A message from Baby Happy

I can sense the time of my birth drawing nearer every day. I’m not yet sure
what
it means, but I am truly excited to find out. I suppose part of it involves leaving
my current home. I can’t imagine what lies beyond my surroundings,
but honestly, I’m feeling rather cramped. It seems I can’t flex a muscle
without distressing Mama, and sometimes I simply must stretch, which unfortunately
causes her all sorts of discomfort. Beyond the physical uneasiness, I can also
sense Mama’s emotions growing stronger and more widely varied every day. She
feels at turns excitement, fear, elation, grief, benevolence,
and exasperation in such violent extremes that I sometimes fear her passions
may break down her body. She has remained strong so far, however, ruling her
emotions when she can and redirecting them when she cannot. Thank God for Daddy.

Speaking of Daddy, he still sings to me every night. He still tells me he
loves me, and that Mama loves me, and that Jesus loves me most of all. I already
know that, as I have mentioned
before
, but I still enjoy hearing it.

I have a powerful intuition that life as I know it will soon end, and life
as I cannot imagine it will soon begin. Daddy tells me he feels pretty much
the same way.

Marriage links for the week

At long last, Ben Wilson begins his commentary on the book Love & Respect with
1st
Post Love and Respect
.
And to make up for lost time, he quickly offers another post on unconditional
respect
.

Steve Lynch talks about the
importance of family traditions
.

Adrian Warnock links to some MP3 files of talks on marriage
and marriage-related issues
.

How should a Christian woman respect and honor her non-Christian husband?
Carolyn tackles the question at Girltalk in two posts: one, two.

His and Hers: First in line

His and Hers is a weekly discussion of a question or topic relating
to marriage. On Friday, my wife and I each write our thoughts on the week’s
topic. I invite others to do the same with their spouses as an exercise in
celebrating marriage.

Choose a book off of the nearest bookshelf. What is
its opening sentence?

Mrs. Happy’s response

"There is no lake at Camp Green Lake." —Holes, by Louis Sachar

Curt’s Response

"Sometimes you are a butterfly catcher, a person with a net." —The
Zen of Magic Squares, Circles, and Stars
, by Clifford A. Pickover

The faith of friends

I wrote these words in a recent post:

Where are the testimonies like Job’s? Marauders murdered some of his
servants and slaughtered his cattle, fire consumed some of his other servants
along with all his sheep, another raiding party stole all of his camels and
the servants that cared for them, and all of his children died while dining
together when their house collapsed.

Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the
ground and worshiped. And he said, "Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed
be the name of the LORD." (Job
1:13–21
)

My point was that Job didn’t wait for everything to turn out okay before he
acknowledged God’s goodness. That’s a powerful example for those of us in the
midst of trying times.

I recently received an e-mail from a friend at church
who was having some problems with her pregnancy. Her words, while filled
with pain, encouraged me more than I can express. She gave me permission to
publish
the content of her message:

On 9/28 I went for a routine sonogram. Everything looked fine.
Then I was informed that from a previous blood test that my Alpha
Fetal Protein was elevated. That COULD be an indicator for problems
such as neural tube defect (this effects the vertebrae of the spine
where they would not be lined up completely straight). I was told
to have a follow up sonogram the following week.

On 10/05 I went for the
follow up. The spine looked fine and I left
the appointment with peace of mind.

On 10/11 my doctor called me at work
and said that the sonographers
noticed that the ventricles in the baby’s brain were large. They
wanted me to come in for ANOTHER sonogram to check this further. Some babies
have small ventricles, some medium, and some large. My baby may have large
ones simply because I have large ones, or he
could have large ones because of fluid build-up. They wanted to double check
to make sure everything was fine.

Rob and I went for the
sonogram yesterday (10/13). They checked the brain’s ventricles and everything
looked fine. Then, the
sonographer spent a very long time looking at the baby’s heart. We
were told that the left side of the heart appeared to be smaller
than the right side. This could be caused because of a blockage OR
because of some chromosomal defect (such as Downs Syndrome or
others). She had a doctor come in to verify what she saw. He
agreed that the left side looked smaller. He said I would need to
have an amniocentesis. They did it in the office a few minutes
later (fortunately it was not nearly as painful as I had
anticipated).

Although it will take at least a couple of weeks to get the
full
results of this test, we will have some of the results by Monday
afternoon or Tuesday morning (this is when we will find out if the
baby has Downs Syndrome or 1 of 2 other chromosomal defects). The
latter 2 defects we were told are lethal and doctors will advise to
terminate the pregnancy. I already told them that termination is
NOT an option for us in any circumstance. No matter what doctors
tell us, God will decide the fate of our baby. God is greater than
this situation. If He so chooses He could miraculously heal Evan
(that’s what we’ve named the baby). If not, he will equip us to
give Evan everything he needs.

