trying to impress. The whole point of financial aid is that you need money. Looking like Alex P. Keaton really doesn’t help your cause.

The OMG sisters are at every university function so I am not surprised I saw them that day. I am pretty sure you have seen them – they are the girls who upon seeing another member of their tribe  squeal at a torturous frequency level followed immediately by a high pitched repetitive screams of, “Oh My G-d, it’s you!” These vocalizations are usually accompanied with the waving of hands then followed by a round of ritualistic maneuvers mostly involving a-frame hugs and kisses that are thrown in the general direction of the intended recipient. It can be a painful thing to witness.

The coup de grâce of the afternoon was Chickie Babe. CB made a grand entrance in low cut, form fitting, sherbet orange dress, with matching platform 4 inch high heels and oversized, bronze, woven, heart-shaped handbag. She had flatiron brown hair with just the right swoop at the bottom. Her smartphone was blinged out with a multitude of shiny little rhinestones, which I thought would be uncomfortable to grasp, but without pain there is no beauty, as I am told.

CB owned the place. She put herself square in front of the door so that she would be the first thing seen to all who entered. She kept her head down just so much, while creating obviously important text messages with an imperious flourish yet able to keep an eye on her audience. When a friend came in she dared not associate herself with the OMG sisters. She merely put out her hand and said, “Come stand with me, Darling.” “Darling?” We live in Georgia, for goodness sake – no one says, “Darling” unless you are referencing someone’s grandchild under the age of twelve or a homemade handicraft we are not quite sure of.

Up to this point, CB had merely elicited a raised eyebrow and slight smirk, but I tell you I had to turn away not to laugh at her next move. When Johnny Olson announced her name as the next contestant on “Will Your Financial Aid be Approved,” CB sidled up to the desk and proceeded to lean over the desk giving the lovely assistant full perusal of les doudounes. As with Junior Businessman, I am not quite sure what this was supposed to accomplish. The assistant was not a cop who pulled her over for a minor traffic violation and was clearly not impressed with the display.

From her bent over position, CB whispered to assistant that well, she did not have her student id with her and that she wanted to know…the assistant interrupted her and asked in a bored voice, “Name?” CB looked somewhat taken aback then gave her the name, but still whispering a mile  minute. The assistant read off whatever magic computer revealed and as if she could not believe the statements, CB grabbed the monitor and turned it to her face. The nonplussed assistant sat for a heartbeat then reached up and slowly turned the monitor back around. CB did not get the hint but craned her neck further around to look at the sacred words.

I do not know what the assistant finally whispered to CB, but with it she was able to wrest CB from her personal space. CB stood up adjusted her clothing, checked something on her phone, tossed her hair and with as much dignity anyone can muster on 4 inch platform heels walked out of the office. The assistant crossed her name off the list and called the next contestant, who thankfully turned out to be me – Smirking Old Lady.

*(http://nation.time.com/2013/07/19/cash-strapped-universities-turn-to-corporate-style-consolidation/)  – read the comments for the real story.

Hello. My Name is Epidural. My Water has Broken. Prepare to Birth: Baby Chpt 16 Part 2

J&EOnce settled in our room, the reality of the situation finally hit Bashert and she began to cry. I was scared for her, but all I could do was be there. My heart was breaking for her, that is, until my patience wore out. Once the contractions started again in earnest, Bashert began to panic. The level of pain she was in was not what she had bargained for and she wanted her epidural NOW. I may not remember many things with extreme clarity, but her face when Nice Labor Nurse told her the contraction level she just experienced was only a seven? Wowzers. “Only a seven, only a SEVEN? What is the highest?” she asked the nurse. Nice Labor Nurse replied, “Ten.” Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, that was it for Bashert. Never, ever tell Bashert what the side effects or the upper limits are of something that involves her health in any way. She will suddenly be included in the top 0.001% of all people who had that reaction. Seriously. Ask her.

Nice Labor Nurse left the room after dropping that innocent little bomb and Bashert had another contraction. After it was over she asked me to check the monitor, “That was a ten, right?” I looked at the screen reading, “Nope, Babe, still a seven.” She was ready to throw in the towel. In between each contraction it was “Where is he? Why isn’t he here. How much longer? Please go ask them to get him here.” I was ready throw in the towel. I knew the guy was on his way in so I stepped out into the hallway pretending to talk to the nurses. I stayed in the quiet for just a minute or so and then with energy somewhat restored, I headed back into the battle zone. “He’s on his way up. It won’t be long now,” I lied through my teeth. But it was just enough to ease her mind a bit. All in all from the time we hit the birthing room to the time the guy arrived was only really only about twenty minutes, an eternity to Bashert.

The epidural procedure was interesting. Bashert was, for once in her life, impatient for someone to administer drugs through a needle. Her fear of all things needle was legendary. Needles bent at the touch of her overly tensed skin. Not really, but I remember countless times of having to hold her hand or cover her tear filled eyes for a simple blood drawing. I had fear in my heart for this going down well. But Bashert was desperate, so there was hope.

We sat her up on the bed and she leaned on me for support while the doctor began the procedure. Nenè, who had been dozing on the couch sat up to see what was going on. She was seated behind Bashert’s back. When the doctor pulled out the syringe and needle to be used for the epidural, Nenè’s eyes widened and mouthed, “Oh, wow!” She held her hands up miming the length of the needle as if showing the size of a prize winning fish. I smiled at her and let my eyes tell her in no uncertain terms was she to let Bashert know what was really going on behind her back.

The entire time the anesthesiologist was working he and I were trying to figure out from where we knew each other. It was so funny. Bashert is always the one who runs into people she knows. Really. She can leave the country and still meet someone she went to grade school with and here I was trading possible common places with her savior, the anesthesiologist. This reversal was a great distraction even though we never did make the connection. As Bashert says, “It was bashert.”

