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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Way We Were

Once upon a time, we were pregnant with our first. And in the final, early summertime weeks of my college degree I dragged Joe to the MSU main library and forced him to watch this video with me.

We were so young and clueless (well, at least I was). I thought this PBS video, as it contains footage of actual childbirth in its later segments, would somehow prepare us for parenthood. LOLz!

Instead, we snickered at the footage of pasty, beachgoing men in speedos and pretended we had it all under control. We even talked about how funny it would be to go into Olin (if you went to MSU, surely you'll remember Olin--only for pregnancy or mono!) and say "we think she might be pregnant, she hasn't had her period in awhile". I was visibly, obviously, like seven months pregnant at the time.

I gave my last BMB lab report, the one upon which my graduation rested, a lick and a promise; we moved to Seattle exactly a month before James was due. Joe met me at the airport in his '88 Jetta with the muffler that sounded like an afterburner, and swept a gigantic, tear-streaked me off my feet. We lived in the Totem Lake Inn in Kirkland for the next two weeks, so that I could waddle the quarter-mile to my doctor's appointments at Evergreen HMC while Joe took the car to his new Boeing job. I would even get up with him before work and make him a sack lunch (but that only lasted about 3 days).

My mom called and said, very helpfully, "well, if you go into labor early, you can always use a laundry basket for a crib!" Thanks, Mom.

The lab report eventually got finished and baby James got himself borned, but not until some fairly dramatic shit went down.

We moved into a little apartment on Mercer Island. Why Mercer Island, the rich folks' playground? Joe wanted to live there for some reason, probably that it was fairly close to Boeing field, and he liked the death-defying daily drives on its floating bridges. A hilarious aside: we eventually tried to buy a house there, and our realtor thought that idea was SO cute! For 23-year-old Joe and 21-year-old me, it was kind of like driving innocently through Westwood or Bel-Air and saying, "this is nice. Let's live here!" (Later, we ended up right on the border of Shoreline and Lake Forest Park, close enough to Lake Washington so that we could the watch the descents at the Sea Plane port. James would, as a toddler, double-finger-point and shout "airplane" in our backyard several times an afternoon.)

Anyway, about a week before our EDD, the Boeing-sponsored moving truck came, straight from my dad's garage, and filled up our 800-square-foot Mercer Island apartment-hole with stuff. Like, everything my hoarder parents thought we might find useful (two or three kitchens-worth of utensils!), and then some. Our tiny place was filled with boxes from floor to ceiling, and we STILL didn't have a crib. We had to tunnel through the boxes to get from the front door to the kitchen. Joe was miserable and insisted on bringing fully 70% of the stuff to Goodwill.

From there came the biggest drama of all. Joe had been working on his first major project as a manufacturing engineer, and it seemed to be going pretty well. Then, one day, he came home from work with a headache. A big one. He started vomiting from the pain, and even hid under the little dining room table like a cornered muskrat. I begged him to go to the ER, but he refused. He went to the nurse practitioner a day later, and she was pissed that he hadn't at least gone to urgent care. "Stress does funny things to people!" was her diagnosis.

Then, it was Joe's dad's turn to say something helpful: "I knew a guy who had that happen, and that's how they found out he had a huge brain tumor and was dying! He was dead, like, six months later." Thanks, Joe's dad!

The next night, I went into labor. Twenty-six hours later, James was born. For some reason, he looked Asian (as did our other two kids when they were born in the following years, and not that there is anything wrong with that!). This prompted some serious questioning from Joe, but the paternity was, unfortunately for him, never in doubt. Joe was stuck with us.

Asian James:

With James, looking slightly less-Asian, in the Cascades

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