Sunday, September 30, 2012

It Just Snapped

By now, I'm sure most of my readers are familiar with my bicycling addiction hobby.  In fact, the 35 miles I rode yesterday (a beautiful, sunny 70F-degree day, with cotton-candy cumulus clouds and the first hints of fall color) brought my total for the year to 1502 miles. It's only the second time in the last 15-or-so years that I've reached that many.  With the riding season in these parts typically lasting until Thanksgiving or so, there's a strong likelihood that I'll surpass the 1609 I rode in 2010.  Woo-hoo!

Anyway, my friend Xavier recently prodded my memory cells for a story that I was sure I'd told before, but I couldn't find it anywhere in my archives.  So, here you are. . .


I have always enjoyed cycling.  When I was growing up, I would ride my bike from one end of my hometown Up North, to the other, exploring new corners of town that I hadn't seen before, sometimes for many miles in a day, by the time I returned home at dinnertime.  My bike was my main form of transportation, in the parts of the year where the sidewalks weren't snow-covered (which, even as far north as we were, was still roughly from April until Thanksgiving) - I would ride my bike to the beach, to my ballgames (both formal and informal), and on my early-morning paper route (my dad would drive me during the winter months; he was The Man!).

When I went to college, I took my old paper-route bike with me.  It was a good, sturdy old bike, and not nearly fancy enough for anyone to want to steal it.  So, for three years of the five-plus I spent in college, I rode my bike to get around campus.  I finally lost that old bike when I lived with some buddies in a house during the summer after my junior year.  At the end of the summer, I moved back into the dorm, and left my bike in the garage, figuring I'd come back for it in a couple days.  Which I did.  But when I went back to retrieve it, the new tenants in the house had run over it with their car, leaving a twisted mess of metal and rubber on the garage floor.  At that point, I figured it was their problem, so I left it there.

Not long after Jen and I were married, I bought us both nice touring bikes (hers was a mixte-frame, a type of 'women's' bike that was only around for a few years in the early 80s), and I started riding the back-country roads around Our Town, for tens of miles at a stretch.  I quickly found that I much preferred cycling to, say, jogging, as a form of exercise, since I could go fast enough that the scenery changed often enough to be interesting, and turning the pedals was a lot less stressful on my knees and legs than running.  Particularly to the northeast of town, there were some really nice, interesting, picturesque routes, that quickly became my favorites.

As I became a more avid cyclist, I made contacts with other avid cyclists, and even convinced a few of my friends to join the ranks.  One such friend was a guy named Tony.  I convinced him to do DALMAC with me, and before long, we were riding together regularly.

One of my favorite routes goes through some rolling farmland northeast of Our Town.  It also passes through some nicely wooded stretches, and the rolling-ness of the terrain, besides being pretty, also makes the cycling interesting.  At one stretch, it passes through some low-lying wetlands, where the swampy ground comes right up alongside the roadway.

One time, Tony and I were riding through this wetland stretch, when we espied a large snapping turtle by the side of the road, his front paws on the pavement, poised to head out onto the roadway, where the imminent end of his existence, in the form of being squashed by a passing truck, certainly awaited him.  This was a BIG turtle; a typical snapper in these parts might be anywhere from 8-12 inches in shell diameter, but this guy was at least 15 inches across.

Tony and I rolled our bikes to a stop, first, just because we wanted to take a look at a truly impressive, and duly formidable-looking, critter.  And, noting how poorly-directed he was, we contemplated how we might redirect him back toward the marsh he'd crawled out of, while simultaneously maintaining the structural integrity of all our fingers, and other body parts.

I suppose that, if we'd been more experienced in dealing with snapping turtles, we might have attempted the old grab-his-tail maneuver, but that seemed fraught with peril for someone, like Tony or me, who didn't really know what he was doing.  We thought about nudging his hind-quarters with our shod feet, but that didn't seem so smart, either.