The transformation was heaven. For the first time in at least two months she could relax her body. It was like watching those psychedelic movies from the sixties where someone is tripping out and watching their hand float in front of their eyes. She was sooooo chilled. It was nice for us all. The anxiety level in the room decreased immediately and we all soon fell asleep. Most of us anyway.

Bashert, obviously had the bed. Nenè claimed the couch. That left the hard rolling chair for me. It was convenient to sit next to the bed and be able hold Bashert’s hand and talk softly with her; however, a comfy La-Z Boy it was not. When I could no longer stay awake, I pulled the chair up next to the bed as close as I could and folded my arms over the edge of the bed to rest my head. I can be a heavy sleeper, but every move that night translated to a very edgy Cee waking up at full alert. Man, I was tired. And stiff.

At some point during the night, the monitoring device Bashert was wearing ceased to make its beeping noises. Somehow that penetrated Bashert’s euphoric epidural haze and she woke me in a panic. She was terrified that something had happened to the baby. Since none of the nursing staff had rushed into the room at that point, I figured that nothing too bad was going on. They do tend to react in an emergency situation, you know. Anyway, I took a look at the monitor and I could still see the baby’s heart rate and the seismic waves of Bashert’s contractions, so we figured that either the sound had given up the ghost or someone had turned down the volume. Either way just seeing that little heart graphic pounding away was a relief.

Time seemed to have stopped in our hospital room. It was always just ‘now’. So when Dr. Ken and Nice Labor Nurse came in to tell Bashert it was time to really start pushing, I really had no clue as to the real time of the night. It was just now time to push. Bashert was not too happy about it since she was enjoying her first real night’s sleep in such a while, but trouper that she is, she complied. And promptly started feeling sick.

In our house, nausea is enemy number one when it comes to illness. We treat Phenergan® like white gold. Its wonderful magical powers to relieve a horribly upset stomach is priceless. So when Bashert began to feel sick to her stomach, she figured some of the lovely stuff would be in order. Oh, no…not this close to delivery. They did not want to introduce anything new with any hint of a sedative effect at this point. Bashert’s face was quite the study of disappointment when Nice Labor Nurse handed her the ubiquitous kidney shaped plastic bowl.

On and on the ‘now’ of the night moved. The contraction monitor stopped working, but Bashert could feel the oncoming contractions in a disassociated kind of way. There were no longer levels of measure, they were just contractions. This was a good thing because Dr. Ken was not pleased at the rate of Bashert’s progression considering the meconium in the amniotic fluid. He ordered the administration of oxytocin to speed things up a bit. Things plucked along nicely until Nice Labor Nurse backed off the oxytocin to slow us up again. Seeing our confusion, she told us that there was another mother on the floor in labor emergency. We would have to wait a little longer to see our son.

Activity in our room began again in earnest when a new labor nurse walked into the room. It was shift change. I looked at Bashert and she at me. Eyebrows raised in unison, we both whispered, “Oh, my g-d. Our baby is going to be delivered by Barbie!” I kid you not, Nurse Barbie had bleached blonde hair, nails painted fire engine red and more make-up on than Honey-Boo-Boo. We were scared witless.

Thankfully, our fears were immediately allayed. Nurse Barbie swept into the room and took charge. “Let’s get this baby into the world!” Nurse Barbie was confident and assuring. Bashert and I shrugged and went with it. The oxytocin drip was restarted and things went to town. Soon I could see little Yoda’s head crowning. Talk about surreal! I had never seen a birth, not even did I watch Nenè being born – the reality of it was too much for me, yeah, it is not like the sanitized stuff seen on television, not by a long shot. I was excited, scared, fascinated and freaked out all at the same time.

It was the weirdest thing to be able to reach down and lightly touch his head. The same head I had rubbed those late nights through Bashert’s abdomen. It was so strange to touch him and realize that he would soon no longer be part of only Bashert, but be part of the world. It really is an overwhelming thing to experience. I finally realized why the other partner is the one crying at the baby’s birth. The intimacy of the relationship between birth mother and her baby cannot be denied; it is a symbiotic relationship (not to spoil the moment but it is actually a parasitic relationship, but really? Ick.) The relationship for us on the other side of the uterus is a more etherial one until we actually get to see, hear, and feel the little one. The abstract is no more.

In preparation for Yoda’s birth and subsequent baby naming ceremony and during her creative textile spurt, Bashert made a kippah (yarmulke) for him. It was a tiny little thing about 3 inches round. We had fun making bets as to whether Yoda would have enough hair to use Velcro to hold it in place or if we would have to tape it to his bald head. When I saw Yoda’s head full of black hair begin to emerge, I leaned up and whispered to Bashert, “Velcro.” Poor thing, she looked at me like I was nuts. I could tell she was thinking “What in the hell are you talking about – I’m a bit busy here.”

Dr. Ken interceded by telling us the baby was coming. I looked back down and he was delivering Yoda, but stopped. I looked closer. The umbilical cord had wrapped around the baby’s neck, twice. Dr. Ken carefully slipped his fingers underneath the coils and cut them away. It happened fast and in slow motion all at once. My anticipation (and admittedly some dread) about being able to cut the cord was dashed, but the safety of the baby absolutely came first. After the cord was loosened Dr. Ken helped slide the rest of the baby out into the world. Quietly.

He did not not want Yoda to cry yet because of the meconium. If Yoda cried there would be the chance that he would aspirate it and that would be a bad thing. So as soon as he was fully out, the other attending Nice Nurse whisked Yoda away to the little portioned off area to make sure he had not done so anyway. The quiet was unsettling. The wait was unsettling. It seemed that from the beginning of this journey all we did was wait. I held on to Bashert but could not take my eyes from the concentrated work Other Nice Nurse was doing. When that first plaintive, mewling cry came out into the room, there was a collective breath released. All was going to be okay.

Other Nice Nurse, kept trying to get a diaper on Yoda to bring him over to us, but each time she did, the little booger pooped. Four diapers later, he was finally put into Bashert’s arms. Our barely six pound, little boy had finally made it.  Delivered by Ken and Barbie, our Judah Kol, the voice of Judaea had arrived. He looked like Curious George after losing a street fight, but he was here and our wait was finally over.

