JOURNAL NO. 38
January - May 1986
Age 29

" ...  And the baby.  Always, always these days, it is the baby to whom my thoughts eventually turn. Thinking about
the little one inside of me is always cause for joy."





 

January 7, 1986
Tuesday noon

I've been without a journal or diary for almost three weeks now, so it feels incredibly good to be getting back into the swing of things. I've missed the comfort of writing!  Funny, isn't it?  When I do have a journal laying around the house, I often ignore it for days - or weeks - at time. Yet, when I'm forced to "do without" for awhile, I'm lost.

Have I learned a lesson here? I doubt it ...  

In the intervening weeks since my written accounts ended, Christmas has come & gone ... a new year has begun ... lots of "little things" have occurred in my life, most of them noteworthy. I have a heck of a lot of catching up to do. One of my resolutions for 1986 is to be more consistent about writing in my journal. As a matter of fact, this is my primary objective for the new year -- the one resolution I intend to work hardest to keep. I realize I've made (and forgotten) this same resolution umpteen times in the past, and it always works out the same in the end ... I'm really gung-ho and faithful about writing for a week or so, and then my enthusiasm just sort of peters out, and the next thing I know I'm back to my old neglectful, lazy ways. Not so this time.  I swear. I'm determined -- I'm primed -- I'm ready. This journal will be thorough, consistent and valuable. If I don't write every day, well, then I'll write every other day. But I WILL write. I'll write about the meaningful and the mundane ... the terrible and the trivial. There are 3-1/2 months left until the expected arrival of our third-born; surely that will provide me with lots of good journal material. Likewise, the antics of the two children we already have ... Jamie at age four, Kacie at (almost) three. Not to mention the ups and downs of Life With Ray. I certainly can't say there's nothin' to write about. My life may be doggedly domestic and predictable, but it is NOT dull.

So. Anyway. The point is ... this time, I'm really going to try. I'll leave my journal sitting out in spots where I'm not likely to forget about it ... on the kitchen counter, or on the end table next to my favorite spot on the sofa ... I'll nag myself relentlessly ... I'll really make a go of it this time. You'll see. (And if I don't, after stating my intentions like this right off the bat, I'm going to look like an awful fool ...!)

Before I can move forward, however, I must move backward briefly. The following is an account of our Christmas: I wrote it on December 26, 1985. It mentions some of the highs and lows and in-betweens of our holidays, and helps (I think) set the tone for this journal.



CHRISTMAS 1985

It is the morning of the 26th, and Christmas 1985 is now a memory. Toys and presents are piled, open and forgotten (for the moment) under the tree ... the kitchen is a disaster area of greasy pots and pans and dishes ... the aroma of barbecued turkey and burned rolls still lingers. It is early. Outside, our neighborhood is covered with frost and shrouded in fog -- an eerie combination that gives the street an ethereal appearance. The garbage man has already come and gone; the rumble of his truck is what woke me and got me out of bed so early today. I took one look at my messy house and considered running back to bed and hiding under the covers for another few days ... at least until "someone" is kind enough to clean up the mess and take down the tree for me ... common sense prevailed, however ... I know that no one will tackle these jobs for me. They are entirely MY responsibility, as always. So, with a sigh, I've made a pot of coffee and poured some orange juice for the girls, and am now gearing myself up for the Herculean task of restoring our home to its pre-holiday condition ...

Christmas 1985 was more relaxed, more fun and more emotionally satisfying than any adult Christmas I've had yet. On the other hand, it was also more work. Physically and emotionally, I am drained: I feel like someone has squeezed all the juice right outta me. Making Christmas merry for two preschool daughters and one perennially cynical husband is harder work than you can imagine. And this year there was the added stress and strain of pregnancy. I can't move around as easily as usual, and I don't have my normal reserves of energy and tolerance. There were moments -- as I wrapped the zillionth present of the season, or as I crawled on hands & knees beneath the tree Christmas morning, looking for Barbie's motorbike helmet -- when I seriously wondered how much longer my internal "batteries" would hold out. Fortunately, something always seemed to re-charge me at the last minute: an unexpected hug from Ray ... Jamie singing "Rudolph, The Red Nosed Reindeer" ... a piece of crackly brown turkey skin, stolen before dinner ... a big smile and an "Airy Kissmiss!" from Kacie. Little moments of blessing. Taken individually, they might not seem like much. But when strung together, like the lights on our Christmas tree, these small family moments gave Christmas added sparkle and warmth. It was the "little moments" with my family that made Christmas 1985 the special time it was.


      *      *      *      *      *      *

I woke up before everyone else Christmas morning. Ray's snoring the night before had driven me to sleep in the "spare" bedroom, so when I woke up in darkness on Christmas morning, I was temporarily confused. (Where am I?) Then I remembered what day it was, and I felt that old familiar surge of excitement. CHRISTMAS!  Even though I'm no longer a child, there is still a twinge or two of holiday anticipation when I first wake up on Christmas morning ... that lovely feeling of endless possibilities. So I lay there in bed and let the excitement ripple through me. Most of the excitement I felt this year, however, centered around Ray and the girls. I could hardly wait to watch them open their presents. Would Jamie like her record player? Would the new jeans fit Ray? Would the girls squabble over Kacie's new toys? I wanted to wake everybody up RIGHT NOW and get the festivities started! But it was still dark outside. A quick check of the living room clock told me it was only 6 a.m. The girls were still sleeping soundly, and Ray was snoring happily in our bed, snuggled under the electric blanket. I didn't have the heart to disturb them. So I went back to the spare room and got into bed and fell into a twilight sleep, remembering everything that happened the night before, waiting for dawn ...

      *      *      *      *      *      *

Christmas Eve was the usual mix of highs and lows, ups and downs, good moments and bad. This is inevitable whenever you try to cram too many family visits into one short day, as we are always forced to do. In order to keep our Christmas Day free, we had to pay our respects to my entire scattered/divided family on Christmas Eve. Ray hates all the driving involved (and never lets me forget it), and I hate the pain of packing and unpacking the car every time we stop somewhere. But I wouldn't have it any other way. Our Christmas Eve visits are a tradition -- one of few such traditions we have -- and there is no one we could "skip." Not at the risk of hurt feelings, anyway. So, on Christmas Eve, we load the car and bundle up the kids and spend our day & evening driving, visiting, eating, exchanging gifts, packing up the car and driving on to the next stop along the way for more of the same.

First stop this year was Grandma Vert's, in my childhood home on South 134th (near the SeaTac Airport). Grandma will be moving in a month, so this would be my last Christmas in the house where I grew up. As we drove along the old neighborhood toward Grandma's, I felt a wrenching sadness. Most of the houses were already vacated and boarded up. Some of them had been bulldozed: others, like Mrs. Pitcher's house, had been uprooted completely from the foundation, to be moved eventually to another location. The street where I grew up was barren and desolate and completely depressing: only Grandma's little white house, lights blazing bravely in the darkness, had any life left in it. Even so, surrounded as it was by empty dead houses -- forlorn reminders of the past -- Grandma's house seemed tiny and sad. As though it knows that time is running out.

Anyway. (I get very emotional whenever I think about my childhood home.) Grandma was very surprised to see us when we knocked on her door at 4:30. "So glad I am!" she said, smiling hugely. The stroke she suffered last month interferes occasionally with her speech: the words come out in random order. But her meaning was clear -- she was delighted to see us, and right away she was giving the girls cookies, and asking about the baby, and giving us the latest bits of family gossip. We visited for an hour and a half. Jamie, at one point, looked around the living room (no Christmas tree this year) and said "Where are all your presents?" Embarrassed, I tried to hush her, but Grandma immediately went to her bedroom and brought out a couple of dolls she's had for years. "I give these dollies to your girls," Grandma said. "They not wrapped but maybe they like them."  "Rosie" has been sitting next to Grandma's TV for as long as I can remember. I was touched and surprised that Grandma was giving Rosie to jamie now. "You take very good care of her!" I told Jamie sternly. "Rosie is an old family friend!"

Grandma had a surprise for me, too  -- a lovely white afghan for the baby-to-be, which she crocheted herself. "My hands not as good as they used to be," she said wistfully. But the blanket really IS lovely. Long after this baby is born and grown, I will still cherish the blanket. I know that already.



The girls with their Great-Grandma Vert, Christmas Eve 1985.
This would be my last Christmas in my childhood home.

At one point I needed to use the bathroom. While there, I peeked out the bathroom window at the backyard. It occurs to me that I love that backyard every bit as well as I love the house itself; in a way, maybe more. That huge backyard was the focal point of my childhood ... the scene of thousands of memories. That night, I peered out the bathroom at my beloved backyard, one last time. It was shrouded in heavy, pea-soup fog, but faintly I could make out the shape of the dogwood tree in the distance. Even this tiny glimpse moved me very deeply. "Merry Christmas," I whispered, to no one in particular ... Merry Christmas, perhaps, to my childhood home, and to all the memories encompassed there ...

Grandma and I reminisced about Christmases past. "Remember the year we moved the long dining table here in the living room?" I said.

"Oh YES," Grandma said recalled with delight. "We were twenty for dinner that year!" 



This is the Christmas dinner Grandma and I were reminiscing about  ...  1967, I think.
L-to-R: My cousin Chellaigne, Uncle Paul, me, Daddy


I remembered the Christmas trees strung with popcorn and paper chains ... the electric Santa that used to sit on top of the TV ... the year we made the marshmallow Santas ... the after-Christmas-dinner arguments with my cousins ... Grandma's big turkey dinners ... Grandpa sitting at the head of the dinner table, eyes twinkling from port wine ... so many memories.

I hated leaving Grandma's -- I hated leaving her sitting there alone with her memories -- but so many other people were expecting us. Grandma said, "You come back and see me again before I move!" and I promised her that yes, we would try.

Next stop was Dad & Valerie's, two blocks away. Like Grandma, their house is scheduled for demolition next year, so this was my last chance to visit the place I lived for most of my teen years. I must be honest, though, and admit that I don't feel the same about Dad's house. The memories there aren't as poignant or important personally. Still, I looked forward to spending time with my father and stepmother.

Surprise! No one was home!

I knocked on the door but there was no answer. I was puzzled. Dad knew we were planning to come out and visit that afternoon ... where could he be? We figured he and Valerie must have gone out to dinner, so to kill some time we drove over to Albertsons. Ray and Kacie waited in the car while I took Jamie inside and let her buy a $2 deck of cards for her Daddy's Christmas stocking. (She handed the cashier a five dollar bill, and then stuck out her hand for the change.) Then back to Dad's. He still wasn't home! "We'll give him half an hour," Ray growled, so we sat in the car drinking warm beer and trying to keep the girls (who were growing verrrry antsy) entertained.

When forty minutes had passed and Dad still hadn't come home, I scribbled a note for him and put it on the front door. Then we drove over to Grandma St. John's. We figured we could unload the car, let the girls stretch their legs, visit a bit with Grandma S. and then go back and give Dad another try.

Usually we're the last to arrive (or nearly so) at Grandma St. John's each Christmas Eve. This year we were practically the first -- only Mom and Ken had beaten us. We sat and visited for a bit, marveling over how different Grandma's kitchen looks without the old white freezer she had for thirty years (replaced this year by a sleek new upright model). As we sat talking, my brother Dick came walking in the door, holding his tiny baby daughter. I immediately grabbed her out of his arms and spent a highly satisfying fifteen minutes enjoying my baby niece (such a carrot top!)  Grandma gave Jamie and I both belated birthday presents. Jamie received two Beatrix Potter storybooks, and I got two antique canning jars, similar to the jars I'd admired at her museum last year. These would eventually become the infamous Grandma's Ashes jars.  I used the phone and finally managed to get hold of my father. He and Valerie had gone out for spaghetti, but they were home now and ready for our visit. I got the girls back into their coats (they were reluctant to leave the brightly-lit Christmas tree with the stacks of presents piled underneath ... only my promise that Grandpa Vert had presents for them at his house got them to leave), and promised Grandma that we would be back in half an hour, in time for dinner.

I cast a look at my brother. "We're running over to Dad's," I said, on a whim. "I don't suppose you'd care to come along?"

Dad and Dick have had a running feud for years. I honestly didn't expect Dick to take me up on the offer. But maybe Christmas is a time for miracles. "Sure," he said. "We'll go." He started bundling up his baby daughter. Alexis (age three, daughter of Dick's girlfriend) also came along for the ride. It was a tight squeeze, getting three adults,  four children, a sack of presents and two diaper bags into one car. But we managed.

If Dad was at all surprised to see Dick with us, you wouldn't know it. They greeted each other cordially, as though nothing had ever happened between the two of them. I could hardly believe my eyes, but I took it all in stride. Anything can happen at Christmas, I guess.

My father's house at Christmas is a sight that must be seen to be believed. I won't even attempt to describe it here: there simply aren't words. His house is always a fascinatingly bizarre mess, but at holiday time it is doubly so. Books and cupboards and shelves and magazines and boxes and dogs and pictures and firewood and cups and chairs and knickknacks ... and right in the middle of it all, a sparkling Christmas tree with presents piled underneath! Naturally, all four of the little girls gravitated immediately to the tree. Grandma Valerie supervised as gifts were handed out and opened. Puzzles for the girls ... a Barbie motorbike for Jamie ... a toy truck for Kacie. Ray and I each received handmade wooden chests with our names on them. (I could just hear Ray asking himself, "What the hell do I do with THIS?") Dad fixed Ray and Dick some kind of hot coffee liqueur drink, but I passed. I took a picture of Dad with all four of the little girls on his lap.  After the gifts had been opened and the adults were talking about something or other, Kacie toddled quietly over to the tree and started unwrapping Dad and Valerie's gifts to each other!



My Dad with an armload of small granddaughters
(L to R: my brother's daughter Karen, Jamie, Kacie, and Karen's half-sister Alexis)
Christmas Eve 1985

We didn't stay long at Dad's. I knew Grandma S. was holding dinner for us, and besides I was beginning to feel a little sick from the warm beer and lack of food.

Back at Grandma St. John's, the rest of the family had arrived -- Uncle Jerry and Aunt Jody with their kids, Kelli and Ben  ... Uncle Dick and Aunt Ann  ...  my sixteen year old sister Debi. Dinner was served right away, the traditional hamburger stroganoff, scalloped carrots, green salad and Grandma's famous French-Russian salad dressing, served buffet style on paper plates. I fixed plates for the kids and then sat at the kitchen table and ate with them. Everyone else ate in the living room, or standing around in the kitchen. The kids were too excited by this point to do much more than toy with their dinner. Frankly, I couldn't blame them ... I spent every Christmas Eve of my childhood sitting in this same kitchen, toying with this exact same meal, waiting for dinner to be over so PRESENTS could be opened! I knew exactly what they were feeling, and it thrilled me to see at least one of my childhood traditions being repeated exactly by my own children.

Dinner was over at last ... the furniture in the living room was rearranged, giving everyone a spot in front of the tree ... there was the usual haggling over who would play "Santa" this year (my sister was eventually recruited). And then came the presents! For the next hour, Grandma's living room was a sea of wrapping paper and smiles as gifts were opened, one by one. Highlights included the sweatsuit I gave Aunt Ann, and the sweater Ray gave Uncle Dick ... the kids' delighted squeals over each new toy (or disgruntled "hmmmph" when the present turned out to be clothes) ... and perhaps, the funniest moment of all, when my brother opened the jar of spaghetti sauce from Ray and I. It was Ray's special homemade sauce, which I put into a large jar and labeled "Ray's Own" (a takeoff on Paul Newman's line of sauces, called "Newman's Own"), with a sappy photo of Ray glued to the label. Gifts I received included a "Collection" photo frame from Grandma -- something I really wanted -- plus two boxes of stationery and a pair of slippers from Uncle Jerry, more stationery and some potpourri from Deb, and an interesting family-history calendar from Mom. Ray got a flannel shirt from my brother, which unfortunately was too small; Dick has promised to exchange it. He also got a new coffee mug, the kind that supposedly won't tip over and spill in the car.



Christmas Eve 1985 at Grandma St. John's house
Five months pregnant with Tot #3

We left Grandma's shortly before ten. It was still early -- the party was still going on -- but it was a long drive back to Kirkland, and Ray and I still had things to do once we got home. We said our goodbyes and wished everyone the happiest of holidays.

(Oh my goodness! I forgot to mention one of the highlights of the evening. Kacie, who has been potty-trained for a couple of months now but not bowel-trained, hopped up onto the potty at Grandma St. John's and "did her thing," just as neat as you please, for the very first time. I was astonished and jubilant: she couldn't have given me a better Christmas present!)

The ride home to Kirkland took forty minutes. The freeway wasn't crowded, but there was still a fair amount of traffic ... enough to make me nervous. I spent the whole forty minutes tensely clutching my seat and pushing the imaginary brake pedal on the floor. We listened to Christmas music on the car radio, and - when I was relaxed enough - quietly discussed what we would do when we got home. (Fill the stockings, wrap the last of the presents, fix Santa's "snack"). The kids dozed off in the back seat. Occasionally I took a peek at them: two little brown-haired angels, so sweet and innocent. How I love them.

I was so glad to see the lights of Bellevue, and then, a few minutes later, to pull into our own driveway. We had left the lights on the Christmas tree, so it sparkled and twinkled in the window as we pulled up. The dogs' frenetic barking woke the girls, and they sleepily toddled into the house and offered no resistance as I put them into their jammies and tucked them into bed. "Tonight Santa comes!" I whispered in Jamie's ear, but she'd already fallen asleep again. "G'night, Punkin!" I said to Kacie and kissed her cheek. Within seconds, she was asleep too.

Ray and I carried in all the presents we'd gotten that evening -- it took several trips to get it all inside -- and placed everything beneath the tree. Terry S., our babysitter from down the street, saw we were home and came over to do a little friendly snooping. "I can't believe all this is for you guys!" she said in amazement. "Yeah, and there's more to come in the morning," I said.

There were still presents for the girls that needed to be wrapped, so I sat on the floor in the spare bedroom and wrapped them. A record player, records, a doll and a teddy bear for Jamie ... a dollhouse, a dolly and a stuffed dog for Kacie. Then I filled their stockings. Toys, candy, pencils, some paste for Jamie, a doll for Kacie, gum, scissors, stickers. I was enjoying myself immensely! I took a plate and smeared some mayonnaise on it, adding a bread crust and a few fruitcake crumbs, to make it look like Santa had enjoyed a midnight repast. Ray wrote a thank-you note from Santa ("Thank you for the snack. Be good and I see you next year") and placed it next to the empty plate. He went into the spare room alone for awhile, presumably to wrap my Christmas present. When we were finished with everything, we took a last look at the tree, with its stack of presents piled underneath, turned off the lights and went to bed.


      *      *      *      *      *      *

Now it was Christmas morning. I woke from my twilight sleep. At last -- it was light outside! Another foggy gray morning. Time to get everybody out of bed! I slipped into my bathrobe and tiptoed out to the living room, where I switched the lights on the Christmas tree and turned on some soft Christmas music. Kacie heard me. She came wandering down the hallway with her "blanky" in her arms, looking at me quizzically. What was Mama doing out of bed so early? I went into the girls' room and sat on the edge of the bed next to Jamie, who was still sound asleep. She resisted all my attempts to wake her. Finally I said, "Jamie ... it's Christmas, Honey. Santa was here." Her eyes flew open! She stumbled out of bed and out into the living room, barely awake.

I gave each of the girls a fat stocking to empty while I started a pot of coffee and got Ray out of bed (no easy feat). Within minutes, Kacie had stuffed half a pack of watermelon bubblegum into her mouth, and Jamie was struggling to get the lid off the paste jar. After ten minutes or so, Ray finally came grumbling and stumbling into the living room and plopped himself into the armchair, looking about as jolly as the old Grinch himself. I handed him a cup of coffee and hissed "ENJOY yourself!" Then I passed out the gifts, one by one, and we all took turns opening presents. Besides the presents from Santa, Jamie also got a magnetic blackboard & a set of magnet ABC's from me, some Play-Doh and a Viewmaster set (also from Ray & me), a "Charmkins" dollhouse from Aunt Sheryl and Uncle Jeff, a "Princess of Power" doll from Aunt Patty and Uncle John, and a pair of slippers from Aunt Barbara. Kacie got a deluxe doctor's kit (which she adores) and some Play-Doh from Ray and I, p.j.'s from Peg and Don, a toy typewriter from Sheryl & Jeff, a "My Little Pony" from Patty & John and a pair of slippers, her second pair this year. There were a few other little things, but those were the main gifts. The kids seemed to love everything ... they hardly knew what to play with first.



The girls emptying their stockings
Christmas morning 1985



Ray touched my deeply by giving me the best Christmas present he's ever given me, a lovely gold Timex watch. I put it on
immediately and have rarely taken it off since. I also got some rose-scented bath crystals from Sheryl, slippers from Barbara
(I got two pairs this year, just like Kacie) and kitchen towels from Patty. Ray even filled my stocking when I wasn't looking ...
an amazing assortment of shampoo, eyeliner pencil, knee-hi nylons, Q-tips, antiperspirant, a good pen and a glue stick.
His stocking had a can of pistachios and a can of smokehouse almonds. I gave him a pair of Levi's and a T shirt; Jamie gave
him the deck of cards; Sheryl and Jeff gave him a jar of peanuts, Barbara gave him a pullover.

When all the presents were opened I made breakfast: sausage patties, hash browns, scrambled eggs, toast, juice and more good coffee. Ray had slipped back to bed by then, so I served him breakfast in bed ... then took a quick sneaky picture of him eating it. The kids ate perfunctorily ... they were far more interested in new toys than in sausage patties. I ended up sitting alone at the kitchen table, savoring every bite of my Christmas breakfast ... pausing from time to time the admire the shiny new watch on my arm. After breakfast I swallowed my huge prenatal vitamin, then hopped into the shower and washed my hair with the new shampoo Ray gave me.

Christmas Day was spent lazily, pleasantly, sleepily. Everybody kind of "did their own thing." The girls played with new toys. I put pictures in my new Collection frame, discovered an old "Dark Shadows" re-run on TV, made a bowl of bread stuffing for the turkey. It felt almost indecently NICE to spend Christmas Day at home! I thought ahead to next year ... not only will be back in the middle of the noise and chaos at the folks' house, we'll also have an eight month old baby! Good grief. I schlepped around the house all day in my comfortable old maternity clothes, snacking and resting and enjoying the luxury of being home.

Jamie hanging out with Terry S.
Christmas Day 1985

The day was not without its crisis moments. Around here, crises are de rigueur. Terry and I had a minor falling-out over something trivial. Jamie and Kacie got on my nerves occasionally, with their constant bickering over toys. But the REAL moment of crisis came when Ray went to put the turkey in the oven at 1 p.m. For weeks my mouth had watered over the prospect of Christmas dinner. Imagine -- an entire 17 lb. turkey, for just the four of us ... it was a pregnant lady's dream come true!  So I was anxious for Ray to get started cooking it. Well ... he put the bird in the oven, switched on the thermostat and ... nothing. The oven was broken! We've been having problems with it, off and on, for weeks now. Now, on Christmas Day, Ray had to pull the whole damned thing out of the wall, tinkering and fiddling with it for three hours in an effort to get it working. Meanwhile, I was in a full-scale panic. It was beginning to look like we would end up having HOT DOGS for Christmas dinner ... and here this was supposed to be a "perfect" Christmas!  I was near tears. Fortunately, I have a brilliant husband. (The fact that he rarely uses his "brilliant" mind is beside the point.) When he realized that the oven was not going to be fixed in time, he grabbed the bird, ran outside  ...  and threw it on the Webber! I was skeptical. Barbecued turkey? But Ray kept reassuring me that "It's gonna be great," so I went ahead and boiled the potatoes for mashing, heated the peas, chilled the cranberries. And you know something? It WAS great. As a matter of fact, it was probably the greatest turkey I've ever seen -- or eaten. It cooked in just over three hours. The skin was crispy and brown, and the meat inside was so tender and juicy it melted in your mouth. Although it was after 8 p.m. before dinner was ready, and everyone was hungry and crabby, Ray insisted that we all eat at the table together. I just wanted to throw some food on my plate and eat in front of the TV, the way I always do, but later I was glad he insisted. It gave our Christmas that final "family" touch. I said a short prayer of thanks, and then the four of us dug in!  Joy to the World ...  and to the Digestive System.