Finally, Tony hit upon an idea.  He unclipped the pump that he carried with him on his bike (in case, you know, he had to fix a flat, or anything like that), and thought that perhaps he could use the pump as a prod, to move the turtle around, and get him headed back toward the swamp.

In those days, the external tube of those frame-mounted pumps was usually aluminum, but the central piston-shaft was steel, maybe a quarter-inch in diameter; a fairly stout chunk of metal.

So Tony began prodding the critter in the area of his front shoulder, pressing on his hard shell, so as not to press into any soft flesh.  He shoved it once, twice, and again, turning it by 30 degrees or so from where it had been pointed.  He smiled - his plan was working!

About that time, the turtle decided that it had had quite enough of being jacked around by Tony's bike pump, thank-you-very-much.  BOOM! It struck out with its head, snapping the pump in two, even through the steel shaft.  Tony was left holding half a pump, looking dumbly at it, muttering, "My pump. . ."  And we looked at each other, with looks of 'man, are we glad we didn't try to use any of our actual body parts on it. . .'

Actually, I'm not sure we were quite deterred by the mangling of Tony's pump.  We looked around, finding a stick about three feet long, and an inch in diameter, and tried to repeat the pump strategy, but the turtle, figuring he'd already made his point, was in no mood to endure any more jostling, and he quickly did to the stick what he'd done to Tony's pump.  And at that point, we figured, you know, we tried, but the turtle just didn't want our help.  So we got back on our bikes and rode on.

"Stupid turtle!" Tony called over his shoulder as we rolled away.  "I hope you get run over!"  Then he turned back to me and muttered, "Damn turtle broke my pump!


I half-expected to see, the next time we passed that way, a week or two hence, the gooey squashed remains of our snappy friend.  Flattened turtle shells are not an uncommon sight along the side of the road, after all.  But we never did see anything that looked remotely like the shattered remnants of a 15-inch snapping turtle.  So, you know, maybe he didn't need our help after all. . .

Monday, September 24, 2012

Don't Tread On Me

This is a re-post of a story from my old blog, edited as appropriate.  My readership has changed pretty significantly since I first posted it six years ago, and many of you might not be aware of this episode from our life.  So, in the interest of bringing you all up to speed, and testifying to God's goodness and mercy, I offer it to you again. . .


Thirteen years ago today, I was sitting in my office at work, deeply dialed-in to whatever was on my computer screen at the time, when the phone rang. It was a friend of ours. "7M has had an accident," she said. My mind raced as she explained that he was in intensive care; I don't remember the rest of what she said. I left work and drove to the hospital, a 45-minute drive, during which I could only wonder what I'd find when I got there, or if my son was even alive.

7M was a year-and-a-half old at the time. He and some neighbor kids were playing in our front yard that afternoon. At one point, 7M was standing behind the neighbor's minivan; the neighbor came out, got into his car and backed out - right over my toddler son. The neighbor across the street saw it happen and called the ambulance immediately. 5M, who was seven at the time, might have saved 7M's life by getting the driver's attention and getting him to stop. Jen was inside the house talking with a friend who had dropped in, when one of the kids ran in and told her what had happened. At first, she didn't believe them, but her friend said, um, why don't you go out and see what's going on. The ambulance arrived within a minute or two, and then things were a blur.

By the time I arrived at the hospital, his situation was diagnosed - he had a bunch of cuts and bruises (including a detailed tire-tread-pattern bruise that ran from his thigh, all the way up his torso, and across his cheek; looking back, it was really pretty spectacular), a broken collarbone, three non-displaced skull fractures (if you absolutely have to have a broken skull, non-displaced is definitely the way to go), and bruised lungs. His eyes had no 'whites', if one was inclined to be persnickety about color; they were more like 'bright reds'.  The bruised lungs were actually the biggest concern of the ER docs (I guess if you have trouble breathing, things get bad very quickly). They had him hooked up to a machine that monitored his breathing. By the time I arrived at the hospital, his breathing was good, but they wanted to monitor him for 24-48 hours.  At that point, every minute that passed with him breathing well was a good minute, so we just waited for the 'good minutes' to keep accumulating. After 24 hours, they moved him to a less-intensive section of the ICU (if that even makes sense), and the next day, they released him, because all they were doing was chasing him around the ICU, and chasing toddlers is not what ICUs (even pediatric ICUs) are set up to do. Our boy had a clean bill of health 48 hours after being run over by a minivan (well, except for the broken-bones-and-bruises thing).

