Monday, December 20, 2010

I Take My Chances

Yesterday I decided to drink less and workout a helluva lot more. It wasn't a new year's resolution, but just something I had to do for myself. On top of that I had decided a few weeks ago, after coming up from the bottom, to quit feeling sorry for myself. Boohoo, I have a preemie baby who requires food through a tube in his stomach, three different kinds of therapists a week, a million fucking doctor appointments. I told myself to shut the hell up, suck it up, Holzhauser, at least he's healthy and he's normal.

Then we went to the neurologist this morning for a normal appointment. Mindy and I were happy and laughing; Cyrus was too. First a resident met with us, and we bragged about how awesome our son was. He said Cyrus looked much better than the last time he saw him ( Seizing in the NICU) 5 months ago.

Then the attending came in and played with our little man. He turned to us, with no warning, and started saying how small his head is. How your brain grows the most in the first 6 months of your life. How he was nearly 6 months corrected age and his head was at about 4. How he had these reflexes that should've gone away by now. His brain will never be the right size.

And then it went something like, "He may not walk until he's 3 or 4, it's hard to say." Mindy and I were sitting beside each other looking at the nurse, the doctor, and the resident. Their faces were solemn and stiff. I didn't look at Mindy because I didn't wanna lose it right then. Cyrus played on Mindy's lap. Then all I heard was " ."

They all left the room. Mindy and I didn't speak for while. We were both on the verge. We packed up our little man and his things and then the tears came. We waited, composed ourselves, and went out of the room. Mindy told me to take Cyrus to the car while she made his next appointment. I pushed the stroller into the hall and saw, from behind, a seven year old boy walking stiff-legged with his parents on either side, his head tilted to the left. And through the doors to the lobby I saw woman who could've been my age in a wheel-chair, sitting at awkward angles, her mouth gaping open. It hit me then, there was a reason why we had appointments there; the same reason those other people had appointments.

I pushed harder now, trying to get outside, trying not to let the people see me. Mindy and I cried in the parking lot. I'd never heard my wife cry like that. It was the cry of grief, of losing someone.

We tried to talk about what we'd heard. I mean, was it really new information? Didn't we know months ago that this was probably going to happen? Had we really slipped into happiness under a fucking cloud of normality?

And all you assholes out there let us. Didn't you? You saw something was wrong, was off, but you didn't have the heart to tell us, right? Because you saw that we were finally happy, that we were so proud of him. That we were seeing through that fucking parent lens you all talked about.

Or maybe you didn't know. Maybe, like us, you let the optimism blind you. Maybe his cute smile we all translated into a handsome, intelligent young man. Maybe we all saw him running and playing like a normal fucking kid.

But here's the reality again: Cyrus can't eat through his mouth. Cyrus can't roll over. Cyrus was born 3.5 months early. Cyrus had seizures and surgeries before he was technically 40 weeks of gestation. The chances of him surviving were less than 50%. The chances of him being "normal" were 33%.

Just days ago I was smiling again and counting down the days until 2010 had gone away. This year we lost our 2 cats, our son was born and all this shit happened, Mindy's grandpa is critically sick, my boss and friend died, a couple friend of our has suffered through their own baby issues and deaths in the family, Mindy's mom is going through a divorce, we have been trying to help a teenager friend of ours (she's lived with us 2 months this year)...pick up where her mom left off, I've had to deal with my 80 students per semester, I've tried to play rugby and be a real part of the team, Mindy tries to fit in at work.

I thought that in a few days it would all be over, that next year we'd all have a fresh start. A new chance.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Back by Popular Demand: My Feelings

On Wednesday night Mindy and I had sex for the fourth time since the middle of February. That's right, 8 months. It's not really any of your business, but I thought you should know, so I could show you how rough that whole preemie baby thing was.

Monday, October 18, will be our 2 year wedding anniversary (we've been together 5 years and some change). Last year we went to Oktoberfest in Hermann and speculated about Mindy being pregnant while I drank red wine. We can't make it to Oktoberfest this year (or any other types of fests, really) because of Cyrus. He's not really supposed to leave the house very much until March because of RSV season.

I love October. And I just realized it's already halfway over. I love October because of the crumbly leaves, apple butter, the way the wind feels, the way the sun sets, the equal amount of light and dark; it's a perfectly balanced season. I love pumpkins, and Halloween is really the only holiday I care about. This are all reasons I wanted to get married in October.

Something about the balance makes sense.

People like to say that marriage has its ups and downs, "You'll go through hard times and good times" All of those damn things people say.

As far as our love for each other, our trust and laughter, Mindy and I have never trembled. But Cyrus, our symbol of love, has been the hardest on our relationship:

Besides our sex life crumbling the minute Mindy went into the hospital in March (who feels like having sex when your wife's cervix can't contain the amniotic sac?). And then, who feel sexy after seeing a tiny baby in a plastic cage? Sex was the last thing on my mind after hours spent staring at our 2 pound baby with tubes running out of him. And after he came home, there was really no time for it...though we did it once while he was sleeping beside us. I know you've all done it.

Wednesday night was awkward. We made sure Cyrus was in another room, though, while the baby monitor was on. We had planned it, you see; we had to. We kinda sat there a while, waiting for something to happen. Like a first date without all the questions, but still the nervousness. There wasn't much foreplay since it was so late. I had papers to grade and a midterm to proctor. I finally said we should just get naked. So, we got naked.

You know, it was only a week ago last year that Mindy was inseminated, that I wrote that there are risks to having a baby, that I wasn't sure if parenthood was for me. I never thought she'd get pregnant on the first try. I thought I had a year, at least, to reconsider. But Cy-guy was ready. He was so ready to meet us, he came way too soon. But he is beautiful. Besides eating from a bottle, he seems to do everything other babies do. He head's flat on one side, but the helmet should fix that.

In the past few weeks I've started to feel normal again. I mean, our son is home and safe; we've established our routine. Though we actually get about 8 hours of sleep a night, we're still always exhausted. I've learned to write while he's sleeping (right now).

The only fights Mindy and I have had have to do with Cyrus, but only indirectly. We're exhausted; we say things in a tired voice that the other misinterprets. It's nothing horrible. I wonder though, if this is one of those downs that the old folk speak of. We've been through an experience that I can only described as "totally fucked up," but we've made it out alive. All of us. We've even made it out still in love.

Right now my wife is at work. Our son is snoozing on the floor under his gym; he's wearing a glow-in-the-dark skeleton outfit that my mom bought him. I have more papers to grade. I'm always busy. But this is our life now.

I've learned to ignore things, too. Petty things that might have bothered me last year. I don't have time for your bullshit because my son was born 15 weeks prematurely Oh, I know, some day I won't be a victim. Some day I will have forgotten, the day I'm trying to tell Cyrus what happened, why he's so special. Why his torso has a huge scar. Why why why...

If you know me, or you've read anything I've written before, you know I don't believe in true love. I think every person out there is capable of falling in love with millions of people, of loving that person completely. I still think marriage is a choice. Two years ago I chose one of the many that I've loved. Together we chose to have a baby. We choose every day to love each other, despite our exhaustion and trauma. I know it's cheesy, but our love is. Sometimes I want to barf when I think of how we love each other. See, I can't even write about how and how much I love Mindy because you'd throw up. I have to stop here.

We work because we are different in the right ways: she is tired when I'm peppy. I'm exhausted and drunk when she wants to cuddle Cyrus. In the same respect, we are alike in the right ways, always knowing what the other wants for dinner, what she's feeling. While one is hating on the world, the other listens. When one is too tired to make the first move, the other steps up to the plate. We're a good balance, the light and the dark.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The End/The Beginning

I just realized that Cyrus has been home 4 weeks. I also just realized, seriously, just now, that today is his five month birthday.

I want to tell you that it's over, and I hope that is the case.

The minute Cy-guy was brought into our house, we've been much saner people. Lots of people kept saying, like, "now you'll never sleep again!" and "you'll just watch him breathe all night!" hahaha, you people. I don't give a fuck. I mean, I woke up only once the first night home to see if he was breathing. After the four months in the hospital, I figured the doctors wouldn't have sent him home if they thought that was an issue. As far as sleeping less, well, that's what I signed up for so many months ago. And I don't care. We don't care. The stress of less sleep and feeding the crying baby is nothing compared to what we've been through. I laugh in the face of a leaky diaper or a quivering mouth. Hahaha!

Except for the feeding tube sticking out of his stomach, and a slightly lopsided head, Cyrus J. is a normal baby. He's performing at a 2 month old level, which is what his age should be. He loves to kick on his floor gym and coo and gurgle. He's starting to smile, but he doesn't wanna wear it out. He's got us figured out, and though I know he's not old enough to manipulate, I feel like he can...and does.

So far, he is not the burden that everyone made him out to be. "You can't leave at the drop of a hat, anymore!" they all said. Well, cliches aside, it doesn't take that long to get us all in order. The hardest part is the moms finding time alone. We can't go anywhere together without him because we'd have to teach a baby sitter how to use the machine. And no, it's not that hard, but it just seems like people would be freaked out by it. Because of his surgeries and seizures, he qualifies to have an in home nurse come. We've decided we need her only 4 hours a week. This Wednesday my wife and I had a date at Les Bourgeois: the first time we'd been out together without the little fat man.

We have a sleep schedule that seems to work well. One of us stays with him while the other one sleep on the couch. Then we switch. In the day time, we just take turns. If Mindy has had enough of him, I take over. And that goes the other way, too. But school is starting on Monday, and with all of my schedule switching, I'm way behind where I'd like to be. So, the past few days Mindy has watched him while I work on school stuff. You see, everything is equal and that makes it very easy.

