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EJ catches you up on a life in flux… Part 1

I wrote this on December 1st, 2007. Kristine asked me not to share it until a later time. You will understand what that later time is in Part 2.

Life is uncertain, except for change, which is always there and will always be. My mental photo of my future just changed dramatically. It went from : I am 43, I have a wife, and two kids who are 17 and 14 years old, to I am 43 and have a wife and two kids, and planning on a third one!

Those who have known me for a LONG time, know that Kristine was the force behind me having kids in the first place. I didn’t think we were ready. I didn’t have a job, was a kayaker trying to get sponsors in 1990 when Emily was born. When Dane was born I was knocking on doors for donations for my income and was a full time kayaker. I quickly realized that I was in fact ready to have kids and enjoyed every minute of raising them, and Kristine took responsibility for them in a way that allowed me to do the things that are important to me, like to pursue my paddling.

Now I have a job, have two kids that paddle with me and are quite self-sufficient and while our nest is not empty, the kids come and go on their own.

Who waits 14 years after their last child is born and then decides to have more? Well, Kristine, for sure. She has had a nagging feeling that bothered her for a long time and has been asking me to get a vasectomy, which I did a year ago. Thinking that getting that over with would ease her desire for more kids, it only made it stronger. Yes, it is true, I may be the first man in history to get a vasectomy, and while happily married to the same woman, get a reversal only a year later! Trust me when I say, I have a nagging feeling about this right now too, but at least the little white pill makes it better for a few hours.

The mental process I went through for something like this, especially when it is clearly not your idea, is quite interesting to reflect on. Start with the first discussion. Kristine: “I can’t stand seeing pregnant women, it makes me jealous.” EJ “Uh, you already have two kids and they are the best kids ever.” Kristine: “Yes, but I really miss a baby and don’t think I am ready for grown up kids and not having anyone totally dependent upon me.” EJ:” I am totally dependent on you. You can baby me more if you want. “ Kristine “That is not funny, I am serious.” EJ (thinking inside) “this isn’t funny, she is serious! How do I talk her out of this one?” EJ out loud: “Well, since this is the first time I have heard of such a thing, let’s just sit on it and see if it is a fleeting thing.” Kristine: “No chance, I have been wanting to tell you for years but didn’t think it was reasonable.” EJ (inside) “No kidding. Oh no, oh no my life is in jeopardy, this isn’t a talk your way out type of thing. EJ talking “I am behind whatever you want, but let’s just think about it first.”

Ok that was day one. Day Two: Kristine “well????”. EJ “Sure, if that is really what you want, then I am behind it.” Kristine “Wow, you are the best”….. then more good stuff, and then she has gone overboard being extra nice to me, sweet!

Day Three- Kristine “You have a doctor’s appointment” – EJ “for What?” Kristine: “ to see about a vasectomy appointment” EJ “What?, ooops, I forgot!” Yes, it is true, at that moment, I had totally forgotten that I cut off the supply of the goods that makes the babies in the first place! Then it hit me that timing is everything, and that this desire for a baby would have been better timed a year ago, like before getting myself cut in the first place. That is, a life lesson, I am sure, but not sure how to apply it.

Since then- Met a doctor, said no problem, got plenty to work with here, set the appointment. Told us 60% chance of success, but I remember that back in the day you just look at Kristine wrong and she would be pregnant. I figured even 14 years later, she would not be the weak link, and therefore, I would only have to handle my end of the deal.

If you haven’t heard about my vasectomy story, well it is funny, but I’m not telling the whole thing about the vet, etc. and the budget $500 instead of $5,000 operation, but you get the idea. Well the reversal isn’t so lucky, it is a three hour, general anesthesia, micro surgery operation. $7,000. Damn. I must admit that I have never felt I wasted money in my life like that before. It is like paying for a thug to bust up your nose so you can pay a doctor to straighten it again. That part I am struggling with, but I guess it goes with the territory.

I am actually three days past my surgery and we won’t know for 6 weeks if it worked, or more. Who knows how long, or if it ever works, but we’ll give it our best shot and I’ll visualize if necessary until then.

