Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Twenty One

Early December 26th 1986 just past midnight and the anesthesiologist has finally arrived. He is very crabby because it IS Christmas, but the surgeons have spent time warning us that Old Doc Weiderhold is ALWAYS crabby when he is called in for an unplanned surgery, he is really good, but he WILL yell at us. (and he did)

When everyone was ready, the surgeon who had been taking a nap in the little on-call room (where I was figuring out how to tie up my scrubs) suddenly sat up, looked at the clock and said “Good! It's the 26th, the kid gets his own birthday! Everybody should get their OWN birthday.”, and off we went down the hall to surgery. Me and my new surgeon buddy Dr. Brodkin.

At the time I was thinking that it was too bad that things got stuck, I had been counting on the 25th. Beth had been in a lot of pain for a lot of hours, but Derek was inexplicably stuck in the play-doh fun-factory of life and the doctor didn't know why. Plan-B would be a little more difficult to implement than usual because it was Christmas day and the doctors were kind of busy. It would be four hours before they would be in “operating” condition (so to speak).

I should have known.

It had been foretold by Lindsay.

On Christmas Eve we had hosted Joe and Lindsay for a nice dinner. Beth's due date was in January and Lindsay was already a wee bit overdue, and to hear her tell it,
she was months behind schedule. During dinner Lindsay shared her ultimate fantasy with us.

She would go into labor very early Christmas morning but wouldn't tell anyone. She would go to her in-laws to have the traditional opening of gifts and then she would say “I have an announcement to make: We are going to have one more present today... we are going to have a baby!” Everybody would fuss and get excited, and Joe and Lindsay would wave goodbye, go to the hospital and squirt out the kid.

I was horrified.
As I am prone to do, I told her so.

That is an AWFUL fantasy. No No No” “Your kid would NEVER have a decent birthday!” I had experience with this type of thing because my mother had me induced to beat the tax-break deadline, she was a very practical woman, she saved some cash but she could NEVER remember my birthday.

We had a wonderful evening despite my big mouth, Hours later we waved goodbye as they drove off into the Christmas Eve darkness.

Beth and I finished whatever it is that we used to do on Christmas Eve and went to bed.

Beth didn't think that she could get out of the waterbed to get to the bathroom in a reasonable amount of time anymore, so she wanted to try sleeping in the guest bed.

We tried it. I was sleeping away on the hard mattress, minding my own business when Beth woke me up at two am. She wanted to tell me something.

Her water broke. Once my sleepy brain got wrapped around that, I found that I no longer was sleepy but had developed a sudden, very severe case of Tourette's syndrome. I was only using one word but I was using it continuously. I may have mentioned Lindsay's name and my feelings about her fantasy once or twice also. It totally ruined my ability to sleep for the rest of the night.

We spent the rest of the morning pacing around. OK, I paced and Beth probably did some constructive stuff. When the sun came up we drove to the hospital and after being checked out, we were told to come back later. Then we drove to Keene where Doug, Leslie, and both sets of parents were.

We opened our presents for a couple of hours and then we made the announcement.

Nana (Beth's mom) said “Have you seen a doctor?”

Beth and I started explaining the situation until Nana would interrupt with “Have you seen a doctor?”, we would say “yes” and continue with the story until Nana would interrupt with “Have you seen a doctor?”, and we would repeat as necessary. This continued for quite a while until eventually Nana's question would get a loud “YES” from seven of us in unison each time she asked. Her record was skipping and there was nothing we could do.
Eventually Beth and I packed up to go to the hospital again.

I still remember Leslie standing in the driveway all teary eyed as we drove away.

The damn hospital told us to come back later. Again.

We went to our house in Antrim and Beth handled the pain in her own way, she rearranged the furniture. She was trying to find a comfortable position and it seems that chairs that are uncomfortable in the living room might be more comfortable in the kitchen. Or perhaps not. Lets try a hassock... here... or here...

After several phone calls to the doctor to check on “times between” and other such things, I was just waiting for permission to return to the hospital, every piece of furniture had been moved at least four times and I was afraid that she was going to ask me to paint the house. Finally they allowed us to come.

I don't remember the details, but I am sure it was a pleasant trip.

Finally we were going to get some action. We had great nurses, a great doctor and... nothing.. Things were progressing. We would have a kid by 4pm. OK, Five thirty.

There's something wrong, not serious mind you, but you will be all done by Seven. The baby monitors reported that everything was okydoky. Beth wasn't. She was
tired. She had been pushing for hours. Two shifts of nurses. Other mothers coming and going.
Warren was hungry (of course), we had headed back to Peterborough before Christmas Dinner so I had to forage at the hospital. I had become skilled at racing down to the
nursing station, getting cookies, and racing back before the next contraction.

