Bella Birthing Blog

Many moons ago, on Halloween 2009, my sister gave birth to her first child. Being the wise-cracking younger sister that I was born to be, I took it upon myself to start a mini blog to remember that wonderful day. I’ve combined all seven posts I wrote that night (most of which are very short) into one post on my blog, mostly as a way to share it with family but also to have it somewhere more permanent that its former location. Each titled section denotes a different post, and I’ve included my original subtitle to the blog as well. The only correction I have made is to change “inches” to “centimeters” when referencing Darla’s level of dilation. (So, for a more interesting read, just change “centimeters” back to “inches” in your mind.) Enjoy!

Bella Birthing Blog

A short blog following the birth of my first niece, Isabella, from a first-time-aunt’s point of view. Guest starring Darla, the mother-to-be; Mother, louder than ever; In-Laws, the calm yin to our crazy yang, and Baby.

Waiting for Isabella

Darla’s due date has been October 31, 2009, from the very beginning.  But I was hoping she would be late.

Halloween is always one of the biggest nights of the year for my boyfriend, Chris, because he throws a huge party…as in a front yard full of cars and a back yard full of people, beer kegs, and bonfires.  I had been planning to go for a while, but I guess my family and I had been planning for Isabella’s birth for even longer….

Look how grateful my sister was that I came home for this.

So, of course, Saturday morning, I get the call: Darla is going to the hospital. And as much as I didn’t want to go home this particular weekend, I swallowed the bitter pill of irony and drove the hour-and-a-half journey home.

When I got home, things were calm.  My mom was watching TV and my dad was working on some Publix construction plans.  The only news we had was that Darla was 3 centimeters dilated and thus too small yet to be officially admitted to the maternity floor. So I ate lunch and played with our dogs.  I even had the nerve to express my boredom.  As my mom started to pull a game out of the garage, the phone rang: Darla was now 4 centimeters and ready for the maternity wing!

Now things got interesting.  The three of us set into motion, Mom putting the dogs away, me packing my computer and camera, and Dad…well, I’m not actually sure what Dad did, besides pee, of course, but we all managed to meet in the car without too many “Hurry up, Alan!” banshee yells from my mother.

On the way to the hospital we learned that the nurse had performed some uterus-wrenching technique that was “the worst pain” my sister had ever felt, but it widened the uterus from 4 centimeters to 5.  No pain, no gain!

We arrived at the hospital and found Joey in the parking lot, unloading a suitcase and some pillows and his professional camera equipment.  I couldn’t imagine him actually using it beforehand.  I guess it’s for later.

We found my sister in her room, #228.  She was bitchy as ever and writhing with pain every few minutes as the contractions came.  It was about 3:52.  My dad took care of the most important thing first: tuning the TV to the UF/UGA football game, much to the dismay of Darla and Joey. (FSU fans…poor things.)  Next, we learned that Darla was now 6 centimeters, a figure that suggested Isabella would indeed be here in time for Halloween.

Only 5% of babies arrive on their due dates.

Around 5:00, the doctor came in (my old gynecologist…awkward…) and approved the epidural.  So my mom, Linda (Joey’s mom), and I waited in the hall for about half an hour while the anesthesiologist rigged up the painkillers.  The small talk was agonizing and nothing with which I could relate: my mom and Linda exchanged tales of their births.  I wondered why they thought any of their information would be useful or timely, considering that none of them had had children in 22 and 27 years, respectively.

At 5:30, the anesthesia was in and we were allowed back in the room.  It was about this time that the grandparents also arrived, and I took a few pictures of everyone with the tooth-chattering pillow princess. I offered that she looked like a crack addict needing a fix. Darla laughed, but my mom told me to be nice.  To me, jokes are much more apropos at a time like this.

Future parents.

Since only four people are allowed in the room at once (including Joey, meaning only three in addition to him), I have now been relegated to the completely empty waiting room.  The solidarity is comforting, and I’m reclining and watching the UF/UGA game.

