So, about 7 years ago, the wife (Hank) and I decided to make a baby. I spent a long while deciding if this was something that I wanted, but in the end I determined that there's no real way to know if you want a kid without actually having one. It's like trying a new food for the first time, or impaling yourself on a bed of nails. How will you know if you like it if you don't try it? So, we decided to start trying to have a baby.
Hank was pregnant within seconds.
Hmm, that makes me sound like a bad lover. Let's say minutes.
Hank was pregnant within minutes.
And so the nine month countdown began. One of the many things I learned in those nine months is that I'm kind of freaked out by pregnancy. It seems dangerous, and scary, and just plain weird.
I mean, if I want to make a sandwich, it's pretty straightforward. I get the bread, the innards, and assemble it. Ok, to be perfectly honest, I'm way too lazy to make sandwiches. I'm much more likely to just eat some deli meats straight from the fridge, or maybe a spoonful of peanut butter. Regardless, the sandwich making process seems reasonable.
Ditto for making a blog. I sit down at the computer. I make with the typey-typey and the clicky-clicky, and voila! Easy!
But babies? I'm down with the conception part. Tab A in Slot B. That seems like how something should be constructed. But the rest is totally nuts.
First, the baby grows inside Hank for NINE MONTHS. Ewww! When stuff grows on/in me, I start spraying Tinactin. It's weird that babies have to grow inside of other people and it's annoying that it takes nine months. I made this blog in 5 minutes. A sandwich takes about the same (or so I've heard).
Then, get this, once the baby gets to be about, say, baby-sized, it has to come out. At this point, it's WAY bigger than the orifice that lets it out. It's as though someone built an airplane inside of a hangar, and then when they were done, looked around and noticed that there were no airplane-sized doors. Whoopsie! This, right here, is a great argument against Intelligent Design.
Poor design aside, pregnancy really scared me. It seemed like so many things could go wrong, either to the baby or to Hank. My wife doesn't skydive, bungee-jump, or play Russian Roulette, so having a baby is pretty much the most dangerous thing I've seen Hank do. I realize that the majority of the time, all goes well, but it still scared the bejesus out of me.
We went to parenting classes at our hospital that tried to make us feel prepared. Part of the class material included videos of babies being born. These were like poorly produced versions of Alien, with babies ripping out of their mothers, bloody and screaming, but with cheesy Muzak in the background. One nearby woman in class took great delight at how I turned green during these videos. I never thought I was squeamish until that day.
So, after about nine delightful months of this, my wife turns to me one afternoon and says, "I think I'm having contractions."
I remained outwardly calm (I think) as I drove Hank to the hospital. We got there at around 6:00pm and the next 23 hours are a total blur. I think they basically went like this:
- Cringe while wife has painful contractions.
- Play Scrabble.
- Watch while inept doctors repeatedly fail to correctly inject Hank with epidurals, turning her lower spine into a pointilism portrait of incompetence.
- Pretend to sleep.
After about 23 hours of this, the doctors suggested that it was time for a cesarean. The baby was sideways or upside down or inside out or something, and Hank or the baby or somebody was coming down with a fever. I don't recall the details, but it was all very alarming. The doctors urged Hank to have the cesarean, noting that she'd then have her baby in about an hour.
That phrase "about an hour" was the first soothing thing I'd heard in 23 hours. It sounds like how long it takes to get eyeglasses made, which isn't scary at all. Plus, having an actual schedule was immensely appealing to us. Hank agreed.
All of a sudden, things began to happen very quickly. The nurses started to prep Hank for the operation and they also gave me instructions: "Mike, grab your camera. Mike, put these scrubs on. Mike, follow us into the operating room."
I dutifully followed the instructions and soon Hank was on the table and I was...holding my camera??? What the hell did they tell me to bring a camera for? I couldn't imagine what I'd want pictures of, so I promptly ditched the camera.
A curtain on the operating table prevented Hank from looking down and seeing the doctors slice into her abdomen. I crouched down on the far side of the curtain, as far away from the abdomen as possible, explaining that I was keeping Hank's head company. She was partially drugged, but was appreciative of my presence, making my excuse seem plausible. I did my best to ignore the tubes siphoning blood out of Hank's body.
After a few minutes, or maybe a decade, the doctor said, "Mike, your baby is about to be born. Would you like to see?"
Oh, man, what a horrible question to ask. No. No, I do not want to see this. I already saw the previews and they SUCKED. But, what kind of man doesn't watch his daughter being born? This was it. My one chance. Just once. Do it. Do it, Mike. STAND FREAKIN' UP NOW!
I stood up just in time to see the doctor reach into Hank and pull out...was this a magic trick? Would he yank a rabbit out of there? No, a baby!! My baby, presumably! Damn, it was totally gross. I know, miracle of birth, blah blah blah, but that was seriously nasty.
After the doctors poked at the baby for a bit, they swaddled her up and offered her to me. A baby! Weird. I gingerly held her and was relieved, petrified, amazed, and exhausted. Little did I know that the previous 24 hours were probably the most restful day I'd have for the next year or two.
Welcome to the world, Daisy!