Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Today I got to spend some one-on-one time with this little guy:
We played catch in the front yard for a while.  He has a strong, straight arm and can catch even my wildest throws.  We walked to Gramma's for a visit.  He loves to press the button on the traffic light and wait for the little white man to appear.  We got ice cream at the ice cream store.   As the only passenger in my car around dinner time, he got to pick the fast food restaurant and chose drive-thru over dine-in.  I watched his baseball game.  He got to pick the movie before bedtime.  And right now he's brushing his teeth.  Very soon he will give me a bedtime hug willingly but a kiss only reluctantly.

There was a time, long ago, when we had only 4 kids and thought we would keep it that way.  Matt even had a vasectomy scheduled.  But a series of events unfolded, beginning with pitchers of margaritas at a Mexican restaurant in Wauwatosa, WI and ending with me in a bathroom stall at the health clinic, a baby and a toddler sitting on the floor, a pink pee-pee stick in my hand.  We were officially Expecting.

It was not a convenient time to add another child to our family.  We were living on less than $60,000 a year, dipping monthly into the red, banking on the hope that Matt would eventually be promoted to captain on the MD-80 at Midwest Express.  Considering our family size, we were within $5,000 of qualifying for free lunch at the elementary school.

I was sure Matt would be upset when I told him.   I was upset!  But, thankfully, he smiled and hugged me when I told him.  We immediately embraced the existence of the new baby and considered ourselves Parents of Five.  This is a photo of the weekend we first knew I was pregnant.  I remember feeling like we had a secret we were keeping safe from the world:

But after a few days I developed a urinary tract infection.  And I started spotting.  The nurse at the clinic was quick to offer medicine for the UTI and a somber prognosis for the pregnancy.  It was unlikely that it would hold.

The spotting continued for days.  A week passed.  We still held out hope that this tiny little son or daughter would stay alive.  I went to St. Mary's in Milwaukee for an ultrasound.  The screen showed a defined mass but no heartbeat.  Our happy little surprise, the seventh member of our family, had died.

I allowed myself one short cry.  I sobbed.  It was cathartic to weep from deep in my soul for the loss of a life -- a potential life really -- just the idea of what that life might have been.  Then I drove home and was smothered by children: Louie, who was only 6, Henry, still 4, Donny, just turned 3, and Baby Jo only 8 months old and barely weaned.  It was close to Halloween, the night of trick-or-treating in our neighborhood.  This is the actual evening I came home from that hospital ultrasound.  I think my face is still swollen from crying so hard:

That was October.  Throughout November I couldn't shake the feeling of having lost something.  Although it was never a tangible, visible, cuddle-able baby -- although our family was still and had never been more than a family of 6 -- I had imagined the 7th Holm so powerfully that I didn't want to live without it.  I needed to get that baby back.

So although the official marital policy was "let's see what happens", I will admit here and now to using my womanly wiles to intentionally manipulate the connubial climate during just the right weekend in December...

And now we have this:
The 7th Holm.  The baby of the family.  Matt's final spawn.  The thumb to the four fingers.  The exclamation point at the end of our familial sentence.  Oscar.

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely story. I never knew all that.

    I love you, nan.