And maybe that's one of the advantages of gay parenting. You see, we have no roles to fulfill. Mindy doesn't always feed him or change his diaper...the way I've been told it usually works. You know, the mom gets up all night and does, well, mostly everything. We're both moms, so we both act like moms.

Life is good. There are times when I wish I could go have a beer with friends without worrying if Mindy's getting mad at having to watch him while I'm drinking. When she leaves, I think she feels the same guilt.

He has a swallow study on Thursday and we hope it will show that he can start taking a bottle. If that were the case, we'd be able to leave him with people and feel more confident about his care.

So, gentle reader, I will leave you here.

I started this blog in hopes to tell people the struggles of two women trying to get pregnant, of the looks and stares and hatred. But, as you know, this was a story of something much more meaningful. It has been just over a year that our story began. You might wonder how the whirlwind of drama has changed me. Let me think...

I have not found God. Not for one moment during all of this did I hope there was a higher power, or feel that a higher power was doing this to me/us. I did find faith, though, in people. For the past 6 months we've been given so many gifts...even from a church I've never heard of (though I'm pretty sure they didn't know we were gay).

People love babies, especially tiny, horrifying, helpless babies.

I like babies more than I thought I did. I used to tell Mindy that I'd take a toddler any day, because they can talk and all that. But Cyrus has a personality. He has a huge personality. I think he's smarter and cooler than I can ever try to be.

I feel like an expert on preemies. I've always had an interest in things medical, but I preferred dead people. Now I know more than I ever cared to know about little, teeny babies.

We are lucky. Or if you don't believe in luck, we just got the better end of a percentage. Actually, all of the numbers fell our way: we got pregnant on the first try, Cyrus survived, Cyrus' brain is all there.

As I write this, he is beside me on the floor in his bouncy seat. He's laughing in his sleep, at what, I don't know, but I imagine it's fate.

He is tough.

He is stubborn

He is beautiful.

He is absolutely alive.

Monday, July 19, 2010


It wasn't until Mindy was pregnant that we wondered what sex our baby would be. We both worried that having a boy would be a little unnerving because, well, we're not boys and we don't have penises. I think I was the one to wonder about circumcision. I asked Mindy what we'd do. We discussed over a matter of weeks and months. We asked your opinions, we asked medical opinions.

The questions were simple, "Why did you circumcise your son?" Most people answered this questions with either a blank look or something like, "because his dad is."

This didn't seem like a good enough reason for us. Considering 80% of the world doesn't practice this genital mutilation, it seemed horrible and barbaric.

Oh, there you go, saying something like, "It's healthier!!!! It's cleaner!!!!" Sorry, but most of the things I've read (and doctors I've talked to) say there's no evidence of this. I mean, yeah, you have to wash it, but it doesn't cause any other problems.

Of course, we worried at our decision because our poor son would already have 2 moms, like he needed some assholes in the locker room making fun of his manhood. We weighed this.

But, I feel like I'm fighting for him. Male circumcision seems no different than female circumcision. Would you alter your little girl's genitals? Would you make your tiny baby go through plastic surgery because you didn't like the way his nose looked? It's cruel.

For the longest time, everyone left Cyrus alone. Or rather, they left us alone. We'd told several nurses in passing conversation that we weren't interested in cutting off part of his penis. I think it wasn't until his latest surgery that the surgeon's nurse came out of the suite to see if we wanted him circumcised because, "it was best to do it while he was out." Mindy and I said, "NO" very loudly and in sync. Actually, I think the surgeon had already asked us before the procedure. A few times.

Today a nurse who's never taken care of our little man (and his proud manhood) said, "Uh, did you want him circumcised?" I waved his hand in the air and did that annoying thing where you make a baby voice and said, "please don't cut my genitals." She said she just wanted to make sure.

Listen up. We may be lesbians, but we know what penises look like. We know the difference between cut and uncut. It's not like we've been changing his diapers for months wondering what birth defect he had; it's not like we were too embarrassed to ask. We're not clueless. We're not Jewish, either.

Since he's leaving soon, it just seems like the question has been coming up a lot. I figured, in the beginning, that they didn't bother people with it unless they asked.

I think we've made the right decision. If Cy wants to be circumcised, he can make that decision. But there's no way I can bring myself to eliminate part of his body when it's not necessary. I don't want him to look at me when he's 14 and accuse me of genital mutilation.

There was a while when Cy had a baby neighbor who weighed only 3 pounds. I saw the doctor come out with a measuring tape... it had to be so big before they could do it. The baby was wheeled away. Minutes later I heard crying down the hallway and the baby was wheeled back in. The parents looked anxiously at the doctor. When he told them it was done, they sighed in relief . And then the doctor smiled and said, "That's the smallest one I've ever done."

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


It's on. Cy's surgery starts at 9:30 in the morning. It should last only 1.5 hours. After which he will be pumped full of morphine for pain. The doctors said his recovery time is 5-7 days. In 5-7 days he could be home with us. You could be invited to our house for dinner and just happen to meet our son.

Yesterday I was really stoked, thinking that he could be home so soon, that his problems might be solved. Today, though, I'm nervous and crazy again. The last time he had surgery he had seizures and stayed on the vent for days and days. The doctors have been loading him up with seizure medication.

The fear I have about his surgery all revolves around those fucking seizures. But now I'm starting to think about his little belly. The surgeon likes to do it "old school," so he'll make an incision in his little, precious stomach. Again, here comes the education...I can see the clamps holding his little stomach open. I wonder how big the scar will be. I hope the pain meds are enough to keep him comfortable until it's healed. He'll never know his own body without those scars. He'll think he was born with them, and in a way, he will be.

I've read that preemie parents celebrate two birthdays for their kids: the day they were born, and the day they come home from the hospital. March 21 is still too painful for me to want to remember. I'm not sure that next year at that time we'll be able to say "it's our son's birthday!" And I wonder, as he grows up, if I can mask the trauma and the horror in my voice when he asks about the day he was born.

Well, Cyrus, it went like this:

After 2 and a half weeks in the hospital, your mom and I were really starting to think we'd make it far, maybe to the end. But she started having some pains in her stomach, and when she realized it had nothing to do with having to go to the bathroom, and after she'd fretted for a while, she asked me to lift up the sheet and look between her legs. I saw blood. Lots of very red blood. And then we called the nurses and in seconds the doctors came and speculumed her and actually stepped back as more (much more) blood ran out of her body.

She was wheeled across the hospital to the delivery side where she had nurses put those straps on her...the ones that show contractions. And I saw her stomach contracting, turning into a hard ball. And it was snowing outside; the roof was covered in snow. I was dressed in my rugby practice clothes but had decided not to go because it was too cold to handle. My stomach turned over and I hoped it would be a c-section because the thought of watching your mom give birth to you at 25 weeks and 1 and a half pounds would be enough to kill me. Rot me from the inside out.

The doctors said you were were coming out feet first, in fact, your legs were already making their way out. And in 5 minutes, your mom was in the E.R. and a nurse handed me a blue gown. And there went your mom down the hallway, pale, scared. And I stood with my gown on and tried not to cry because your grandparents were there. They took a picture.

I didn't see any of the gore of the surgery, but I heard your tiny squeak when they pulled you out. I hoped it wouldn't be the only time I ever heard your voice. The nurses took you to a small room attached to the surgery suite. I couldn't go there until you were stabilized. When it was time, I walked into the room, the doctors all looking at me. One said congratulations and shook my hand. I peered at you in a plastic cube, with a little hat on your little head and I left.

We didn't really meet you until 7 hours later. You squeezed our pinkies, but we were afraid to touch you too much. I was afraid. I was nauseous. I wished we'd never wanted a baby.

* * *

But the day of him leaving the hospital will be joyous, but we're afraid to get excited, to be hopeful. Every time we get comfortable and think that we're almost done, ready to wipe away the last 5 months, something happens. We're reminded we're human.

I'm shaking right now and crying, too. His birth rips me up. So does the idea that he's ours. He's beautiful. And I'm starting to feel like we've gotten away with something, that our lives can return to normal. No. Don't you dare say our lives will never be the same again. We will be the same again. Mindy and I will slowly become ourselves, the love in our house will grow (just like it used to), we'll see our friends again. We'll live. We'll all be alive, little man.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Cause and Effect

As Mindy and I were waiting for Mom and Dad to meet us at a restaurant, I saw a 10 (14?) year old boy walking in, holding his mom's hand. He walked stiffly, like a robot, like a person who wasn't in control of his muscles. He smiled the whole time and made a noise which I could only understand as contentment or slight anxiety. His head was titled to one side.

I looked at Mindy and said, "That won't be him."

* * *

While I was visiting the Little Man yesterday, I looked at his nurse and said, "I'm 75% serious when I say this, 'give us the fucking syringe pump and send us home.'" She said she'd talk to the doctors about it.

You see, Cyrus is still in the hospital because he breathes too fast. He breathes too fast because he has reflux. He has reflux because he's a preemie. The reflux causes micro-aspiration. That causes him to breathe too fast. I hope you see the horrible cycle.

Mindy and I have noticed that the past few days he's started to become more agitated. All of the nurses have agreed that Cy-Guy is the coolest, most laid back baby of all time. Ever. But not recently. He gags, pukes, and squirms. He has even cried a few times. He never cries. It's obvious he's in pain. Imagine having heartburn all the time. Then puking. Then having more heartburn. He never gets a break.

So, he's got this tube that runs from his nose to his stomach; this keeps his reflux alive...his esophageal sphincter can't close completely...which causes more aspiration...which causes fast breathing...which causes him to not be able to eat...which causes him to need the tube that runs from his nose into his stomach...which exacerbates the reflux...which...

