The Miracle of Life and the Madness of Pregnancy

Janice is pregnant and that’s exciting for us! Well, maybe not for Adi. She hasn’t really got the drift of what’s going on just yet but for the rest of us, well, it’s pretty exciting. Well, maybe not for the baby in utero, he/she/they probably aren’t that excited either. But you get the drift… Janice and I are excited!

The first time Janice got pregnant (with Adi) it was a little unexpected but thankfully God gives you nine months to get used to the idea. We were planning to leave on an RV trip with my brother Matt about two weeks after we found out Janice was expecting.

No big deal. Janice is only two weeks pregnant, it shouldn’t affect the trip at all, I thought.

This whole thing started when Matt and I had hatched a plot to get Janice to fall in love with Alaska. This meant that my family could move to Alaska and Matt’s family would have some cousins (eventually) to socialize with instead of moose and the occasional grizzly bear. I had even put a fleece before God. God, If Janice loves Alaska, we’ll move there. If not, then I’ll stop bugging you about Alaska and we’ll get on with our lives.

Now when you think of recreational vehicles you picture a glistening 50 foot mobile monument to modern excess. At least that’s what I envisioned. So when Matt asked me if Janice and I wanted to hitch a ride as they drove through Indiana and then ride along to  Alaska, I was like “Hot dog! Sign me up!”

Sure we would be riding with his entire family (at that time he had about 7 kids I think) along with two people who we were to drop off at various locations along the way. Sure, that’s a lot of people but we’d be traveling in luxury while lounging in the belly of a 50 foot behemoth loaded with creature comforts. When Matt arrived to pick us up I learned that unfortunately I had an inaccurate assumption of what an RV was. Matt’s Mallard camper looked like somebody arrived at a mobile home park after a tornado, picked through the rubble, and then assembled a crude rectangular box from sections of walls, carpet, and aluminum roofing and then taped it to the back of a Ford Econo-van. It was also only 30′ long.

“Where’s the other 20 feet?” I asked.

“That fell off in Ohio,” Matt replied.

Now, I’m willing to become a galley servant in the steerage of a cargo ship if it gets me cheap transportation to a an exotic location. If I had a pregnant wife, however, I would never travel anywhere no matter how tempting the offer. As the saying goes, “Happy wife, happy life.” The inverse is also true: “Miserable wife, miserable life.”

One thing I learned about pregnant women, or pregnant Janice’s at least, is that they have superhuman smelling. A bloodhound could have his nose down to the ground, sniffing for all he’s worth and not picking up any scents whatsoever. My wife would come along, take one light sniff, and then point the bloodhound in the right direction, “That way, stupid.”

This might seem like a good ability to have but remember we had just climbed into the Mallard which had smells and mysterious liquids oozing from every corner and we’d be living in there for the next week! I was a bachelor for five years so it seemed like just another day in my living room but Janice was clawing the walls and burying her head in our duffle bag. We had decided for some reason not to tell anyone we were pregnant until Janice was 12 weeks along so we were trying to hide Janice’s supernatural pregnancy symptoms. It was hard when Janice gagged every time the bathroom door opened, which happened every time we hit a pothole. She would also randomly just stick her head out the window with her tongue flapping in the breeze. Now, we had our fun moments. For example whenever the RV broke down (it happened occasionally) or whenever we stopped to eat, stopped for gas, or slept at a hotel. Come to think of it, whenever we left the RV it was a bright spot in our day.

To give you an idea of how far it is from Indiana to Alaska, when you get to North Dakota you’re only halfway there.

Matt and I had timed the trip so it was at the warmest time of the year; July! This would help convince Janice that Alaskans could not live in igloos year round. But when we got to Alaska, it was 55 degrees and raining.

“See,” I tried to make a point, “No igloo could survive 55 degrees and rain.”

“This is July!” Janice roared, “It should be hot!”

“No problem,” Matt said. “It’s just a fluke storm. If you don’t like the weather in Alaska, wait five minutes. It’ll change.”

We were in Alaska for a little over a week and the weather hardly change at all. I’ve been to Alaska four times before this trip, all earlier or later in the year, and I’ve never seen such crummy miserable weather.

IMG_0624 2
Cloudy and cold… IN JULY.

Then, to top it all off, Janice began experiencing TMJ, which is an acronym for “Too Much Pain in The Jaw Joint Area of Your Face.” It got bad enough that we visited an Urgent Care in Kenai. The quack doctor was literally looking up symptoms on Google while he was in our room with us. I was like, “Buddy, I already did this.” He prescribed some powerful narcotic based pain killers. Not knowing any better, we filled the prescription and Janice starting taking them. It didn’t even help that much.

It kept getting worse actually. I woke up at 12 am a few nights later to find Janice sobbing in pain, curled up in the fetal position. Now, wives, if you want to motivate your husband, start sobbing in the middle of the night. Waiting in the ER isn’t my idea of a good time but enough was enough. I woke my brother up, got the keys to his van, and we headed off to the Emergency Room in Kenai. It was about an hour’s drive which gave me lots of time to think about all the things I had to sell to pay for this. Maybe I could sell a gun, the motorcycle, maybe um… at this point I became aware of the fact that I didn’t really own anything of value.

We got the ER and waited about 1 minute for every $12 we spent on the visit. I started to casually claw the walls and chew on furniture. The doctor finally came in and quickly surmised that the joint pain was only advanced TMJ.

“It’s not a big deal, pregnancy can trigger bad TMJ if you’ve struggled with it before. Can I see the medication that Urgent Care gave you?” She asked.

We handed her the bottle.

“Oh my,” she blinked in surprise. “This is a narcotic based pain killer. You should not be taking this if you’re pregnant. If you do, the baby could be born addicted to narcotics.”

“We’d like to avoid that.” I said, just in case she wasn’t sure where we stood on the issue. Goodness knows I could hardly afford the ER visit, let alone a baby with a habit for illegal drugs.

“Take maximum strength Tylenol and alternate heat and cold packs on the joint. I would use mostly cold packs. Heat packs may lead to more inflammation.” She signed some papers and said her goodbyes and good luck. The interaction took 10 minutes and we were out of there. Later we got a bill for $740. Maybe it would have been cheaper to have a baby addicted to illegal drugs… OK! I’m kidding! KIDDING!

The TMJ issue got better by the day after that but the weather didn’t clear up much until two days before we left for Indiana. Janice and I rented a car the last two days we were in Alaska and drove to Valdez which is 10 hours or so east of where Matt lived. That was a bright spot in the trip since we actually had some fun.

Janice finally found some sunshine in the state of Alaska.

The verdict was in, however. OK God, I finally admitted, I read you loud and clear. Do not move to Alaska. At least not yet. 

For months after the trip if someone mentioned Alaska Janice would shudder, moan, and curl up into the fetal position and whimper.

I’m happy we didn’t move. As it turned out, God had bigger things in mind for us. I had no idea at that time that God would lead us to an aviation mechanic apprenticeship at MMS Aviation. (Learn more about what we’re doing by clicking here).

This time around I learned my lesson. Don’t make coffee in the house, don’t fry onions in the skillet, don’t use Old Spice body wash, and don’t accept free trips to Alaska from my brother.

Now if you excuse me, I have to go out to the garage to make another cup of coffee.

Always Grateful,

Josh & family



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