Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Presence of Happiness

Weather has quickly changed over from summer to autumn, bringing South Dakotan winds to ensure an extra crispy day. The forecast shows possible snow later in the week, though I doubt that will happen I look forward to the first snow of the season.

According to weather and the circumstances of the day, the presence of happiness shouldn't be expected but fortunately I feel quite chipper. Although I'd much rather forgo the needed duties of the day and replace them with a nap (my eyelids are heavy as I type), the presence of happiness keeps me motivated enough to do what needs to be done.

Friday I received a text message later on in the day from my husband stating that Kim, the (former) secretary of their office, had turned in her 2007 Honda Civic and the dealership was now asking about $15k for it. He'd decided we were going to go straight after work, go buy it (if they gave us fair trade in for the Mini Coooper) and voila. Alas, we pull into the dealership and I spot Kim in the distance. Once we approach closer and notice that the Civic was no where in sight, our pitiful observation was quickly confirmed when Kim said, "They sold it yesterday!" (I couldn't help but wonder at the fact that they had only just put the car up on their website that day despite having sold it the previous).

Pulling out of the lot with a business card in hand of the fellow who'd dealt with Kim and her husband, we left rather disappointed. Miles' determination to find a Civic even just to look at led us to a handful of dealership lots. Lots that looked well kempt. Lots that looked straight out of the ghetto. We weren't able to find anything. Finally, perhaps just to soothe over the disappointment, he said we could drive over to the Chevrolet dealership where the (insert singing angels) 2010 Camaro shined brightly on its pedestal in the lot.

As we pulled off the exit for the Chevy dealership, I noticed a bunch of cars lined up to the right of us at the Black Hills Harley Davidson center. Couldn't hurt, so we wandered over there. We did find one or two Civics; none that met our expectations nor our financial wishes. As Miles took one last drive around the lot, I noticed a car in charcoal (or dark grey if you prefer) and asked Miles what it was. Laughing, he answered, "That's a Malibu, honey." He'd been pushing the Malibu on me for some time; pushing in a jovial way after I'd initially seen it on the website and said it was ugly. Up close and in person made this car far superior to the poor photograph that had previously closed that avenue in my mind.

We got out of the Mini (which I'd run through the car wash and vacuumed out in hopes that the Honda dealer would offer us good cash for it), took a look at it, and I stated that I liked it. Soon enough a man came around the corner asking if we'd like to drive it. This man with little-to-no-personality handed over the keys and let me drive it down the highway to the next exit where I became immediately impressed with the interior as much as I had been struck by the exterior.

After giving us a brief second or two to talk in whispers, Miles asked if I liked it. Fervently I nodded to which he pursued me with, "Should we talk numbers then?" Again, I nodded happily.

It all lay in the hands of their offer to trade in the Mini Cooper. My beloved 2005 Mini Cooper. My first car. My first bout of true independence (except, of course, financially lol).

We sat down outside in the windy sunset as Nate (the salesman) went in to discuss with his boss what trade in value would they offer us. Admittedly it felt weird. Just down right weird. Here I am with my husband, a baby in my stomach (who protested against the cold with stern rib kickings) and we're about to buy our first family car. When Nate came out and wrote down $11k, just $150 over what we owed, we both breathed (slightly...) a sigh of relief and began the dealings of purchasing our first family car.

Miles was, as expected, nervous and worried. He tried to forewarn me that we might have to get up and walk away if they offered a penny less than what we owed on the Mini. With much agreeance on my part, I tried to reassure him that even though I was excited I was not for going upside down and making phenomenally huge payments on a used car (even if it was only one year old) like many of his co-workers have done.

From the offer, we accepted, and we headed on over to the actual Chevrolet dealership where we sat down and had all the mumbo-jumbo taken care of. From here on out, Nate pretty much was just there but another man took us into his office and that's where we signed our lives away. Even if I was oblivious (or maybe I just don't get as nervous??...)

We walked out of the dealership about an hour and a half after closing as owners of our 2009 Malibu in charcoal :) For those who don't know, I persisted that whatever car we get - it must be in charcoal. Or "at least" black. Miles let me hug and kiss (literally, yes) my Mini Cooper goodbye. We drove home happy as clams... although I think Miles was high, lol. His adrenaline was nearly frightening for the rest of the night, but he finally calmed himself down, lol.