* * *
One option the nurse gave us, and today the doctor mentioned is a nissen and g-tube. As a relatively intelligent person, I realize this procedure is easy. But as Cyrus' mom, I remember the last time he was entubated and he seized and seized... Seizures can cause brain damage. And you know what brain damage means.

You're wondering why this seems like the best thing to do? Well, it would take that NG tube out, which would help his sphincter close, which would mean his reflux would get better, which would mean that he wouldn't aspirate on his food, which means his breathing would become regulated, which means he could learn how to love his bottle (without huffing and puffing while eating) and give his lungs time to grow and heal.

What Mindy and I wanted was to just bring him home on the NG tube. We could pump his food through it every 3 hours like the nurses do. We could do what they do...they agreed we could. But it seems that he'd still have the reflux and all the pain.

* * *

Like I said, we haven't had "the talk" with the doctors. It seems certain we will in the next few days, though. They'll say it's all "routine" and I'll try not to cry in front of them. That means I'll just cuss a little more when I'm asking questions.

If you've ever seen your preemie baby seize, raise your hand...It's horrible. And now I watch him gag and turn bright red. Then he frowns, like he's wondering why I'd do that to him. We'd rather him gag a thousand times than lose half a brain...than lose any part of his brain.

So it looks like we have another decision to make. And don't say, "that's just like a parent" or "now you know what it's like to be a new parent." Shut up. I'm at the stage now where I'll punch you. I will fucking punch you.

* * *

I've been through some traumatic things in my life: watching a black trash bag of puppies drown when I was 5 (that's another blog. you'll understand if you're from a small town), learning of my uncle's tragic car wreck when I was 6, watching my grandpa breathe his last breath when I was 17, coming out in a small town at the same age. And of course, all of the small things we all go through but can't remember.

They were always explained away with a small phrase, "because." When my Oklahoman friend and I told our fellow grad students that we'd drowned puppies their eyes were wide and mouths opened, "Why!?" they asked. "'s what happens where we're from." When anyone died in my family, besides religion, the reason mom told me was "because things happen." When my parents questioned me about why I was gay, all I could say was, "because."

When my beautiful son asks why he was born so early, why he has so many scars on his stomach, why he wears glasses when most kids don't, why we wanted a baby in the first place, I'm afraid that old, tired expression is all I'll have to give him. That expression that's used to sedate children so they won't ask more, so they don't hurt more..."because."

Because things just happen.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


I'm in love with two people at the same time. One is my wife, one is my son. Or maybe I just have a crush on him.

Since I'm unemployed, I've got nothing to do but clean the house, play with my turntable, and see the little man.

A few days after we learned that he has an ASD, we were able to feed him. The doctors gave him lasix to help remove some fluid from his lungs; he breathes slower now. Because of his nearly normal breathing we started feeding him a bottle. Every day he's gotten exponentially better. Yesterday he ate 25 ml at noon and 35 at 6:00. He at the 35 in 20 minutes. That's crazy. (however, I've just received a text from Mindy saying his breathing is fast today--that could mean bad things, or that we can't give him a bottle today)

Anyway, I'm not working. I've forgotten how to write. Sometimes I read. Other than that, the only thing that occupies my brain is Cy-guy. When I'm not with him I think about him. When I go to sleep, I see the NICU. I remember his smell. His name is in my head all day. I've lost myself. It's exactly the same as when I met Mindy. Holding him makes me feel less crazy, and I do everything to please him so he won't leave me.

Last night I dreamt that we got to take him home for the night. We checked him out like a library book. I dreamt that my own son lived in our house.

It's been 15 weeks and 2 days since his birth. For that long we've gone to the hospital once or twice (or more) a day. Now that he's bigger it's harder to leave and stay away. When he lived in the cube we weren't allowed to touch him or anything, so we stayed just an hour or less. Now that we can hold him whenever and kiss all over him, and feed him, well, leaving sucks. But life goes on outside of the NICU. Kindof. In between holding him I think about holding him while I scoop the litter, wash clothes, clean the bathroom and kitchen, play on facebook, blog...

I hope he's home soon, but I have a feeling it won't be until August. That bums me out because I wanted to spend 6 solid weeks with him at home, with Mindy, too, of course. School starts August 24th (I forgot that I teach...I could be working on my fall syllabus). So, that would be only 2 weeks with him before life would begin again.

I guess I've come to the last stage of grief: acceptance. I accept the fact that my baby lives in a hospital crib, that I have to get buzzed into the doors, that I have to sign in to see him, that my temperature must be taken once a day, that I can't see him between the hours of 6:45-7:45 in the morning and evening, that sometimes those hours are stretched and manipulated because of the doctors doing rounds, that the nurses know more about him that we do, that he will need more surgeries, that he can't really meet any of you for months, that he'll be in and out of the hospital. That I love him.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Home is Where the Baby Is

I bet you're wondering how Utah was. Let me put it to you straight: I don't like the southwest. I was in St. George, a town of 80,000 with one bar called, "the one and only." They only sold beer. And no, I didn't actually get around to going there.

If you google this town, you'll see that their big tourist attraction is a huge, white, mormon temple. With that being said, I don't have to explain to you too much that everyone there was blonde, and all kinda looked the same, and all of them were not attractive. Humans prefer diverse features in faces.

I dug a square hole for the first time in two years. I was warned that it would be very hot and dry and horrible. But you know what, digging in the southwest at a 100 degrees is a billion times more comfortable than diggin in Missouri at 100 degrees. I didn't sweat, because it's too dry. In contrast, you can't get dry in Missouri; you walk outside and start sweating. So, it wasn't nearly as horrible as it could've been. I made a chunk of change for the family, and that was the point of going.

But there were other points to going, too:

1. to get the hell outta dodge. before the dig, the last time i'd been on a plane was 2007. The last time I left missouri was, well, i can't remember, but excluding a couple of rugby matches, I've been to Ohio to see Mindy's family.

2. to feel like a human again. since march 4 I feel like all I've been is Mindy's wife and Cyrus' mom. I was still teaching, but hardly there. I had a month off after that of cleaning the house and going to the hospital twice a day. that's all i did.

So, being out there in the heat, working hard, well, it felt like me. All I did was wake up, work, eat, and go to sleep. There were no trips to the hospital, no grocery shopping, no cleaning the bathroom. In a way, it was a vacation. In another way, it totally wasn't since I was working 10 hours a day.

I expected Cyrus to come home this past weekend. I figured after his horrible seizures and eye surgery the only thing to happen was for him to learn to eat. But he hasn't been able to eat because of his rapid breathing. Imagine running up several flights of steps and then trying to drink a milk shake.

Yesterday we learned that Cy has an ASD. The doctors think that because of this there may be extra fluid getting into his lungs. They put him on Lasix yesterday in an attempt to get rid of some of the fluid. In a few days they'll check again. When I asked what happened after that, the doctor said more medicine. And after that? Maybe surgery.

Mindy saw the little man this morning and said his breathing looked better. I hope it wasn't wishful thinking.

I'm guessing it'll be another month before he comes home. His due date is Thursday, July 1.

* * *

We're mad now. Really mad. We're tired of of people asking how we are and having to answer, "fine." You don't really want to know how we are. We're crazed and exhausted. We're pissed and temperamental. We're always busy but getting nothing done.

When Cyrus gets home we'll fight more than shitty diapers and crying all night; we'll deal with sickness. He'll go into the hospital a lot for the first few years. We don't get to take him home and say, "well, that's over." He'll be confined to the house for months. You'll have to wash your hands before you come in, and we'll probably tell you not to touch him.

* * *

I can't handle Cyrus having another surgery. I feel like I have PTSD. Seeing him on the vent gives me flashbacks of the night he was born, of the months he lived in the cube and you all were horrified by his pictures. How have I coped? By blocking it out. And then later writing about it. All this typing has helped in the short term, but what about when it is all finally over? I'm not even sure when that'll be. There will be no definite end, but a gradual fade into family life.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Out of the Wilderness

This morning as my wife was snoring and I was tossing and turning and kicking her to get her to stop, I had this idea.

I call it an idea because I don't want to call it a vision. I pictured Mindy and myself sitting in the waiting room and some goddamned doctor saying, like, some bullshit about how a normally "routine" procedure had gone wrong. I shoved it out of my head because those things just aren't even worth thinking about these days.

It was just last night that we were bathing Cyrus and he was peeing in the water and enjoying getting his white-boy 'fro scrubbed. It was last night that Mindy and I stayed up late watching several episodes of a show about surviving in the Alaskan wilderness. In a way, we'd done that together already. In another way, we're still trying to lug our heavy Yukon packs through those annoying alders. In a way, I'm melodramatic.

We went to see Cyrus today, before his scheduled eye surgery, to find him seizing. We told the nurse, a few doctors came in, then another, then some more. Then they shoved 4 or 5 drugs into the i.v. placed in his head. He kept doing it. Mindy asked if this would affect his brain. The doctor said it could if it went on for 30 minutes. We watched him seize for 45.

I sobbed into Mindy's shoulder I hate it here while our awesome lesbian nurse worked on Cyrus and tried not to pay attention. I think I heard her sniffle.

Once again, I had gotten comfortable; he has been breathing on his own and learning to take a bottle. We thought he'd be home in a matter of days...until they said he had retinopathy of prematurity. They said he'd have to go back on the ventilator for surgery and he'd probably be on it 36 hours. And after that he'd be back on the flow-pap. And so on.

I was trying to convince myself that this surgery would be easy and "routine." I was ready to accept that he would lose 30-40 degrees of peripheral vision.

