Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Your Grandma


Hey JJ,

This is a photo of your dad, and your grandma. It isn't a recent picture, unless you are thinking in terms of geologic time.

You probably know that I grew up in Ketchikan, Alaska -- and the only way to get out of Ketchikan was boat or plane. In here your grandmother and I are going to take that seaplane to another island, and then a jet to Portland to visit my grandparents.

Turns out your grandmother and your mom (you call her mom, her friends call her Apes, and family Apey) are a lot alike. They are both artist/tom-boy/athletic types. You will see how your mom will always decorate the house, have lots of art projects - and be afraid of math and spiders. Your grandmother is less athletic today (well, she is 81 years old) - but she still has that spirit.

Your grandmother will call me and tell me how she is old because she spent two hours weeding the garden and is tired (of course, your dad will get tired after 15 minutes of that same activity).

So if you find that you are a visual person - well, you come by it quite honestly. If you find that you enjoy a lot of sports- that skipped my generation. If you find you like working in the garden, and flowers - well, so does your mom, grandma, and even your dad.

But here's the thing-- I look forward to taking you to the golf course, and I look forward to the day when you beat your dad playing golf (it will take you a few years kid, so be patient).

Love,
Dad

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The ring



The ring has much symbolism - some debated, but the true value of a ring is not to the rest of the world, it is to the person who wears it.

About every five minutes Apey looks at her ring, and she smiles. The ring we picked out for me is coming in a couple of weeks (guess the jewelry store didn't want to sell me the "floor model.").

I asked Apey - when do you want me to start wearing the ring. "Soon as you get it."

It is unconventional - but we have done a few things in an unconventional manner in our relationship. And yet, convention is as a person makes it. I'm looking forward to getting the ring, and then I'll put in on (in the car of course).

Monday, December 28, 2009

Mama Bear


Whoa... Mom, Mama, Mummy - that's just weird. Yep, for once I'm thinking 'that's what someone is gonna call ME!!' I am thrilled!
Before meeting Terry, never in a million years did I think that I'd be pregnant and carrying a baby! And now - we are - I mean, I am!! And I am so excited! So centered, so focused and so ready for this beautiful stage in my life. I thank God my heart is softened, clear and so open to giving more love to a life that will need it and want it forever!

Today I watched our tears flow as we saw the baby for the first time - and was so happy to see us both so moved by this experience. For something that happens everyday to everyone - it just seems so out of this world to us two... I guess because we never really thought it would be us - and now that's all we want! And we feel so blessed that it's happening to us!

Up until today I've been reluctant to write - call it a juvenile 'jinx' feeling - but I just really wanted to make sure it was "real" before pouring my heart and hopes out onto a page - ya know? Oh don't get me wrong - this and has been very real to me - LoL - the 14 extra pounds I've put on and the new pair of jeans and underoos I've had to buy are evidence that this is really happening to me! Not to mention the fact that my bazombas enter a room 5 minutes before the rest of my body arrives! Help! The complete fatigue has been fun too... I think Terry thinks I am a sleep-a-holic! Luckily there's medical proof and I'm not just taking advantage of seriously doing nothing on this vacation! ha ha!

But the bottom line is I've felt healthy thru it all - like this is 'supposed' to be happening - and if it wasn't... well then I'd be more worried. Phew! Thank goodness we've had a great 1st appointment! I feel like we've covered a huge milestone with 10 weeks and 2 days!

Please pray that everything goes well these next few weeks - for I will be doing cartwheels once we're past the 1st trimester... and hopefully soon I'll be doing some exercises too (14 pounds!!? Yikes!)

Thank you for sharing in our excitement - yay!

The Baby Waved


Whew -- all I can say is whew. What a day!

Started out going to the OB doctor- and all is GREAT! April is doing great and we got to see the ultrasound of JJ -- and the little kid was waving at us -- with both arms. Seriously -- we looked at the ultrasound and here was this little thing flapping both arms and moving all over the place. It was as if there was a person in there saying-- "hey, mom and dad, I know this is the first time you see me, so I wanted to say 'hi'"
video
Ok- that's not the first thing I saw. The nurse practitioner showed me the heartbeat-- and I see this little round thing with a beating heart-- got that -- then I saw another round thing. I kept my mouth shut-- I wondered-- could I be having twins? Well, no such luck-- the kid's head is as big as the rest of him (takes after his dad - fat head) - and once it was clear to me-- I sighed (I think a sigh of relief, but hey, I would have been happy with twins).

We were so happy - and have not stopped smiling since.

Next stop of the day--food-- April was hungry - so we went to the bagel store and had an egg in a bagel. Then off for some more fun.

We had been searching for rings the past week or so-- had narrowed it down to a few, and when she was wondering around oldtown Scottsdale one caught her eye. Today we went in there-- and it is beautiful! So we bought it -- and in the car I put the ring on her finger.

"The car?" you ask. Yup. You see the second time I flew to Tampa to meet April she was driving me around and we chatted about her sister and brother-in-law and she mentioned how she would be married to the person with the biggest age difference. I laughed -- "Is that a proposal?" - it was. So, I will forever say she proposed to me. So -- yes, the car was the perfect place for April to have her ring placed.

