Friday, August 21, 2009

Maybe your world didn't change

As crazy as this may sound to people, I'm a huge believer in the idea that we are all pretty much equal especially when it comes to men and women. Sure, for the most part, women are nuts, we can all agree on that, but at work and in our potential, women and men can pretty much do everything the same. I know, there are a few physiological differences, but the last I checked, we live, we breath, we love, we laugh and in the end...dust.

I've been asked repeatedly over the years if I'm disappointed that we never had a baby boy. That is one of the most bizarre questions I've ever been asked. Are you asking me if I'm disappointed in the two beautiful, healthy, happy kids I already have? Are you a friggin' moron? My answer for all these years has been the same. Why? Girls can play baseball.

One thing that will forever be different for men and women is the process of making your first baby. Not the beginning part, we should all know how that works and if you don't, go ask your mother. I'm talking about the gestation part. I don't know about you, but that was the weirdest 8 months of my life.

It all started about 10 years and 8 months ago. I came home from work to my wife smiling like the Cheshire cat. She handed me this little wrapped box and asked me to open it. I had no idea what this was. We got married in September, and it was the middle of winter so it wasn't our anniversary. We started dating in the summer too. Her birthday was in March. Is it Bastille Day? Do we celebrate that? Maybe it was MLK day and I missed the memo about exchanging presents. Nope. None of those were it. Inside the box was a little bib that read "I love my dad."

Um. Oh. Um. Holy crap! I knocked her up! Wait...I'm married to her. It's legal. Whew. OK...breathe...breathe...

And with that, we started a journey that would transform both of our lives forever.

Ladies, pregnancy is a really weird thing for guys. For the next 8 months, I would hear the stories and see the changes as my bride transformed from hot goddess of seduction I spent all my time wooing, to the most beautiful incubator of life. I could see the changes. She would tell me about them. She would run to the bathroom and puke her guts up. Lay there at night, not sleeping. But for me, the guy she married, I had no reference to what was really going on. As strange as this sounds, I didn't get it.

Months later, the baby bump, now a prominent fixture of my wife stature, was moving on it's own. Kinda like in the movie Aliens. Yes, to a guy, that's a valid reference. We can see things moving, we can feel the pressure, it was like she had bad gas. It was cool and she told me it was our baby, but still, I didn't get it.

Bringing both of our kids to term was a challenge. I've written about this before. Each pregnancy was a sick game of chicken. How long could the baby stay inside before the strain on my wife would kill her. The first time through this, I was an emotional wreck with a rock for a facade. I don't know if even at this point my wife knows just how stressful it was for me to be asked by the medical staff to think about choosing between her and the baby. Inside, I usually just screamed, "Hm. How about fuck you? They will both live. Capice?" To a young husband...

But even through this, I didn't really get what was going on. My wife told me how she could feel this little life inside her. She told me how beautiful it was. Honestly, it felt like gas bubbles to me. I really didn't get it. I had no idea what any of this meant. I'm just a guy and this doesn't compute.

OhPrincess1 took about 2 weeks to deliver. That's sort of an exaggeration and sorta not. With OhCountess' health problems, they'd started inducing and then stopped and then started and then stopped and then I think I went toe to toe with a doctor and got his staff's mouths to drop when the dickhead doctor asked me, "Excuse me, do you know who I am..." and I replied, "Yes, do you know who I am?". Geez. Seems no one had ever stood up to him before. Oops. I missed that memo. Jack ass.

I still didn't get it. What was all this about?

A week after my encounter Dr. Dickhead, we were at our hometown hospital, the same one OhCountess worked at as an RN in OB - you don't know how handy this is :). At this time of my life, I was an intern that worked 50 miles away. This means any time missed is time not paid. We were still to young to really be able to afford all this starting and stopping so the plan was I'd go to work and she'd call me when things started to proceed. Induction can take time.

We made it to lunch before she called me. Please remember, this was 1999. I had a cell phone and this was a big deal. I was out depositing my paycheck (remember when we had to do that?) when it rang. "I'm on my way!" A call to the office triggered the "OhCaptain's wife is having a baby" emergency plan. The president of the company made it clear I only needed to make one call to the receptionist and to get the hell out of town and take care of my wife. Thanks!

I got to my bride's side. I held her hand. I watched the meters. I shifted in the chair. I went for a walk. I watched some TV. I read a magazine. I talked to the staff. This wasn't really going as fast as we'd hoped. At 8 pm, the doc came in and asked if we wanted to have a break until morning. We can do that? Huh, I didn't know. They turned off the drugs and my wife fell asleep.

