Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Drumroll Please....

Well, we made another trip to the doctor today. This one was a perinatal specialist. This means, among other things, that our co-pay was higher. It also means that they are supposed to know what is going on while the babies are still in the oven.

We had yet another sonogram. We thought that it would be one of those cool, 3-Dimensional jobs that would allow us to see the babies up close and personal. We didn't get one of those. What we got instead was the basic grainy black and white thing. For example, this picture of one of the babies looks less like a real baby and more like a scene from a horror movie about small, skeletal aliens who peer at us from our static filled televisions:


We did learn several important things today. Here they are in no particular order:

(1) My mother, when given the opportunity, will plop down $12.00 for a DVD of grainy sonogram footage.

(2) We now know what the gender of each baby is. First of all, they are both the same sex. For those that don't already know, the babies are both naughty, stinky, snake-chasing, frog-handling, spit-ball shooting boys. For those who demand physical evidence, we give you this (and may my future son forgive me):

I am not going to explain the above picture or cheapen it with words. If you can't see it, ask a friend to show you what you are missing. (Here is a hint: what is that white arrow painfully pointing to?)

Now, we must decide on names for two boys. That battle is just beginning but will be settled soon. Right now we are leaning toward the following:

  • Marshall Wayne Bryant
  • Broderick Shane Bryant
So, what do you think? Let us hear from you...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Night Time is the Right Time…

It looks like after two previous pregnancies, one would encounter just about every possible side effect. Here is a new one. This started a week before we were even aware that Marcy was pregnant. About 2:00 AM one Monday morning, Marcy flings back the covers of the bed we share and leaps up. I begin struggling up from the deep sea that is my sleep. I slowly come to realize that Marcy is standing in the middle of the room, knees bent and her fingers clutched to her head like she is in pain.

Before I can even register alarm, she charges forward, shoulder slamming against the door frame of the bedroom door.

“HELLO?” she bellows to the house. Now, when I saw bellows, I mean she shouted louder than I may have ever heard her before. The sound alone was a wet slap to the face and it was my turn to spring up from the bed.

“HELLO?!” she screams again. She is already in the middle of the living room which means she must be at a near run. “HELLO?...HELLO?”

In my mind I can see the intruders who have bashed in the front door. We have heard about such things on the news. In the rough economy, home invasions are on the rise. Marcy must have heard them and is charging in and screaming so loudly because she is trying to spook them away. All of this goes through my mind in a nanosecond and turns my blood into ice water.

I hear her repeat that same word again, “HELLO?” and as I turn the corner, I see that the front door is in tact and we are alone in the house. Marcy is standing near the front entryway and turning in a circle, confused.

“Marcy, what’s wrong?,” I say and she looks at me without seeing me at all.

“I can’t find them,” she says near tears and then turns toward the kids hallway, as if about to rush down that hall. Then the reality of what is happening hits me: Marcy is sound asleep.

“Marcy,” I say in the most commanding voice I can assume. This is the voice I use when trying to get the kids to understand I am through playing and I am serious. They call it the ‘Daddy Voice’. “You are having a dream.”

She nearly cries then and confusedly explains she was dreaming that someone had come and taken the kids away and she could not find them. It was such a frightening experience that it was the next day before either one of us found any amusement from it at all.

The truth of the matter is that these night wanderings have a bizarre dual nature. Being woken up from deep sleep by any event can be jarring to the psyche. I remember when we were kids, someone claimed that, even in sleep, one can be aware that they are being stared at. We tried out our little scientific hypothesis – and I encourage anyone else who wants to duplicate this with a loved one to try this out for yourselves – by waiting until my father was taking a nap on the couch and then staring intently at him until he woke up. Even this little thing, waking up and finding a strange child staring at you, is psychologically grating, as evidenced by the way my father’s eyes bulged out and his mouth worked furiously as he chased us from the house.

Even as upsetting as being woken up abruptly in the middle of presumed danger can be, there is a funny side as well. There is comedy to imagining the large man leaping up, boxers askew, and falling from the bed. There is something very Dick Van Dyke about the idea of a possible night time pratfall.

