Denver we moved to Grand Rapids for a year then we
fulfilled our dream at that time of returning to live in Dearborn. We
found and purchased our home on Columbia, just around the corner from
the house of Lisa and Nick, Tammy and Tara. Our moving across the
country to live around the corner had meant so much to them that they
soon sold their house and moved 2 miles away to the more prestigious
"Cherry Hill" neighborhood in northwest Dearborn. But they
meant no harm since they later sold that house and relocated to the
even more prestigious suburb of Novi. But we stayed in our little
house in Dearborn and tended our little apple tree and planted 5 more
trees and built a deck and planted a garden. We stayed there for a
little over eight years, until I lost my job and we moved to Utah,
then on to Florida.
We had driven home to Michigan in our Granada, and I worked at CSI
first in Grand Rapids, then in Detroit (first Troy, then Bloomfield).
I had taken a couple of night jobs here and there to make
a little extra money. Lyn was stuck at home all day without a car as
I drove all over the city and out to Grand Rapids. I was 24 when we
arrived in Dearborn, and we were three and a half years from having
baby Jesse. It was a very exciting time.
I went back to night school, taking 2 semesters of accounting at
HFCC. At work, I also sat for several exams and, after a year,
received my CPIM certification. After a year off, I reapplied to
CMUs Detroit-area metro campus and started taking classes
toward my goal of finally finishing my BS degree. I took classes on
and off for the entire 8 years, often involving an after work commute
across town, and earned my degree in the last weeks before we left in
1992. While it satisfied a job requirement, receiving my degree still
seems in retrospect to have been a cynical, expensive, and ridiculous exercise.
To help with our forthcoming pregnancy, Lyn kept
up her efforts to lose weight. She had joined TOPS (Take Off Pounds
Sensibly) in Colorado, and lost quite a few pounds. After time off
during the move to Grand Rapids and Dearborn, she had gained many
back and joined a local chapter in Dearborn once we were settled into
our new home.
After attending the meetings for a few weeks, she sought and was
elected the club's leader. She poured much of her heart and soul into
the club and many members achieved great individual success. We made
several dear friends from that club, and it was the same chapter that
my own mom had attended years before when she, too, lost a great deal
of weight. I was the 'program chairman' the first year, and the
'assistant weight recorder' the second. Losing weight was a top
priority in those years, and it is sad that we achieved only middling success.
During this time, we had launched several projects, buying a new
water bed (for my aching back), repainting most of the rooms in our
little cottage on Columbia street. We had set our mind to become
parents and it was starting to be high time that our loosely
organized plans and general ideas start forming into something a
little more direct and to the point.
Lyn had had a general checkup with her gynecologist and was certified
to be healthy enough to get pregnant. We had some money, had been
richer but had been poorer, too. We had rearranged the furniture a
dozen times by then, so the house was definitely our home. It was
time to get started on 'Project Jesse'.
Once you decide to get pregnant, life takes on a
strange kind of twist. Suddenly things that were natural or exciting
seem to be done under imaginary supervision and to some invisible
schedule. I guess, generally, I started to feel pretty damn
self-conscious about the whole thing.
After a couple of months of trying without success, we reached the
sad conclusion that getting pregnant was going to be a little more
complicated than we first imagined. I remember sitting on the back
porch one night thinking about all of the times we lived in mortal
fear that Lyn might be pregnant only now to learn that we would have
difficulty conceiving. I was mad about all that time I had spent worrying.
We were into our third or fourth E.P.T. (early pregnancy test) when
we visited our family physician. Dr Peters was about our age,
actually went to school with my older brother and had returned to his
hometown and neighborhood to partner with and eventually take over an
existing well-respected family practice. Dave Peters was incredibly
intelligent and an excellent physician but I always felt a little odd
when we needed to do more than say Ahh, if you get my
drift. I always felt bad for Lyn and her need for periodic
check-outs, but she never seemed phased (I guess women eventually get
used to that sort of thing). I will spare you the story of the first
time, years later, that our woman G.P. (Lyns revenge upon me)
checked me for prostrate, etc, as this is off subject for this story.