Judah over shoulder

Hello. My Name is Epidural. My Water has Broken. Prepare to Birth: Baby Chpt. 16, Part I

J&EThe five minute ride to the hospital is a blur. I do remember slowing to a roll to let Bashert and Nenè off at the front door, peeling off to the parking garage and then running, yes, running back to the hospital. Back then I was a good 30, 40, okay, 50 pounds lighter and could well, you know, run. Even still, I was out of breath and sweating like a glass of iced tea by the time I finally located them up on the third floor triage area in a curtained off area.

Now as our luck would have it, Todd and Marge Chester arrived at the hospital at the same time as Bashert and Nenè were entering. Apparently the ride up in the elevator was quite the hoot (see bashert04 on the side link for her telling). I got to experience the latter part of that comedy of errors.

When I arrived on the triage floor, Bashert was in obvious pain and dripping wet. Mrs. Chester – Margo – on the other hand was bright and cheerful, flitting about chirping to everyone that she just knew her water had broken. I got a good look at Margo. She was tall and thin and wearing skinny designer jeans with high heeled boots. The thought of pregnancy had not even crossed her body’s mind yet.

Triage Nurse was in the common area passing on information in a loud stage whisper. “Mrs. Chester in exam area one is here because her water has broken. Ms. Bedlam-Smith in exam area two thinks her water has broken.” That was it for Bashert. All the anxiety and pain lifted any filters she had left at that point. She grabbed my hand and said in a very not whisper, “Thinks? She ‘thinks’ her water broke? I’ve got Niagara Falls between my legs and I ‘think’ my water broke?” Momma-to-be was not a happy camper. This did not bode well for our rapidly approaching birthing experience.

We could hear Triage Nurse making nice with the Chesters. “Let’s get you checked out, okay, Honey?” For crying out loud even I could see that Margo was dry as a bone and looked less pregnant than I did! Meanwhile, as they were checking out dear Margo, poor Bashert was lying on the exam table shivering, sodden and scared. All I could do was be with her and try to take her mind off of things until the doctor arrived.

I heard Triage Nurse start in with her stage whisper again explaining the various states of the women on the floor. When she got to Bashert, she again said, “She thinks her water has broken.” This time Bashert did not hold back at all, “Will you stop saying that! I don’t think my water has broken; I know my water has broken!” I could hear the bass voice of the doctor quietly responding to Triage Nurse. Thank goodness he finally got there. It did not take long after to get things straightened out as to who was actually birthing a baby that night. The doctor sent Todd and Margo off into the night to ponder how many stock options they could wrangle before their next dry run at childbirth.

You will notice that I used the pronoun “he” in reference to the doctor. Please recall that OBwan warned us that she would be out of town over the weekend. What night was this? Right. Saturday night equaled no OBwan. Bashert and I had joked early on about the “lesbians” ending up with a drop-dead gorgeous doctor on call when she went into labor. Guess what – the doctor on call that  weekend turned out to be the living, blue-eyed embodiment of Ken. Even through her pain and fear Bashert had to laugh at that one.

Dr. Ken turned out to be very nice. Once he quickly cleared up the whole Todd and Margo thing he turned his full attention to Bashert. He was kind and reassuring and most of all he was able to put Triage Nurse in her place with a dazzling smile.

You see, Bashert does not do pain. Bashert’s middle name is Epidural. First name on the admittance forms: Epidural. From day one of our prenatal visits with OBwan it was clear that Bashert would be getting an epidural. OBwan, herself a three times over mom at this point, agreed whole-heartedly and made extensive notes in the file to that effect. Big bold letters: Bashert gets an epidural as soon as possible. Apparently, Triage Nurse did not think this was a good idea.

After Dr. Ken examined Bashert and gave us the news that there was meconium (baby poop) in the amniotic fluid and she needed to deliver in the next twelve hours, Bashert asked about the epidural. Well, little miss Triage Nurse, stepped up and interrupted, “Oh, no, you don’t want to do that! It will just slow things down.” All I could do was look at her with “Wha?” stamped on my face.

Dr. Ken let her have her say and then turned to Bashert directly, did the toe squeeze, flashed a smile and asked her if the epidural is what she wanted. I believe if she had not been having a contraction at the time, her response would have raised the roof, “YES!” Dr. Ken then said that he would make all the arrangements and they would make her as comfortable as possible until the arrival of the anesthesiologist. Triage Nurse huffed and finally went away. One stone, two birds. Bashert relaxed as well as she could for the moment. Her epidural was on its way.

Now that Dr. Ken had given the official declaration that Bashert really was in labor, we were moved to the actual birthing room. It was a relief to get away from the confusion and craziness of the triage area. The birthing room felt incredibly spacious after all three of us being squashed in the exam area. Even with the little area that was portioned off for working on the babies after they were born, there was quite a lot of leg room. Here there was a bed, a couch, a hard chair and the usual assortment of medical machines burping and whirring. We actually had access to a private bathroom which was great. Nenè set herself up on the couch and began dozing. Bashert and I were alone for the first time since we sat down to watch Sir Elton so many hours ago.

Music Hath Charms… : Baby Chapter 15

J&EMusic and babies. On Nenè’s due date I attended a Monkees concert – complete with opener Weird Al Yankovic. I wasn’t going to let a little thing like the beginning stages of labor stand in the way of a much anticipated concert. Heck, it was another day and a half before she got here anyway.

Bashert’s due date was a quiet Saturday evening at home watching Sir Elton John on PBS. Of course, it didn’t start out or end up that way, it would not be our story if it did. As we tell Yoda, we are allowed at least one wrong turn per trip, sometimes two…or three…or…

Bashert was having strong Braxton-Hicks contractions the week she was due. They started getting harder and more frequent enough for Dr. OBwan to confirm that she was heading toward true labor. Poor Bashert, she was so tired and hot; she was just ready to be done. During that week’s visit OBwan said that if Bashert didn’t deliver by the weekend, she would go ahead and induce labor on that coming Monday. I think the relief that the end was finally in sight sort of paved over the other information that OBwan was going out of town that weekend.