Kacie & Daddy rescue Christmas dinner
1985

We all went to bed early that evening feeling stuffed, tired and happy. I lay in bed long after everyone else had fallen sleep and did some silent blessings-counting. Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of my little family. Thank you for the baby kicking inside of me, and for the husband snoring next to me in bed. Thank you for a quiet Christmas at home. Thank you for friends and family, far and near. Thank you for barbecued turkey and twinkly Christmas trees and little children with chocolate on their faces. Thank you Lord for Christmas 1985 ... may we have many more, just as wonderful.

Amen! :)





Jamie's favorites this Christmas:

* "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" (book and TV cartoon)
* "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" (TV cartoon & song, to which she eventually learned all the words)
* The lights on the Christmas tree
* Any of "her" ornaments on the tree
* "Frosty The Snowman" (song)
* Cranberries
* Candy canes
* Drawing pictures for Santa
* Making "pretend presents" and putting them under the tree
* Delivering Christmas cards to the neighbors
* Christmas stickers



Kacie's Christmas Experiences, 1985

* Eating candy canes
* Seeing Santa at Dave's Place
* Learning to say "Oh oh oh, Airy Kissmiss!"
* Eating candy canes
* Helping Mama open the cards we got in the mail
* Toy commercials on TV
* Eating candy canes




The days since Christmas have been almost identical in their ordinariness. Jamie and I both experienced some heavy-duty "post-holiday blues" this year. When she realized, a day or two after Christmas, that it would be a WHOLE YEAR before Santa comes back, she actually started to cry! Only my suggestion that she and Santa become "pen pals" cheered her up. I'm still patting myself on the back for coming up with that one. I had my usual case of the blahs after I took down the tree and all the decorations on January 1st ... it always takes me a couple of days to get over how plain the house looks. My depression this year hasn't been as severe as usual, though. I have to admit it. Part of me is just plain relieved that it's all over for another year. The stress of putting it all together was exhausting, especially for a pregnant lady. I intend to enjoy another month or so of unmitigated blobbery before I dig in my heels and start making preparations for the new baby. (Yes, the Responsible part of Terri is saying, "Better do it NOW, while you're still mobile enough. You know how hard it is to move around in those final weeks!" But as usual, my Responsible half is being drowned out by my Irresponsible half, who says "Heyyyy ... relax! Take it easy! There's plenty of time ...!")

Another reason why my usual January depression hasn't hit me as hard as it usually does is because of the baby. Normally, when the holidays are over, I get this immediate sense of let-down. "Christmas is over ... blecch. NOW what have I got to look forward to?" But this year there is April 25th to look forward to! A specific day, a specific event ... and an especially JOYOUS one, at that. It gives me something solid to hold onto, to plan for, to dream about. And it makes gray, ordinary January just that much more bearable.

New Year's Eve was horrible. I'm going to be real short on details here because, frankly, I'd just as soon forget about it altogether. Suffice it to say that I spent the evening alone. Ray promised to be home and spend the evening with me, but he finked out. At midnight I sat in front of the TV alone, watching the apple drop on Times Square, toasting myself with a small glass of sour champagne, tears streaming down my face. No one to kiss ... no one to wish me a Happy New Year. When Ray eventually came home at 3 a.m. (courtesy of a "Care Cab," thank goodness, because he was stinking drunk), we got into an ugly fight that he didn't even remember the next morning. Not exactly an auspicious beginning to 1986. By the next day things were semi-OK between us again, but I STILL feel a teensy twinge of anger every time I remember how I spent my lonely New Years' Eve.

A couple of unexpected visitors have added a little sparkle to my life recently. Mom was here for a visit on Dec. 30th. Jamie and Kacie brought out ALL of their new toys to show Grandma -- she was properly appreciative -- she liked the watch Ray gave me, also. She brought me my old electric typewriter, the one Dad gave me for Christmas 1977 -- was I ever glad to see THAT big old klunker again!! -- as well as some three-ring binders and a couple of coats she thought I could use. As usual we had a warm and chatty visit.

My other unexpected visitor was my old boyfriend (must I always refer to him that way??), Phil R. He's in town for his brother Ryan's wedding, and he decided to pay a surprise call on me. The girls remembered him from his visit last summer, and soon they were climbing all over them, calling him "Poo Head" and untying his shoelaces ... all of which he took in stride, in that familiar, calm Phil way I remember so well. I told him about Karen (Pugh) Grace becoming a mother for the first time on November 21, and we both agreed -- how can it be that FOURTEEN YEARS have gone by since the days of the church youth group, when he and Karen and John and I were seldom apart?? How on EARTH can we all be in our late twenties now, lawyers and mothers, all grown up and scattered across the country like autumn leaves ... ??




My old friend Phil pays us a surprise visit (and the girls go wild)
December 1985

After Phil's visit, I had a couple days of the "What Ifs?" What if we'd stayed together, back in high school? What if we'd gotten married? Etc. etc. But that has pretty much disappeared now. That kind of wistful, wishful thinking gets me nowhere. Eventually I always come back to the fact that if I hadn't married Ray, I wouldn't have Jamie and Kacie. And somehow having these particular children makes all the hell and heartache seem worth it ... I'd probably do it all over again, exactly the same way, because I can't imagine a universe without Jamie and Kacie in it.

There have been other "little" things that have brightened our days ... new neighbors next door (where the Bruffs used to live), and, miracle of miracles, they have a little boy roughly Jamie's age! His name is Bryan, and they're already good friends. Kacie, who at age 33 months is finally beginning to soften and mellow into an extremely NICE little girl -- not to mention the sheer bliss of having her completely toilet-trained -- is pure joy to have around right now. A package from my pen pal Melinda in N.J. (who came to visit us last summer) containing hand-knit scarves for the whole family and a new sweater set for the baby. A box of clothes for Jamie from family friend Janet K. The first issues of my new magazines (all paid for!), "Redbook" and "American Baby" ... unexpected gifts from Ben & Lori next door: a new pink ski jacket for Kacie, her very first new coat EVER, and a huge carton of baby food, formula and bottles ... Jamie and Kacie officially sharing a room now, and all the work I did on Saturday making the closet accommodate two: a job very well done ... interesting and literate new pen pals Kathy Bergeron, Julie Jones, Teri Benward and Joli Baker ... morning re-runs of my favorite childhood soap, "Dark Shadows" - good grief, that show is TWENTY years old!! ... the simple pleasures of caring for a home & family ...

... And the baby. Always, always these days, it is the baby to whom my thoughts eventually turn. Thinking about the little one inside of me is always cause for joy.




 


Wednesday noon
January 8, 1986

I dreamed about the baby last night -- a rather disconcerting little dream, I'm afraid. I dreamed that I had a son with blond hair and a squashed-in face and a harelip. I kept trying to feel some affection for him, but instead I was repulsed. I couldn't stand him! I couldn't figure out why I was feeling this way until I suddenly realized he was a carbon copy of three year old Charlie next door! I woke up and felt SO relieved. (Aren't I nice?)

Having a nice typical day. For the past week or so I've been having some minor health problems, but today I feel halfway decent for a change. I woke up one day last week with a horrible toothache and sore throat, which persisted for much too long. Aspirin helps a little but it upsets my stomach. Ray is calling Dr. Bell for me today from work (we still didn't have a working telephone) and I may get to see him this afternoon. In the meantime I'm feeling less pain today, and I'm hoping I'm past the worst of it. The kids have just finished lunch, tomato soup and pb&j sandwiches, and now they're milling around the living room, demanding to go outside and play. It's a cloudy day ... maybe we'll have a rainstorm this afternoon? That would feel great. December was a month of unprecedented smog and fog, no rain at all. The air quality was so poor that I hated going outside, even just to walk across the street to the mailbox, because of the smell and taste of the smog. Now we're back to more "normal" weather -- we've had a little rain, and it's helped clear the air and make things seem fresh and clean again. More of the same today would simply be an added blessing.

Now the kids are outside playing. I washed their faces and brushed their hair, put them into socks, shoes and ski jackets, and now they're puttering around the yard, shouting and tossing plastic balls into the air and fighting over Jamie's tricycle. I'm sitting next to the living room window, watching them. I could probably spend hours (and I often do!) just watching the two of them at play. Even their fiercest battles, seen from a nice, quiet distance, seem comically endearing. These two impossibly small, impossibly cute little people ... my daughters ... I just love them so much.



 




Thursday 11 a.m.
January 9, 1986

Getting off to a slow start today. It was harder than usual to pull myself out of bed this morning. Kacie came in, pulled the covers off my face and shouted "Geh TUP, Mama!!," and that finally seemed to do the trick. I'm just now having my first cup of coffee, hoping it will help shake off the cobwebs and get my blood circulating. The baby is awake -- I'm getting a lot of deep, heavy lurching -- he's an active little bugger! Certainly more active than his Mama, anyway.

I love mornings. Our kind of mornings, I mean. Our days begin slowly and pleasantly, with no fuss and no rush. Once I manage to wake myself up and get out of bed, I usually feel happy and optimistic about the day ahead. I get a sense of it being a new day, filled with promise. Sometimes that optimistic feeling prevails for the rest of the day ... sometimes things go all to hell by 10 a.m. ... but at least I start the day feeling like anything is possible. I love my house in the mornings, even the days when it's a godawful mess. And I love all the little rituals of morning -- making coffee, showering, dressing the kids, picking up, putting things to rights. Beginning the day-long process of making a home. Taking dinner meat out of the freezer.  Fixing breakfast. Writing in my journal, with a fresh cup of coffee steaming beside me. Watching my soaps. Looking out the window at our deserted neighborhood and planning my day. I wish mornings could remain like this forever ... unhurried, calm, happy. It gets the day off to a perfect start.

In retrospect, I'm glad that I was so awareof my happiness.  Even though things were far from perfect, I was at least able to enjoy my children and our lives together in the little Kirkland house.

I felt a brief flash of depression yesterday while I was cleaning the bathroom. While I scoured the sink, my mind suddenly filled with all of the OTHER things I should be doing. The kitchen cupboards are a mess ... the fridge is filthy ... the walls need cleaning ... the spare bedroom is a hopeless jumble ... I owe a ton of letters ... blah blah blah. Ordinarily I don't let such thought bother me too much. I know that eventually everything gets done, and that in the Grand Scheme of Things none of this stuff matters much. Ordinarily. But yesterday, for some reason, the thought of all the other jobs that needed doing had me in tears. I stopped scouring the sink and just stood there for a moment with the scrub pad in my hand, weeping. I felt panicky and hopeless. How in the world will I get everything done by the end of April?? I was completely overwhelmed and panic-stricken. It was horrible.

The feeling only lasted for a couple of minutes, though, and pretty soon I resumed cleaning and went on with my day as though nothing had happened. The panic subsided, and I went back to life per normal. But something about the incident in the bathroom nagged at me. It had felt so disturbingly familiar. Had it happened to me before, during previous pregnancies? I decided to find out.

I am in my 25th week of pregnancy at the moment.  So I went back and checked my journals for August 1981 and December 1982  ...  the points at which I was at this same approximate stage of pregnancy with Jaymi and Kacie.  I wanted to see if I'd  experienced other anxiety attacks like the one I had yesterday. What I discovered in the journals amused and comforted me.

Read for yourself:

September 25, 1981 (pregnant with Jamie):

" ... There's so damned much to get done in the next three months. Today is one of those days when just thinking about it all has me feeling overwhelmed and bogged-down. Time to make some lists, I guess."


December 28, 1982 (pregnant with Kacie):

" ... I've got SO MUCH TO DO to prepare for Baby, and the suffocating feeling that time is running out ... "

There was lots more, but that was the gist of it. God, what a relief! The terror, the hopeless feeling, the sense of being overwhelmed by it all ... apparently these are all perfectly normal for this stage of pregnancy. I've been through it all before, and lived to tell the tale. My relief is enormous.

Reading about the other two pregnancies was comforting in other ways. My moods are so erratic lately. One minute I'm feeling "happy and optimistic"  ...  the next minute I'm lashing out at Ray and the girls over nothing  ...  the next minute I'm blue and weepy. I can't control myself at all, and it has had me worried. Thank goodness -- my old journals have reminded me that this, too, is something normal for me. "Normal," also, is the toothache! I had a horrendous one when I was pregnant with Kacie, and I'd forgotten all about it. Also normal are the heartburn, the voluminous appetite and constant thirst, the weird dreams, the doubts, the fear of labor ... I've been through it ALL of this before.  I'd just forgotten about it.




 


Friday 11 a.m.
January 10, 1986

The girls are sitting at the table, coloring ... Jamie is singing "We are the world, we are the children" ... I'm watching my daily "Dark Shadows" re-run. Hard to believe this show is twenty years old. My favorite soap when I was a kid!  I'm really enjoying the chance to watch it again. Cloudy, muddy morning. Brand-new coffee ... Ray has started buying the fresh kind, the stuff you grind yourself ... it tastes incredible, the way I've always wanted coffee to taste. No real plans for this day. In spite of discovering how "normal" my overwhelmed feelings are, I'm still bothered by them. The mountain of things that must be done seems insurmountable. Haunting me most of all is that back bedroom. Good grief. How will I ever turn that hopeless jumble of boxes and junk into a baby's bedroom??  On a lesser level, I'm bothered by the clutter "beneath the surface," all over this house ... cupboards, drawers, closets. No one but me even knows the clutter exists (except maybe Ray, and I doubt even cares), but it still nags at me. I have that old crazy urge to sort through everything we own and throw half of it away ... to consolidate ... to tidy everything up. I want EVERYTHING in order, neat, organized.





 


Sunday noon
January 12, 1986

A weekend of marked contrasts. Yesterday was a horrible day, but then today things couldn't be better! The mood swings I'm experiencing during this pregnancy are crazy. There is absolutely no middle ground ... it's either way up or else it's way down. Yesterday I was peevish, weepy and tired: the slightest little thing caused me to fall apart. (Terri: "Gee, those white pants are getting a little tight, aren't they Honey?" Ray: "That's because YOU wash them too much."  I fell all to pieces over that little remark.) Jamie spilled purple Kool-Aid on the rug, Terry came over for three boring and obnoxious visits (I DON'T CARE about her stupid little wardrobe problems), and Ray left at 2:00 in the afternoon to "buy a new paintbrush" and wasn't home until 8 p.m., squinty-eyed drunk of course. Nothing seemed to go right the whole day. And I certainly didn't make things any better ... I snapped at everybody, right and left, blaming them for my own sour mood.

Today the sun is shining -- literally and figuratively. It feels so much like spring that I've got the kitchen door open. There is more activity around the neighborhood than usual ... Jamie and Kacie are next door, watching Ben cut down trees in his front yard ... the world feels alive and shining. I got up at 8:30 this morning feeling 100%. It's only noon but I've already fixed pancakes for breakfast, cleaned the house and put on a little makeup. (Ray just crawled out of bed a few minutes ago and is already plopped in front of the TV, watching football.) I feel like using THIS day to make up for yesterday!





 



Monday 10:30 a.m.
January 13, 1986

Just out of the shower, and I feel terrific. My face is tingling from the skin freshener I dabbed on with a cotton ball ... my teeth are freshly brushed ... I'm wearing one of my less-dowdy maternity outfits (the new maternity jeans, my blue "BABY" smock with a red turtleneck underneath ... I've even put on earrings and a little cologne. I look like a human being!

Jamie turned my coffee on for me while I was showering, so it was fresh and ready for me by the time I'd dressed. Now she's sitting here at the kitchen table with me, coloring and gluing pieces of paper onto a calendar for her Grandma. "Keri is so very!" she says, under her breath, mimicking the skin lotion commercial on TV. She is so pretty today: clean shiny hair pulled into long braids, bangs neatly trimmed, purple sweatshirt, gray sweatpants, huge brown eyes with brows slightly furrowed as she works ... sweet, guileless face ...

Now Kacie has joined us here at the table ... crooked ponytails, chubby cheeks, dressed in clashing pink and purple, all chatters and giggles. "Want some TAPE!" she says, struggling to pull a piece of masking tape from the roll Jamie is using, but she succeeds only in tangling in hopelessly. "Mommy get Sissy some TAPE!?!" she shouts at me, and I pull off a small piece for her, which she sticks onto the table and then pulls off, over and over.

Today I am going to sit down and make some lists. Provided that Baby arrives on schedule -- and allotting myself a one week "vacation" immediately before he/she is due -- I have thirteen weeks to get everything done. I must admit that the simple act of looking at a calendar and counting the weeks has comforted me enormously. It made me realize that there's more time than I thought ... plenty of time, as a matter of fact. When it comes right down to the wire, I'm sure I'm going to feel too much time on my hands.  So I'm going to force myself to stop -- relax -- regroup. I'm going to get some lists made, and get a clear idea in my head of what exactly needs to be done. And then I'm going to proceed slowly. Every day I'll try to get a couple of things done. Some days will be more productive than others, probably, but the main thing is I want to pace myself. If I rush and try to get it all done in one stretch, I'm going to wear myself out ... and then I'll probably just have it all to do over again anyway, since nothing EVER stays "done" around here for long ... !

That's my pep talk for the day. On to something else for a minute.

Had my first "rough" night last night related directly to pregnancy (as opposed to Ray snoring, Kacie yelling, etc.) The baby's energetic movements woke me around 4 a.m., and a full bladder woke me up again a while later. Physically I am not too uncomfortable yet. I can sleep on my side  ... even on my tummy occasionally. But this was the first time that the baby's movements woke me from a sound sleep (and interrupted an excellent dream, I might add). I'm sure it won't be the last time! I have a lot of very mild heartburn during the daytime, but none at night. My appetite is healthy but it isn't constant, and I'm not having any irregular cravings aside from an occasional yen for something spicy. All in all, things seem to be moving along very smoothly this time. I'm aware of the added bulk around my middle, and sometimes when I stand up after sitting for too long my spine and my belly are out of whack: I have to "waddle" around for a minute or two until I regain my balance. The biggest problem I'm having during this pregnancy -- this is a little embarrassing -- is acne! On my back and chest, mostly, and once in awhile on my face. I've been scrupulous about keeping my skin clean but nothing helps. My back is the worst -- a total battlefield of bumps and sores. I've never in my life had acne this severe! I hope it clears up after the baby is born. 

I don't seem to be worrying quite so much this time that the baby won't be "normal." While I was carrying Jamie and Kacie -- especially with Jamie, since she was my first -- my fear bordered on obsession. I worried night & day. This time, although I do feel some concern, I'm not spending every waking minute wondering if my baby will be sick or retarded or deformed.





 



Tuesday 11:30 a.m.
January 14, 1986

I'm almost embarrassed to admit how unproductive yesterday was. After giving myself this big pep talk about proceeding slowly and making lists and some days being more "productive," I spent my day sitting on the sofa watching TV!! I never even got my list written! It was 7 p.m. before I put any makeup on ... 8 p.m. before I got the previous days' dishes washed.

Today at least I've got my kitchen cleaned up already and am now doing a bunch of laundry. I got all the baby clothes out of storage and will give them a good laundering this afternoon, then will sort through them all and see exactly what I've got (and what I need to replace).

Laying in bed last night, Ray reached over and patted my fat tummy. "GEEZ!" he said, teasingly. "It's the Goodyear blimp!"




 




Wednesday
January 15, 1986

Strange dreams the past couple of nights, both involving ex-boyfriends.

Last night's dream was about Phil  ...  I dreamed that he was getting married on a grassy hill, while I stood behind a tree and cried. I thought no one could see me, but suddenly he turned around and our eyes met, and I saw that he was crying too. It was one of the saddest dreams I've ever had ... it was as though we both still loved each other, but knew we could never be together.

It's really no wonder I've been dreaming about old loves lately ... Ray is being a creep again.  For one thing, he spent all weekend away from home. He would leave right after he got up in the morning, saying he had to "run some errands," and then he wouldn't be home until 6 or 7 p.m., wobbly drunk. This was his idea of "spending the weekend with us." Monday night he wasn't home until 9:30. He said, "I worked two hours OT." That still means he spent FOUR HOURS at the tavern!  And of course he was totally drunk again. He had a couple bags of groceries, and he expected me to be SO grateful about it. Instead, I just felt repulsed. He is so disgusting when he's drunk ... groceries or no groceries. It's hard to look much beyond that.

Last night it was 10:30 before he got home (he said he'd be here at 7:30); the kids and I had been in bed for a long time. I wasn't asleep, but I lay in bed anyway and listened to him moving around in the kitchen. Right away he began doing all the things I hate ... muttering under his breath, crashing pots and pans around, slamming doors, popping open cans of beer (just what he needed). It sounded like he was mad because his dinner wasn't "hot." (Sorry ... the soup kitchen closes at 10 p.m., Asshole.) "What, no hot dog buns left?" he muttered. I knew that he was baiting me, trying to lure me out to the kitchen so he could pick a fight. I was already so annoyed that I would have loved nothing better than to walk out there and tell him what a jerk I think he is, but I resisted the impulse. Just this once, I wasn't going to let him get to me. There's an article in one of my new magazines called "How To Cope With A Moody Man," and I decided to try some of the tactics outlined in it. The whole article is wonderfully applicable, but I can't transcribe the whole thing here -- the gist of the advice is, Don't meet every transient burst of rage head on ... Don't take the situation personally ... Don't be manipulated by his moods. In other words - ignore him. So I stuck some earplugs in my ears, rolled over and tuned him out completely. At first I was still so irritated, it felt like every nerve in my body was standing on end. He had turned the TV on so loud I was sure he was going to wake the girls:  I had to fight the urge to go out and screech at him. Gradually, though, my mind turned to other things, and I started to drift off. By the time he came to bed, shortly after midnight, I was drowsy and calm, and I simply pretended to be asleep. Soon he was snoring, and soon after that I fell asleep for real (thanks to the earplugs and the late hour). An ugly confrontation had been avoided.

I'm really going to try and use the advice in the article to help me deal with his outbursts. The only thing that worries me is: what happens to all that sublimated anger? Where does it go? I'd hate to think that after I manage to contain the rage I feel towards Ray, I turn around and direct it at something (or someone) else ...

Sigh. Writing about my marriage always leaves me feeling so depressed. So flat and empty. Sometimes I feel very warm and tender towards Ray -- those are the good times -- but other times I wonder why I married such a weak and unreliable man. I'm not even sure I love him half the time. He doesn't make it easy.

(I look up into the blue of the morning sky and see a jet sailing through the clouds, miles away, like a tiny silver needle. It is heading west. Where is it going? Hawaii? Some warm gentle place, far away from the chill and the smog ... some place where I will never ever go ... ?)

Forgive me. I'm easily depressed these days.

Transcribing this entry, nearly twenty years later  --  especially the part about "some place where I will never go"  -- actually has me in tears.  Eventually I DO make it to that 'warm gentle place, far away from the chill and the smog'  ...  but it comes at enormous cost.



 



Thursday
January 16, 1986

Every time I sit down and write about what a louse Ray is, and how dissatisfied I am with my marriage, something happens that reminds me of how much WORSE things could be. Yesterday it happened again.

I had a 4 p.m. appointment with my o.b., so Ray was home at 3:45 to pick up the girls and I and drive us to the doctor's office. When I got to Dr. Bell's office, I was told my appointment had been cancelled at the last minute; the doctor had been called in for emergency surgery. I was so let-down ... I really look forward to my visits. Ray said, "That's OK. Let's go get some pizza." So we did something we've never done before ... we took the girls to Pietro's and had dinner out! We've had dinner out before, but never pizza, and never this spontaneously. It was a ball! The girls were so cute and excited: there were little rides for them to go on, and free balloons ... the pizza was delicious ... I completely enjoyed being there with my family. It made me feel proud. I sat there thinking, "Why can't it be like this all the time? Why can't we behave like regular people all the time? (And why can't I be this satisfied all the time?)"

After we got home from pizza, I curled up on the sofa with the newspapers and a couple of magazines and spent a pleasant evening reading. When I got to Rick Anderson's weekly column in The Seattle Times -- portions of which I've transcribed below -- I nearly fainted from shock:

" ‘This kitchen wall,' Pamela K. said, coming in and taking off her surplus fatigue jacket and putting it over a chair, ‘well, it isn't a wall.' She pointed to exposed framing behind the stove in the narrow apartment on Seventh Avenue. Age 28, seven months pregnant, long-haired Pamela squeezed between the refrigerator and her roommate, Clarence H., also 28, and went across flooring which sinks as you walk on it. In the poor light, she pointed into an aging bathroom with the original footed tub. Running the length of the wall at the floor was an open, 3-inch gash.