Upon learning of our failed efforts to have a baby, Dr Peters
provided us with a basal thermometer. This is a process
for tracking, in minute detail a womans temperature to track
her fertility cycle. It is traditionally the first level of
escalation for couples having difficulty conceiving. With the
thermometer came a little sheet of paper with boxes and graph paper
for tracking the data. We were to do this for two or three months and
report back if we were still a no go in the baby
department. I found the process a little intrusive, and a little less
spontaneous (but there are better stories coming). We were mostly
bothered that we were directed to place an "X" in a certain
square on those days that we had done our part to conceive, and then
turn the sheet over to Dr Peters (much like an elementary school
reading list) for him to analyze. I remember asking why couldnt
we just track it and read it ourselves but, no, that is not how these
things work. Lyn decided to treat the situation with the appropriate
degree of seriousness by, instead of marking the prescribed
"X", putting a smiley-face in the box on each of the days
that we fulfilled our responsibility in the new baby department. She
reported back that Dave Peters neither responded to or seemingly even
noticed her small act of rebellion.
After a couple months of trying without success,
it was time to escalate our efforts. It was decided (by everybody
else) that I was to be humiliated next and that we would check my
sperm count. Maybe too much stress or too much coffee might mean that
I was not delivering the goods. The few who knew what was going on
(very few), immediately and universally shared and commented upon the
boxers vs briefs controversy. Since this is my story,
there is no need to delve further at this point. It will suffice to
say we made an appointment at the hospital for delivery of my, a-hem,
sample. And that it was then necessary to deliver the same upon that
agreed schedule. At the age of twenty-six, I lacked the maturity to
walk into a medical suite and hand a nurse, that was expecting me, a
vial with my sample. Thus, I waited in the car while Lyn went in and
then quizzed her like I was seven-years-old when she returned.
"What did you do?", "What did they say?",
"What happened next?", I queried and she then proceeded to
treat me like I was acting like a seven year old.
In a couple of days, the test came back and my count was slightly low
but, in the learned assessment of experts on this subject, high
enough to get the job done. With the sound of a bass drum and the
deep strum of the cello, all eyes turned to Lyn, who gulped and knew
that she was next.
While continuing with the basal thermometer and
the smiley faces and not needing to switch to boxers, Lyn was
scheduled to visit the hospital for a . This is a very fancy and
expensive x-ray of a womans reproductive plumbing, so to speak.
The trick is that hysterosalpingograph the
x-ray is taken after a dye is injected into the subject. While this
sounds like those other dye/xray routines (heart blockage, kidney
stones, etc) the curve ball here is that the dye is not injected into
the patient's arm but rather directly into the plumbing, and then
forced thru the tubes and whatnot BACKWARDS to the source! The
medical journal described it as an extremely painful procedure, so I
put on my saddest caring face, brought my Detroit Free Press, and
escorted Lyn to the outpatient surgery center at Oakwood Hospital.
She loves to tell the story about how when a nurse says you will feel
some pressure, that means it will hurt like hell, and
when they say you will feel a small poke it means that
your target area will be sore for weeks on end. She tells us that the
attendant for this particular procedure warned her (for the first
time ever and last time since) to expect to feel CONSIDERABLE
PAIN. This was considered the highest possible warning given by
an attendant and Lyn related later that it was, without a doubt, the
most painful procedure she had ever been through in her life so far.
Of course, delivering the baby was slightly over a year in the
future, so she didn't have a proper reference on pain and
humiliation. We had darn well better be getting a baby out of this exercise.
The x-rays were immediately available for analysis, even before Lyn
was dressed and done moaning and doubling over in pain. The
technician that checked them said there were no blockages or damage,
that everything checked out normally. Then she added an extra, sage
piece of advice. Some times, she warned us, there are lots of little
tiny blockages present and the simple act of forcing the dye backward
through the system is enough to break them up. "Often, by the
time your x-ray is taken, youre actually all fixed up and ready
to get pregnant". This was the most sage advice possible, as it
was the truth.