I am claiming naming rights, but Kristine may not just hand them over. I named Dane, she named Emily. I am thinking Sir Finn Jackson, like it? Kristine may not go with that. Really, I am cool with whatever. See, that is the weirdness of my brain, that I don’t understand. How can an idea so disturbing to me when I hear it the first time, suddenly be accepted and then become a positive that I am looking forward to? Well, I don’t know, but I do know that I am secretly looking forward to having a little kid again that I can throw across the room onto a bed of pillows and hang from doorknobs, and say funny things to.

Emily will be 18, Dane 15 and we’ll be going for our third child. Kristine wasn’t sure if she wanted people to know about it, as if I could keep that secret. Just the fact that I didn’t run around to my friends and say, “AHHHHH, help!!!” means that I am already adjusting to the idea.

My new mental picture isn’t of us being young and with no kids in the house we just built, but average age and having older kids and a baby in our new home. OK, that is cool, I like it.

Reality? Well, no kayaking for….it is really raining out?… like more than an inch already! Dane comes home today from Reno where he was hanging out with Jason Craig. He’ll want to go to North Chic in the morning. I am not feeling that bad, really. Doctor says that it will be 6 weeks before I go kayaking. I will double check since my kayak has the Sweet Cheeks in it and I can make a little spot to protect me. I think there is merit in that idea. I am not sure about this no kayaking thing. We’ll check the gauges and see.

Meanwhile- is it time for my white pill yet?

Part 1.5… December 7-14

To give you an idea of what the deal is, 6 weeks before you ride a bike, or put your new self to the test is what the doctor said. The deal is simple, you have a really small tube that was connected by micro-surgery. It will already grow some scar tissue, making the tube even narrower, creating the possibility that it will close off. Any impact, stretching, or other trauma to the splice will only increase the amount of scar tissue or pull it apart again as it is already tight due to swelling, like a rubber band stretched to the limit. The “right” thing to do is to be very still and not doing anything active. After two weeks, lifting weights is OK for upper body according to a few websites. Yes, Kristine and I spent some time (mostly Kristine) looking for “doctors” advice online with the least amount of recovery time. Kristine wanted to get the process making little Jackson #3 moving along quickly, and I wasn’t going to argue with that. She found one article that said 3 weeks, and somewhere it was written that in 2 weeks it could possibly be OK (on a boatertalk equivalent chat group). I found myself not in much pain after 2 weeks and played my first football game with Nick and the Kids, as well as going for baby #3. I started kayaking that same day, and must say the sweet cheeks are the ticket! This was before Christmas. December 23- Kristine does her first pregnancy test, and isn’t pregnant. She is stressing. Luckily it is written that it can easily take 6 months to get back into full form, so she is still confident.

Part 3: January 15th – Kristine gets the blues- on her test that is! Whew! All of the pushing the limit during the recovery didn’t mess things up! OK, now who is glowing? Kristine is quite comfortable in her own skin when she is pregnant and it more like having a little happy and confidence factory inside of her instead of a baby. Like anything, there is a ton of risk in having a baby. Dane was born 3 months early, is that a trend or a fluke? Kristine had a mis-carriage when she was 19, is that a fluke or something that could happen again? For these reasons, she wanted me to keep this whole thing secret until she was pregnant, and then at least a month along. I didn’t do a very good job keeping it secret, nor do I understand why the challenge isn’t easier with some extra support.

February 1-15- We are already picking out names and have already picked sides. I am having a boy, and she is having a girl! Both of us are good either way, of course, but like watching the Super Bowl, you have to pick a side to make it more fun. If it is a girl, it will be named Karen after my mother, who died when I was 18. If it is a boy, well, I am still working on it. I didn’t come up with the name Dane until the day before he was born. Emily and Dane are quite excited. Both of them are wondering about teaching him to kayak. Will he want to learn? They are more nervous about that than I am. It doesn’t really matter, of course. It is also occurring to Emily that she is almost the age when Kristine had her, and she’ll have a little brother or sister baby at that age. It was certainly a very open family matter, from the moment we decided we would try to have another kid, to getting the surgery, to finally being pregnant. Both kids got to see the whole process unfold, all of the decision making (well at least right after the decisions). I think it will prepare both of them to make the decision in their own lives more easily.

