Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Mini-novella: Episode 2

Chapter 5: A New Beginning
Dateline: November 26, 2012

Before the tears were fully dry from leaving Dr. Welden, we had our first appointment with the new doctor. You should know that we were apprehensive going into this appointment. I mean, there was just no way they would be able to measure up to the way Dr. Welden's office made us feel. Preparing for our first visit, we resolved ourselves to the fact that we would likely feel like we did at just a number. No one there knew us, knew our history. We were strangers and would likely remain that way throughout our tenure with the new OB. That's just the way it would be. Dr. Welden's office kind of ruined all future doctor/patient relationships for us. The chances were slim-to-none that we would find another doctor that would feel like part of our family. This, my friends, were the resolves we had committed to. This is being explained so you know how we felt going in to a new office. Remember, we just said good-bye to Dr. Welden, Pam and Tana on Friday. Now, on Monday, we had to say hello to the strangers that would be taking care of us for the rest of our journey. I tell you, the taste of bittersweet is a strong one...sweet to have hit a major milestone in our pregnancy (12 weeks), bitter to leave the people that helped us get here.

So the stage has been set. The scene has been painted. We were foraying into the unknown, into the medical offices of strangers...or more specifically, All Children's Perinatology Specialists. We were scheduled to meet with Dr. Raimer. She came to us as a referral from Lala. Now, Lala is detail-oriented and meticulously obsessive about fact finding. If Lala was happy with Dr. Raimer, then it was because she had researched every other medical professional in the tri-county area and Dr. Raimer met the stringent criteria necessary to birthe our Godson. So, at least we felt comfortable as references we just had to meet her and reconcile ourselves to the fact that she would never be Dr. Welden; that her staff would never be Pam and Tana...that walking in would be a non-event since we were destined to be strangers for the next 28 weeks.

As we entered the office, we were greeted by Emily the receptionist. Emily exclaimed with unexpected verve and fervor "Hi you guys! How have you been?" Um, what? Emily had on a big ole smile and was anxiously awaiting our response. As we are an introverted pair (stop laughing...I am when I'm apprehensive), we merely mumbled "we're good, thanks." We were a little perplexed at the enthusiasm exhibited by Emily. Could we have been wrong in our expectation of this new doctor? Could it be that their office was just immediately friendly and welcoming? We eyed each other sideways, still slightly confused at the excitement Emily had at seeing us. After apparently noticing that we were slightly confused, Emily asked "Don't you remember me?" Um, awkward, party of two...your table is ready. The answer to this was a resounding no. No, we didn't remember Emily and were slightly embarrassed that apparently we should have. Our looks must have given her the answer we were struggling too vocalize. She said "I've been to your house." Yea, still not ringing a bell - - - no ding-a-ling-ling of recognition happening yet. There was, however, a bit of concern rising within me that people I do not know or remember have wandered the hallowed halls of Casa Voci. Save that worry for another day; back to Emily. "I was there for Becky's bridal shower." Wait...wait, we knew Becky, we knew we hosted a bridal shower for her, but Emily was still a stranger. This at least allayed my concern over random strangers in my house. "My daughter was Isabella." JACKPOT! We remembered Isabella!!! Isabella, for the record, was the most adorable, precocious five year old in attendance at said baby shower. I wanted to steal her because she was so incredibly cute. Well, mystery solved and a completely unexpected start to our visit...our initial contact wasn't sterile, not yet anyway. :)

We sat in the waiting room...well, waiting (that's why the room is named that way). The first nurse pokes her little head out the door and calls Heidi back. We both stand. She promptly tells me that I can remain in the waiting room, uh waiting, whilst Heidi goes back into the unknown. Alone. This was not going to go well. No ma'am it wasn't. Apparently, little head nurse doesn't know that Heidi and I do everything together, especially NEW EVERYTHINGS! If she needed to pee in a cup, dammit, I was going to hold the cup. That's just how it is. Wait in the waiting room, pft. So I did what every wife who was indignant about being asked to stay behind, alone, while her wife was taken away...I waited. But I did it begrudgingly. And with anger in my heart. And maybe even a little pout on my face. Again, I say pft...