Since the “HELLO?” incident, there have been a number of other events. And here, for your edification and amusement are just a few of the recent highlights:

One night I found her putting on her shorts. When I asked her where she was going, she said that Nana was coming for the babies. I told her it was midnight and she shrugged and came back to bed. I never found out why her mother was coming to take the babies away.


One night, I rolled over to get out of bed and visit the facilities when her arm shot out of the darkness and grabbed my wrist. “Shhhhhhh” she whispered, “can’t you see the spaceship?”

“No,” I whispered. Sometimes I find it fun to play along and see where it goes.

She raised her hand and pointed into the air, roughly in the direction of our ceiling fan. “It’s the red one,” she whispered ominously, “shoot it!” and then she promptly fell back to sleep.

One morning, my alarm went off at 3:30. I had to get a flight to Houston so I had to make sure I was awake on time. Before I could get up to turn off the alarm – really before the thing had had a chance to beep more than once or twice – she rolled over violently and slapped me right in the middle of the chest and said in a glorious deadpan: “Alarm!” As near as I can tell, my sternum must have been the snooze button.

Late one night, I hear an awful ruckus on Marcy’s side of the bed. We have two tall windows on either side of the bed. They are covered with standard, rental house vertical blinds. The cat likes to sit in the windows and peer through them at night. Sometime, if she sees a bug and attempts to skit it, this can cause the blinds to jostle and rattle. On this night, I hear the blinds rattling and I sit up, preparing to yell at the cat (a futile gesture if ever there was one) but it is not the cat, it’s Marcy.

She is bent over almost in half. Her hand is stuck in the blinds and is holding open a large hole to look through. Marcy’s face is hovering over the hole as she scans the neighbor’s house suspiciously. The blinds are a mess. It looks like she may have done this several times already.

“Sweetie,” I say carefully, “what’s going on?”

She steps back from the window and glares down at me. She looks to be near tears. “There are noises everywhere,” she said.

I laid there, my sleep-drunk mind wrestling briefly with the simple philosophical truth in the statement. “I think you are dreaming again,” I said.

“I swear I heard noises everywhere,” she said and she suddenly pulled open the blinds again and glared outside, daring the unseen but noisy ninja to present himself.

“Do you want me to go check it out,” I said.

“No,” she said, shoulders slumped as she got back in bed. I could tell by her tone of voice that she was fully awake again and a little embarrassed and frustrated. “I already looked out of every window and checked all of the doors…and the back yard…and the garage.”

In this one, I did not wake up because I was exhausted from not sleeping through the other nights, but according to Marcy, she had a nightmare one night that she had had a baby and brought it home and that it was sleeping in the bed with us.

She woke up in a panic because she suddenly could not find the baby. She was stripping the bedding off of her bed when she woke up and sheepishly covered me back up and went back to sleep.

Early yesterday, I woke up and was slipping out of bed, when Marcy rolled over and patted me gently on the back.

“Watch out for the animals out there,” she said happily, “there on a mission to exterminate everything.”

Like the other side effects that we have encountered, I hope that this one will fade away soon enough. I think that the both of us will need a few nights with full rest if we are to have the energy to run after our little dream babies.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Story of Us: Part Two - The Slap

If you have not read the first part of this story, you can do so by clicking this link.

When I told Marcy that I was going to write out the story of how we met and got engaged, the only thing that she asked was that I change some of the names to protect the innocent (or in this case, the not-so-innocent). I have done that. For example, Marcy shall now be known as “Sweet Pants” and I shall refer to myself as “Captain Excalibur”.

I am sorry; Sweet Pants just informed me that is not what she was talking about. She was talking about Monica. Monica (made up name) was a girl that came to Howard Payne the same year that Marcy did and in many respects it was Monica that brought us together. But I am getting there…

Shortly after my first encounter with Marcy, I was walking toward the cafeteria which was on the bottom floor of the only girls’ dormitory on campus. (It is a small school.) I saw a friend and fellow theater nerd named Julie standing outside the back of the dorm and I waved a greeting. Then I saw Marcy. Although in truth, I saw the smoke from her cigarette first. There she stood, puffing on the business end of Marlboro Light and glaring defiantly at all of the other girls who were passing by and giving her double-takes.

