Thursday, April 26, 2018

My Defining Day

the snow is falling. this is the day. i leave the front door of our apartment. the big flakes fall and against the black SUV parked in front of the building they seem so much bigger and whiter.

its so cold. the exhaust of the SUV makes a cloud. abby and I veer right and continue to walk.   you are still inside and i wonder whats going on in your mind. this is your day, our day, but your day really. i wonder how you are feeling and if all of the classes we have taken have prepared you. i wonder if the practice with the pillows and all of the things we've been told are real or will be helpful. are you scared? i am. i wonder if he will be ok. the baby who doesn't have a name maybe its benjamin or jacob or lincoln who knows but i wonder if he will be ok and i wonder if you will be ok. i think i will be ok but im nervous too. i wont tell you any of this because im strong and i think you need that.

but i walk down this hill. its not a long walk and ive done it many times with abby. we're heading to rose in not many minutes, and kelley will come soon but i wanted to make sure she had a walk first - we will leave soon to rose and be gone for a few days and your pack is ready but abby needs a walk. we will see her soon but this will be it for a while.

we open the door, go up the stairs and back into the apartment. its small and the nursery is ready. soon its going to feel a lot smaller. i wonder if the baby will cry a lot. is he going to bother our neighbors? i wonder what having a baby is going to be like. i wonder if you are scared. for his health? of the pain? of raising him? im thinking of all of these. but theres no turning back now.

we get into the car. theres a car seat in the back now. how surreal that there will be a baby in that car seat the next time we drive back into the garage of our apartment building. i hope the roads aren't bad on our way back. theyre not bad now but those snowflakes are still coming down as we drive up monaco and its actually very pretty. im glad we live close. i would not like this drive so much if it were very far, but today its pretty and today im driving with purpose and its not so far.

its funny that it feels like were checking into a hotel. the room is nice. theres a bed for you, a nice chair. a little cot for me to sleep. its a little like a hotel but with a lot more gadgets around the room and were not on vacation. you get into your gown and i snap a few pictures of you. your smile is radiant and you dont seem all that apprehensive. im surprised that you seem to be doing so well. im a little apprehensive. but i dont ever stress out about things so i wont tell you that im a little apprehensive.

your mom comes. she seems apprehensive for you. if there has to be someone apprehensive ill let it be your mom. not you and not me because you just need to relax and you seem to be. i dont remember the timelines but i remember people came and people went. i remember the nurses coming in and giving you IVs and giving you medicines. i don't remember the name, provid, or providium or potosuin, or something like that that is supposed to move things along faster. i remember your sister and talking and everyone keeping their voice down because this is a serious day. i remember the chips and the snacks that everyone brought and i remember the scotch that your dad brought but we'll have that after the baby is here.

someone had brought chinese food or was it thai and i went to the waiting room to eat some. i had the latest news so everyone wanted to talk to me but there wasnt much news except that you had taken the potosin or the provide and that things probably shouldnt take too much longer.

things started moving more quickly after the P medicine. you started to feel more uncomfortable and everyone left the room except for me and the nurse. we had talked about whether you wanted to be medicated and hadnt decided but after you started to feel uncomfortable you decided that you wanted it.

the nurse left the room and went to get the anesthesiologist but she took a long time. you started to get uncomfortable because the pain was coming so I went out and asked and they said he was on his way and i was quite forceful with the nurse even though I was trying to be kind but the pain in your face made me forceful.

finally the guy came and he had you sit up and face me and put an IV into your spine and it was a little too late because the pain was already there and i could see it in your face but you were still strong - i think you told the anesthesiologist that you loved him and he made small talk with us to take your mind off the fact that we was putting a shot in your spine. it would all be over soon.

now the doctor is here and things are serious and time is both flying by and standing still. im standing at your head but I want to know how it is coming along so I look to see but what do I know if things are coming along except that I see some things are different and that you probably do not want to see these things but that all seems normal from way all I can tell. His head now. but ill looks a little more like an alien than I would of thought and now they want me to cut his cord and what does that mean and how do I do it but I guess theyll show me.

dad bring him to the weight and height table as hes crying and hes grabbing onto my finger but this tiny little grip on my finger is the most beautiful thing ive ever felt in my life. well take his height and then ill give him to his mommy and now he will be ok. we don't know your name but we know that we are now happy. god had never given such a gift to us. so went January 4th 2017.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

My son.

How much I have dreamed my whole life to see you. And now here you are.

You dance. Your knees pop up and down to Raffi while I look on. Where did you learn to jump like this?

You cry. Somehow it makes me smile and crushes my heart all at the same time. You have figured out how to move me.

You laugh. A splash in the bathtub, food thrown on the floor for Abby. You light up a room with your innocent joy.