It’s now 6:04, and I’m bored and alone, but at least I packed a proper aunt-to-be survival kit: Tom Wolfe’s I Am Charlotte Simmons, my laptop and its battery, and a camera.  And we’re all waiting…and waiting…and waiting for the birthing to begin.  I’m also looking forward to hospital food, especially the JELL-O, which I’m hoping is as good as I remember…

Hospital Food = Disappointing

Apparently, the cafeteria closed before 7:00, which is when we finally decided to venture away from Darla’s side to find food.  The only place that was open was Volcano’s, a gourmet coffee shop that, as we learned, does not take as much care with its food choices as its coffee selection.

My parents, grandparents, Joey’s parents, and I all ate a disgusting dinner and downed some gourmet coffees to erase the memory of what we consumed before. My parents headed up first, leaving the rest of us to finish our meals…or gulp them down out of mere need to nourish ourselves.

A text at around 7:45 from my mom informed us that Darla was now 7 centimeters and ready for Potosin, a drug that would help induce the labor.

When we arrived back at her room, a nurse that could have been Cloris Leachman’s twin was buzzing around my sister, inserting tubes and fervently clicking a mouse around on the computer next to the bed.

The hospital will only allow four people in the room at a time, so Joey’s parents came in to wish Darla goodbye and good luck, as did my grandpa and mom, and Joey, Grandma, and I stayed behind to keep Darla company.  My mom came back later to take my grandma away and bring in our Aunt Deena, who had just arrived from Orlando.  Excited to be a great-aunt, she had left her own children to trick-or-treat with their father to come await Isabella’s arrival with the rest of us.

So now it’s 8:17, and Deena, Joey, my mother, and I are seated around Darla, quietly conversing and trying to keep the mood light.  Deena is asking questions about the process so far and offering advice and wisdom.  But at this point, Darla seems calm and relaxed, completely phased out by the epidural.  We’re hoping Baby comes before midnight so she can be “on time” and be a Halloween baby.  But the most important thing is that the baby is healthy, no matter when she comes.

Revelations from the Hospital Bed, by Darla

8:25pm

  • “I feel like there’s something in my butt hole.”
  • “I feel like I’m wearing no underwear and someone has something shoved between my cheeks.”
  • “My butt’s so numb…I just tried to touch my butt cheek and I can’t feel it.”
    Joey: She’s just telling you she’s going to be a pain in the ass.

8:32pm

  • “I feel like there’s something in my butt!” (again)
  • “I just farted and I didn’t even feel it!”

8:38pm

  • “What if I poop on my baby?”
    (Deena then informs us that there is a spot on the bed that moves out of the way during the birthing so that any poo, if it comes, will just fall out and land in a bucket placed beneath the bed.  So she will probably not poop on her baby.)

Let the Birthing Begin!

It’s 8:52, and the powers that be (that is, my mother) decided that I am no longer worthy to sit by the queen’s throne.  It is my turn to sit with the other discarded members of the family in the waiting room.

They gave Bella a pumpkin hat for the holiday!

Under my sister’s FSU blanket (I swallowed my pride with this one: comfort outweighs collegiate ties), I am comfortable and warm in the waiting room.

It smells like a dorm in here, and I am reminded of my own dorm days: same green tile floors (cleanliness questionable), same generic smell of bodies and existence, same fluorescent lighting lining the hallways (and the cliche light that just can’t will itself to stop flickering)…ahhh, the glory days.

I took Deena down to the coffee shop, but it was closed.  When we arrived back to the waiting room (9:05), my mom burst in with a mighty thunder and announced that Darla was now 10 centimeters! So let the labor begin!  Labor can last a while, but at least things are happening now.  Soon, great-grandmothers, grandfather, aunts, and great-aunts will be born, right along with Isabella Renee! Hopefully, we’ll have a Halloween baby ghoul!