‘Now down there, that's a clear violation,' she was saying yesterday in the one-bedroom basement rental where she lives with Clarence, a 10-year-old child, a cat, and an uninvited audience of mice and roaches. ‘Through that gap, the mice come in and the heat goes out. The landlord says he'll do the repairs,' said Pamela , showing a visitor the large closet she has turned into a bedroom for her 10-year-old. ‘But only after people move out.'

‘The repairs that've been done here, we've done ourselves.' She went around the $225 a month collection of three small rooms, showing off her peeling paint, and then opened a front door that comes off at its hinges because the frame is rotted.

‘I know it's not a place for kids, living here. Nothing to do. They played up on the (vacated) third floor until the manager closed it off because people have been getting in there and doing drugs, and they leave their syringes and stuff. We've looked around but you can't find nothin'," said Patty, who is on welfare. She glanced over at Clarence, who lost his job and is on unemployment. He smiled as if he hurt somewhere.

‘You can say it's a roof over our heads, that's more than some people got. But,' Pam said, curling a finger in her long hair and then looking away, ‘it's, you know, kind of a disgrace to live here.'

Aside from the fact that the article is grim and heartbreaking -- and aside from the similarities between Pamela K. and me (our ages, being pregnant, having long hair) -- the article hit me hard for a completely unexpected reason. Pamela K.'s "roommate" is none other than my first true love, Clarence!  When I read his name in the article and realized it was him, my heart hit a speed bump at 50 miles an hour. CLARENCE. The first boy I ever loved, in both the emotional and physical sense of the word. The first boy to break my heart. My Clarence. Our teenage love affair is twelve years dead, but you never lose that proprietary feeling towards your first love, do you? Something binds you forever. All it takes is a song on the radio, a photograph ... or a name in the newspaper ... and all of a sudden you're fifteen years old again ...

When I was going with Clarence I knew he probably wouldn't amount to much. He was charming, but he was also sort of shiftless and ... I hate to say this ... not very bright. I loved him because he was sexy and tender and funny, but I knew he wasn't going anywhere in life. But my God ... I never expected him to turn out like this. My heart aches for him. Here I sit in my warm cozy house, well fed, reasonably (when I allow myself to be) happy, with healthy children and some hope for the future. And yet all I can do is sit here and complain about how "rough" I have it. I am thoroughly and completely ashamed of myself, not only because I have it so much better than Clarence and his girlfriend do, but because I've been taking for granted again how loyal and hard-working and basically decent Ray is. Sure, things could be better: on the other hand they could be much, much worse.

Grow up, Terri.  I was my own Life Coach, basically.





 



Friday morning
January 17, 1986

Wild, windy morning following a night of storms. Not sure how I feel today ... happy or sad? Up or down? A lot has happened in the last 24 hours, and basically I am simply very tired. Coffee isn't going to help. I know that as soon as I finish lunch and put Kacie down for a nap, I'll crawl into bed myself and sleep the afternoon away.

Ann Meyers dropped by yesterday afternoon and asked me to babysit her son Jason. I didn't mind. Last week, Ann's brutal asshole of a husband -- the infamous Roommate From Hell, Mike Meyers -- sent her to the hospital after another one of his wild rampages. Ann has left him for good and is now trying to piece her life back together, and I am happy to do anything to help. Jason is Kacie's age -- almost three -- a little on the wild side, but not unmanageable. The girls played happily with him most of the day, and he joined us for lunch. (Tomato soup, tuna sandwiches, Oreos.)  I sat on the sofa and played referee all afternoon. Late in the afternoon Ann was back, asking if Jason could spend the night? Again I said OK. She tried to pay me, but I told her no, you need the money more than I do. (Strange words to be coming outta MY mouth!) So instead she brought me a beautiful flowering plant for my kitchen and a bag of doughnuts for the kids, and promised to pick Jason up early the next morning.

Ray, bless him, was home around 6:30. He went to Wendy's to pick up some burgers and fries for the kids, and then bought a few essential groceries -- bread, pop, milk, etc. Around 7 p.m., a fierce windstorm blew into our area. It knocked our power out a couple of times, briefly, and kept Jason and the girls glued to the window, watching the lightning. The savage winds kept me awake most of the night.

This morning I was up at 6 a.m., making coffee for Ray while he tried unsuccessfully to get the car started. (The battery is dead.) He finally had to call a taxi and left for work at seven. I was tempted to go back to bed, but then the kids got up and that was that. I fixed them each a bowl of Cornflakes and plopped them in front of the TV to watch Scooby Doo, Tom & Jerry and "Sesame Street."  While they watched their shows, I catnapped on the sofa.

Ann and her friend Seth were here at 10:30 (an hour ago) to pick up Jason. I truly didn't mind babysitting him, but it was a relief nonetheless to see him go. I don't have a lot of stamina at the moment, and three preschoolers are a bit too much for me. Just as Ann was walking out the door, my father-in-law pulled up! I thought, Oh good grief, now what? I was afraid he was here to pull rank on us somehow ... we're behind with the rent and I was afraid he was going to grouse. Not so. He was friendly as could be ... he'd come to pick up Jamie and take her over to their house for the weekend. A spur of the moment thing. Jamie was delighted. I packed her a bag and sent her off with hugs and kisses.

Now I sit here, alone with Kacie. She was temporarily stricken when she realized Grandpa wasn't taking her, too, but she got over it quickly. Now it's beginning to dawn on her that she's got Mama ALL TO HERSELF ... not to mention free reign of the house & all the toys. And I'm glad to have a little time alone with her. I miss Jamie already, but time alone with Kacie is precious. (And once the baby arrives, it will become even more so.) I'm reheating the leftover Wendy's stuff for our lunch, and afterwards she and I will take a nap together. Hopefully when we get up this afternoon I'll be feeling better.





 



Monday
January 20, 1986

Things are so unbelievably screwed up, I hardly know where to begin. It's been three days since I've written. During that time so many things have gone wrong, I'm about ready to pack it in and move to Tahiti ... ALONE. I'm in terrible pain emotionally.





 


Tuesday 8 a.m.
January 21, 1986

Slightly better. Twenty-four hours haven't made a lot of difference in our circumstances, but my perception of them has improved. I'm still ready to move to Tahiti, but now I think I'll take my family with me ... 

A brief summation of our troubles. Ray has been suspended from his job for coming in late Friday morning (the day he couldn't get his car started). He plans to file a grievance and hopes to get back to work later this week, but in the meantime I am living in terror. What if he loses his job for good?

The car is still inoperable: I had to cancel my doctor's appointment yesterday because there was no way to get there. We're two months behind with the rent, our utility bills are unpaid, Dr. Bell wants $295, and there is almost no food in this house.

This past weekend was the very worst you could possibly imagine. It ranks right up there with the week Scott W. and I split up ... six years ago this week, incidentally. It was a weekend of torrential rainstorms that flooded the whole neighborhood (although the flooding missed our house, for which I'm grateful). I missed Jamie terribly.  Saturday morning I went next door to borrow Lori's phone so I could call Jamie. While I was over there, Kacie wandered out of our house and into the street, in her stocking feet, looking for me. Some guy in a Kirkland Utilities truck narrowly avoided hitting her. He came pounding on Lori's door, shouting threats at me -- he said he was going to call the police because I was "letting my kid run around in the street." I was so upset that I cried for the rest of the day. In fact, I cried the whole weekend: once I got started, I just couldn't stop. Everything seemed to be unraveling at once. I was worried about Ray's job, I was missing Jamie, my feelings were hurt by that man who accused me of being a rotten mother ... all kinds of STUFF at once.

On Sunday I had to go to Sheryl & Jeff's for our nephew Michael's first birthday. Ray refused to go -- he's avoiding his parents because of the overdue rent -- so I had to ask Peg and Don Sr. to come over and pick up Kacie and I. It was a tense and unpleasant afternoon. Ray was more than conspicuous in his absence, and I bore the brunt of the embarrassment. I felt shy and out of place, and I barely spoke a word to anyone. The only highlight of the day was getting Jamie back!  That, at least, went right. "I miss you SO much!" she said, hugging me tight.

I don't know, Journal. Writing about it all now, it doesn't sound like much, does it? A handful of troubles. Certainly not worth an entire weekend of tears ... ?

Today, actually, is the first day since last Wednesday -- almost a week ago -- that I've felt even vaguely human. I've been in such an awful slump: this is the first morning I've felt like getting out of bed. I got up at 7:30, before anyone else, and made an early pot of coffee and turned up the thermostat. Kacie came wandering out to the living room at 8:00, and Jamie followed a short time later. Ray is still asleep. Now I'm cooking a huge, sumptuous breakfast for everybody ... sausages, hash browns, deluxe scrambled eggs, Poulsbo toast with butter. I only have one decent frying pan at the moment, so I have to cook each element of the meal separately -- first the potatoes, now the sausage, next the eggs and toast. It takes longer that way, but it allows me time to write this morning. The girls are watching their beloved Channel 11 cartoons (to be followed, shortly, by "Sesame Street") and playing with Mr. Potato Head. I think they sense Mama's improved mood: the atmosphere around here is a little bit lighter. I sit here at the kitchen table and stare at the gray skies overhead, and things just don't seem to be weighing as heavily as they were. The money problems are still there, and Ray's job situation has yet to be resolved. Nothing much has changed, yet I still feel a glimmer of that old familiar optimism. Will everything be OK? Somehow, today, I believe that they will be.

One thing remains constant throughout all the ups and downs: my anticipation of this baby. It's funny. Even with all the worries over money lately, I feel no regrets about getting pregnant when I did. It's true that this pregnancy came as a surprise, and it took Ray and I awhile to come to terms with the idea. But now that the baby is just three months away, already an established fact of our lives  -- Ray felt him move for the first time last night  --  I wouldn't turn back even if I could. I have a feeling that this baby is going to be very, very special to all of us.  





 



Saturday morning
January 25, 1986

Hurray. Life is more or less back to normal. It's a gorgeous, sunny Saturday, and I feel great! (I think back to the horrible rainstorms and emotional turmoil of last weekend and shudder. Thank heaven that whole disastrous weekend is history.) I have an appointment in a few minutes with a hot shower, followed by a day of light housework -- the kind I enjoy -- but I thought I'd scribble a quick word or two first.

Speaking of appointments: I finally got to see Dr. Bell this week, after three missed appointments, and everything checks out. My next door neighbor Lori drove me to the doctor's office at 10:30 Wednesday morning and dropped me off. The nurse took my blood pressure and weighed me -- I've gained seven pounds since my last appointment, on Dec. 3rd -- that's a couple of pounds too many, but otherwise things are OK. I listened to the baby's heartbeat: he kicked and squirmed when the nurse spread the ice-cold ultrasound gel on my tummy! Then Dr. Bell came in and measured my tummy and answered a few of my questions ... I asked him about my "elevator moods," the acne on my back, the problems I'm having digesting milk. His advice was short and sweet: GET MORE REST! My mood swings are worse when I'm tired.

I took a taxi home from the doctor's office ($5.40). When I got home, Ray was fixing lunch for the kids. From the frantic reception I got from the girls, you'd think I'd been gone two WEEKS rather than two hours!

Ray went back to work on Thursday, and he assures me that his job is fine. That's a huge load off my mind. The car still isn't running, and now the neighbors are starting to complain about the way the rear end is jutting out into the street. I hope we can get the darned thing fixed (and/or MOVED) this weekend.  Yet another in a never-ending series of junk cars.

Thursday was a good day. Lori invited me over first thing in the morning for a cup of tea. We sat at her dining room table gabbing for an hour and a half while our kids played in her backyard. She is a very nice person: I'm lucky to have her for a neighbor. After our visit, I came home and cleaned the house from top to bottom ... one of my "whirlwind days." I even cleaned the girls' room and the bathroom. Things had really piled up while I wallowed in depression the past week or so, and getting everything neat and tidy greatly improved my frame of mind. Funny how a little order makes everything seem better.

Friday (yesterday) I woke up stiff and sore from the previous days' exertion. I still felt wildly energetic, though! Since I couldn't do much more than hobble around, I concentrated on more sedentary tasks ... cleaning out the fridge, catching up on a few letters, sorting recipes.




 



Sunday 9:30 a.m.
January 26, 1986

Super Bowl Sunday ... whoopee. In three hours we're going over to the folks' to watch the game. (Apparently Ray and his folks have struck a tentative peace.) Ray is bustling around in the kitchen making whole wheat pancakes for breakfast. I'm just out of the shower, damp hair tumbling down my back, sour coffee taste in my mouth. "Mr. Rogers" is making popcorn in the living room. Baby is very quiet.

JLP: "I'm fixing the stroller. What did you THINK I was doin', catching a fish??"





 



Tuesday 11 a.m.
January 28, 1986

Woke up feeling happy and normal this morning ... hopped into the shower first thing, geared myself up for another day of kids and cleaning ...

... and then I turned on the TV, and in two minutes my good mood evaporated. Terrible, tragic news from Cape Canaveral: the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after lift-off this morning, killing all seven people aboard. What makes it even more tragic is that one crew member was Christa McAuliffe, the New Hampshire schoolteacher chosen to be the first civilian in space. I've been following her progress the past several months, as she prepared for the flight, and I was looking forward to this shuttle launch. Ordinarily I don't pay a lot of attention to the comings and goings of the various space shuttles, but this one caught my interest because of Christa. She was a wife and mother, as well as a teacher ... an ordinary person chosen to do something extraordinary ... and then it ends like this. I am filled with grief, sorrow for her young children, anger, denial. Things like this aren't supposed to happen.

They showed Christa's little daughter Caroline on TV this morning, in an interview taped a few weeks ago. She looks just a little older than Jamie. When someone asked her how she felt about her mother going into space, she replied that she didn't like it much ... she wanted her Mommy to "be here with me, in my house." That sounded so much like something Jay would say. It broke my heart.

Actually, none of the news the past couple of days has been good. Yesterday morning in Bellevue some asshole shot and killed his ex-wife -- she was nine months pregnant -- AND their four year old daughter, and then he gave himself a lethal injection. I felt sick to my stomach when I heard about that one. What kind of man could kill his own small daughter? Not to mention a pregnant woman? What is the matter with the world these days??



 




Wednesday
January 29, 1986

My sorrow over the space shuttle tragedy lingers: it is a sorrow shared by the entire world. President Reagan has ordered a one week period of mourning, and all flags are being flown at half-mast.

Here in our little home, life goes on. "Is that spaceship gonna 'splode again today?" Jamie asked me this morning. I think she's exasperated by all the television coverage of the disaster. She knows something terrible happened yesterday; every time they replay the explosion, she runs to throw her arms around me (mostly to comfort me, I think!). But mostly the whole thing is beyond her comprehension, although she showed a brief flash of compassion for the little girl who lost her Mama in the accident.

The girls are sitting on the living room floor, playing with toy dishes and having a "pretend tea party." I've spread some bath towels on the floor beneath them so they can use water for the "tea." Jamie has neatly arranged six tiny cups and saucers on top of one towel, and is carefully pouring water into each one. Kacie is enjoying the simpler pleasure of pouring her share of water back and forth from one plastic pitcher into the other. They are each completely absorbed in their play. Jamie barks out an occasional order to her sister. ("Now this is hot-burn. Don't TOUCH.") But for the most part Kacie ignores her. I sit here on the sofa and watch my little daughters in frank, naked adoration. I never realized how much was missing from my life until they arrived. They fill up my days with their imagination and their sweetness and their energy.

I dreamed again last night that I had a son. The dream was vague and muddled, but parts of it remain with me this morning ... the doctor said, "Push! Push!," and I pushed, and I saw a baby boy emerge from my body. He didn't look like a real newborn: he was clean and wide-eyed and standing on chubby legs. Ray and I looked at him proudly. "He looks just like Jamie!" someone said - was it me? The doctor brought me some papers to sign, and I signed the baby's name: "Michael." End of dream.

Woke up twice in the night with a painfully full bladder. I guess this is going to be a regular thing from now on, until Baby is born.

Yesterday I went into the spare bedroom and did a bit of tentative, initial cleaning ... mostly just picking junk off the floor and making room for more serious cleaning. I want Ray to paint the room (yellow?) as soon as possible. The sooner it's painted, the sooner I can finish putting it all together. I want everything together and ready by the end of March.



 





Thursday 9:30 a.m.
January 30, 1986

Waiting for my maternity jeans to finish tumbling in the dryer so I can take a shower and get dressed. The kids are STILL playing dishes.  ("Don't touch, it's hot-burn!," Jamie is STILL warning her little sister.) It's a soggy, rainy morning. I love it. Something about rainy days always lifts my spirits: I think I like how cozy it makes the house feeling ... a "soup-and-crackers" feeling ...

Tired from a full night and morning of weird, crowded dreams. Every possible element of my life was represented in one dream after another  ...  everything from Barnabus Collins pursuing me (fear of death?), to visiting Grandma Vert's house for the last time (anxiety over losing my childhood home?), to a dream-argument with Ray (marital problems?). The part I remember most clearly, though, is that I was sorting through the drawers of a desk I used to have as a kid. I was trying to clean it out and get it into order, but every time I opened a new drawer I'd find it more hopelessly cluttered than the last one had been. I kept discovering long-forgotten mementos from my childhood  ...  photographs, toys, books ... but I couldn't take the time to sit and look at them because I was more concerned with getting the drawers cleaned out. In fact, when I discovered a pile of photos from my childhood that I'd never seen before (something that in real life would have thrilled me beyond WORDS), all I could think was, "Oh no! Where will I put these? My photo albums are already too full!"

Jamie dressed herself this morning to surprise me: a gaily-striped new T-shirt under maroon overalls (on backwards). She came into my room at 9 a.m. and gently woke me up. "Mom," she said, "Sesame Street is on: it's time'a get up!" My room was so dark (from the rain) that I was temporarily confused ... it seemed more like night than day. Then I came out to the kitchen and opened the curtains and saw the rain, and my spirits lifted. I'm not laughing or turning cartwheels, but I'm in a decent mood. With any luck the feeling ought to prevail.

This is payday, but I don't expect it to make much of a difference. We are so behind financially, I don't see how we'll ever catch up. I foresee a lot of macaroni & cheese the next few weeks ...

Jamie has wandered out here to the kitchen now and is sitting beside me at the table, coloring pictures "for Santa." (She colors a page in her Christmas coloring book, then tears it out and stuffs them into a paper bag.  When the bag is full, presumably, I am to mail it to The North Pole.) Kacie now has the toy dishes all to herself ... she is still pouring water from one dish to another ... whenever she thinks I'm not looking, she takes a furtive sip or two. "Arr, arr" she says (water, water) - "Daddy taste dis!" Off in a world of her own, my littlest daughter serves "coffee" to her Invisible Daddy  ... 

The house is a cheery jumble this morning. Toy dishes and rumpled bath towels are heaped in a pile near the door. Crayons and color books are scattered across the kitchen table. Dirty dishes and remnants of last night's excellent supper clutter the countertops. Magnetic letters and numbers are on the floor in front of the TV ... Jamie's "children" (Maggie, Rosie and Jennifer, the three dolls she lugs EVERYWHERE) are temporarily abandoned on the sofa. One laundry basket stuffed to overflowing with dirty clothes parked on the floor, cereal boxes from this morning (Fruit and Fiber for Mom, Corn Flakes for the kids) still sitting on the counter. My house. My clutter. I'm in no big hurry to get things picked up ... I think the rain is having a calming effect on me, because all I really feel like doing is sitting here, sipping my coffee, watching "Scrabble" on TV and waiting for the baby to kick ...

Aha! (Or, as Jamie would say, "Too-DAH!") Baby is finally awake and thumping ... he just gave me a healthy jab on the right side, just beneath my ribcage. Youch!



 





Friday morning
January 31, 1986

Memorial service this morning for the seven dead Challenger astronauts. I watched part of it on TV. Very somber and moving. Not since President Kennedy was assassinated, 22 years ago, has our country been united in sorrow this profound.

Note from Ray this morning:


"TERRI -


Could you find the remote control and the other
cable ready cord for the VCR - Juan S. wants to used it this weekend
I will be home at 3:50 p.m. & will go shopping

Love,
Ray."


Ha! Juan wants to "used" it MY FAT FANNY. I'll bet Ray is selling him our VCR without consulting me  ... 

Ray wasn't home last night until after 10:00 (no groceries, no explanations), and of course he was stinking drunk. "HIT ME!" he yelled. "BEAT ME!"  He was feeling guilty for letting us down once again. The cupboards and fridge are bare, and I was really counting on getting some groceries. He knew he'd loused up, and he wanted me to scream, cry, throw things, take a swing at him ... instead, I calmly poured myself a glass of pop, tucked the newspaper under my arm and marched off to bed. That completely did him in. He'd expected fireworks, and instead he got silence.

This morning when I got up I found the above note sitting by the coffeemaker.



 





Saturday 10:30 a.m.
February 1, 1986

Slightly hungover, but hoping it won't affect the quality of my day. It's my own fault, anyway: I could have skipped the glass of beer at Dave's Place yesterday. When I'm pregnant, even a single beer makes me feel lousy the next day.

At least we have food in the house again. Ray kept his promise (for a change) and was home yesterday afternoon immediately after work. The girls and I decided to "surprise" him by standing at the door, dressed and ready to go shopping with him! He wasn't wild about the idea -- "All three of you?," he said in dismay -- but I blithely ignored him and herded everybody into the car. Later he admitted that he didn't really mind. He just has to automatically make a big stink about anything I suggest. Anyway, we stopped at Dave's Place first so Ray could "loan" the VCR to his friend Juan. I was right, by the way ... he IS trying to sell it. I guess I can't argue with him: it didn't cost us anything to begin with, we never did figure out how to use it, and the money would come in handy right now. Sigh. We had a beer and the girls had a root beer. Then we went to Albertsons and bought $80 worth of food ... mostly things like Hamburger Helper, mac & cheese, rice, etc. -- stuff that will (hopefully) get us through the next two weeks.



 





Sunday 10 a.m.
February 2, 1986

Better. A little sleepy, but better. I really ought to stay away from beer until the baby is born ... it isn't good for him, it isn't good for me. I did manage to accomplish quite a bit yesterday, though, in spite of the mini-hangover ... I cleaned and did laundry almost as well as I do on my "normal" days. Ray brought home some hamburgers for lunch and some Taco Time for dinner, so I didn't have to do any cooking -- that was nice. Later today I'm going to try out a recipe I found in a magazine, something called "Country Tomato & Rice Soup." Besides tomato and rice, it also has beef, carrots and celery in it, and it looks good. Just the thing for a drizzly cold day like today.

The girls are in the middle of Argument #278 of the morning ... sigh. Honestly, the noise level around this house ... lately it's been unreal. Kacie has a very short fuse, particularly when being pushed into doing something against her will, and when she gets mad she simply EXPLODES. This happens on average four or five times an hour, and it's deafening. Lately she has also learned to take pleasure in annoying Jamie. She'll deliberately grab a toy away from Jay and run with it, or else she'll interfere in a game her sister is playing. Whenever this happens, Jamie dissolves into a ferocious temper tantrum, equal in decibels to one of Kacie's. And once or twice an hour they'll both blow up at the same time. Those are the moments when I feel my grip starting to loosen. At that point they are beyond reason, beyond comfort ... just noise, pure and simple ... jagged, nerve-rattling noise, run-for-the-bathroom-and- lock-the-door noise, noise that makes your teeth ache and your head spin. I'm never sure whether to intercede, or to just ignore it and hope it'll go away. My childcare books have different suggestions. Dr. Spock says, "It generally works better if a mother keeps out of most of the fights between children who can stand up for themselves." Other books and magazine articles I've read advocate jumping in and separating them -- soon, the theory goes, they'll miss each other so much they'll forget all about their quarrel. What I usually end up doing, once the noise has reached the glass-shattering level, is to shout (to no one in particular), "MOM HAS HAD IT!!!!" This gets their attention, anyway. I refuse to listen to accusations or explanations ... "She did this/She did that!" ... I just shrug and say "I don't want to hear it." And that's pretty much it, until the next battle begins fifteen minutes later ...

The girls are beginning to understand that Mom won't referee an argument unless it reaches the life-threatening stage. They don't understand why I won't get involved: they just know I won't.





 




Monday 11:30 a.m.
February 3, 1986

I wonder how all of this will change after the baby is born? The sibling arguments, I mean, and my apathetic method of dealing with them? For that matter  ...  I wonder how the baby will affect us all the way around? This family is in for a major shake-up, I think.