I was told not to go to work today, but
I can return Monday. Tuesday
I will be out again to see a pediatric cardiologist. She will
analyze the test results and perform a fetal echocardiogram. If it
is determined that there is nothing wrong with Evan’s chromosomes
then the problem may be caused by a blockage. If that is the case,
Evan would probably need surgery shortly after he’s born, and
there’s no guarantee that he would survive. There is actually an
experimental procedure that has been done for babies with heart
blockages at a children’s hospital in Boston and one in
Philadelphia. It’s done while the baby is still in the womb. We’ve
looked into it in case we have to go that route.

The hardest part right
now is waiting. Most things with the baby
are normal as of now: the brain, the spine, the heart rate, his size
and weight. That gives me some hope. Many people have also shared
stories with me of how expecting parents have been told the worst
about their unborn children and they end up being born without any
complications. That gives me hope, too. I have to keep in mind the
words of that hymn: "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’
love and righteousness"…not just for salvation, but for all
aspects of life.

This couple’s faith and emotional strength is an inspiration to me. Their
names are Rob and Tara (and Evan), if anyone wants to pray for them specifically.

Pop quiz, hotshot

This has been a long day, and tomorrow holds the promise of just as much length.
I’m having trouble thinking original thoughts, so I’m just going to follow the
lead of my geek friend MCF,
who recently administered
a pop quiz
on his blog.

1) They’re finally making the movie of your life and, after narrowing the
role of YOU down to three actors, they’ve asked for your choice. Who are the
three actors, and which person do you ultimately choose?

Neil
Patrick Harris
, John Francis
Daley
, and David
Hyde Pierce
. I would choose David Hyde Pierce.

2) You’re at a fancy
restaurant with your significant other, when your arch nemesis shows up with
his gang to rob the place. You left your costume home
tonight, and you wouldn’t want to reveal your true identity unless there
was no other choice. How do you handle this one?

If I had an arch nemesis, I would also have superspeed. There’s lots of things
you can do with superspeed. Or if I didn’t have superspeed, I would just start
telling my nemesis a story with no point and no real action, like the time
in nineteen-dickety-two (we had to say "dickety" back then because Hitler had
stolen "forty") when I was chasing the Kaiser and wearing an onion on my belt,
which was the style at the time…

3) 4 +X/8=15Y-23Z; solve for
each variable.

No.

4) They’re turning my blog into a sitcom! Quick, who’s playing
me?

Patton Oswalt.

5) What was the scariest moment of your life?

There have been a couple of times I feared imminent death, but I think the
fear when I saw the positive pregnancy test was more profound. Oddly, that
moment also ranks among my happiest.

6) After much thought and deliberation,
you realize the best thing you can do with your life is form your own team
of superheroes. Keeping in
mind that you don’t actually possess any powers or a dual identity in
this scenario,
how do you go about selecting your team, what abilities do you look
for in
potential allies, and what do you call your group?

I would select Mrs. Happy and Baby Happy. They’re not the most powerful heroes
in the world, but I’m not looking for the best fighters—I’m looking for the right fighters.

7) If a hypothetical
train is traveling East at 70 MPH, and a hypothetical truck is traveling
North at 55 MPH, then name 3 famous people you
feel shouldn’t be famous.

Paris Hilton, Ashlee Simpson, and Keanu Reeves.

8) A freak accident caused by lightning
or radiation or genetic engineering or whichever origin suits you, bestows
upon you the
ability to step
INSIDE your television set and interact with the characters.
Where do you go
first, and why?

If Firefly were
still on, I’d step in there because they need someone like me now since –spoiler
deleted
–.

9) After winning a karaoke contest, you’re awarded
the grand prize from a local radio station: you get to perform ONE song
alongside
your favorite
group! Who
do you sing with and what song?

Barenaked Ladies, and I’d sing Enid.

10) A blogger you read regularly
posts a pop quiz. Do you take it? Please list your reasons either way.

I take the first one I notice, then ignore all the rest that follow. Unless
I have nothing better to do.

11)
The quiz goes all the way up to 11.

Here lies the Mysterious Cloaked Figure, and why not.

Midnight madness

Thank you for all the kind comments about my wife’s current condition. Having
experimented with a number of treatments, Mrs. Happy has found that a shower
and an application of Aveeno
Moisturizing
Lotion with Cooling Menthol and Natural Colloidal Oatmeal is the best treatment
for PUPPP, which means that it soothes the fiery itching for as long as four
hours.