I was scheduled for two straight weeks of vacation beginning the next week, but knowing that the time was so near, I went ahead and started my vacation, at least from my night time job. My government job was not quite as flexible, so I had to work two more mornings. Those were a couple of really hard mornings. I was not able to confide in anyone there as to what was going on. (I found out later that I did have a secret ally, but at that time – who knew?)

Bashert was going stir crazy and kept begging to go off somewhere, anywhere to get out of the house. I was so nervous about going off in case she went into full blown labor. Now, I realize it would not have made any difference, you are where you are when it happens and you go from there. I think maybe my own labor experience had me wanting to keep her close to home. I lived 13 miles outside of town and about 20 miles from the hospital where I was to deliver. It took so long to get there I was a double nervous wreck. I didn’t want that to happen with Bashert. (Yes, I know I went to the concert, but I wasn’t doubled over in pain and I was actually closer to the hospital at the time!)

Friday afternoon she finally got me to go with her on a walk around the neighborhood, which really amounted to a walk to the road and back – about 50 feet. It was 350℉ outside and Bashert could hardly move she was so uncomfortable with her body and the contractions hitting her every 15 minutes or so. By the time we got back in the house, she was in such distress, I said screw this and bundled her off to the hospital.

About an hour into the waiting game there, our patronizing triage staff cheerfully told us that it really was not time yet and we needed to go home. Damn. That was a long night.

The next morning, Bashert’s urge to get moving again surfaced. She wanted to go downtown to the Farmer’s Market. Sure, I was going to drive us downtown to walk around outside in the heat when she could barely make it to the end of the drive at home. Yeah, not going to happen. She thinks it was because I wanted her to relax; it was more for my relaxation. My already on edge nerves could not take that outing. It was not until later that afternoon, she finally wore me down.

I put off going to the grocery for a while because I was afraid to leave her alone for too long. Even if we had more than one car, Nenè still couldn’t drive and I did not want to have to rush home from across town. But we were down to our last tidbits, so I had to go out for supplies. She had me cornered. If I went without her I would be constantly worried and careless in my rush. If I took her with me I would be worried, but still have all my limbs attached in the right places.

That was the longest damn trip around the grocery store I have ever experienced. Her contractions were increasing to the point where it was take two steps, grab the cart and breathe; take two steps, grab the cart and breathe… We finally settled for some subs from the deli and headed home. I was so ready to get back to safety.

Once home we settled in on the couch to watch the Elton John concert on PBS. Nenè wasn’t interested so she scooted on upstairs to her room to do whatever it is that a 16 year old girl, who doesn’t want to spend the evening with her parents does. We started in on our subs and the show began – on screen and off.

Bashert and I saw Sir Elton in concert many years back when he did his one-man tour and we were looking forward to revisiting all those songs. We were conversing about how odd it was that we didn’t know any of the stuff he was performing. We were laughing and saying, “Nope, don’t know that one, either” each time a new song started. It wasn’t until about three or four songs in when a recognizable tune started. It is not that I don’t appreciate new material, I was just tired and wanted to hear something comfortingly familiar.

My excitement and joy over finally getting my wish was squashed in an instant when I heard Bashert yell, “MY WATER BROKE!” I turned to look at her and my brain went blank. You know those stupid sitcoms where the normally competent husband goes all goofy? Well, that was me.

I was calm as could be when I had Nenè, but not this go round. Way different on this side of the uterus, I tell you, way different. My mind would not function in an orderly manner. I spent nine months being patient (well, mostly) and attentive (well, mostly) and here I was forgetting about the one thing I should care most about – Bashert!

When she yelled that her water had broken, all I could think about was her sitting on our big blue cloth couch! I kept insisting she get off the couch. “Get off the couch, it’s going to be ruined!” My brain had slipped into park. How about that for an attentive and caring partner? Yelling at pregnant woman in obvious labor to get up! Great, just great there Cee. (The Jackass made a joke in really bad taste when he had to clean up the car after I leaked all 20 freaking miles to the hospital – not the same thing at all.)

Nenè came running down the stairs after all the commotion carried up to her room. I snapped out of whatever twilight zone I was in and proceeded to guide Bashert to the front door. I could see that she was in some serious pain, but I needed to get her to the car. She kept stopping along the way. The ten feet to the door never seemed such a distance.

Now, let me say here in my own defense, we had been discussing along and along how Bashert put off thinking about the actual birthing process. She was okay with it in the abstract, but really did not want to know anything about the actualities. So give me some room for the next segment.

When we finally got to the front door, Bashert grabbed the frame and said, “I can’t. I can’t do this.” Well, my reference point was the conversations we held about her fears of actually giving birth, so that’s where I came from. I said with a little laugh, “Yes you can, Bashert. It’s a little late to back out now. You can do this. I’m here.” That did not go over too well. She shot me daggers and said through clenched teeth, “I meant I can’t walk right now. I am having a contraction.” Okay then – I shut up from then on out and we slowly step-by-step, contraction-by-contraction made it to the car.

We never did get to see the full Sir Elton concert.

Animal Magnetism: Baby Chapter 14

J&EPheromones caused it all. Some kind of magnified parallax whereby all things mammal were attracted to Bashert for good or bad. Remember how the animals knew about her pregnancy before we did? Apparently, it spread to the neighborhood animals too.

At the time Bashert was pregnant, we had the original two dogs, Elisheva and Shit Dog. Elisheva had not one maternal bone in her 20 pound body. Really. She growled at puppies and had no use for children at all. She alone seemed impervious to the pheromone power of Bashert. She didn’t change must during the pregnancy except to possible get even more clingy than normal. E-girl had issues.