So she’s in there pushing, pushing, pushing, and now all of us are in the waiting room—Mom, Dad, Grammy, Poppy, Deena, Joe and Linda (Joey’s parents), and me.  With two TVs, reclining chairs, two vending machines, and a bathroom, we are preparing for an evening of waiting for the call…the call that will inform us that a new little life has blessed us all and upped the prefixes on our familial names.

Mom and Dad are trading off turns on the cell phone, calling family members that couldn’t be here tonight—Dad’s mom, Aunt Mary, Uncle Danny, etc.—updating them with the most exciting news we’ve heard all night.

Waiting Room Practical Jokes

We’re all sitting around laughing, figuring out where we fit in this poem—

Mondays child is fair of face,
Tuesdays child is full of grace,
Wednesdays child is full of woe,
Thursdays child has far to go,
Fridays child is loving and giving,
Saturdays child works hard for his living,
And the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.

—and chatting in general.  My grandma insists that she and my grandpa were both born on a Saturday, but I discovered, with a quick Internet search, that she is a Friday baby, like me.  She doesn’t believe me and claims her mother lied to her her whole life, even claiming that I got the wrong calendar.  My grandpa claims that now they can finally get a divorce.

Deena taps my arm and mouths, “Watch your mother.”

Then, she jumps out of her chair, points at the door (which is behind my mother), and shouts, “What’s the news?!” My mom LEAPS out of her chair and does a quick 180, only to find no one standing there.  We all get a good laugh, and my mom smacks Deena on the arm.  I point out that the door—a giant, extremely squeaky model—didn’t even make a peep, which should have tipped my mom off.  But we’re all on edge, waiting for any sort of news.

Mary comes in on her break.  She works in the ER of this hospital.  My mom asks her to use her seniority to go find something out from the maternity ward. She comes back and pulls a similar joke to Deena’s, but the only news she has to offer is that Darla is indeed pushing, but nothing major has happened so far.

My dad leaves to pee and comes back with a third try at psyching everybody out: “It’s a boy!” I don’t know why, but my mom believes that my dad has brought us viable news, but then she quickly, and angrily, realizes that he is lying. We all get a good laugh.

Waiting Room Revelations

Mother: If I had to do it all over again, I’d put my children last. I’d blow all my money on me and maybe give them a little something.

(explosive laughter)

And Bella Began…

It was the new grandparents who were summoned first to view and coo over Izzie. I took slight offense. I understood why my parents had been called in first, but I couldn’t quite understand why Joey’s had been too. To me, I was the third closest to Darla, and thus Izzie, and should have been chosen for the first group to go. But this is also Joey’s baby, and so of course his parents have just as much seniority as my own, enough to trump me all together and relegate me to group two.

First post-birth meal: Steak ‘n Shake cheeseburger and fries!

They took an awfully long time, but when the rest of us (Deena, my grandparents, and me) finally made it in, we each had our turn to hold that tiny, warm bundle of joy. She even opened her eyes and seemed to make eye contact with everyone.  She was quiet and ever so dainty already, with her little pursed lips, cheeks red from exhaustion, and bright blue eyes. She rarely made a peep, but when she did, the sound was heart-wrenchingly agonizing and beautiful all at the same time.

Deena asked Darla if, when she looked at Izzie, she saw her as her “daughter.” Darla hadn’t thought of it this way, and her eyes brightened as she said, “Yeah, she’s my daughter!” The only thought Darla had had up to this point (aside from “Get me Steak ‘n Shake!”) was, “I’m taking a baby home on Monday!” as if Bella were a special-order item she had ordered from a department store that, after several months’ delay, had finally arrived.

Dobby in the Sky with Diamonds

The other evening, when I arrived home, Peanut and Dobby seemed normal. Both dogs were happy and eager to go outside, and they very obediently performed several tricks for treats. I settled down with a book, waiting for Kevin to arrive home. After 10 minutes or so, Dobby left my side to stand in the corner of the room. His back to me, he began making heaving noises.

Now, Dobby has what I call an iron stomach. This dog is like a goat. He eats everything and never, ever has a bad reaction. Peanut, on the other hand, has a very sensitive stomach, the balance of which can be thrown off by simply breathing too much air.