We got a great interest rate for 72 months. I'm convinced that 72 months is FINE since we're going to be keeping this car. Miles let me get my interior/exterior protection package for an added $600. Our payments are exactly the same as when we were paying the Mini - so nothing changes for us financially.

Little did I know this would spark an OCD in Miles that I did not know existed!

Over the weekend we spent almost $200 on car care products and detailed its entirety over Saturday and Sunday. I'd say the accumulated hours it took to detail it would round out to 15. Yes, 15 HOURS. The only reason why it took us longer than the typical 3-4 hour car wash and wax was due to the fact that Miles had read on some car-obsessed-forum that you can Scratch-X the entire car (instead of, as directed on the bottle, per scratched area). Scratch-Xing an entire car... even if it's a golf cart sized car (which, the Malibu is not)... takes hours. It takes shoulder muscle. Arm muscle. Patience. Virtue. Discipline. It's freakin' hard-work!

(Realize please that my husband does not force this work upon me, but as his wife who is physically capable (albeit, physically limited) I felt it was a part of being a good friend to him, and a good wife, to help him out in his new found love. It's a way to spend time together -- even if it is daunting and takes 15 hours. )

Amidst the insane-car-detailing-endeavor we also cleaned the garage of 90% of the garbage, debris and/or junk that accumulated over the year. With that we tore up the guest bedroom to create it into, you guessed it, a nursery.

Mentally I cannot handle not being able to help someone. I've always been quite physically capable, especially given my stature. Whenever there's furniture to be moved - I've never needed help. It was extremely, extremely hard for me to watch my very-capable-and-not-whining-about-it husband move the computer desk upstairs, the crib from the garage and the baby's dresser from the garage. I could do absolutely nothing. All I could do was warn him of an oncoming collision with a cat. Open a door. Suggest a position. Watch. I wanted to die, lol. I love my baby, and I love the whole process of being in love, getting married, having a baby... but when pregnancy limits me to such extremes I find myself begging God for time to fly faster.

So the poor dear moved everything out of the room that wasn't Bella's, moved everything that is hers in and allowed me to fiddle and bring in all things under 20 lbs. Of course this led to me learning what 20 lbs. actually was, and to my GREAT dismay it was WAY less than I'd expected. He handed me both boy cats (who're both a bit over 10 lbs) and I realized I'd been carrying and moving things around 50 lbs. my entire pregnancy. Whenever he'd see me carrying one too many books, I could expect to see my husband dart at me with Superman speed and rush them out of my arms. My aching-for-some-poundage arms.

Currently our house is a complete wreck. I've done most everything I physically am allowed to do (although I KNOW I could move a few items, I think Miles would lovingly reprimand me if they were moved) and have to wait for Miles to help me with the rest. After the crib is put together and the door on the dresser (the latter came all put together)... then I can start doing "woman's work". Cleaning. Baby laundry. Decorating. These are things I don't mind, but goodness there's less personal gratification when you can't do it all yourself, lol. Although I'm extremely happy that my husband is being such a huge part in this.

Today I had two appointments. Miles went with me despite the fact that his formerly understanding boss is now not so understanding. It's unfortunate that Miles has to go to these things with apprehension because he might go back to work to an angry boss. (Who in fact knows he shouldn't, as a boss and a human being, hold a grudge against Miles for being there during important appointments -- but he can't help himself because it's his nature). In any case...

We met with the pediatric cardiologist (Dr.Spangler) who said it's most likely AV which is very common amongst people with Down syndrome. Fortunately I will be able to deliver here in Rapid City. She will need open heart surgery shortly after she is born (2-4 weeks) in Omaha, Nebraska. He offered for us to go to Florida, although he was never impressed with any children's surgeons for cardiology there, but we insisted that we wanted what was best for her -- that alll family can come to her/us if they feel the desire to. It will take approximately 10 days, so Miles will have to take about 2 weeks off of work. We're not sure how that'll really go with his new bosses, but he's going to finangle it anyway since... well, you know... his baby will be having open heart surgery. Woe to their weary souls if they should put a boulder in Miles way. I will make their lives a living Hell. I promise.

AV is not life-threatening although it does need to be taken care of. Though he doubts this is her case, there is a form of AV that is very minor that she'd be able to wait to have surgery by the age of 4. However, after looking (and re-looking) at the fetal echocardiogram, he doesn't think this is her case. Just to be sure he'd like to see us back in a month for another echocardiogram.