It was a great day. Hope you enjoy the video.

Nervous dad



April and I in San Francisco - a month before -- you know.

Dear JJ,

Today we go see the OB doc -- our first visit. I don't know what you will remember about your dad -- or what you will think about him, especially when you are a teenager. Maybe you will think that because he is a surgeon that nothing phases him -- that all things medical pass off him like water off a duck. That when you scrape or cut he calmly puts some glue in and off you go.

Well - this is to let you know that your dad does become nervous. I don't know what we will find, or see - or learn about you today. There are a lot of possibilities --

know this-- your dad gets nervous. Today is our first look at you, kid.

I'll be back later with an update

Love,
Dad

Saturday, December 26, 2009

First Christmas



There are a lot of "things" that one can get for Christmas - and this was our first Christmas, so we are happy with the "loot" - but this is the best. JJ is the size of this Christmas tangerine.

Tangerines have a special meaning to me. Growing up in Ketchikan meant we didn't have a lot of fresh fruit-- especially in the winter. But at Christmas time we would get boxes of tangerines from Japan. Always a treat.

So, today we read that this is the size of JJ.

Hey- kid -- every Christmas in the future when I look at a Clementine or tangerine I will remember your mother and my first one-- when this was the size of you inside her. Love you kid-- can't wait til you read this story.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom



December 23rd was my mom's 81st birthday! Here is a photo of my two favorite ladies - - shortly after mom found out she was going to be a grandmother.

Not much to say- other than, I am so happy that I have some wonderful people in my life-- my parents, April, April's parents, my brother, April's brother, sister, and her brother-in-law. Then there are some wonderful wonderful friends-- all of whom are the private readers of this blog.

Mom-- happy birthday-- I am glad you are going to be a grandma!

Our Tree







Under our X-mas tree are GI Joe and Star Wars action figures climbing over the train and up the tree. April and I are both kids at heart- and sometimes you just have to make your own traditions.

Tradition - that is this time of year. Families have traditions, the way they celebrate the holiday, the way they decorate a tree, when presents are opened, what stockings to hang.

So we have a bit of tradition from our families, but with each generation comes its own twist - and this year we started ours this year. It started with a X-mas tree - bought by my good friend Jamie- and put up by our housekeeper, Laura. April came to town so we went to three stores for decorations (Target had the best).

The decorations were fairly traditional - then we had our talk-- and so now the twist. I wanted a train set -- always did, under the tree. Off we went to a train store and purchased a starter set. They had an Alaskan Railroad car so we had to get that, and turns out in 2000 my brother Ron stayed over that x-mas and gave me a railroad car to commemorate it - and that went into the set. Turns out that somewhere April has a family train set- and it will go with this.

Then I looked at her -- "would it be weird if we put a few other things on the tree? A smile opened up like the San Andreas fault. Soon we were at the toy section in Target and buying action figures for the tree - - and well, you see the result.

Last night as we thought about it-- we are both starting a fresh- new tree, new traditions, some old. "I can't wait til next year when we will have more additions to the family." Notice she said that in pleural - not that we are expecting twins, or more- but adopting is high on our list.

So - we have a few traditions that we started -- action figures, trains, a cigar - and then there are the stockings. We found two stockings -- one that says "Santa I can explain." The other says "Naughty." Somehow, given we are going to have a "premature' baby-- it seemed appropriate.

This is the most amazing Christmas -- because it is the start of hopefully many more to come-- and while for years most could identify me with the Dicken's character - Scrooge (in jest, really) -- I want to be known as the one character who always celebrated the holiday, and where everyone wanted to be - -Mr. Fuzziwig.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My body is betraying me



Photo taken in California in September on a wine shoot. Lots of fun adventures to go through in the past, and now this...

Oh it is tough sometimes.

"I feel like someone has taken over my body." April moans. "I sleep all the time, I'm getting fat, I have funny aches and pains. I have to go to the bathroom all the time, but I'm constipated."

I feel so sorry for her. I try to reassure her -- by telling her she isn't fat and things will get better - but one thing did:

"Honey, in five generations from now there will be people, who won't know us, remember us, other than some digital image of great great great grandparents. Those people won't be there if you hadn't gone through this. So for them - thank you."

She hugged me.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I'm Hungry


April last weekend in St. Pete - on our morning walk she had a bit more than this cherry to eat.

Anyone who knows Apes knows that she is NOT a morning person. I take that back - she is a morning person, she attacks morning from the other side-- seems like after midnight is when she gets her second wind. But when she goes to bed, her brain puts out this "DO NOT DISTURB" sign that lasts until around 10 am. The only good thing about living a couple time zones away is that when I call her in the morning it is two hours later. I'm her snooze alarm though "I love you, can you call me back in 15 minutes?" -- that conversation repeats itself until she wakes up enough to look at a clock - and then she falls into a sprint and manages to shower, do her hair, makeup and drive to work in times that periodically produces a sonic boom over Tampa.

But now this has changed. Ok- it really hasn't changed, but something now wakes her up and brings her out of bed and into the kitchen. Her stomach growls more than the mating call of wild monkey's. You can hear it in China-- I am convinced. April has developed an appetite -- and I don't mean she has developed new food preferences - -well, that has happened too. I mean this woman is hungry.

