In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb

****This next post may contain too much information for some readers....proceed with caution.****

"Do not make hard and fast decisions over anything in the future, for you are a created being and your will is subject to changes. Decide in whatever matters you have to reach a decision, but without fixing your mind that you will not be moved to other things." --John the Solitary (a 5th century monk) in his letter to Hesychius

In other words, stay flexible....as they say, Man Plans, God Laughs.....like today when I had planned to take the kids to the gym to burn off that extra pre-springtime energy but instead ended up with Lily in Urgent Care getting her eye glued back together after an incident with some ice in which the ice won. (Lily's consolation prize: a little laceration and very pretty shiner.) So much for wearing a helmet!

Ahh, but I digress.....

As it turns out, we are a very fertile couple, Kurt and I. (And before you get all wide-eyed thinking I am going to announce another future chicklet, rest assure, we are not expecting another.) You see, while Kurt was ready to take the plunge and make us a permanent family of six after the birth of Liam, I played the what-if game using my hormonal wild-card and simply could not give my consent to his "clip and snip" plan. And then "my-way" didn't cut it (pardon the pun) and we welcomed Solomon into our family. You know the story. And yet on it goes.

You see, as most people know and some of us are still discovering, at some point, a family has to stop having babies. And as I had recently started repeating the mantra "I will not be a Dugger, I will not be a Dugger" (you know, that family on TV with like 19 kids and counting?) it occurred to me recently that I really don't have that cut off switch. For some people, they just know they are done at one or two or three children. But, you see, I am from a family where if one of something is good then three or six or twelve of that same something must be better....(I can hear my dad now: "I resemble that statement!") And so it is, we have five great children; why not add a David Andrew, perhaps a Quinn, a Mary Diane and a Rebekah Grace, I might ask? I have fought all my adult life to go against my socialization and instead live by the philosophy that "more is not always better, sometimes it's just more." What's that they say? It's the quality not the quantity that counts? And at some point the world stops marveling at what great parents you must be, managing so many kids, and instead questions your very sanity, although I am not sure where that cut off is exactly (though I do believe we entered the shady area at some point in time)....it's kind of like if you have a pet cat no one thinks twice about you other than to assume you must be a cat person; own three or four cats and people think of you as a cat lover; have fifteen cats living in your one bedroom apartment and leave all your life's savings in your will to the cats and you are all of a sudden that crazy cat lady. You know what I mean. How does a person prevent themselves from going over that edge and becoming the crazy cat lady? Or that crazy mom, as the case may be?

Well, for us it meant making a big decision. While natural family planning, over-the-counter and prescription products work well for many people, we knew the only way for us to NOT end up needing a bus to get around in was to take a more permanent route. So, off Kurt went to his consult only to return with a fistful of papers that explained that the procedure was truly meant to be permanent. I could tell right away this was anxiety producing for him as his first comment to me was:

"Karen, the doctor really stressed that this is a permanent solution."

"Well, that's the point right?" I said, all of a sudden second guessing the decision because he sounded hesitant.

And then there was the week of flu and pneumonia and his very stressful time at work and all of a sudden we were a few days away from the procedure. His anxiety was running high, as to be expected and my reaction was to question whether it was the right way to go. So I confided to some friends about it, seeking validation and was surprised by the questions:

"Are you sure you are done having kids?" several people asked.

WHAT?! I don't know? Is five not enough? Am I supposed to be one of those crazy cat ladies? My own TV show? I don't know! (I panicked.) My rational brain was saying, 'Karen, it is time to move forward. This is the right thing. You can't afford a limo, let alone ten kids in college.' While my irrational side, picking up on Kurt's own anxiety, was screaming foul and telling me that the what-if game was perfectly valid and that things really are cheaper by the dozen. I felt like I was the clown fish Marlin, Nemo's father in the movie Finding Nemo, as he was holding onto the tongue of the whale in a desperate attempt to keep from being swallowed while Dory, the forgetful angelfish friend, was telling him it was time to let go. (Of course this was right after she had told him "Okay, he either said, "move to the back of the throat," or he "wants a root beer float." And Marlin said, "Of course he wants us to go back there, that's called EATING US!")

At any rate, there they are, holding on for dear life:

"How do you know nothing bad will happen?" Marlin yelled at Dory, not willing to let go. 
"I don't!" she yelled back, letting go and falling down into the whale in a dramatic moment of faith, soon followed by a terrified Marlin. (The scene ends with them shooting up through the whale's blowhole only to find that the whale had taken them all the way to their destination.)