Dobby on adoption day.

So when I heard Dobby making the tell-tale regurgitation noises, I was surprised, and I ran to his side to hold him as he vomited up his breakfast, his treats, and a ton of dark, medium-sized seeds.

Weird, I thought. Dobby was only outside for about 10 minutes, certainly not enough time to ingest the amount of seeds that I just saw leave his tiny body.

After that, everything was fine for about an hour, but then Dobby began to change. His eyes grew wider, like he was in a constant state of surprise. His whole body twitched every now and then, and sometimes he would shake like he was cold. He walked strangely, like each movement was a huge strain, and his back legs extended out further than usual. Mostly, he would stare into space, his breathing pattern a strange requiem of quick, loud inhales followed by inaudible exhales.

My dog is going to die, I thought. But I resisted the urge to take him to the emergency vet because A) it is extremely expensive, and B) he clearly had eaten something bad but had already barfed up most of it, meaning there was probably nothing left in his system to harm him and nothing that an expensive emergency vet could really do to help. He was just going to have to endure.

Of course, Peanut, being a bigger jerk than usual, took advantage of Dobby’s deranged state by tormenting him. She pawed at him trying to get him to play, growled at him in consternation, and even used her teeth to attempt to drag her blanket out from under him when he plopped down on it, much like a magician attempting to remove a tablecloth from a dining table. Dobby, meanwhile, ignored all of her advances, as if Peanut were not even part of his world, and for the rest of the night, he simply sat and stared.

The next morning, Dobby seemed back to normal, though slightly sluggish. Outside, I checked his morning deposit for any sign of seeds but saw none. I began the hunt for the mystery seeds, relieved that my dog had survived the night.

I checked the bag of wild bird seed, and it was clipped tight. I checked Cheepy’s seeds, even though I knew the mystery seeds were not in his mixture (which Dobby sneaks bites out of all the time).

Then, it dawned on me. I had failed to check the one place that only Dobby goes: under the bed.

Dobby has shown an affinity for being underneath things since the day we adopted him. He frequently seeks shelter under our bed to escape Peanut or have some alone time. We often find him half in, half out: his head and front legs under the bed, his butt and hind legs sticking out flat behind him.

And I know that he hides things under there.

Energized by my epiphany, I grabbed a flashlight, lifted the bed skirt (“WHY DO WE NEED THIS?” roars Kevin every time we make the bed), and nearly collapsed with laughter at what I found.

There was an empty, cardboard bullet box (chewed to pieces), which had fallen from Kevin’s nightstand at some point. There were no less than three open condoms, some still in the wrapper, some strewn about, their packages torn to shreds. (These came from Kevin’s survival backpack, which we keep in another room. Only Kevin would think to practice safe sex during the zombie apocalypse.)

I made this picture of Peanut a while ago and now it’s finally (somewhat) relevant.

And then there were the seeds, lying in a pile next to the empty plastic bag from which they came. I retrieved the bag: morning-glory seeds!

Kevin originally purchased the seeds back in February, just after we had a huge tree cut down. The tree cutters had left a 7-foot stump, claiming they couldn’t cut any lower because of our fence. Puzzled over what to do with this ugly stump, Kevin thought it would be visually appealing to plant some morning-glory vines. Indeed, the stump is beautiful now: the vines climbed the entire stump (and the tree canopy above) and produced an abundance of royal purple flowers that bloom every morning.

And while morning-glory seeds do spawn beautiful flowers, they also produce psychedelic effects if ingested.

Unbeknownst to us, Dobby had found the seed package, dragged it to the depths of his under-the-bed lair, and ingested nearly all of its contents.

Though I felt horrible, I could not stop laughing at my discovery. Dobby certainly had his vices: condoms, bullets, and psychedelic drugs. I can only imagine what Dobby’s trip was like, and I hope that he at least had a good one.

“Maybe he finally saw in color,” my friend Chris suggested.

