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.
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.
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
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.
... 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
was not going to be fixed in time, he grabbed the bird, ran
outside ... and threw it on the Webber! I was
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
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.
"How The Grinch Stole
Christmas" (book and TV cartoon)
* "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" (TV cartoon & song, to which
eventually learned all the words)
* The lights on the Christmas tree
* Any of "her" ornaments on the tree
* "Frosty The Snowman" (song)
* Candy canes
* Drawing pictures for Santa
* Making "pretend presents" and putting them under the tree
* Delivering Christmas cards to the neighbors
* Christmas stickers
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
days since Christmas
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
she and Santa become "pen pals" cheered her up. I'm still patting
myself on the back for coming up with that
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 ...!")
reason why my
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
Year's Eve was
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.
couple of unexpected
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 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
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)
Phil's visit, I
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.
have been other
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
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.
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 8, 1986
dreamed about the baby
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?)
a nice typical
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
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.
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
Thursday 11 a.m.
January 9, 1986
off to a slow
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.
love mornings. Our
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
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.
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
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.
feeling only lasted
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
in my 25th week of
pregnancy at the moment. So I went back and checked my
for August 1981 and December 1982 ... the points at
was at this same approximate stage of pregnancy with Jaymi and
Kacie. I wanted to see if I'd experienced other
attacks like the one I had yesterday. What I discovered in the journals
amused and comforted me.
... 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."
... I've got SO MUCH
TO DO to prepare for Baby, and the suffocating feeling that time is
running out ... "
was lots more, but
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.
about the other
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
... the next minute I'm blue and weepy. I can't control
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
girls are sitting at
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.
morning. Brand-new coffee ... Ray has started buying the fresh kind,
the stuff you grind yourself ... it tastes incredible, the way I've
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
"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,
January 12, 1986
weekend of marked
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
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
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.
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
out of the shower,
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!
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 ...
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.
I am going to sit
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
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
my pep talk for
On to something else for a minute.
my first "rough"
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.
don't seem to be
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.
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
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.
at least I've got
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).
in bed last
reached over and patted my fat tummy. "GEEZ!" he said, teasingly. "It's
the Goodyear blimp!"
January 15, 1986
dreams the past
of nights, both involving ex-boyfriends.
night's dream was
Phil ... I dreamed that he was getting married on a
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
really no wonder
dreaming about old loves lately ... Ray is being a creep
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.
night it was 10:30
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
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.
really going to try
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 ...
Writing about my
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.
look up into the blue
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 ... ?)
me. I'm easily
this entry, nearly twenty years later -- especially
the part about "some place where I
never go" -- actually
has me in tears. Eventually I DO make it to that 'warm
place, far away from the chill and the smog' ...
but it comes at enormous cost.
January 16, 1986
time I sit down
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.
had a 4 p.m.
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?)"
we got home from
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:
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.'
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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,
you know, kind of a disgrace to live here.'
from the fact that
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,
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 ...
I was going with
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,
up, Terri. I was my own Life Coach,
January 17, 1986
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.
Meyers dropped by
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
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.
bless him, was home
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.
morning I was up at
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 &
and "Sesame Street." While they watched their shows, I
on the sofa.
and her friend Seth
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
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.
I sit here, alone
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
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.
January 20, 1986
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
Tuesday 8 a.m.
January 21, 1986
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 ...
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?
car is still
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.
past weekend was
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.
Sunday I had to go to
& Jeff's for our nephew Michael's first birthday. Ray refused
-- 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
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
much!" she said, hugging me tight.
don't know, Journal.
about it all now, it doesn't sound like much, does it? A handful of
troubles. Certainly not worth an entire weekend of tears ... ?
actually, is the
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
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.
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
time last night -- I wouldn't turn back even if I
have a feeling that this baby is going to be very, very special to all
January 25, 1986
Life is more or
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.
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.
took a taxi home from
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!
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.
was a good day.
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.
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
Bowl Sunday ...
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.
