Actually, this journal entry is more like two weeks late. I didn’t intend to go so long before updating, but since returning from my trip last weekend, I keep getting sidetracked by pesky chores like sleeping. And bathing. And feeding my children. So thanks to those of you who have waited patiently, checked in for updates, and didn’t abandon me entirely for the numerous other bloggers out there who are funnier, smarter, and update in a much more timely manner. I can only assume those other bloggers don’t get sidetracked as easily as I do --- as indicated by the fact I’ve sat down three times today to write this update, and wound up a) shopping at the mall for an Easter dress, b) wrapping presents, and c) watching an episode of The Naked Brothers Band with the kids.
I had to go back and read my own updates for the past two weeks, to remember just where I left off in the fertility/adoption chronicles. It was August of 1997, Brayden was six months old, I had just found out I was pregnant, and the adoption was still held up in the courts, but the judge in our case had agreed that I could take my “foster baby” across state lines and join Blaine. We were hoping the case would be settled and we could return to OK to finalize the adoption in just a few months. In the meantime, I was eager to get her to California and start our “real” life, as opposed to the first six months, when we were living out of a suitcase at my parents’ house.
So, that’s what I did. I loaded up my car with all the baby things and drove half-way cross country. Since making a 24-hour drive with a 6-month old in the car wasn’t my idea of fun ….. plus the car was so overloaded with all the crap we had accumulated I would have had to put her and her carseat on top of the car, a la the grandmother in Chevy Chase’s Vacation, AND considering I was only about six weeks pregnant, and had to stop every few hours to use the bathroom …. and nap ... we thought a smarter option might be for my sister to fly with Brayden to Los Angeles. Good thing, since it wound up taking me three days to make the drive. By the time I got there, my sister was already gone again. But at long last, Blaine, Brayden and I were living together as a family.
It was ………… mostly good. I mean, of course it was good-great-fabulous because we had waited so long for this day. But it was tainted a little, I have to admit, by the cloud of the court case hanging over our heads. There was a lot of adjusting to be done; Blaine and I had lived apart for over six months. Despite having bitched and moaned endlessly about being stuck with my parents that entire time, and never having any space or privacy, I missed them and felt homesick. It was perplexing … when I was in OKC, I was homesick for Blaine and California. Once I finally got to California, I was homesick for OKC. Seriously, I was a nut-job and had no idea what would make me happy.
Slowly but surely I was coming to terms with my VERY unplanned pregnancy. But I still hated all the ignorant comments I got from people who either knew about the adoption (“See? It always happens that way!”) or who had no idea about the adoption (“Heh-heh, haven’t you two figured out what causes that yet?”) It was incredibly ironic, to go from long-time fertility patient, to having a baby and one on the way, all in the space of six months. I felt very unsettled; as if I had finally found my identity, only for it to shift on me again and again. Simply put, Blaine and I had been knocked for a loop, and I was having trouble getting my legs back under me again. I would whine and complain about how “this wasn’t how I planned it” --- and then I would have an overwhelming desire to smack myself in the face with a blunt object because HOW DARE I complain? We finally, at long last, had the beautiful, perfect baby we always wanted, and I had the nerve to gripe because everything wasn’t perfect???? (I don’t know if Prozac was on the market yet, but perhaps I should have investigated that possibility.)
Within a month of me and Brayden moving back into our rental property, where Blaine had been living alone (or as alone as you can be with two dogs) we packed up and moved to historic base housing. Historic being code for “old and scabby”. This was in a skanky part of southern California. We lived next door to a drug rehab facility, were just a few miles from the harbor, and frequently heard gunshots at night. It was an ugly, scary neighborhood and I never felt comfortable there. I never felt comfortable in any part of Los Angeles, period. I was lonely. I didn’t know any of my neighbors. Just like in Oklahoma, I found myself filling up the days by taking Brayden to the mall and pushing her around in her stroller. And since I was pregnant, stopping almost daily at Auntie Anne’s pretzels and eating two jumbo garlic and parmesan cheese pretzels with a large Coke to wash them down with. No, I have no idea why I gained so much weight, do you?