(For the record, Dobby is back to normal, suggesting that there were no long-term effects of his wild night.)

Double-Dog Dare

As you may have gathered from previous posts, my family is rather…strange. One of our favorite hobbies (though neither my sister nor I will admit it) is making up silly songs to describe what’s happening and singing them over and over until the men in the family can’t take it anymore. Many have told me how amazing (or did they say annoying…?) it is that I can make a song out of anything. It’s true, and it’s a skill I get from my mother, who in turn gets it from her mother.

My mother also enjoys forcing people to join her in song and dance by locking them in vehicles until they sing along with her.

One afternoon during my high school years, as my mother was driving me to my part-time job, she witnessed another driver making an illegal maneuver. At the time, her car’s dashboard was decorated with a stuffed-animal eagle dressed as a mail carrier—a gift from USPS for my mom’s hard work and years of service. And so, armed with the rage of a woman scorned on the road, and also having in her viewing range this stuffed eagle, my mother coined a phrase that still comes up in our household: illegal eagle.

eagle

This is what the “illegal eagle” looked like.

But you don’t just say “illegal eagle” when you see something illegal happening. Rather, you repeat it five to ten times in a monotone voice, sort of like a robot. It can also be shouted if you are especially excited.

So, on this day that shall live in infamy as the day my mother coined “illegal eagle,” she ditched her scorn for sheer excitement over her discovery. An onlooker might have thought she had just written the next great opera. She would not stop chanting “illegal eagle.” What’s worse is that she insisted that I join in.

“Come on, just say it!” she pleaded.

“No. It’s stupid!” And it was. It really, really was. Also, I was 15, so I was in that “must-always-disagree-with-authority” phase.

“Just say it once. ONCE!” If nothing else, my mother is persistent. But I decided to be just as stubborn and not say the phrase.

At this point we had pulled up to my job and it was time for me to get out. Just as I reached for the door handle (my saving grace from this ridiculous situation), my mother perma-locked the doors with that handy “child-lock” button equipped on newer cars. (Even as an adult, I find it very insulting when I can’t open the “child-locked” doors and/or windows.)

I glanced back at her, shocked. With the most triumphant look on her face, she said calmly, “You have to say it before you get out of the car.”

You have got to be kidding me.

“Mom, I’m going to be late!”

“JUST SAY IT!!!!!!!!!!!!”

“Fine.”

And I said it. But just once.

“No, you have to do it multiple times in a row.” Always the trickster, she had roped me in for more than we bargained for.

“ILLEGAL EAGLE. ILLEGAL EAGLE. ILLEGAL EAGLE!!!!!!!!!” I screamed.

And then we both burst out laughing, because it is really fun to say, especially when you say it the recommended five to ten times.

In the same vein, last Thanksgiving, my mother, sister, and I made up the following song. I don’t remember who or what started it, but the lyrics are:

Double-dog dare
Double-dog dare
Can’t back down from a double-dog dare

There is a tune that goes with it too, but unfortunately I cannot convey it for you. (Be like a Roach girl and just make one up!)

So, for the longest time, I have been double-dog-daring Kevin to get a second dog.

I love Peanut. She is my best friend, my animal soul-mate, my spirit dog. We share an unbreakable bond, and she has been with me through some of my toughest life moments: breakups, long-distance relationships, etc. I truly feel that she is a part of me, and when I think about her ultimate exit from this world, I feel overwhelmed with emotion. (And don’t ask me why I put myself through this. I guess I’m trying to practice?) And I’m going to need another dog to help me through that emotion when the time comes (hopefully 7 or 8 years from now). Of course, Peanut is by no means an old dog, but I wanted her to have time to play with the new dog and love it and guide it.

After much prompting (and with the promise of free pet adoptions thanks to the Maddie’s Fund Pet Adoption Event), Kevin agreed to let me add a second dog to the mix, with the caveat that the new pup had to weight less than or equal to Peanut (which really isn’t fair because Peanut weighs a lot less than most dogs her size). To make a long, boring story (in which we stand in the adoption line for over an hour) short, we adopted Waldy (as named by the shelter), a Corgi/Rat Terrier mix.