To make matters just a hair worse, after Heidi did her secret stuff without me (peed in a cup and gave some vitals), little head nurse asked her if that was her mom with her. Yea, that's awesome. Fricking awesome...

Heidi corrects her, with a smirk, and said that it was her wife. The nurse immediately apologized and indicated that she should have known that since we were coming from a fertility doctor. Pft.

I am retrieved from the mom's corral a.k.a. waiting room and we are taken to a smaller room where blonde nurse (whose name escapes me) begins our appointment. Great...just like RMG. Some technician asking arbitrary, meaningless questions so the doctor didn't have to waste her time with us. Dejavu. Here we go...

Unbeknownst to me and my betrothed, blonde nurse had already completely reviewed the file Dr. Welden had sent over. She was actually aware of our fertility history and was asking various follow-up questions. Huh...unexpected. She asked if we had any questions and we did. We asked all that came to mind at the moment and when she left, we actually felt pretty good about our visit. We presumed it would be coming to an end but alas, we were wrong.

We left this smaller room and were led to a darkened room (bom-bom-bom...just kidding, it wasn't scary). It was an ultrasound room. Well, hello babies! We would be getting a surprise visit with them! We met the ultrasound tech and she proceeded to do an ultrasound. It wasn't completely new to us since we had just seen the babies on Friday, but it was still an unexpected delight. We learned that they would refer to the babies as Baby A and Baby B instead of Baby 1 and Baby 2. Not a whole lot had changed since Friday, except, of course, the name change from 1 to A and 2 to B. After the ultrasound, lo and behold, the doctor arrived. I would remind you that with RMG, we only saw the doctor at the consultation and never again, not during our pre-tests, not during an insemination, never. So, after alot of similarities, we didn't expect to really see this doctor either. But, alas, my dear friends and strangers, I was wrong (write that shit down...I admitted I was wrong. All those close to me will wholly attest to the fact that I NEVER admit I'm wrong...because I never am so the magnitude of this admission is incredible). We met Dr. Raimer, who was a very nice lady, very informal. She didn't chew Nicorette, nor did she have a North Carolina accent, but she was a close second to Dr. Welden with respect to informality and approachability. She asked if we had any questions and because blonde nurse had answered everything, we had nothing.

So, after approximately two hours our first visit came to an end. It didn't go as expected, but certainly in a good way. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad after all. It would be ridiculous to presume they would replace Dr. Welden's office, but it seemed reasonable that maybe they would do; maybe they would be okay as the fill-in doctors. We left our first visit a little less apprehensive than we had arrived. OK...we can do this. We can make friends with these strangers. We can do it!

Chapter 6: I can't remember if I washed...
Dateline: I can't remember...

Gosh, let me tell you a thing or two about pregnancy and some of its inevitable side effects. Aside from the obvious - - growing mid-section, frequent trips to the little girls room, a little nausea here and there - - aside from those obvious symptoms comes some other lesser known symptoms. One of those symptoms hit my wife. Hard. This symptom is known as Forgetfulness. This beast of a symptom started innocently enough. She would ask me to repeat something I'd said, or ask me a question she'd already asked me. At first, it was hardly noticeable. Only after realizing that my stories and discussions with her were feeling more and more duplicative did I realize that it wasn't because I was repetitive, it was because she couldn't remember what I had said.

I think it only fair to insert a little history into Chapter 6 so you have a solid understanding of where Heidi's memory comes from so you can appreciate where it has gone. Heidi is an elephant. Not in stature, not in girth. In memory. She could remember anything and everything. She remembered and retold stories about us that I had absolutely no recollection of. She is who I relied upon to tell the tale of our lives together because I knew there was no way I would be able to do it. I have pregnancy forgetfulness without the actual pregnancy. It's also called being 41. So, it goes without saying that her memory was the ying to my forgetfulnesses yang. Now, when her ying started fading, my yang had to step it up a little, if only to remember simple conversations we had previously engaged in. This was not a good thing. My yang is horrible. My yang can barely remember how to get home each day so both my yang and I were wholly upset that we were now expected to step up to the plate to fill the void left by Heidi's ying.

Her forgetfulness evolved. It started with asking repetitive questions to truly forgetting entire conversations we had. At work, she had to keep notes to remember what she had done so she didn't miss something important.