And then I see him having seizures and now I have to turn my brain to another channel. I have to picture him with thick glasses, epilepsy, and possibly mental handicaps.

And now that his surgery is postponed, I have to worry that he'll be completely blind.

* * *

I know parents have expectations for their kids. I know this because I couldn't possibly meet all of the goals my parents set for me. Well, I accomplished everything but marring some macho dude who hunted and wore camo. I watched their dreams collapse in one afternoon.

So, yes, I've dreamed things for my own son:

At first I hoped he'd be smart, sexy, loving, caring, understanding and respectful.

Then I wished he'd stay where he belonged.

I wished that he would die quickly.

I wished him alive. Again and again.

I've wished that he'd be the next Holzhauser to play baseball.

I've hoped that his loss of vision wouldn't impede on his ability to play sports...or dance... or drive a car.

But now I'm somewhere else.

If he's blind, he still has music. I hope his passion to play and listen and feel it far exceeds my own.

If his brain is injured, I hope I'm able to deal with it all without falling apart. I want him to be happy.

* * *

It's been a long day, here in the Alaskan wilderness. Mindy and I have battled hunger, depression, loneliness, and, of course, the uncertainty of what's out there, just beyond the horizon.

Friday, May 28, 2010

What Now

Cyrus weighed in at five pounds. In 5 more weeks he will be born. Which means, he could be set free. He could come home and live with us, his parents, in a house. We wouldn't have to drive to the hospital several times a day. We wouldn't have to ask permission to hold him, kiss him, touch him. He might start to recognize our voices, instead of his nurses'. He might have that chance at being "normal" that we all did when we were born.

It's been three months since this whole thing started. Mindy and I have watched a fetus grow inside a plastic container. We've watched as the nurses change their hair styles, their cologne. We've seen the wrinkles grow deeper around our eyes. At times we've cried, or pretended this wasn't happening. We've caught a glimpse of pictures of Lady and Snot and broken down. Absolutely. They are now symbols of something so much bigger and deeper than themselves.

We've kissed each other goodnight and wondered, what now.

* * *

Mindy is amazing. She lay completely still for two and a half weeks, willing our son to stay inside, thinking tight thoughts so her cervix would close. All the while, the nurses praised her for being so great at bed rest. She couldn't understand how it would be so hard for someone, if she knew her child was at risk. Would someone really get up and walk around? But then, we heard a story of a 14 year old who was having her second baby. She took her i.v. pole and carried it down 3 flights of steps to sell her food stamps to get cash to get high. We've learned that this is what those nurses normally deal with. I don't even want to get into it. So, my wife never once complained. She was determined to keep Cyrus where he belonged. She was relaxed, too, for his sake.

During the c-section, as 3/4 of her body was tugged and wiggled behind the blue sheet, she was able to smile at my stupid stories and jokes.

But now, for 9 weeks, she has pumped her boobs every 2 hours during the day, and twice at night because we know the benefits of breast milk. I can count only 3 nights where she slept 8 hours. Even when it looked like she wouldn't produce milk, she kept going when most women would stop.

Four weeks after her surgery, after Cyrus was born, she went back to work. Most people take 6 weeks. And most people spend those 6 weeks learning to love and care for their child. Of course, Mindy didn't have that opportunity since her baby was living in a hospital and she on the couch at home.

When Cyrus comes home, she'll have only 1 week of paid vacation built up. She'll have only one week to spend with him at home until she has to go back to work to support the three of us for the summer. She has to go back to work where I think her skills and intelligence are overlooked. Where no one has experienced what she has.

* * *

I've been letting myself imagine the day we bring home our baby. He'll be under 6 pounds, I think. Small for a "newborn." We'll put him in a car seat, awkwardly since we've never used one. We'll load up the toys he's had by his bassinet. We'll probably hug some nurses and try not to cry. And just when we feel like driving off into the sunset, we'll have to exit the highway, because it's only 10 minutes away. We'll pull into the driveway, smiling or stunned. We'll carry him through the door and set his seat down in the middle of the living room floor and stare. The cats will sniff him. We'll keep staring. We'll cry. We'll bawl. We'll laugh. I'll drink. Then we'll look at each other, kiss, and say now what?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Gird Up My Loins

My first semester of college I took a course called "The Human Situation." Basically, it was a world literature/philosophy course, or something like that. We read Nietzsche, Primo Levi, other stuff I didn't care about at the time, and the book of Job from the Bible. When I saw it on the syllabus, at first I was offended. I'd never seen the Bible as literature. I mean, I had just come out, but I still hadn't realized I wasn't Christian. I thought I was supposed to be upset that we were reading it as a story and not the word of God.

If you haven't read Job, or you don't know the story, it's pretty simple. Satan and God have a bet: Satan says if God fucks with someone enough, he'll turn on God. God picks Job, saying that he's, like, the best follower of all time ever. Satan kills his kids, burns his sheep, blows his house apart and does something to his oxen and camel and she-asses. Through it all, even his friends telling him that he must've done something wrong to piss off God, Job is faithful. In the end, God gives Job a lot more kids, sheep, oxen, all that.

* * *

Tonight Mindy put our cat, Sinatra "Snot" to sleep. I didn't watch like I did with Lady. We'd already had that discussion. You see, Lady and Snot were the same age, around 17, and they'd been together their whole lives. I had to put Lady to sleep just days after Mindy went into the hospital; it was less than 2 months ago. Like Lady, Snot just started walking funny and sitting very still. She declined in a few days. Mindy brought home an i.v. pump from work and she was getting fluids for three days. She didn't get better.

So, Mindy brought home the juice. I cried over Snot and left the room. I sat on the porch, the breeze blowing my tears and I read, for the first time since I was 18, the Bible.

* * *

I've mentioned many times that I'm not Christian. That is, I don't believe in God and I don't believe Jesus was the son of God. I don't believe that Mary was a virgin. However, I do believe Jesus was a guy, probably a super cool BLACK man.

People have said to me, since March 4, that you know, "God tests our faith sometimes." I try not to be sarcastic when I respond, but I can't help it. I don't believe that someone or thing is in charge, up there pulling my strings. If there was, he'd be a real dick.

You might wonder what I do believe in. I believe in love and kindness or at least, leaving people the hell alone to do what they want. I believe faith is not worth warring over. No one is right.

So, once again, we have offered up a life for a life. So far, the universe has required two beloved pets in exchange for our son. Our family has been destroyed, but it will be rebuilt. For those of you who kept saying that having a baby would change our lives forever, boy, do you feel silly.

* * *

I told Mindy tonight, while we inhaled our margaritas over dinner, that I suddenly felt old today. She said I was probably old when I was eight. It's true. It's like there's this feeling in my body. Did you ever stand in the doorways, pressing your hands to the frame, then step forward? It's like, all that pressure, and then suddenly, your arms are weightless and floating. Towards the heavens.

* * *

When I did believe in God, I couldn't imagine him being mean. I still can't wrap my mind around why people would believe he'd actually make this wager with Satan, to see if the most righteous servant could handle the boils and terrors. I get it, though. The writers of the Bible were fond of hyperbole. Job was probably a real guy. He probably had some bad shit happen. His friends probably told him that he must've deserved it (why else would horrible things happen to good people?). In the end, he was probably, like, "Can you fuckin believe it?"

* * *

I'm tired. I'm exhausted. I've lost weight and then gained more back. I've slept in and not slept. I've drunk too much and sometimes nothing. I have cried and I've stared into nothingness. Sometimes I just smile and laugh.

* * *

I believe that old people die when their loved ones have already passed. I've heard those stories, after a month or two, the other person goes. Dies of loneliness, they say. Snot and Lady were born a week apart and they died less than two months apart. Tomorrow I will drive to Portland, the first time I will have been home in months, since before the trials, and I will dig a hole beside Lady. I will put Snot in that hole. Ashes to Ashes and all that. Then Mom and I will walk to the bar, across the road, and eat greasy cheeseburgers. I will drink a PBR.

I will start walking to the river and it'll turn into a sprint. Right up to the the goddamn banks. And I'll stop. I will want to scream, but I'll just stare into the currents.

"Oh that my grief were thoroughly weighed, and my calamity laid in the balances together! For now it would be heavier than the sand of the sea: therefore my words are swallowed up."
Job 6:2-3

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Last week my grandma got to meet Cy, if only for a few minutes. It was not her first great-grandchild, but her smile was goofy enough, her eyes bright enough, he could've been.

My dad has nearly cried over our little man and called him "precious" and "perfect" on several different occasions.

I have never once worried that I wouldn't feel attached to him because I didn't carry him, or because he wasn't a part of me.

You see, when Grandma left his side that day she kept repeating how he was a Holzhauser. In fact, the first male Holzhauser since her own sons were born. I mean, she has grandsons, but none has the name. The name.

I guess I was surprised at Grandma's awesome response. Cyrus is, technically, not at all related to Grandma. I am adopted, married to a woman, and that woman had a baby with some random guy's sperm. That's how not related we all are. But she was overwhelmed with happiness and awe. I could tell.

I can only attribute all of these great responses to my own adoption. Mom and Dad have had 30 years to learn what it means to love a child that didn't have their DNA. Actually, my whole extended family is awesome that way. No one ever treated me differently because I was adopted (they did treat me differently when I started dying my hair green and dating girls...). In fact, there's a family secret I can't reveal, but let's say, the Holzhausers have had their share of calling someone else's kid their own.