When we tried to figure out how this could have happened, the doctor said that his young age actually was in his favor, because kids that age are very flexible - their bones aren't brittle, so they've got more 'give' to them, and they don't break as severely as older folks' do. Also, the fact that the vehicle was a minivan (comparatively little weight over the rear axle), and only the rear axle ran over him, was probably fortunate, as well as the gravel driveway (the gravel had some 'give' to it that a concrete driveway wouldn't have). Even so - the back tire of the minivan ran directly OVER HIS HEAD. I couldn't have imagined that that would be survivable, much less survivable with no apparent effects. And yet, today, we have a completely normal, healthy fourteen-year-old. To be perfectly candid, he's an above-average athlete, and notably brighter than most of his peers (not that I'd want my other kids to get their heads run over, to make them smarter, or anything).

I try to be slow about making claims of miracles, but 7M being run over by a car without any discernible lasting effects, is about the most amazing thing I've seen in my life. We've told 7M that he'd better pay attention and be good, because God did something pretty amazing for him to be alive today. . .

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Mother of All Mondays

Actually, it started last night (perhaps on the Jewish schedule, by which 'tomorrow' starts at sundown), when I sat down for the bi-monthly (or is it semi-monthly? twice a month, anyway) Balancing of the Checkbook and Paying of the Bills.  In order to get current information on my bank account, I connect to the bank's website.  That also enables me to cross-talk between Jen's account and mine, so that funds will actually be in the account from which they will be drawn, in the course of managing our financial affairs.

But last night, our wireless router was, um, being un-cooperative, taking forever to make connections, and then crashing randomly, invariably at the precise moment when I just needed to check one thing before I moved on to the next item.  So, what should have been maybe an hour's work, ended up taking nearly three hours.  Of course, there was also the trip to the ATM, to deposit a large wad of cash that really needed to be in my bank account, rather than in my sock drawer, only to find, when I got there, that I had forgotten my wallet, and thus, my access card to the ATM.  So, back in the car, return home, get the wallet, and actually make the deposit on the second attempt.  And so it went.  I was completely brain-dead; one of those times when you go to another room to fetch something, then, when you get there, you forget what you were after, so you go back where you started, thus prompting yourself to remember, and in fact, to recall one other item you need from the same room, so you go back to the room, and get the first item, but forget the second one. . . iterate ad infinitum. . .

So, this morning, I left the house, bound for work, right on the edge of being late/on-time.  Given my long commute, I fill my gas-tank pretty much every other day, and this morning was one of the fill-days.  Now, the station I typically use is just before I get on the freeway, about 8 miles or so from our house, just because it's right on the way, and I don't have to go even a block out of my way to get in and out.  Plus, the 8 miles gives me that much more of a cushion for not risking running out of gas on the way to/from work; my margin for error on two days' commuting versus miles-per-tankful fluctuates between maybe 10 miles in wintertime, to maybe 50 or so in summer, depending on how much I run the A/C.  So anyway, I pulled into the station, popped open my gas-door, and reached for my wallet to grab my gas-card to slide in the self-serve pump.

And I had forgotten my wallet.  AGAIN!!

I couldn't believe it.  What part of my brain had suddenly shriveled up the previous afternoon, so that I couldn't remember to bring my wallet with me on errands for which the one thing I needed was my wallet?  My frustration was beginning to build.

