Montgomery party of six

Montgomery party of six

Monday, April 30, 2007

he will wear his scars on the outside

this is the second part of a behemoth blog i broke up a while back. while there have been further developments since this, i wanted to get this part out for posterity sake. shalom.

we have a saying in the montgomery family along the lines of "life is never normal, which is good b/c if it was it would be boring." pretty much from the moment he was conceived, isaac has been bringing us abnormality, excitement, and adventure that sometimes borders on sheer chaos.

three days after annie's second accident, we were in the doctor's office, marveling at the detail sonograms can produce in these modern times. annie felt the baby kick for the first time, we learned that he was a boy, and we also found out that our son was not perfect. most good parents know their child is not perfect, no matter how badly they want to believe s/he is. annie and i like to think we will be good parents, and for us this realization, of our son's imperfection, came when the doctor told us he was pretty sure isaac had developed a cleft lip on the left side of his face.

now given my contribution to the gene pool, i didn't expect to be taking home a kid that belonged in ads for baby gap or even kmart for that matter. but i also didn't expect to be taking home a child with an obvious physical defect on his face. the doctor tried to be comforting, assuring us that the rest of him: his heart, his spine, his limbs, (you know, the important parts) looked great, but we were still a little bit thrown.

driving to dinner, we both sat, heavy with the news, which took a while to digest. we then began to talk and process, largely reassuring ourselves that everything was going to be ok. a cleft lip would mean surgery and probably a scar, but nothing life threatening. we talked about finding nemo, about how his dad helps him see his smaller fin as his "lucky" fin, and about how we as parents will have an immense privilege in helping our children receive the world through a healthy filter.

as we bought him his first outfit (a short-sleeved button down plaid shirt and cargo pants from baby gap, go figure), i decided my mantra for him will be "chicks dig scars". we laughed about how if and most likely when we take him to the emergency room his defense will probably be, "but mom, dad says chicks dig scars!" our moods began to lighten, and then, waiting expectantly with our cheesecake factory buzzer, hope started to sprout.

i have a barely visible scar on the left side of my face, the result of 36 stitches i received after being kissed by a german shepherd when i was 7. this scar is now something annie and i are grateful for, something i will forever hold in common with my son, something we now see redemption in.

as much as i hate it, i know that at some point isaac will probably be made fun of b/c of his scar. i can only hope i am wise enough to capture that moment, to help him remember what it feels like to be hurt by another person, and to help him understand that although his are more visible than some, we all have scars, we all have wounds, we all have places we hurt. even now i imagine telling him, "we wear our scars on the outside, other people wear theirs on the inside. but remember, just b/c you can't see them, it doesn't mean they hurt any less."

it is my great hope that our son will allow his scars to make him a more compassionate person, able to feel and walk with others in their pain. similarly, annie hopes they give him character, b/c, as she says, "there are so few men with character these days. i want to raise a son with character." it is a strange tension, to have hopes for your kid, but not wanting to let them develop into unhealthy expectations that will distort who he was created to be, especially since he hasn't even been born yet. we are trying to hold things loosely.

our friend joe told us early on that God would give us what we need. although he was referring to the sex of the child, i think it applies to deeper realities as well. in recent years, i have come to realize that one of the greatest needs in my life, aside from regular visits to in-n-out , is the need for healing. isaac's presence in my life, even in utero, has begun to split me open to new ways in which God wants address wounds i have held onto for far too long, wounds that at times have festered, and at times have superficially healed, wounds the scars of which i will always carry with me.

a few months ago, i emailed the people i work with that although we were hoping for a normal, healthy baby, what they could pray for is the strength and grace to handle whatever came our way. this strength and grace has often come through the people that have trod the way before us, who now surround us, and are helping us step on firmer ground. in this case it is annie's friend adrienne, whose daughter was born with a cleft lip nearly two years ago. adrienne has faithfully emailed annie, connecting us with an amazing doctor in la, and providing much needed support in the myriad of medical options.

ironically, all of this may come to naught. although we are not expecting it, isaac may emerge from the womb with a complete lip, no cleft to be found, for this sort of thing inhabits the realm between crystal balls and death/taxes which is to say nobody is sure of his precise condition. he may never have a scar, for we live in southern california, and as annie has noted very matter of factly, the plastic surgery doesn't get much better anywhere else. who knows, he may be a kmart model yet.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

nursery preparation causes heart attack

annie and i are very different people, in fact we may be the embodiment of the saying that opposites attract. she is an extrovert, i am an introvert. she loves the mall, i love thrift stores. she eats artichokes, i do not. like paula abdul so wisely surmised before her idol days, annie takes one step forward, i take two steps back.