* * *

This is all feeling overwhelming because of my recent subscription to This spring there have been two genealogy shows on tv: Faces of America on PBS and Who Do You Think You Are? on NBC. I was addicted to both. It's because of my adoption that I want to know where I came from, why ancestry is so cool, why it was important that I find my biological parents. Spike Lee found out that his Great x3 grandfather might have been his greatx3 grandmother's owner. Master and Slave. It's hard to know.

If I'm researching correctly, I've traced several of my own lineages back to England in the 1500s and Ireland in the 1600s. No, I'm not kidding. Of course, when we trace our lines, we're assuming that both partners in every marriage were faithful, that what is written is absolutely true. C'mon, ancestors, I know there were adoptions and illegitimate children all over the place. Babies left at churches, babies sent to other families and assimilated. So, why do we even bother to learn our family's past?

Are we searching for a social history or biological one? I have always worn my name proudly, but now I'm finding that biologically, it seems I'm barely German. I'm 6th, 7th, and 8th generation American. I'm American as Jazz, as Rap, as saggy pants, as fanny packs. And maybe it's strictly an American thing to trace ourselves back, to naively believe that those names and dates tell a full history of a person.

* * *

My son will grow up with a piece of himself missing, like I felt. His half adoption could turn into teenage angst and curiosity. He could not care at all.

I've struggled in the past years to really understand what it means to be a Holzhauser. My Grandma was teary-eyed saying the name over and over. Obviously, that's her married name. Does she consider herself a Holzhauser, too?

I've only known the family I've grown up in, and I'm still trying to figure it all out, trying to see us/them from the outside. We are a loud, stubborn, obnoxious, competitive, talkative, resilient bunch.

So far, Cyrus, you act just like a Holzhauser.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Mommy Meltdown

Rugby I understand. On Saturday mornings I stand out on a field in short shorts, just begging the other team to try to catch me and knock me down, daring them to try to get by me. I do this with the understanding that it will hurt: my muscles, my lungs. I do this knowing I am smaller than most, and much, much smaller than I feel.

But the pain is real and tangible. And that is something I can wrap my throbbing head around.

* * *

On Tuesday I had a panic attack. Or something that sounds like what a panic attack is. It started in the morning with me knowing I had 30 papers to grade. Actually, now that I'm trying to tell you about it, I can't really remember how things went down. I'll just say that on my days off from school I get nothing done. My days off go like this: get up around 8 or 9 (I try to sleep in). Mindy gets up around 10. She pumps her boobs. I drink coffee. It's 11 by the time that's done. Mindy's mom comes to the house. I've made breakfast once or twice. We get to the NICU by 11:30 or 12. Then it's time for lunch. We go out because I haven't been very good about grocery shopping lately and people keep asking us to lunch or dinner. Lunch is done by 2:00 or 2:30. We come home. Mindy pumps some more. We return phone calls and emails. I go to rugby practice or I make dinner or we go out to eat. Then it's 7:00 and we sit and watch shitty t.v. then it's time for bed.

On the days I teach I get up at 6 and don't get home until 4. Then it's time for dinner and then bed.

* * *
A scrawny knee flying into my crotch caused it to be bruised and swollen; my ear got smacked when I got tackled. I'm even wondering if I have slightly bruised ribs from running into my own teammate. My knees are scraped, of course. I played rugby Saturday.

Every part of me hurts. Finally. It's a relief for the pain to take over my muscles now, and not just my brain. This kind of pain is what I'm used to. It's familiar, it means that I had a good time, it means I'm still alive.

* * *

Another thing that made me freak out is people. They're everywhere: calling, texting, emailing, showing up to my house. Mindy went into the hospital March 4. In the hospital nurses come in every two hours to check on you or give meds or whatever. Even through the night. Mindy and I are used to quiet. We're used to sitting on our couch, surrounded by cats, watching PBS. So, the 2.5 weeks in the hospital were annoying, with all the people.

Then she was out of the hospital and her mom was here. I love my mother-in-law, but to always have someone around drives me crazy. I'm an only child who needs a lot of alone time. She was gone for less than a week, and for less than a week Mindy and I enjoyed each others' company. I made dinner. We cuddled. We cried and laughed and planned.

Then my mother-in-law came back and is just in the process of leaving as we speak. So, another reason I freaked out last Tuesday was because of the the people. 5 weeks of having other people in our relationship.

Another reason? Platitudes. Tons of them, well meaning but ultimately mind numbing, crazy making or too dramatic.

1. Just take it day by day
2. god gives special babies to special people
3. god only gives you what you can handle
4. miracles happen every day
5. you're going through hell
6. having a baby changes your life forever
7. you don't know what love is until you've had a child
8. think positive thoughts

you get the idea. I know, I know, everyone just means well and everyone wishes he could help in his own way. You're wondering what I might say to someone in this same situation? It's exactly what a good friend said to me, "This shit is fucked up." And that is the truest and most helpful thing anyone has said.

A friend drove in from Texas to give me beer, bread pockets stuffed with meat and onions, and roughly 4 hours of a listening ear. Then she left. It was perfect.

* * *

Saturday, when I saw the knee coming toward my crotch, there was nothing I could do to avoid it. I mean, I saw it coming, but it was all so fast, and no, it wasn't on purpose. I tackled her. We fell to the ground. There is a moment in a rugby tackle, if you do it correctly, where you are lying with your head on her hip, your arms still wrapped around her legs, several people standing over you fighting for the ball. It was in that moment that I lay still, letting the pain wash over me until it burned my ears.

Not one person on the other team felt sorry for me. It was a beautiful, perfect day.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Die, Die My Darling

You know what, people? I'm fucking pissed. I've made it to that point. Ok? Are you happy?

Today I felt for some reason that I should see Cyrus on the way home from work. He kept jerking and I was like, looking for a nurse. And I was like, "I think he's having seizures" And she was like, "no." Then she leaves and comes back with the resident and the attending. So, they give him more drugs.

Not just an hour ago they called us and said he'd been seizing since then and kinda hinted we should come in (read as, "your baby could die"). They still don't know the cause. His organs are still in good shape. So, once we got there, he seemed alright. But, oh , the drugs and the waiting. The fucking waiting.

I just told Mindy that I've imagined putting my fist through several things today. I've stared at several objects and envisioned a) if my fist could go all the way through b) what it would feel like when my knuckles hit said object c) if my fist would be able to be pulled out without being damaged further.

Here is a list of things I considered:
1. The dashboard of the car (instead, i squeezed the life out of the steering wheel)
2. The brick wall in my office
3. The woman who hovered over the toilet and obviously peed on the seat which would cause people to have to hover. (Quit fucking hovering you assholes--you're the source of the problem you seek to avoid.)
4. The dashboard again
5. My laptop screen
6. Every mother yelling at her kid (a lot walk by my house)

I didn't hit anything. Even at rugby practice, I didn't really hit people because they're my friends. And I like them.

I could cry, but it doesn't help; it only causes me to get a headache.

I did kick a rugby ball a few times, but the impact wasn't satisfying enough.

There are things I want to scream:
1. It's not fucking fair
2. Are you fucking kidding me?

Again, I know we got ourselves into this. But, you know, like, I've been a good person. I love people, I do, even though I sound sarcastic and I don't show it by hugging and kissing. I love my family and friends. I give homeless people money. I pick up litter. I yell at people who throw cigarette butts out of their cars. I give old people my seat. I open the door for just about everyone. I'm thankful for every fucking awesome thing that's ever happened to me. I've learned from every single fucking mistake I've made. I try to be open minded. I don't speed. I try not to take anything for granted.

So, is it too much to ask that we have a healthy baby? Just one? Can't the universe give us one of the millions?

Oh, I know. There are no answers. There's nothing you can say to make it better. And I don't want you to. Don't tell me that "God only gives us what we can handle." I don't believe in God. I haven't in a long time. And if that were true, then people wouldn't kill themselves. Obviously, things become too hard to handle. (no, i would never kill myself, if you're wondering. I'm terrified of death)

I don't know why I'm angry. I'm trying to reason why all of this so hard. If Cyrus died, it would suck. Mindy worked so hard while she was pregnant. I mean, he was made from love. I'm not sure how many people can say that. Mindy quit drinking coffee months in advance; she took Tylenol once or twice; we changed our cleaning products; Mindy made reusable baby wipes; we were gonna use cloth diapers.

I can't tell you why I wanted to be a parent. I keep asking why I did it to myself, and if it's been worth it.

It hasn't. I'm not sure what made me decide that being a mom would be alright. I guess I love Mindy so much, and we thought it might be nice to bring a kid into that--to show that kid how to love the way we do. Just one kid.

But so far, this is stupid. There's no logical reason for Mindy to have an incompetent cervix. But maybe trying to be logical is my problem.

I've said in one of the blogs about Cyrus' conception that I had to pretend that our situation was normal (you know, getting pregnant in some doctor's office)--that this is how everyone has done it.

I stick by that.

Before we started all of this I found pregnancy scary and gross. I was hoping that seeing it first hand would change those feelings. What a fucking joke.

It's worse. Everything is worse. I don't know how any of us turned out with all our limbs in the right spot and enough brain cells to reason.

I'm mad. Mad at nothing but myself. Seeing Cyrus in is little plastic cage makes me sad for Mindy. I mean, I don't like seeing him like that, but Mindy, my wife, my beautiful, much more significant half, worked hard and felt him in her womb.

The reason I cry and get angry is because Cyrus is love. He is the embodiment of our love and future and dreams. If he dies, then so does a part of us. So does our innocence, our naivete, our youth. The light in our eyes.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Parade

I've never been fond of Easter.

It was on this day in 1986 that my uncle was killed in a car wreck. It was on this day in 1996 when I flipped my car into a ditch with my 11 year old cousin in the seat. We made it out unharmed, but we probably shouldn't have.