I got back into the car, not even re-capping the fill spout, or closing the gas-door.  I pulled back onto the road, headed back home, now completely certain that I would arrive late to work, by the time I added an extra 20-30 minutes to my drive, going home and then back to the gas station.  I called Jen on my cell phone, to see if she could quickly locate my wallet, so I wouldn't have to spend more time looking for it when I arrived back home.  She didn't answer.  I called the house phone; still no answer.  I couldn't understand why she wasn't picking up, so I blew up her phone for a minute or two, trying to prod her into answering my urgent call.  You know, if I call you 20 times in a minute-and-a-half, that lets you know that my call is REALLY important, right?

Still no answer.  And I'm getting more frustrated with each passing second.  Suddenly, in my rear-view mirror, I see a car pulling out onto the main road, with a thin light-bar on top.  I check the speedometer; I'm going 70+ in a 55 zone.  Crap.  Then, suddenly, my blood runs cold.  I don't have my wallet!  Which means, no driver's license, either.  I mean, how good is that?  I've only got to avoid the attention of the police for about 10 minutes, until I can get to my wallet, and I couldn't even do that.

There's another car between me and the cop.  Maybe he was just pulling out onto the road routinely, and hadn't gotten a radar read on me.  I notice that, in my haste to leave the gas station and return home, I hadn't fastened my seat belt, either.  So, while slowing to a legal 55-mph, I quietly pull my seat belt out and fasten it, while I'm still obscured behind the intervening car.

As soon as I fasten my belt, the cop car speeds up and passes the car between us, then pulls in directly behind me.  Crap.  I'm toast.  Sure enough, the red-and-blue lights commence flashing, and I pull over.  I start sorting through the glovebox for my vehicle registration and proof-of-insurance, and then I sort through five out-dated copies of each, to find the current copies, which, thankfully, are present and accounted for.

The officer, a woman, approached my window.  "How are you doing today, sir?" she asks, casually, yet with a no-BS edge.

"Pretty lousy, just at the moment," I admitted, handing her the registration and insurance cards.

"I also need to see your Driver's License, sir," she says.

"Yeah," I said, "and that's my biggest problem."  I told her the whole story, how I was late for work, and needed to fill my car, then discovered when I got to the gas station that I had neglected to put my wallet into my pants this morning, and so I was returning home to retrieve my wallet, and that's where my license was, and heavy sigh, and (thinking to myself) I am such a moron. . . (and hoping that the gas cap hanging stupidly down from the side of my car might corroborate my story. . .)

"So. . ." she says, seeing if she got my story right, "you have a valid Driver's License, you just don't have it on your person?"

"That is correct, officer."

"OK; hang on.  I'm gonna check it out, and be back in a few minutes."

It probably only seemed like she was gone for three days, during which time, all manner of nightmare scenarios are roiling in my brain.  Speeding, for sure, that's why she stopped me in the first place;  that'll be $120 or so, depending on how fast she caught me going.  No license; I don't even know what I might get dinged for that.  And I still don't know whether or not she saw my surreptitious engagement of my seat belt; if she had, I could get slapped for that, too.  Dollars and violation-points danced gleefully around my head, singing, "Nyah-nyah-nyah, you're a moron!"

"Shut the hell up," I snarled at the ghostly bills, which were mockingly flapping their tiny wings.

Finally, the officer returned to my window, handing me back my registration and insurance cards, and exhaling heavily, while I tried to stifle a cringe.

"I caught you going 69 in a 55-zone," she said.  "So, it could have been a lot worse."

Could have been worse. . . Yup-yup-yup, it sure could've been, right you are, officer.

"I'm going to give you a verbal warning.  Slow down, and try to remember to carry your wallet with you, OK?"

"You got it, officer!"  I felt my whole body go numb, buzzing with an adrenaline rush.  I pulled the car back onto the road, travelling at 54.9 mph.  I got back to the house, and no-one was home.  I found my wallet with a minute's effort, tucked it into my hip pocket, and got back in the car, heading back to the gas station.

