Thursday, September 24, 2015

Life in Duluth (Part III)



Jim was never a demanding boy. He bought his very first “second-hand” bicycle with his own small savings and got a job with the Western Union – delivering telegrams. Next he got a summer at the Areo Coffee Co.

He attended Central High School and was always a good student and graduated in 1946 with honors. Soon, he got work with the Minn. Highway Dept –working from the “ground-up” – the work taking him to various small towns in the northern part of the state. He was always interested in Drafting work in High School so he kept that up in the M.H.D. He has been there ever since – and now in 1978 changed over to the Minn. Natural Resources Dept.

In April 1955 he married Doraine Lee, also, of Duluth. They lived in Virginia, Minn. for a while and then in Duluth, where they built a home on Brainerd Ave. They now have 3 children, Scott, born May 7, 1958 – Tom, born April 28, 1960, and Mary Kay, 15, born April 7, 1963. In 1971, they moved to Fridley, Minn. where they now live.

While in Duluth, they had a small cabin at Comstock Lake. They later bought a lake frontage lot at Leader L. in Wascott, Wis. and Ike and I took over the cabin at Comstock. We enjoyed it so very much, as it was rustic and we were close to Nature, which we both have always loved. Ike was so happy there, doing what he always enjoyed – fishing leisurely and rowing – no motors, no electricity, outdoor “privy” – clearing brush, fixing the cabin, feeding birds and listening to them sing. Picking raspberries in the summertime. Sitting by a bonfire – making coffee outdoors. And just walking in the woods, sometime seeing a deer, once we even saw a large moose and her young one.

That was not to last long. Ike had a stroke on Dec. 2, 1970 which was totally unexpected, as he had always taken good care of himself – eating moderately, drinking (very little), exercising diligently, without fail every morning and walking outdoors several times a day. He did suffer from a prostate condition, which had become cancerous but did not cause pain, but he didn’t feel well. He was operated on in Rochester, Minn. and was put on (stilbestoral?) tablets. The doctors said that was a slow type of cancer. For over 3 months, he was a patient at Miller Devon Hospital in Duluth. Dr. Bakkila, etc. attending. Therapy was given [to] him every day, -- and could finally walk a little with the aid of a 4-pronged cane, with someone holding on for extra support. Mostly, he was in a wheel-chair. In March, 1971, he was released to my care at home. He had become very depressed at becoming so helpless, a man, who had been so capable of doing practically anything he wished to do. The fact that Jim had to move away hit him hard. Those were the toughest days of our life together. I am thankful I was able to care for him and he was very grateful for that. It wasn’t easy on me either, combined with the prostate trouble, too, we got very little sleep or rest. He warned about me being able to hold up – I didn’t tell him that, but I was concerned myself – as I was so tired and lost then about 20 pounds – (which I could spare, of course.) My dear friend Lillian Day would come over to iron and wipe up floors – but she couldn’t give him the very personal attention he had to have.

On Nov. 21, (on his sister’s birthday) he very quietly and I think painlessly, just shut his eyes for the last time. Sitting in his wheel chair, having eaten his supper.

Death is a part of life – which none of us can avoid. But it is so very final – and takes quite a lot of adjusting to learn to live completely alone, without the strength and support that I had learned to depend on living with a good man for half a century almost! His word was his bond and when I was weak he was always strong. I have no words to adequately describe my husband – but I am very grateful that I was fortunate and lucky enough to get him – I’m sure I didn’t deserve him – but he understood me and accepted me with all me weaknesses and faults – and I’d say all in all – we had a happy life together. We both loved nature and our wants were simple.

The One Where I Have a Baby

Hey, World!

 I realize this is first and foremost a travel blog (albeit a poorly updated one) and I have no intention of turning it into a "mommy blog" (which would also likely be poorly updated), but you know, having a baby is kind of a big deal and so before I can go back to writing about Kyrgyz cuisine (a post I've been working on for, like, 9 months) I feel the need to share my labor story with the interwebs. Why? I'm not sure. But now that BabyTK is one month old(!), I figure why not risk oversharing (which, according to the very amusing blog STFU, Parents I am most certainly doing with this post.*)


So, BabyTK was due on August 15, but decided to hang out inside until August 18. This was mildly annoying because, and I assume most women who've been pregnant would agree with me, after 9 months, you just want the kid to get out. It's like, "Your lease is up, baby." Plus, while overall the summer was really very mild, those last few days were super hot and humid. And, of course, Mr. ATK and I had quite a bit of paperwork to do in order to get everything necessary for BabyTK to return to Bishkek, none of which can be completed before the baby is actually, you know, born.