So, it wasn't much of a surprise when we got a phone call at 5:00 this morning from the NICU telling us that Cyrus was having seizures. As we lay in bed (the first night that Mindy allowed herself to sleep straight through without pumping milk every 4 hours) with the phone on speaker, we listened as the young resident told us he was back on the ventilator, that he was given phenobarbital, adavan, that he wasn't getting any milk, that he'd be put back on the TPN, that he might have a brain bleed, that he might have an infection, that he might just be too tiny to handle everything that's been happening to him.

We went to visit him around 10:00 this morning. His blood pressure was low, so they gave him a bolus. We learned that the preliminary results of the head ultrasound showed everything was normal. Mindy signed a paper allowing them to do a lumbar puncture, leaving the line for "Father" blank, as we've been doing at the Social Security Office, on his Birth Certificate, on the Medicaid paperwork. I am less than a ghost in his life. And I feel badly for Mindy because she's had to make all of the phone calls as well as sign everything.

It was only a few minutes ago that the NICU called again to tell us his blood pressure is still too low. They've given him dopamine. He's on two or three antibiotics, one that would help Meningitis (if he happened to have it--we can't know yet because that's what the lumbar puncture tells us and they can't too it because of his blood pressure). He is still under two pounds. I can't even begin to imagine what all of those drugs will do to his body.

When we were staring into his isolet this morning I asked the resident, "Like, when do you tell us we're being too extreme?" She smiled at me, confused. "I mean, if he should die and we're not letting him." She assured me that they were very honest in those situations. I begged her to be blunt at all times; it's all I can handle. I can't stand someone dancing around a subject and using too many words.

I want to be mad at someone or something, but as I've written before, we've done this to ourselves. We made the choice to have a baby and we accepted all of those risks. I guess I was more ready for a miscarriage at 10 weeks than this. I never thought of this.

My tears stopped weeks ago. It's Spring. Magnolias and daffodils. I've grilled twice. I bought new clothes. Mindy and I haven't made love in at least two months.

10% of babies in America are born premature. 1% of women have an incompetent cervix. I can't even tell you the percentage of women who have that plus a placental abruption. With those odds, all I can hope is that this luck stays with us, these tiny chances we seem to be hitting.

If it keeps going, the numbers, then Cyrus will make it out alive and well and just as normal as anyone.

If it doesn't: it's still spring. I'm still in love. And it will have been just another long, dark winter.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

An Education

I got my first real job when I was 22. I had just moved from Houston to Columbia with my B.S. in Physical Anthropology. Setting my sights on graduate school, I was still aching to be a forensic anthropologist. When I stumbled across a job in the Columbia Tribune for a histology technician (hours 5:30-2:30) I mailed my application. It didn't matter that I didn't know what histology was, exactly, but I couldn't resist the job's description: human specimen processing, microscope slide staining, embedding specimens.

Making 9.20 and hour and getting health insurance, I spent my early mornings at work listening to music and learning how to put colon polyps, breast lumps, moles, and pieces of cervix into melted wax to harden...and then be cut into slides by someone else. The precise, quick movements took skill, say, to get 10 colon polyps into wax before it hardened. I felt like I was doing something, really doing something at that job.

The best part, though, came in the afternoons. Our lab would get in its daily shipment of specimens. Though most of them were the above mentioned items, we sometimes got more exciting things: foreskins, fingers, gangrenous legs, placentas, and fetuses. My job was to line them for the pathologist to cut. Big things went last, so sometimes there were two fetuses a day. They came in plastic, Central Dairy ice cream tubs. Tiny babies floating and rocking in formalin. I found them the most fascinating. In fact, in my free time, I'd sneak into the back room (where we stored the fetuses for up to a month--in case the doctors wanted more tests run), pop the lid on the bucket, and just stare.

* * *

The past three weeks have been numbing. I have no other way to describe them yet. When we went into the hospital, I kept picturing Mindy having to give birth to one of those fetuses. It was horrifying to the point of absurdity. My mind just kept playing that scene over and over: Mindy crying and a teeny, tiny baby just slipping out and lying still. The problem is, we knew and understood too much.

On Sunday, when things were just hazy and Mindy went into labor after blood just spilling out of her, I kept hoping that Cyrus would be gotten by c-section. I couldn't bear to think of his birth. He was complete breech, and within 10 minutes of the doctor saying this, I was sitting on a stool in a surgery suite, behind a blue sheet, talking to Mindy about the stupid idea we had about getting pregnant. "This is the worst decision we've ever made," I said to her. Through her teeth chattering from cold and hormone surges, she smiled.

Minutes before entering the surgery, a nurse had shoved a disposable camera in my hand with my hat, mask, booties, and gown. I stared at the camera. What in the hell did she think I'd like to have pictures of?

I waited at Mindy's head, watching her body shift as they cut her and pulled her uterus onto her stomach...though I didn't see any of that. I just saw her shoulders being moved and knew what was happening behind the curtain.

When they pulled him out, I heard a little squawk. Numb. Numb. Numb.

The only way I can explain the feeling is relief. I was relieved that that part of the journey was over. I was elated because I knew that no matter what happened, Mindy would be coming home in a few days. I imagined, while she tried to keep her teeth from chattering, us having a drink and eating out. Us sitting on the couch watching SVU.

* * *

You see, in college I took a human osteology class. I loved it more than anything I'd ever learned. After that class I signed up for an osteology lab. I spent 120 hours that semester trying to glue 3,000 year old bones back together. At one point my teacher gave me a bag full of dirt and asked me to "find the baby." I thought she was joking.

After I dumped the dirt into a mesh kitchen colander, I saw what she meant. A fetus. It was probably 5 inches the most. It had a tiny penis and it's head wasn't attached. I spent the next couple of hours trying to get the skin off the bones.

* * *

Nearing the end of the c-section, I was summoned to a small room off of the surgery suite where Cyrus was whisked away. I walked in and 10 people stood staring at me. One doctor put out his hand and said, "Congratulations." Thanks. I peered into the incubator for only a moment; I didn't want to leave Mindy on the table like that, all alone. I saw a small baby with a small hat. The doctors stood frozen in mid-stride, waiting for me to stay or leave. "Did you see him?" someone asked. He was 14.5 weeks early, ripped from his mother's womb. And I just kept picturing Lady, our cat, decomposing under the pine tree in Mom and Dad's yard. I opened the door, nodded, and walked back to Mindy's head.

That was 7:32 p.m. We weren't allowed to see him until 1:00 a.m. That was after an hour of two neonatologists talking at us about all of the things that could go wrong. As if we didn't know. As if we hadn't read. As if I hadn't already numbed myself to it all.

I rolled Mindy up beside his little table. She touched his tiny, red hand and he squeezed it. Reflexes, you know. I was afraid to touch him; he was smaller than some of the fetuses I'd seen in the histology lab. I did though. I put my pinky into his palm and started when he squeezed my hand, too. You can see all the veins in his body, the little muscles, the smallest toenails. I swore I could see all of the four sections of his fetal skull.

Our baby is a live fetus living in plastic womb.

I'm still numb. He could die any second. We could bring him home as healthy as any kid in three months. Until one of those happens, we'll stare into his incubator. I'll keep being amazed at how he has Mindy's nose and toes. We'll speculate over his hair color.

I'll watch as my wife becomes a mother and I slip into another skin.

It feels like my heart is made of pure steel; It's just so heavy all the time.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


If you know me at all, or if you've read anything I've written, you know that the number 25 means a lot to me; it is the baseball jersey number of nearly 5 generations of Holzhausers.

Today marks the beginning of Mindy's 25th week of pregnancy. At 25 weeks the survival rate of our little man is roughly 54-60% depending on what and where you're reading. On top of that, the chance for disabilities is 50%. It sounds bleak, but compared to our odds and chances when we got here two weeks ago, it seems magical.

Mindy had a morphology ultrasound today. It has been 5 weeks since we saw him. He looked bigger on the screen, his bones whiter and denser, his head absolutely huge. But, really, he's only 1 pound 11 ounces. From what I've read, he's a little above average. We'll take it. We'd take a fat ass baby right now.

If I'm understanding correctly, he's all there. I mean, he has all of the parts he needs: arms, legs, brain, kidneys. All that. However, his lungs and brain aren't developed. Did you know that fetuses "breathe" the amniotic fluid to help their lungs grow? I mean, they breathe their own pee. It totally makes sense, but I had never thought about it until recently.

* * *

Perhaps one of the best parts about being with Mindy in the hospital is getting to know him better. Last week I could feel him moving through her belly. It felt like least the kind of gas I have. He has a sleeping pattern; he moves around about the same time every day. Because Mindy has little to no other sensory stimulation, she lies around all day feeling his every move. He's all she has to worry about right now, while I have to worry about the both of them, my students, the house, our cats, the mortgage.

She has been in this bed for 15 days. Surprisingly, she hasn't really gotten bored. Yet. We've watched just a couple of movies. She has a book to read, but she hasn't. We've watched much less t.v. than I thought we would. So, what do we do? We talk. People stream through the room and make us laugh (though Mindy gets nervous after too much laughing; we don't want him coming out, you know). She hasn't really complained, though she didn't feel well when they did the magnesium sulfate iv. But that was only 24 hours of 15 days.

She lies with her ass above her head as often as she can (even though there is no evidence that this helps), she says it's all she can do. And there really isn't much of an option.

She is teaching me a lesson in patience. I've always known she's more patient than I, but now I really see it at work. I shave her legs and she pretends it's normal, acts like it doesn't bother her that she can't.

I guess it's all an odd routine, but I wouldn't mind if it lasted for months. In fact, we can only hope that it does.