Taken just after we finished the adoption paperwork.

Taken just after we finished the adoption paperwork.

After testing several names (Radar, for his crazy ears, Loki, because it’s cool, and Taco, because…well, I just love tacos), we settled on Dobby, because he looks like the Harry Potter house elf every reader has come to know and love. (But [SPOILER ALERT!!] hopefully Dobby won’t die trying to save us from Bellatrix Lestrange while we are disapparating from Malfoy Manor.)

I caught them in the middle of a moment...

I caught them in the middle of a moment…

The first few days were hard work. Peanut has been fully trained for a long time, and I forgot that dogs don’t come pre-wired for commands like sit, stay, come, and down. As can be expected, Dobby also felt the urge to mark his territory, dribbling pee in a few spots. (Thank goodness for our dark carpet and Nature’s Miracle!) But he learned quickly that pee goes outside, he has to sit to receive love, he has to lie on his bed during mealtimes, and he has to go in his crate at night. He also no longer whines when we leave the house; he knows that we will always return home…eventually. And while Dobby has had a few poo accidents, they always correlate to the times when Kevin is responsible for taking the dogs outside. (Kevin doesn’t have the patience to watch Dobby and make sure he stays outside until he poops, and then he acts surprised when Dobby poops inside. We have had zero pooping issues when the dogs are on my watch.)

Dobby basking in the sunlight.

Dobby basking in the sunlight.

The best part about Dobby is that he fills the cuddling void. Peanut has never been a very cuddly dog. Sure, she loves curl up near me and get belly rubs, but she always sleeps at the foot of the bed (her choice) or the other end of the couch. She’s very independent. While Dobby likes to do his own thing (as I write, he is sitting at the window barking his balls off at probably nothing outside), he also loves to curl up in my lap or near my hand (if it is placed near the floor) and just lie there for as long as I will let him. And he melts my heart when he stares lovingly into my eyes as I pat his little head. (I like to imagine that he has a deep voice with a Spanish accent. He is very suave.)

Biting each other's faces tenderly: a fun dog game.

Biting each other’s faces tenderly: a fun dog game.

He is really silly too. For the first few days, he did not understand that the full-length-mirror doors of the hallway closet were showing his reflection rather than another dog. He barked at himself for days until he figured it out. (He did the same with the sliding glass doors in our dining room when it was dark outside and he could see his reflection.) He also does this running slide move in our non-carpeted areas, where he tries to change direction quickly but can’t so he just slides to slow himself.

Big dog in a little bed.

Big dog in a little bed.

 

Peanut has been taking it pretty well. She plays rather aggressively, but Dobby is learning how to keep up with her. Peanut also likes to hide all the bones and steal all the toys. But Dobby is wily, and when Peanut steals his toys, he can be found circling the house with a giant Peanut toy somehow clasped in his jaws. Peanut is so jealous that she even has been found sleeping in Dobby’s bed (probably just because it was something new on the floor that she had to test) and trying to shove herself into his crate. (The first night we set up Dobby’s crate, Peanut weaseled herself into it, so we shut her in to show her that it’s really not Peanut-sized. I think she learned the lesson.) It’s easy to teach an old dog new tricks (Peanut has learned a few since Dobby came into the pack, like sitting quietly to wait for her food), but no one ever talks about how hard it is to teach an only-dog how to share with his/her new sibling.

(And, of course, as I’m writing all these wonderful things about him, Dobby chewed a tiny hole in the carpet…)

 

Our First Date (and How I Did Not End Up Dead in the Trunk of His Car)

The first thing that impressed me about Kevin was that he didn’t “wait three days” to contact me after our initial meeting. The first thing that annoyed me about Kevin was that he asked me out via text.

Looking back, I really don’t mind; a phone call might have been extremely awkward. But at the time, I was like, Really???

