This chapter summarized Schuyler’s birth, the family’s move to New Haven, CT, her father’s new job, and the challenges and joys of caring for a baby during the first year. During labor, Julie’s mother telephones and asks her what she would like to get her brother for Christmas. What? Julie instructs Robert to hang up. How bizarre; maybe her mother has some pragmatic issues?! Or maybe she was just really nervous. I found Robert’s description of the birth funny and it also brought back memories for me. To quote the author, “No one tells you how extremely… extreme the birth is going to be, and afterward, you don’t talk about it because you’ve got a clean, happy little baby to play with, and besides, who wants to remind the love of their life that such a thing happened? But it did, and man oh man. I’m just saying.” The author goes on to describe the ordeal they went through with Schuyler’s jaundice.
Detroit is not clicking for the Robert and Julie; they find it dirty and dangerous, and just do not feel at home there. Through a friendship the author makes with one of his Web site readers, the family discovers New Haven. The author finds a job there and 6 weeks after Schuyler’s birth, they up and move to a quaint apartment in a beautiful house on Whitney Avenue, which runs through Yale’s old campus. It is a quiet, academic setting and they are happy there. One of the main take-aways from the chapter is the author’s description of his new job, which is working as a computer technician at the Connecticut Mental Health Center on the Yale Med School campus. His job is not all that difficult; the interesting part for him is that his office is near the patients and doctors; the environment eventually makes him a more understanding person. He states, “….it also taught me to look beyond the things that make us different so I could see the common core of humanity we all share,” and “…. as I worked among them, I began to lose my detachment and also that unspoken sense of something akin to superiority we all feel when we watch the unfortunate make their way through the same world in which we live.” Another quote from this section shows how perhaps his job setting prepares him a bit for what lies ahead…. “I was learning how these broken people faced their monsters, never dreaming that I had one to face in the coming years.” The author then describes what the first months with Schuyler were like….. a lot of crying at first , which sounded like it was a bit challenging to deal with (really? Haha), and then an easing of the tension when she starts to imitate his facial expressions, and cries less. The author then describes his role vs. Julie’s : “Julie was home, security, familiar surroundings, and comfort. I was exploration, new sights and sounds, someone to ‘oo’ and ‘ah’ with.” He describes one beautiful day, one of the happiest days he’s ever spent, when he is in the front lawn with Schuyler watching a bicycle marathon. “Schuyler looked into my eyes that day and, for reasons known only to her, decided she loved me, and not just a little, and not conditionally, but totally and with all her little heart. ……. she fell in love with me that day, and I with her.” He goes on to say that he was very protective of her, due to irrational fears, and gives examples of these. The author brings the chapter to a close by saying how wonderful the year between summer 2000 and July 2001 was, “….. it was a lovely year in ways that feel very improbable and far away to me now….. During that year, everyone was happy and healthy, and the future stretched out before us with nothing but promise.” In the last paragraph he states their world is about to change…. “…..Schuyler’s monster began to make itself known to us.” It probably needs to be mentioned that near
the beginning of the chapter, the author states he feels guilt because, when Schuyler was an infant, he didn’t suspect anything was wrong. He goes on to say that he knows this guilt is unfounded, but that it still bothers him today.
–Carrie H. Kaelin, MS-CCC/ SLP