This morning I woke up and was quietly reading emails when I heard the sound "I'm hungry."
"Its ok, honey, can I bring you something?"
Before I could turn around she was moving-- April - moving, before 7 am! I know, it is the Christmas season and miracles are what we talk about a lot-- but an April sighting on a Monday morning before 7 am is less likely than seeing the Australian DoDo bird.

I got her robe and slippers and off to the kitchen we go - where she gets the cereal out. She joked, "My dad calls me the cereal killer." I can see why - in the past few days we have gone through two boxes of it (I am saying we because April reads this, and she wouldn't want people to think that she alone has consumed enough cereal to keep four Iowa farmers in business).

I love it. I laugh so hard at this - and both of us fall into laughing spots.

Then there are the periodic cravings. Yesterday -after I'd fixed lunch, she said, "I'm still hungry can I have a sandwich?" So I made her a peanut butter and jelly sandwich" An hour later, "You know what I want?"
I know not to answer this -- so I asked, "A new car?"
"No, silly. I want a bagel with everything?"
"You mean, cream cheese, lox, capers, onions?"
"No, microwaved, with butter and salt."

As I run off to the grocery store I give my mom a call. "What are you doing today, Terry?"
"Apes is having a craving for bagels. Did you have any of those."
"Oh my yes."
Mom loves this - and April loves my mom -- and I am lucky -- but that is beside the point.
In the grocery store I look at the ice cream -- I like peanut butter, but she said, "I'm not a peanut butter girl."
OK - here is passion fruit, she likes that, and coffee ice cream she likes that, and mocha, she likes that. Five kinds of ice cream.
Off to the bagel section. Not a good selection. Ask the baker "Any garlic bagels?"
"No, we do have onion, right here."
"No, its a pregnancy craving- gotta be a garlic or an 'everything' bagel"
The lady behind the counter gets a big smile on her face.
"Oh, here are some for ya, hon, fresh out of the oven. You take these to her, and she'll be happy. And Merry Christmas."
The universal experience -- makes me wonder how many guys in the Safeway Grocery store are there trying to get the right thing for their pregnant partner.
I love every second of this. I'm smiling so much --
I get home, April is in the kitchen (which for her is a foreign place) and I bring in the groceries.
She tears up, "You are so good to me."
There is a very positive side to the emotions of pregnancy.
She laughs as I bring out the five kinds of ice cream- and her eyes light up when she sees the eggnog ice cream (ah, I scored).
"Watch this." April says.
She pulls out a hot bagel, spreads butter on it-- puts lots and lots of salt on it, and into the microwave.
As she pulls out this fresh smoking bagel she has this grin -- "This is heaven, thank you so much."
It is wonderful, to be able to do such a little thing-- go to the grocery store, and have so much appreciation.
"So," she starts, "What are you thinking about for dinner."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

But you're building a baby


Poor Apes- she is so tired so often, and she looks back over this photo taken when we were on our way to Alaska- and thinks where did the energy go!
Every night when we are not together we get on Skype so we can spend the last few minutes of our day talking and seeing one another before she goes to bed - and she is having such a hard time.
"I'm so tired, I'm sorry I have to go to sleep."
"It's ok, honey, you're building a baby."
She gets so discouraged that she is tired and cannot have the usual energy (enough to light small US city).
But she knows- the energy is being zapped because her body is doing more work than she would be if she were at a gym!
This week the fetus is developing eyelids, fingers, toes, and will soon be deciding if it will be a boy or a girl. Plus every day her uterus is building more placenta to nourish JJ as the journey continues.

Know this JJ -- every day we think about you, pray about you, and smile. And even though your mom is dead tired (something you will probably never see because she is otherwise a ball of energy) - she wouldn't trade this for the world. Every day we tell someone new about you- and every day in telling about you we are so happy.

48 hours til our first visit to the OB - looking forward to our first view of JJ

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Making Memories



My good buddy, Jamie, made sure I had a tree this year-- and my housekeeper, Laura put the tree up-- and here it is.

I was going to surprise April and buy a little railroad set to go under the tree - but, of course I couldn't just not tell her.

"Don't you dare go without me."

Then I realized- we are making memories- our own, and ours for JJ.

So we are going to have fun when she gets here - -on our agenda-- shopping for Christmas decorations, making some of our own decorations, getting a little train set, decorating the tree - -and oh- the most important, seeing the OB.

I realized something else: I am surrounded by some wonderful friends who take good care of me-- like Jamie and Laura-- and yes, they are on the payroll, but they are more than employees. But now there is this person in my life, who is carrying another person- who I want to take care of.

Its Tuesday- I get to work hard and see Apey on Thursday night.

Never, never, never thought that I would ever be so excited about this- .

JJ - you have no idea the love that you are being brought into-- there is our family - your mom and me -- each of our families - and a lot of good friends who love you and can't wait to meet you.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The oldest child



My oldest brother is Ron - who just had his 60th birthday. I've thought a lot about Ron lately - perhaps because our kid is going to be the oldest child.