when we remember that we are on the same team, and let our strengths balance the other's weakness, we are a very deadly combo, kinda like tango and cash. when we fail to work together, however, fighting against each other instead of partnering together, one of us is likely to kill the other, or at least shoot looks that could kill.

perhaps the most consistent example of the polar natures in our house is our method of organization. i am a huge believer in the motto: a place for everything and everything in its place. i am constantly putting things away, organizing things into piles, and generally making the world a better place to live. i am not crazy enough to alphabetize our canned goods, but in all honesty i am at least a little bit anal.

annie, on the other hand, is much more free formed in her organization. she will come to a meticulously organized house and just start dropping things everywhere: a purse here, sunglasses there, backstreet boys cd here, tony danza fan club letter there. most days, if it were up to me, i would not even call what she does organization, save the fact that she can locate any item i ask her for, provided i haven't moved it in one of my cleaning sprees. she is the yin to my yang, the light to my dark, the beauty to my beast.

i was recently reading through a real simple magazine and i came across a brilliant quote i have since put up in our living room: "it's not the tragedies in life that kill us, it is the messes." if there were ever a time i would die from mess, it would probably be right now. you see, we are trying to clean up the guest bedroom to prepare the way for our son, going through box upon box of stuff that has largely remained untouched since we moved in over a year and a half ago. several things have struck me in the course of this process:
  1. in approximately four months there is going to be another person in our house. a person that is half annie, half me. how cool and weird.
  2. it is incredible to me how much stuff we have here in the states. enough to fill a whole house and then some. i hope i remember how stressful this process is next time i consider buying more stuff.
  3. the cleansing process is very cathartic, yet very stressful. what energizes me is like swimming in a sweat suit for annie. i want to get it all in one day so it can be done, she wants to space it out over a couple weeks so that she can pace herself. this is the part that just might kill me.
i can only handle disorder for so long before i snap. i told annie the other day that she is going to be the death of me. she is going to come home one day to find me sprawled out on a pile of loosely related receipts and old lip gloss tubes, dead from a massive coronary. with my dying breath i will find the strength to scrawl out one last message: see, i told you so.

despite the chaos, the process is fun at times, finding old letters and pictures, laughing about things that have been held onto for far too long, and wondering why we even bought most of this stuff in the first place. the sense of anticipation for our son grows, as we hang his tiny clothes in his closet, put his little lounge chair in the corner, and stuff his socks that look like shoes into a plastic bin. i just hope we can find a place to put him when the time comes.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

mrs. ann's wild ride

the previous post about the cr-v was the result of two incidents involving my wife and traffic collisions. both those incidents are recounted below. they were part of a much larger post that i decided to break up into smaller bits for the sanity of all involved, so if they seem a little disjointed i apologize, but i did not have the energy to rewrite them as their own post. anyway, here you go.

about a month and a half after the whole bronchitis thing, while i was literally halfway around the world in ethiopia, annie was in a car accident. some knucklehead barely bothered to slow down before he plowed into the back of our perfectly stationary accord, which sat behind 10 or so other perfectly stationary vehicles, and then had the nerve to get out and be upset with my wife. just as a note for future reference, there are two times you never want to mess with annie: one is when she is mad, the other is when she is scared. this day she was both. apparently speedy mcspeedsalot didn't know this.

he started barking at her, exclaiming, in his utmost wisdom, "you stopped!" annie, with italian in her blood and fire in her eyes shot back, "yeah, and you should've!" i am pretty sure he didn't say much after that. in the end, the boy was unharmed, the other guy's insurance company took full financial responsibility, and we got a check for our trouble. all in a day's work.

four weeks to the day later, however, she was in another car accident, this one a little more serious. on her way home, she entered an intersection right about the time some other dude entered the same intersection. both thought they had green lights, but i am sure the other guy was mistaken. (you learn things when you are married. like if it is a toss up between your wife being right and somebody else being right, you side with your wife. the only exception to this rule is when that somebody else is you, but it still usually ends better when you assume she is right, even if you think you know what you are talking about.)

the irony of the situation is the accord was the car we had bought to start our family in. long life, automatic transmission, leather seats for easy clean up of cheerios and carrot sticks, it had all the attributes of a great family car. two and a half years later, it was being loaded onto a truck, a total loss, without a single car seat ever being placed in it. but once again, annie and isaac were both unharmed, save a little emotional stress, so maybe the most significant feature was its safety. count your blessings i suppose...

where is faceman when i need him?

so this past saturday i came one step closer to losing my manhood (aka buying a minivan) when we purchased a honda cr-v. it was quicker and less painful than i thought it would be, but now reality is starting to sink in. the car is great, we are so thankful to have the financial resources to be able to pull this off, and there is nothing wrong with a practical family car per se, but it is a far cry from the van the a-team used to make into a tank every week. i mean, there is no armor involved or anything. it does, however, have an auxiliary input jack so i can plug my ipod in...wait a second, i don't have an ipod. oh man, this sucks.

