Monthly Archives: August 2013

Hear me Apollo…


Well… Hello there, true believer… I suppose it’s time to return to my weekly exercise in blogging. I wish I had something really profound to hit you with in the brain box. Something aligned with something spectacular like the first time an Apollo mission reemerged into earthly, communicative reach from the mysterious dark and far side of the moon. But alas I do not have something so admirable for us today.

When I last left off I had expressed some anxiety over the condition of Violet, my yet born daughter’s development. We had been notified that a “soft marker” had been identified in her first ultrasounds and spent about two weeks flipping out in silent, segmented chaotic realizations that we are NOT in control, have NEVER been in control, and will never BE in control- and we just have to learn to get used to the facts and appreciate each other and what we DO have. Because otherwise it’s just going to get worse and we don’t have one damn thing to look forward to EVER in our self important lives. So… that’s a lot to take in, and impossible to do in one go. Violet’s condition, whatever it may be, only highlights that fact and is just the tip of an immense iceberg of uncomfortable truth. Any expectations or hopes we may have are just an over publicized ocean liner dumbly churning through a dark and frigid sea of human condition. Just waiting to have it’s belly opened and contents dumped, wailing intentions in the night and into the frozen lonely abyss without so much as an echo. And with any luck, after you are swallowed by the earth and your lofty hopes are forgotten and rendered irrelevant to the living, MAYBE someday someone will at least know just what the hell happened.

I think I’ve been out in the cold just a little too long, because I feel a bit numb to report to you that the doctor gave her a 98% chance of being perfectly perfect. When I learned that, I knew enough and was aware enough to be relieved. and I WAS relieved. But honestly I haven’t really had much of a chance to FEEL relieved. In all honesty, I’m just as stressed out and frustrated as before… and not at much liberty to discuss… maybe I’m still on the dark side of the moon after all… waiting to emerge into some light to be admired and communicate with my home.


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Posted by on August 30, 2013 in Uncategorized


hold on tight…


Hello there true believer.

It’s that time again. Yes it’s time for another thrilling installment of the Continental blog that has absolutely nothing to do with anything continental! It has taken it’s own damn direction like this thing called life as the world spins madly on! Yes kids the hit’s just keep on coming and the hearts just keep on breaking as the roller coaster takes another white knuckled dive before its slow and deliberate climb once again to heights unknown… when she drops, nobody knows! So clench those teeth, hold that breath, and don’t get too comfortable! Cause’ you’re in the jungle baby! And you’re gonna die!

That’s pretty much what I’m feeling lately and let me tell you why. Last week I was in a waking state of uter and absolute blissful euphoria. My wife Melanie and I received the joyful news that we are expecting a daughter and that if we didn’t hear anything by Monday, then we were to operate under the assumption that her development was just swell. Well, I guess swelling went down… because Melanie received a call from the doctor on wednesday to let us know that they had detected something known as a “soft marker” in her level I ultrasounds.

A “soft marker” is a term used to indicate possible risks of chromosomal abnormalities in pregnancies. In laymen’s terms, it’s a way to see if your baby is going to have downs syndrome or not. Some of these soft markers are shortened femurs, lack of a nasal bone, renal (kidney) dilation, nuchal translucency (a thick watery pocket on the neck) etc… It turns out that our growing baby, Violet has some dilation in her kidneys and we are scheduled for a level II ultrasound on the 19th of August.

Yep… the giddy bubble popped. When I heard that, it was like the wonderful broadcast of my perception suddenly flashed with technical difficulties of human angst. The program just….. stopped….. and autopilot intellect switched on, leaving the viewing audience of my soul to wonder who the hell just changed the channel? The world went about it’s chaotic business with no concern for my paternal plight which left me frozen in my tracks. One second there I was in my mind with my perfect little daughter standing on my feet and holding my hands for balance as we plodded down the hallway together…. and the next minute I was staring at my special needs daughter trying to picture her as a “normal” kid and wondering how I could free the person locked in that mind. Which made me feel a twinge of shame.

My younger brother is developmentally disabled, and I’ve honestly always carried a fair amount of guilt for never knowing how to be a better brother to his special needs. I remember times when I was a kid and my dad would scold me because he caught me staring at him for a moment, just trying to figure out what was going on in there. It brings a shudder to my heart to think how uncomfortable my prying, staring eyes must have made him in those moments, and the possible emotional or psychological effect it had. I don’t know if he even remembers anything like that but it still matters to me. The shame to think that I would catch myself doing the same thing to my own daughter just elicits a split second compulsion to self destruct. I don’t want her too EVER feel that brand of alienation from everyone else around her or feel like I have been the cause of it.

The doctor told Melanie that we should specifically NOT google anything about the Violet’s soft marker of renal dilation because we would only end up working ourselves up and freaking ourselves out. But this is America by God and using the media to work ourselves up and freak ourselves out is something we now do better than cheeseburgers, and we will simply not be denied that basic right. So in the name of fear and instant gratification, google we must and google we did. With confounded exasperation we turned our squinted layman eyes to other folk’s grainy ultrasound scans to compare with our own and found nothing of any note. Jose can you see? No sir, I can not. How the radiologists can use these grainy smudges to discern a pair of dilated kidneys from healthy ones was beyond us. We’d have better luck reading tea leaves in the dark than even trying to locate a single kidney in the handful of spotty black and white images stuck to our refrigerator door. However, the majority of information gathered from online message boards indicated that this soft marker is actually a very common occurrence in the gestation of countless healthy babies, but that did nothing to talk me down from my cliff. Aside from my own genuine and stubborn concern, other literature designed to psychologically prepare parents spoke of different stages of grief upon learning of an oncoming special needs child- the first stage being denial. So though I am told that Violet is probably okay, my fear has just been reinforced by a backup generator of despair telling me not to entertain any denial.