When I first realized last summer that I was pregnant again, I immediately began worrying about how a baby would affect the two children we already have. How would Jamie & Kacie handle it? Would they be jealous, or would they revert back to babyish behavior themselves? Would they be mad at me? Later, after I had some time to read a few things and ponder the situation, my worry focused specifically on Kacie. Sure, she'll be three years old by the time the baby is born -- optimum spacing, supposedly -- but she'll be just barely three. Will the arrival of a younger brother or sister turn her little world upside down? Will she be hurt? Right now Kacie is the baby of our family, and she knows it. We've let her take her time developmentally, and in a lot of ways she IS still a baby. She's very much "Mommy's girl" at the moment. What will happen when her position is usurped by a howling interloper?? I'm more than a little worried about this ...

Jamie I'm not quite so worried about. She has already survived the arrival of a younger sibling, and I'm sure she'll survive it again. I think she may in fact enjoy this new baby ... some of the time, anyway. She's such a Little Mama at heart -- so interested in dolls and babies in general -- and I think she may enjoy the diversion of having a baby around the house. She's already talking about how she wants to help feed the baby, whenever he/she is old enough to eat solid food.





 




February 4, 1986

If I have any worries regarding Jamie, it's the more unspecific worry about how to handle this latest negative phase she's going through (I call them "The Fearsome Fours").  A lot of the time she's balky and contrary, particularly when it comes to helping out around the house. I don't ask her to do much -- pick up her toys, dress herself, keep an eye on Kacie when they're playing outside, fetch things for me occasionally -- but lately anything I suggest or request is met with stubborn resistance. I worry that I may not be as tolerant of her four year old balkiness after the Baby is born, and that this might do lasting damage to our relationship. I pray this doesn't happen, but it is something to think about.

As for my other "child" -- Ray -- you've got me. I haven't the faintest idea what to expect from him when the baby is born. I have suspicions  --  and hopes  --  but only time will tell. I hope that this baby will be special to Ray, and that it will awaken in him a renewed desire to be responsible, dependable and involved with his children. I'd like to see him fall hopelessly in love with this baby, and to spontaneously begin helping out more with the kids and the house. That's my hope. My fear is that just the opposite will happen: Ray's involvement with the baby will be minimal, and that his drinking will increase because of the added pressure he feels. I envision myself six months from now -- exhausted, overwhelmed, alone, angry -- so busy trying to meet the needs of four very demanding people that there is no time for myself. Not a pretty picture.



 


Notes from "How To Parent"

Four Year Olds

* Tensional outlets are heightened (blinking, sucking thumb, picking nose)
* Friendships are important altho she finds it difficult to get along w/friends
* Very bossy!
* Will express emotional insecurity by crying, whining, frequent questioning)
* Good deal of commanding, demanding, shoving, hitting, fits of rage
* LOVES TO DEFY ORDERS AND REQUESTS
* Drive to talk is very high
* Will engage in lengthy dramatic play indoors & out
* Four yr. olds need firmness, variety

Notes from Dr. Spock

* Girl wants to be like her mother; in caring for dolls she takes on same attitudes and tone of voice her mother uses toward children.
* Absorbs mother's point of view toward men and boys.
* Mother can best help daughter grow up by being self-confident, firm, unafraid of showing devotion and affection to husband.



My little glamour girls
Spring 1986


 

 



Wednesday 10:30 a.m.
February 5, 1986

Off the worries for awhile. I'm obviously crossing the bridge before I come to it. It could be that things will be just fine when the baby is born ...

The past couple of days have been fairly normal, nothing much out of the ordinary. Ray hasn't been home until 10 p.m. each night, so basically I've been here alone with the girls for very long stretches of time. Yesterday it rained all afternoon so we were stuck in the house. Kacie took a long nap; Jamie made Play-Doh "muffins"; I lay on the sofa most of the day, taking notes from my old journals (for the autobiography I hope to write someday for my kids).  I didn't know it at the time, of course, but this was me sowing the seeds for what would eventually become *FootNotes.*



 

 



Friday morning
February 7, 1986

Saw Dr. Bell on Wednesday. Ray came straight home from work that day and drove me to the doctor's office, then he sat out in the car with the girls and waited for me. Routine visit. I was weighed, poked, prodded, had my blood pressure taken, listened to the baby's heartbeat. ("Sounds like a girl!" said the nurse as we listened to the watery lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub. "What do you mean?" I asked. "Oh, it's a little bit fast," she explained. "That usually seems to mean a girl baby.") Dr. Bell spent ten minutes talking to me and answering my questions after he'd examined me. "How are you feeling?" he asked me, and I replied "Tired ... excited ... hungry!"  I mentioned the acne again -- now it's spreading to my chest -- and he told me to stay away from butter, fried food, etc.  He spoke once again about C-section, reminding me not to discount the possibility. (Actually, as memories of labor begin floating around in my mind, I'm starting to prefer the idea of a C-section. But it's too soon to decide.)

And that was it. My next appointment is in two weeks.

Ray was late getting home AGAIN last night ... this time it was 10:30 before he got here. "Where have you been?" I asked him, very coldly, and he immediately lied to me. "I worked until 9:30," he said, even though it was obvious from his breath and his level of wobbliness that he'd been drinking for hours. I didn't say anything, and a little while later he admitted that he'd gotten off at 6:30. I told him that I was very tired of being home alone all the time. I know just which buttons to push: I looked sad and tired, and said "The kids are great, and I love them, but I need YOU, too." He hung his head in shame: for a minute I was afraid he was going to cry.




 





Saturday morning 8:30 a.m.
February 8, 1986

Very difficult day ahead. Just finished breakfast, oatmeal and cinnamon toast; now I've got my "hot cocky" (Kacie's way of saying "hot coffee"). Frosty, sunny morning; the house is filled with butter-colored sunlight. Damp clean hair wrapped in a towel ... "The Smurfs" on TV in the living room, quietly ... water dripping in the kitchen sink. Feeling good physically, but a little sad because of what lies ahead today. After lunch we are driving down to Grandma Vert's for the very last time. My last visit to my childhood home. I am dry-eyed now, and relatively calm -- I've known this day was coming for years -- but I imagine it's going to be very difficult for me to say goodbye.


 

 




Wednesday 11:30 a.m.
February 12, 1986

A few days later. I'm becoming a little negligent about my journal ... oops! Guess I'd better apply myself. It's just that life, at the moment, is running on the slow side ... there isn't much to write ... I am deliberately keeping myself in a slow mode. Pacing myself. Two months from now things are going to be crazy around here, so I'm enjoying some relative peace and quiet while I've got the chance.

Sunny morning, but COLD. I just washed my hair ... my feet are freezing while my coffee is hot. Outside our house, several large trucks and a handful of burly men are busy with some kind of construction work: the rumble of machinery is the background music of our morning. The girls are huddled around the "My Little Pony Pretty Parlor," grooming their toy ponies for an outing. Everything in the whole house smells like Bounce Fabric Softener ... a powdery-sweet odor lingering in our clothes, our towels, our bedding. "Divorce Court" on TV -- I am beginning to really like this tacky, terrible show. Baby gives me one leisurely thump. A nice, normal, slow-moving, routine morning around the P. house.

I had another Baby Dream last night, but this time I dreamed I had a girl. Me and an unidentified male companion were swimming in a big swimming pool. I dove straight down, towards the bottom of the pool, and there I found a fetus floating in the water. The umbilical cord was still intact; the fetus was alive but asleep. I realized then that I was swimming in my own uterus, and that this was my unborn child. The facial features were cloudy, but I could clearly see that the baby was a girl. I swam back to the surface and announced, "It's a girl!" I was very pleased. Next, I found myself standing on a sandy beach, looking out to sea. My male companion was emerging from the water, and I got a look at his face: he was hideously ugly, with bulging eyes and a weirdly puckered mouth. In his arms he was carrying the fetus, which was now the size of a newborn infant. I looked at her and saw, to my horror, that she had the same hideous face as the man ... the same bulging eyes, twisted mouth, etc. "God, NO!" I cried. "How could this happen?" Sadly the man said, "We shouldn't have been swimming in the pool.  It poisoned the fetus."

End of dream.

Grandma's house on Saturday was OK. It was a little sad, but certainly not as bad as I'd expected. For one thing, Grandma won't be moving for a few weeks (I thought she was moving much sooner), so there was no sense of urgency about our visit. That helped. No moving men bustling in and out, no bare rooms to break my heart ... in fact, the only physical evidence of the impending move is that Grandpa's garden fence had been taken down. Grandma and I spent a couple of hours in the attic, sorting through boxes of stuff, more boxes of stuff and MORE boxes of stuff. Books, magazines, wrapping paper, old Christmas cards, dishes, blankets, postcards ... the most amazing collection of junk. We talked as we worked -- about my pregnancy, about her new house ("There's no room to STORE things," she complained), various memories that we share. Half of her "junk" wound up in our car! It took me two days after we got it all home to sort through it and find places for everything. Still, I must admit that among the junk were several gems ... things that I'm really glad to have. Narcissa Whitman's iron. A 1934 edition of The Saturday Evening Post. A cigar box filled with Grandpa's Indian arrowheads. A white nightgown and a small fabric makeup bag that will be perfect for the hospital. Two pretty china plates to hang on the kitchen wall. A small lamp for the living room.


 

 





Thursday 8 a.m.
February 13, 1986

Just out of bed -- the girls aren't even awake yet -- why do I feel so good today?? Is it because my house is breathtakingly tidy this morning?? (I REALLY LIKE those new plates on the kitchen wall, next to the archway ... they really lend a fresh pretty touch.) Or is it because last night was so pleasant? (Ray took the girls and I to McDonald's for dinner.) Or is it the simple pleasure of being the first one out of bed ... drinking hot coffee out of an elegant cup & saucer instead of my usual klunky mug, in absolute peace and solitude? Nice, nice, nice!

This is payday, which also helps my mood. (Current contents of our freezer: one Tupperware container of frozen cranberries, half a bag of hard rolls, two Kool-Aid popsicles, one-eighth of a bag of crinkle-cut french fries.) We'll have food and cleaning supplies again, I'll get some more prenatal vitamins, maybe a new ribbon for the typewriter and a couple of magazines ... oh yes, and tomorrow is Valentine's Day!

One tiny cloud on my horizon: Ray warned me last night that Ann Meyers may ask me to babysit Jason today. Hmmph.



 

 



Friday 10:30 a.m.
February 14, 1986

Ray didn't come home last night. I awoke this morning in despair ... what in the world would I feed the kids? No cereal, no butter for toast, no juice. All I had was a tiny bit of oatmeal and a little box of baby cereal. I figured I would have the oatmeal, and the girls could eat the baby stuff. After I made a bowl of it, though, and saw how gross it was, I spooned it down the garbage disposal and resolutely began boiling the oatmeal for Jamie & Kacie: I would just skip breakfast. Never mind that I went to bed without dinner last night. (Or that I was in the third trimester of pregnancy.)

God DAMN Ray for doing this to us again!

Just as the oatmeal began to boil   --  tears stinging my eyes  --  Ray pulled up in the driveway. As usual, he looked like hell and said very little ... just mumbled something about sleeping at Mike Paynter's, and how he was "ashamed" of himself. He had a box of doughnuts and a carton of orange juice in his hand: I was very relieved about that. But I was still angry with him. The girls flew at him with handmade Valentines, clamoring for doughnuts (Kacie cutely calls them "doh-dohs"), chattering happily while they ate. I ate my oatmeal in silence. Finally Ray slumped off towards the bedroom and went to sleep. I kissed his cheek (he reeked of cigarette smoke and beer) and said, "You are a very bad boy."

He said, "We'll go to Pietro's for dinner tonight, OK?" His attempt at restitution, I guess. I said OK, then went to take a shower and start the laundry.

The girls are excited about going to Pietro's tonight. (Jamie calls it "Come-pree-toes," Kacie calls it "Pizza's House.") Even grumpy Mom is beginning to lighten up a little and smile at the prospect. Maybe this won't be such a bad Valentine's Day, after all.

As predicted, I wound up babysitting Jason Meyers yesterday (at one point I saw him whack Jamie on the back as hard as he could), but at least I got paid for it this time -- $6.00. It SNOWED all afternoon yesterday (none of it stuck) and the kids enjoyed watching it. 




The girls LOVED "Pizza's House"
(and so did their mom)
Spring 1986


 

 



Thursday 11 a.m.
February 20, 1986

Almost a week later. I guess I'm not doing such a great job of keeping a "thorough, consistent and valuable" journal, am I? Time continues to slip through my fingers. I want to write, but I don't. (The mind is willing; the fingers aren't.)

Let me back up a bit, to Pietro's last Friday night. What a disaster that turned out to be ... at first, anyway. After Ray finally got out of bed that day, around 2:30 in the afternoon, I asked him to go to the store and get me a can of hairspray. We planned to leave for pizza at 5:00. Ray left for the store, and since I assumed he would be right back, I started setting my hair and making preparations to go. Instead, he was gone the ENTIRE AFTERNOON. You'd think I would learn that sending Ray out on an errand is like asking a rat to guard the cheese. He will always, ALWAYS turn it into an excuse to drop by the tavern. It never fails. It was almost 7 p.m. before he finally got home, and of course he was drunk. I was so damned mad at the asshole, I could barely speak. I was also nearly faint with hunger: those doughnuts were the only thing the kids and I had had to eat all day. We got into a blistering argument -- he didn't understand why I was mad! -- and I was in tears when we finally left for the pizza parlor. The drive to Pietro's was hellish: it was a dark and rainy night, traffic was awful, and Ray angrily drove like a madman, careening around corners and bumping into guard rails. By the time we got to the restaurant, I was so tense I was shaking, and my stomach was tied into knots.

Dinner was good, at least. I love Pietro's pizza (pepperoni & pineapple, my favorite), and I was so famished I had eight slices of it! The place was mobbed with families, so Jamie and Kacie had a ball in the playroom with all the other kids. After pizza, we stopped by Dairy Queen and picked up some ice cream to take home. The ride back to our house was slightly better than the ride to the restaurant ... I was SO GLAD to finally make it home and kick off my shoes ...

Ray gave me some stuff for Valentine's Day, in a roundabout way: he gave the girls my gifts and told them, "Give these to Mommy." I got two identical plastic mugs that say "I (Heart) Mom" (some guy was selling them at the tavern) and two small boxes of chocolates.

Since the following Monday was a holiday (Presidents Day), Ray had a four-day weekend. Nothing much happened. Ray took me down to the tavern on Saturday afternoon for awhile, at my insistence, while Terry babysat. I enjoyed a couple of beers and watched "Footloose" on the big screen, my feet propped up on a chair. Sunday was a lazy, do-nothing day ... Ray did some grocery shopping and made dinner for everybody. I can't even remember anything that happened on Monday ... I draw a total blank! Which proves what an uneventful day it was. Oh yes, I cut the girls' hair, five inches off Jamie's, three inches off Kacie's -- they both look much better. And I made a pot roast.

Yesterday I had an appointment with Dr. Bell. As usual, Ray drove me to the doctor's office and sat in the car with the children while I saw the doctor. (Kacie cried the whole time I was gone.) Very routine visit -- Dr. Bell cautioned me that I'm still gaining too much weight and not getting enough rest -- he felt my cervix -- gave me two antacid samples to try. Next appointment is in two weeks.

Here is a pregnancy update. I'm kind of enjoying this stage of the pregnancy, the beginning of the third trimester, perhaps more than the other two trimesters combined. For one thing, I'm finally beginning to look and feel pregnant, instead of just feeling overweight and tired. I like being aware of the baby inside me. Even when he's not kicking or (as he's doing now) gently rolling around, I am still aware of his presence within me, thanks to the ever-growing bulge below my breastbone. It's making the baby seem more "real" to me.

My nights are interrupted by heartburn and the need to pee two or three times, but at least I'm still comfortable laying on my side, so I can just lay there and rest even if I can't sleep. I have heartburn a lot, night and day. (Right now, as a matter of fact.) Coffee and spicy foods make it worse. We had chili dogs for dinner last night, and when I got up this a.m. my entire digestive system was in turmoil!!  I'm only now beginning to feel better.

The baby moves frequently and vigorously, and the movements are scattered evenly around my abdomen, rather than being centered in one spot like they were earlier in the pregnancy. It feels like a BIG baby -- I get simultaneous kicks beneath both sides of my ribcage. Once or twice a day the baby gets the hiccups: I always smile when I feel that familiar thump-thump-thump.




 




Monday morning 10:45 a.m.
February 24, 1986

Waiting anxiously to see if Kirkland Utilities shuts off our water this morning. They left this note on the door last week:

"Mr. P:

We must have payment by 10 am Monday morning or your water will be turned off. We cannot extend any longer."

Since we are at the moment about as broke as we've ever been, we can't give them any money until the end of this week, when Ray gets paid. If they shut us off today, it'll be off until Thursday. Shit. Ray went over to Mr. Kennedy's house last night before dinner to plead our case & ask for one more extension, but Rex is only a technician and he doesn't have any real authority, I don't think. Still, he suggested we write a note and drop it off at the Utility Department office, explaining the circumstances and asking for one more extension. I wrote them a letter and Ray took it to their office last night. Now all I can do it sit and wait and see what happens.

Our financial situation is horrible right now. Ray said yesterday that he doesn't expect things to get any better until May. We're seriously behind with the rent and electricity payments, in addition to the utilities. It's conceivable that we could get our water yanked off today and then have the electricity shut off tomorrow!  We've got a little bit of food in the house, thank goodness, but will undoubtedly be down to nothing by Thursday. It's all such a mess. Ray is so tense and worried about everything ... I haven't seen him smile in days. I'm doing my best to stretch the groceries and boost his morale, but my own spirits are sagging so low that it's hard to be cheerful and optimistic. Is it my imagination, or does this same thing happen every time I'm pregnant?


 

 




Tuesday morning
February 25, 1986

Well, they didn't shut us off -- thank the Lord! We've still got running water. By midafternoon yesterday I was convinced that my letter had done the trick. To celebrate, I stripped our bed and washed all the sheets and pillowcases, then bathed the girls and shampooed their grimy hair. Thank Heaven for clean, hot, running water.

Got a letter from Dad yesterday -- he and Valerie are in Hawaii this week. Naturally he complained about the weather there ... it's "too hot and muggy." (Geez! What did he expect?? It's HAWAII.) Today is another cloudy, threatening-to-storm-any-minute kind of morning; the front yard is one big mud field. I'm not entirely sure I wouldn't switch places with Dad right this moment, just for a day. (Ah, to be back in Maui again  ...  walking along the front streets of Lahaina, stopping into that funky little café for an omelet and a Bloody Mary, then lounging around in front of Chuck's Steakhouse ... )

I'm in a dreamy mood today  ... almost absent-minded. I've walked out to the kitchen twice this morning, intending to take the round steak out of the freezer to thaw, and both times I've ended up in front of the window, gazing out at the morning sky, completely disconnected from anything around me. My thoughts are not focused in any one direction: it's a little bit of this, a little bit of that. Should we name the baby Jesse Taylor if it's a boy? The Grammy Awards on TV tonight. What to cook with the round steak - Spanish rice or hash browns? Sticky handprints all over the windows. Should I bother putting makeup on today, or should I let my face "breathe"? Will be be poor forever?? ...

"See my eyes turnin' into hearts?" (JLP, while hugging & kissing Mama)



 




Wednesday 11 a.m.
February 26, 1986

A tiny ray of hope ... financially, I mean. Ray thinks we may get our income tax return this weekend. A few hundred dollars right now would at least put us back on track with the utility companies and the rent. No treats or special purchases, but it would be nice not to have to worry about our water and lights being shut off.

I am such a slob today. All I've done since I got up at 7:30 this morning is eat and lay on the sofa watching TV. I made french toast and sausage for the kids' breakfast earlier, and wound up eating most of it myself. (When Jamie discovered the french toast was made with the dreaded EGGS, she wouldn't touch it.) Then half an hour ago I got hungry again and made a huge plate of nachos and salsa -- my one bona fide craving during this pregnancy. And it's not even noon yet!  I feel guilty and stuffed.

Kacie is cute today: bouncy pigtails, bright yellow sweater, faded Levi's that droop a bit in the seat, purple Cabbage Pegch Kids slippers. She's filled one of my saucepans with magnetic letters, and she's stirring them with a wooden spoon, making "tacos" and "pizza." "No TOUCH, it's ferry ferry hot!" she warns me very seriously.

Jamie has slipped off to her bedroom and is laying in bed with the door shut and the curtains closed. "I'm takin' a NAP!" she says crossly. She's not quite herself today: I don't know what it is. We've already clashed unpleasantly on two occasions today. (Once when I mentioned that I made root beer popsicles, and she got mad because I hadn't left any root beer to drink; and then again when I caught her trying to bite Kacie on the ear.) When I went back into her bedroom just now to take her dollies in to her, she was almost asleep. "Wake me up when Kacie takes a nap," she mumbled sleepily. I tucked her dolls under the blanket next to her and tiptoed out of the room, closing the door softly behind me. I wonder: what is wrong with my Puss today? Is she just sluggish and sleepy, like her Mama? Or is she sick? Geez, I hope not: when one of us gets sick, we all get it  ... 

Baby is due now in eight weeks and two days. Last night I slept in the spare room again, and before I turned out the light I took a look around. The room is still a cluttered, dusty mess ... cobwebs everywhere, horrible shrunken curtains (my fault: I tried to wash them myself, even though they're dry-clean only), boxes of toys and junk all over the place. And those awful green walls. Good grief. Whatever in the world possessed me to paint that room GREEN, three years ago?? I must have been temporarily insane.



 





March 4, 1986
A scene from our day

Afternoon. Lunch is finished, the dishes are washed, the soaps are done for the day. Kacie has quite agreeably allowed herself to be put down for a nap (along with a bottle of Strawberry Kool-Aid and the last chocolate cookie), and now Jamie is looking at me with hungry-to-play-with-somebody eyes. "Why don't you go over and play with Michele?" I ask her casually. I saw Michele, Lori's little niece, arrive next door earlier in the day. Jamie fetches a pair of clean socks and her muddy play shoes, and sits quietly as I dress her and brush her hair.

"I know a good way to get into their yard," Jamie says. "I can climb over the fence." She looks at me hopefully.

"No way," I say sternly. "That would be rude. You go up to the front door and knock."

Jamie bursts into tears: I am astonished by the force of her emotion. "I don't wanna KNOCK ON THE DOOR!" she wails. "They might say NOOO!"

I keep it as light as possible. "Well ... you can either do it the polite way, or you can stay here and spend the afternoon with Mama."

Still sobbing, Jamie wanders out the kitchen door, clutching her sweater in one hand and swiping at tears with the other. She stands in the front yard and cries for a minute, while I watch from the kitchen window. Mrs. Pierce across the street hears Jamie's anguished sobs and stands at her door, watching. I'm a little embarrassed, and a little impatient with Jamie, but mostly I feel for her. I seem to recall, dimly, feeling the same way at her age. It's hard to ask a grown-up for something you want. They might say no!

It takes Jamie five minutes just to walk from our door to the street. She takes a step, turns and looks back to see if I'm watching (I duck out of sight), lets out another sob, wipes her eyes and looks uncertainly at neighbors' house next door. Part of me longs to run outside, take her hand and walk her over. It would be so easy. It seems so much kinder. Another part of me realizes that this is one of those tiny battles only Jamie can fight and win.

Ten minutes pass before I see Jamie emerge timidly into the H.'s backyard. (Now I'm spying on her from my bedroom window.) She has ignored my instructions to knock on the door and has gone around to the back by herself. Oh well ... at least she didn't climb over the fence. She is still crying. She stands there forlornly, waiting for someone to notice her. Finally she says, in a shaky little voice, "Ni-chele?"

Michele, age five, is at a loathsome stage developmentally. "Hey!" she says, nastily. "You're not supposed to be here! I'm gonna tell LORI." Jamie's little shoulders sag, and she takes a step backward, as though to leave. I feel like strangling the brat. Michele, fortunately, appears to relent a moment later, and she runs to ask Lori if Jamie can play. I hold my breath and wait for the verdict. "Yep!" Michele shouts, running towards the swings. "She says you CAN."

Jamie, suddenly joyous, runs after Michele and swings her sweater in the air. "Oh GOOD!" she shouts. "Now we can PLAY!"