Shit dog was normally a fairly easy going guy save his ongoing and imposing Napoleon complex. He had no time for other small dogs; no they were beneath him. He preferred the company of large dogs, the bigger the better. He would put on airs about being able to stand up to the fiercest looking Rottweilers, but somehow magically be somewhere else when any altercation started. He was also known to run away from cats. His bark (high pitched as it was) was definitely worse  than his bite. That is what made what happened all the more impressive.

One of our neighbors had the grand idea to keep an un-neutered Bullmastiff in an 1100 square foot (102 M2) townhouse. Those dogs do not have “mass” in their breed name for nothing. Jasper easily weighed a good 200 pounds (90 kilos) and his humongous head reached chest level. It is a cliché, but small children really could saddle up and ride. The dog was big. And territorial. And his idiot owner allowed him to walk free inside the courtyard.

One morning, a very pregnant Bashert put Shit Dog and Elisheva on their leads and walked out into the courtyard for their first potty break. As soon as Bashert got to the end of our patio, Jasper charged. He slammed Bashert up against the brick patio wall with visible intent of attacking. At that moment, all the courage of all the mixed breeds inside Shit Dog rose to the surface and he lunged at Jasper. I ran outside at the commotion and saw an amazing thing. Shit Dog was holding  that freaking monster at bay! Between all of the shouting and Shit Dog’s devoted response the idiot owner was finally able to body slam Jasper away from the scene. (E-girl was no where to be found.)

A shaken and bruised Bashert made it safely back into the house and Shit Dog lived high on the hog for quite some time. Never did we think his bravado would actually amount to anything – he proved us pleasantly wrong. (As a side note, after some legal discussions, idiot owner finally realized she needed to place Jasper in a better situation for a dog his size and he went to live in the country.)

Outside of our home environment the pheromone effect took a different path, one of less resistance.

Before it became too uncomfortable to walk any distance, Bashert and Nenè would take evening strolls. It was not unusual for me to get a morning report that this dog or that dog would come up to them as the were on their walk around just wanting to bask in the glow of Bashert’s being. A few would trot along with them for a while and then return from whence they came. But apparently one night the moon, stars and all in the universe lined up correctly – Bashert became the piped piper of all the loose dogs in the neighborhood.

Around 8pm, I received a phone call from Bashert. This was on my desk phone as we still did not have cells and for her to call me at work was odd, especially when I heard the tone in her voice. “Cee-ee, I don’t know what to do…” I started to panic, but I could hear Nenè laughing in the background. What was going on?

“They followed me home, Cee, they all followed me home.” I was beginning to get the picture. She repeated, “I don’t know what to do” and added, “there’s seven of them!” I immediately sat straight up in my chair and said, “Please tell me you haven’t let them in the house! Do not let them in the house!” I asked her to put Nenè on the phone. “Nenè, please tell me Bashert has not let those dogs in the house!” Through choking laughter she confirmed that yes, there were indeed seven dogs and they still remained outside. She gave the phone back to Bashert.

“Oh, my g-d, Cee one of them is looking in the window!” That, I-need-to-take-care-of-every-stray-animal tone was slipping into her voice. I put on my air traffic controller tone to match hers and talk her down through situation. “Bashert, just do not engage. Do not look through the windows. Do not open the door. They will give up eventually and go back to their own homes.” I knew neither of them would go out and shoo them off.

“But Cee, they are looking at me” – gales of laughter from Nenè – “and now they are knocking on the door!”  More laughter and a muffled voice in the background, “I swear they are knocking on the door Mom!”

“Bashert just back away from the window and turn out the front lights. That way they can’t see in and will give up.” “And tell Nenè to be quiet so they can’t hear y’all in there!” They complied and went into stealth mode. I remained on the line a few minutes more as the only outside contact and then had to get back to work. I was getting funny looks by then.

The next morning I got the rest of the scoop. After they turned out the lights and quieted down from the  laughing, it took maybe five minutes for the Bashert-worshipping doggies to go on their disappointed way. I think it took Bashert and Nenè hours to get over the ridiculousness of them both crouched in the darkness hiding from those dogs as if they were unannounced guests and the house was a mess.

All I could do was shake my head and mumble, “Only you Bashert, only you.”

The number of her faithful followers never reached that number again, but to this very day I can attest to the fact that we have at least one dog (or cat) try to tag along when we go out for a walk. – a hormonal hold over I guess. She just has that animal attraction…

Ice Cream & Horseradish: Baby Chapter 13

J&EThink back on your childhood days when your parent made you take your Flintstones One-A-Day™. Oh, yeah, they pulled you in with their little effigies of Bedrock’s favorite inhabitant’s (except Betty, ‘cause Betty’s Not A Vitamin). You could giggle and bite off Barney’s head or feet in a little defiant act of cannibalism, but did Barney or Fred or Wilma or even Dino really taste like grapes or cherries? I think not.

Oh, a first there was a strange unidentifiable sweet – just enough to fool you – then came the slow realization that the back of your tongue was now coated in tin foil and no amount of water would scrape it off. It forced you to go brush your teeth – a cooperative childhood conspiracy between the vitamin and toothpaste companies and our parents, I say. Anyway, the dang things were just gross.

Now, prenatal vitamins are horse pills, big, long oval horse pills. They don’t even come in appealing little cartoon shapes. The ones Bashert took were light kidney bean colour and they smelled like rust. They tasted like, well, vitamins (see above). So, you may excuse me the grimace that comes over my face when I write the next line.

Bashert loved to suck on her prenatal vitamins.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Bless her little pea picking, pregnant, weird craving heart, that is exactly what Bashert did with her prenatal vitamins. Sucked the goodie right out of them, she did. Even Dr. OBwan thought that one topped the charts for her records. Excuse me, I think I need to go brush my teeth.