Brayden and I moved to California in August. August turned into September, which turned into October. And we received word we had won the court case. Then received word there was an appeal. So we were still waiting, and still weren’t allowed to adopt the daughter that had been with us since birth.
Thank the Lord above that by then, I had made two friends in this town. One was a fellow military wife, and the other was a “local” I met at MOPS. Not that we did a lot together, but I’m pretty sure if I hadn’t had the two of them to at least fill up *some* of my days, I might have gone insane. I was really unhappy. I kept telling myself that I simply hated L.A. To be honest, it’s not my kind of town. Too big, too many people, too dirty. I am a suburbs kind of girl … preferably surrounded by farmland. I hated how crowded everything was; how much traffic; how everyone but me spoke another language. Blaine was unhappy, too. He’s not a city kind of guy, either. Hunting is his favorite hobby, and there, well, freeway road-rage shootings don’t count. He said he felt suffocated by all the people. How can you feel claustrophobic when on one side of you, as far as the eye can see, is the Pacific Ocean? Yet we did.
We told ourselves that our problem was L.A. itself. Our neighborhood was scary. Our yard had a eight-foot chain link fence with rolled barbed wire at the top, and we often found random items --shoes, batteries -- people from the drug rehab behind us had chucked into our backyard. I worried for the dogs and didn’t feel safe going outside with Brayden. So I hibernated in the house. A lot. And got pasty, in addition to fat. A few months after we moved out of our rental property, into the "historic" base housing, which we thought was scary, there was a home-invasion robbery and murder in our old neighborhood. I just never felt safe or comfortable. And did I mention I was lonely? Seriously, if it hadn’t been for my two friends Cathy and Annie, I might have never gone anywhere but the mall and the pretzel shop. It was hot. I was pregnant. There was no air conditioning in either of our houses.
Looking back, I was probably clinically depressed. The only saving grace, and I mean only, besides those two friends, was Brayden. She was the most wonderful, amazing baby. Ever. She was perfectly content to spend all day at home with me, going from bouncer-sizer to blanket on the floor to bouncy seat to swing to bathtub to a walk in her stroller. She slept well, she napped well, she ate well. And because I had nothing else going on in my life, I doted on her. I loved her more and more with every passing day. And with every passing day, I was more and more terrified of losing her.
And that was the crux of our problem. It wasn’t Los Angeles. It wasn’t the crime, or the car-jackings, or the gangs, or the graffiti, or the Santa Anna winds, or the pollution, or the disgusting fish taco stands on every corner. It was that our own heads weren’t clear, and instead of facing our fear, we blamed our surroundings. Los Angeles will go down in history as the suckiest place we ever lived, where I was a miserable human being, but I do at least acknowledge it was *partly* because of my attitude. (And partly because of all that other shit.)
Halloween came and went.
Thanksgiving came and went.
Christmas came and went.
I spent more time at the mall; ate more pretzels, and got bigger and bigger with my pregnancy.
Brayden’s first birthday came and went.
We were still waiting to hear final word on the court case.
And finally, my due date with Kellen came.
And went a little bit more.
That kid would STILL be in there, given the chance.
Nine years ago today, on March 24, 1998, my doctor gave up hope that my body would EVER go into spontaneous labor, and ordered me to the hospital for an all-night application of cervical softening agent, hoping that would do the trick and I would go into labor.
I was so nervous I didn’t sleep all night in the hospital. I hadn’t slept much, or well, the night before, either. The doctor said it came down to this: I was ten days past my due date. I hadn’t had a single contraction. I wasn’t dilated, or effaced. I was not in any kind of crises mode, but my placenta was the consistency of an old sponge, and it was time for the baby to come out. So if the cervical ripening gel didn’t work, we would induce labor the next morning.
It didn’t. And so we did.