Ron was my example growing up -- he was studious, thoughtful - and always kind to me. Whenever I would get in trouble, I would call Ron, and he would come and help me out. He was in college and reading Ann Rand, so I read her. He was conservative, so I became conservative.

When I was a kid and started to like science, he had two microscopes -- one day he gave me one-- just like that.

Today my brother lives in Copper Center, Alaska - and Ron and my parents were among the first to learn that we were pregnant.

So, if our kid is as kind, and thoughtful, and nice as my big brother-- I'll be a happy dad.

The best partner


If someone were to write the story of my life- that story would begin now.

Much like biographies contain little information about childhood-- because there is little of interest (except those things that might shape a person) - there is, in comparison to finding Apey, and becoming a dad -- little of consequence.

Sure, you might think this is sappy - and perhaps to an extent it is - but for me, life has begun. Now I have a partner - and we are creating the greatest adventure. Like most great adventures I have an idea of where I would like it to go- but have no idea what will happen next.

With every new pain she has, with every new thing I read about the fetus - with every new bit of advice I solicit, I get a whole new picture of what life is going to be like.

An old friend of mine, upon hearing the news, said that I would appreciate this much more than "the young pups." I suspect he is write. My soon-to-be-father-in-law said that having a child at this age is an adventure he couldn't imagine (they adopted Apey's brother, Peter).

I cannot be more grateful to have had the adventure that I thought I would never have. I cannot be more grateful to have a partner in this adventure - that is the greatest one I could ever imagine having. We both look forward to this!

Another Monday



I love weekends- but as I write this it is Monday morning and Apey is getting ready to take me to the airport. So Mondays for me are not easy - not at all.

Yesterday we walked by the waterfront at St. Petersburg -- always a favorite place. Everytime we go we notice two things -- kids and dogs. Its pretty clear we are going to get both - but the kid-- wow. There is an application for the iphone that shows you what the fetus looks like-- and since this is about week 9 -- it is now a fetus. Hey- kid, we can call you fetus now!

Thursday night Apey comes in to see me-- so this week will be shorter and better-- and Friday we go to the ob doctor. There is cramping, and feeling bloated, and weight gain -- and that's just me!

Apey is doing great. We worry about every cramp, we worry when we are not together, and we love every second of this.

I love this! Love you, Apey - thank you so much for being my parter, companion- and the mum.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The joy of telling


We are cautious- Apey and I. When we first discovered we were pregnant we thought-- well, one never knows- first trimester and all of that.
We told our families-- something that we pondered about and questioned.
Then we discovered the joy we shared with them.

As time has gone on we have told friends, and more friends- and everytime we tell someone we feel the joy again and again.

Today I got to tell another friend- Sandi - someone so special to April and to me.

We love you all -- we love sharing our joy.

My sorrow is that my brother Jimmy didn't get to know he was going to be an uncle

Thank you

Monday, December 7, 2009

JJ and Jimmy



Today is three years since my brother, Jimmy died. He was 55 years old. On the photo Left to Right is Bev, Jimmy, mom, dad, and yours truly- in September of 2006.

I miss Jimmy, and think of him every single day. When we discovered that April was pregnant there was no doubt that if the child was a boy, he would be named after my brother -- hence - JJ.

I can't help but imagine how much fun Jimmy would have had with his nephew (or niece, he wouldn't care). Jimmy loved kids - loved to play with them, and even when his strength was being taken by the cancer that would kill him-- he always had energy to keep up with kids.

So - dear brother, I miss you. You are going to have a nephew or niece -- and I am so sorry you won't get to meet them. I promise I will tell them all about their uncle- and I hope they have that same smile that was always on your face.

RIP James Erick Simpson December 2, 1951 December 7, 2006

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sunday in Florida

It is amazing how much shopping we do.
April is not a cook- that is just a fact. Nothing wrong with it- but when deciding to cook a few things, first was the inspection of the kitchen. Silverware- check. Some cooking utensils -- oh, those things I bought last time I was here. Stuff to make coffee - check. Pots/pans -- none to be found. Basic ingredients - sugar cubes for coffee, coffee mate for coffee - . Ok- time to go shopping.
So off to Target where we stock up on pots, pans, and a crock pot -- then to the grocery store where we get -- well, everything!
I love to cook- something all the Simpson boys were taught by their mother - and April loves to clean up (no seriously, she really loves to clean) -- works out great.
My concern is that during the week - if left to her own devices, she would be eating fiber bars, trail mix, and Wendy's.
So yesterday I made a bunch of Spaghetti, and started a bunch of chili in the crock pot. Today, meat loaf - some corn bread, and who knows what else.
I look forward to when we are under one roof and I can cook things for her every day.
Til then-- tupper ware and the microwave will be her friend.
I'm a lucky guy- it is fun to cook and take care of her. It is great to be here.
But Sunday is always a bit sad, for tomorrow I head back to Phoenix.
Soon-- soon, we will fix this

Friday, December 4, 2009

Another Friday



I love Friday- not because of the end of the week, but because I get to see April. This weekend will be a weekend in the kitchen - cooking, and getting things set so that when she is at home she can re-heat some good food.