Monday, April 23, 2007

could it be possible?

a few short weeks after God gave us dessert, he also gave us bronchitis. some may think it unfair that i say he gave us bronchitis when annie was the only one to actually manifest physical symptoms, but believe me, we were both afflicted.

it happens pretty much every year, the bronchitis does, and under normal circumstances annie simply hops herself up on her inhaler during the day and codeine cough syrup at night for about a week and then she feels better. but pregnancy by no means qualifies as normal circumstances, so with the usual treatments out of the question for fear of harming the bean sized fetus now inhabiting my wife's belly, we resorted to "natural" remedies.

during this time we learned a couple things: 1) i am not sure what pregnancy safe cough lollipops are made of, but i am fairly certain the company that makes them has long since boarded up their windows and made off with our hard earned cash b/c those things were a scam. 2) putting a tablespoon of vick's vaporub in a pot of boiling water and then inhaling the steam does help clear up chest congestion, sometimes so effectively, in fact, that it causes one to cough hard enough to throw up on the red hot stove top. here is to our first new year's eve as almost-parents. don't worry, it got better from there, we were in bed by 9:15.

the worst part of the whole three-week ordeal wasn't having to wipe up my wife's vomit as quickly as possible so it didn't become charred on the stove, or sleeping alone in the guest bedroom so she could spend the night propped up in bed, or even picking up countless pieces of crumpled toilet paper containing wonderful little phlegm wads, but it was worrying about our kid. i didn't know him, i didn't even know it was a him, and yet i was desperately concerned with his well being. at times i found myself getting pretty angry with annie for her inability to quit coughing, thinking it a shame that as a man i couldn't carry this baby, b/c i am sure i wouldn't cough so freaking much.

in retrospect, however, i have decided that even if modern science comes to the place of making male impregnation possible as they did for arnold in "junior", i still want no part of it b/c when i am honest instead of angry i know i wouldn't be able to hack it for a week let alone 10 months. (that is right 10 months. that is one of the biggest/meanest jokes they pull on you when you get pregnant aside from the fact that "morning" sickness actually lasts all day.)

so we worried, we prayed, and then we went to the doctor. we saw our son on the sonogram screen, his heart racing at a healthy 140 beats per minute. we didn't worry quite so much. we marveled at the design of the human body. we cared about him even more. if only every part of pregnancy was as easy as cleaning puke off the stove.


Friday, April 20, 2007

he gave us dessert

it may come as a surprise to some of you who are just finding out, but we have known we are pregnant since mid-december. although we had been practicing baby making for a couple years, we had not actually been trying to produce a child for very long. be that as it may, we weren't sure it would ever happen.

as much as we hope and believe in the goodness of God, for us, as i suspect is the case for many, there is always a lurking fear that somehow he is not as kind, loving, or gracious as we make him out to be. a more sinister picture, one where he punishes us for unwise choices, and withholds his favor from those who make even the slightest mistakes is sometimes a hard one to wriggle away from.

this was brought into sharp contrast for me about a month before we found out annie was knocked up. i had been reading a book by a guy named brian mclaren called a generous orthodoxy, a great read if you are into that sort of thing (orthodoxy, not reading i mean), and he was talking about how he felt like he had a very clear picture of Jesus from his childhood, one that transcended the flannel graphs and pastel bible watercolor pictures of him as a gentle, bearded european. he then went on to explain that he had met seven different Jesus's since that point (the roman catholic Jesus, the evangelical Jesus, etc), and that although none of them individually produced the feeling of reverence in him he has experienced as a child, all of them taken together developed a fuller picture, one closer to the deeper reality of Christ he had experienced as a kid.

as i read this, i realized that i didn't have a clear picture of who i thought Jesus was as a child, and often still my picture of him is muddled and unclear. i have things i hope are true, and others i fear are more accurate, but i know very few things for sure. i asked annie about her picture of who God is, what he is like, and she responded by saying she thinks he is a gay man, or, more accurately, like a particular gay man.