 





March 10, 1986
Monday morning

More time has slipped past. It's been two weeks since I wrote about the water company threatening to shut us off; almost a week since the anecdote about Jamie going next door to play. I have resigned myself to the fact that this journal, like all the others, will be piecemeal and spotty, written in spurts and stops ... so much for good intentions.

Oh well.

Things are still pretty bleak. Our financial situation hasn't changed; if anything, we're worse off than we were two weeks ago. I have enough food to get us through today -- barely, and that's without milk or bread -- but no longer than that. We have no dish soap or laundry detergent, no cat food, no treats for the kids. Puget Power is on our backs this week -- we owe them almost $500, and only another of my politely-worded, pleading letters (like the one I wrote the water company) has kept our lights on this long. We still haven't gotten our income tax refund, and payday isn't until Thursday ... four endless days away.

Jamie and Kacie have been sick since last week. It doesn't seem to be anything more than a nasty cold, maybe a touch of flu, but I'm still worried. Jamie threw up her breakfast an hour ago, and says she has a "sore throat."  I've got her bedded down on the sofa, quietly watching TV and playing with her Colorforms. She is unnaturally pale and listless, but at least her temperature is normal. And she's still got her sense of humor. ("When I make my lips wet, that means I'm givin' them their BATH.") Kacie was very ill on Friday -- that was her day on the sofa -- and today she's still got a runny nose and a charmingly froggy voice, but she's full of vigor & hijinks, per usual. Her energy supply is inexhaustible. It wears me out just watching her.

The cherry tree has blossomed early this year, in spite of the fact that spring is two weeks away. It's pretty to look at; I spend a lot of time daydreaming these days, looking at our beautiful tree and thinking about this coming spring and summer, wondering what they hold in store for us. Can you believe this is my fifth spring here in this house? 
Will we EVER get out of this financial mess? I don't expect us ever to get ahead, but just breaking even would be a blessing ... having enough groceries to last two full weeks without scrimping, not having to worry about the water and power being cut off, having a little extra left over to buy the kids a swingset ... this would be nice. What will life be like when the baby arrives? Will I be a frazzled, witchy mess? How will we cope with the changes? How will the kids be affected?




 



Wednesday
March 12, 1986

I've had the same nightmare twice this past week:  I'm in the driver's seat of a car that is slowly sliding off a cliff, thinking ‘If I can just get the car started, everything will be OK.' But then I turn the key in the ignition and nothing happens. At the very last minute I realize that my children are sitting in the back seat behind me, and as we begin the slow slide over the edge I feel grief, terror, guilt, helplessness  ...  and (above all else) wrenching love for my children ...

Baby is quiet this morning. I've been quite busy -- I've already cleaned the kitchen, run a load of laundry, vacuumed the living room, showered and shampooed and put on some makeup. I plan to clean the bathroom and the kids' room later today. The mess in the baby's room is still bothering me, but I'm sticking firm to my decision to hold off on any major cleaning or renovating until Ray is ready to paint. I hope it might be this weekend.

Ray borrowed $40 from Mike Paynter on Monday night and bought us enough groceries to last till payday. I don't expect things to improve much after he gets paid, since we still have that horrendous power bill to pay. Ray, as usual, is insisting that they've "overcharged" us. He's going to make a big embarrassing stink about it, I know it already.

Kacie is unbelievably grumpy today ... it's really starting to get on my nerves. One minute she's yelling because she can't figure out how to use her scissors (her chubby little hands can't maneuver them yet) ... next she stubs her toe on an endtable ... next she's hollering for "RUNCH! RUNCH!," even though lunch is a good hour away. The living room is spread end-to-end with toys she has brought out and abandoned: clock puzzles, a doll, the afore-mentioned scissors ... nothing holds her interest for long today.

She sure is cute, though. In spite of her bursts of temper and occasional bad moods, this is such an appealing age ... one of my very favorites, I think. Next week she'll be three, and there is a sweetness and vitality about her ... a sauciness, a cockiness, a flirtatiousness that I love. An adorable zaniness. And yet there is still enough of that baby vulnerability and trust left in her to remind me of how much she needs me.




 




Thursday morning - EARLY
March 13, 1986

Well, today is payday ... VERY BIG DEAL. Now Kirkland Utilities is back to threatening to cut off our water, and the car is no longer running. Mike Paynter brought Ray home last night at 9:30 and picked him up for work this morning at 4:30. If we get any groceries at all tonight, I'll be amazed. I'm not even going to bother making a shopping list.

However, I'm not in as sour a mood as the above might indicate. Money worries have been a fact of my life for so long that I've learned not to let them take precedence over everything else. If I sat here and stewed about finances every time we have a problem, I'd never leave my chair. You kind of have to tuck it all away into another part of your mind and go on with business as usual.

Jamie: "MOMMY. Do you love me?"

Mom: "Yep - I really really really really really really really DO! Even though you're wearing my slippers AND you have jam on your face."

The kids got me up earlier than usual, requesting breakfast (toast and jam, chocolate milk). Baby has been rolling and kicking vigorously, on and off, since Ray left for work. I'm amazed by this kid's relentless energy. (And a little scared: does this mean I have a Little Dynamo on my hands??) I get a lot of "action" just below my right breast, near the ribcage - it feels like feet kicking - and a great deal of thrashing and bumping at the bottom of my abdomen, like a small head bobbing up and down. I'm taking this to mean that Baby is not another breech baby, like his sister. Of course, I could be wrong: Kacie felt "normal" to me, too, and it was only at the very end of the pregnancy that we discovered she was turned the wrong way. But things just feel "right" this time, and I'm optimistic. I want this birth to be as easy and uncomplicated as possible.

To tell you the truth, I'm starting to feel more than a little nervous about giving birth again. Last night I had a bout of gas -- drinking Pepsi on an empty stomach started it, I think -- and it hurt so much, I was in tears. How on earth will I cope with LABOR again, when the time comes?? It's been four and a half years since I've been through it (there were no labor pains before Kacie's C-section), and although I can remember that the experience was ghastly, I don't remember how the pain felt. I just remember that it was bad. Now I'm beginning to dread going through the whole business again. On an intellectual level I understand that fear and tension will only make the pain worse, but I still can't stop feeling afraid. I understand what causes the pain -- the physiological reasons for it -- but that doesn't help, either. Simply knowing why I feel the pain doesn't make it hurt any less. At this point, the only thing that does help - and will hopefully help when the time comes - is that I know what the end result will be. I know that at the end of labor is the birth, a wonderful, indescribably beautiful experience that I've already been through twice and can't wait to feel one more time - and, after that, the actual fact of holding my baby in my arms. The first time I went through labor I had only a dim, formless idea of what lay ahead.  This time I have something more concrete to focus on ... the comfort of experience. I pray that this sustains me through the horrors of labor.

There is a possibility that I'll have another C-section, anyway, in which case all of this worrying will have been pointless.


 





Friday 10 a.m.
March 14, 1986

Definitely one of my high-energy days. It's only 10:00 in the morning and I've already fixed breakfast, run a load of laundry (and dried part of it), washed the dishes and cleaned the kitchen, straightened up my bedroom and made the bed, vacuumed most of the house, showered, shampooed, dressed the kids and myself, and put on my makeup. I even fixed the girls a nice mid-morning snack, grapes and chocolate milk. They're sitting here at the table with me, eating. Kacie has already gobbled down all of her grapes but hasn't touched her milk; Jamie drank her milk in one swallow, and is now leisurely popping grapes into her mouth, one at a time. Kacie is eyeing her sister's grapes with frank envy, while Jamie is unsuccessfully bargaining for the rest of Kacie's chocolate milk ...

I know I must sound like a broken record, but there's a reason for my manic housecleaning this morning: I think we may get our power and water shut off later today. Ray still hasn't paid either one of the utility companies, and I'm sure we're not going to get any more extensions. Ray was home last night with a small but eclectic armload of groceries ... cheese, popsicles, ground beef, canned stew, grapes  ... and he said he had to pay a collection agency $300 or they'd throw him in jail. This was news to me, although I do dimly seem to recall seeing some legal papers, a few months ago. He also said he'll pay our utility bills "when we get our income tax refund on Monday." Swell. I wish I could be as confident as he is that our refund will arrive on Monday. And in the meantime, I am left with the unpleasant task of facing these utility people when they come to the door to shut us off. They've been pretty nice up till now: they know I'm a pregnant woman here alone with two preschoolers all day, and no one wants to cut off our lights and water. They've extended us far longer than we deserve, and now the time has come to get mean ...

My o.b. sent a "reminder" yesterday that we still owe him $295, by the way. Another headache.



 





Saturday morning 9:20 a.m.
March 15, 1986

Angry with Ray ... not feeling great physically ... but determined to salvage something from this day anyway. It won't be easy, but I'll try.

Cloudy morning, Saturday, "Cartoons-Day," another low-key morning in the Polen Household.  Jamie and Kacie are watching TV in the living room. I've just showered and dressed, and am now sitting with my first cup of coffee, listening to the radio and planning my day. Fighting a headache and slight upset stomach, as well as an overall feeling of tiredness ... I drank two beers last night while watching Friday night TV.  It took me nearly three hours to drink them, yet I STILL have a hangover this morning! I can't believe it. I went to bed at 10:00 - didn't even stay up long enough to watch my beloved "Miami Vice" - but I slept miserably and woke up exhausted.

Ray promised to be home "early" last night ("OK, good!" I said. "The girls and I will look forward to it!")   ...  but, as always, his promise had all the value of a three dollar bill. I heard him come crashing in sometime after midnight. He slept on the couch and left for work at 4:30 a.m. He'll be gone all day today, and by the time he gets home tonight he'll be full of beer and excuses ...

I'm so angry, I can't even write about it. He just continues to heap abuse on me, and I just continue to take it.




 


Monday 10:30 a.m.
March 17, 1986

A temporary moment of tranquillity. I've already finished a healthy portion of my days' work, and am sitting now on the sofa with a cup of coffee and "Scrabble" on the tube. Jamie and Kacie are sitting on the floor at my feet, playing with Legos and a bunch of empty Chinese take-out cartons. For the moment things are calm and pleasant: I'm enjoying it.

Interesting weekend. Ray worked all day Saturday, as I predicted, but then he didn't come home at all that night. Late Saturday afternoon I had a brief moment of depression ... I sat on the sofa, looking out the window and crying. "Why are you sad?" Jamie asked me, gently. "I'm just a little lonely for Daddy," I said, hugging her. He didn't come home on Sunday, either, but by then I'd recovered somewhat from my depression and had resolved to make the best of the situation. I had enough food for the kids and I, my mom was coming out for a visit on Sunday afternoon (something nice to look forward to), and I knew there was nothing I could do but keep things going for the girls and wait for Ray to come crawling home. I assumed that he was out on another one of his three-day drinking binges, and that eventually he would be home with the usual peace offerings and weak excuses. Actually, Journal, I was amazingly calm about the whole thing ... angry, sure, but calm. I told myself that when he got home, there wouldn't be an ugly scene: I would calmly sit him down and explain to him that his neglect was hurting our family, and insist that he get some help, blah blah blah. I went about life per usual and waited patiently for him to put in his appearance.

Jamie slept in my bed with me on Friday and Saturday nights. Without Ray snoring next to me, I enjoyed two nights of relatively uninterrupted sleep ... that was a treat! The girls and I had fun together. We ate our meals at odd hours and watched TV together.

Mom's visit yesterday was a definite day-brightener. The girls were wildly excited about Grandma coming to visit, and they stood by the window all morning, waiting for her. She got here shortly after 2 p.m., and to my surprise she had Gram St. John and Debi with her. We had a relaxed, interesting, friendly visit. It did wonders for my frame of mind. ("MEN," my mother said in disgust, when I mentioned that we hadn't seen Ray in over 48 hours. "There isn't one in ten that's worth half a damn.") Mom and Grandma brought early birthday presents for Kacie ... a colorful striped pullover from Grandma, some pretty denim overalls and a white pullover from Mom. Mom also brought a sack of pretty secondhand dresses for Jamie, which she got from a lady she works with. The girls modeled their new clothes and were at their charming, flirtatious best with my mother and grandmother. ("Gramma?" said Jamie. "Can I come and spend the weekend at YOUR house dis summer?")

Just as our guests were leaving, around 4 p.m., Ray finally showed up. He came in just as they were going out. Before I had a chance to say one word, he was explaining himself. "Hey!" he said, "I worked all weekend." I didn't believe him at first, but he was obviously dead sober, a point in his favor, so I listened to what he had to say. Eventually I realized he was probably telling the truth. He worked "triple overtime" all weekend in an effort to catch us up financially. Saturday night, after work, he partied a little bit and spent the night at Dave McK.'s -- he apologized for THAT -- but basically this weekend was less a case of him screwing up again than him finally doing something responsible for his family. I can't bitch about that. I still think he should have made more of an effort to let me know where he was, especially with me eight months pregnant, but I let it go.

He went out and got Chinese food for dinner (the girls loved it) and we had a very pleasant evening, eating and reading the Sunday paper and watching "Jaws 2" on TV. We went to bed at 10:30, and I was so tired and so relieved to have him home that I immediately fell into the deepest sleep I've enjoyed in weeks. I woke up this morning feeling wonderful.

It's St. Patrick's Day, and Jamie just pinched me on the toe because I'm not wearing any green! She surprised me this morning by dressing herself ... she picked out one of the dresses her Grandma brought her yesterday, a beautiful blue plaid with a dropped waist and white ruffles. "You look like a schoolgirl!" I told her admiringly. This pleased her, and she pulled on some matching blue socks and brushed her hair and filled up a plastic bag with storybooks -- "This is my school bag!" she said -- and all morning she's been pretending that she's at school, complete with recess and lunch hour and an argument with her imaginary friend, "Julie." "Can I have some more milk?" she asked me a while ago. "I want to GROW." So she can go to school for real, I guess.

I should mention that on Saturday I finally got the baby's bedroom cleared out!!




 



Thursday 10:30 a.m.
March 20, 1986

Still in my nightgown ... finding it harder than usual this morning to shake off the cobwebs. I slept like a log last night.

Thanks to my senseless overindulgence on Monday night (St. Patrick's Day -- Ray took the girls and I to Dave's Place), I've been out of commission ALL WEEK. This is the first morning I've felt even remotely human. The house slid into a state of chaos because I didn't feel up to cleaning ... I still haven't folded the laundry I did last Friday! Today I've got to roll up my sleeves (if I ever get dressed, that is) and try to restore some order around here.

A few developments -- some major, some minor. This week may have been lazy, but it's been far from uneventful:

1. Monday we finally got our tax refund - approximately $640. I called Ray right away and let him know. We were both so relieved and happy, Ray came right home, picked up the kids and I and took us to Dave's. We were in a festive mood, to say the least, and almost before I knew what was happening, I was completely ripped on green beer. I barely remember coming home, except that I made a royal spectacle of myself by tripping and falling down as we were leaving the tavern. What a dope.

2. Judy (our sister in law) wrote to tell me she landed a $1500/month loan-processing job at a Bellevue bank. I'm glad for her, but secretly very envious.  Fifteen hundred dollars a month seemed like more money than I could even contemplate in 1986.  I was absolutely sick with jealousy.  I'm also disturbed because this means I'm the only daughter or daughter-in-law who isn't working.

3. Puget Power shut us off for about 3-1/2 hours yesterday because Ray still hadn't gotten around to paying them. I borrowed a neighbor's phone and left a message for Ray at work, and shortly after 2 p.m. the power was restored (Ray went and paid them on his lunch hour). Today, incidentally, is the first day in weeks that I'm not peering anxiously out the window, waiting for some or another utility company to shut us off.  It's a nice weightless feeling, not having to worry about money for a few days.

4. Went and saw Dr. Bell yesterday ... an amazingly quick and productive appointment. I was in and out in twenty minutes. Dr. Bell wrote me a prescription for Vistaril, to help me sleep, and Ray took me to Pay 'n Save afterwards so I could get it filled. As I mentioned, I slept like a log. If Ray was snoring, I never heard it.

Everything in the pregnancy checked out fine. I weigh exactly 200 lbs., which is horrifying, but I'm determined that this will be temporary. I feel OK. My heartburn is worse than ever, though, and it's getting hard to lay down comfortably -- I'm now at the pillows-tucked under-my-side stage -- but otherwise I do feel OK. Last night, before I fell asleep, I lay in bed and thought about the baby  ...  trying to imagine what he or she will be like. I'm getting excited. Not impatient -- just excited. When I allow myself to think about the good things, the pleasant aspects of having a baby (instead of just thinking about the expense and pain and all of that), I get very excited. Another child to love! If I love this new baby even a fraction as much as I love Jamie and Kacie, he will still be one dearly-loved little person.

The baby's room is all ready to be painted. I spent three hours on Saturday morning getting it into shape. It looks very empty now, but at least all the junk is cleared away and the baby clothes are put away in the dresser. (Lori H. gave me two brand-new sleepers for the baby, one lavender, one royal blue.) I'm not nagging Ray about painting, but I do hope he gets it done soon. Then we can bring in the crib and set it up and decorate the room a little bit.

We've reached a decision about the baby's name. If it's a girl, she'll be Kimberley Jeanne; if it's a boy, Jesse Taylor. I've been turning "Jesse" around in my heart lately, and it's growing on me a little again. Besides, it's the name Ray likes. I named the girls, and I figure it's Ray's turn.

Dr. Bell asked me if I want my tubes tied when the baby is born (if I have a C-section). I said, "Let me think about it." On one level I know that it would be the good and sensible thing to do, especially since Ray says absolutely no more kids after this one ... it WOULD be nice, not to worry about birth control anymore. Still, the idea of being sterile at age 28 bothers me. It's so final, and I still feel young ... too young to be closing doors forever.




 




Saturday morning
March 22, 1986

The morning after Kacie's third birthday. We had a pleasant and low-key celebration for her last night, and I woke up this morning feeling remarkably unencumbered emotionally. Things are definitely OK today.

Ray has to work until 3:30 this afternoon, so I have the place to myself, as usual, with the just the tots for company. In my present frame of mind, however, that's just fine with me. As Jamie and Kacie get older, they are becoming quite enjoyable little companions. They're fun to talk to, eager to try new things, curious about the world (Jamie: "How do they make peanuts?"), and wonderfully imaginative (Kacie, pointing at her big toe: "This is my toe-thumb!") I honestly don't mind spending so much time with them: I consider it a blessing to be here with them, watching them grow and change.

Another cloudy Saturday morning. The girls are out in the carport (early), playing with Kacie's new toys. Baby gives me a little "bump" every now and then, just to remind me that she's in there.

We took the girls to "Pizza's House" last night for dinner, in honor of Kacie's birthday, and then afterwards we came home for cake and presents. It was just Ray and the girls and I, and it was nice. We gave Kacie a box of Mr. Bubble, some crayons and a Richard Scarry colorbook, a package of balloons, a toy wheelbarrow with a set of little plastic garden tools, and -- the BIG gift -- a Cabbage Patch Kids "Power Cycle."


 

Kacie celebrates her third birthday (with a little help from Daddy)
March 21, 1986

 





Sunday 11:15 a.m.
March 23, 1986

Still feeling good. Just finished eating my breakfast (bacon, scrambled eggs, wheat toast, milk), and now I feel warm and stuffed and comfortable. The girls are in the living room watching a Smurfs movie on TV; Ray is asleep. Rainy, gray morning ... feels like a storm is on the way. I took two Vistaril last night and went to bed feeling wonderfully sleepy -- until Ray started snoring gangbusters. But even that turned out to be OK ... I just slipped into the spare room and slept there all night. Dreamed about Phil; then I had another dream, that I was going on welfare. The girls woke me up at 7 a.m. when they went out to the living room to play, but I hollered at them to "quiet down!" and then managed to get another THREE hours of sleep (while they quietly watched TV)! Around 10:15, Kacie came into the spare room, smiled at me and told me to "Get TUP," which I did willingly and cheerfully. And here I am. In another minute I'm going to hop into the shower and get dressed.



 





Saturday morning
March 30, 1986

Almost a week later. Wish I had a decent pen. (How's this one? Hmmm ... only slightly better, but it'll have to do.) I've only been up for half an hour, but I'm in a very, very, very good mood. Tomorrow is Easter Sunday, and the girls are so excited about it that some of their enthusiasm has rubbed off on fat grumpy old Mom. Last night we decorated eggs. Well ... I did most of the work, while the girls sat and the table, "ooohing" and "ahhhing" over my creations. Frankly they didn't turn out that great: my fault, I think, for boiling the eggs in an aluminum pan. The dye didn't "take" as well as it should have. Still, the girls were as appreciative as if I'd just created a batch of Faberge eggs. We'll make a few more today. I've got their Easter baskets hidden in the baby's room, cute little baskets with lots of candy and a small stuffed animal in each. I think Ray is going to pick up some extra treats for them today. We're invited over to the folks' for Easter dinner tomorrow afternoon. I don't know who else will be there, but I'm sure it will be (for better or for worse) a typical P. family get-together.

Mike Paynter was here for quite a while last night. It was his birthday, and he stopped by to have a few beers with Ray. I was dying for a cold beer myself, but then I started thinking about how lousy I would feel today if I gave in to temptation (not to mention how bad it would be for Jesse/Kimberley), and I managed to fight the urge. Today I am so glad. While Ray and Mike sat out in the kitchen having their little party, I behaved myself by watching a dumb movie on TV ("National Lampoon's Vacation"), eating a couple slices of pizza and two huge glasses of milk, and leaving the boys alone to enjoy themselves without any wifely interference ...

(Taping "Let's Go All The Way," Sly Foxx)

My plans for today are extremely small-scale. After I drink my coffee and shower, I'll pick up the house ... do some laundry ... I'm going to TRY and get Ray to paint the baby's room today, since he has the day off.



NEW THINGS DISCOVERED DURING THIS PREGNANCY: KISW's "Electric Lunch" at noon ... Choco-Bliss snack cakes ... Robert Palmer, "Addicted To Love" ... "Remington Steele" ... "Divorce Court" ... wearing my hair in barrettes ... fun new penpals Joli Baker, Kathy Bergeron ... salsa ...



PACK FOR HOSPITAL

Robe
Barrettes & r. bands
CAMERA
Nightwear
Mirror
Nail scissors
White slippers
Shampoo
Toothbrush
Deodorant
Baby's T-shirt
Brush & comb
Yellow bunting
Makeup bag
Announcements
Blanket
Journal & pen
Nail polish
PICTURE OF J & K
Address book!

DO:

Paint bedroom!!

AT THE LAST MINUTE:

Set up crib
Take off nail polish
Buy & boil nipples
Mrs. B careful put away
J & K's clothes
Dirty laundry sorted!
Suitcases?
Hide letters from me
Pediatrician
Desk
Bedside Drawer
Kitchen cupboards (minor neatening)
LETTERS FOR J, K and Ray!








Thursday 7:30 p.m.
April 3, 1986

I rarely write in the evenings anymore. That's mainly because by evening I am so wiped-out from my day with the kids that all I feel like doing is watching a little TV, eating some supper and going to bed with as little fuss as possible. Nighttime is my time to vegetate. I don't even feel like picking up a pen. Occasionally, though, I'll have a night like tonight, when my energy level is higher than usual (in this case it's because I didn't do anything today, and I'm now trying to make up for it), and I'm seized with the sudden urge to write something in my journal. I want to write something long and introspective, all about how I feel three weeks before our baby is due ... but I know darned well I'll end up scribbling a paragraph or two of the usual dull stuff! ... so I'll try instead to cram a lot into a few sentences and leave it at that.

* Got a new pediatrician today for the baby and the girls, Dr. Lois Watts in Totem Lake. Have not met her yet, but she'll check the baby when he/she is born.

* O.B. appointment tomorrow morning at 10:30, and I have no idea how I'm going to get there. Afraid I might have to cancel, and I would hate that.

* Walked over to Terry's this afternoon to use her telephone, and I was surprised and amused to discover how cumbersome I felt, walking down the street! Like an arthritic old elephant. Mrs. Kennedy was watching me from her living room window, and I felt QUITE conspicuous.

* When this baby moves, it measures 9.5 on the Richter scale!!! My ribcage (right side) is sore from the constant battering.

* Kacie has discovered the pleasures of drawing this week. Her favorite things to draw are "number snakes" and "faces with eyebrows." She likes to draw a picture and then fold it up and give it to Mama as a "present." It delights her when I tape one of these of her "presents" to the fridge for display.

* Jamie is beginning to realize that she's entitled to her own opinion ... and she is exercising that right like crazy ...

