Another meaning for Sept. 11

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Husband-and-wife journalists Bob Miller and Callie Clark Miller share the same small house (still), work in the same office (again) and somehow manage to cling to their sanity (barely). Older and wiser (she's wiser, he's just older), the Southeast Missourian sweethearts offer their views on everyday issues, told from two different perspectives.

SHE SAID: Sept. 11 has been circled on my calendar for eight weeks; each day since the beginning of August passed in a collective state of bated breath for Bob and me.

The day that most remember as one of America's worst, held special meaning for us this year. After multiple miscarriages at nine weeks in the past two years, we'd lost the ability to truly get excited about pregnancy. Most women immediately look up their due date after discovering they're pregnant. The day we found out we were expecting again, I brought out the calendar, counted out nine weeks and circled the date. Sept. 11. Not a good day, I thought.

Pregnancy for us has become a little like a no-hitter in baseball. While the game is being played, it's bad luck to talk about the possibility (do I get points, Bob, for the baseball reference?). Announcement of our first pregnancy, in March 2006, brought congratulations in the form of flower arrangements from family members and had would-be grandparents immediately buying baby supplies. The celebrations have progressively become more solemn with each loss. This time, instead of congratulations, we have offers of continual prayers for us and the baby.

Better than flowers any day, I thought, but was still a little sad that everyone seemed skeptical. I told Bob that I didn't want to talk about baby names; didn't want to look at tiny, adorable clothes; didn't want to get my hopes up either. But then, as the days passed, I started feeling like I was being cheated out of something I deserved. So late one evening, I dragged Bob to a local bookstore and stocked up on a pile of new baby books. "Wow, you must really want to be prepared," the store cashier said as we paid.

"Definitely," I answered.

I bought a couple cute maternity tops. I started flipping through the baby names book again. I told a few friends. And I felt better. Actually, I felt worse. Much worse than I had in any of the previous pregnancies. And that -- as everyone from my doctors to my grandmother to those experts in the pregnancy books reminded me -- is a great thing. Because the worse you feel, the less likely you are to have a miscarriage.

The ultrasounds and blood tests in the past month all looked positive, my doctor told us. But still, I remained worried. Fool me once, you know. But then Tuesday night arrived, Bob came home from work talking about the newspaper's Sept. 11 coverage, and it dawned on me: We made it.

I'm officially the most pregnant I've ever been. We know there's a chance I could miscarry next week or the next -- even tomorrow. But we can't help thinking that we've finally pulled ourselves over some significant hurdle. Or maybe we didn't exactly pull ourselves over. Definitely wasn't the flower arrangements that had a hand in it.

HE SAID: As a guy, it's hard for me to relate to what Callie's going through, both from a physical and psychological standpoint. Her body's changing, and her head is a mess, constantly worrying about what could go wrong. For me, I mainly just worry about her for now. And I worry about things that have to be done around the house and in my bank account. I don't worry as much about the baby because there's nothing I can do for her (yes, I think it's a girl) while she's swimming in Callie's belly. That causes a bit of frustration for Callie because I don't read all the "expecting father" books that I should. I'm a react-and-adjust kind of person. She's a notorious planner.

But we're on the same page as far as our enthusiasm to have a child.

In the meantime, my cute and pregnant wife has been gagging a lot lately. Normally, this would be a disgusting bodily function, but for some reason I can only smile when she does it. I tell her she sounds like a baby dinosaur, at least like the ones you see in movies. She rolls her eyes, and I laugh. Then she smiles, too.

I keep telling her that her stomach "issues" are a great sign. The last time I said that she warned that she'd hit me next time I said it.

The little dinosaur is as cute as ever though. Callie's got that pregnant glow about her. I've never seen her more beautiful.

Bob Miller is the Southeast Missourian's managing editor. He spends the bulk of his days fetching an assortment of food from the grocery store and local restaurants for his wife, online/special publication managing editor Callie Clark Miller. Contact them at bmiller@semissourian.com or cmiller@semissourian.com.

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