Montgomery party of six

Montgomery party of six

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

stop tailgating me or i'll flick a booger on your windsheild

have you ever seen one of those cars that looks like it got hit in a bumper sticker drive by? they are typically older cars that haven't been washed in while, you wonder how the driver can even see out of the rear window, and most of the time the bumper stickers are all in one general theme such as environmental, social, or jesusical. on my way to work last week i saw one such vehicle, plastered in political bumper stickers. most of them were oversimplified propaganda, which i have found most bumper stickers tend to be, but one of them caught my eye. it read: "vote your hopes, not your fears."

as a deeply ingrained cynic, it is natural for me to distance myself from hope, always quick to see the glass as half empty, even if it is mostly full. it is a defense mechanism to be sure, but sometimes it messes with things, not the least of which my heart, aching to believe in the good, but at the same time afraid of being disappointed and hurt.

for some reason, it has been far easier for me to avoid my cynicism and fears during annie's pregnancy, generally believing that somehow things are going to be all right. part of me wonders if i am still in the denial phase of the grieving process, but the larger part of me realizes that i can't even think about worst case right now, or else i won't even be able to function.

exhibit f:
last friday we went to the doctor to check on isaac's growth, to further rule out the possibility of one of those nasty chromosomal issues. on the upside, he is a hefty two and a half pounds already, and we got to spend more time with ann, the woman who was so supportive when we first found out about the palate possibility. on the other hand, annie's amniotic fluid level is "on the upper end of normal". there are several possible explanations:
  1. it may be, and as far as i am concerned is, nothing. just a normal part of pregnancy, of the rhythm she is on.
  2. it may be gestational diabetes. while they cannot explain it, sometimes pregnant women get diabetes, even if they do not normally have it. elevated fluid levels are sometimes associated with this diagnosis.
  3. it may be related to his cleft, as in one of the many unknown conditions that cannot be conclusively determined using sonograms. not likely, but even the possibility is a little scary.
during a secondary inspection, they found that annie was having a contraction at the doctors office. again, it may be nothing, our good friend jenny has a friend who had contractions during her last trimester with all three of her kids, but again it is something to keep an eye on. i swear, one of these days we are going to have a doctor's appointment when we don't get any potentially bad news.

in the mean time, annie was already scheduled to take her diabetes test the next morning, and i, like a supportive husband, went to mexico. i honestly thought about not going, i offered to stay, but she wanted me to go. i felt like to stay would have been living my fears, and 350 of my closest friends and i were headed down to tijuana to build houses, an activity i had really enjoyed the year before.

the weekend was great, fatiguing but great, yet it proved harder to be away from annie than i had thought it would be. my prayers and thoughts were with her often, and i was so grateful for the fact that we are surrounded by so many family and friends. saturday night around a campfire i was close to tears as i told my brother derek that although i know i can never keep isaac safe enough, it is hard to let go of the desire for control.

monday afternoon as we officially handed the new house over the the family, my friend drew read a verse from romans that i had heard many times before in english. it was the theme verse for the weekend, about how suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character and character, hope. slightly appropriate for our current situation both personally and corporately.

hearing it in spanish, the next phrase struck me hard "...esperanza no nos defrauda...(hope does not defraud us)."

hope does not defraud us. hope does not shortchange us. hope does not cheat us. hope does not rip us off. i tried to be careful not to get roofing tar on my face as i wiped the tears that had suddenly appeared.

something so familiar had become new simply hearing it in another language. it was like a cover song which adds to your appreciation of the original, b/c hearing the same song in a different voice brings new understanding, emphasis and meaning, in the same way stories become more magical, and jokes (usually) become funnier with every retelling.

i hesitate to assign too much meaning to our particular situation b/c i feel like it would be at least slightly manipulative and premature, but i am grateful to have a new picture of hope, and another chance to live into the expanded understanding.

Monday, May 21, 2007

julia roberts' ex

so the other day annie and i were walking through one of my least favorite places on earth: the mall. (for those of you who were thinking new jersey, that would be a close second.) it was a mellow saturday evening, people carrying bags and eating hot dog on a stick as they searched the directory for the nearest bathroom.

as we were headed towards the car, we passed a few junior high girls talking excitedly amongst themselves. (i could be crazy but i could have sworn i heard some mention of lyle lovett.) the matching purple shirts suggested they were on some sort of sports team together, and the fact that they came out of the mall pizzeria led me to believe they were probably there for some sort of an end of the year team party. footloose and parent-free, they were off to explore the many wonders of westfield shopping town.

as they passed, i hearkened back to my early teens and days, spent not at the mall with the cool kids, but in my room building lego ships or trading baseball cards. i marveled at, and celebrated, how quickly time had passed since those awkward years, knowing that in no time these girls would soon be looking back at this time with the same fondness, then suddenly realizing it won't be long before isaac will be taking off to hang out with his buddies without me or annie. in like 3 months he will be here, and then the following tuesday he will be headed off to kindergarten, before going on to college and then the hot dog on a stick training academy.