The most notable and telling moment that truly defines where she had sunk to in terms of short-term recollection occurred one day in the shower. Heidi has a pretty defined routine. She enters the shower (water scorching hot) and follows the same decorum every day: wash body, wash hair, wash face, rinse, exit shower. The only deviation occurred on shaving days. This particular day did not involve shaving. This is important to note because it involved one less step. One less thing to remember, if you will. This day also involved our efforts to conserve water. Because we are one with mother earth, this day we chose to combine our showering efforts into one that would be kinder to the planet. So to be good earth citizens, we showered together (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). This is important only to demonstrate that there was an additional witness to the standard routine in addition to Heidi's attendance at her own shower routine. We entered the shower and began the routine. She washed her body. She washed her hair. She began to condition her hair when she stopped, paused with conditioner still resting in the palm of her hand and said, "I can't remember if I washed my body or not." I would state for the record that Heidi did not take an inordinate amount of time washing her hair. So much time did not pass that there was a realistic expectation that she forgot. It was mere moments. I assured her that she had washed; I reminded her that she has a routine. If she was washing her hair, it must mean she washed her body. I was apparently not convincing. She washed again.

Chapter 7: Little tendrils of thank you's...
Dateline: Turkey Day

This Thanksgiving, it goes without saying that we have a lot to be thankful for. And as we prepared to have our turkey day feast, the feeling of gratitude was apparent in our hearts. I had started thinking that maybe before dinner, I would say a little something-something to our guests to thank them for all of their support during the past couple of years and especially through the past couple of months. I mean, I'm an incredible wordsmith so it only made sense for me to impart my thoughts and grace our guests with a mini-awards ceremony thank-you speech. We had a nice showing for and friends. All people important to us. None of the obligatory guests (oh come on, you know we all have them!!!). These were our peeps.

As all were sitting down ready to enjoy a feast of traditional Thanksgiving fare, I rose to deliver what I'm sure would have been my most eloquent speech ever. I mean, EVER. As I paused to mentally compose how to begin my deep, dramatic dialogue, my beloved stands and says "There's something I'd like to say." Well, what do you know about that? I should say that I was nothing short of surprised to hear Heidi, she who is quiet and introverted, stand and proffer a speech she had secretly been thinking about and preparing. I know that it will come as an almost unbelievable surprise to you, but I couldn't have been more moved or proud of her. She is quiet and reserved. She is not comfortable being the center of attention. Yet, here she was...standing before our family and friends, voice shaking but so full of honesty and gratitude for the people in the room, so thankful for their support. This was a moment that I was once again amazed by my wife. Even when I think I know everything about her, her thoughts, her intentions, she surprises me by stepping outside of herself, outside of her comfort zone to speak wholly from the heart to our family and friends. When she steps out of the wings, off the side of the stage that I usually thrive on, she commands attention...she held me rapt, amazed at her strength, her bravery and her beautiful words.

It just made me realize that in addition to all of the blessings I have had this year, I am blessed with an amazing wife.

Chapter 8: Our Big Christmas Surprise
Dateline: December 25, 2012

I like a good surprise. For some reason, it brings me an unparalleled bit of happy, happy, joy, joy to have a good surprise to share. And what, my friends, could be a better surprise than if we could share the gender of our little Voci's with our family on Christmas morning? Um, let me go ahead and answer that...nothing. Nothing could be a better surprise. Only we had one little problem (well, two if you count both babies)...we didn't actually know the genders.

Our gender appointment with our new OB was scheduled for December 31st. We talked about planning a New Years gender reveal. We discreetly tried to find out what important family commitments were to determine if we could pull together a little surprise reveal. As with every family event, there's always someone missing. This time, David and Alissa would be out of state. Curses! Foiled!

Back to the drawing board. Based on availability, we were looking at some time in January before we could tell everyone together. There were several problems with this particular scenario. One: We are horrible at keeping secrets and the idea of having to keep this one, a big one, for weeks, seemed impossible. Two: We wanted a big, memorable reveal, not just a random day in January. What to do, what to do...we, my friends, are in a planning quandry.