Beth wasn't hungry, she had other things on her mind. We would talk between contractions, but she never made a sound during the pushing. Not a peep.
Hours and hours of pushing. At 8pm they started making arrangements for surgery, and Beth was not supposed to push anymore, which was even harder. We weren't told that it would be several hours before the various people involved with Plan-B could be at the point that we were at now. Beth was rolling on a gurney, and the doctors and
I were walking.

Good ol Doctor Brodkin gave the tongs one last try.

If you have never seen a doctor using tongs, it is a sight to behold.

There is a sheet up over Beth's knees and Dr. Brodkin has a different viewpoint than I do.

He holds these two metal salad tongs and surveys the situation.

The tongs are jammed under the sheets and clanked against each other for five seconds and pulled back. Toss the salad and retreat. Stare, toss the salad and retreat. Stare.

No baby popping out, he announces that he is going to start cutting.

Dr. Boxer (with the purple pants) comes over and stands next to me while they start carving. I didn't know who he was, he seemed nice. He was our brand spankin new pediatrician. I didn't know why we needed a foot doctor, but that was because I didn't know what a pediatrician was yet.
Bright lights. I hold Beth's hand and try to explain what is happening on the other side of the sheet where everybody seemed to be so busy. They were busy and
they were talking about all kinds of medical type stuff that I didn't understand. Beth wasn't even scared. Something was finally happening. There are a lot of layers to go through. The lights were bright.

The doctors were about two layers from the goal when the Dr. Brodkin said “Hey LOOK, he's looking right up at us!”. Derek was seeing the bright lights and as the layers were being peeled back things were becoming clearer and clearer. The doctors and nurses were all laughing and the mood in the room changed completely. It also explained why things didn't go as expected: Derek was looking UP while the manual says that he should be looking at the floor. Independent Cuss. They had to yank and tug to free the top part of Derek's head that Beth had spent many hours working so hard to push where it was.

Finally the little cone-head popped out. After celebrating for a while I kissed Beth goodbye and carried Derek down the hall to get weighed and measured. I walked very carefully so that I didn't walk into a wall while I was looking down at him. Dr. Boxer used a little tape measure to get the important data. One of the measurements that he was supposed to measure was the circumference of Derek's head. He measured around his eyebrows, he measured up where a beanie would be, and then he put the tape around the waistline of his very long head. Dr. Boxer turned towards me and seeing the look on my face, said “You'd be surprised how fast these things fix themselves...”

Ohhh thaaaat makes me feel better. My kid looked like Yoda with a cone-head. I figured that Beth and I would adapt to having a kid like this, isn't that why they created PhotoShop?

I put out my pinky and Derek wraps his fingers around it. At that instant I became a
dad. Everything will be just fine. The nurses let me sleep with Beth and Derek
that night.

Over the next two days all of the Nurses would run up to our floor so that they could see the “adorable little cone-head”. Dr. Boxer was right, it did fix itself.

Beth and I had a very nice week at the hospital. Lindsay baked a cake for my birthday and we had a little party in the “day room”.

Beth, Derek and I all went home for the first time on New Year's Eve 1986.

We all slept in the living room. We woke up at midnight and watched the ball drop on TV. We then promptly went back to sleep.

Our new life. Pretty cool.

A week later Lindsay was pleading with Dr. Brodkin to make her baby happen when she told the doctor how Beth had “stolen” her fantasy. The Dr. Brodkin jumped all over Lindsay telling her that nobody should wish for a delivery like Beth had gone through because it was the toughest he had ever seen. The doctor didn't really seem to understand what part of Beth's ordeal was the “fantasy” that Lindsay was referring to.

That tough day and tougher night gave us the greatest reward.

That was 21 years ago tonight. I remember it like it happened last week.
In fact I remember it better than anything that happened last week, but that
wouldn't surprise anyone that knows me.

Twenty One.

It is odd how there are certain MAJOR ages. Derek was convinced that his life was going to change dramatically on his 16th birthday. The world was his oyster, although he was a vegetarian, so the world was his can of chick peas.

The freedom of driving, he would be able to do anything he wanted, etc. etc..

Sixteen really didn't create the kind of radical changes that he was imagining, but Eighteen! Just wait!

I'm sure that twenty-one would be the same type of major event, although I can't really think of ANYTHING that changes at that age except that you can legally drink.

It's legal. Gee. I guess the thing you would do is buy a beer for your kid. Hmmm.

What a festive occasion.

Derek always went out with us for Chinese Food on his birthday (which we NEVER forgot). Tomorrow/today Beth and I are going to take some of Derek's friends out for Chinese Food again. Should I buy the usual Roy Rogers that Derek always ordered (a non-alcoholic fancy drink) for the center of the table or should I order a Suffering Bastard?

Well I may still order the Suffering Bastard because it is soooo much fun for the guys to hear the waiter repeat “sufffffrin baaaasstahhd” back to me, but I think that I will stick to the Roy Rogers for “Derek's drink”. Who knows what Derek would have ordered.

Happy Twenty First Birthday Dude. Thank You.


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