As a tech savvy female in the digital age, I decided to do my due diligence before this first date (set for 3:30 PM at Volta, a coffee shop in downtown Gainesville). I needed to know what I was getting into. I didn’t know Kevin’s last name, so I used Facebook to find the Music Law Conference event page, on which I found the Music Law group, in which I found a bald guy named Kevin Hublou. He was the only Kevin, so it had to be him! Pleased with my detective work, I looked at the few things I could see on his Facebook page: his likes and profile pictures.

The first Facebook photo I ever saw of Kevin.

The first Facebook photo I ever saw of Kevin.

Speaking of profile pictures, of the 17 that existed at the time of my detective work, only 8 of them were actually Kevin. The others were a handful of bald doppelgangers (Jason Statham, Kevin Spacey, David Beckham, etc.) and little-known pop stars. I found all of this just a little bit creepy.

While there were a few things that I was happy to see on his profile (Harry Potter, Gladiator, Kill Bill), there were a lot of things I was not too excited about. To put it simply, Kevin had a lot of “epic” interests—those nerdy sci-fi/adventure-type shows and films that I have never really been a fan of (save for those few classics that everyone has seen, like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings). I was initially scared off by:

  • Books: Game of Thrones, Sword of Truth, Wheel of Time
  • Movies: Stardust, Serenity, Count of Monte Cristo (seriously, who puts that as one of their favorite movies?)
  • Games: League of Legends, DoTA, Magic: The Gathering
  • Music: Basshunter, Alizee, Enya, Lights, Ace of Base, Cascada

Clearly, Kevin was a huge nerd who loved trance music and books that followed the [noun] of [noun] naming convention. Fantastic. Suddenly, I was filled with dread; we had nothing in common and now I had to endure coffee with this strange creature. (Sidebar: I now love about a quarter of the things on that list.)

Next, I tried Google, where I found Kevin’s blog. (Later, he would tell me that he started the blog to increase his “web presence.”) He had a “Currently Reading” section on his sidebar, which showed that he was reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Ok, that’s something, I thought, since I too was re-reading the HP books (though I was on Goblet of Fire).

I moved on to his most recent blog post, which was an exposé on candles. Yes, candles. Apparently, Kevin had found an online deal where he could cheaply purchase four small Yankee candles. His blog post was about his experience with said candles and his opinions of each scent. It. Was. Hilarious. This guy definitely got points for personality, no matter how nerdy he may have seemed, and the candles thing showed he had a soft side. I tore through the rest of his blog (though there were only a few posts); even his “About Me” was ripe with humor and quirkiness. What I liked most, however, was that he wrote well and used punctuation appropriately.

There seemed to be a disconnect between Kevin’s blog and his Facebook profile. How could one person be so charming and witty and yet also extremely nerdy? I knew one thing: this was sure to be an interesting date.

I arrived at Volta slightly late, only because I didn’t want to be there first. Kevin was sitting inside, reading a book and waiting for me. He greeted me with a hug (He really likes me!) and led me toward the counter to order coffee. He went first...and paid for himself! (Oh, no, he doesn’t really like me.) I was really turned off by this. Now, I would not expect a boyfriend to pay for everything all of the time. But I thought it was at least understood that the guy paid for the first date. So maybe this wasn’t a date after all?

Kevin's profile pic, in place since February 2012!

Kevin’s profile pic, in place since February 2012!

Annoyed, I ordered my own coffee, and we sat outside. We talked until the coffee shop closed, discussing books, movies, college, jobs, etc. I knew that, at this point, the date was over, but I really didn’t want it to end. Kevin had a lot more to him than those nerdy Facebook interests, and I was dying to know more. We left and walked toward the parking lot.

“Well, here’s my ride,” he said nonchalantly, as he stopped in front of a motorcycle.

Yes, a motorcycle. As if this guy had to gain any more points, the bad-ass motorcycle just earned him over 9,000. (And motorcycles do not have trunks in which to stash the dead bodies of first dates you might have murdered.)