"I'm fixing the
What did you THINK I was doin', catching a fish??"
Tuesday 11 a.m.
January 28, 1986
up feeling happy
this morning ... hopped into the shower first thing, geared myself up
for another day of kids and cleaning ...
and then I turned on
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.
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
none of 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??
January 29, 1986
sorrow over the space
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.
in our little home,
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.
girls are sitting on
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.
dreamed again last
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.
up twice in the
a painfully full bladder. I guess this is going to be a regular thing
from now on, until Baby is born.
I went into
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
for my maternity
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 ...
from a full night
morning of weird, crowded dreams. Every possible element of my life was
represented in one dream after another ...
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!"
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.
is payday, but I
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 ...
has wandered out
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.
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 ...
house is a cheery
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 ...
(Or, as Jamie would
"Too-DAH!") Baby is finally awake and thumping ... he just gave me a
healthy jab on the right side, just beneath my ribcage. Youch!
January 31, 1986
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.
from Ray this
you find the remote
control and the other
ready cord for the
VCR - Juan S. wants to used it this weekend
will be home at 3:50 p.m.
& will go shopping
Ha! Juan wants to "used" it MY FAT FANNY. I'll bet Ray is selling him
our VCR without
consulting me ...
wasn't home last
after 10:00 (no groceries, no explanations), and of course he was
stinking drunk. "HIT ME!" he yelled. "BEAT ME!" He was
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.
morning when I got
found the above note sitting by the coffeemaker.
Saturday 10:30 a.m.
February 1, 1986
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.
least we have food in
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 --
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
Sunday 10 a.m.
February 2, 1986
A little sleepy,
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,
also has beef, carrots and celery in it, and it looks good. Just the
thing for a drizzly cold day like today.
girls are in the
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
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
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 ...
girls are beginning
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
wonder how all of this
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.
I first realized
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 ...
I'm not quite so
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
have any worries
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.
for my other "child"
-- you've got me. I haven't the faintest idea what to expect from him
when the baby is born. I have suspicions -- and
-- but only time will tell. I hope that this baby will be
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"
Tensional outlets are
heightened (blinking, sucking thumb, picking nose)
* Friendships are important altho she finds it difficult to get along
* Very bossy!
* Will express emotional insecurity by crying, whining, frequent
* 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
from Dr. Spock
Girl wants to be like
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.
Wednesday 10:30 a.m.
February 5, 1986
the worries for
obviously crossing the bridge before I come to it. It could be that
things will be just fine when the baby is born ...
past couple of days
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
February 7, 1986
Dr. Bell on
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
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.)
that was it. My next
appointment is in two weeks.
was late getting
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
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
few days later. I'm
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.
morning, but COLD.
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.
had another Baby Dream
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
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
out of bed -- the
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
mug, in absolute peace and solitude? Nice, nice, nice!
is payday, which
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!
tiny cloud on my
Ray warned me last night that Ann Meyers may ask me to babysit Jason
Friday 10:30 a.m.
February 14, 1986
didn't come home
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
without dinner last night. (Or that I was in the
third trimester of pregnancy.)
DAMN Ray for doing
as the oatmeal
boil -- tears stinging my eyes
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."
said, "We'll go to
for dinner tonight, OK?" His attempt at restitution, I guess. I said
OK, then went to take a shower and start the laundry.
girls are excited
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.
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.
(and so did their mom)
Thursday 11 a.m.
February 20, 1986
a week later. I
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.)
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
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.
was good, at
love Pietro's pizza (pepperoni & pineapple, my favorite), and I
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 ...
gave me some stuff
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.
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.
I had an
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.
is a pregnancy
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.
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
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
anxiously to see
Kirkland Utilities shuts off our water this morning. They left this
note on the door last week:
must have payment by 10 am
Monday morning or your water will be turned off. We cannot extend any
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 &
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.
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
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?
February 25, 1986
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.
a letter from Dad
-- 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
... 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 ... )
in a dreamy mood
... 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
my eyes turnin'
hearts?" (JLP, while hugging & kissing Mama)
Wednesday 11 a.m.