Marcy was the only person I had ever known who smoked openly on campus. All of the rest of us smokers had the decency to at least sneak off to the park. I had to admit that I admired her tenacity, but her attitude was still so rotten, I couldn’t imagine spending any time with her.

My junior year was the first year that I was allowed to move off campus and I was rooming with a theater tech named Steve. For that reason, I had very little time to be on campus. Marcy became friends with Julie and since Julie and I ran in similar circles, I incidentally encountered Marcy from time to time. The best that I can say is that Marcy and I were aware of each other.

The first show that we were to perform that year was a fall musical production of “The Music Man”. Just being a Theatre major did not guarantee anyone a role. Everyone had to audition. The auditions were held in the evening. Everyone was asked to gather in the audience and after some words from the director, we would go downstairs and come back up to the stage when called to sing our song and read our lines.

When I got to the theatre that night I gathered to talk and laugh with the theatre friends of mine. Sitting all alone in the audience was Marcy. She was sitting in the front row with her arms crossed, looking sour and sullen. I recognized her expression immediately for what it was: nerves.

Some people react to nerves by fighting them. They pace nervously, break out in sweats, cross their arms, frown in concentration. That is the way Marcy deals with nervousness. I deal with nervousness by ignoring the symptoms and pretending that everything is cool. For some reason that I cannot explain, I felt a real connection to Marcy at that moment. I knew that she would never admit to being nervous, but I thought a bit of levity might be in order.

In true braggadocio form, I leapt down the steps on the front of the stage toward her. She looked up at me with suspicion arching her brow.

“So,” I said dramatically, “have you had a tour of the theatre?”

She glared at me but said nothing. Obviously, she did not understand the reference, or she thought I might actually be serious. I was now standing directly in front of her and the tension stood between us like an invisible wall. I was regretting approaching her and was looking for some small talk to help play me off stage.

“You don’t look like you are having any fun,” I said.

“Oh, I am just having tons,” she retorted.

“You look like it,” I smiled. “I mean, snap out of it before you have too much fun.” It was stupid and generic, but there it was.

She frowned and with the best sarcastic wilt she could muster, she said, “I am so excited I can’t stand it. I wish somebody would slap me.”

So I did.

Let me be clear. The year before, I had taken a class in stage combat and pantomime. A good friend of mine named Jeff and I used to practice stage combat moves on one another. We would often throw each other across the stage. We would take dramatic falls down stairs and tumbles into walls, all in the name of fake drama. And yes, we also practiced stage punches and stage slaps. When Marcy said to slap her, the impulse for a funny moment was so strong, my hand was up and descending before I really understood the decision that I had made.

Now a good stage slap takes both the slapper and the slappee working in unison. In a stage slap, the one being slapped stars moving before the blow lands. It looks real enough but contact is never made. Marcy would have known this had she hung around us theater geeks long enough, but she didn’t know the game. My open palm flew slowly toward her face, which never moved. The blow landed with no force whatsoever. The sound was dull and lifeless.

The two of us just stared at each other for a second and then Marcy’s face broke open into a smile so warm and genuine it transformed her face from something scared and maybe a little angry to something truly and remarkably pretty. It was a smile that deserved to be answered and so I did answer it. We both started laughing and, in that moment, the ice between us was broken.

“You slapped me,” she said with mock incredulity.

“You said to!” I retorted and then I sat down next to her and we began to chat about how much she hated auditioning and several other subjects that I don’t remember. What I do remember is thinking just how pretty she was and wondering stupidly why I had not noticed it before…

Okay, it looks like I have run out of space. I am trying to keep these little stories short and sweet, so we will call that the end of this chapter. I know that I did not get to Monica yet, but she is the star of my next chapter, I assure you.