i figure the pace of this pregnancy has given me only an inkling of how quickly once time will pass once isaac is actually here, let alone any other buns we may be able to put in the oven. i am already beginning to become the old person i said i never would be, utterly baffled by the new trend of guys who wear women's jeans that fit like spandex. my jeans were tight enough to be uncomfortable in the 80's, but they are no match for present day style, and you can bet your hypercolor i ain't ever going back. i can't imagine what they will think of next. i just hope i can take it all in before my eyes start to go.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


so i felt the first real twinge of panic about this pregnancy last night. there was no new news or revelation, just a sudden realization that our son will be here in approximately three months, and i am not at all sure i am cut out to be a father. i mean, i still occasionally forget to feed myself (although you wouldn't know it by looking at me), i still neglect to take my medicine when i am sick, and, as annie unfortunately can attest to, sometimes i still miss the toilet. who decided i was fit to rear a child?

regardless of whether he has a cleft or not, an extra chromosome or not, he will cry in the middle of the night, he will poop his pants, and he will be looking to somebody to address these issues. seeing as he is genetically half me, i feel i bear at least some responsibility to be a part of taking care of the situation; either that or i am going to have to start making way more money so we can hire an au pair. (we would never do this, i just love using unnecessarily fancy french words.)

this morning my friend paula shared a good piece of advice with me, which i heard as "don't pick up burdens that aren't yours to carry." we could spend all sorts of time worrying about all sorts of things, all of which could end up amounting to nothing. take it day by day, piece by piece, and play by play. plan wisely, work hard, and trust God to fill in the gaps.

there was a kid in my office yesterday, his name was aaron, and he spent the better part of half an hour shooting everybody in the place with my nerf gun. it made me excited for my son to get here, so i can buy him his own nerf gat, to go with his blue bandanna and his bling. in the meantime i am taking baby steps, asking for daily bread, and working on my aim.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

here's to making stuff up

so life has settled down considerably in the past couple weeks, nothing major other than the garage sale we had this past weekend with all the stuff we decided to get rid of while cleaning out isaac's room. it is a dream come true for me: getting rid of stuff and getting cold hard cash for it. the trick, as my friend paul has noted, is to not replace the stuff we got rid of with more stuff. all the baby items might make that difficult though...

his room is coming together. it will be surf themed, with the dominant colors being dark brown and baby blue. (listen to me, sounding like i know what i am talking about--annie is the decorative genius, i am just the grunt that lifts boxes and paints the bathroom.) we actually found him a legitimate surfboard, like one he could actually ride, from this teenager at a garage sale about a week and a half ago for $15. garage sales rule on both ends.

other than that, we have been trying to come up with funny/absurd explanations in the likely event that people overreact to isaac's lip/scar. imagine the following exchange if you will: "holy crap! what happened to his face?!" "well, he was swimming in the amazon and a piranha came up and took a chunk right out of him!" or "a band of wild pygmy elephants stampeded his nursery in the middle of the night! on the upside, he ripped out one of their tusks and we are making it into a knife handle." or "those pesky ninjas are always causing trouble!" not only is it entertaining, but it also helps us keep things in perspective.

he is active as ever, keeping annie awake in the middle of the night with somersaults and uppercut combos. sometimes i wake up, usually not, which is probably good b/c i am a total grouch when i am tired. needless to say, i can't wait for 3am feedings.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

the moustached montgomerys

isaac sported his first moustache on cinco de mayo. we are so proud. i was also proud of my handlebar moustache. annie was not so proud. i no longer have it. 'tis a pity.

Monday, May 7, 2007

good things that have happened lately

this past summer i had the opportunity to hear rob bell (one of my favorite authors/speakers) at a club in mira mesa. although the club had a goofy name (the epicentre) the night was amazing. one of the many things i took away from the evening was the idea that we often find what we look for. as cool as it would have been, he was not talking about pirate treasure, but rather reasons for hope or despair. if we look for reasons to despair, we will find plenty: war, poverty, ty pennington getting a dui, there seems to be no end. but if we look for reasons to hope, in the goodness of God and of the world we live in, we will find plenty of those as well. i wanted to share with you some of the good things that have happened in our life/pregnancy lately, things we rejoice in, reasons we hope.
  1. a couple weeks ago annie's mom was hanging out with a group of her girlfriends at a cabin near lake arrowhead. she was telling them about isaac's cleft, and a friend of hers, debbie cahill, asked, "jan, do you know what i do?" "yeah, you work at children's hospital, right?" "actually, i work at the cleft clinic at children's hospital. it is my job to teach families how to care for their kids with clefts. i want to make it my gift to you to do that for your family." this reason to hope is pretty self explanatory.
  2. last week we met with marilyn jones. she coordinates a group of doctors (surgeons, dentists, ear/nose/throat specialists) that work with families of kids who have clefts. two great things about this meeting:
    1. i was able to resist the temptation to run around the office shouting "dr. jones! dr. jones!" in my best asian accent. (for those of you who have not seen indiana jones: temple of doom this will not make sense. if this is you, you should be ashamed of yourself, and should go rent the movie tonight.)
    2. she helped dispel a lot of myth we had gathered surrounding our son's condition. she walked us through the whole process, giving us a time line, and freeing us up not to worry about the stuff we shouldn't worry about. turns out, most of it is stuff we shouldn't worry about. it is much easier to go about doing something, when you know what needs to be done. annie has done an amazing job of making the contacts and setting up the appointments. all i have to do is show up. for some reason it reminds me of our wedding...
  3. yesterday we went in for a fetal heart echo, which is a fancy way of saying another sonogram which is more focused on the condition of his little ticker. this is to further rule out the possibility of those chromosomal abnormalities that are sometimes associated with clefting. the pediatric cardiologist spent about 20 minutes looking at things, then let us know that his heart looks great. they have a checklist of about 15 things they need to inspect, and isaac passed all of them with flying colors. he was flipping all over the place (annie wondered out loud this morning if he has adhd) but he gave us very clear pictures of what the doctor needed to look at.
add these to the countless phone calls, emails, meals, etc. that we have received from family and friends and you have a pretty good list of reasons to believe in the goodness of our situation. we continue to hope, and continue to celebrate. thank you for being a part of that.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