The hardest part of being away is when I hear she is having a tough morning- being tired, or being nauseated. I want to be there to take care of her - to do anything I can to make her feel more comfortable.

So, soon I am off to the airport- I look forward to getting to our home in St. Pete and being able to take care of my honey for a few days- and get her refrigerator stocked with some good food so when she gets home she can heat something. -- I'm thinking some chili, some spaghetti, and maybe meatloaf -- easy foods for her.

I miss Apey- and both of us look forward to the time when we are living under one roof.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Project JJ



I've read that our baby is the size of a lentil right now -- so here is a comparison of an onion and a lentil.


Many things between a couple are personal - things not shared with others. There are a lot of reasons for this, but mostly it has to do with hope, and fear, and superstition.

April and I met, we fell in love-- we started a conversation that continues on- and the thought of having a child just fell into place.

April said, "I know I love you, because I never wanted to have a child through this body- I always wanted to adopt. But I want to have your babies."

Adoption is in our future. No doubt April loves the idea because she was born in China, and her brother is from China. No doubt I love the idea because my dad was raised in the Jesse Lee Home in Alaska, an orphanage.

But having children - well, it wasn't in my future - or hers.

So, we started to talk about it.

"I hope I have a boy," she said. April is a tom boy- loves to run, play rough, and enjoy lots of sports.

"What would we name him?" I asked

We decided to name him after my brother, who died - Jimmy (also my dad's name) and her dad (George).

"So we would call him Jimmy George?" I asked.

"Oh now, I'd call him JJ. Jimmy James- you get over here right now! Then he'd know he was in trouble" We laughed at the through of it.

"What about Lilly?" I asked, "Somehow that name just sticks with me."

Yea - silly eh? Well, that describes me-- or us.

I've never been happier.

So, we don't know if we have a JJ or a Lilly. But whoever you are-- know this: you were planned, you are loved, and we can't wait to get to know you better!

The night comes


I have become a cliche - a Hallmark card.
Every night April and I are on Skype- so we can see each other as we spend our last hour or two together- chatting before one or the other of us goes to sleep (usually her). That never ends our night conversation, though.
If she or I wake up in the middle of the night we will call the other - it seems to make up for not being next to one another, and it makes the night go easily.
Before I was with April, my nights were haunted- with not much sleep - with her, my nights are quiet- and I look forward to her calling me, or if I wake up - to calling her. The hardest nights now are Monday nights- after I'm gone, or she is gone. The best nights-- Thursday nights, because I know the next day I will see her.
Our pregnancy - our lives - began and continue in a love and partnership that I would have never believed possible. That I could never "conceive" of - .'

"With a love like this we have to share it." - something both of us say- and we share it with our families, and now we are blessed that we will be starting our own.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Retail Therapy



It is difficult being 2100 miles away from April - ok 2156 miles from our house to her office (but who uses Google to figure that out anyway). I want to be there to fix her dinner, or to rub her shoulders, or just hold her when she is feeling blue.

Last night she said she needed some retail therapy. "Don't worry, I'm not going to spend that much money." April is like her mom - finding a bargain is a sport. A couple of months ago April and I put our checking account together - and she always worries about spending any amount of money.

"I'm headed to the mall, I've got to get a new purse - between my vitamins, the two cell phones, and everything else I carry I need something."

"So, I guess I won't be getting you a new purse for Christmas?"

She laughed. "No, honey, I kind of need it now. I had to put the vitamins in my purse, because I can't take them on an empty stomach."

April has two cell phones because her one phone is for work, and sometimes she turns it off or forgets to charge it. Once she was pregnant I wanted to have a way she could get a hold of me - and since I had two cell phones that was easy.

"There is this restaurant there that has some great food, tofu, and healthy vegetables and I am just in the mood for that."

Even though tofu is about the last thing on my list of great foods, I've read a thousand times how a pregnant woman will have urges and eat things, and never to argue. "Sounds wonderful,"- my voice dripping with sarcasm and a smile. She caught both and laughed.

She thinks she's fat - her breasts are larger, she is a bit bloated, and had to go to a size six. I keep telling her that she was a bit too skinny for a kid, and now her body is storing all it can while the creature inside of her is being built to specification (we put in an order for a boy, but first order was healthy). So I am happy she doesn't want to skip a meal - although if given an option of tofu I might skip a meal.

She happily found a parking spot and entered the mall and I went back to work.

A few minutes later I got a text with the photo (above) attached saying "I want this nativity!"

I looked at this and my text was "That's us!"

I looked at that little scene and our little family as we will be next year- complete with an animal or two (and my beard of course).

April's mom collects nativity sets - and has enough to fill a couple of houses. April and I are still working on our Christmas decorations (this soon-to-be-former- bachelor has spent Christmas time with other folks, and I don't even have a tree or stocking).

April was worried about the price-- but it was far less expensive than most and it is her therapy. Later that night April tweeted "Dear baby Jesus... Thank u for retail therapy... And for my new minimalist nativity that I found for way to much money but put a smile on me."

So even if I can't be there- if something simple can put a smile on my girl's face- it is worth it.

