Saturday, March 18, 2006

Baby Story Chapter One

Grace and I met in May of 1996, shortly after we each had arrived at Ramstein Air Base, in Germany. I had befriended some of her closer friends just before she got here. She wasn’t dating anyone, happily, and was looking forward to a great time in Europe. I, on the other hand, had a history of dating for a short amount of time and getting bored. This was the case I was in when we met. I had been dating a girl in the United States for about 8 months, and for reasons still unbeknownst to myself, had just bought her a ticket to come out for the summer. The relationship was on a decline and I guess this was my best effort at saving the relationship...

I’ll never forget the day I met Grace. We were house shopping for her, since she had just arrived. I remember my first thoughts being something like “wow,” and then “damn, I’m dating somebody.” Over the next few weeks we got to know each other a little better, and then I had pretty much decided that the relationship in the States was doomed. Unfortunately, that relationship was about to board a plane to Germany.

The summer passed, and, as predicted, ended with me breaking up with the girl from the States. I hadn’t spoken to anyone in the “Grace Crowd” since she had arrived, and ventured back into the fray once the ex was gone. A few weeks passed, and according to Grace, we started dating as “something to do.” Little did I know where that “something to do” would lead.

As I said earlier, Grace is one hell of a nurse. The way the Air Force works, most officers either go to the Academy or through the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) to get their commissions. In the process, they are schooled in all the mannerisms and rules of being an officer. For medical types, however, usually they simply attend their respective schools (medical, nursing or whatever) and are almost immediately commissioned. The end result is that though we have better medics in the Air Force than the other services (for the most part), they don’t know a whole lot about the military.

Grace is an exception. In a hospital where they seem to be having trouble finding the softest part of their body with both hands, Grace has emerged as a natural leader. Her superiors noticed this, her peers noticed this, and the end result was that she was selected early to attend Squadron Officer’s School, a pretty high honor for a nurse in the Air Force. And so it was on October 30, 1998, that Grace departed for the school in Montgomery, Alabama. This was the third time that we would be separated in our 2 and a half year relationship, and we were getting tired of doing it. We discussed marriage a few times, and originally had decided that if we were dating one year after we went our separate ways (after we were restationed to separate bases) then we would get married. Two weeks into this last separation, we were rapidly leaning towards marriage before we left, in an effort to be stationed together (forever).

During the third week of her school, I was waiting until 3am to call her (because of the time change) and it occurred to me that she hadn’t reported the arrival of her monthly friend. I thought that that was rather odd, so when I talked to her that night I asked her about it. She was a little hesitant, but eventually told me that she hadn’t shown up. At all. Not even a phone call. As I was mentioning how it was rather rude of her not to drop by as she normally did, Grace mentioned that she might not come by at all. Confusion set in.

Once it became apparent that life was about to throw us a curveball, we began to discuss our options. I had always had nightmares about this, deep hidden fears that a baby shoving itself into my life would cry havoc and let loose the dogs of war. Surprisingly, however, all the fears I had drifted away when it actually happened. Maybe it was maturity, maybe it was a realization of how fully I loved this woman, maybe it was shock, but I never really panicked about it. The only bad thing that we could think of was the timing. We had so much going on in the next few months that didn’t lend itself to baby-things that we just thought chaos would rule our lives. All of these thought running through our minds, Grace went and got the ever-powerful EPT.

When the envelope was opened and winner announced, Grace was convinced but I wasn’t. The problem was that an EPT is supposed to have two lines. It was 98% effective, and came with two tests just to make sure. But when she took it it only showed one and a half lines. What the hell were one and a half lines???? I know it seems stupid, and I had pretty much convinced myself it was positive, but I didn’t really believe it until I saw it for myself, a month and half later. By this time Grace was a couple of months along, and had finished her school with flying colors (as expected).

The only decision left to be made was what to do about it. For some reason (again, maybe because I now knew what Grace meant to me) it seemed an easy question. Grace loved me, I loved her, and we were having a baby. I didn’t want her to go through the next 20 years alone, and I wasn’t about to do it alone myself. I left for the States to hook up with her to go visit our parents for the holidays.

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