Another peculiarity about Bashert’s dietary changes during pregnancy, she could consume as much milk as she wanted. Normally borderline lactose allergic (think Meg Ryan on the train in French Kiss), once she realized that she was free from the bonds lactic tyranny it was look out ice cream! She became the dairy industry’s poster child. Cheap, expensive, soft serve, cone, or Klondike Bar™, no mixture of creamy frozen milk was denied. For someone who had to down four lactic counteractive pills before tasting the sample at the frozen yogurt place, this was a dream come true.

After the ice cream, came the need to consume all things that burn out your entire gastrointestinal track. Up until Bashert’s pregnancy neither one of us really had a palate for spicy foods – savory, yes; spicy, no. Pepper to us was just a doll from the 60s. That all changed for her during the pregnancy.

For some reason, Bashert’s body chemistry took a weird turn and decided to keep her sinuses blocked up for weeks on end. She didn’t want to take medications, so asked around for ideas. A friend suggested consuming something spicy – not an appealing thought, but she was desperate for some kind of relief and decided to take the chance.

The first opportunity (since we didn’t keep any peppery spices in the house) came when we attended a Passover seder at a friend’s home. Passover is full of traditional stuff, from the actual order of the meal (seder means order) to the things simply repeated year after year by the friends gathering round the table. Sometimes the traditions can combine, ancient and invented. One of the combined traditions was “Charlie’s Horseradish.”

Part of the seder is to consume bitter herbs (maror) to symbolically remember the bitterness and tears of slavery. The primary food of choice for this bit is horseradish. Charlie’s horseradish had to be kept in a specially designed jar – it ate through ordinary containers. When the lid was removed to start partaking of the lethal concoction, it did not take long before everyone’s eyes filled with tears. This stuff could have been used as a chemical agent for warfare or riot control.

So, why was this night not like any other night? Normally, Bashert and I would take the tiniest portion possible of Charlie’s horseradish, say an imaginary one, but this night Bashert took a heaping spoonful of the slow burning acid, spread it on her matzah and popped into her mouth.

I was writhing in sympathetic agony when I first realized what she had done, but then I got a look at her face. The transformation from the initial, “oh shit, what did I just put in my mouth” to “praise be, I can breath” was nothing short of a miracle. The look wonder and profound joy was incredible. My eyes filled with tears – the fumes were killing me.

Just Ducky: Baby Chapter 12

J&EYou know what? I was going to write about some of the other “challenges” we faced during Bashert’s pregnancy, but I was really depressing myself.

There was her job at the private dining club that made the environment so hostile she had to quit. There was the inequality between the treatment Dad’s-to-be received and the treatment I received at my job that was supposed to not recognize any difference. There were our ever present money worries. There were her demeaning experiences with the WIC office and last but by no means least; the most painful for Bashert was our “excommunication” by the Jewish community.

Yes, I could write about those and probably dig up plenty more, but why? If the picture of the inequities we suffered just because of who we loved is not apparent by now then perhaps, just perhaps this is not a story for you to read.

From this segment on, I just want to concentrate on the good things – the wonderful and joyful things that came with expecting our baby boy. We still went to Borders Bookstore and poured over all the baby books we could get our hands on, except for the really graphic ones. Bashert couldn’t take the graphic ones.

We had hysterical moments trying to come up with names we both loved or at least could live with. We seriously considered naming the baby Céilidh (pronounced Kaylee) since that was Bashert’s mother’s Hebrew name. It also means a type of party in Gaelic. But when we asked a friend’s eight year old what she thought of it, she went into a singsong rhyme, “Gayly, Kaylee. Gayly Kaylee.” Nope, we could not do that to the boy. It was going to be hard enough with two moms. We might as well as name him Sue.

We had fun just watching him grow and move – well, I had fun watching him move – Bashert often felt like she had an alien parasite inside her. One of our favorite times was when I got home in the early morning hours after work. I would crawl into bed and massage Bashert’s stomach before falling asleep. It didn’t take long for the little guy to become accustomed to our nightly routine. He would lean into my hand like a cat asking for a head rub. Those were lovely time suspending moments.

Then there was the baby shower. If ever we doubted that we had any friends or supporters, that wonderfully over-the-top shower proved us wrong. Bashert against all Jewish tradition (and superstition) decided she wanted a baby shower AND she wanted it fairly early in her pregnancy. She wanted to look pregnant, but not be in the final month where she wouldn’t enjoy anything but making it to the bathroom on time. So, in true Bashert form she made it happen. She got our ducks in a row quite nicely.

She spoke with two of our wonderful and beautiful friends – both of whom I have written of before – Betty who has endless capabilities of turning rotten things into fodder for beauty and Alberta, who lost her battle with breast cancer, but left a song in our hearts. Betty agreed to host the party at her warm and spacious home and Alberta agreed to be co-host and caterer. Bashert said she would take care of the invitations. I just looked on and said, “Yes, dear” a lot.

When it came time to register for stuff, I often felt really silly and uncomfortable trying to decide what things other people could buy for us. I am not an ‘ask for’ kind of person. It made me uneasy, but we knew that we could not provide many of even the most basic things we needed for the baby after Bashert lost her job, so unless I wanted the kiddo to sleep in a drawer and wear only white t-shirts I had to get over it and accept the kindness of our friends and family.

I am big enough to admit that once I got over the idea of asking people for things, it was fun going to the baby store to register. It had been 16 years since I was into any baby items and I was amazed at the sheer number of items now available. There literally was enough stuff to fill a warehouse sized store.

Bashert and I wandered up and down those aisles for the longest time looking at the tiny little clothes and accoutrements that one could fill a nursery with – baby wipe warmers, cart covers, monitors, magic diaper disposal systems, any kind of lotion you could ever want – it was enough to make my head spin. For goodness sake, I used cloth diapers for Nene!

After we played with everything, we sat down and figured out what we thought we would need and just registered for those things. The theme we both loved was John Lennon’s Imagine animal prints. It was just off center enough for two artists and the song lyrics really sat well with us, too. We still have the little diaper bag someone gave us. It holds socks now instead of diapers and bottles.

