Son you have been hanging out with us for nearly a year now and it has been a nonstop party. I haven’t been this sleep deprived since college. We have covered a lot of ground you and I but it suddenly occurred to me that I have never told you about the day you were born. Seeing as how you are already eyeing that birthday cake, I think it is time you know exactly what you are celebrating.
June 16, 2011 I was in Sacramento, CA for a work conference. Your due date was still a couple of weeks away and your mother wasn’t set for maternity leave for another week so I didn’t really feel terribly bad for being away for one night. I had checked in with your mother while I was on the road just to make sure she was ok. Aside from contractions, which had become the norm at this point in the pregnancy, she was feeling ok. I told her to keep me in the loop and to not hesitate in calling the doctor if things began to progress.
It was hot in Sacramento, at least twenty degrees hotter than when I left SF. I took a quick lap around the hotel to scope out where I needed to be the next day and then I went out into the heat to forage for food. I found a hamburger joint down the block, ordered, and decided to take my food back to my room where I could relax in the air condition while avoiding the awkwardness of eating in the restaurant alone.
Back at the hotel I did a quick flip through the channels before apathetically leaving it on a TBS airing of Twilight, an obnoxiously silly movie about vampires that sparkle when exposed to sunlight rather than bursting into flames like any self-respecting creature of the night should do. I can only hope that years later when you are actually able to read this history will have buried this travesty of the horror genre so deep that you will have to dig through 12 layers of Brendan Fraser Mummy movies and at least one Fright Night remake to get to it.
The vampire’s soon to be love interest had barely been given a chance to display her requisite teen angst when I was interrupted by a phone call from your mother. Answering the phone, I could hear anxiety in her voice.
“Umm… I think something is happening”, she said after the customary hellos.
“What do you mean something is wrong”, I replied with a twinge of panic.
“I went to the bathroom and there is blood.”
“Did your water break?” I had been consumed with visions of this happening ever since we took a baby birthing class. Secretly, I had wanted her to work for as long as possible in the hopes that her water would break in the office and not on our shiny wood floors at home. I wasn’t sure how acceptable it would have been to stall our trip to the hospital long enough for me to mop up the mess.
“I don’t think so. Just a trickle.” She admitted out loud without entirely admitting it to herself. I told her that I was pretty sure that either trickle or flood the end results were the same. But rather than press the issue I asked her to update our doctor on what was happening then call me back right away to let me know what we should do.
At this point I was in the midst of a controlled panic. Physically I was at least two hours away from San Francisco by car and it was rush hour so who knew what that might add to the trip. I didn’t wait for the call back. I gathered up my belongings and tore down to the lobby. Checking out might not involve more than leaving my room key at the front desk but I thought that retrieving my car in a timely fashion might be a bigger issue so my first stop was to the curbside valet.
Who knows what went through that kid’s mind when a crazed man dragging half packed bags in one had and an uneaten bacon cheeseburger in the other ran up telling him that it was an emergency and I needed my car right away but the look of fear on his face told me that at least he was taking me seriously. I heard him radioing his buddy to bring my car around as I ran back inside to check out.
All told roughly 10 minutes had passed since your mother’s call and I was already on the road. Her next call came a few minutes later. “Doctor said that I am probably in early labor but it might not happen for a day or two. It is up to you if you want to come home or not.” How could I sit in a hotel room watching heart throbbing vampire flicks while she was at home dealing with mucus plugs falling out, trickling amniotic fluid, and a never ending succession of evenly spaced menstrual cramps from hell?
She sounded relieved that I was already on my way.
Other than my cheeseburger hand eventually finding its way to my mouth, the drive home was uneventful. Rush hour didn’t slow me down a bit and I made it back to San Francisco in half the time it had taken me to just cross the bridge that morning.
I made such good time in fact that I didn’t even bother checking in with your mother the entire drive. Believing that I was still at least an hour away, she had called in your uncle Peter as a back-up just in case I didn’t make it but she was able to call him off when I arrived just a few minutes later.
The hospital was very close. We arrived there and we’re checked into our room around 8:30. This is when the fun began. Your mother put on her hospital gown and a nurse checked to see how far along she was. “Only 4cm dilated”, she said. “You have a ways to go.”
There must have been something about being in the hospital that hastened her labor because one minute your mother looked like this:
And the next minute she looked like this:
The nurse had said it was too early for an epidural but your mother was clearly in pain so I tried to convince the nurse to give her something in the meantime. After about 45 minutes of your mother doubled over crying someone actually came in to check on her. The look on the nurse’s face when she realized that your mother had gone from 4 cm to a full 10cm in such a short time was priceless. “You are ready to start pushing!”
I asked her if now would be a good time for an epidural and she replied “Oh it is too late for that.”. Now son here is something you need to understand. Early on we had decided that your mother was going to drug herself up as much as possible to avoid any of the pain of labor. I had even considered getting an epidural myself just in case I stated to have sympathy pains. But you were suddenly in so much of a hurry to get into this world that we couldn’t even get an aspirin. Your mother was less than pleased by this but you didn’t give her much time to dwell on it.
The nurse left the room in a hurry only to return with half a dozen other people. None of which was a doctor. Apparently the staff had thought that your mother would be in labor for hours yet and hadn’t thought that contacting a physician was yet necessary. Now they had a look of panic as they tried to figure out what was going to happen. Your mother had progressed so quickly that it was if they were half expecting you to come shooting out at 40 miles per hour. It wouldn’t have surprised me if one of them had shoved a catcher’s mitt into my hands and told me to be ready for a fastball.
Everything from here on out is a blur. The doctor arrived eventually (probably about a half hour later) and your mom started to push. I was her coach so I held her hand while we both too deep breathes and counted to 10 while she tried to push you out. In between contractions the nurse would say remarkably helpful things like “I can’t believe you are doing this without meds. Doesn’t it hurt? It looks like it hurts a lot.” She also kept trying to convince me to watch your progress. Whenever I would take a peek your mother would ask me if you were almost here. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that at the rate you were coming it looked as if you might be born by the time you were 16 years old.
But eventually you made your way out. By 1 am on June 16, 2011 you were here and what a bloody mess you were.
As the nurse cleaned you up your mother asked me, “did that really just happen?” I told her that I hope it did because I would hate to find out which of us had just had such a horrifying dream. A few minutes later you were swaddled and resting in your mother’s arms. As she gazed lovingly into your crying eyes your mother turned to me and said, “I am glad we had him now because we should be out of the hospital in time to watch the season premiere of True Blood.” (True Blood was a proper vampire show where the undead had the decency to explode into flames in sunlight rather then merely sparkle. You and I can watch that together one day if you want.)
Happy birthday son, then and now. Let’s make it an annual thing.