February 26, 1986
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.
such a slob today.
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.
is cute today:
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.
has slipped off to
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 ...
is due now in eight
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
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
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.
know a good way to
their yard," Jamie says. "I can climb over the fence." She looks at me
way," I say sternly.
would be rude. You go up to the front door and knock."
bursts into tears:
astonished by the force of her emotion. "I don't wanna KNOCK ON THE
DOOR!" she wails. "They might say NOOO!"
keep it as light as
"Well ... you can either do it the polite way, or you can stay here and
spend the afternoon with Mama."
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
takes Jamie five
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
minutes pass before
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?"
age five, is at
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."
after Michele and swings her sweater in the air. "Oh GOOD!" she shouts.
"Now we can PLAY!"
March 10, 1986
time has slipped
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.
are still pretty
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.
and Kacie have
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
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
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.
cherry tree has
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?
March 12, 1986
had the same
twice this past week: I'm in the driver's seat of a car that
slowly sliding off a cliff, thinking ‘If
I can just get the car started, everything will be OK.'
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)
for my children ...
is quiet this
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
borrowed $40 from
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.
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
toys she has brought out and abandoned: clock puzzles, a doll, the
afore-mentioned scissors ... nothing holds her interest for long today.
sure is cute,
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
today is payday
BIG DEAL. Now Kirkland Utilities is back to threatening to cut off our
water, and the car is no longer running. Mike Paynter brought
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.
I'm not in as
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
"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."
kids got me up
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
tell you the truth,
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
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.
is a possibility
have another C-section, anyway, in which case all of this worrying will
have been pointless.
Friday 10 a.m.
March 14, 1986
one of my
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 ...
know I must sound like
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
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 ...
o.b. sent a
yesterday that we still owe him $295, by the way. Another headache.
Saturday morning 9:20 a.m.
March 15, 1986
with Ray ... not
great physically ... but determined to salvage something from this day
anyway. It won't be easy, but I'll try.
"Cartoons-Day," another low-key morning in the Polen
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.
promised to be home
last night ("OK, good!" I said. "The girls and I will look forward to
it!") ... but, as always, his promise had
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 ...
so angry, I can't
about it. He just continues to heap abuse on me, and I just continue to
Monday 10:30 a.m.
March 17, 1986
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.
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.
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
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
weekend at YOUR house dis summer?")
as our guests were
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.
went out and got
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.
St. Patrick's Day,
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.
should mention that on
Saturday I finally got the baby's bedroom cleared out!!
Thursday 10:30 a.m.
March 20, 1986
in my nightgown
finding it harder than usual this morning to shake off the cobwebs. I
slept like a log last night.
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
few developments --
major, some minor. This week may have been lazy, but it's been far from
Monday we finally got
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.
Judy (our sister in
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
disturbed because this means I'm the only daughter or daughter-in-law
who isn't working.
Puget Power shut us
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
feeling, not having to worry about money for a few days.
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.
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
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.
baby's room is all
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
reached a decision
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.
Bell asked me if I
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
March 22, 1986
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.
has to work until
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
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.
took the girls to
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)
Sunday 11:15 a.m.
March 23, 1986
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.
March 30, 1986
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
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
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.
Paynter was here
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 ...
"Let's Go All
plans for today are
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.
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 ...
Barrettes & r. bands
Brush & comb
Journal & pen
PICTURE OF J & K
THE LAST MINUTE:
Take off nail polish
Buy & boil nipples
Mrs. B careful put away
J & K's clothes
Dirty laundry sorted!
Hide letters from me
Kitchen cupboards (minor neatening)
LETTERS FOR J, K and Ray!
April 3, 1986
rarely write in the
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
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.
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
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,
measures 9.5 on the Richter scale!!! My ribcage (right side) is sore
from the constant battering.
Kacie has discovered
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
that she's entitled to her own opinion ... and she is exercising
right like crazy ...