About halfway there, my cell phone rang.  It was Jen.  "What happened?!?" she asked.  "Why did you call me 20 times?  I was at daily Mass, so my phone was turned off."  Of course; that's my wife.  Sometimes she can be so annoying, being all holy an' stuff like that. . .  ;)

I told her the whole story, and she laughed, once I'd gotten to the 'warning' part.  By the time I finished telling the story, I was pulling into the gas station once more.  I signed off with the hope that the rest of the day might go a little better.

"Well," she chirped, "it's already going better - you didn't get the ticket.  And you didn't run out of gas!"

I shuddered.  Running out of gas. . . In all the excitement, I hadn't even thought of that. . .

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Dreamin'. . .

A recent conversation I was having reminded me of an old, recurring dream of mine.  It's funny, but to this day, I vividly remember a dream that I used to have somewhat regularly in my young childhood.  When I was 3-5 years old, it was quite common, and it continued, with decreasing frequency, into my teens.

In The Dream, I was being squeezed - my entire body, but my head and shoulders most especially.  The thing that was squeezing me (it was never clear what it was) was - how shall I say it - soft and firm at the same time.  I recall that, in my childish imagination, I likened it to 'wheels', because it reminded me of the way pneumatic tires are simultaneously soft and firm.  In The Dream, I would feel the squeezing coming on, and it would get tighter and tighter as The Dream progressed, becoming, by the time The Dream ended, quite uncomfortable, and I would be wondering how tight it might get, and whether I was going to be utterly squashed.  The Dream invariably ended with my awaking, breathing heavily.

Having said that, The Dream was not at all unpleasant, and it became sort-of comfortingly familiar, even if a bit anxiety-raising.  Whenever it would arise again, I recall thinking happily to myself, 'Ah, here comes that dream about the 'wheels' again. . .'  And, as uncomfortable as I was by the end of the dream, I was always cautiously glad whenever it came around again.


As I said, that Dream recurred, with decreasing frequency, into my high school years; I don't recall having it since then.  Occasionally, I would wonder what it was about.  One of my college buddies was fascinated by the idea of Freudian interpretation of dreams, but I don't recall that he had any particular insight into that one.  At some point, my memories of The Dream just didn't rise into my conscious thoughts very often anymore.

Then, sometime after I was reunited with my birth-mother, I remembered The Dream again (I didn't suddenly start having The Dream again, I just remembered it).  That memory, and its timely recurrence into my consciousness, brought a plausible interpretation rushing into my mind.

Was it possible - was it possible - that I was dreaming of my own birth?

It seems at least plausible, doesn't it?  Has anyone ever heard of anything like this?

In the conversation to which I was referring at the beginning of this post, I was talking with a couple of my kids, and one of them was wondering if babies in the womb are conscious and aware of their surroundings, and I said that I was sure they were.  We talked about studies where microphones were placed inside a mother's uterus (Lord, have mercy; the things we'll do for 'science'), and the surprising clarity of the sounds from 'the outside world'.

I opined that the babies themselves didn't undergo some kind of 'ontological' transformation for the simple fact of moving from inside the womb to outside it, that their brains, and eyes and ears, were quite the same an hour before birth as they were an hour after it.  And then I remembered my Dream, and I wondered if it really might constitute some kind of 'subconscious memory' of my own passage through my birth-mother's birth canal, of my own transition from 'inner space' to the big, wide Universe.

Does that make me crazy?


This post reminds me of something I posted a year ago, on the occasion of my father's death.  It's actually taken from a review I wrote on Amazon of a book by Peter Kreeft, Love Is Stronger Than Death.  I'll re-post it here, just for the sake of completing my thought. . .


Kreeft is wonderfully perceptive, and draws some really sharp insights. For instance, he notes the double meaning in saying that death is the 'end' of life - both its termination, but also its consummation (or even its 'goal'). "If death is not meaningful, then life, in the final analysis, is not meaning-full. For death is the final analysis...Life cannot be meaningful in the short run and meaningless in the long run, because the long run is the meaning of the short run."

