Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Chronicle of the Birth of Gregory Robert Fish (Father of Ruthie Fish)

Explanation about what follows: I wrote the following journal in a Microsoft Word document before coming to my Blog site. This evening, there will be a baby shower for my daughter-in-law, Emily (actually it is for her daughter Ruthie, who will be born in September). As part of a Native-American tradition, those who attend the shower are to take a bead for each of their children. The beads will be strung as a necklace (?) that will be presented to Ruthie at a later time in her life. The participants are also to write a story about the birth of their own children, to be gathered together in a notebook. I enjoy writing much more than Rose does, so she asked me to write something about the birth of Greg. Charissa is mentioned here as well, just as a comparative ease or difficulty of the two childbirths. Kim is not mentioned in the story. I am just too verbose. I did not have time to write about her birth. That will have to come at a later date. She is one of the three readers of this blog, so I wanted to put the disclaimer up front. Kim, I may not have written an account of your birth, but your older siblings will not have the privilege of making a cross-country road trip to Las Vegas next month. You also are very much loved.

A long time ago (December 2, 1980) in a land far, far away from southwest Missouri (Chile, South America), Gregory Robert Fish (McGill) was born. His parents were eager for his arrival. Unlike the birth of his older sister, Charissa,
this time his mother’s mother (Mary Ruth McGill) would be present to help the inept father with the household chores, and to help take care of her daughter.

By the way, though, it is not relevant to the story of his birth to include a short mention of the birth of his older sister, Charissa, but as I contemplate the pangs of childbirth that women experience, Charissa’s birth was a proverbial piece of cake, compared to the birth of Ruthie’s father. You see, when Charissa was born, neither of the parents had a clue what giving birth to a child in a far-off land was like. They were both over-cautious, nervous, and called the doctor at the drop of a hat. When Charissa was about to be born, Rose spotted a little earlier in the day, and off they ran to the clinic. Dr. Stacchetti, an Italian doctor who migrated to Chile after years of practice in Italy (and who always reminded us of Robert Young’s character, Dr. Marcus Welby), assured us that the birth was imminent, but not to worry. “Enjoy your day; go to a park; take a nap; go to a movie! I imagine that I’ll see you here tonight.” I don’t remember if we went to a park, or took a nap, but I do remember going to a movie. We saw a World War II movie, Cross of Iron (Sam Peckinpah, 1977). I don’t remember much about the movie—only that it chronicled the atrocities of war in a tremendously intense way. It was a benefit that the movie was so intense, because Rose was in labor during the entire movie, but because of the intense images of war, did not realize it. The movie ended (we were seated in the balcony), and as we stood up, her water broke, and we flooded the theater (that was an example of uncalled-for hyperbole). I must assure you that now we were really spooked. We drove from the theater directly to the clinic. Rose was checked in (she was already dilated about 5 cm), and I had to run home to get the suitcase that we had packed earlier for the clinic, but which was not in the car. I made it back to the clinic, and about an hour and a half later, Charissa was born. We barely had time to practice our Lamaze-inspired Yankee Doodle breathing. Piece of cake!

Not so her younger brother! The first childbirth was easy. We really had no problems. The second pregnancy was afflicted by many problems. Several months before Greg was born, Rose started leaking amniotic fluid. Dr. Stacchetti recommended bed rest for several weeks. Her mother left her home (at that time in Ft. Myers, FL) to come to Chile to help out. She also suffered edema in the ankles, and high blood pressure. It was described as pre-eclampsia. Because of her condition, a date was set at which labor would be induced, should Greg not have decided to come naturally. The edema and the hypertension were pregnancy-related problems, and would be resolved as soon as he was born. He was at full term (I should hope so—He weighed 9 lbs. 12 oz. at birth!), but was not showing signs of coming on his own. We checked into the clinic, and the IV drip to induce labor was started. Rose was in induced labor for about 15 hours. I don’t think that VCRs had been invented yet (maybe Betamax was in existence, but not for poor people like we were)—we could have used an intense war movie to take her attention off of her hard labor.

The labor went on and on and on. Progress was very slow. The pains were intense. Now, it should probably be stated that though Rose’s mother was in Chile, she was not present for any of this. She was on the other side of the big city, taking care of Charissa. So we had been doing the hard work (actually I had been doing the hard waiting; Rose had been doing the hard work), and her mother was with Charissa on the other side of town. We had paid nearly $1000 (a year in advance!) to get a telephone in our house, but at the time it had not been installed. During all that time, we had no way to let Rose’s mother know what was going on. Her labor went so long and hard that they almost decided to shut it down in order to wait for the next day. But, late in the evening, she started making some progress, and they decided to continue it. She was doing great!1 Now, I must make a comment about the Lamaze method. We read the books. We practiced our breathing. It was our intention to use the methodology, and for this child (just as Charissa) to be born without the use of anesthesia. Greg’s birth process needed some kind of kick-starting, but once she got going, she was going so well, that they sent the anesthesiologist (there in case he was needed) home. After all, it was after midnight! Life has taught me that Murphy is right more times than not—“If anything can go wrong, it will.” All I can say is that they never should have sent the anesthesiologist home. We left her room upstairs, to go to the delivery room downstairs. The contractions became more and more intense. They were so strong she was begging for an epidural. That’s when we found out that Dr. Stacchetti (also working off of his memory of the piece of cake delivery of older sister, Charissa) had sent the anesthesiologist back home. He was called back in. She was really in need of the epidural at that time. The good doctor arrived, got prepped quickly, prepared the epidural, and administered it. Rose’s reaction? The pain was gone. Almost immediately, she went to sleep.