As we begin to resign ourselves to having to settle on a non-descript, totally un-special day, my brilliant wife has an idea...what if we called Dr. Welden's office to see if he would do a secret gender ultrasound? Do you see? Do you see why I love my wife so much??? She is nothing short of amazing. Since she had the amazing idea, I undertook the task of trying to butter up Pam to get her to help us with this little task. Of course, Pam is amazing and it took very little buttering to get her convinced. She talked with Dr. Welden and he graciously agreed to perform the top-secret scan to find out what color we would be painting the nursery.

We go into Dr. Welden's office the Saturday before Christmas, incredibly excited to actually be back there and even more excited that we might find out genders and exceptionally excited that if we do, we get the awesome opportunity to plan a super special Christmas day reveal. I think I've made it clear that we're pretty submerged in excitement. We are the last and only patients left for the day so there's no rush to get through the ultrasound, except by me because I'm ridunkulously impatient and I want to know the genders of my kiddies, like yesterday. *Deep breath...patience, I tell myself, patience*.

Dr. Welden starts the ultrasound and in his traditional, non-rushed manner, starts pointing out anatomy benchmarks, like the length of the thigh bone, how that little white line in the back of the babies neck will be measured soon by the OB. I can only think to myself, "Oh dear God, all that is holy, please let him hurry up and find me a penis or vagina.". But, there is no rushing Dr. Welden, oh no, he takes his time and makes sure he gets it right. He starts with Baby 1 (now known as Baby A). He slowly navigates the anatomy of Baby 1/A. He spends a lot of time looking betwixt the little leggies of Baby A. Hhmmm...not seeing a penis, but not seeing the clear distinct "hamburger". Maybe a girl, hhmmm...still scanning...still looking. Uh, still looking. I don't want to sound ingracious, but geez oh pete, there was a lot of looking! I have never in my days seen so many eyes staring, squinting, struggling to determine what the grainy black/white/gray screen was saying to us. After a lot of eye strain, we move on to Baby 2 (now known as Baby B). Baby B seems to be a little more cooperative in showing off some parts but not much. It took some more manuvering of the ultrasound wand to get Baby B to show some secret gender parts. Again, the eye strain was incredible...staring, squinting enough to make the contrast clearer (at least in my mind), adding a 90 degree angle to my head as if that would be sufficient enough to clear things up for me. Dr. Welden, ever so patient, ever so vigilent, continues the search. Wait...what was that? A blip on the screen, ever so slight but could it be? Could it have been? I DON'T KNOW! BUT...Dr. Welden noticed it too! And much to my surprise, I learned that his handy dandy ultrasound machine has the power of rewind!!! Who knew?? So, he slooowwwlllyyy rewinds to find the mere blip we both thought we had just witnessed. STOP! There it was!!! The ever so slight indication of...A PENIS!!! Never in my life have I been so excited to see a little penis! (DO NOT MAKE THAT STATEMENT DIRTY!!! This is my son we're talking about, you perverts!). There it was...easily missed but on a freeze-frame, a sort of clear little blip between the legs of Baby 2/B. A boy! We were having a boy!!! All that is holy and sacred, we are having a boy! *Insert the sounds of a marching band playing that traditional bom-bom-bom-ba-bom-bom-bom-ba-bom-bommmm* Okay...this is good, great even! We're halfway there because let's be serious, you can't realistically do half a gender reveal. I know they have "It's a Boy" and "It's a Girl" balloons, but I'm not sure about the "It's probably a boy but not sure about the other" balloon options. That means we needed to figure this out...back to Baby 1/A. After more searching, we (and by we I mean Dr. Welden) hesitantly announces that since we (Dr. Welden) can't find the girl parts, it is likely that it may be a girl. Good enough for me! We're having a girl! At least that was the announcements we were going to be making. Holy "Amazing Christmas Gift" batman! Have I mentioned lately how lucky I am? Have I mentioned that I have truly been blessed? No? Strange, because that seems like all that I have been feeling lately. Incredibly lucky and incredibly blessed. And now God has given us yet another gift...a little boy and a little girl.

Alright, back to our regularly scheduled program. So now we were armed with some very important information. Genders. Sweet Jesus, I'm so excited that I can barely contain myself. Now comes the planning of our little Christmas day reveal.