Anyway, August 17th rolls around and I finally start feeling some contractions. Of course, it's at like 11 pm. That's when these things start, I guess. At the most inconvenient time possible. Around 1:30 am, they are like a minute apart and pretty painful and I'm thinking, "This is it. He's coming soon." I had heard stories from friends as well as MamaTK about how when they showed up at the hospital they were at like 8 centimeters and the baby was born in an hour or two, so I figured with the timing of the contractions and pain, I was also in that boat. (Wishfully thinking that perhaps quick labor was hereditary.) Sadly, I get to the hospital at 2:00 am in quite a bit of pain only to find out that I was at one centimeter. I tell you, I almost burst into tears. I thought they would send me home (I had heard that happens when you aren't far along.) Happily (I guess) they did not send me home. They admitted me. And while I had originally thought that maybe I'd try a natural, epidural free birth, when the doctor came in she was like, "This baby isn't going to be born until around 5 p.m. You should get an epidural. I don't think you'll make it that long." I was like, "Okey dokey." Honestly, mad props to all those women who forego the epidural and do the whole labor au natural. A couple of people had told me earlier, "Don't be a hero; take the epidural." I thought for a second that maybe I'd go for it, but, nope, I wussed out. I mean, go through that pain for the next 13 hours, and it was going to get worse as the hours wore on? Yeah, no thanks.

So I got the epidural (oddly, Mr. ATK was kicked out of the room for that procedure. Seriously, the epidural is the part he isn't allowed to watch? Interesting.) We can fast forward 13 hours to the actual birthing part. I'm going to spare you the details (because that would definitely be an overshare) but the funny thing is, the doctor is not there for, like, any of this process. So it was me, my "support people," and two nurses. They were very nice. It was all "push, push, push" for about 90 minutes and then when the baby is, like, right there, ready to come out, they are like, "Don't push." And one of them leaves to get the doctor. So I stop pushing, but, you know, contractions (even if I can't feel them) they continue and they are the body's way of pushing this thing out of it. So there is one nurse in the room (who was in training for obstetrics) and suddenly out pops his head. Now the baby is looking around and the nurse is like, "Hit the call button!" which leads MamaTK, Mr. ATK, and me to be like, "Where's the call button?" (I feel if this were a movie, Yakety Sax would have been playing.) The nurse hits the call button and yells, "We've got a head!" and suddenly a swarm of nurses arrive. One is like, "Hi, I'm Jenny! I'm going to deliver your baby." And then she delivers the baby. They all take the kid and do whatever it is they do (he had, um, relieved himself in the womb so he had to have some special stuff done before they could give him to me.) Eventually, the doctor shows up and I guess, finishes up, but I mean, even if she had been on time, all she really would have had to do is basically catch the baby. No disrespect to doctors, it's just kind of funny. I mean, I guess, she was probably out delivering other babies. No need to sit by me and say push for 90 minutes--that does seem like a waste of her time. I don't know. It was amusing. Mr. ATK and I assume we'll get 10% off for having our baby delivered by a nurse instead of a doctor. That's how that works, right?

So that's the story. Hope it's not too terrible of an overshare. BabyTK is doing well at just over a month. Long and lean.  Also, they say that moms forget the pains of pregnancy and childbirth after they baby finally arrives. Well, I haven't. Forgive but never forget is my motto. :)


Everyone loves a fur rug, right?

*Best FriendTK shared this website with me shortly after BabyTK was born. She assured me I was not like one of those moms shamed in the blog, but part of me thinks it was a warning. If I ever start sharing pictures of BabyTK's bowel movements or "mommyjacking" Facebook posts and telling people they don't know anything until they become a parent, I do hope someone lays the smack down on me because that crap is just obnoxious.