So, week 25 is here. Every day is better. Every day our son grows his lungs and his brain. Every day I kiss Mindy and tell her I love her.

And every day we grow.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


If you've ever been to our house (or cabin in Alaska) you noticed that we had four cats. Three of them are tabbies, so it was always a shock, a good surprise, when Lady would introduce herself. She was a blonde, always trim, always a hit because of her unusual color.

One of Lady's favorite things to do was bring us socks. Rugby socks. Sometimes she'd bring small stuffed animals. She have them in her mouth and she'd make this howl that sounded like she was in pain. Sometimes she'd drag our bras out into the living room. Mindy called them her "babies"-- I think because the habit started with small stuffed animals (the rugby sock babies came later in her life). Lady would drag out several babies a day; we'd come home from work, the dinning room littered with purple socks, yellow and black striped socks, a pirate from a McDonald's happy meal.

In the past months Lady started to lose a lot of weight. She went to the doctor in December and they said all the tests showed nothing unusual. She kept getting skinnier. We fed her calorie-rich wet food and some prescription wet food from the vet hospital. She didn't gain weight.

Of course, the past week I've spent most of my time at the hospital. But I noticed when I would go home, that Lady would sit in spots she didn't normally like: on the floor, in the clothes basket. She didn't bring babies; she didn't meow at me in the mornings for her wet food. Just Sunday I reached down to pet her and she nearly fell over. Mindy made an appointment for Tuesday.

I knew she was sick. Blood tests showed that she had kidney failure, and not just the beginnings. She was 16 years old. I left her at the hospital while I came back to talk Mindy. I didn't really talked. We just cried all over each other, as if anything else horrible could happen. Mindy called the vet.

Mom went with me. I was there for it all. Normally, that's not my job. I don't deal well with death, as most of you know. I especially don't deal well with animals dying. And not my Lady Fluff Pants. Lady who loved to be brushed just a little...then she'd bite the bristles and go crazy. Lady loved to have her belly rubbed, but only if you put your hand between her legs. She was our little slut. She and I were lovers in a past life. Or something like that. I'm lucky I'm not home right now; they house is empty enough.

* * *

When I came back after, well, after we put her to sleep I cried all over Mindy. I wanted to throw something out of the window. When I was younger and pissed, I'd take a basketball outside and kick it as far as I could. Then I'd get angrier because I'd have to chase it before it fell in the creek. Then I'd fucking sprint after it and kick it harder. This made me feel better.

I haven't kicked anything yet, though there is a rugby game on Saturday. I don't really feel like hitting anyone, but maybe it will help.

Last night we had a scare, some blood. We're only at 24 weeks. The doctors say 25 is a real turning point. Luckily nothing happened.

I hope the universe accepts our sacrifice of Lady. I'm not this big of a hippy, but I like to think that Lady loved babies so much, she soaked up all the negativity. I think she would do that for us. She took the bullet for us, maybe. As she went to sleep, she gave a soft little meow, like she did when she would lay socks at our feet, beside our bed, or cry for us at night time before cuddling up to sleep.

So, last night when we had the scare, I prayed to Lady. Oh, I know, praying to a cat seems silly, but it's the only thing that feels good right now, in my descent into numbness, nothingness, depression and anxiety. I asked Lady to hold on at least another week, another few weeks.

Not yet, Lady. Please, not yet.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Chasing Cars

I went back to teach today, even after a horrible morning.

You see, the doctors come in around 8 every day to do an ultrasound on Mindy. They're checking to see if her cervix and sac have gone back where they need to be. This morning, the head doctor told her to fill her bladder and then we'd have a look. (Yesterday when this happened, it gave the appearance that everything was normal. she peed, and then it wasn't) She drank a lot of water, they did the ultrasound. I looked at the screen only to find that her cervix was open 2.8cm (the most it's been so far). The doctors didn't say this to us. They told us it was "the same," but I've heard that before.

It was at this point that the other doctor started talking about resuscitation, what we'd like to do if he's delivered soon. I couldn't handle it, not what he was saying, just everything.

I don't do well when I'm tired. I'm also PMSing. These things combined with the image of her open cervix on the screen were enough to set me off.

I cried. It came on so fast. The older doctor (who looks like santa) held me tightly in his white jacket while I apologized...the kind of apologies people give when they cry, for no real reason. The younger doctor said maybe he should come back to talk about what "measures" we'd like to take should the baby be born.

Through my tears I just said that I didn't want him to suffer. Once again, the doctors said we were enlightened for making the decision we have. We know he's too young to survive. If he did, he'd be severely handicapped.

So, it was with this whole scene in my head that I drove to Jefferson City. I heard that damn Snow Patrol song, like, "If I lay here, if I just lay here...would you lie with me and just forget the world? me a garden that's bursting into life."

I cried most of the way to Lincoln.

I had only a few minutes to get my shit together before class, so it was no surprise that I totally cried when I tried to explain to my class why I wasn't at school on Friday. I saw at least three people tear up. And I felt like such a weak asshole.

For my second class, I gave the same spiel. Something about my wife being 23 weeks pregnant, in the hospital, things aren't looking good for us. One student asked, after I'd said this, "who da baby daddy?"

Another student came to argue the grade she received on her last paper. She wanted to cry about the grade (she got an F because it was late; that's my policy), but I just fucking rolled over and said I'd grade it. Then she thought about asking me how my weekend was. I asked, "do you really want to know?" She said she did. I told her. She looked at me and asked, "Did you have to pay to get the baby?"

Not knowing how to answer that I said yes.

"Well, just pray. You believe in God, don't you?"

"No," I answered.

"Oh," she said.

But, you know, other students hung around after class to say they were sorry and they hoped things would work out. When I tried to explain it to one student, he stared blankly at me.

"Do you know what a cervix is?" I asked

He waved his hand around his stomach, "Somewhere down there."

One student emailed to say she was really sorry and that she'd lost two kids this way. It's amazing how open and wonderful people are if you open up first. I guess that's one reason why I write nonfiction. It's like, people are itching to tell their stories, they just don't wanna be the first to do it.

When I got back from work I walked into the new room (mindy had been moved) to find the social worker and the pediatrics dr. talking to Mindy and her mom. The first thing anyone said to me was "Oh, thank God you're here." Like I needed to hear that after a bad day anyway...I forgot to tell you that I called Mindy to check in around noon. She told me then that she'd had some contractions. I almost pissed my pants.

Anyway, the doc was here with a skinny social worker making sure they knew what we wanted to do in case he was born tonight...or any moment. In case you're wondering, we'd make sure he was comfortable for the time he was on earth.

Mindy says he's kicking away; I'm still not able to feel him. I'm not sure if I want to.

So, it was a rough day. Now Mindy's sleeping, her ass as high in the air as she can get it, the blood draining into her face. She's beautiful, though, even with those air pressure things on her legs, her greasy hair, the catheter sticking out of her hand. Her mom brought new hospital gowns that she had made while she awaited a flight from Fairbanks. Mindy's wearing a green one right now, with lady bugs. She is my wife, and I love her.

They only thing that keeps me sane right now is knowing she'll be there after this is over. Even if it turns out terribly, my wife will be there with me, even if she's scarred and depressed. Even if we're both in therapy. Even if I'm drinking to numb the memories of my son, dead before he was born.

She'll be right beside me.

We'll do it all, everything, on our own
We don't need anything or anyone

Saturday, March 6, 2010

3 weeks, she sleeps, through the rain

In high school, I'd go to school in the mornings with my eyelids swollen from crying all night. Life at home was full of fights with my parents about being gay, them accusing me of smoking weed in my bedroom, of being unnatural. I'd sneak into my closet late at night and call Lacey, who lived in Houston; she felt worlds and years away. So, I'd cry all night. And my eyelids would still look like that when I got to band class for first hour. All I remember of my senior year were those burning, swollen eyelids, the constant rising of a lump in my throat.

I hadn't felt that weight, that burden, until Thursday.

I've only been changing Mindy's bedpan for three days. It's only been three days of me worrying. I don't know if I can make it three months.

I can't remember if I've told you that Mindy has what one doctor called a "typical incompetent cervix." That's not a joke. I'd never heard of it. How naive was I to believe that after week 12, everything just got better and safer? It was just Monday that we bought a crib and changing table, breast pump, boppy, and got free clothes from a friend. In fact, this coming Monday we were supposed to have a wall installed in our back room to make the nursery for our baby.

Again, Mindy's at 23 weeks. Survival rate is 3%, not to mention the severe disabilities. With every week of gestation, the survival rate goes up quite a bit. By week 25 the survival rate is about 54% and half of those babies have a disability. If we make it to week 26, then we can worry much less; survival rate soars and the disabilities become less and less severe. If the cervix and sac would go back right now they could do that damn cerclage, then we could worry much, much less.

Realistically, I know the chances of this turning out the way we want are very small. Mathematically, small. Ratios and percentages are not on our side. The bulging amniotic sac and the way the nurses talk to us tell me that they've seen this before, and they know what happens.

I'm thankful that I gave up on religion the same year of the swollen eyelids. If I would have believed in God now, I would be asking why me, why us, why now. But my beliefs are simpler than that. We live. We die. Shit happens in between, some good, some bad. This is some of the shit we've been dealt.

A friend told me tonight that no matter what happens, it will be okay. I know that, but I can't feel that right now.

It's weird, throughout this pregnancy, Mindy and I have had, like, feelings about things. We both knew that she was pregnant before she was, and we kept talking about how we thought he'd be born early. I even had a vision of Mindy being laid up in the hospital, but I figured it would only be for a few days, somewhere around week 38.