At any rate, we were both extremely anxious the night before his appointment. We had our St. Patrick's dinner and our shakes (adding a little extra Irish Cream this year I'll admit) and I decided a good run outside would help (I'll reconsider the value of running after Shamrock Shakes next year....ugh....). And that night I had a dream: a slightly older woman, perhaps late 50's, was jumping up and down on a trampoline sporting a flat, bare and somewhat leathery midriff, in her running shorts, doing gymnastics moves to show us what great shape she was in and how much fun she was having. She was obviously delighted with herself while she told us that her husband was going in for his second vasectomy and then a minister came forward applauding the decision because he said there were billions of babies needing homes if she ever decided she wanted more. From the looks of it, she wasn't going to want any more.

I awoke a little freaked out because, why was that creepy woman so tan and so unclothed and why would her husband need to go in a second time and seriously, a trampoline? Really?

But, at 5 a.m. I didn't have time to think much about it. I had a lot to do to make sure I got the kids up, ready and off to all the various places so that  I could get Kurt to the hospital on time. And that is when the kids offered their reassurance: Aidan came reluctantly down to eat some cereal while Solomon decided this would be a terrific morning to fuss instead of going back to sleep after his early feeding. Liam came down crying as well and Madeline topped off the trio with some lovely soprano sobs. Lily, half awake in all this, put on some clothes and then complained her tummy hurt so she was not going to eat breakfast. By the time Kurt came down, I was wondering whether he might share half the valium he was supposed to take. No such luck.

After the hurried shuffle of the morning, Kurt, Solomon and I arrived at the hospital (I think we kept Solly with us as a reminder of why we were there) and we made our way into the waiting room where I made myself comfy as Kurt maintained his composure surprisingly well (thanks be to valium?) After he was called back, I struggled to concentrate on the book I was reading. The receptionist was playing free cell on the computer and taking personal calls when I heard a rather loud yelp from the back room. (And by yelp I mean something similar to the sounds Westley made while being tortured in the Pit of Despair in the movie The Princess Bride.) My heart and stomach sank. Was that supposed to happen? I got up, wanting to run in and tell them to stop, and asked the receptionist if that was normal. She gave me that look older, wise women give to other women and said "Oh, you'd be surprised what comes out of those rooms." I half expected her to start winking at me, while she explained that it had nothing to do with pain and everything to do with the idea of the situation. It was almost always a reaction to anxiety and not to go comparing it with the childbirth experience by any stretch. I wanted to ask how she could possibly know but decided to trust her judgment.

I sat back down, and tended to Solomon who was now ravenous, again. Another man, about my age, came in and took a seat. I overheard him say his last name was Lamb.....I chuckled to myself, our last name being Wolf... (What are the chances?) I had all sorts of funny quips go through my mind, (like, I hope the howling Wolf doesn't scare off the poor Lamb) before deciding to make small talk with him, once he had finished reading through his paperwork of course (the same paperwork we had sitting at home). I even warned him not to pay attention to any noise he might hear from the back. He laughed nervously. (Should've gone with the valium, Mister!) I was glad for his sake that they took him back before Kurt came out, a little shell shocked and shaky to say the least. 

When Kurt finally came back out he was followed by the doctor who I believe must be sadistic. He didn't stop smiling even once as he told me what a great job Kurt did and told us to call with any questions or concerns. Smile, smile, smile. Really, the smile might just give me nightmares. He was like a puppy dog greeting you at the door because "wow, what a great time we had-have-are going to have, yippee!" Psycho....

Anyway, driving home, I have to admit, I was uncomfortably full of doubts. (And it wasn't like I could talk to Kurt....he wasn't exactly comfy either!) I mean, we just cut off an option (no pun intended) and our life is now entering another stage....we have to let our kids grow up....we have to wait for grand babies to hold another newborn in our bloodline....the choice of becoming crazy-cat-lady-reality-show-family-of-20 is no longer ours to make....it is a liberation from biology....freedom from the unexpected (unless God really decides to have a good laugh....) And the thoughts went on and on until, as I was taking the frozen peas back down to a recovering Kurt, I was awoken from my daze by Madeline who asked:

"Mommy, how come daddy can only eat peas today?"

Hee hee hee.....You so totally rock, Squirt!

And I found Kurt, having finished a beer and some ice cream, sleeping through some Sumo Wrestling show....I think we're headed up the blowhole now, ready to face the destination in store for us, whatever it may bring.

Marlin: The water's going down. It's-it's-it's going down!
Dory: Hmm. Are you sure about that?
Marlin: Look! Already it's half-empty.
Dory: Hmm... I'd say it's half-full.
Marlin : Stop that! It's half-empty!

Actually, it's quite full. Thanks be to God.

p.s. If this were a political ad on TV, there would be a voice over saying: I'm Kurt Wolf and I approve this message. ;)

1 comment:

  1. I read this over a week ago, but couldn't comment then. I hope everybody has healed nicely since then. I love how you worked in the quotes from Finding Nemo.


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