Still, every day I am not with her is getting more and more difficult. I look forward to Fridays now - because that's when I get to see her. Someday soon we will be together - and I need to remember these times so I never - never - never - never - never take for granted our time together.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Gotta Give it up



I am struck by the sacrifice that April makes in this process.

She loves to snowboard, do almost anything on a board -- fast, jumping-- now on hold. She enjoys a glass of great wine - now limited to a few ounces a week. Sushi- something she has had for lunch- now out for a bit.

So, I have to support her. When I was with her folks in Atlanta her mom said to me, "Terry, you have to give up cigars. We want you around for this baby."

OK- I'm in.

Cigars - out-- wine - a few sips with April - -and my turn to help her with walks, and everything else.

Small sacrifice - because April, my dear-- you are doing the most. Whatever you need -- I'm in -- all in.

Wow


Wow.

Yea, that sums it up. I'm going to be a father, a dad.

At times it seems unreal - April is 2100 miles away- the child's expected date of birth is July 23, 2010. But inside, I feel a warmth, a peace - that passes understanding.

Some little creature is coming into my life, and April and I are starting a family.

I never saw it coming. Never thought I would be a dad, and never understood the enthusiasm that future dads have-- when talking about their kids. Never even thought that I would have a mate for life- someone that I would share life with and have a family with.

It started with meeting April- and I love how she describes it:

"We started a conversation, and that conversation has never stopped."

The second day after I met April I said to her, "You are someone I want to have kids with." I don't know what made me say it-- I'd never said or felt that way before. Her response was "That's heavy."

Still, as our love was confirmed, and has steadily grown, there is one thing that came to the front -- we were meant to be together, and we were going to have a family.

We had each lived full lives. Each of us successful in our own field, each of us accomplished many things.

We had not been successful in our personal lives- and our confidence in our ability to ever commit again was shaken.

Somehow, my life changed -- somehow everything in life has changed--

I have a partner in life
We are going to have a kid or two (don't tell her, might be more - if you tell her she may shoot me). We will adopt one or two from China.
We are going to spend our life giving back - taking our kids with us to the third world and helping them with their health care.

Life has changed-
Life is good.
Thank you, April. You came into my life-- and have given me so much. I can feel again, and I love every part of it-- from the love for you, the love for our child, and even the fears and concerns.

Week Six


Every day I get an email from Parents.com telling me about what the fetus is like, or developing, or doing. The email has links about nutrition, medicine, ultrasounds-- everything. I read every link, and follow every discussion.

Today I saw that the fetus is the size of a lentil. That morning sickness will begin in earnest.

I called April, and asked how she was feeling-- a bit queezy.

So I studied to see what foods are good, what are not recommended, and how we should approach these weeks with her.

It is difficult being a prospective dad from 2100 miles away. I talk to April several times a day - and yet I feel so inept. Yesterday she asked what she should eat for dinner-- April isn't a cook, and she is so tired from the pregnancy she doesn't even have the energy to heat food.

Friday I know I will be back there. My plan is to shop, and fix her lots of premade meals so she could just heat things up and have a dinner or a snack at anytime.

As excited as I am to be a father-- it is so difficult. I told her, "Honey, if you ever can't handle it, if you ever need me-- just call and we will get you on the next plane, or if you need me-- just call, and I will be there."

Odd-- I spent my life worrying about myself, and giving no thought to the future-- now, I look to the future and smile. I'm going to be a dad. For the first time I worry that I can provide a living-- never has been an issue before, but now I feel the weight of a responsibility I never felt before-- and it is good.

Future in Laws - the Atlanta Trip


April wasn't certain about telling her parents. Always the possibility of a miscarriage in our mind, and always the concern about raising some false hope, only to have it dashed.

We arrived in Atlanta that night, and her dad, mom, and little brother, Peter picked us up. April's brother is 11 years old, and the way she treats her brother is a cross between a big sister- a sister who is 11 - and a good friend. Seeing April with Peter shows me what a wonderful mom April is going to be. She can relate to him so well, so easily, and so readily. She plays with him, draws with him, and loves being around him.

When we got to the hotel I asked April if she had any thoughts about talking to her folks. "I don't know, Terry. I want them all to know, but I don't know."

The next day we went to her sister's home and spent the day relaxing until her brother-in-law and I went to play golf.

We were on the second tee when I asked him, "Can you keep a secret - nothing bad, a good secret."

"Yes," Bob said, "I can."

Bob and I just got along well. This was the second time I had been around him, and we were just at ease with each other from the start. I felt like I had known him my entire life, even though we just met.

"April is pregnant," I blurted out-- with a big sloppy smile on my face.

The smile went across his face like a large ocean wave. "Really?"

"She is, and I have never been happier in my life."


We talked about how he was just finishing his family- and I was just starting mine. Reverse from the way it is normally done.

"I have done everything in life that I could do for myself, and April feels the same way. Now I'm looking forward to a family. Kind of the opposite. April is a little hesitant to tell her folks though."

We chatted over a couple of golf holes and then I came up with an idea.

"Maybe I should talk to George (April's dad). I like him, and maybe I should be the one to talk to him and tell him."

"I think that is a great idea." Bob responded.