The shower itself was wonderful. Every single person we invited showed up! Either they were just curious as to what a lesbian baby shower would be like or we can pick some good friends. I like the think the latter, although we did get some looks for the pregnant lady cake…which was awesome and delicious, by the way. The weather was perfect, the setting warm and welcoming, the food was fabulous, the company fun, and the gifts were a plentiful and much, much appreciated bounty. Those two lovely ladies pulled off a celebration that made our hearts ache with joy.

All the adversities we had suffered up to that point kind of melted away that day. Our friends and family members made such special efforts for us (and that includes Nene as recipient, too). We may have been “the girls”, but that day we were also just another couple having a baby and celebrating with friends. And that my friends was just ducky.

http://wp.me/p1Bz9K-12 – Alberta 🙂

http://wp.me/p1Bz9K-cN – Betty 🙂

Boy Parts?: Baby Chapter 11

J&ENow that our house had grown by one for sure, it was time to see how many more might be joining us in the next nine months. Bashert had to brace herself for another vaginal sonogram. This time though we were going to our doctor on our terms.

From the get-go Dr. OBwan was in our corner all the way. There was never a question that I was part of this whole thing. I was the other parent, period. You cannot imagine the feeling of breathing that free air. It was simply incredible.

The day of the sonogram, I was nervous. Bashert had been through such horrible circumstances during her previous exam and I was afraid for her. And I was admittedly nervous to see if we were going to see more than one baby in there.

OBwan couldn’t have been more gentle and understanding. Now the procedure was still uncomfortable for Bashert, but there was no pain, no clinching, no terrified gasps. I was vibrating with happiness. I think at one point, Bashert had to ask me to settle down. I have to tell you it is a lot easier to be excited when you are not the one in the stirrups with your feet in the air and bum exposed to the world.

The sonogram revealed that we were having just one. Although I questioned a dark spot next to the little fluttering thing on the screen, OBwan assured me that it was not another baby. I was a little bit disappointed, but still overjoyed to see the tiny dancing blob on the screen. Back in the dark ages when I was pregnant with Nenè, these exams were not routine, so I did not get to see her image until she was about four months along. This was really cool.

It was a stinking relief to leave a doctor’s office with joy instead of heartache. Bashert couldn’t help but share it with our world, damn all the superstitions. She figured if anything were to happen she wanted as much support as possible and how was she to have that if no one knew what was going on. Hard logic to fight.

One sticking point between us was finding out the sex of the baby. I generally do not like surprises, they cause too much expectation on both the surpriser and the surprisee, but in this situation, I had a case of the old-fashions. I didn’t want to know the sex of the baby until he or she came into the world. Bashert on the other hand wanted to know right away. But we are talking about the woman, whose mother had to do triple security on all gifts so that Bashert, the child would not pre-open them. She cannot stand the lure of a wrapped package. “Do not open until Chanukah” she does not understand.

She finally convinced me to go along with the idea when she told me about her dream/visit with her Mom. Her mom passed away when Bashert was 15, but has remained a guiding voice throughout Bashert’s life. So when she told me that her mom had spoken to her about our “son” and mentioned several specific things about him, she got me to relinquish. We would find out.

The opportunity for the big reveal arrived at 12 weeks. Bashert was all excited to sit in the waiting room with all the other pregnant women. I don’t think the excitement of her condition had once left her (except maybe when all she could eat was crackers and drink ginger ale – yeah, that wasn’t fun). She was happy that she was finally showing and could take her place among the visibly pregnant.

Like with everything else, we had done some homework about what we would see on this sonogram. We used to spend hours in the local Borders Bookstore pouring over the baby books to see what was going with the developmental stages of this week or that month. These were some of the things I missed out on when I had Nenè, so I was enjoying this second chance. Anyway, we knew that developmentally, the baby was pretty much all there – it would be much more than just a dancing blob this go around.

We had also asked around about our sonographer. We wanted to make sure that we were going to get a good reading and that like OBwan, she would be accepting of our family. After being burned so many times at the infertility clinic, we tended to get a bit paranoid about each new person involved. We did not have to worry about this sonographer a bit. She worked from inside the offices where OBwan practiced and her reputation as one of the best in town had been confirmed by multiple sources. OBwan herself, vouched for her professionalism. Yay for us.

I keep repeating this, but it really was a relief to be in OBwan’s care. So much so, that it allowed us to be silly again. Those of you who are devotees of Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein” will appreciate what happened next.

The entire suite that houses OBwan’s offices is quite large (there are over 10 doctors in all). It occupies about one third of an entire hospital floor and the hallways in the back leading to the exam rooms are quite the labyrinth. You have to be led to your respective room or get lost without a map. So when Bashert’s name was called we knew we were in for a little trek, but what we weren’t prepared for was the appearance of the sonographer.

She was as solid as she was tall and completely expressionless. She checked her clipboard for some unknown data and then turned with that fateful phrase – wait for it – “Walk this way.” I swear, I could not help myself. Igor appeared within me. As I hunched and dragged myself down the hall behind the unaware woman, I thought Bashert was going to punch me in the arm, but she couldn’t even if she tried because she was giggling too hard. Wow, did it feel good to laugh again.

The sonogram was awesome. The little bugger in there was magnificent. Sonograms are difficult to distinguish for me, but with the aid of the expert I was able to discern all those lovely parts that were supposed to be there. It was so funny to see the outline of the baby’s facial profile. All I could see was the distinct Bashert family resemblance in the nose area. It made me smile.

After the sonographer had taken all the measurements and said all looked okay, she asked the question of questions, “Is there anything else you want to know?” Bashert looked at me and I at her and we both took a breath and said yes. I asked to know the sex of the baby. No going back now.

I watched the monitor with my breath held. I had my own worries about having a boy – the difficulties he may have with having two moms, the unknown of raising a boy instead of a girl, and a myriad of others I cannot even recall now. Bashert was in a private place waiting to hear if her mother’s words would show true.