The ironic thing is that any practice or questioning of self awareness seems to be an act of denial in itself. Because already this week I have caught myself multiple times projecting my angry fear onto other small and meaningless situations. When not glazed over like a gasping fish fading from life under a cruel boot, I have been exasperating minor annoyances and making a perfect, self righteous ass of myself. I am grumpy and sensitive and kind of a pain in the ass to be around because I can’t seem to understand why the people in my proximity won’t just act according to my thoughts. Melanie and I have at least been able to come together over it but we have had to check ourselves and each other in order to do so. It’s a stressful thing to be reminded that despite your vision or intention, while you may think you are in the driver’s seat, you are just along for the ride.

I want my daughter to be healthy. Her health is my health and I find myself in a position of helplessness to improve that health with any certainty. Yeah, there’s a good chance that she’s going to be just fine. But that’s not enough because how do I really know? I don’t. I can’t. And no matter how hard I wish, pray and yearn, in all reality my health and hers are not mutually exclusive to one another- not right now anyway. Despite the supplements Melanie and I picked up to possibly help Violet’s kidneys, there’s no way for me to have a direct influence on any outcome. Writing about all of it definitely helps me to actually recognize and process my feelings more clearly in order to not project them onto other situations. It also reminds me of the general promise of love “no matter what” that I have made to the members of my family. I am obligated to fulfill that promise and want nothing more than to do just that. But sometimes the old wood cracks before it bends and that’s kind of scary because they have to rely on me to be a source of confident, unfailing, mental, and physical stability and wellness… and I’m just a man- fallible and along for the ride.



hold on tight…


Posted by on August 13, 2013 in Uncategorized


Looks like a…

Hello there true believer,

My wife and I are expecting a baby and recently learned the sex. We found out on Friday the 2nd of August. Pull up a seat and I’ll give you my reflection of it.

The appointment was at 12:45 I had taken an extra hour and half for lunch. As the week progressed, I had become increasingly anxious to learn ANYTHING about our little creation. So by the time we were in the waiting room on Friday I was a bloodshot mess with gnarled fingernails and a nervous twitch in my eyelid. Throughout the week I had found myself searching for signs and meanings in anything I could. Like a worried chimp intensely staring at the display on a calculator thinking it would either; A.) divulge some sort of understanding of the mystery of his own consciousness, or B.) completely obliterate it from existence if the wrong button was pushed- and all too eager to shriek in terror at the pushing of ANY button in the first place. I tried to in vain to play it cool but Melanie knew I was geeking from a constant state of agitation, and to her credit she didn’t bust my chops about it. I think because she was pretty anxious in her own right to learn at least of our baby’s current state of well being and development.

Eventually we were called back and instructed to follow a nurse/technician lady, so we did just that. In hindsight, I was personally kind of on auto pilot as we walked along, the hallway seeming more tunnel like than anything. Once we were in the little room, I was eager to converse with a learned and scholarly doctor who was ready to dispel any of my natural worries of downs syndrome and divulge the gender, exact height, weight, hair and eye color, as well as personal tastes, politics, and preferences of my wonderful child. I pulled a chair up close to Melanie as she assumed the proper position for the ultrasound procedure. I was a bit miffed to realize the ultrasound technician was grossly unaware that this particular expectant child was in fact the center of the ever-lovin’ universe and unable to provide very much of my required information at all. However, there was one piece of information she did provide that not only answered a question, but also made me realize just how many other questions and uncertainties were swirling in my head – most of which suddenly dropping and falling away with one simple statement… “Looks like a little girl!” I had resigned myself to the technician’s blameless ignorance and staunch regard to liability so when she said “Looks like a little girl!” I missed the beat and the casual declaration flew over my head at first. It was like someone suddenly turned on a light after I had spent an entire night in darkness and I had to blink a little to adjust to my sudden vision.

All of a sudden, we weren’t just having a “baby.” What does that mean anyway? That’s just an abstract concept when placed beside the definitive declaration of “Looks like a little girl!” We are no longer just having a “baby.” We’re having a little girl! Finally equipped with that information, I was riveted to the screen displaying the sonar generated image of the tiny figure growing in my wife. Obsequiously, I humbly implored the technician’s sudden expertise to alert us to any abnormalities that could be seen by her educated and omniscient gaze and she said she would oblige. (We were told that if anything was noticed over the weekend we would be told on Monday and Monday has come and gone!)


I think somehow we knew we were going to have a little girl because we already had a name picked out for one and hadn’t even considered any names for a boy. Violet. Her name name is Violet Lynn Elliott and there were never any other contenders because we just sort of knew. We did however yearn for the confirmation of this procedure. As Melanie endured the poking and prodding of the ultrasound wand, Violet struck a number of poses for the camera, finally to tire out and spitefully turn away once the technician had again become an ignorant imposition. There was one point where she demonstrated her growing bicep muscles and another demonstration of her growing legs.

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When the technician took the image of Violet’s legs, Melanie was reclined back with her hands behind her head and it seemed Violet took a cue from Mommy and struck the same pose which I found particularly aMAZing.

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At this point Violet grew weary of our technician’s intrusion into her space and she turned away from the camera after offering what I imagined to be a swift kick to indicate the expired welcome.

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I tell you, my mind was BLOWN. It was everything Melanie could do not to laugh at me and disrupt the sonic waves that were imaging Violet. Over and over I exclaimed “That’s AMAZING.” as if I were the first person to discover and attempt to articulate the realm of general science.

I have been walking on air for five days now with a euphoric understanding of my own purpose. Thank you Violet.




Posted by on August 6, 2013 in Uncategorized