For the rest of the golf round Bob and I tossed the idea back and forth. Finally at the 14th hold Bob said, "You know, I think if you do that, it will take the burden off of April. I think it is the right thing to do."

Approaching the driveway April's dad was cleaning some stuff out of his car. I got out and asked if he wanted to show me the spot where he had seen some deer. We started to walk out and I asked him what it was like to be older and have Peter in his life.

"It is an incredible blessing. It isn't something I would have ever thought of doing, but it has added so much to Barbara and my life."

As we talked about the wonderful impact that Peter had on their life we watched nature. I looked up at him and said, "You are going to be a grandfather, April is pregnant."

"So that's why you asked about Peter."

"Yes, that. We are both very happy. We planned it, and we didn't know when the right time was to tell you, and I thought I should be the one to tell you. April doesn't even know that I told you."

April's dad is a kind, gentle soul. A sweet man, that has a lot of empathy and feeling. The type of person who from the first time I met him, knew I wanted to spend time with him talking and sharing.

"So, I gather you and April are serious." he smiled.
"When is the wedding going to be?"

"We were thinking in February, when you might be back. But don't feel as if you have to be there- or need to attend, that is ok."

"I hope we can be there," he said, with this reassuring smile that made my heart turn to a marshmallow.

We talked some more about life, and kids, and plans.

We walked into the house, and chatted for a bit. He then found an excuse to go to the grocery store with his wife. April, offered to go with them, and I held her back. I asked April to come outside where Bob and I were by the grill.

"April, I told you dad, he is going to the store to tell your mom."

I didn't know what to expect. April looked relieved, "How did it go?"

I related the conversation and how he was going to tell Barbara in the car.

"What should I do now?" April asked

"Go talk to your sister," Bob said.

So April and I found Kim, and brought her into the bedroom.

"What's this about," Kim asked. April looked at me.

"Your sister is pregnant." I said.

From there it was two sisters - -talking, chatting, hugging, and becoming closer as two could be.


A few minutes later George and Barbara came home, as we were getting ready to eat some dinner. Barbara came around the corner-- gave me a big hug,

"Congratulations on becoming a father," she said as she gave me a kiss on the cheek.

The rest of the weekend was a blur. April and I were so happy that those closest to us were now in the loop with our plans.

As George and Barbara took us to the hotel that night April said, "I didn't know how you would react, or if we should tell you."

"April," George said, "You are 35 years old. We are happy for you. We just want to know when the wedding is going to be."

I felt the warmth from George, Barbara, Kim, and Bob-- I was a part of the family, a welcome addition. But even more-- I felt this wonderful feeling inside-- April and I were starting a family- and our child was going to have some wonderful grandparents, aunts, and uncles.

"What are you going to do, April?" her mom asked.

"Well, my contract ends in March- and sometime I will move to Phoenix."

"You going to be ok?"

"Oh, this guy will take good care of me," she pointed to me.

The hardest part of the trip, was the next morning- when April headed back to Tampa and I was headed back to Phoenix. My lady was pregnant, and I wasn't going to be there to help take care of her.

Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving was going to be a flying holiday. We were scheduled to fly to my folks on Thanksgiving day- then the next day fly to Atlanta where we would spend the weekend with April's parents and her sister and brother-in-law.

We arrived in Portland and headed to my folks house.

"You sure you want to tell your parents?" April asked.

"Yea, I just don't know how to do it yet. I have an idea though."

"What's that?"

"Well, I'll give thanks, and thank each one for being there and the one to come."

My folks had already had one surprise that week-- my brother Ron surprised them by coming down for the holiday weekend. Dad was in Alaska on business, and when my brother took him to the airport Ron told him that he was coming with them. April and I were told of the plans- and our role was to make sure they were going to stay home for Thanksgiving-- by us coming up there.

It is always fun to come to a house that is filled with holiday smells. Mom was upset because she didn't make everything from scratch, and April went right into the kitchen and helped mom with everything she could.

As we sat down dad asked who would say grace, and I volunteered. I asked the Lord's blessing on each by name, and "the one who is yet to come."

After we said "amen" I said, "That is just my way of telling you that April is pregnant and you are going to be grandparents, and Ron you are going to be an uncle."

There were smiles all around the table - -mom said, "Finally! You were able to do what Jimmy couldn't." Jimmy, my brother, who three years ago died of lung cancer, had been married for 25 years. He had Hodgkin's cancer as a young man in the Navy, and apparently the radiation had cured that cancer, but left him infertile. My oldest brother, Ron, was, at 60 years old, still a bachelor.

They were so excited, and so happy. After dinner we returned to our hotel, and the next morning me them for breakfast before we flew to Atlanta.

At breakfast dad reminded me that his dad was 54 when he was born. Mom said that the first thing she and dad talked about that morning was being grandparents.

Mom and April spent a lot of time chatting and as we were driving to the airport April said to me, "You are marrying your mom. She was a tom-boy and an artist, and look at me. I just love your mum."

It was the happiest I had seen my parents since my brother died three years ago. Now there would be new life in this Simpson family.

I cannot put into words how my heart soared.