You stand. I have not seen it yet except in mommy's snaps and in the pool in Cabo. How courageous you have become.

One day I know you will be a man of purpose and strength. Leading your own family. Charting your own course.

But for now, when you crawl to my foot and say "up"...  one of only a few words you know... I melt... And pick you up.

Can't time be frozen?

Saturday, February 10, 2018

On Safari: The Migration

On the third morning, we left the Namiri Plain for the Saronara airstrip where we'd entered the Serengeti a few days before. We piled into the Cessna Caravan and climbed away from the plains, the yellow grasses dotted by deep green acacia trees becoming like an impressionist painting laid wide out towards the horizon. The landscape below us we came to know as one teeming with wildlife, a place that one should not stray even a few feet from the car at the risk of coming face to face with something with much larger teeth than you. But now, from a few thousand feet, it was peaceful. You could make out the shambas below which dotted the horizon, their circular shape and scattered huts making up the living unit of the Maasai who inhabited the outskirts of the national park.

The flight was a short one. In only about 30 minutes we began our descent into the Kogatende airstrip on the Kenya/Tanzania border. The plane's wheels touched down and sped along for a few hundred yards kicking up a cloud of dirt. Our new guides greeted us with wide smiles and friendly faces. After a quick stop at park headquarters to check us in while we waited in the car, we were off on our way to camp, a handful of semi-permanent tents set up near the Mara River for the migration season. As our cars rumbled down the dirt path towards camp we parted skittish groups of wildebeest. They seemed to always wait for the very last second to decide which way they'd run, and when the car was finally upon them they seemed offended and surprised that you didn't stop. It was a dance the driver seemed accustomed to and it barely slowed him down. The wildebeest seemed formidable creatures, almost like lean and quick bulls, with their sharp horns and stocky figures giving the impression of strength, but this turned out to be a complete deception. The wildebeest were creatures of extreme caution and fear. A single person walking among a herd of thousands would cause them to create a wide circular berth so as to leave a hundred yards of space on every side. These creatures we learned were the most successful of all antelopes at survival and procreation in the whole of Serengeti. Their caution to predators was evident in that we never got close enough to touch one, even though we were never far from thousands of them.

By the hundreds of thousands, these creatures venture many miles north each summer to follow the rains which ultimately provide them their food. Our goal was to follow them in this journey... and by good planning by our guides, we were not unsuccessful. We arrived in the northern Serengeti along the Mara River among a herd which reminded me of what buffalo in the old west must have been like. Up close the herd certainly made an impressive sight, but the really amazing thing as you looked out across the plains to the horizon it just became a solid brown haze until they disappeared. I'd never seen anything remotely like it. It was as if we were looking at the night sky and the wildebeest were the stars. They moved not as individuals, but as if they were one big family. If one moved, others followed. If one ran, several others became curious and alarmed. These were not individual creatures, they were all one.

During the early hours of our second day at camp, we got word that excitement was afoot on the Mara river. One of the main reasons people come to this area is to witness a 'crossing'. This is when a herd decides that the rains (and thus, food) are better on the opposite side of the Mara and to cross is the only option for survival. The guide's radio reported a large herd seemed to be contemplating this, so we raced down to the riverbank. Sure enough, a herd of thousands was standing on the shore of the Mara, obviously debating a crossing of the crocodile and hippo filled rushing waters. It would only take one brave leader to go... and after that, thousands would follow.

After waiting for several minutes and deciding this would likely not happen today, one finally went. And then all behind him. Before we knew it the entire herd was in action and thousands were making their way down into the river. What previously appeared as skittish and cowardly creatures were now jumping to their peril into a crocodile infested river to get to a better feeding ground on the other side. Ever hear that saying 'well if your friend jumped off a bridge does that mean you would too?"... absolutely, says the wildebeest.

It left an impression on me that although these creatures were so silly and awkward that they have been the most successful of all the creatures in the Serengeti in staying alive and looking after one another... What beauty they created as a unit. What calm they showed as they created a one hundred yard berth around us or a hyena. This creature knew its place and was all the better for it. The silly sounding bleat that they let out by the hundreds played over and over in my head the next few nights as we settled into camp. The survival story of this this very quick and herd-like animal also told lessons. And as night fell on the Serengeti, I listened to the sounds; the distant bleats of the sleepy wildebeest, the mesmerizing chirps of the crickets, but also the silence. The silence that I expected based on a few nights before would be interrupted with a lion's roar... but tonight this was not the case. I went to bed in peace, thinking of the wildebeest making his dash across the river... his family of thousands parting like the Red Sea as we drove down the road. Although we had not left the Serengeti, what a different world this was.