ty pennington is overrated

mother teresa has been quoted as saying, "i know that God will not give me anything i can't handle, i just wish he didn't trust me so much." all obvious comparisons between the montgomery's and mother teresa aside, the last couple weeks have been a strange and sometimes horrible blessing, knowing that God is intimately involved in our pregnancy, yet at times wishing he didn't trust us so much.

about two and a half weeks after our sonogram in which we found out that isaac most likely has a cleft lip, we went in for another, more complete sonogram. we felt like we were doing pretty well with the whole situation, and embraced the opportunity to see more 3-d pictures of our little thug. after the nurse/sonogram tech was done looking around and mostly importantly confirming he was still a boy, the doctor came in to see if he could get a better idea for whether or not the palate was involved as well.

as we sat down in his office to debrief with him, he told us that although he is unsure, he believes the palate is also involved. he covered the usual questions about our genetic history and then asked if we were familiar with down syndrome. a little surprised by his inquiry, we told him we are b/c i have a cousin who has downs. (one of my many highlights of our wedding day was watching her live it up on the dance floor.) he went on to explain that downs is caused by a third 21st chromosome, and that clefting can sometimes be associated with a similar sort of condition, where there is a third 13th or 18th chromosome. unlike downs, however, trisomy 13 and trisomy 18 are often fatal chromosomal abnormalities.
it took about three seconds for his calmly delivered words to catch up with the sudden clutch in my throat. i absently reached out my left hand for my wife, and the immediate tears in her eyes confirmed for me that he in fact did just say fatal. in a heartbeat, we had gone from a son with a scar to a son who might not live. honestly, i am sure it is hard being a doctor, probably having to deliver medical news like this more often than you care to, but they really should be made to take a class on manners or something so as to not cause the parents to die when you deliver potentially life shattering news.

thing is, with trisomy 13 and trisomy 18, you usually will see other sorts of problems with the heart, the spine, clubbing of the feet or hands, and that sort of thing. the fact that all of these other features look normal (one of the best words in the medical field) makes the chance that isaac has one of these conditions very low. as far as i am concerned, he should have led with that, but what do i know; i mean, i have sloppy handwriting and all, but i am no doctor.

what i do know, however, is that you should not follow up a statement like that by asking if termination is an option for the pregnancy. he probably has to ask things like that, but if we are sure of one thing, it is that this kid is a fighter, surviving two car accidents, two bouts of bronchitis (yes, two, annie just got over another round), and we don't feel like we reserve the right to take that from him. therefore we decided to forgo the amniocentesis, which would tell us for sure about these possibilities, but involves risks of its own, and would only be useful in helping us decide whether or not to end the pregnancy.

after scheduling another sonogram at the end of may to check on his progress, we were pulled aside by another of the sonogram techs, whose two year old son was born with a cleft lip and palate. her name, oddly enough, is also ann. she comforted us with pictures of her son on her phone, gave us resources such as bottle brands and websites, and the proceeded to give us her email address, as well as her cell phone number. did i mention that we had just met this woman about 10 minutes before?

this is just one of the many incarnations we have witnessed in our lives over the past few weeks of another mother teresa quote that i love: "we can do no great things, just small things with great love. it is not how much you do, but how much love you put into doing it." i feel like all the small things that we have been given over the past couple weeks have brought me a small understanding of what i imagine it would be like to be on extreme home makeover. it is absolutely humiliating to receive so much, so aware that we don't deserve it, and knowing we can barely whisper "thank you".

and yet, there are still days when i forget. i find myself wondering if God's provision will run out before all isaac's surgeries are complete. worst case scenarios occasionally haunt, even though we have decided to parent by faith and not by fear. it is hard to stay in the moment, to feel up for the journey, to trust in dessert, and to accept God's trust in us.


Related Posts with Thumbnails