That’s when things really got crazy. I was there, and these are my recollections. I am the father who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true (for those who are not Bible scholars, that last statement borders on plagiarism, adapted from John 21:24). She was fully dilated. Greg was ready to be born. I was exhausted. She was sleeping. The doctors were screaming. “Wake up! Wake up! You’ve got to push!” We threw water on her face. One of the doctors even slapped her in the face. She woke up enough to push, and out came our baby boy. He had been in birth position longer than was optimum. The neonatologist was on hand, and they rushed Greg off to the other room. I’m not sure what they did to him, but it saved his life. Rose was exhausted. I was pretty tired too. I was usually the one to talk to the doctors, since I was more conversant in technical language Spanish. The neonatologist came in and told me what had happened. His problems were because he had been in the birth canal, ready to be born, for a longer period of time than what was good for him. His APGAR rating at birth was only 2. They said about the only thing he really had going for him was a strong heartbeat. He recovered very quickly, as his 5-minute APGAR rating was up to 9. When the doctor came in to talk to me, I heard the words, but was too tired to understand. Basically all I understood that night was that there were some problems, but that he was going to be all right.

Now, there is one more pertinent detail. We were well within the first decade of the right-wing military dictatorship, and the country was still under a toque de queda (curfew). It was too late for me to go home to tell Rose’s mom what had happened. My best option was to sleep for a couple hours, then get up at the crack of dawn when the curfew was lifted (5 AM?), and drive across town with the news. I slept a few hours, got up, and crossed Santiago. There was very little traffic out as I drove across the city. The next day, I would have a cogent conversation with the neonatologist and comprehend how serious the situation had been. At 5 AM I remember reflecting on what had happened as I drove. Nearly thirty years later, I can produce the same emotion. I was overwhelmed by an incredible sense of God’s blessing. Through tears of thanksgiving I sang praises to God. My son could have died, but he would be all right. God indeed was good to us.

During the past year, she has been battling with breast cancer, and I (the husband of Rose and the father of Greg) have been amazed at her strength. She has bounced back from her surgeries with incredible speed. She is a strong lady. I love her!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Fun Day at Silver Dollar City

It just turned out that way--this year I celebrated my birthday on Mothers' Day, and it turned out that Fathers' Day was the same day as our anniversary--34 years! We've had quite an interesting year, as now we are a Cancer Surviving Family. We celebrated by going to Silver Dollar City in Branson, with our daughter and her husband, and the two older grandsons, Nathan and Eli. It was a pleasant surprise to find out that fathers were granted free entrance to the park with the purchase of another adult ticket, so the trip was cheaper than I thought it would be. I posted more photos on my Facebook profile.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Trivial Pursuit for a not-so-Trivial Matter

Last night we went to the Carl Junction Christian Church to participate in a fund-raiser for MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers). We were invited to play (and also to pay for playing) a Trivial Pursuit-like game. Since we have lived outside of the U.S. for much of my adult life (still more than half of it), there is a lot of U.S. trivia that we don't know.

However, my son-in-law, Steve Robinett, is one of the best Trivial Pursuit players that I know, so when we were asked to participate in this event, we recommended him (Sorry, Steve). People from the church put together teams of 7-8 people. There were 8 such teams. Ours was composed of:
  • Ralph and Cindy Shead (our former Chilean missionary colleagues, and members of the Carl Junction Christian Church)
  • Steve and Charissa Robinett (our son-in-law and daughter)
  • Doug and Carol Reed (colleagues of Shead's at LATM and former missionaries to the Dominican Republic)
  • Us (David and Rose Fish)
Each person put in $10 (for MOPS) to play. Then they also "sold" strips of 5 stickers (for an additional $10 for MOPS), as mulligans to put on the answer sheets for questions we did not know. At first they said you could only use 1 sheet of 5 stickers for the whole game, but at half-time, they allowed each team to purchase 1 more strip. After the eighth round, they again allowed teams to buy an additional strip of 5 stickers. Our team bought 3 strips of 5 stickers ($30 more for MOPS), and we used all the stickers but one (14 in all). Did I tell you that we dominated the game? We got down to the last round, and we had 4 stickers left, and only 10 questions. There is no way that the 2nd place team could have caught us.

All in all, we played 10 rounds of 10 questions from 10 different categories. The questions were read, and each team wrote the answers to the questions. Since we won the entire tournament, our team was awarded $120 (more than what we paid to play, even with our mulligan strips). We gave that prize money back to the local MOPS group.