He draws an analogy between death and birth that is acutely perceptive. A child in the womb is warm and secure, and outside the womb is - he knows not what (although he might have some inklings of the 'world beyond' - muffled voices and such). Birth is a painful thing, and yet he is born into a world infinitely wider and richer than the womb; he is infinitely freer in the 'outside world' than he was in the womb, and he spends his entire life 'growing into' this larger, richer world. Even so, we are comfortable in this world, and at any rate, this world is all we know (although we might have inklings of a 'world beyond'). Death, like birth, involves pain. Is it possible that death, like birth, brings us into a wider, richer, freer existence than we have here?

And, as the child in the womb draws his life from his mother, he can't SEE his mother, much less KNOW her AS A PERSON until he is born. Is it possible that, just as, in this world, we can't see God, death brings us into a new relationship with Him ("then we shall see face-to-face")?

Of course, we can't know for certain. But the analogies are at least intensely provocative, don't you think? . . .

Thursday, September 6, 2012

La-la, How the Life Goes On. . .

OK, there seems to be some kind of movement sweeping through the corners of blog-space that I habituate, in which several of my blog-friends (Buck, Suldog, Uncle Skip and Michelle Hickman, for starters) have chosen a theme-song for their lives, then give a brief synopsis of their life, organized by decades.  I don't know if I'm really all that ambitious, but I'm at least willing to half-ass it, out of stuff I've posted before. . .


I suppose I'm more-or-less honor-bound to choose as my theme song, 'Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da', since, you know, that's where I got the name of my blog in the first place, with the whole 'Desmond and Molly' thing, and 'Home Sweet Home', and 'a couple of kids running in the yard', and all that.  (I don't know how to embed the video right here on my blog page, but I can at least give you the link. . .)

Over at Suldog's, I posted a comment, in which I said, (quoting myself verbatim):

"I have some vague memories of Elvis that must have been from the 50s, but that's about it. For me, the 60s were the Tigers, the Beatles, and the space program (also my parents' divorce, and variations on my family configuration). In the 70s, I expanded my mind, too, but mostly along the educational track. I got married in '80, and since then, we've been raising kids. Right now, I'm just trying to stay focused long enough to get 'em all launched and on their way. . ."

So, you know, there's that.  I have posted a few items, both here and on my old blog, over the years, which might serve to elaborate a bit on the above (very extremely ridiculously) brief synopsis.  If you're interested:

Growing Up In the 60s

Where Were You. . . ?

March of the Gadgets (which isn't really a  true 'retrospective of my life', but it's fun)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

We Almost Lost Her. . .

It being Labor Day weekend, it occurs to me that Jen has given birth eight times in her young life (*nyuk* - 'labor day'; get it?).  Recently, though, a group of us were sitting around the table telling stories, and I remembered a significant event in our lives (to say nothing of our life together), which tends not to get a lot of airplay, because, in the long run, it has been somewhat of a 'no harm, no foul' situation.  But for a day or two, back in the day, it was a very big deal, indeed. . .


For many years, I have kept up a genealogy hobby (not so much in recent years as back when I only had a few kids - and more free time - but I have never never lost my fascination with my family and/or biological history).  One of the very striking things you notice when you start digging into records from, say, before the Civil War, is how many women died in childbirth.  Cemeteries from the mid-1800s and earlier all contain numerous women who were aged in their 20s/30s at the time of their death.  Also numerous children who died in the first year of their lives, sometimes only days after their mothers, which conjures up a particularly heart-wrenching mental image.  Sometimes, multiple members of a family died within days or weeks of each other, which often indicates a contagious illness sweeping through the household.  But the deaths of so many women in childbirth is simply striking, and all the moreso because, in these days of modern medicine, that virtually never happens anymore. . .