Straight after we ran into my OB/GYN's office. We waited and had a normal check-up (which felt weird!) We listened to Bella's heart again, asked Dr.Buehner some questions and were sent on our merry way. I'm not diabetic but I am slightly anemic, so they gave me a prescription for some iron supplements. (This could explain a LOT, lol). I expressed, on behalf of Miles, concern over my menstrual-like cramping. Dr.Buehner offered to have a look at my cervix just for reassurance, but insisted that this is fairly normal (since I am 30 weeks pregnant) and as long as the contractions (I didn't know these were contractions!) weren't on any schedule (like 4-5 per hour), followed by bleeding, change in my discharge or anything of that sort then I would be fine. Miles doesn't like me in pain (I think) because if Bella kicks my ribs (which she seems to like to do a lot lately) and I make an involuntary responsive sound, he'll ask if I'm okay and hasn't been satisfied with my reassurances that this is all normal, lol.

Then I asked the important questions (because if she's going to come early, well, she's going to come early and no one can stop her lol). Firstly, I asked my burning question: what type of Down syndrome does she have? Did the lab results specify whether it was "classic" trisomy 21, mosaicism or translocation? There's a need to know for me because mosaicism would mean she could almost be "normal". Translocation on the other hand is slightly worse than the other two and also means that mother or father are carriers; that it was genetics and not happenchance. She has "classic" trisomy 21.

Am I now at higher risk (1:100) for having children with Down syndrome in the future? Is there any testing we should go through before even thinking of conceiving again? What are our chances? Well, according to him, he's never heard of the higher risk though since he knows I've read of it he's going to look into it. He says he's only heard of the risk elevating when it's translocation Down syndrome because of it being genetically affective, not just chance. In our case, Miles' sperm just happened to attach to the possibly 1:1000's of eggs that had an extra chromosome. So really, it is all my fault ;-) He will look deeper into it, but he thinks the chances are better for our next child(ren) to be "normal". He also said we were the ideal parents for a child with Down syndrome and that made me feel so blessed!

Since I'm now in the last stretch of pregnancy (woo-hoo!!!!) I'll be having bi-weekly check-ups from now on. This goes along with my monthly maternity specialist appointments and any extra appointments Dr.Spangler will want. Now that we're at the bi-weekly appointment status, I'm panicking! The nursery has begun it's process of being put together but now I'm panicked, lol. I realize that I could have this baby any day (if she decides to be a booger and come home early). The car seat is not yet put in (thank GOD we found that car; that truly was a blessing). We haven't baby-proofed the house ... though a newborn can't do much more than eat, sleep, and poop. We haven't ordered her swing yet, or bassinet. Yes... now I feel like, "THE BABY IS COMING! THE BABY IS COMING!" and my head is falling off.

To help with expenses for the future baby and just to help stabilize us a bit more we have cut back. We grit our teeth and downgraded to basic cable; though we still have preferred internet. This brings us down about $40-$50/month. We both have Blackberry Storms with Verizon Wireless. Being in South Dakota, we think it's best to keep Verizon because they literally have the best coverage... and out here in BFE, well, you can't find a lot of cell phone companies that cover even our city. Yeah. So, we bought "new" cell phones via eBay. We both are getting Razrs (I used to have one). As soon as they come in we're downgrading to a normal cell plan that won't have us paying $200/month anymore. We were told by Verizon that if you have ANY Blackberry phone that you're required to have a plan with a data package and guess what? The data package is the most expensive part. We barely touch the 700 minutes to call non-Verizon members because most people we know are on VW as well. I have requested the unlimited text messaging package since it's my lifeline. Yes, I could and can get on without it but an extra $5-$10 is not going to kill us whereas limiting my texts might kill me, lol.

We finally got out of the stupid, stupid, stupid contract with Viking magazine. They held Miles liable for $75/month for magazines he DIDN'T order. Apparently while he was in Georgia (when we met) training, they sent him a notice to his dormitory address here in South Dakota stating that if he didn't contact them they'd auto-renew his subscription. Well, since his training took 4-5 months... yeah. We'll still be getting these crap magazines for another year, but it's all paid off now. There's going to be almost $400 extra monthly... which will more than cover us for forumla and diapers. Between Katie, my mother, his parents, and the rest of our family... we're pretty set in clothing lol.

Amidst the chaotic changes, the debut of a newborn baby (with Down syndrome) on the horizon, and life rapidly moving... the presence of happiness seems inept and yet even imminent.

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