I am in costa rica, and the coffee should be ready now. It is 7am and I have been waiting for the coffee for more than an hour, writing this, while the kids sleep and Kristine is at home working and being busy being pregnant. I bought her the first baby clothes, from Spencer’s gifts. Funny stuff, like a skull and crossbones baby outfit that says, “Surrender the boobies” and a maternity T-shirt that says, “I’m not fat, I’m knocked up.” These were my valentine’s gifts to Kristine. We am already talking to the little kid, even though he looks like a small mass of nothing so far. I have encourage him to grow some arms and legs so he can kick Kristine if she isn’t nice to me. Who says you can’t train the baby in the womb.


Part 4: Costa Rica- March 1, 2008

I have been away from Kristine for just over 2 weeks and I am not only thinking about her, but our new baby on the way. For me, I don’t think “baby” really. I tend to fast forward to the little kid that walks and talks and says funny things. I think babies are cute, sometimes, and even fun sometimes, but they don’t provide much mental stimulation for me. Crying because they want food or a diaper changed doesn’t do it for me. Kristine loves that stuff. She wants a little bundle of a baby with full dependency upon her. I’ll take some kind of conversation and activities that at least resemble a game. In or previous arrangement with Emily and Dane, she’ll raise them from birth to walking and talking and then hand off the baton to me, I’ll run them to the finish line. Of course it doesn’t really work like that, exactly, since she never really backed off on raising them, and I was usually there in the early years too. Dane is already wondering about whether or not “he’ll” want to learn to kayak, what color Fun 1 will he want, etc.. Emily’s favorite game is Harvest Moon, and she has it here in Costa Rica. I imagine that she’ll get involved in raising a real baby instead of the virtual one on her PSP.

I had a dream last night that Kristine was already 5 months pregnant. She is only 2 months pregnant and not showing yet. She told me last week while I was here that pregnancy is agreeable to her, as she lost 6 pounds in one week without doing anything different. Sounds like a hungry baby in there. Only Kristine would lose weight from being pregnant. I am sure I’ll hear that concept again in a year or so. “Hey EJ, I was thinking, instead of doing more exercise or dieting, how about another kid? That is a sure fire way to shed 6 pounds in a week!” I guess I hadn’t thought of that one yet. Will she want another one to play with the first one? Will I get surgery number 3? Whoa, they’ll call me Frankenfurter.

Should I make a tiny little sit on top kayak for a pool or lake toy? Push the kid around in a Fun None? Kayak Cradle? Makes a little changing table too and when it is old enough to sit up and hold a paddle it can be paddled around? Anyone else out there want to have babies so you can buy a few from me and then I can afford to make it? Let’s see, born in October, at least a 6 month R+D cycle… probably won’t need a paddle until he can sit up… might work.

Part 5: April 21, 2008

Kristine is now 13 weeks pregnant and showing. In the past 6 weeks a lot has happened. Because Kristine is 38 years old, it is worth checking to see if the baby has all of what it is supposed to in terms of genes. I learned in a doctor visit at Vanderbilt that a healthy human has 46 chromosomes. 47 would mean down syndrome or some other abnormalities. 48 would mean your baby was an orangutan. I got the word after doing a CVS test (actually Kristine took the test), that we had a 46 XY. In normal terms, a healthy boy! The doctor’s assistant was using the ultra-sound (even more high tech than the one we use to test our kayak’s) to watch him to make sure they didn’t accidentally take a sample from his brain when doing the test instead of the placenta for the CVS test. My little boy, I knew he was a boy at that moment, extended his little legs and started sprinting and did a back flip. I was so proud. He’ll be an excellent freestyle kayaker!

For the first time in this whole process, I was immediately transformed from a husband that was humoring his wife in her desire for another baby, to a very excited soon to be dad again! I couldn’t believe how quickly that happened. We had to wait a day to get the results of the test to see if he was healthy (that is what Kristine wanted to know). When I called the lab it was clear what I wanted to know, because I asked first if it was a girl or boy. I almost forgot to ask if he was wearing good genes. The lab technician let me know that, in fact he was a healthy 46 xy. Cool!

