Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Flashes of our vacation

It's been a roller-coaster. Everyone reading this has already read the Girl's blog so they know what happened to her pregnancy. The last two days have had lows and, surprisingly, some good highs. One develops a morbid sense of humor on a day like yesterday and we both laughed when the Girl pointed out the fact that the remains of our would-be baby ended up in a trashcan outside Duluth Running Company.

I'm far from an obstetrician and the times I have dealt with pregnant ladies in the ER, I try to get them out to a "higher level of care" as soon as I can, ie. as far away from me as possible. My skills go as far as to do an exam to see if the cervix is open and the lab can check to see if there is amniotic fluid in the discharge, meaning that the water has broken. So I have never, not even as a student, seen a spontaneous abortion in progress. The Girl, as it turned out, had been carrying a non-vital embryo for weeks, although the pregnancy hormones were still quite elevated and she certainly had a lot of symptoms of pregnancy. I can't claim to understand this, actually, but that's the working diagnosis.

So she actually had to deliver this little 4mm sac, in a way. With back cramps and everything, she passed several clots over the day, each of which was inspected by us both. Sometimes knowing a little is worse than knowing nothing, as when we looked at a hard little seed, that had the shape and feeling of a scaled-down grain of rice. Could this be it? If so, it blew off the Girl's finger and now rests near Big Manitou Falls south of Superior, WI. But her cramps continued, and as I was looking at my fat, hairy legs in a pair of Sugoi running shorts in Duluth Running Co, the Girl passed the above-mentioned clot. In Danish, she briefly let me know what was going on and we went outside to play embryo pathologists. The ultrasonographer had told us that the actual remnants of the embryo, and who knows if there was ever a viable embryo per se, would be 1mm in size. We found nothing and dumped the clot in a trashcan. Miraculously, and this is the part of the story I have working up to, the Girl felt completely normal. No backpain, no cramping. Within the hour, her little potbelly disappeared and we even think her face changed a little from some swelling disappearing.

Okay, so we dealt with it through a very mechanistic lens. We already have the Lorax so we know we can make normal babies. This one just wasn't going to happen.

But out vacation has been other things than losing babies.

I taught my son, Andreas, how to ride a bike. After two frustrating hours of me trying every trick I could think of, he suddenly got it. Now, we have cruised around Riverside Park in La Crosse so many times that he knows every landmark there and comments on them. I run behind him with a broomstick stuck attached behind his seat. I save his life every quarter mile or so, but the saves are becoming less frequent and less impressive. It's our thing now; he even talks to me on the phone up here in Duluth, which he never did before. I can't wait to take him out again on friday, when we get back to La Crosse.

I ran a 5K race in 16:32 on a super hot night. The winner, Sammy Korir, ran more than two minutes faster... Still, I was happy with my time. A group of fast people showed up and I was actually in 6th place for most of the race. Did get into fourth with a half mile to go and was closing in on the Duluth Running Co guy in third. Didn't quite get up to him but the dead embryo in his trashcan should teach him a lesson.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


We're off to a summer vacation to Wisconsin, Minnesota and Thunder Bay, Canada. We're not working at all, so it's a rare three weeks with nothing on the agenda but to enjoy ourselves.

Of course, our vacations aren't really what you consider normal. There's always drama when we come to town. I expect my son to bond with me more than he does, and he gets overwhelmed with having his dad in town, spoiling him for a precious few days. It usually leaves him moody and ill-behaved and doesn't bring us any closer. This time around, I want to teach him how to ride a bike. I remember teaching Natali when she was 5; she was a slow learner but finally came around.

My son, Andreas, is almost 7 and very tall for his age. He still can't ride a bike for unknown reasons. My ex-wife says she has tried to teach him but that he is just too scared. I see it as a sign that he is left immature in this and other ways, because he has no dad; this makes me feel guilty. I also see it as a sign that my ex-wife has too much going on in her life to spend the time teaching him how to ride a bike. He isn't in any sports either and has no close friends. This annoys me, but there is nothing I can do about it.

We talk about the kids, and invariably end up fighting. I bring up the unfairness of having to pay exorbitant child support and she threatens me with not letting Natali spend the next year in Denmark. I consider the implications of an all-out war between us: we have shared custody but she is designated the primary parent, even to Natali, who has lived with me this last year. I would have to stay in Wisconsin for the court proceedings for the tiny chance of getting a judge to let me get custody of one or both of them.

I don't want that at all. I don't to fight and I would lose, anyway.

We are actually caught in a weird detente. I pay generous child support; generous even if she had both kids living with her. Wísconsin child support actually thinks Natali is staying with her. So I don't bitch about the child support and she lets me keep Natali. If she were to open up the war, her child support would certainly be reduced; whereas I would lose Natali, should I fire the first shot.

This makes it sound like we hate each other. Quite the contrary, actually, but these cimcumstances are so hard to deal with that there is bound to be ample disagreement.

So, yeah, not a normal vacation. The Girl and I are taking one week away from all three kids, though. Yes, that's right. My mother-in-law, thankfully, has more than a thing for her Danish-speaking, blond grandson and has offered to watch him for a whole week! It's insanely sweet; and this is where Minnesota and Thunder Bay come in. Just the two of us, feeling young and unburdened. The best part, of course, will be coming back to the kids when it's all over, but the second-best part is us alone for a whole week.

The running is going well. I have been doing intervals and feel smooth, light and fast. It's not a PR-setting shape at all. More like the kind of shape where running is fun. I'll be pacing the pregnant Girl at Voyageur next weekend. Well, maybe not pacing per se. More like taking pictures of her and trying to not get in her way; she hates it when I run with her during races. Probably, my main task will be to get her to take it easy. For all her running-in-pregnancy bravado, she isn't planning on racing hard - but may need to be reminded once the gun goes.

And boy am I glad I am not racing. I think my range may reach as high as 50 miles in the next few years but not yet. Voyageur was terrible for me last year, so, instead, I'll do the 5K fun run the night before.