Saturday, March 24, 2007

A Day Late and a Dollar Short

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.

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.


Sarah said...

You would have though that you totally planned to tell us about Kellen's birth right at this time since now its his real birthday !!!! That is just too perfect even though I know you didn't plan it that way :-) Keep up the rest of the story all the way to Ms.Kendrie's Birth !!!

California Friend said...

I feel like I just snuggled down for my bedtime've been missed Kristie....NO MORE VACATIONS FOR YOU!!!!! ;-)

Pat in CA

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday to Kellen! Can't wait to read more....


JoAnn said...

What cute pics!!!! I love the first birthday picture with the chocolate cake--that is priceless! Can't wait to hear more.....

Beth said...

How hard to have everything with Brayden's adoption up in the air! Thank God that SOMEONE finally saw sense and saw that she had to be the happiest, most well cared for baby in the world.

Can't wait to hear more!

The other M said...

So Kellen and Ali COULD have shared the same birthday!

Kathy in Alaska said...

LOVE the pics.
As always... great story.
Thanks for the update.
I needed a Kristie fix.
Think we all did.

misty said...

Kristie, I am on the computer so much checking to see if you've updated, I get nothing else done! Keep up with the story and please continue on to your pregnancy w/ Miss Kendrie! You need to write a book, it will be a bestseller!

Lisa said...

Happy Birthday Kellen! You are a wonderful story teller Kristie with a remarkable life. Parying for Blaine - you've gone very quiet on the subject...everything ok?

kim said...

Thanks for the Baby Brayden pictures; she was as beautiful then as she is now. How could a Mom NOT dote on her! And Happy Birthday, Kellen. Enter Cute Kid #2--YAY!

I just cannot even imagine how excruciating those months were, waiting for the adoption to be finalized. Appeal? AAARRRRGH.

Waiting patiently (or not-so..) for the next chapter.

LIBSMOM said...

Poor Aunt Edna, always and forever referred to as the Grandmother tied to the top of the station wagon. Haha
The pictures are SO sweet and you were anything but huge. Love the ginormous cordless phone...brings back good memories of toddlers bending the antennas.
Happy Birthday Kellen! What a crazy, wonderful story you tell Kristie and I, like all of your readers, check daily for updates.

cakeburnette said...

I cannot believe how GORGEOUS you looked lying in a hospital bed, ready to give birth! I mean, you and Brayden look like one of those madonna and child portraits (except for that hospital gown & blanket stuff).

Side note: my in-laws are still using their cordless phone that looks like the one in your picture.

Shelby and Kellen were meant for each other--she had to be forced out, too! Hah, hah!

I can't believe I didn't ask about Blaine's stuff the other day. Just wanted you to know that we are still praying for that situation to hurry up and end happily! Tell everybody "hi" from us and have a week.

cakeburnette said...

Apparently I left out the word "great" in my original post. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

"Sigh" of relief! You could have heard it all the way in Georgia when I opened this site and seen a new entry. I have been looking for this update for days!! Thank you so much! I use to get those comments too when I was pregnant with my last child - he was number 4 - "haven't you figured out what causes that yet?"....yeah, we have home videos if you care to see them!!??? How can people be so rude!

BTW - On Thursday, I will be heading through Georgia and I will be looking at every Sonic for a glipse of you!!


Tracy said...

Happy Birthday Kellen!!!

I love reading your updates Kristie. I also love the picture of you and the phone with Brayden next to you!!

Anonymous said...


WAIT TILL MOM GETS THE THERAPY BILLS FROM YOUR COMPLEX OF HOW YOU WERE SLOPPY SECONDS - NOT EXACTLY ARRIVING WITH BELLS ON (SO TO SPEAK) - WHILE YOUR SISTER WAS RULING THE ROOST!!!! Of course, I am just busting back because the stress alone of thinking you how much you hated California and then knowing full well that you were going to have to leave this country before ever letting anyone take YOUR daughter away from you must have been just all consuming horrific!!!

But, Kellen must know by now that since "It is ALL about YOU" it was just YOUR timing and YOUR lack of control that made YOU want to keep him inside until YOU were ready for his amazing - wonderful - debut! And by the way, you might want to tell your son that that is why he is the only boy - because he is just the best yada yada etc. For now - he will buy it - later he will use it to extort and torture YOU... Spin it Kristie...

jadine said...

Three things:

1. Hey! Blaine with teeth! :)

2. What, did you give Brayden a cow-pie for her first b-day? Holy moly! That child was COVERED in frosting! Love it!

3. I lived in San Diego (loved it), but I have to say, what the heck is up with fish-tacos??? Does that sound good to anyone?? In all honesty, I never even tried one (because, really, I was picturing a fish head and tail sticking out of either end of a taco shell, and eeeeeeeeeeew!) so I really shouldn't slam them, but GROSS!


OH! A fourth thing!



eliza said...

Out from lurker status - and you can't shut me up! Your entries are bloody (said in the vein of an english person, not actually bloody - oh, and no pun intended on the use of the word "vein") cliff hangers!

Happy Birthday Kellen!
What a glorious baby you were Brayden!

It's amazing the stories that existed all along while the focus has been so brightly and necessarily on Kendrie and her struggle.

Kristie, my admiration for your strength just grows in leaps and bounds. I hope more than anything that Blaine's cancer journey can be resolved and your family can maybe taste a bit of normal - although who knows... by now that might just be too quiet of an existence!

Postcard Cindy said...

Happy Birthday Kellen! You almost had the same birthday as mine. I hope you have a wonderful day.

Amy said...

Aww, loved the pics! I love reading your story! Happy late birthday Kellen. Are you still stubborn? ;)


Anonymous said...

Dear Kristie,
Sounds awful living in LA. The pictures of you 3 are lovely, you look really great (and sooo pretty) in the pregnant pictures, blooming!
Aren't first babies often a couple of weeks late? Sometimes I wonder why the doctors don't just leave them to come out naturally, if the baby is not distressed, they MUST do that eventually if you just leave them alone and pretend your not interested, don't you think?

I hope Blaine is doing well, how were those scans? I pray that he is ok and getting better.

Happy birthday Kellen!

Take care,
Love Angela

Amy Finkler said...

OMG....Look at that ginormous phone!!!! HA! You know, I was trying to think back to what I was doing March 1998. I too was living in base housing at SJAFB in NC. Yucky duplex style "condemmed" houses..AND I was pregnant with Abby. Although, I wasn't due until July, so I wasn't quite as "developed" as you at that point. Just looking at your pictures, brought back memories of my own. Thanks! BTW..Happy Birthday Kellen!!

laughing mommy said...

Oh happy day! You posted more of the story... and with pictures! Yay! Can't wait to read the next post.

D said...

Kristie- I'm so with you and am totally a suburb type of chick. I can imagine how freaked you were living in California. But hey, at least you had your pretzels, right!