* She is also sensitive to chocolate in the evenings. One "Choco Bliss" cake, and she's totally wired for about half an hour.

* I'm starting to look forward to having a newborn again!!



 



Saturday evening
April 5, 1986

Some additional thoughts:

* I got to my doctor's appointment right on schedule, thanks to my mom! I called her the night before and left a message on her answering machine, asking if she could take me, and she showed up here yesterday morning at 9:30. We spent a fun day together. While I visited Dr. Bell, she sat out in the waiting room with Jamie and Kacie. "Those are my two girls -- and my MOM," I told the nurse proudly. Afterwards we had lunch at Burger King and went shopping at Costco. Mom is one of the few people I can giggle with these days: it felt good.

* One thing we giggled about: Jamie calls Burger King "Booger King." Mom and I just about went into hysterics over that one. We also laughed about our shared propensity for getting lost when we're driving. (Now I know who I inherited it from ... !)

* Everything at the doctor's office went OK. I asked Dr. Bell if it looks like I've got another three weeks to go, and he said yes. Secretly, I was hoping he would say "Geez, no, you don't have three weeks ... let's get you over to the hospital RIGHT NOW!" This new anticipation I feel -- this sudden rush of longing to hold my baby -- coupled with all the usual third trimester anxieties has made the next three weeks loom ahead as long as forever. As sad as I'll be to see this pregnancy end, I still feel impatient and "itchy" ...

* The nurse said, "It still sounds like a girl!" as she listened to the fetal heartbeat. When I told Mom about it, she said, "Well, all I can tell you is that the doctors and nurses were never right about the sexes of my babies."

* I have examined my heart very carefully, and I am positive now that I have no preference (for a boy or girl) this time. For awhile I feared I had some kind of hidden psychological hangup about having a son -- my weird dreams lately seemed to bear that out. I was afraid I might not be able to love a son as profoundly as I love my daughters. On Easter Sunday, though, I spent time around Sheryl's little boy, Michael. He's just started to walk, and he's cute as a button. I watched Sheryl with her son -- the tenderness between them, the easy intimacy -- and it finally dawned on me that boy babies are probably every bit as lovable and sweet and special as girl babies. I smiled and told Sheryl, "I'll take one just like THAT!," pointing at her little boy. Ever since then I've been serenely unconcerned about the sex of this baby. If it's a boy -- fine. If it's a girl -- fine. Either way, this baby will be just as deeply loved as our other two children.



 




Tuesday 10:30 a.m.
April 8, 1986

(Besides ... if I do have a boy, Judy is going to give me all of Billy & Nathan's outgrown clothes!!)

Feeling good today. Conscious of how precious these remaining days may be. One month from now, will I think longingly of these easy, peaceful mornings ... ?? Will I miss the baby's familiar movements inside me? Will I wish I could come back to this time and enjoy it all over again ... ?  Yes, yes and yes.

Cloudy morning. Yesterday it was 71º and wonderfully summery. The older I get, the more I seem to enjoy springtime. I think it's because I'm no longer so hung-up on getting a tan, silly as that may sound. For so many years I disliked spring and summer, simply because I couldn't tan. Now I think it's a monumentally STUPID thing to worry about. Who knows, I may even enjoy this summer, too. Jamie and I were talking about it yesterday, and I told her, "We're gonna have the best summer we ever had!" Just a feeling I have in my bones: Summer '86 is going to be a good time for us all.  Well  ... it's certainly going to be an INTERESTING time for us all.

Anyway -- today it's back to being cloudy and cool. I have a pleasant feeling of everything being under control today. If I look too closely I would probably find loose ends dangling all over the place ... bills that are still unpaid, problems around the house, things that need to be done for the baby ... but I'm choosing to be myopic today.

Jamie has been bugging me all morning to "draw a picture" of her laying on the couch. (She says she's "sick" today.) So here it is.

Someday I'll find the cartoon and scan it  ...



 



Saturday 11 a.m.
April 12, 1986

I'm allotting myself some time this morning for journal-writing. These days, I almost have to schedule these things in advance ... the morning hours are precious and few at the moment, the only time of day I'm actually able to accomplish much. I have to choose: housecleaning today? Laundry? Writing? Whatever I choose means the rest has to slide. I get maybe three solid hours of energy before I start to fade ...

I'm very aware of the fact that Baby will be here soon. Everything I do resolves around that knowledge. Yesterday I did a super-thorough job of cleaning the girls' bedroom, and the whole time I was cleaning I was thinking, "This is the last time I'm going to do this for awhile." I made some labels and put them on the girls' dresser drawers -- they say things like "JAMIE'S SHIRTS," "KACIE'S PANTS," UNDERWEAR FOR BOTH GIRLS," etc. This is in case I have to rush off to the hospital in a hurry and someone else has to pack the girls an overnight case, or if someone is here taking care of them while I'm in the hospital and doesn't know where anything is. (The matter of who will care for the girls while I'm in the hospital has still not been resolved. I'm very concerned about this, but I won't dwell on it now: like most of my problems, I know that this one will be resolved eventually.)

I'm due now in less than two weeks. My heart keeps whispering that it could be "any time ... any time." I wake up in the morning and wonder if this will be the day ...

Yesterday I had an appointment with Dr. Bell's associate, Dr. Thiele. He is as different from Dr. Bell as night and day, but the visit went well and I came home feeling optimistic. The thing I liked most about Dr. Thiele was the quick, easy way he volunteered the necessary bits of information, before I even had a chance to ask. ("Baby has his head down ... cervix is dilated about 2 centimeters ... Baby is small, maybe 6-1/2 pounds ... things look good!") He told me to get in touch with the office at the very first sign of labor, and advised me to spend one hour laying down ("Sitting doesn't count," he said) for every three hours I'm up and about.

Peg had to take me to this appointment, because it was at 3:15 and Ray couldn't get off work early. This was fine with me. Ray has been impossible and undependable all week; I can't count on him for anything. Twice this week I've called him at the tavern and asked him to please come home ("I need some help!"), and both times it took him three or four HOURS to finally get home. And of course he was drunk by the time he got here. Today he's working, but he promised to be home by 3:00 to paint the baby's room. I'm not holding my breath.

At least he did give me some spending money - $80 - to buy a robe for the hospital and a few little things I need for the baby. I don't know when I'll get to go shopping, but I hope it's today or tomorrow. The brakes on the car are shot so I can't drive myself -- I'll have to depend on Ray to take me. (He's figured out a way to drive the car in spite of the lousy brakes. It's probably dangerous, but it works.) The idea of having to count on him for anything is annoying as hell, but what choice do I have?

Kacie is sick AGAIN. I can hardly believe it, but it's true ... she's in the third day of an especially nasty cold. I've got her on the sofa, bundled up and coated with Vicks VapoRub; every four hours I spoon a little Robitussin into her (protesting) mouth. She's pale and quiet, but cheerful. Now Jamie is starting to sneeze a little and is complaining that she "doesn't feel good." (Frankly I think she's just jealous of all the attention Kacie's getting! But I'm monitoring her closely anyway, just in case.) I pray that I don't catch this cold, but I'm afraid it may be unavoidable. I would hate to spend the final days of this pregnancy sick. I want this time to be as pleasant and trouble-free as possible.

Baby is rolling heavily inside of me. (Won't be long now, Sweetheart.) Some of that concern for the baby's health has returned ... that old familiar knot of tension. Will everything be OK? No abnormalities, no problems? Please, Lord, let this baby be as healthy as his sisters were when they were born. And I've still got that same, niggling worry about labor. Will it be as bad as it was the first time? But overall, in spite of the fears, in spite of the lack of energy and the discomforts (which reach epidemic proportions by evening), I'm enjoying this time. In spite of Ray. In spite of my uncertainties. I know I'm very close to a major life-change, and the prospect thrills and intrigues me. I feel more ALIVE right now than I have in who-knows-how-long.



 





Monday 12:30
ELEVEN DAYS TO GO
April 14, 1986

Well, I got it. (Kacie's cold.) My chest is tight and sore this morning, I've got a nagging headache and that overall "crummy" feeling. Now my hope is that I can beat this thing quickly and still have a couple of days left over for meditation and preparation before the baby comes. The girls are both still sick -- much sicker than I am, unfortunately -- later this afternoon I plan to put everybody (me included) down for a major nap.

We went and did our shopping yesterday at Fred Meyer. I spent almost $100 and got most of the stuff I need. I'm having some problems finding the bottle nipples I want, but I got a hot pink bathrobe for $30, a pair of silky pink pajamas that I LOVE for $22, and a new diaper bag for $12. Also: cotton balls, makeup, plastic pants for the baby, diaper pins, a few nipples (but not the kind I want), a Pur pacifier, a crib mattress cover, my birth announcements (3 pkgs.) and a new plastic ball for each of the girls.

Ray bought paint for the baby's room -- a color called "Summer Sun" -- but he pooped out on painting when we got home. I'm becoming horribly frustrated about that room. I WANT TO GET THINGS READY, but as usual the more I nag him about it, the harder he resists.

I've changed my mind (again) about a boy's name. I've decided that I just can't name him Jesse. I've tried really hard to warm up to the name, but I just plain don't like it.



 





Thursday noon
EIGHT DAYS TO GO
April 17, 1986

VERY sick. This is the worst cold I've ever had. I'm irked that it had to happen now, in the final days of my pregnancy ... this was supposed to be a relaxed and untroubled time, a sort of "calm before the storm" ... instead, I'm plugged up tight as a drum, wheezing like a decrepit old carburetor, uncomfortable and achey and out of sorts. I spent this whole morning in bed. Ray bought me a new kind of cold medicine last night, a hot lemon drink called Neocitrin, and it seems to be helping a little. I'm out of bed now (still in my nightgown, though, and a frumpy sweater) and I seem to be breathing a touch easier. Kacie, happily, is completely back to normal. Her fever is gone, her appetite and energy have returned, and she's bouncing around the house in her Sister Bertrille pigtails, happy as a lark. (Jamie, on the other hand, feels as crummy as her old Ma.) I suppose my getting sick right now might be a blessing in disguise, though. At least I'm staying off my feet, drinking tons of juice and getting lots of rest.

Ray still hasn't painted. He said he'll be home early tonight to do it, but I will not count on him to keep his promise ... he'll just let me down again.

I'm beginning to get this funny intuitive feeling that I'll go into labor this Saturday, perhaps in the evening, and that Baby will be born early Sunday morning. Oddly enough, Ray said virtually the same thing last night. "I just know you're going to have it on my birthday," he said.



 





Friday morning
ONE WEEK TO GO
April 18, 1986

Better. The cold is only about half as bad as it was yesterday. I can breathe again, anyway.

I've got a doctor's appointment this afternoon at 3:45 -- Peg will be taking me again. I told Ray please be home tonight at a decent hour, but this is Friday and I doubt he'll comply. Lately he's been restless and distracted; even he's here, he's not really HERE. I have no doubts that when the time comes for the baby to be born, Ray will be there for me ... but in the meantime I feel like I don't even have a husband half the time.

He came home last night at 6:30 and started painting the baby's room. I was surprised and pleased. Unfortunately, the paint he bought turns out to be all wrong ... it's the color of weak lemonade, not the bright sunny yellow I asked for, and it isn't covering the old green paint very well. I deliberately did NOT complain about the disappointing color, but Ray is as disgusted with it as I am (thank goodness) and plans to rectify the situation this weekend. He went ahead and put on one coat of the icky yellow as a base coat, and then he's going to buy a different, brighter color for the top coat. I'm reconciling myself to the fact that the nursery will not be ready before the baby is born. It's disappointing and irritating, but around here that's par for the course ...

Do I sound like a total sourpuss today? Griping about this and bitching about that? Sorry. These little problems are nagging at me, and I feel damp and uncomfortable and I can't quit coughing, and I don't really feel like going to the doctor today, and I know I've got another long and lonely Friday night ahead of me ... the kids are picking at each other, fighting over toilet paper and toy dragons ... the house needs a thorough vacuuming and polishing, and I just don't have the oomph to do it ... not exactly a zippety-doo-dah day ...

... Still. The funny thing is that, underneath it all, I feel a pure, warm glow of happiness, expectation, calm, contentment. The baby is almost here! Who knows? Maybe it'll happen tonight! And in spite of my external grumpiness I am really quite marvelously happy at the moment. A wonderful experience -- a landmark event -- is just around the corner ... one of those red letter days that remain in my memory forever ... and I'm going to try my darndest to enjoy every single minute of it.



 




Saturday morning
April 19, 1986

The "pure warm glow of happiness underneath it all" remains intact, but -- on the surface -- I am mad as hell. Like a total dope, I went ahead and made Bozo his favorite dinner last night -- chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, the works -- and naturally he wasn't home to eat any of it. I shouldn't have even bothered.

He was asleep on the sofa when I got up a little while ago: now he's in the shower. We haven't spoken a word to each other yet. I don't know what time he came crashing in this morning, but it probably wasn't until dawn. I was up & down most of the night, quieting the dogs, going to the bathroom, checking the locks, and I know he wasn't home yet at 3 a.m.

Oh, hell. What's the use in even writing about it? The situation never changes. He is an inconsiderate, irresponsible bonehead who thinks he can drop in at any hour of the day or night for a meal, a shower and a change of clothes, and that he isn't obligated to contribute anything to this family but a few bags of groceries once a week. Life to him is, was and always will be Dave's Place Tavern and that next can of beer. I don't see things changing: I'll just continue to take it and take it.

10 a.m. Now he's out of the shower and cracking open his first beer of the day. I hate him.

10:30 a.m. And now he's waltzing out the door with Joey N., with barely a backward glance, for his day at the race track. ("I'll be home at six," he mumbled.) I not only hate him -- I hate myself for marrying him.



Many's the time I've been mistaken
And many times confused
Yes, and I've often felt forsaken
And certainly misused
Oh but I'm all right
I'm all right
Just weary to my bones ...




5:10 p.m.

Cooled off somewhat. I've worked my butt off this afternoon, and the distraction of housework has helped numb some of the bitter feeling. Experiencing an almost MANIC desire to clean everything in sight. Trying to get the ol' nest in order, I suppose.

6 p.m.

Ate a small plate of macaroni with Kacie. (Jamie is asleep in my bed.) Still no Ray, still no signs of labor (except for a slight backache).

7 p.m.

No Ray.



 




Sunday
April 20, 1986
Ray's 31st Birthday

The next morning, and definitely a brighter day in all regards .. 

Sunny spring day. Kacie is sitting here at the table with me (messy pigtails, her dad's "Central Tavern" T-shirt pulled over a blue Care Bears nightgown, bare feet). She has just demolished her second plate of pancakes and sausages. Now she is patting her fat tummy and saying "I got BA-bee in dere!"   Jamie is glued to the TV, watching her beloved Rainbow Brite cartoon ("It's a real scary one, Mommy!"), leisurely putting forkfuls of pancake into her face. I bustled around this morning and made a nice big breakfast, plus a huge pot of coffee and a pitcher of Sunny Delight, and now all of a sudden I'm feeling queerly nauseous, unable to force down a single bite. My appetite the past couple of days has been virtually nonexistent -- I didn't even eat dinner last night. This is partly due to my cold, which lingers today, and partly (mostly) because I don't know when I might go into labor and I don't want to get caught with a full stomach when I do.

It's funny; I was SO SURE I was going to have the baby today!! I really thought I would go into labor last night and would spend today at the hospital, giving birth. I packed my suitcase and did all this frantic housecleaning and all kinds of "last minute" stuff, positive this would be the day ... and nothing! I had one minor contraction when I went to bed last night, but aside from that I feel no closer to labor now than I did nine months ago.

As for Ray. He got home at 9:30 last night. "I walked all the way home," was the first thing he said. "From LONGACRES?" I sneered in disbelief. "Well ... no ... from Dave's Place," he said. I still wasn't buying it, and finally he changed his story to "I hitch-hiked." Then he disappeared into our bedroom without another word. I was sitting in the living room watching TV. When my show was done, I went back to the bedroom to see if he'd fallen asleep. He hadn't -- he was sitting on the bed in his bathrobe, crying! Jamie was sitting next to him, peering into his face with concern. "Daddy's crying!" she whispered to me, obviously very surprised. I wasn't surprised at all: this is fairly standard procedure anymore. He goes out and misbehaves for several days, lets his family down, and then comes home and cries and begs for forgiveness. I've seen it happen over & over again. Sometimes it moves me, and sometimes it doesn't. Last night it didn't, really, but it was the night before his birthday and I decided not to draw a hard line this time. (I know, I know ... I ALWAYS let him off the hook.) Jamie and I gave him the birthday cards we made for him, plus the cards he got in the mail from his Arizona relatives, and he opened those. Then I warmed up some leftover steak and potatoes for his supper, and we watched "Remington Steele" and went to bed.

Today he is 31 years old.  Last year we threw him a big noisy birthday party - remember? - but this year things will be decidedly quieter. Peg and Barbara are supposed to stop by later, and I'm going to cook him the dinner of his choice (unless I go into labor!), but other than that we have no celebration planned. I won't even nag him about painting.

Of course I hope you realize I don't really "hate" him, as I said I did a page or two back. It's true that he angers me beyond BELIEF. It's also true that I'm disappointed by his lack of interest in his family. He has a good heart, and I know he loves the girls and I  ...  but the day-to-day stuff just doesn't seem to interest him, and try as I might to involve him in the details of our lives, he simply resists my efforts. I feel sad about this. He is missing out on so much. Our daughters are growing up in a most delightful way, and he is missing most of it. Will he someday regret these missed opportunities?



First names

Kyle
Andrew ("manly, strong")
Jeremy
Brett ("a Breton")

Middles

Alexander ("Aide to men")
Joseph ("He shall add")
Christopher ("Christ-bearer")
Douglas ("Dark haired")
James ("One who replaces")
Lee ("Meadow")

IT'LL BE ONE OF THESE:

Kyle Christopher
Brett Andrew
Jesse Taylor




 


Monday morning
April 21, 1986

I have to admit that I'm amazed to find myself sitting here this morning, in my kitchen, drinking coffee and planning housework and writing in my journal, just like I do every Monday morning ...

... I genuinely believed I'd be in the hospital by now!!  Indeed, if I could have induced labor by sheer force of will, I would be in the hospital right now. I spent the whole weekend in a state of preparedness -- bags packed, house as neat as a pin, hair washed and curled -- I even had two small overnight bags packed for Jamie and Kacie. I told Ray and the girls "not to be surprised if we go tonight," and I was constantly barking at them not to mess up the house, pick up those toys, keep that bedroom CLEAN!  It was like living in a state of emergency for a couple of days: I had everybody primed and ready for a dash to the hospital that never came.

The whole weekend, my mind was constantly tuned-in to the baby and to the inner workings of my body. I monitored every kick, every pause, every muscle twinge. The tiniest back pain had me wondering, "Is this it? Is this it?" I wanted so desperately to feel something, ANYTHING, that several times I imagined that I did feel something. Last night after dinner I felt some sharp pains -- sharp enough to make me very uncomfortable -- and I was just about to mention it to Ray when I realized (with disappointment) that it was only gas!!

Ray was amused and patient with me. Several times yesterday he ordered me to "GO SIT DOWN!," especially whenever he caught me pacing back and forth.

I want to talk about Ray for a minute or two. Yesterday was kind of a nice day for us, marriage-wise. Nothing I can put my finger on ... there just seemed to be a special warmth and closeness between the two of us ... a connection I haven't felt in ages. This is made all the more remarkable, of course, coming as it does on the heels of Saturday's "I hate him" journal entry. One day things are about as crappy as they can be, the next day I'm feeling "connected" again. ??

First of all, yesterday was his birthday. You can't hold a grudge on someone's birthday. No matter how disgusted I may have been with him the day before, a birthday is a special day. It's sort of an unwritten rule with me: all quarrels and grudges are automatically suspended on a birthday.

After the kids and I ate our pancakes (I finally found the appetite to choke down a couple), we were surprised by a visit from Peg, Barbara and Ray's Grandma D. They stopped by to wish Ray a happy birthday and to bring him a gift and a lovely cake that Barbara baked for him. (Also to check on me.) Ray got out of bed and threw on some clothes, and we had - amazingly - a VERY NICE VISIT with his mother. I was so completely relaxed, I surprised myself. No nervousness, no artifice. Ray opened his birthday present -- it was a photo album that Peg put together, filled with pictures of Ray & his family while he was growing up. I was so thrilled with the darned thing that I spontaneously jumped up, ran over and hugged her! (I've been hinting for years that I would like to have some baby pictures of Ray.)

After they were gone, Ray went out and did some shopping; he bought a lot of things that I specifically requested -- baby bottles, deodorant, hairspray. While he was gone I sat and looked at his baby pictures. I was unexpectedly very moved by them. Even as a little boy he had that sweet, sad "Ray-Face" that I love ... in some of the photos I was startled by how much he looks like Kacie. Anyway, I enjoyed the opportunity to see some of Ray's beginnings. It reinforced the connection. He came home from the store, and I was so filled with tenderness and love for him that I caught him off-guard and started smothering him with kisses: he thought I was off my rocker, I'm sure.

Later in the afternoon, he was standing out in the front yard in the spring rain, cooking a roast on the Webber. From my spot on the sofa I could watch him unobserved. He was doing something he loves - barbecuing - and from time to time I saw him stop, fold his arms and look dreamily around the yard. He looked for all the world like the king of the castle, surveying his kingdom ... a man momentarily content. At that moment I loved him very much.

Another special moment came a couple of hours later, after we'd eaten dinner and were almost ready for bed. I sat in the armchair and watched Jamie and Kacie clambering all over their Daddy on the sofa, in a sort of joyous, noisy free-for-all. All of a sudden I was so filled with love for my family, tears came to my eyes. I just sat there and wept. My husband. My kids. My family! How incredibly, wonderfully, fantastically precious they are to me. Jamie saw me sitting there blubbering, and she asked me what was wrong. "These are happy tears," I told her. "I just love you guys a lot."

We all went to bed at 9:30, and soon afterwards I fell asleep, curled behind Ray with my huge belly nestled into the curve of his back. A little while later, I had a nightmare: I dreamed that I walked into the living room and a strange man jumped out of the shadows and grabbed my arm. I woke up moaning, and Ray was shaking me and saying "Honey! Honey! It's OK!" Confused, relieved, sleepy, full of love for my husband, I curled back up next to him and went to sleep again, feeling safe and protected and connected.

6 p.m.

Wishing that tonight would be the night. I am restless, bored and impatient.



 


Tuesday morning
April 22, 1986

Obviously, last night wasn't the night. Today I am making a superhuman effort to keep my expectations low. (I keep hearing this dumb cliché over & over in my head: A watched pot never boils ... a watched pot never boils ... )

Last night was a good night, though. I mean the evening was good, before we went to bed: Ray was home at 8:00 in a cheerful mood, and we watched TV and made dinner and had a nice pleasant evening with the girls. After we went to bed, though, everything kind of went nuts for me, physically. I had the WORST heartburn I've ever had ... a sudden terrible leg cramp in my right leg ... a couple of semi-painful Braxton-Hicks contractions ... and, lingering today, the same awful toothache/earache that I had back in January, only this time it's on the right side of my face. I guess it's some kind of sinus infection. I got practically no sleep at all ... I tossed and turned, I pounded pillows, I tore hell out of the bed ... when Ray left for work at 5 a.m. I finally managed to get a few hours, but I'm left this morning with a residual tiredness and a vague headachy feeling that I can't snap out of. I just feel kind of down and flat. I do wish that I'd go into labor today, if only for something to do!! But, like I said, I'm not going to sit here and wait for it to happen ...

Gave the girls a bath this morning and washed their hair -- it needed it. Kacie screamed so loud, I was afraid the neighbors would think I was torturing my children and call the police on us again. She just plain doesn't like having water poured on her head. After the nightmare of shampooing, though, they had fifteen minutes to splash and play and shampoo their dolls' hair, and that cheered everybody up. Then I made brunch: sausages, scrambled eggs with cheese, fried potatoes, toast. We sat at the table and ate together. Jamie gamely tried some of the scrambled eggs -- she hates eggs -- then quietly pushed them to the side of her plate with a slight shake of her head. Kacie wasn't nearly so polite. "YUCK!" she announced crossly. "I HATE potatoes!" And she stabbed them with her fork.

After we ate, I herded the girls into their room and helped them clean it up. With the three of us pitching in together, we had things neat as a pin within minutes.