I can't remember all of the categories, but some of my favorite categories were:
  • "Word" up (for which all questions were Bible-related--we did pretty well on that one)
  • The Pros of Prose (authors of famous books--Carol Reed was very helpful in this area, since she is a school teacher)
  • Sports-related category (Steve and I pretty much carried our team in this area)
  • The Small Screen (a category taken from TV shows--I was thankful for some questions from the Andy Griffith Show)
We had fun, and since we gave back our "prize" money, the local MOPS program probably raised about $600. Now, may God bless the mothers and the workers of that program! I observed some of the MOPS program at our own church, and I think that I am best suited for helping MOPS as a Trivial Pursuit player, not as a babysitter!

A fun time was had by all. Thanks, Cindy, for inviting us.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Surprise! Surprise! 3G Service in Joplin, MO

I have had a 3G phone for over a year. When I have gone to larger cities (Tulsa, Kansas City, St. Louis) I have taken advantage of the chance to check my e-mail from my phone. The rumor on the street was that our market (Joplin, MO) was to get 3G service sometime this year. Frankly, I did not believe it.

Imagine my pleasant surprise when I looked at my phone today, and saw the 3G symbol in the visor. Woohoo! See the screen capture. The 3G is just to the left of the time.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

For the Love of a "Cuh-Fuh-Luh" Truck

We went to Indiana last weekend, to participate in a Memorial Service for my father-in-law, Robert F. McGill. My son Greg and his family arrived Wednesday night, so he and his two older boys, Nathan and Eli, made the trip with us.

Nathan will turn 7 years old this week, and Eli is 5
. They had a great time in Indiana. We stayed at the home of some dear old friends, Jack & Barb Norton. A railroad track runs behind their home, and the trains were visible. Both boys have been Thomas the Train fans for a long time, so seeing real trains from the back yard was special. On Saturday morning, I overheard Eli talking to his mother (who stayed back in Joplin). He said, "Things here are just great! I wish you could be here with us!"

We had the most fun, however, on the return trip. We (th
e adults) were tired, and perhaps a little punchy, which made our trip back across the Mississippi River that much more fun. We (the adults) were concerned that the boys could see the Gateway Arch, or perhaps the Mississippi. Their (especially Nathan's) attention was on something else.

Now, I must try to set the scenario. Both Nathan and Eli are reading. Eli (5 years old) reads some from a Dick and Jane Reader. Nathan reads quite a bit, and usually can sound out words that he does not know. That's where the "Cuh-Fuh-Luh" truck comes in.

The Cuh-Fuh-Luh truck is actually a CFI truck (Contract Freighters, Inc.), based out of Joplin, MO. CFI was purchased recently by Con-Way Truckload. Con-Way Truckload moved their base operation to Joplin. In fact, Emily's parents live directly behind their massive office. There are literally hundreds of Cuh-Fuh-Luh trucks visible at all times.

When Nathan sees "CFI", he sees it not as a "CFI" but as "CFl" (capital C, followed by a capital F, followed by a lower case l). He would be a good Hebrew scholar, as he has no trouble reading things that have no vowels, such as C-F-L. He just read it phonetically, adding in the most common vowel
sound in American English, the schwa sound (שְׁוָא). Thus, CFI becomes CFL, which becomes Cuh-Fuh-Luh!

So, back to the story. We wer
e coming back across the Mississippi River, and wanted to point out the Gateway Arch, the river itself, Busch Stadium, etc. But, those things held no interest. Nathan was thrilled because a Cuh-Fuh-Luh truck was behind us. When I started to pull away from it, he told me, "Grandpa, slow down. I want to see the Cuh-Fuh-Luh truck!", followed by "Grandpa, you're driving too fast! Slow down so the Cuh-fuh-Luh truck catches up with us again!"

Greg got out his digital camera, bu
t the battery was weak. Nathan wanted to take a picture of the truck. As Greg passed the camera back, Aunt Charissa took a photo of both boys (Eli and Nathan) with the truck in the background. Then Nathan got his hands on the camera. We weren't sure that he knew what he was doing. At one point, he told us that he was shooting a video of the Cuh-Fuh-Luh truck. Nathan took the bottom photo. The truck looks far away (I was driving too fast!), but if you click on the photo, you will be able to see that it really was a Cuh-Fuh-Luh truck.

I will never look at a CFI truck the same way.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Hugo Chávez Jokes that Obama is More of a Leftist than are Fidel Castro and He

About the nationalization of General Motors: Hugo Chávez calls Obama Comrade, and jokes with Fidel Castro that they better be careful, or they will end up on Obama's right side.

Link from Yahoo News in Español:

"Oye, Obama acaba de nacionalizar nada más y ni nada menos que la General Motors. ¡Camarada Obama! Fidel, cuidado y nos quedamos a la derecha", bromeó el líder izquierdista mientras supervisaba la construcción de unas viviendas en una ciudad dormitorio cercana a Caracas.

For one opinion of what to expect when the government runs a car industry, check out Ion Mihai Pacepa's article in the Wall Street Journal, "What I Learned as a Car Czar."