At the time I had heard (Im sure a wives' tale) about how
fertilizing old eggs might have a higher chance of having
a baby with a birth defect, so I wanted us to wait a little while to
let Lyn cycle through and get on track. We waited a while, then
started Project Jesse again in earnest and this time had
immediate success (ah, but the fun is all in the trying). We each had
stepped up to the plate and taken our turn to prove that we wanted a
child more than anything else. We had already talked through all the
awful scenarios about fertility clinics and injections, test-tube
babies and adoption. It was clear to me that in very short order
Jesse-bunny, just like Pinocchio, was going to become a real boy.
was now fall, the last week of September, and we had put
our thoughts and efforts about family making onto the back burner and
set off on a one week vacation. We drove the Granada to the east
coast. We went to see fall colors and would visit Niagara Falls,
Cooperstown, Boston, Montreal, and Toronto before returning home. We
would see a Red Sox game at
Fenway (2nd to last game of the season) and an Expos
game (freezing our butts during season finale against the Mets). I
would get to pursue my new hobby of visiting Presidents
gravesites with Millard Fillmore
(Buffalo), Chester Arthur and Martin
Van Buren (Albany), John and
John Quincy Adams (Boston), Franklin
Pierce (New Hampshire) and Cal Coolidge
(Vermont). We have many happy memories, dozens of funny stories and
page after page of beautiful pictures from this trip. We did a
lot of talking and planning and a lot of growing up and together on
that trip. But we were very young then and, in retrospect, 70% or
more of the things that seemed so important at that time have proved
over the years to be irrelevant or at least insignificant.
the trip, Lyn slowly developed a horrible intermittent
flu. Eventually she would throw up each morning and feel excessively
queasy during the longer car rides (despite the beautiful fall
colors). She was unusally exhausted when we climbed the stairs at
Boston's Beacon Hill monument. This mysterious flu did not cause a
fever. Honest to goodness, we had no idea that 'morning sickness' was
upon us and what it foretold!
When we got home, Lyn took another EPT and passed it this time. Just
as we were warned, the histeo-saliapeniagram was all it took. The
little blue stick told us we were going to be parents and the
Jesse-bunny flew across the room as I walked through the front door
to share the joyous news. I have imbedded in my memory the picture of
the clear cup with the pick liquid and the little stick being stared
into by the tan bunny and the gray squirrel. Each casting a spell,
chanting in a low voice "turn blue .... turn blue". Lyn had
communicated through them the anxiety and frustration that we were
both feeling at the time. Let's just get this thing done!
We needed another visit to the gynecologist, to
get certified and start the next phase of project Jesse. Lyns
doctor was the same man that her mother used and had been her
gynecologist since the age that she first needed one.
He was quite bizarre and made me (and I learned later Lyn)
uncomfortable. He was middle aged (Lyns moms age) and
with a Balkan name that was unpronounceable when read (Dr Hbn.....).
He was physically ugly, heavyset with a crooked nose and scars and
large boils and birthmarks on his face. He spoke with a heavy accent
that made him difficult for us to understand. The drama of the scene
that day was surreal.
I waited outside in the tiny waiting room during Lyns exam.
Then we were escorted to his office. You know how each tiny
doctors suite has a tiny crowded office somewhere in back and
this was no exception. Wearing his white lab-coat, he sat down in his
swivel chair, pulled out a cigarette in his gigantic hands, lit one
up and blew the blue-gray smoke into the tiny space above our heads.
He took a breath, leaned forward in the chair and, without smiling
and in a thick nearly unintelligible accent said: "You are
pregnant but I cannot deliver your baby. You will need to find
Somewhere in there, I think, he was supposed to smile, say
"congratulations", "you are so lucky", or even
the trite "I have good news". We were delighted, squeezed
our held hands but had no room in the tiny phone booth sized room to
hug. He also managed to make sure that, rather then celebrating the
joyous moment of notification, we were instead suddenly involved in
the unknown situation of being pregnant without a gynecologist and
bearing the mark of scorn, a high-risk pregnancy due to
Lyns High Blood Pressure.
We had already done our celebrating (with Jesse and Squibby) at home
after the EPT, and our euphoria had passed by a day or two ago. So
that day we just sat in the Granada, parked in the Doctor's tiny lot,
held hands and looked into each others eyes. It was
mid-October, the most beautiful time of year in Michigan, and we had
been married seven years and known each other nearly eleven.
Of course, we were frustrated by the Doctors unethical
deception of helping us to get pregnant but making sure to give no
clue that our pregnancy would be considered high-risk and
that he would drop us like a hot potato. He made sure we had no
leadtime for arranging what might prove to be a difficult
relationship and waited for the optimal inopportune time to spring
his knowledge upon us. We agreed that day that we would need one new
OB/Gyn for the baby's delivery and then another new one after the
baby was born. We were pregnant, and that man was fired.