 


Wednesday 10 a.m.
April 23, 1986

In spite of my good intentions -- I've got to say it! -- today might be the day!!! (A watched pot ... a watched pot ...)

I got up this morning feeling unusually sore and crampy, and now I'm lumbering around the house, huge as a refrigerator, and something in my heart is whispering "Today ... today ... today!" I want to ignore the voice, in case it's setting me up for another disappointment. I don't want to spend this whole day in crazed anticipation, only to wind up with nothing. Still. The voice is powerfully hard to disregard. It is longing, and fear, and anticipation, and excitement, all rolled into one ... a voice I've heard before, and recognize ... I suppose it's the voice of my destiny, and this morning it is urging me toward the conclusion of these past nine months ...

Have no fear. I have not completely lost my marbles. All of this quasi-mystical talk about "voices" and destiny is only part of it. You can count on good old Terri P. to lapse into the ludicrous, even on days like this ... there is ALSO my horoscope for today, which (if I were to admit it) is the primary reason why I think this is "the" day. It says:

" ... Significant domestic adjustment takes place. Money picture is brighter, long-standing wish will be fulfilled. You'll make up for past mistakes; you're due for ‘outstanding performance. Gift is on the way!"

I suppose that horoscopes are even more ludicrous than inner voices, but hey ... what can I say? ... TODAY MIGHT BE THE DAY.



 


Thursday 1:10 p.m.
April 24, 1986

Well, of course now I feel properly stupid. All this talk about horoscope and "voices" and destiny proved to be just so much hooey. I am STILL SITTING HERE ...

7 p.m.

I called Ray at 5:00 this afternoon and asked him to "come right home," and to my surprise he was home within an hour! No, I'm not in labor -- I'm starting to think I may never have this baby, actually  -- but I just didn't want to be alone tonight. Ray was annoyed when he realized I wasn't really in labor (I suppose I did mislead him just the teensiest bit, tee hee), but he's being a good sport. Right now he's making a run to the grocery store and then to Wendy's to pick up some dinner for us.

(Plant your love and let it grow.)

The baby is moving very heavily. The doctor said this isn't a large baby, but to me it feels like a bowling ball.

(Time is getting shorter, and there's much for you to do.)

Slight backache, which I've had for three or four nights. Occasional painless Braxton-Hicks. Sitting on the sofa with big bed pillows propped all around my sides and back, feet up on hassock.

9 p.m.

Now I actually hope I don't go into labor tonight ... I have too many plans for tomorrow! UPS is delivering my new blue sweatshirt ... I want to vacuum the whole house ... an o.b. appointment in the afternoon ... laundry ...



 


Friday 11:30 a.m.
April 25, 1986

My due date has arrived. Baby, when are you going to get here?? Maybe Dr. Bell will be able to tell me when I see him this afternoon.

A few minutes ago I was dancing around the living room with Jamie and Kacie ("Manic Monday," "So Far Away From Me") ... at one point I even picked Kacie up in my arms and waltzed her around the kitchen ... it dawned on me afterwards that I'm pretty darned limber for a woman nine months pregnant. I'll bet I could jog around the block.

Last night was one of the happiest evenings I've had in years. I just sat there in my pillow-stuffed armchair, eating Wendy's and watching TV and listening to my family and smiling. It was even payday! I mean, it was just this perfect, blissful evening ... no problems, no worries.

7:40 p.m.

News flash: Dr. Bell has ordered me to stay in bed all weekend.

8:11 p.m.

(Minor Braxton Hicks.)



 



Sunday noon
April 27, 1986

Still in bed -- still no baby.

During my appointment on Friday afternoon, Dr. Bell expressed concern because my blood pressure is much higher than it should be, and because my ankles and fingers are swollen ... possible symptoms of toxemia, I guess. He ordered me to come home and spend the entire weekend in bed. The only time I'm supposed to get up is to go to the bathroom! I've been pretty good about following doctor's orders; I've been alternating between laying on the sofa and laying in my bed, and all I've done this weekend is read magazines, watch TV, eat (a little) and sleep. Unmitigated blobbery! Ray, bless him, has been my knight in shining armor. I called him from the doctor's office on Friday afternoon -- my voice shaking -- and told him he had to come right home again, because I needed his help. I was afraid he would ignore my request, or think I was making the whole thing up (the little wifey has cried wolf a few times lately, after all!), but to my everlasting gratitude he zoomed right home from the tavern. Peg waited with me at the house until he got home, then she helped me explain toxemia to him, and told him how important it is that I follow Dr. Bell's instructions to the letter. He agreed -- the next thing I knew, in fact, he was elevating my feet and talking about salt in my diet! -- and yesterday he ran the house and took care of Kacie all day (Jamie went home with Peg) while I rested. By evening he was all puffed up and proud of himself for all the work he'd done ... I had to thank him about a billion times before he would go to sleep. (I do appreciate it, though.) Today I expect he'll be about half as cheerful and compliant as he was yesterday. Some of the novelty is bound to have worn off. By the end of this week he should be a total frazzled mess -- *my* normal mental state, in other words!

As for me. I'm feeling OK this morning ... a little constipated, and the baby is kicking like mad ... an unfortunate physical combination, to say the least!! But otherwise it's not too bad. I'm well past the point of impatience. Mostly I just feel suspended in animation. I'm ALWAYS going to be pregnant with this kid!!! I've stopped looking for signs of impending labor ... stopped the frantic housecleaning ... I've even stopped thinking about it, one way or the other. This baby is going to remain a question mark, a non-person, forever.



 




Monday 10:30 a.m.
April 28, 1986

Morning of a new day ... and a new week. Sun is shining. Ray mowed the grass this weekend, and now our yard looks neat and springlike. He also did an admirable job of keeping the house tidy all weekend, so this morning the place looks pretty good. There's nothing much for me to do but sit and watch TV and wait for my o.b. appointment this afternoon. Technically I'm supposed to be in bed, but Ray's at work today and SOMEBODY has to keep an eye on Kacie. (Jamie is still at her grandparents' house.) So I'm sitting up in the armchair, enjoying one cup of coffee (instant), thinking. Kacie is coloring pictures at the kitchen table and chewing her beloved piece of gum. I watch her and smile. Such a dear, funny little daughter. She thoroughly enjoyed having Ray and I all to herself this weekend. Once in awhile she would mention the absent Jamie, but never with much concern! Mostly she just enjoyed being the center of attention ... she played with the Snoopy balloon her Daddy bought her, colored endless pictures, watched Ray mow the lawn, curled up on the sofa and watched TV with me occasionally. She never wandered very far away from Ray and I -- she didn't even play in her bedroom -- so I was able to keep an eye on her for virtually the entire weekend from my spot on the sofa.

Our special time together  

Kacie and I spent a lot of *Alone Time* together in those final days and weeks before the baby was born.
(Big Sister Jamie was farmed out to Grandma & Grandpa.)
Spring 1986

Last night Ray took Kacie and I out to dinner at Denny's (Kacie happily called it "Dendy's"). I'd been in bed all weekend so it felt odd to be on my feet for an hour, but a restaurant meal was a treat I wasn't about to pass up. I had a small steak, a baked potato and corn; Ray had steak, shrimp and two Bloody Marys (the food was "fair," he said, and he complained incessantly about the waitress); Kacie had chicken. After dinner I used the pay phone and called Jamie. "WHO IS THIS?" she chirped over & over, in her funny little Minnie Mouse voice. I guess my voice sounded strange to her: she didn't believe it was really me, at first! Talking to her on the phone made me miss her, a little bit. This is the longest we've ever been separated from each other ... I miss my Puss ...

After dinner we came straight home and I went right back to bed (on the sofa). We had some cheesecake for dessert and watched "Amazing Stories," "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" and a stupid Clint Eastwood movie, "Honkytonk Man." Ray went to bed at 8:30, but I was restless and couldn't sleep so I stayed awake and watched most of the movie. When I went to bed, finally, around 11 p.m., I was so bulky and uncomfortable that I barely got three hours of sleep. I could only lay in two positions -- on my left side or right side -- and then only for a few minutes at a time. My tossing and turning kept Ray awake, too. He finally got up at 4:30 a.m. and left for work. "You gonna be OK?" he asked me tenderly. I nodded miserably, and he gave me a look of such concern and love that I forced a smile to show him I was fine. He waved and left, and I huddled under the blankets and stuffed a pillow under my tummy and drifted off for a couple of hours.

This morning I feel surer than ever that this will be the day. I don't even care if I sound like a broken record. This day already has a unique, almost surreal quality about it. I feel downright spacey. Half of me wants to jump up and run around and clean the house like mad, even though it doesn't really need it ... the other half of me has this weird primal urge to find a nice dark closet and climb in and shut the door and have a litter of kittens ...

And -- for the first time in this entire pregnancy -- today I'm feeling a little scared. This toxemia business has got me worried. I'm more worried than ever that something will be wrong with the baby. I also fear for myself. What if I die? What in the world would happen to Jamie and Kacie and Ray if I died? I was making lunch for Kacie and I awhile ago, when all of a sudden I started thinking about this stuff, and I felt overcome by cold heavy panic. The hot dogs were boiling, Kacie was chattering, and I just stood there rooted to the spot, completely terrified. Thank goodness it only lasted for a minute. I'm still nervous ... there's this unsettling undercurrent of nerves, thrumming through my body, making me fidgety and uneasy ... but it isn't terror anymore. It's just nerves.

1:45 p.m.

Diarrhea. According to my magazine article, an early sign of approaching labor! My appointment is two hours away. Kacie is laying down; I am sitting in the deathly-quiet living room, listening to my own pounding heart, the refrigerator humming, the wind blowing in the cherry tree outside, the walls creaking, cars passing by. The skies have turned an opaque gray; the wind is picking up; a storm is in the air. My hands are sweaty. It is zero hour in my heart.

I am about to give birth to my third (and perhaps last) child ... if not tonight, than surely by tomorrow. I know it as surely as I know the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. This is the time.

3 p.m.

Calmer, a little. I let Kacie get up -- she wasn't really sleeping, anyway -- and her cheerfully busy presence is a distraction. I've also turned on my favorite radio station, KEZX, soothing "background music" ... it helps. My heart is still thudding like a sledgehammer, though, and perspiration is breaking out around my neck and temples. I've dressed and done my hair and put on makeup ... undoubtedly a laughable waste of time, considering what lays ahead of me. Who primps for childbirth?? But just going through the motions had a slightly calming effect. Felt another burst of domestic energy about half an hour ago, but I controlled myself, limited it to a bit of picking up, made Jamie's bed, wiped off the kitchen counters. Now I'm just sitting and waiting.

6:45 p.m.

Well ... what can I say? I was wrong -- again. No baby. My appointment with Dr. Bell was about as uneventful as it could be. (The good news: my blood pressure has gone down a little. So my "weekend of rest" did the trick.) There is no indication of imminent labor ... he won't induce me, for my own protection, not with my previous C-section and now this toxemia business ... "Go home and go back to bed" is basically all he had to say. I left his office in tears. All the waiting and worrying and sleepless nights have run me down, and I simply wasn't prepared to handle another disappointment. Dr. Bell, God bless him, was kind and sympathetic. I was mortified to find myself weeping in front of him, but he understood. "You're tired," he said. "Go home and rest." I felt like a complete ninny, but at least I didn't have to explain anything to him ... he knew already how I was feeling.

Peg was nice, too. During the drive home she tried to cheer me up with horror stories from her own childbearing years. (Ray was ten days late ... Barbara was FOUR WEEKS late!!) In an odd way, it did make me feel better. She picked up some clean clothes for Jamie and took her back to her house for an additional night or two. Ray isn't home yet, so once again it's just Kacie and me. But now I'm back to being completely depressed.



 




Tuesday 9:45 a.m.
April 29, 1985

A little better. I'm disappointed again, and embarrassed about all the stupid things I wrote yesterday, and I'm wondering how on earth I'm going to fill up the long, endless hours of yet ANOTHER day ... the waiting is driving me absolutely batty ... but I guess I'll survive. I'm trying to console myself with the fact that each day does bring the baby a little closer. I'm also trying to convince myself that someday I'll laugh about this. And -- if nothing else -- this annoying period of waiting is prompting me to write in my journal on a regular basis. That's something, anyway. I'm not writing anything particularly profound, but at least I'm re-establishing the habit of picking up a pen in moments of stress.

There is something else. These past four or five days of rest and quiet (and no Jamie) have had a beneficial effect on Kacie. I swear, she has bloomed before my very eyes. The first day or two that Jamie was gone, Kacie was super-negative. No matter what Ray or I said to her, her reply was an angry "NOOOO!" She had frequent temper tantrums and refused to go anywhere near Ray, except for brief kisses and hugs when prompted. As of last night, though, she is a completely different little girl ... cuddling and flirting with Ray, giving us both spontaneous exuberant shows of affection, giggling and chattering like a magpie ... and there has been a definite reduction in the number of "no's" we've heard lately. She just seems so happy and well-adjusted. It's lovely to see. I hope it lasts!

Even I have to admit that things have been unusually serene with Jamie gone. I miss her very much - I was thrilled to see her for a little while yesterday - but the plain truth of it is that I couldn't get any real rest with her around. The demands, the noise, the mess ... everything. I never realized how crazed things get around here until now. The peace and the lack of extra work have been like tonic on my jangled nerves, and that just wouldn't have been possible if Peg hadn't offered to take Jamie this week.

(It occurs to me that this is probably the last period of real peace and quiet I'll have for years ...)

So what will I do with my overly-pregnant self today?? I can't stay on the sofa all day again, I just can't. On the other hand, I'm too uncomfortable to move around much, which automatically rules out some of my favorite time-killers ... vacuuming, furniture arranging, random wall-scrubbing. I feel like an overripe piece of fruit: soft and swollen and bruised.



 




Wednesday 10:30 a.m.
April 30, 1986

This is getting RIDICULOUS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!! !!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!

If this baby isn't born in the next 13-1/2 hours, he won't even BE an April baby, he'll be a May baby! Not that it makes a heck of a lot of difference at this point, but gee whiz ...

I feel like someone has perma-bonded me to this fucking sofa.

Noon

I desperately want to write something, but it's all been said, hasn't it? Forgive my repetitiveness. The uncertainty of the situation has got me going around in circles.

I have neglected to mention that Dr. Bell has tentatively scheduled me for a C-section on Monday, May 5th (I don't know yet what time) ... provided I don't go into labor beforehand. So there is an end in sight. It's only five days away, and I know I should simply relax and wait. Five days do not an eternity make. Still ... I hope my labor does start before then. Scheduled birth? Gee whiz. It's so pat and predictable. Pack the suitcase and check in. I think I'd prefer a little more excitement, a little more spontaneity ... a bit of nice safe drama, this last time out ... nothing life-threatening: just some 2 a.m. contractions, a few middle of the night phone calls, a bit of hysteria and confusion thrown in for good measure ...  a birth experience to remember.

Had another horrible night last night, physically. Also, not a great night marriage-wise. Ray came home at 9 p.m. (he said he'd be home at 4:00) and he was drunk and sloppy. He brought fish and chips for a late dinner and that was supposed to make everything OK, but I was still annoyed. (I have this recurring nightmare that I'm going to go into labor while he's drunk, and I'm either going to be unable to wake him or else he's going to be in no condition to drive me to a phone. He's drinking very heavily lately, and it terrifies me.) We ate and then he went to bed. When I came to bed an hour later, I found him sprawled all over the bed -- no room for me -- and he was snoring like crazy. Disgusted, I grabbed a couple of pillows and went into the girls' room to sleep in Jamie's bed. Kacie was still awake, and she was delighted to have me sleeping in her room with her. Unfortunately, sleeping on Jamie's bed in the ninth month of pregnancy was roughly akin to sleeping on a slab of granite. Within half an hour I was in total agony. So I had Kacie hop into Jamie's bed, and I layed down on Kacie's mattress. That wasn't a whole lot better -- I'm uncomfortable no matter where I try to sleep -- but I dozed off for a little while, long enough to have a series of brief feverish dreams. I woke up around 3 a.m. and couldn't get back to sleep again, so I just tossed and turned for a couple of hours until Ray left for work. Then I took Kacie into the big bed with me, and finally managed to get some real rest.

2 p.m.

Had a lot of Braxton-Hicks contractions in the night, some of them semi-painful, but nothing resembling genuine labor. The pains are worst when I lay on my right side. I get them occasionally during the day, too, but they never hurt then as much as they do at night.

Baby is very quiet today, I've just noticed.

4 p.m.

Feeling kinda "funny." Backache, diarrhea again (don't you love all the gruesome details?), vague crampy feeling.

NO, dammit ... I'm NOT going to say it ... !!

7:35 p.m.

All of a sudden I feel like crying. Enormously depressed, for no reason and for every reason.



 




Thursday afternoon
May 1, 1986

Just forced myself to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a glass of milk. It tasted like cardboard, but my stomach was rumbling and I needed to eat something. Feel a little better now. Baby is flopping heavily inside of me. Decided this child must be a boy ... only a man would keep me waiting like this!! Reconciled to the fact that this little fella will be born on Monday, by C-section, as scheduled. There will be no exciting midnight dash to the hospital ... I'll just have to make the best of the wait, tortuous as it may be. A bit depressed, a LOT uncomfortable, but no alternative. Sigh.

No motivation today. I've spent the day on the sofa, working a little on my writing project (taking notes from old journals), keeping an eye on Kacie. So lazy that walking out to the kitchen for a glass of juice seems like more trouble than it's worth.

Kacie is driving me a little crazy this afternoon. It's a dark, rainy afternoon and we've been cooped up in the house all day, and she's been following at my heels without letup since we got up this morning. She's cheerful but somewhat wistful, a bit at loose ends, I think ... maybe she's missing her sister ...

Hard to believe Jamie has been gone a WEEK (tomorrow). Ray thinks we might have some problems with her when we finally get her home for good. The thought hadn't even occurred to me, but maybe he's right. I doubt she's being dangerously spoiled over at the folks', but she's certainly getting more undivided attention at the moment than she's used to, and that will come to an abrupt halt when she and the baby come home ... she might not like that.



 




Friday 8 a.m.
May 2, 1986

Just woke up ... hurts to write. This little peanut is now ONE WEEK overdue!

Rotten dream about Ray. In the dream, I was in labor and he wasn't home, so I was walking all over the neighborhood, trying to find a phone I could use. I was becoming horribly frustrated because things kept going wrong: the neighbors weren't home, or else their phone wouldn't work, or something else would go wrong and I'd have to go knock on another door. Finally I wound up next door at Lori & Ben's, but when I started dialing Dr. Bell's number I realized that the phone was missing a bunch of number buttons. I was so frustrated that I started to scream and cry. Then Ray appeared, out of nowhere, and I started hitting him in the face, screeching at him and calling him names. "What kind of moron leaves his pregnant wife alone with no PHONE?!" I screamed at him, and then I called him a "big fuck-up." He got angry and started to come at me, saying he was going to kill me, but Ben and Lori grabbed his arms and held him. I ran out into the street, where a parade was beginning -- people in Civil War costumes were walking around all over the place. I searched among all the blue uniforms, looking for a policeman to help me, but no one paid any attention to the hysterical pregnant woman running in the wrong direction ...

Whew.



 





Saturday 9:15 a.m.
May 3, 1986

I have so much to say! Hope I can discipline myself enough to get it all written. I'm antsy as hell and don't really feel like sitting here, scribbling in my journal all morning ... but I will, anyway. For the sake of posterity, if nothing else!

I had yet another appointment with Dr. Bell yesterday afternoon at 3:45 (Peg took me), and I am pleased to report that the wheel are finally turning! I can say now with ABSOLUTE CONVICTION (no inner voices, no horoscopes, no "funny feelings") -- this time it's a FACT -- that our baby will be born sometime within the next 48 hours. (Give or take an hour or two, as I'm not sure what time my surgery is scheduled for Monday morning. Dr. Bell says he thinks it's sometime around 11 a.m.; I'll know for sure by tomorrow.) So even if I go into labor this weekend, which is unlikely, Baby still arrives in the next day or two. This is the weekend!

At this point I'm very calm. It's a pretty, slightly overcast (sun peeking through the clouds) Saturday morning. Ray is working today. Jamie has come home to spend the weekend, and she and Kacie are playing "baby" in the living room. (Jamie is the mommy, Kacie is the noisy baby.) I slept fitfully last night, but over all I feel pretty good this morning ... I'm on a sort of "natural high," a dreamy, walking-on-air feeling. I want to wander around the house, and put things to rights in a leisurely way, and think about having a baby in the house again. This is probably how I'll spend the whole weekend.

Jamie seemed very glad to come home, and she said as much. "It feels so good to be in my own home!" she said. Within moments of her arrival, the noise level rose measurably, and toys sort of began scattering themselves all over the place, as if by magic! Half an hour hadn't gone by before Jamie and Kacie were in the throes of their first hysterical battle. I felt myself tightening up inside, wanting to screech and bellow, but I managed somehow to keep my annoyance in check. Jamie has been away for a whole week, and I just wasn't used to having her back yet. It's hard to go from serenity to chaos!! Especially with so many other things on my mind. But please don't think for a moment that I wasn't glad to have her home -- I was overjoyed. As much as I've loved this past week of peace, quiet, order, and precious time alone with Kacie, things didn't seem quite "right" without Jamie here. I missed her very much. I'll miss her again next week when I'm in the hospital. I'm glad she's home, even if it's only for a couple of days.

Ray got home last night around 7:30, carrying a huge pizza. He didn't know Jamie was home yet, so she ran and hid from him. I said, "I have a surprise for you!" and he said, "Oh yeah? What is it?" Out jumped Jamie!  To my utter amazement, Ray burst into tears!  He grabbed her and picked her up and squeezed her until I thought he'd break her back, and the whole time he was sobbing and snuffling, saying "This is the BEST surprise in the whole world!" Even Jamie seemed dazed by the intensity of his reaction. I've never seen anything to match it. In years to come I'm sure I'll pull that moment out of the file box of memory, to enjoy over & over again. It will help remind me, in moments of doubt, how very much Ray loves his children.

Anyway. Jamie is home and things are temporarily back to normal.

Ray was quietly pleased to hear about my doctor's appointment and the C-section scheduled for Monday. At this point his biggest concern appears to be getting time off from work next week. I get the feeling that something is worrying him, something he's not telling me. Perhaps it's job related. He seemed preoccupied and withdrawn last night, once he'd gotten over the initial excitement of Jamie's homecoming and my news about the baby. I'm a bit worried, but since he won't tell me what's wrong (if anything), I have nothing specific to be worried ABOUT. I might be imagining it, anyway. He might just be thinking about my surgery, and about all the changes ahead.

Watching "The Hawaiians." The girls have been coloring for awhile, and now they're clamoring to go outside. The sun has fully broken through the clouds and it's a lovely, inviting Saturday ... I've sent them outside with my blessing.

Midnight:

Well ... is THIS it? Let's time the pains that have gotten me out of bed and brought me out here to the chilly living room, midnight on Saturday night ... (I have an idiotic grin on my face) ...

12:07
12:12
12:19
12:25
12:35 (slightly bigger)
12:40
12:50 (bigger)
12:57

12:37 a.m.

Ray is snoring so peacefully, I'm going to hate to wake him! I'll continue timing myself until 1 a.m. (I've been having pains since 11:00) and then I'll try to rouse him.

1 a.m.

Easier said than done! I told him I was in labor, and that I need him to drive me to the phone booth ... he looked right through me, then told me to "go back to sleep" and promptly fell asleep again!!

There's no doubt in my mind now ... this is it. These are real contractions all right. Kimberley or Kyle P. is about to make his or her entrance into the world. Now if only I could convince Ray.



 




Finally  ...  he's here.

May 5, 1986
Monday afternoon in the hospital

I have a son ... a tiny, lovely little son named Kyle Christopher P., and I love him very, very much!  Right now he's sleeping four feet away from me in his isolette. I have just woken from my own afternoon nap, feeling refreshed (if not exactly energetic) and ready to write all about his birth. My heart is so filled with joy: I'd like to preserve it forever on these pages. Kyle's birth was every bit as momentous and special as I could possibly have hoped for. I feel like I'm walking on air!