We'd decided that since we lived less the 5 minutes away, I'd crash there and she would call me in the morning. All the staff knew me and several of the nurses assured me that they would call me with ANY news. I'll be honest. I'm still not sure what any of this is about, but food and zzz's sounded good.

6 AM, the phone rings. It's OhCountess they are starting again and I should get to the hospital. I raced in. I got to my bride's side. I held her hand. I watched the meters. I shifted in the chair. I went for a walk. I watched some TV. I read a magazine. I talked to the staff. This wasn't really going as fast as we'd hoped. My wife looked exhausted. She was noticeably uncomfortable. There was nothing I could do but sit there helplessly and wonder to myself just what the hell was going on and what this was all about.

By afternoon, things seemed to be changing. By then, I'd figured out how to read the machines. There was a monitor for my wife and one for the baby. There was this belt thing that monitored the heart rate of the baby and muscle contractions in my wife. I'd noticed a pattern in the muscle contractions and got pretty good at getting ready for a good she started noticing that I would stand up and take her hand just moments before the contraction. The doc comes in and removes the belt. I asked her not to. She told me she was "done with it", "but I'm not. You see this pattern here, she's about to have a contraction and I like to be ready."

"You just figured that out sitting here?" she asked. I am geek for Pete's sake.

I really don't remember much of the actual labor. The OB nurses were great and gave me some quick pointers on coaching earlier. I never went to baby class so I was winging it.

OhPrincess1's head was there! I could see her brown hair, but that was it. Just the very top. The doctor and my wife worked forever to get her out. She's stuck! More pushing...the doctor coaching. I still felt helpless. I still didn't get it.

Finally, around 6 PM, the doctor uses this thing that kinda looked like a toilet plunger and gives a tug. There she was! My goodness that's messy. "Do you want to cut the cord?" I can do that? Sure. Snip! They whisked that screaming baby away. Professionals were attending to my wife, more attending to the baby. I just tried to stay out of the way. Trying to just let everyone do their jobs. I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing.

They brought the baby over to OhCountess. My wife had never looked more peaceful, happy. She had also never looked more beautiful. She held the little girl in her arms. It was perfect. I reached down and kissed her.

She kissed me back. "Do you want to hold her dad?"

Wow. Are you talking to me? My father wasn't in the room, was he? I'm not sure I'd ever held a baby before. She hands her to me, this little bundle. I held her in my arms and looked into her eyes. She was perfect. She was amazing. I got it. I'm a dad and this is my daughter. In that moment, I left my life as just a guy behind. Look out world, I'm a dad, a father.

Happy birthday OhPrincess1! Tens years has gone too fast.


simplyChuck said...

That was pretty damn awesome.

Happy birthday OhPrincess1.

terri said...

Wow! You are a pretty amazing dad and husband. Happy Birthday to your beautiful girl!

surprised mom said...

A very Happy Birthday to OhPrincess1!
Thanks for sharing this story and for your wonderful attitude about girls. We have two. My husband has gotten the "Are you disappointed you didn't have a son?" question more than once in our lives. His answer is pretty similiar to yours, except I don't think he mentioned baseball.

PJ said...

A very happy birthday to OhPrincess1! I've never understood why people ask those questions. If I am fortunate enough to have a daughter someday I'll encourage her to do anything - except play football, I don't even want my son to play that.

Nellie said...

Tim, that was an awesome post. I loved it. I am sending Greg over to read it. Happy birthday to one of my favorite little girls ever... give her a hug for me and tell her I'll see her Sunday!

p.s. we are pg for 40 weeks so it actually is 10 months from the get go. believe me, I am counting down daily!!!!! 36 weeks and 2 days here... ready for baby to appear!

Mrs4444 said...

Sweet post. I'm happy for you. I'm told that being a dad is every bit as awesome as being a mom :)

The Father of Five said...

What a great post!

I think most of us dads can find some common ground in that story.. At least parts of it!

In our case - my wife did not work as a RN on the OB floor... MY MOTHER IN LAW DID!! We too got the special treatment, and visits not only from OUR Dr. and nurses, but all the othe Dr's and nurses that were friends of "the new grandma"!!

Happy birthday to OhPrincess1 from all of us... We too have had two birthays this week.. #2 and #4 of 5 (14 and 9 years old)both celebrated birthdays this week!