4M recently celebrated his 22nd birthday, which may have prompted this particular memory.  He was born barely a week after our 10th anniversary, when we were both 34 years old.  He was our second son, and with two girls and two boys, we were inclined (tempted, even) to think that our family was complete, since now all of our kids had at least one brother and at least one sister (somewhere, I'm sure, God was laughing).  I don't recall that much about the pregnancy itself (I do remember that he was conceived in the emotional aftermath of my reunion with my birth-mother, for what that's worth).  Jen recalls that, during her pregnancy with 4M, she continued jogging through the entire pregnancy, right up to the end.  She even ran a 5K at 7+ months (perhaps it is a coincidence that 4M has generally been the healthiest and most athletic of our children).

Again, I don't recall much about the labor itself.  4M was the largest of our children at birth, arriving at just over 9lb.  He was also the first of our kids to be born after his due date (the first three, perhaps incredibly, had all been born precisely on their ultrasound due date).  When he was born, he was covered with what appeared to be small blisters all over his body, but, while they looked kind of scary (Jen took to calling them 'cooties'), they proved to be nothing serious, and a couple days after childbirth, mother and baby went home from the hospital, and we all settled into normal life, 'new-baby' version.

Jen and 4M had only been home for a few days (perhaps it was a week, but certainly no more than that), when she had her first inkling that perhaps things were not quite entirely as they should have been.  She passed several large blood clots (I'll stop short of giving a graphically detailed description of the event; partly because I was at work at the time, and partly because it was just pretty nasty), and began to feel light-headed.  She called one of our neighbors, a woman from our Christian community, who came over to help her, and just generally keep an eye on her, and help her decide what, if anything, to do.  At one point, Jen's light-headed-ness had progressed to the point where she was conscious, and her eyes were open, but she couldn't see, and she couldn't hear.  At that point, the neighbor decided to take her to emergency.  Good call. . .

I got the call at work, and left immediately to meet them at the hospital.  By the time I got there, she was stabilized, but her blood pressure on intake was 60/0.  You read that right: sixty-over-zero.  And yeah, the 'zero' was not a good thing.  Jen having given birth only recently, they collected a sample from her uterine lining, and found placental micro-fragments in it, most likely a function of his late delivery.  You can believe, I'm sure, that having tiny fragments of rotting placenta inside oneself might not be the healthiest situation.  They did a D&C on her, and held her overnight for observation.  By the next day, she was her usual happy self, and life was good again.

There was a small bit of side-drama around what to do with 4M.  Jen was very committed to breast-feeding, and she wanted to have 4M with her in the hospital, but, since he was completely healthy, he couldn't be admitted to the hospital, and if he wasn't a patient, the nurses weren't procedurally allowed to attend to him (ie, to bring him to Jen for feedings).  So, as a 'compromise', I was allowed to sleep in the recliner in Jen's room, with 4M in a spare 'older-model' basinette, so I could take him to her for mid-night feedings.  I could conjure up images of John Lennon sleeping on the floor next to Yoko's bed, waiting for Sean to be born, but unlike John, I neglected to have a photographer on hand to record my devotion for posterity.  But you can be sure, I was very devoted. . .

As I said, the next day, we all went home, and la-la, how the life went on, through four more kids (and near-infinite drama), and 22 more years (and counting) of marital bliss.  God is good. . .


It didn't occur to me immediately - I was way too caught up in the immediate circumstances and medical drama, and the whole situation came to happy resolution pretty quickly - but a few days later, the realization came crashing home to me that, in the world of a century or so earlier, I would very likely have lost Jen that day.  It  made my blood run cold for a minute when I thought of being a young father, suddenly and cruelly widowed, with four young children, one of them a week-old newborn.  I couldn't even imagine the nightmare scenario I'd have been thrust into; my life instantly shattered, yet needing to quickly make arrangements for 4M to be fed and cared for (if such were even possible), to say nothing of looking after three other children between two and eight years of age.  Could I even keep my job or my house in such a scenario?  Even now, looking back, I have no idea how I'd have managed, and I wept a little in my heart to think of my ancestors who had lived through exactly such circumstances, and often with many more than the four children I had at the time. . .

As I said, it didn't occur to me in the midst of the situation, but every so often in the ensuing years, I've shuddered to realize how close we came to catastrophe in those days after 4M was born. . .