Kyle Christopher Polen
Born May 4, 1986


Saturday night was when it finally began. I was feeling pretty good but tired -- I'd done a lot of housework that day (somewhat against doctors' orders), including laundry and vacuuming -- so when Ray came home at 6:30 and offered to make dinner, I let him. He barbecued some huge T-bones on the grill, with baked potatoes and a big salad. I ate moderately, maybe because I sensed that "the" time was drawing closer and I didn't want to stuff myself beforehand. The Braxton-Hicks contractions had been stronger than usual all day, and by evening I was sure Baby was going to arrive before Monday's surgery. I didn't say anything to Ray, though - I knew he'd scoff at me. So I just kept my suspicions to myself and quietly monitored the infrequent pains and flutters inside me, while we ate dinner (at 8:30) and got ready for bed. Everyone was tired so we went to bed early. Ray and I lay in bed and talked for a while ... he rubbed my back, we joked about this and that, cuddled a little. It was nice. A few minutes later Ray dropped off to sleep, so I rolled over on my side, tucked some pillows around my fat tummy, and attempted to follow suit. Almost immediately, however, the contractions began. They were very mild -- it was more a feeling of pressure, like strong hands gripping my pelvis -- but I knew right away that these weren't just ordinary Braxton-Hicks contractions ... they were too regular. I decided to go out to the living room, watch some TV and monitor myself. It was about 10:45 p.m. I watched the late news, a music videos show, an old horror movie. The whole time I watched the contractions, and soon they had established a regular pattern, coming at six or seven minute intervals and lasting about a minute apiece. They were mildly uncomfortable but not intolerable. I was euphoric! At long last, the baby was coming! I thought it ironic that my labor was starting now, after we'd gone ahead and set a date for surgery. The same thing happened with Kacie. You just can't tell a baby when to be born, I guess! They'll come when they're ready. I was also a little nervous ... I didn't know what to expect. Twelve hours of labor and nice vaginal delivery? Dr. Bell had said that if I started contracting before Monday, we would go ahead and attempt a vaginal. A middle-of-the-night C-section? The uncertainty was a little scary. I felt like I was walking into the unknown.

The contractions continued at regular intervals. Once or twice they were surprisingly severe, but overall they were no more painful than menstrual cramps. I started to wonder if maybe I was mistaken ... maybe I wasn't in labor, after all. I didn't want to get everybody out of bed and get things all stirred up if this was merely another "drill" ... Ray would murder me!! (I could just picture it: I drag my protesting husband and crabby kids into the cold night air, get all the way to the hospital, and then the pains just STOP. Not only would my entire family be incredibly annoyed with me -- I would also lose all credibility with them forever!!) What finally persuaded me not to ignore the pains, though, was remembering Dr. Bell's parting words to me the day before. "If you even think you might be going into labor," he said, "Call me immediately." I was considered high-risk because of the toxemia (as well as my previous C-section), and fooling around could be dangerous. If I sat around and waited for the contractions to come harder and faster, who knows what could happen? It was a risk I couldn't take.

So there I was on Saturday night/early Sunday morning, nestled in the armchair with a pen in one hand and this notebook in the other, timing my pains. The neighborhood was still and dark; of all the houses on the block, ours was the only one ablaze with light. At 1 a.m., I decided to try and wake Ray. I could hear him snoring all the way out in the living room; he was sleeping so soundly, I knew it would be murder trying to get him to wake up. The first time, I tried a gentle approach. "Ray?" I said, softly, persistently, until he opened his eyes and looked at me. "I'm in labor, Honey ... you've got to drive me to the phone booth so I can call my doctor." He nodded sleepily, then turned over and went back to sleep! I tried again a few minutes later, although much less gently. "I'm having CONTRACTIONS. Get up!" I said firmly. This time he looked right at me, but without actually seeing me. It was like he was in a trance. Exasperated, I shook him and said "LISTEN TO ME!! I'M IN LABOR!" He looked annoyed and said, "Lay down and go back to sleep." He thought I was imagining it!

To make a long story a little shorter ... I finally managed to get him out of bed, and we both got dressed. I was giggly and nervous, Ray was stoic. We drove to the phone booth by Big O Tire, where I made a series of quick phone calls -- first to Dr. Bell, who advised me to go straight to the hospital, then to Peg, then to my mother. Ray drifted off to sleep in the car while I made the calls; I had to knock on the hood of the car to wake him up. Peg said she would drive over right away, so we came home to wait for her. Ray slipped back into bed for a few minutes; I sat in the living room, watching an old "Popeye" cartoon on TV. The baby rolled around inside of me, heavily. I patted my fat stomach and whispered, "Hang in there, kiddo -- it won't be long now." It occurred to me then that these were probably my final moments of pregnancy. Ray and I don't plan to have any more children, so this would truly be "it." The realization made me a little wistful. This pregnancy hadn't been smooth sailing, but I was sorry that an important part of my life was drawing to a close. I sat with my hands pressed against my tummy and enjoyed the final thumps and bumps from within.

Peg and Barbara arrived at our place at 2:30, sleepy but cheerful. We got Jamie and Kacie out of bed, put ski jackets on over their p.j.'s, bundled them up in afghans and popped them into the back seat of Peg's car. At first they were too groggy to comprehend much of what was going on, but when they heard the words "baby" and "hospital," they instantly sprang to life! By the time we got to the hospital (Ray drove me, the girls rode with Grandma and Aunt Barbara) they were wide awake, chattering a mile a minute, and inordinately pleased to be included in this big adventure!! They watched in fascination as I was plopped into a wheelchair and admitted at the front desk. Then it was time for me to go upstairs, so I kissed them both goodbye and told them that very soon they'd have a new baby brother or sister. During the events of the next few hours, Jamie and Kacie stayed in the hospital waiting room with Peg and Barbara. From time to time Ray would go downstairs and check on them. Each time the report was the same: the girls were having the time of their lives, playing with toys in the waiting room and enjoying the novelty of being in a hospital in the middle of the night ...

In the meantime, the work was just beginning for me. I put on a hospital nightgown and was hooked up to my old friend, the fetal monitor, so the nurses could keep an eye on my contractions and follow my progress. My contractions continued to be steady, regular and surprisingly easy. They hurt, but they just didn't hurt that much. I was given a couple of brief pelvic exams (no dilation), my blood pressure was checked, a sample of blood taken. By telephone, Dr. Bell instructed the nurses to simply monitor my progress, and if everything went according to plan I would try to deliver vaginally. He would be coming to the hospital soon and then we would decide together what sort of delivery I wanted to try.

The thing that proved to be the worst ordeal of the entire labor & birthing process was being hooked up to the I-V. Five different nurses attempted to find a decent vein in my arm and get me hooked up, but all five of them failed. My veins are delicate and hard to "thread." The nurses were all getting really frustrated, and I was in tears - it HURT!!!! - each unsuccessful attempt was more painful than the last one had been. Much later in the proceedings the anesthesiologist came in and finally managed to get an I-V going in my right wrist. It wasn't an ideal location, as the slightest movement threatened to yank the needle right out, but it would have to do.

After a couple hours of contractions but no real progress, I was finally given the choice: to continue as we had been and attempt a vaginal delivery, or to go in immediately and have a C-section. It took me no time at all to choose the C-section. I suppose I knew all along that I'd end up delivering surgically. I didn't think I could handle hours and hours of contractions ... Ray was anxious, the kids were waiting downstairs ... Dr. Bell thought a C-section was a good idea ... I'd been down this road once before, and I knew what to expect. All things considered, my decision was an easy one. "Let's go with the C-section," I said, and with that the wheels were set in motion. It was 5 a.m. when I made my decision; the surgery was immediately scheduled for 6:15 a.m. One endless hour to wait.

Ray had been hovering nearby all night, sometimes in the hallway outside my room, sometimes downstairs with the girls. Occasionally he came in and sat with me, but never for very long ... he was too restless to sit still. When he heard the news about the C-section, he went downstairs to tell his mom and the girls.

I was hooked up to a catheter - another painful procedure - and my tummy was shaved. Then there was nothing to do but wait for 45 minutes. I layed there and watched the seconds ticking by, slow as molasses. To occupy myself, I talked to the baby. "Just a few more minutes to go, Sweetheart!" I told my enormous belly. "Just wait until you see the family you're being born into!"

Dr. Bell arrived and came in to chat briefly about the procedure. His tone was friendly and reassuring, and it helped put me at ease. I was given the usual forms to sign. Time passed, sloooowly ... the final moments of the final pregnancy ... I was nervous, elated, tired, wired, up, down, every which way at once. I kept thinking, "This is it, this is the moment: TRY AND REMEMEBER EVERYTHING!" The furniture in the room, the tiles on the ceiling, the color of the nurse's hair ... I was trying to cram every detail into my memory. For some reason it seemed critically important to remember everything about the moment. And then it was 6 a.m., time to go to the delivery room. We lost Ray temporarily, when he was changing into his hospital gown, but a nurse found him and brought him to the operating room. And away we went.

The actual surgery took about an hour: to me it seemed to last forever. The walls of the operating room were an awful, Gatorade green; the room teemed with activity as doctors and nurses bustled around me, making preparations. I was given the spinal right away. (I wiggled my toes "goodbye" just before they plunged the needle in.) "Roll over on your right side and draw your knees up to your chin," the anesthesiologist instructed me, and a moment later I felt the needle jab into my spine. Soon a warm heavy numbness spread through my legs, and I was completely immobilized. An oxygen mask was strapped to my face and I was forced to breathe in the sickly sweet air. The nurses "painted" my tummy and legs with something thick and yellow. And then the baby's birth began.

I could hear Dr. Bell and his assistant, Dr. Pheifer, chatting amiably as they began performing the C-section. I could feel different kinds of pressure and movement as they worked, but I felt no pain -- only a little nausea, and an intense desire for the whole business to be over with! Part of me kept saying, "This is the birth of your last child; ENJOY it!" But when you're being operated on, it's hard to enjoy much of anything. Ray sat beside me, to my left, and held my hand. From time to time he squeezed my fingers. I sensed that he was as anxious for everything to be done as I was.

After what seemed like hours and hours, I heard someone say "Here's the head. Baby's got a lot of hair!" If I'd been more comfortable, I might have giggled. Then suddenly they were lifting the baby out, and the anesthesiologist standing just to my right leaned down and said to me, "It's a little boy baby." At 6:45 a.m., Kyle Christopher P. made his entrance into the world. A boy! I couldn't believe it. Ray and I had a son!

Kyle was taken to the back of the room (I had to twist my head around to get a glimpse of him) and cleaned up. They put a little hat on his head because the operating room was cold. He started to cry - a lusty, healthy cry. A nurse wrapped him in a blue receiving blanket and handed him to Ray. Ray was grinning from ear to ear as he held him. He had a son! While I was being repaired, Ray and Kyle had a few minutes to get acquainted, and then the nurse brought the baby over to me and laid him on my chest. His nose was runny, and he made funny little "snuffling" sounds. I kissed his cheek and said "Hello Sweetheart ... I'm your Mama!"


Kyle in his hospital isolette
May 1986

Soon afterwards, when my incision was stitched up, I was wheeled to a recovery room to begin the arduous and uncomfortable process of letting the spinal wear off. I remembered how awful the post-surgery period had been after Kacie's C-section, and this time was no better. For several hours my legs and hips were paralyzed ... all I could do was move my head a little. It was hellish. I also had several hours of uncontrollable shivering: piles of warm blankets and frequent doses of pain medication didn't help much. Only time helped. All I could do was lay there and wait for the agony to pass.

By noon I'd been taken to my hospital room (304 - a private room!) and I was definitely feeling better. The shivering stopped, the feeling came back in my left leg and then my right, and I was able to lay on my side again -- it was heaven. By mid-afternoon I was euphoric. I was on that lovely postpartum "high" you get right after giving birth ... a feeling of invincibility, specialness, radiance. I made a few phone calls, joked with the nurses, and - best of all - got to feed my new baby son for the very first time. By evening I was so keyed-up and excited that I got no sleep at all. I kept thinking about Kyle, and I was filled with love and pride and plans. The nurse finally had to give me a shot of morphine, on top of all my regular medication, to get me to drift off for awhile.

I wasn't allowed anything to eat the first day but am now on a regular menu. Yesterday I was taken off the I-V and the catheter, which gave me the freedom to shower, go to the bathroom by myself, even amble up and down the hallways a bit. Basically, I seem to be recovering from this surgery ten times faster than I did last time.


The girls came to meet their new baby brother
May 1986

As for my son. What can I say about him that hasn't already been said by every first-time mother of a son since the day the world began?? He is purely a miracle. He is beautiful, healthy, unique, precious, sweet as sugar, good as gold ... he is everything I could possibly have wished for, and more. Right after his birth he was so dark and wrinkled that he looked for all the world like a little gnome, but over the past couple of days his coloring has evened out and he is now quite the handsome young man! I think he resembles Ray - and Kacie - most of all, but sometimes when he's feeding, he's the spitting image of Jamie at that age. And he also seems to have my fine, straight, reddish-brown hair. So there are bits and pieces of all of us in him. He is definitely a P..

Of course I'm probably imagining things, but it seems like he recognizes me as his mother already. This morning when I was feeding him he opened his eyes wide and looked right at me, and his expression seemed to be one of friendly interest and love. I swear, it looked like he recognized me. My heart just melted. My son. My sweet, perfect little son. I hold his tiny body in my arms, and he leans his head against my shoulder and sighs, and I feel that impossible blind leap into love beginning all over again.  

 

Home from the hospital
May 1986



Saturday night
May 10, 1986

We are all home (as of yesterday) and all is well. I am exceptionally tired this evening or I would write more: all I can manage is this brief scribble. Terry S. and her mom threw me a small baby shower today, and then this afternoon we all went shopping at Fred Meyer. I bought myself new jeans and a blouse and a pair of white tennis shoes. This was Kyle's first excursion into the world; he snoozed peacefully, slung over my shoulder, as I browsed around the store. Predictably, he has quickly and completely become the center of this family. I am genuinely astonished (and quite pleased) by how much I love Kyle, and by the immediacy of that love.

My girls at the baby shower
May 1986

Star of the Show

The *Star of the Show,* held by his Grandma Beeson
(nice neighbor lady Mrs. Kennedy, looking on)
May 1986


From the Fred Meyer parking lot I could see the hospital, up on the hill -- I could even pick out the window of the room I stayed in -- and I experienced a brief pang of sorrow that Kyle's birth is all over with. I think I'm having the "baby blues" ... a mild case of them, anyhow. A little postpartum letdown, although I've been so busy all day today it hasn't had a chance to sink in yet. Kyle's birth certificate arrived in the mail yesterday and I just sat and wept. (I vaguely remember doing the same thing when I got the girls' certificates.) I am so deeply moved by his new presence in my life, and at the same time so sorrowful that my pregnancy & his birth are over, and the combination of two such powerful emotions have got me all muddled at the moment.

Jamie is very affectionate and gentle with the baby ... Kacie is fascinated with him, and keeps feeling his face and rubbing his hair ... Ray - and I'm not writing this just to sound cutesy - is completely smitten with his son. Kyle is definitely a big hit with this family.



The girls getting to know their new baby brother
(yes, he's in there somewhere)
May 1986

 





Sunday morning 8:15 a.m.
May 11, 1986

Mother's Day. (My fifth!) Last week when I was in the hospital, Mom gave me a pretty flowered mug that says "Mother is another word for love" .. I'm using it to drink my coffee this morning, as I sit here on the sofa watching my three beautiful children ... Kacie, dreamily slurping spoonsful of Cocoa Krispies while she watches "Sesame Street" ... Kyle, asleep in his white basket, tummy full of milk, one tiny hand curled into a fist ... and Jamie, sitting as close to the baby's basket as she can possibly manage, keeping one eye on "Sesame Street" and the other eye on her sleeping brother. ("That little baby is FAST asleep!") I am feeling quite blessed this morning.

Also quite sore. I overdid things yesterday by a mile. In the morning I whirled around here, getting ready for the baby shower, even though Terry was supposed to do all of the preparation & cleanup. And then walking around Fred Meyer in the afternoon was a little rough. This morning I woke up in real pain, most of it centered around my incision, and I knew it was the price I had to pay for going overboard yesterday. I woke up this morning at 6:45 a.m. - coincidentally, the very moment Kyle turned one week old! - hobbled out to the kitchen and took one of my Tylox and two Tylenol, and then went back to bed for a few minutes to see if it would curb the pain. It did -- I feel OK now. Kyle woke up a few minutes later, and soon afterwards the girls both got up.



 




Monday noon
May 12, 1986

My first full day alone with the three kids, and so far, so good. Kyle is down for a nap and the girls are outside, letting off a little steam. Windy, gray morning. Physically I feel pretty good; mentally I'm a bit fuzzy; emotionally I'm on an even keel. It all jiggles around from one moment to the next, though ... ten minutes from now I might be fuzzy emotionally, on an even keel mentally ... twenty minutes from now I might be flat on my back in a total stupor ...

Getting up in the night with the baby, so far, has not been intolerable. He is awake once before midnight, once between midnight and 3 a.m., once between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m. Or something like that. These nighttime feedings are generally very quick and easy, and we're back in bed in fifteen minutes. He is so uncomplaining and sweet natured that it's hard to gripe about getting up with him. I have already vowed not to hurry this baby in any way, but I do have one tiny, immediate goal: to maneuver him into waking around 7 a.m. or so in the mornings, consistently, more or less. That would be a good time at which to begin our day, I think (altho I realize that KYLE is the one who will make these decisions for awhile) .. !

The house is a total jumble. Four huge baskets of clean laundry, waiting to be folded ... the kitchen is a greasy mess ... baby paraphernalia scattered all over the living room. I've been picking at it, a little bit here & there, but mostly - I don't care. It just isn't getting under my skin, the way it usually does. I'd like to think that I've gained some wisdom - and some perspective - in the 4-1/2 years since Jamie was a newborn. Then I was constantly trying to do everything, housework and baby care, and I was depressed because nothing ever got done. Now I consider kids to be the priority, housework a distant second, and I don't expect to "finish" ANYTHING because I know it can't be done. A tidy house is still important to me. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't. It's still something that gives me a lot of pleasure, but for the time being I need to prioritize and save my energies for the things that really matter.

One other quick thought, and then I've got to quit and get back to mothering. I'm amused now when I remember all the inner turmoil, the worry, the fear I felt whenever I thought about having a son. Did I honestly, truly fear I couldn't love a little boy??? What a foolish, misguided concern. My son is every bit as precious and beloved as my daughters.



 





Wednesday 10:30 a.m.
May 14, 1986

This will be my final entry in this journal. I've got a new blue notebook that I'm dying to start writing in ... it just seems so appropriate to begin a new journal now, as I'm beginning a new way of life - mother of three - and as my son is just beginning his life ...

"I'm pretennin' that I'm seven, and that Kacie's seven, and that we go to the same school." (As they march around the kitchen carrying "schoolbooks.") ~ JLP

I'm exhausted today. Kyle had me up at 11:30 p.m., 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. By 7:30 this morning he finally started getting sleepy again, so I bundled him up and popped him into my bed with me. We slept until 10:00, and I'm having a hard time shaking off the cobwebs now. This will be a sluggish and unproductive day, I guess ... just kids and meals. The house looks shabbier with each passing day, but I'm still trying hard not to care. Life is just at this weird, mixed-up "in-between" point, with everyone waiting for the dust to settle and for things to fall into some kind of routine.

I feel crummy physically. I'm constipated, I've got a stomach ache most of the time (milk and dairy products destroy me), my head hurts, my incision hurts, and I'm still bleeding heavily. (For awhile last night I was afraid I might be hemorrhaging ... the bleeding was that bad.)

In spite of all the physical complaints, though, I'm feeling OK emotionally. The euphoria is gone, but then again so is most of the postpartum letdown ... I'm stuck somewhere in the middle now ... trying to regain my balance, I guess. Wondering where I go from here. Trying to prioritize. Trying to hold it all together.

A couple of priorities are beginning to emerge already -- aside from the simple day-to-day stuff -- the first concerns Kacie. Since we brought the baby home, she has subtly begun to slip back into her former negative ways ... the crabbiness, the surly refusal to cooperate, the frequent temper tantrums. I remember that nice week last month when she was here alone with Ray and I, how responsive and sweet she was, how she blossomed into this wonderful little person ... and my heart aches for her. My priority here is to give her extra doses of my attention & love. I need to let her know that I cherish her as much as ever. Ray is sort of "lost in love" at the moment ... totally infatuated with his new baby son ... he doesn't mean to neglect the girls, but right now is focus is elsewhere & it's up to me alone to do the repair work where Kacie is concerned.

The other priority emerging is the state of my marriage -- specifically, Ray's drinking and my attitude towards it. He's been "good" for several days running -- responsible, responsive, sober -- but then last night he came home wobbly-drunk (but pretending not to be), and I was so disappointed I wanted to cry. My goal here is to come to terms with his alcoholism, to quit expecting him to change, to go on with my own life.

It's still hard for me to believe that my pregnancy is all over with. At the time it was happening it seemed to drag on forever, and now, BOOM, it's all over. Probably the hardest thing for me to come to terms with is the idea that I'm all done having children. Actually, it hasn't fully sunk in yet - the fact that I won't be having any more kids, that there won't be any more pregnancies - but it's beginning to. In time, I may work myself into a profound depression over the idea, but right now I'm still letting it sink in. Intellectually I realize that I'm equating too much of my self-worth with my ability to bear children -- defining my value in terms of progeny -- it's difficult not to, since I consider having children my finest accomplishment to date. I'm going to feel a little at loose ends, I think, for awhile. What do I do now? How do I define myself now? This is something I'll have to work on in the next journal.

In the meantime, there is a newborn in the house again, and it is delightful, inconvenient, marvelous, frightening, special, exhausting ...

... Kyle is a marvel. At age ten days he is so firmly planted in my heart, I think he's taken root! Right now he's sleeping in his little infant seat on the floor at my feet ... this tiny, incredible person ... one hand folded across his chest, the other hand held up against his ear, fingers curled ... soft, fuzzy hair shining red in the sunlight ... pug nose, puckered mouth, slow easy breathing ... my tiny son. I love him so. When I'm feeding him, he fastens those sky blue eyes on me and I am utterly lost. Kylie. The little boy I was so afraid I wouldn't love, who is now at the center of my universe. All the good things I feel in my life right now spring directly from my children, and now Kyle has added a new source and dimension of joy. I adore him, as I adore Jamie and Kacie, and I thank God for them every day.



Our family
May 1986

Song I sang to Kyle this afternoon:

" ... I want to sing you a love song.
I want to rock you in my arms all night long.
I want to get to know you,
I want to show you the peaceful feeling in my heart."
"Love Song," Loggins & Messina

Jamie (gazing at Kyle): "Do babies have dreams?"
Me: "Mmm-hmmm."
Jamie: "I think he's dreamin' about MILK."

Kacie: "I wanna SEE my baby brudder." (Grabs his fist, uncurls his fingers.) "Oh, cute HANDS. I wanna go back OUTSIDE." (She then proceeded to stand at the window for ten minutes and sob "Oh - oh - oh - oh" ...)

Mom: "HENRY!" (my nickname for the baby) "Henry POLEN! Your pants are falling up!"

Kyle Christopher P.: "Growf."



Jamie-isms and Kacie-isms

* "Did you know that Rosie is only eight mumps old?" JLP 12-85

* "I got a name for Kacie's pink baby ... Belly Beets!" JLP 1-7-86

* "Yuck, I HATE blood. Oh Mommy, I'm a vampire." JLP 1-7-86 (too much "Dark Shadows," I think!)

* (Showing me her sick dollies) "This one has some pain in her cheeks ... this one is REALLY sick ... and this one had a heart attack." JLP 1-8-86

* "You've been watchin too much TV. And I'm very proud of you." JLP 1-10-86

* "Izzat Barnemiss?" (Is that Barnabus?) JLP

* "Good morning Poo Poo Mommy!" KPP 1-29-86

* "Good pupcake!" (Good cupcake)  KPP 1-30-86

* "What color hair does God have?" JLP 3-86

* "Do bears have whiskers?" JLP 3-86

* (Waving Daddy's underwear around) "Hanes, Hanes, Hanes!" KPP 4-86

* "Did they have root beer when you were a little girl?" JLP 4-86

* "Kacie's the cheese ... Jamie's the ham ... and Daddy's the turkey!" KPP 4-86

* (Pegting Daddy's tummy) "You got a BABY in dere!" KPP 4-86




Favorite Songs During This Journal:

"Addicted To Love" - Robert Palmer
"Let's Go All The Way" - Sly Foxx
"Manic Monday" - The Bangles

 

 





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