July 31, 2006
July 6, 2006
Welcome to the world, Anna Veronica. Yesterday my daughter was born. Mom and Baby are both doing well. She weighed in at 7lb 14oz, 19 3/4" at 2:04pm. Yesterday was her birthday. The birth day. The day was so matter-of-fact, that it was hard to believe that the baby was coming. Wake up, eat breakfast (but dodge the wife who's not allowed to have anything to eat), play with Kyle and the dog and do the usual routine. Drop them both off at my parents house and then we're off to the hospital. It isn't until Kristin's in a hospital bed, hooked up to a fetal monitor and they're telling me to change into scrubs that it starts to get real and feel different.
It's like what my friend Chris once told me when I asked him for advice on how to best prepare for childbirth. "Yeah, it's hard to say, I guess. It's sort of like the time when I was in middle school and I went on a hiking trip with my school. On our way back to the parking lot, we came across a swollen stream. It was in the spring so the water was pretty cold. A few of the guys crossed the river and made it to the other side. Just then someone noticed that the path we were on led back to the parking lot and we wouldn't need to cross the water. When we suggested to the guys that they go get the cars and pick us up, one of them replied "No way! F*ck you man! You get your ass across this river." In other words, you just gotta do it.
So many things start going through your mind as you watch the preparations begin. I realize that in my life, whenever I have to give a big presentation, I'm never nervous until the moment when I realize that my turn is next. I won't get antsy until the guy who's up before me is called. Well, there really was no "next guy" yesterday. Just visits from various nurses, doctors and anesthesiologists. It was the head nurse, who comes in to give her schpiel to us on how this whole thing is going to go down.
"So first we'll take Kristin down to the room. She'll be prepped there. The bed in the O.R. is like this one, except it's a bit narrower and has a place for your arms to stretch out to the sides. Once you're on the bed, you'll sit upright and squeeze this pillow for the Anesthesiologist. It's crucial that you focus on a position and you arch your back into that position. He will administer the drugs and then you'll lay down on the table. We'll then put up a curtain across your chest and begin to get you ready."
"Ben, you'll wait here until we call you to come into the O.R." Thank you, I thought. I'm not one for the oogy-woogy. I don't like blood and gore, especially when it's associated with someone you love. Kris was about to get the equivalent of a really tidy shotgun wound to the belly. I'd done this once before and I remember all the urgencies, sights, sounds and most of all, smells. They use some sort of tool to cauterize the wounds as they go along, so there's lots of smoke and smell of burning … stuff.
The nurse also reminded me that I'm not to get up at any time (even though with Kyle the anesthesiologist invited me to look over the curtain once the surgeon had announced that the head was visible) and that I'm to stay seated on my stool near Kristin's head unless someone allows me to move. When I had done this with during Kyle's delivery I got to see his head exiting from Kris' torso. I remember the intense feeling of security that the doctors who were performing the operation were experts. I had to tell myself over and over again that Kris was in good hands. Because, aside from Quatto making an appearance, her insides looked inside-out. In any normal situation, this would have absolutely terrified me and turned me away in horror. I mean, yes, it's that bad. These doctors are good, I thought. They're the best.
So here I am. Kristin has been wheeled out of the room, I gave her a kiss on the forehead and said goodbye. She's off to get doped up and scrubbed with iodine. I'm sitting here in this cold, bright room, surrounded by quiet, dark monitoring machines making peace with God and myself. Thinking that the guy who's in front of me has just started his speech and I'm next. It's almost time.
I want to get back off the beaten path. To find a place and buck the trend. Diss the popular and seek the unusual. Find a road and drive down it just to see where it leads. Because it's always the spontaneous, the unexpected which yields the most interesting results. Something to talk about. Something to brag about. Something to write about.
I want to head to Maine again. Wake up at three thirty in the morning, shower and grab my bags. Hop in the car and watch the sun rise over the Susquehanna. See the fog make its last gasp over the corn fields in Delaware. Grab a noonday lunch in Connecticut in some ancient port town. Up and over the craggy hills of Massachusetts and smell the thick, sweet pine state air, laden with fir and cone. Stop at the side of the road, silent and high above Carabassett lakes. Smell the air and smile as your friend emerges from the brush and greets you. It is now your journey begins.