A couple of days ago she noticed that heat and sweat exacerbate the
itching. She doused herself with baby powder before going to bed Saturday night,
and that seemed to help. She also noticed that when she is in bed, she tends
to sweat on the part of her body in contact with the bed. The ideal solution
to this problem would be to sleep on her back, since that’s the only part of
her unaffected by PUPPP. But pregnant women can’t spend much time on their
backs without crushing some internal organs, so she decided to try sleeping
in the recliner in our living room. I may have mentioned this before, but I
can’t fall asleep unless she’s in bed with me. Therefore, last night I slept
on the couch in our living room,
as near to her as I could get.

Some time around 3:00 a.m., Mrs. Happy woke me up. I couldn’t see her very
well since all the lights were out and I was not wearing my glasses. I could
make out her silhouette, though. Standing there in loose-fitting pajamas and
nine months pregnant, she reminded me of a very short nose tackle (for my international
readers, that’s an American football term for the biggest and meanest guy on
the team). She said, "Curt, I’m going to the bed. Sleeping in the recliner
isn’t working, and all
the people
who’ve
done it before are frauds."

When I’m rested out of a sound sleep, I can’t really understand reality for
several seconds. I couldn’t make sense of what she had said, so I said, "What?"

When my wife is rested out of a sound sleep, she doesn’t really understand
reality for several minutes. She didn’t change her stance, expression, or tone
of voice when she answered, "Oh. That must’ve been a dream…but I’m going to
the bed."

Ten minutes later, we were both in the bed and laughing harder than we’ve
laughed in a long time. I love being married.

Marriage links for the week

Irene wonders about how
to find Mr. Right
, then wonders whether
there even is
such a thing
.

I don’t know why, but it always warms my heart when Amy Scott talks
about her kids
.

Steve Lynch continues his review of the book Covenant Marriage with Chapter
15: Why Do I Get So Defensive?

I don’t really read John Piper much, but Adrian Warnock does. He links
to and excerpts
one of Piper’s recent articles called The
Marks of a Spiritual Leader
. I know that every husband is by definition
a spiritual leader, but it’s heartening to see someone as respected as John
Piper say something like this:

Paul said in Ephesians 5:25, "Husbands, love your wives!" Love
her! Love her! What does it profit a man if he gains a great following and
lose
his wife? What have we led people to if they see that it leads us to divorce?
What we need today are leaders who are great lovers. Husbands who write poems
for their wives and sing songs to their wives and buy flowers for their wives
for no reason at all except that they love them. We need leaders who know
that they should take a day alone with their wives every now and then; leaders
who
do not fall into the habit of deriding and putting their wives down, especially
with careless little asides in public; leaders who speak well of their wives
in public and complement them spontaneously when they are alone; leaders
who touch her tenderly at other times besides when they are in bed. One of
the
greatest temptations of a busy leader is to begin to treat his wife as a
kind of sex object. It starts to manifest itself when the only time he ever
kisses
her passionately or touches her tenderly is when he’s trying to allure her
into bed. It is a tragic thing when a wife becomes a mannequin for masturbation.
Learn what her delights are and bring her to the fullest experience of sexual
climax. Talk with her and study her desires. Look her in the eye when you
talk to her. Put down the paper and turn off the television. Open the door
for her.
Help her with the dishes. Throw her a party. LOVE HER! LOVE HER! If you don’t,
all your success as a leader will very likely explode in failure at home.

His and Hers: On this day…

His and Hers is a weekly discussion of a question or topic relating
to marriage. On Friday, my wife and I each write our thoughts on the week’s
topic. I invite others to do the same with their spouses as an exercise in
celebrating marriage.

Go to Wikipedia, enter your birthday in the search
box, and list the ten things in the resulting list that are most interesting
to you.

Mrs. Happy’s response

October 5:

Events
Births

Curt’s Response

June 26:

Events
Births
  • 1909Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley‘s manager (d. 1997)
    I share two dubious dates with Elvis.
  • 1912Jay Silverheels,
    American actor (d. 1980)
    This is the actor who played Tonto in the old TV series The Lone Ranger. Jay
    Silverheels was actually his stage name. His given name was Harold
    J. Smith, and he was born on a reservation in Canada.
Holidays and observances

If I were a Yankees fan, I would have included the fact that Derek
Jeter
shares my birthday, and that he’s two years younger than me.

Itchy, scratchy, and Mrs. Happy

There’s this skin condition called PUPPP that some pregnant women get toward
the end of the third trimester. It occurs in fewer than one percent of pregnant
women,
but those few suffer pretty terribly. Here’s what WebMD says
about it:

Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP) is the most
common skin condition specific to pregnancy. Women with PUPPP develop small
red bumps and hives, and when severe, the bumps form large patches. This
rash usually starts on the abdomen and spreads to the thighs, buttocks, breasts,
and arms.