Standing around the motorcycle, continuing to talk, I got the sense that Kevin didn’t want the date to end either. One of us suggested dinner, and so we walked to Boca Fiesta. We had a great meal that he paid for. Now I was super confused. Had I just not earned his liking yet at the coffee shop? Did he want to test me before he paid for things for me? Had I now charmed him enough into buying me things? I felt like I was dating a girl; guys didn’t play games like this, right?

To this day, Kevin still does not know what made him pay for my dinner that night. I think he is afraid to admit that he was utterly smitten and just couldn’t help but suspend his miserly ways.

But even dinner wasn’t enough time for us. Kevin asked if I’d like to get a beer and play shuffleboard at the bar around the corner. I wanted to scream, “YES!!!!” but I very coolly replied, “Sure.” After a drink or two and several rounds of shuffleboard (at least one of which I won), it was 9:00 and finally time for this date to be over. (He said he had to study, but I think he just was going through video-game withdrawal). He walked me back to my car, gave me another hug, and said goodnight.

Now, at the beginning of the date, I had decided to leave my cell phone in my car so as not to be rude or interrupted. (Kevin had not had the same thought and even took a phone call outside during dinner!) Getting back into my car that evening, I was most alarmed to find 20+ missed calls, at least that same number of texts, several voicemails, and a Sprint pop-up alerting me that my mother had turned on the Sprint child tracker. Indeed, although I had told her of my plans, my mother had freaked out around 6:00 (which would have been a normal end time for a first date) when she could not reach me. Of course, I called her back instantly, assuring her that Kevin was not, in fact, the next Ted Bundy and that I was not tied and gagged in the back of a van on the way to my rape and death. (So I guess you could say that I literally survived our first date.)

For our second date, Kevin invited himself over, requesting that I cook dinner and giving me only about an hour to prepare. (Such a charmer!) Thankfully, he redeemed himself by showing up with a bottle of wine and enduring one of my favorite films, Amelie, and the rest is history.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

But even after all this, my mom was still not convinced that Kevin was not a murderer out for cold blood.

Fast forward three months. I’m about to move into my new apartment, and Kevin has generously agreed to help me paint my room. Knowing this would only take about an hour or two, I left my cell phone at my old place; this seemed perfectly acceptable since I was not expecting any calls. Kevin left his phone on silent and in my car. In under two hours, we were done (and Kevin’s voice had gone hoarse from bitching about painting for the entire duration). Back at my old apartment, I checked my phone nonchalantly, expecting a blank screen. What I found instead were 40+ missed calls (from my mother AND sister), 20-something text messages, and endless voicemails. She had also called Kevin’s phone, though (thankfully) slightly fewer times than she had called mine. Mother had struck again.

But she didn’t stop there.

No, Kevin also had missed called from his family. My mother (and perhaps this is where I got my own detective nature from) had stalked my Facebook to find Kevin’s name to figure out his last name. Then she Googled “Hublous in Tampa” and found his parents’ phone number. HIS PARENTS! She had called and spoken with Kevin’s little brother, who then called Kevin and asked, “Why are Carly’s parents calling us? Are you guys okay?” My mother had put everyone on red alert, even people she hadn’t met, because I had not answered the phone in an hour. And all this after Kevin and I had been dating (albeit long distance) for three months, both of us traveling to/from Tampa/Gainesville to see each other while he was gone for summer vacation!

When I was finally able to speak to my mom and convince her that I was, indeed, still alive and still not dating a serial killer, she gave me one of those, “I’m sorry, but…” apologies. She was not backing down from what was one of the most embarrassing experiences of my life.

I will never know why Kevin didn’t just walk away from the crazy that day and never look back. Perhaps something about it enticed him and sucked him in. Perhaps something about my mother’s mania charmed him. Regardless, everyone loves everyone now and we all shit rainbows and lived happily ever after.

(And in all seriousness, I guess I should be very grateful to have a mother who is really more like a mother wolf that looks out and fights for her children, even to the death—though luckily it has never come to that…yet….)