The Test


I never thought that I would be excited about being a father. Never had planned to be a father- and had always put my career before almost anything in my personal life. Then I met April. I use to think that love at first sight was myth - and the stuff of romance novels or silly people-- but there is no doubt when I looked in her eyes that I knew my life was going to change forever.

I didn't believe myself-- I was skeptical. But ultimately, after weeks, it became clear -- that April and I were in love- that our lives were to be together forever. Then as April and I talked it also was clear that having a child was just something we were going to do. It was planned, it was deliberate, and we didn't know when she would get pregnant, but we wanted it.

The first month that it didn't happen we were ok. A bit sad, but we were ok. I worried that it would never happen, and for the first time felt empathy to those who go to lengths to have children. But I knew even if we couldn't have a pregnancy, we would adopt a child from China-- much like April's parents adopted Peter. We knew we were going to adopt a child from China no matter what.

But I noticed something-- that we were headed to Alaska, and if her cycle held true- and April became pregnant - it would happen in Alaska.

We had a wonderful trip in Alaska-- April got to see my state for her first time. We even took the long trip from Anchorage to Copper Center to see my brother, Ron. The beauty of that part of Alaska was overwhelming.

Spending a week with April was wonderful- living over 2000 miles apart is difficult, but every night we see each other on Skype- and it helps. So it was difficult to let April head back to Tampa as I returned to my work.

Two and a half weeks later, we were talking and April said she was feeling fat and bloated. It struck me-- "honey, your five days late."

"No, I think I am going to have my period this weekend. I feel like I am going to have it."

We did the calculations, and then it struck me, "Remember when we said you would be pregnant in Alaska. Its over two weeks since we have been there."

She was coming to Arizona in a couple of days, and both of us were smiling.

Arriving on a Friday night, meeting her at the airport, I was excited.

Saturday morning we went to Safeway and looked at the pregnancy testing. I looked through every one-- trying to find the one that was most accurate. I took out three of them and put them in the shopping cart.

"Terry," April said, "I think we only need one. Its ok. This one has two test strips in it." I sheepishly put the other test kits back on the rack. We then headed to the vitamin section where I bought the industrial size pre-natal vitamins.

We finished our shopping and drove home.

"I'm going to do this, but I don't want to read it." April said as she went into the bathroom.

Nervously I responded, "Honey, whatever you want."

She came out of the bathroom.

"We have to wait 30 seconds. You go in and read it."

"Lets both go in and read it."

"OK"

We went in. It was clear -- "YES +"

We were pregnant.

I grabbed her - held her tight, and started to tear up. For years I had watched old movies where the wives would tell the husband that they were pregnant, or the rabbit died, and the husband responded with excitement. For years I never understood those reactions - I thought they were silly, or contrived, or just not real. Now I understand.

I was so happy. I was so excited. We were going to be parents! I was going to be a dad.

"We gotta get some books," I said. So off to the bookstore we went.

We not only bought two copies of some pregnancy book, but three magazines, and went to several websites. We signed up for weekly emails.

Being a doctor I spent some time doing obstetrics in medical school, and did some gynecologic surgery in my surgery residency - but all of this was new. What will she be like, how will it develop. I wanted to do my research, and I wanted to do a lot of it. I had to be there for April, I had to know everything that was going to happen to her, minute by minute if needed.

The great thing is Thanksgiving was coming, and we were going to see both of our parents. She asked if I was going to tell my parents--

"You know, I think I will. My folks are in their 80's and never had a grandchild."

We worried about the risk of miscarriage - but so wanted to share the joy we were having.

meeting april


I thought my time had passed. That kids were not going to be in my future - that being a dad was something in theory, but would never happen.

Then I met April.

I can't describe the events so clearly, because they are things felt, and not best told.

I knew who April was, I had talked to her on twitter. She seemed like a nice young lady, who had a complicated life, and someone who was interesting. Never knew what she looked like, didn't know anything about her personal life. But we talked a few times on twitter- and it was easy to talk with her. I guessed at the details of what was going on in her life- but didn't pry.

I was invited by some mutual friends to Tampa for a dinner. The days before I was in Alaska at some meetings, and it seemed like a long way to fly -- all the way to Florida - for a dinner- but I didn't really have anything better to do that weekend so I thought "why not." In the great Alaska tradition I decided to bring my hosts some Alaska food-- and I had promised them seafood-- so it was seafood I brought-- salmon and halibut. The salmon was caught in Anchorage at Ship Creek- caught it, fillet it- and brought it to a place for packing- which they agreed to do if I would buy some of their fish- so I bought some halibut. Caught that day, packed, and that night took the red eye from Anchorage to Tampa.

The hostess of the dinner was going to meet me at the airport, but when I arrived there was a message on my phone-- instead, April was going to meet me. I smiled-- it would be nice to meet this young lady in person.

She was late - called an apologized - and that was fine. She arrived-- helped me with the luggage, gave me a hug then we got in the car.

She took off her sunglasses and looked at me in the eye. I don't know what happened at that moment- because I rarely look people in the eye. But I did her. For several seconds the world stood still - there was no car, no Tampa, no me, no her-- just us. It was two souls talking to each other through eyes. She sat up straighter, her voice went a bit deeper- and we both knew that there was something between us that meant our lives would never be the same