Before we decided to have a baby, we had a lot of talks. My biggest fear was, and still is, having a special needs baby. I'm not sure I could handle it. No, let me say, I don't want to handle it. I've told a lot of people I'd take a physical deformity over mental disabilities any day; you can always buy a limb, you know. Oh, I know, that probably sounds really horrible and selfish of me. You're right. But I'm honest.

I asked Mindy yesterday how she felt about the outcome of this whole thing. She said she thought it would be good. I agreed. Our notions have been right so far.

But now I'm wondering what exactly good means.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Week 23, Shit Hits the Fan

Mindy and I have agreed all during this pregnancy that the baby would come early.

Today, though, is way too early.

Mindy noticed something unusual yesterday and called the doctor, a nurse, and finally triage at the hospital. Everyone said it was probably ok, but to make an appointment for today.

After getting out of a deparment meeting at 12:14 I check my phone to find that she's called me 5 times. I called back as soon as I could only to her saying, "they're putting me in the hospital."

Apparently she suffers from "incompetent cervix." It basically means that her cervix was totally cool until the baby's weight was too much for it to handle, so it dilated to 1.5 cm. This is bad. On top of that, the amniotic sac is trying to escape.

We're supposed to wait here for a few days, Mindy in the bed, not moving, hoping the sac will go back where it belongs. If it does, they'll sew her cervix shut and she'll live in the hospital until the baby is delivered.

If something else happens to the sac, well, we lose a baby.

We've already had a neonatalogist come to explain that at this point, they really don't do much to revive the baby. I mean, his lungs aren't even developed and even with aggressive help, he'd have a lot of problems...if he survived at all. The chances are very slim. I can't imagine anything worse than Mindy delivering a 1 pound baby right now. The doctor said we could hold him a while.

I asked Mindy if she would like to hold him, if that's what happened. She said she would. I'm not sure if I would...or could. That feels like that would be worse. Like I'd just have that image to think about the rest of my life.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Boy/Girl/Boy/Girl Part 2

Mindy and I went in for the "big ultrasound" two weeks ago. I haven't told you guys yet because things have been busy around the house and school.

The big ultrasound was amazing, of course. We saw the widget moving and kicking at the probe. I probably could've popped a beer and camped out in that room all day and just watched widgie move, but you know, I guess they had other appointments to get to.

They call this the big ultrasound because it's at week 20. During that time, people find out if the baby is a boy or a girl. As I ranted earlier, we didn't want to find out because we didn't want gendered clothes and attitudes.

But in that room, with the baby on the screen, all I could stare at was the crotch. The tech. kept moving the wand around and taking pictures and here was our baby, all of its limbs, its brain the size it's supposed to be, and all I could do was try to see what was or wasn't between the legs.

It was killing me. So, Mindy and I exchanged several grunts and eye flourishes before deciding that we did want to know what was between the legs, not because it would make a difference, but because the pressure and suspense was too much to handle. We pinky swore and then asked the tech. to tell us.

She moved the wand, the slightest of movements. "It's a jimmy!" I said. Mindy made a surprised noise. The tech confirmed it is a boy.

We didn't know if we should tell anyone that we caved. So, we went to TGIFridays. I know, I know, but somehow we got into this routine after major appointments, we'd go have a snack at the bar. So, we're at this horrible place and our server asks how are day is going. Mindy blurts out, "It's a boy. We have to tell someone." She was genuinely excited and then we showed her the huge roll of pictures we'd gotten.

Since then, I've let this news slip here and there. It's not a secret, but I didn't wanna scream it out, either.

When I happen to tell people, their first response is, "I bet your dad is really excited."

It's hard for me to say how this makes me feel. I wonder why they say that, but then, I know why they say it. Ultimately, I leave feeling upset.

I hunted, played sports, learned to change oil, helped haul wood, buck hay, cut up squirrels, hose out deer carcasses, cussed, had a Holzhauser sense of humor, worked hard at everything I did.

Wasn't I the best kid a dad could want? What need could a boy fill that I couldn't? How is it so obvious that everyone has to point it out?

And I have to wonder if this one exclamation, about Dad being so happy, is the answer to the question of nature vs. nurture.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I Could Throw Up, Too

Yesterday was an emotional ride in an old pick-up through the rolling hills of Missouri while trying to hold a full glass of red wine while wearing an expensive white pant suit.

Mindy and I went to our OB appointment on Tuesday. The doctor was friendly, even when Mindy said she had a list of questions. Dr. Winkelmann actually turned around to face her and listened intently without ever hinting that she was in any hurry. She was supportive. Actually, she had walked into the room when Mindy and I were bitching about our days, about the student loan repayment and about how frustrating work is. The doctor asked how we were doing to which we both replied, "Ugh."

"Well, I can't get a deferment on my student loans because I'm single (I nod toward Mindy) and I don't have any dependents (I point to Mindy's stomach)."

The doctor, whether she meant it or not said, "I wish there was something I could do." And then we hit her with our questions about natural childbirth and episiotomies and the like.

Mindy also said that I was afraid she'd die and leave me with the baby. The doc turned to me, on her swivel stool, and said, "Not on my watch."

I like her.

Then she told us to come back in two weeks for "the big ultrasound." And, instead of handing Mindy the appointment slip, she handed it to me. That small gesture almost made the student loans worth it.

So, yesterday we had scheduled a tour of the birthing center here in Columbia. Last week we checked out Fulton. Yes, Fulton, because we'd heard a doctor there does natural childbirth and all that, so we decided to check out the facilities. The nurse on duty was busy and kept getting phone calls, but overall, she seemed no nonsense. Mindy even said, "We're gay. Is that a problem?" And the nurse, in between picking up the phone (ob, this is shelly), shook her head and told us one of the night nurses was a lesbian and she'd (O.B., this is shelly) be thrilled.

Anyway, we went to our appointment last night. In the waiting room for the tour was: a white couple with kid and a pregnant mom, a black couple with a kid and a pregnant mom, a single white woman with a huge stomach, and us.

A white nurse came out, her tiny, gold cross necklace (jesus included), bouncing as she checked our names off of the list. When she got to the white couple, the mom pointed to her son and said, "He's here for the big brother class." The nurse got all fake excited and asked the kid his name, what he did in school that day...all that. She turned to walk away when the black woman asked what that class was for. The nurse, ignoring the black kid, told the mom about the class.

When the nurse got to the pregnant white woman who was alone, she asked if anyone would be joining her for the tour. The woman said, "No, he's deployed." The nurse apologized and was fake sympathetic.

Then the tour began.

We walked in a silent, awkward group through halls and into rooms where the nurse explained this or that.

When we reached the first elevator she asked the white kid if he'd push #3 and then said, "thank you, sir." It was then that she finally turned to the black kid and asked what grade he was in. Then we got out of the elevator.

Finally we reached the labor and delivery room. It was big and nice. The nurse told us this and that while we stood staring at the delivery table/bed. It looked like a normal hospital bed until she twisted some things around, pushed some buttons and voila! stirrups flew up and this is where you have your baby! She walked to a wall and flipped a switch. LIGHTS! There was a harsh, bright light shining down on the empty bed with the empty stirrups. We stared. The light was only made worse by the whiteness of the sheets. I squinted and had to look away.

I pictured my beautiful wife there on that table, that light right on her business, her legs spread wide and nurse all standing around. She was sweating and screaming and all eyes would be right on her vagina, lit up like it was with those LIGHTS! All the world's a stage.

I zoned out as the nurse said stupid stuff and talked to us in a voice like we were kids. Finally she asked if there were questions. I asked if they had a birthing chair. She said, "No." But then she played with the switches on the bed, putting it at different angles and saying, "it'll kindof move..."

We made it to the postpartum room where she called the white man "Dad." And said nothing of the sort to the black man.

It was here that she went on about the menu you could order from after you give birth, because you'll be very hungry. You just pick up the phone and say, "This is Mrs. Smith" and you can have anything you want.

The white "Mom" asked if the babies get wristbands. The nurse explained that they wore several to indicate who they were.

Dad gets a wristband, too, she told us while looking at the white couple.

I didn't like this nurse to begin with, but at this point, I despised her. The single lady had already told you that her husband's deployed. Obviously, Mindy and I are two huge lesbians. It seems like she's assumed the black man probably isn't the baby daddy. So, who is she talking to when she says, 'Dad gets a wristband, too."

I understand that Mindy and I are the minority, that maybe she's never given the tour to gay people...or black people by the way she's acting. But, a considerate person might have know, that woman said her husband is in a foreign country fighting a war, so maybe I won't say "Dad" because it might upset her. You know, since her husband won't be here for the birth of their baby.

Now, wait for it...

Then she said that the babies wore a security device on their umbilical stumps. In fact, if a baby goes any where near an elevator or one of the hundreds of locked doors, the doors freeze and the elevators don't work and the alarm goes off. She's very pleased as she says this. My mouth hangs open.

"So, the babies are micro chipped in their umbilical cord?" I asked.

"Yes. Isn't that great!?"

"No," I said, "It's totally creepy."

The last stop on the tour was the nursery. We looked in the window at two babies off in the distance. By that time I was ready for a drink. She says, almost under her breath, "I'm gonna get those babies closer to the window."

She goes into the nursery, pushes them up close, then unswaddles and baby (causing it to cry) and holds it up to us. The white MOM coos. The rest of us look around. Then, she grabs the security tag and flips it up with her fingers; it's the size of the baby's shin. (Imagine wearing a tag the size of your own shin. Now, try to sleep comfortably.

While she was doing all this the baby spit up. The extremely pregnant single woman jumped back and made a terrified noise. "You can tell I don't have kids...yet."