She is also sensitive
chocolate in the evenings. One "Choco Bliss" cake, and she's totally
wired for about half an hour.
I'm starting to look
to having a newborn again!!
April 5, 1986
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
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
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
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."
have examined my
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,
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
... if I do
have a boy,
Judy is going to give me all of Billy & Nathan's outgrown
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.
Yesterday it was
71º and wonderfully summery. The older I get, the more I seem
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.
-- today it's
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.
has been bugging
morning to "draw a picture" of her laying on the couch. (She says she's
"sick" today.) So here it is.
the cartoon and scan it ...
Saturday 11 a.m.
April 12, 1986
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 ...
very aware of the
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
due now in less than
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 ...
I had an
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.
had to take me to
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
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.
least he did give me
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?
is sick AGAIN. I
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.
is rolling heavily
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.
ELEVEN DAYS TO GO
April 14, 1986
I got it. (Kacie's
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.
went and did our
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.
bought paint for the
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.
changed my mind
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
EIGHT DAYS TO GO
April 17, 1986
sick. This is the
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.
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.
beginning to get
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.
ONE WEEK TO GO
April 18, 1986
The cold is only
half as bad as it was yesterday. I can breathe again, anyway.
got a doctor's
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.
came home last night
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 ...
sound like a total
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
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.
April 19, 1986
"pure warm glow of
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
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
the night, quieting the dogs, going to the bathroom, checking the
locks, and I know he wasn't home yet at 3 a.m.
hell. What's the use
writing about it? The situation never changes. He is an inconsiderate,
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
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.
a.m. Now he's out of
shower and cracking open his first beer of the day. I hate him.
a.m. And now he's
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
-- I hate
myself for marrying
the time I've been
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 ...
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
a small plate of
with Kacie. (Jamie is asleep in my bed.) Still no Ray, still no signs
of labor (except for a slight backache).
April 20, 1986
Ray's 31st Birthday
next morning, and
a brighter day in all regards ..
spring day. Kacie
sitting here at the table with me (messy pigtails, her dad's "Central
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.
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.
for Ray. He got home
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!"
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.
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.
he is 31 years
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.
course I hope you
don't really "hate" him, as I said I did a page or two back.
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
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
and he is missing most of it. Will he someday regret these missed
Andrew ("manly, strong")
Brett ("a Breton")
("Aide to men")
Joseph ("He shall add")
Douglas ("Dark haired")
James ("One who replaces")
BE ONE OF THESE:
April 21, 1986
have to admit that I'm
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
in the hospital by now!! Indeed, if I could have induced
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
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.
whole weekend, my
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!!
was amused and
me. Several times yesterday he ordered me to "GO SIT DOWN!," especially
whenever he caught me pacing back and forth.
want to talk about Ray
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. ??
of all, yesterday
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
are automatically suspended on a birthday.
the kids and I ate
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
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.)
they were gone,
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.
in the afternoon,
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.
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
all went to bed at
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.
the night. I am restless, bored and impatient.
April 22, 1986
night. Today I am making a superhuman effort to keep my expectations
low. (I keep hearing this dumb cliché over & over in
watched pot never boils ...
a watched pot never boils ... )
night was a good
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
the girls a bath
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.
we ate, I herded
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
spite of my good
-- I've got to say it! -- today might be the day!!! (A
... a watched pot ...)
got up this morning
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
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 ...
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!"
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
of course now I
properly stupid. All this talk about horoscope and "voices" and destiny
proved to be just so much hooey. I am STILL SITTING HERE ...
called Ray at 5:00
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
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.
your love and let it
baby is moving very
The doctor said this isn't a large baby, but to me it feels like a
is getting shorter, and
there's much for you to do.)
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.
I actually hope I don't
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
due date has arrived.
are you going to
get here?? Maybe Dr. Bell will be able to tell me
when I see him this afternoon.
few minutes ago I was
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.
night was one of
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.
flash: Dr. Bell has
me to stay
in bed all weekend.