So now it became time to think of names. Kristine like the name Finn. I told her, that only if he was scheduled to be Knighted by the Queen of England, so his name would be Sir-finn. That is a cool name. So far we have settled on Casey, but who knows. It is still early in the game and There are so many cool names out there. I am quite happy with both Dane and Emily as names for my kids. I am still trying to figure out what to do about the Fun None. I want to make a cool baby kayak, but not sure just what it should be yet, if at all.

Kristine is visibly pregnant now. I got her a T-shirt that she’ll wear in the RV but not in public that says, “I’m not fat, I’m knocked up.” I have given her a few things of this nature already. It is as much a jab, knowing that under normal circumstances (18 years ago) she wouldn’t have like getting them. She was a good sport about it and even wore the T-shirt once in the RV.

Chapter 6, May 19, 2008:
EJ continues his mental journey towards Utopia, where everything is wonderful.

My brain has a very good garbage man that lives inside of it. I manage to somehow collect all of the garbage from my past experiences, my negative thoughts, and eliminate them from my brain in a way that leaves the pathways from my long term memory into my conscience thoughts as a pristine path with nothing but sunshine, singing birds, and happy thoughts. Things that were once “bad memories” have managed to become comic thoughts and stories that entertain me or those I tell them to.

Now, I have cleaned out those terrible thoughts that I originally had that basically included that my life was about to go downhill in a heartbeat. The negatives that can easily be associated with the idea of adding a newborn baby to a family where both kids are nearly independent have been wiped out.

My biggest worry at this juncture is that I am more excited about my new son than Kristine is. Kristine is currently in Tennessee and won’t be back for two more days. I can’t believe I am missing Casey increasing in size by at least 10% if not more. Can’t she just have him already? Why does it have to take 9 months? Can’t we microwave him or something? Kristine has a new “trivection oven” that cooks a whole turkey in 2 hours. Can’t we use that on him? I am losing patience, he’ll miss the RV tour in 2008. I guess we’ll have to start him in 2009. I want to be born again and go back and be on tour in an RV from the start. Emily and Dane are really excited about their new brother on the way. That will make raising him much easier. We didn’t have family to help raise Emily and Dane when they were little, and couldn’t afford babysitters. We ended up with them 24/7 (I guess we still are for the most part).

I can’t imagine that there are many more stories in this journey from being a happy father of two teenagers to where I am today. The rest is just where it should be; focusing on producing a healthy baby, and then keeping him healthy and training him to be happy and productive in the world. That is a new story, the birth and raising of our new kid. Bring it on!


I believe in absolutes. I am not a believer in grey area and prefer to call my brain “black and white matter”. I believe that all bad things happen in the grey area. Of course what those absolutes are that you believe in are quite important. The critical journey I have taken in the past 5 months was necessary for me to be in a happy marriage. I have committed to myself to never saying no to Kristine, regardless of the request. In our 21 years of being a couple, and 20 years of marriage I have never denied her any request. That comes with great responsibility on her part, however. Kristine knows that just because I produce what she asks for, it doesn’t exclude her from the consequences of it. While I may do it happily, we may be broke, we may do without other things that may have been more important. In the same way, Kristine has never asked me to give up what is important to me. Because of that, I am the kayaker I am today, for example. There are many times where I spend our last bit of money on training, competing, or just a kayak trip. She could explain how that isn’t really helping anything and that I should give that up this time. She has NEVER done that, and that is why I new she was the woman for me in the first place.

It took a lot of thinking and soul searching for Kristine to ask me for another child. I asked her to think about it for two weeks after the request, but she had been thinking about it for years already. It was what she wanted and she would make it a good thing for everyone. Anything can happen in life, of course. My son on the way could not make it or be sick, but to worry about that or even let it play into the equation is to take away the reasons for living. You live to live, not to keep from being sick or dying. We are completely psyched on extending our family tree out with another branch.

Dustin Urban and his lovely wife Katie are 11 weeks along with their first baby! It will be a girl and I think I’ll have to introduce my new son to her. (it may be a boy, but I’ll stick with my guess)