you see, a week or so earlier, our small group had gone to serve together at the first presbyterian church of san diego's soup kitchen on a sunday afternoon. i had been there several times before with my junior high students, but this was annie's first time there. as was the case with every other time i had been there, LEO! (this is how he always writes his name on his nametag) was there. LEO! is a gay man that spends his time at the soup kitchen walking around to all the guests, lavishing love and handfuls of hersheys kisses on anyone willing to accept them. annie saw his role as a picture of God's overabundant grace, in the fact that, "he doesn't just meet our basic needs, but he comes with dessert." i found this to be a beautiful observation, yet not without its irony given how many people who claim to follow Christ, especially the obnoxiously vocal ones who carry signs on cnn, view the homosexual community.
despite this picture of a dessert giving God, after being unable to conceive for a little while, annie began to be concerned that we would not get what we really wanted, the opportunity to be parents. after all, we already had so much that we didn't deserve, great families, great friends, great jobs, and why should he give us anything more? surely there is a limit to the amount of grace given any one person.

if there is any such limit, which i have serious doubts about in the first place, we obviously haven't reached ours yet, b/c a few weeks later annie woke me up early one morning. while she is usually up before me, she typically lets me sleep, so the fact she was waking me up should have tipped me off to the fact that something was up, but i do not think quickly on my feet, especially at 6:30 am, and when she said she had made a card for me, i groggily said, "thanks" and rolled away from her. she put the card on my head, and using my brilliant powers of observation, i asked, "you want me to open it now?" she excitedly answered in the affirmative, and i soon knew what she had been holding in since waking up at 4 that morning, that we were going to be parents.

we relished the new reality together for a little while, and then i said something to the effect of, "well here is to things we don't deserve." she, in her typical unawareness of her ability to be profound said, "i know. the first thing i said when i found out was, 'oh my God, he did give us dessert.'"

since that point we have been trying to hold onto that awareness, despite morning sickness, financial reality, bronchitis and two car accidents. on our good days we feel overwhelmed with gratitude, on our not so good days we feel overwhelmed by fear. on everyday we are trying to live into the reality of a dessert-giving God.


ps. no, isaac's middle name will not be zephyr. but if we have another boy, it will be in my top three possibilities.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

our thug son

yes, annie and i are joining the world of couples who allow others to follow their pregnancy on a blog mostly b/c it is a great way to disperse information quickly and to lots of people, which we have severely lacked thus far. my friend jared told me the other day that he found out about our pregnancy on myspace. what is this world coming to?

i suppose the first blog should explain the web address of the blog, and why it is not or something cute like that. first of all, everybody does "baby(insert their last name here)" and even though i want to be just like everybody else, i also want to be different. secondly, the best thing annie has called our kid so far is a thug, and i want to capitalize on it as much as possible. right about now she is regretting asking me to set this blog up....

anyway, a couple weeks ago we went to the doctor and found out our baby has "boy parts" as the sonogram tech so elegantly put it, and it was during that sonogram that annie started to feel him kick. we watched in clear detail as he used his legs to jump about in his aqueous environment (i am pretty sure i spelled aqueous wrong but i am no speller) and all of a sudden, annie realized she could not only see it, but also feel it on her insides. she got all weepy, as women are prone to do during these times, and we celebrated the fact our son had use of his lower limbs.

about a week later, however, annie was wishing he would have been made with legs of pudding, b/c the kicking he was doing was starting to hurt. in an effort to describe the sensation, she said it was like he was thugging around inside of her, instead of thumping around inside of her as she had intended. now annie never mixes her metaphors (those of you who know her well will pick up on my blatant use of sarcasm here) and i thought this one was pretty great, so i have been telling people ever since that she called our son a thug, and now it is on the internet for the whole world to know, read, and enjoy.

it is no surprise really, since his dad (that would be me) is a straight up thug, whose passtimes include keeping it real, capping fools, and hitting switches on my drop 64. let's all hope he also gets my stunning good looks and my knack for hitting the lottery.

so this first entry, sorry post for you blog dorks, is so long that nobody is going to read it ever again, but if you have time to kill while sitting at panera on free wifi, feel free to check back occassionally as we hope to update it somewhat often when we are not shopping for the kid or opening gifts for the kid. he already has nikes. i havent had nikes since bo jackson wore them. the illusion that life is about me is officially dead.

ok, i will stop now. it was a bad idea to give me a blog. the next posts will probably be at least slightly more serious. there is so much that has happened in and to our lives already, i almost wish marty mcfly and doc brown were here so i could go back in time and start this thing from the beginning, but alas the flux capacitor is nothing but a pipe dream.



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