April 27, 1986
in bed -- still no
my appointment on
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!
for me. I'm feeling
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
Monday 10:30 a.m.
April 28, 1986
of a new day ...
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.
Kacie and I
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.)
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,
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 ...
dinner we came
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.
morning I feel
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
-- for the first
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
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.
about to give birth
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.
a little. I let
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.
... what can I say?
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.
was nice, too.
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
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.
is something else.
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!
I have to admit
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
occurs to me that
probably the last period of real peace and quiet I'll have for years
what will I do with
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 baby isn't born
next 13-1/2 hours, he won't even BE an April baby, he'll be a May
Not that it makes a heck of a lot of difference at this point, but gee
feel like someone has
perma-bonded me to this fucking sofa.
desperately want to
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.
have neglected to
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
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 ...
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.
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,
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
a lot of
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.
is very quiet
diarrhea again (don't you love all the gruesome details?), vague crampy
dammit ... I'm NOT
say it ... !!
of a sudden I feel
crying. Enormously depressed, for no reason and for every reason.
May 1, 1986
forced myself to
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
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
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
is driving me a
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
to believe Jamie
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
Friday 8 a.m.
May 2, 1986
woke up ... hurts
This little peanut is now ONE WEEK overdue!
dream about Ray.
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
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 ...
Saturday 9:15 a.m.
May 3, 1986
have so much to say!
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
had yet another
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!
this point I'm very
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.
seemed very glad
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
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.
got home last night
7:30, carrying a huge pizza. He didn't know Jamie was home yet, so she
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,
burst into tears! He grabbed her and picked her up and
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
It will help remind me, in moments of doubt, how very much Ray loves
Jamie is home
are temporarily back to normal.
was quietly pleased
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
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.
... is THIS it?
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) ...
12:35 (slightly bigger)
is snoring so
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.
said than done! I
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!!
no doubt in my
... 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.
May 5, 1986
Monday afternoon in the hospital
have a son ... a tiny,
little son named Kyle Christopher P., and I love him very, very
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!
Born May 4, 1986
night was when
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.
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.
there I was on
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!
make a long story a
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.
and Barbara arrived
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 ...
the meantime, the
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.
thing that proved to
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.
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.
had been hovering
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.
was hooked up to a
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!"
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.
actual surgery took
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.
could hear Dr. Bell
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.
what seemed like
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!
was taken to the
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
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.
noon I'd been taken
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.
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
for my son. What can
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..
course I'm probably
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.
from the hospital
May 10, 1986
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.
girls at the baby
*Star of the
Show,* held by his Grandma Beeson
(nice neighbor lady Mrs. Kennedy, looking on)
the Fred Meyer
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 &
birth are over, and the combination of two such powerful emotions have
got me all muddled at the moment.
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.
girls getting to
know their new baby brother
(yes, he's in there somewhere)
Sunday morning 8:15 a.m.
May 11, 1986
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.
quite sore. I
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.
May 12, 1986
first full day alone
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 ...
up in the night
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)
house is a total
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 &
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
other quick thought,
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
will be my final
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 ...
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.") ~
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.
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.)
spite of all the
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
couple of priorities
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 &
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
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.
still hard for me
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
the meantime, there
newborn in the house again, and it is delightful, inconvenient,
marvelous, frightening, special, exhausting ...
Kyle is a marvel. At
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.
I sang to Kyle this
... I want to sing you a
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."
(gazing at Kyle):
babies have dreams?"
Jamie: "I think he's dreamin' about MILK."
"I wanna SEE my
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" ...)
the baby) "Henry POLEN! Your pants are falling up!"
"Did you know that
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
* "You've been watchin too much TV. And I'm very proud of you." JLP
* "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!"
* (Pegting Daddy's tummy) "You got a BABY in dere!" KPP 4-86
To Love" -
"Let's Go All The Way" - Sly Foxx
"Manic Monday" - The Bangles
to throw a rock?