Archive for November, 2010

Welcome to My New Life

November 22nd, 2010

I have grown to love my car. Wait, no, that’s not right. I’ve grown into my car. Or truck. Whichever I happen to be using that week.

Because, see, this is what I do now: Commute an hour to work, work, commute 90ish minutes to the hospital where Evan’s staying, hang out as long as I can, and commute an hour from the hospital to home. That leaves a teensy bit of time to do other things, though I’ve managed to keep writing fiction and, you know, eating and breathing. (Hygeine is iffy at best — we got home so late Sunday night that I didn’t have time to shave, leaving me nicely scruffy for work. Glad the office is dead for the holidays.)

I write all of that as an extended excuse for not posting lately. I’ve been throwing pics of Ev onto Facebook almost daily, so go there for the latest. I’ve also been writing letters. If I can, I’ll post another tonight. Be patient.

Dear Evan: The Day of Your Birth

November 5th, 2010

A few years ago, my mother gave me for Christmas a written account of the day of my birth. It was unexpected and enlightening, though despite repeated requests she hasn’t followed it with other memories. Inspired, I’ve been writing letters to my own newborn son Evan. I’ll share some of them here. This is the first.

Dear Evan:

Welcome to life! We’ve tried not to mess it up too badly, though I had hoped for a couple more months before introducing you to the world.

You were supposed to be a Christmas baby, and as such your mother (my La) and I joked about being shafted on the number of presents, on small parties because your friends would all be visiting family. I suppose you decided that wasn’t good enough and decided to make an appearance early.

More likely, you’re following in the footsteps of your Uncle Doug. I’ll tell you more stories when you’re older, but your middle name is in honor of dad’s old friend Doug, who passed away almost a month before your birth. Doug always loved Halloween — he loved dressing up, he loved laughing, he loved being out with friends — and we suspect that in some outer-life, he talked you up on the concepts, convinced you to show up in time for the fun.

Because, yes, you were exactly two months early.

On the morning of Oct. 27, 2010, your mom called me. Her voice was unsteady, and she called in the morning, which was a surprise. She taught mornings, and then would go home to nap before her afternoon classes, so I wasn’t accustomed to hearing from her until after 2 or 3.

La said the word “bleeding” and I immediately began packing up the duffel bag of gym gear I bring to work. After e-mailing my boss and co-worker, I was out the door. By the time I got to Denton, your mom was already at the hospital. She was scared, I could tell, but in a very strong way. She joked and laughed. I paced. They said “bedrest” and I relaxed, decided I could get away while the nurses ran blood tests. I hadn’t eaten, after all, nor had your furry brothers Gus and Lil’ Bit.

By the time I got back to the hospital, about half an hour later, your mom was in tears. There was a problem, the doctor said. Placental abruption, she said. We have to act fast, she said. I got scared. We didn’t know what that meant for you and, selfishly, I didn’t know what that meant for La.

Everything did move quickly after that. Your mom was wheeled away, and I was told to put on what looked like a biohazard suit: hairnet, mouth-mask, body suit, shoe covers. I did. And I paced. And I paced. And I paced.

Eventually, I was led to the operating room. La was there, with a curtain bisecting her chest. I sat next to her head, stroked her forehead and one exposed arm, babbled inanely to the anesthetist about my great-grandmother, who shared his profession. I listened to doctorspeak and tried to relate it to “ER” and other television shows. That’s all I knew. I tried to breathe, but the mouth-mask was hot and itchy.

And then, a cry. Not a wail, but a cranky “you just woke me” cry. “Dad,” someone said, “come see him.” I did. You were a perfect little man, waving your arms and legs and other parts, peeing on the nurses, making known your displeasure at having been removed from a safe, warm home. It was 1:32 p.m.

I took pictures, went back to your mom, showed her, went back to you, tried to stay out of the way of everyone. Soon, you were swaddled and rushed away to the NICU. I heard counting and turned; the doctors were counting towels and equipment, making sure nothing stayed inside La. It amused me. I was scared and amused and confused and utterly unprepared.

Not long after, the doctors finished their work and I followed your mom back to her room. She was sleepy, and surprised like me, and apprehensive, but mostly she was happy. She told me she loved me, many times, and slept. I, meanwhile, stepped outside the door to make what would be a barrage of phone calls spreading the great news. Eventually, I went home and got clothing and a book (Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens, which is entirely appropriate) and sat and read in the darkened room until we could visit the NICU.

That was your birth. Later, we would see you, and then watch you grow, and then have a scare, and then have another with your mom, and then hold you for the first time. Those are letters to come.