When the sonogram wand hit the right spot, there was no doubt. “It” was a boy. We were going to have a son! I whispered to Bashert to look at the screen. Tears began to leak out and in a quiet voice she asked if what she saw was really what she saw. When the sonographer confirmed that it was indeed a “boy part” (her phrase), the tears really began to flow. I told Bashert, “Yes, it’s a boy. Your Mom was right!”

Well, between me talking about Bashert’s mom and all the tears, the sonographer finally showed some emotion: nervousness. She got the completely wrong idea about what was going on. She thought we were upset that the baby was a boy! We laughingly told her of Bashert’s dream and mother’s predictions and her apprehensions about us disappeared. She handed us our first photos of our son and we were on our smiling way.

OBwan met with us briefly after that – another wonderful experience and I can finally say that without a hint of sarcasm. She congratulated us (imagine that!) and laid out the plan for the rest of Bashert’s prenatal care. Our frightening and fabulous journey was back on track.

At least for the time being.

1 + 1 = 4: Baby Chapter 10

Three no evilsI know this is the story of our journey toward a baby, but don’t think we had forgotten about my daughter Nenè. Oh, no. Between all of the crap of the baby making situation, there was high school football games (she was in marching band), booster and PTA meetings, and the usual teenage ups and downs.

Nenè, like most children of divorced parents shuffled between our house and The Jackass’s, but her primary place of residence was with him. Nenè lived with us on temporary basis throughout the year. She was here every Wednesday and every other weekend. And it just so happened that she was here the weekend we found out that Bashert was pregnant. We could not have planned it any better to have us all together as a family to celebrate the happy news.

As usual, all too soon Sunday rolled around and it was time for The Jackass to pick up Nenè. This was 7:00 in the winter evening. We gave extra hugs all around and she was off. We then decided to walk up to our neighbor Laura’s house to let her in on the good news too. Laura was our neighbor, friend, substitute grandmother and greatest supporter in the Jewish community right from the moment we all met. It was going to be fun letting her in on the news.

We had been at Laura’s for about fifteen minutes or so when someone knocked on the door. Laura got up and answered it to find Nenè standing there, shaking and crying. We all immediately jumped up to pull her inside and find out what in the world was going on.

It turned out that Nenè had left some of her school work at our house and needed to return to get it. She realized it when she and The Jackass were just down the road and asked him to turn around. As Nenè tells it, he was not too happy about this and started an argument, but nevertheless did turn around. This must have been at the exact time we were walking up to Laura’s.

When Nenè knocked on our door (she didn’t have a key at this point because we didn’t trust The Jackass not to take it – we had our reasons to be paranoid) of course no one answered, but the dogs started barking. When we didn’t come to the door, Nenè said The Jackass kept insisting she keep knocking, that we would not have gone off without the dogs. She was beginning to get more and more upset with his treatment. She tried to explain that we did often go off without them and we were not home.

Something in this answer set off The Jackass. According to Nenè, he began yelling at her and a stand off ensued – she insisting we were not at home, he insisting we were but just choosing not to answer the door. The solution that the grown-up had was him getting in his car and driving off without her. He left a dumbfounded 15 year old girl standing alone, in the dark. At this point I am going to call up the old adage “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

I was proud of what Nenè did after she was dumped. She knew we were not home and couldn’t get in the house. She had no access to a phone, so she did the best thing she could – she ran to Laura’s house. And that is where I pick up the story.

At Laura’s house Nenè told us some things about living with The Jackass we had not been aware of. All was not well over there. She asked if she could stay with us at least for the night, still not knowing what the situation with The Jackass would turn out to be. Of course she could stay! Her primary residence may have been with him, but we had joint custody and at 15, she could choose to stay wherever she wanted.

It took a bit of time to get her settled down and all of the story out of her, so it was probably a good half hour or more before we said goodnight to Laura and headed back to our house. When we turned the corner to approach our place who did we see sitting in the lot in front? Yep, The Jackass. Seems he had had a turn of heart. He demanded Nenè get in the car immediately.

Remember how I said, go after one of mine and I go into Hulk mode? Prime example just about to happen. Nenè had confirmed some things about The Jackass that Bashert and I had wondered about and let’s just say I was not going to let Nenè back in the car with him driving that night.

First I made sure Nenè was firm about not going back with him, but would take her if she wanted me to but I also told her I was not going to let him drive her. She said no, she wanted to stay with me. I told her to go in the house and I would take care of things. The strength of Hercules rose in me that night. I turned to face The Jackass and gritted my teeth.

All the anger over the ten years it took to get our divorce and all the mud he tried to drag me through took over. I was a towering steam of barely controlled fury. I stood up in his face and I told him Nenè would not be returning with him that night. I told him he was a jerk and a fine example of what a parent should be and that he needed to leave now. Nenè would not be going with him.

He got hot, boy did he get hot. He really did not expect me to stand up to him. He started yelling about calling the police and charging me with kidnapping. Funny thing at that point, his anger transformed mine. I knew I had control then. Oh, I was still angry, but it was an anger I could use. I told him to go ahead and call, even offered him the phone. I told him that I wanted to see who got in the most trouble – me or the jackass who just dumped a visible shaken 15 year old girl into the dark alone. He seemed to sober a bit at that. Still sputtering to himself, he finally got in his car and drove off. Victory was mine and Nenè was safe.

I turned to go back in the house only to have it hit me that he had all of Nenè’s things with him in his car. We would have to go over there in the morning to get her school stuff she had returned to our house to get!

What a hell of a weekend.

Bashert and I talked about what was going on and we agreed that if Nenè wanted to make her stay permanent then it would be okay.  We talked about it all week – Nenè was still too upset to return to The Jackass’s house for anything but a quick run to get extra clothes. She finally said that she wanted to leave him for good. She wanted to live with us and not have to deal with all the issues going on with him. The decision had been made. Nenè was moving in.

In one fell swoop, our house and lives were about to get amazingly full.