We decide that we are going to do our reveal in waves since we have several Christmas day family events. We also decide that we're going to do them all the same. We head over to Party City and excitedly purchase one "It's a Boy" balloon, tied to a little blue plastic baby bottle, and one "It's a Girl" balloon, tied to a little pink plastic baby bottle. We proceed to wrap each balloon separately in a box that has a lid that lifts without having to be removed. This way, when the box is opened, the balloon will waft into the open air, surprising the opener of said special gift with the glad tidings of gender via helium inflated mylar. *Insert giddy laugh here*

Our first wave of gender surprise recipients are Jessica (big-sister-to-be), Nancy (grandma-to-be), Amanda and Bryan (aunt and uncle-to-be), and David and Alissa (uncle and aunt-to-be). We start with our traditional Christmas morning breakfast and then move to the portion of the show where gifts are exchanged and opened. Conveniently, we leave the two very large "reveal" gifts in the bedroom and anyone who asks is advised those are for my niece and nephew. After all gift exchanges have occurred and everyone is doling out thank-you's for gifts received, Heidi and I bring out the two special gifts. We pick Grandma and Uncle to open box #1. Everyone is a little confused about what these two big gifts were. *giddy laugh...again* Nancy and David begin unwrapping the box as Heidi and I look knowingly at each other. We know this moment is going to be remembered for a long time. We know that as soon as they open this gift, the excitement of opening the second gift will be evident. We smile and hold our breath as the box top opens. Out floats a beautiful blue balloon. A moment of silence and unsurity is quickly replaced with understanding. Grandma immediately starts crying, as does Aunt Amanda (because Aunt Amanda cries at everything). David is grinning from ear-to-ear because he wanted a boy to take fishing and camping. The smiles on our families faces are amazing. They are heart-warming. They are incredible. And now they are anxious...there's one more box! Big sister Jessica and Aunt Amanda get the exciting job of opening this box. Unlike the gingerly unwrapping of the first box, they both knew the contents...they just didn't know what color balloon would escape the box. And they both wanted a girl in the worse way. As the box opens, their wish is realized as a pink balloon confirms that there's also a little girl growing in that little belly of Heidi's. Of course, Nancy's first words "I knew it!!!". She's been saying we would be having a girl since the very beginning and today, on Christmas, she got the proud privilege of being right and saying I told you so. She also got the proud privilege of learning she was going to be a grandma to one of each - - a boy and a girl. This, my friends, was one of those moments we have in our lives where our hearts are so filled with joy and thankfulness that it almost feels as though it may just explode right in our chests. I have the distinct privilege of looking around at my family and reveling in their excitement for the new babies who would be joining us. It was a feeling very befit for a Christmas morning.

Our second wave of Christmas family was my mom, Connie, and my niece and nephew, Alyseeia and Dayne. Almost all of the details were the same with this event, except that breakfast was replaced with lunch. My mom opened the first box and saw that we were having a little boy. Dayne and Alyseeia opened the second box and discovered a new girl would be joining the family. Again, the excitement of the reveal made it a wonderful Christmas morning for all of us.

Christmas night held a different kind of reveal. Heidi's dad and step-mom, Joe and Teresa, live in Vermont so we decided we would try to Facebook video with them. Well, of course technology is about as cooperative as a cat in a bathtub (I don't know why, but I feel like an old Southern farmer with my little saying there...insert straw between my teeth and a tilted cowboy hat on my head...digression again...). After a little while of fiddling with Facebook video, Heidi suggests we try Skype. We have Skype! We skyped with a doctor in New York a million years ago in this process so we knew it would work. Except this time. For some reason, we could see them but we couldn't hear them. It only took a good ten minutes before we realized we could actually call them and talk on the phone whilst they watched our unveiling on Skype. Apparently excitement diminishes common sense. Pft. Anywho...finally able to visually and audibly communicate, we unwrapped each box to reveal to Grandpa and Nana the genders of the new grandbabies. Nana, of course, knew one was a boy. It's nice that she was right. :)

So, my friends, we come to the end of mini-novella #2. Only one more mini-novella to go and we should be up-to-date. Hopefully I get to that before the babies are born. :)

Here is momma-to-be near Christmas...doing an amazing job of creating one boy, one girl, two hearts beating wildy, to put it mildly, it was love at first sight!

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