"You feel itchy everywhere during the worst and last trimester," Leffel
says. However, he adds, anti-itching topical medications, antihistamines,
and topical steroids can control the itching.

I’m here to tell you that topical medications and antihistamines don’t work,
at least not for Mrs. Happy. She saw the OB today, who told her she has the
worst case she’s ever seen. Calihist, Aveeno, and hydrocortisone relieve the
itching for about half an hour, but then she’s in hell again. The itching is
so bad it wakes her up at night. She can’t sleep for more than three hours
at a time because she has to keep reapplying the cream(s). She expects to live
like that after the
baby’s born, but not before.

She’s seeing a dermatologist tomorrow to hopefully get some sort of topical
steroid. The OB promised it wouldn’t affect the baby, but if any of you ladies
out there know of a natural or OTC way to cure this thing, your input would
be greatly appreciated.

Courtship is now in session

A couple of years ago, I read a self-congratulatory article (I have since
either lost
or
discarded the URL) written
by
a
man
gushing over the fact that his daughter had gotten married in exactly the right
way. She stayed in his house under his protection for as long as she was single,
which I think was about 18 years or so. A boy she knew and liked became interested
in
her, and he expressed his interest to the father. The father and the boy had
many conversations, and eventually arranged a wedding. They told the girl what
they were doing, and she giggled with delight, but they didn’t tell her when
the wedding would be. On the day of the wedding, the father woke his daughter
and told her, "Get ready, honey. You’re getting married today." She literally
squealed with glee. After the ceremony, the father accompanied the newlyweds
to their new house. He walked with them to their bedroom. As they knelt down
at the foot of their bed to pray together, the father left, closing the door
behind him, quite pleased that he knew exactly the right way for a young girl
to marry and that he had made it happen for his daughter.

He didn’t say it outright, but I got the feeling that he would disapprove
of the young couple having sex until after the birth of their first child.

The ladies (a mother and her three grown daughters) at Girltalk discussed
the idea of courtship recently (when you have time, read all
of their courtship posts
starting at the bottom) and drew
some fire
in
the Crosswalk forums. Since forums are for people who don’t have blogs ( :)
), I thought I’d finally weigh in on the issue.

One of the few things I learned in the college classroom was this: Most arguments
stem from a disagreement about
definitions. I once argued with a roommate for 90 minutes when he told me he
believed in predestination. I adamantly argued against it. I told him it was
bad theology. I wondered how he could function in life if he believed something
like that. (I’ve mellowed with age.) Eventually I realized that the idea he
called predestination was
an idea I called foreknowledge, which I had no problem with. We held
identical beliefs that we argued about for 90 minutes because were working
from different definitions.

Getting back to my original subject, I think for most people the word courtship tends
to conjure images of a controlling father handing his daughter over to a controlling
husband
and imagining that she’s excited about it, like the smugly satisfied father
I mentioned at the beginning of this post. I don’t think that’s how the Girltalkers
define it. In their first
post on the subject
, the mother of the family explains
that she and her husband educated their daughters early on about what to look
for in a man:

1. Genuine passion for God.
2. Authentic humility.
3. Love for the local church.
4. Biblical convictions about manhood and womanhood.

I think these are all essential traits for a Christian woman to seek in
a husband. The parents also told the girls to consider:

-Do you fully respect this man the way a wife is called to respect her husband?
-Can you eagerly submit to him as the church submits to Christ?
-Do you have faith to follow this man no matter where he may lead?
-Can you love this man with a tender, affectionate love?

Again, these are essential questions for a Christian woman to consider.

When I read the daughters’ love stories, I did not get the sense that they
had overbearing parents who imposed themselves on their nearly-grown children.
I got the idea that the girls loved and respected their parents and actively
sought their counsel. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that. I hope my
children will feel the same way about me. And if I have a daughter, I intend
to interrogate every single boy who wants to be near her and instill a fear
of God—if not me—in every one of them as well. If I have a son, I intend to
teach him how to treat a woman as if she were God’s own daughter. If I have
one of each, I’ll do both.

In retrospect, I think the evolution of my relationship with Mrs. Happy was
a kind of courtship. We certainly didn’t date in the modern sense. We got to
know each other gradually, under
fairly
neutral
and
controlled
circumstances,
and
our
love grew out of our friendship, quite unintentionally. All the while, I tried
dating other girls. It never worked for me. It always felt forced even
with girls I really
liked.
At times,
I even
asked
advice of my parents about different girls. They both persistently tried to
steer me toward the eventual Mrs. Happy no matter which girl I asked them about.
That’s
not
why
I married
her, but it did give me a little more confidence in my decision. Dating worked
for friends of mine who married before I did and are still happy. The Girltalkers’
courtships obviously worked for them. As long as people are happily married,
maybe it doesn’t really matter how they got there.