Sunday, October 26, 2008


Well, it's been so long since I've updated my blog that I feel as if I need to reintroduce myself.

I am still the same person, so let's get that straight.

I have been, remiss, shall we say, in the last couple of months, in filing posts. Some may think I'm still in Iceland, watching as the country goes bankrupt.

No, I have indeed returned.

No, I had nothing to do with this country's stunning dive from largesse to poverty.

A lot has been going on since I was in the capital city of Reykjavik. I traveled with a group of planetary geologists into the remote central sections of the country, a stunning mix of extra-terrestrial landscapes, some gray and desolate like the moon, others bursting with colors (tan, orange, red, yellow) and underground vents that spouted the earth's hot breath that seemed like Mars. We survived a hurricane-like storm that forced us to abandon our campsite and shack up with an Icelandic ranger and a bottle of scotch whiskey. We mounted the largest glacier in Europe. We braced ourselves against some of the stiffest winds I've ever felt at the rim of a crater recently created by volcanic eruption so violent that shards fell on continental Europe.

It was a heck of a trip.

And then Iceland went bankrupt. Just as those long winter nights are coming. I feel for them.

So, now that I'm back, I can report that we're five days from the birth of our first baby. The baby is due on Halloween, although Michelle could give birth at any time. We know very little about this little person. We do know he or she likely will be 8-plus pounds at birth and has reached the size that any movement causes ripples on Michelle's abdomen. She is highly uncomfortable, her organs squeezed to their maximum.

I got a good look at the scrunching of a pregnant woman's organs in our birthing class. Let's take the bladder: By the time the baby is fully formed, the bladder is about 1/10 its normal size and that little tyke is gyrating right on top of it. No wonder Michelle has to pee every hour, or so it seems. Her stomach has been squeezed to the size of a prune. Many other organs have been similarly crushed. There's tremendous pressure on her lungs; she labors to breathe. A whole new being has moved in, and it's not as if she can tack on an addition. It's hard, and I feel for her.

The good news, of course, and which she knows, is it's nearly over. The baby will be born very soon. And then a whole new host of joys and challenges will arise.

As Michelle's belly has grown, I ran. Not away, just ran. I was training to run a marathon with my older brother-in-law, Matt. One could look at this as my last bout of selfishness, or as a selfless attempt to help Matt get through his first marathon. I would say it was a combination of both thoughts.

We ran in the Maine Marathon in Portland on Oct. 5. How lucky were we: The day was cold, sunny and gorgeous. The route took us along the ocean and a cove, then along a road framed by majestic trees. It was rustic, rural, almost peaceful. We both felt great. We yapped nearly the entire way, and by the time we hit Mile 22, both of us had plenty in the tank to scream through the final four miles. We clocked 8-minute splits the last 2 miles, and Matt says we passed 33 runners in the final 1.2 miles alone.

Our finishing time was 03:57. We were exhilarated. And Matt should be awfully proud of his performance. He ran a magnificent race.

We are ready for our baby. The nursery is prepared. It's a tranquil nest, the walls painted in light green and the furnishings in a cream white. The crib has a muted tan bedspread with simple, elegant drawings of animals. One one end is a carousel of birds, lions and a giraffe that will rotate over the baby's head. On the other end is a music box that releases bubbles and shimmering white light as make-believe fish swim in the water. Very peaceful and lullaby like.

We think our baby will like it.

When he or she comes.

We are waiting, excitedly.