On the day my daughter was born, I was working at the 98 Drive Thru. The blessed event was coming about a month sooner than expected, so I had made no plans for a substitute. I made a few calls from the mean green dial phone on the wall, and I finally found somebody who wanted a few extra hours. When she arrived, she dismissed me with a cheerful, “Good luck!”
I found my wife in the labor room, not laboring all that hard yet. I held her hand and told her to breathe. A sonogram tech arrived and started rolling the stylus around on my wife’s belly. I didn’t tell my wife that the tech seemed concerned about something, just letting her concentrate on her counting. The tech left and returned with the OB attending doc. He looked, and furrowed his brow.
“We have some obstacles here,” he finally said, as he pointed to the green-glowing screen. “The baby hasn’t dropped yet, which isn’t really surprising because of how early it is, but you can see here,” (and I couldn’t — I could never seen anything on one of those screens), “that her head isn’t down either, and also, her right leg appears to be thrown up behind her head.”
I thought that she might have a future as a yoga instructor or a stripper, but I kept my comments to myself.
“In my opinion,” the doc continued, “a vaginal delivery is very risky at this point. I’d recommend a C-section.”
I thought my wife might argue, having invested so many hours in Lamaze training, but I think the promise of a spinal block had altered her thinking. Unfortunately, 3 of our tiny town’s 4 doctors were required for a C-section, so she would have to wait a few hours for her drugs, while the docs were gathered together. So I held her hand, and counted with her, and fed her ice chips, until the medical talent arrived, and then I was shooed off into the waiting room.
It was me, and my wife’s father and mother, watching TV and waiting. They stared at me, in that same way they’d been staring ever since their daughter got pregnant. “You pig,” they were thinking. “You did this to her. You dirty pig.”
Halfway through M*A*S*H, the floor nurse came in and gave us the happy news, the little girl was born, all in one piece, all well. They’d bring her into the showroom in a few minutes.
She was there, a 6 lb. sleeping bundle, lying between a 5 lb. sleeping bundle and an 8 lb. sleeping bundle. Small, Medium, and Large. They brought little Medium to my wife, who held her and cooed and spoke her name, as she slept on, oblivious. My wife look tired. It had been a rough eight months. She was hospitalized once when her blood pressure spiked, and the doc took me aside and said I might have to decide whether they would save her or the baby. I was 21 years old, for God’s sake. The most important decision I’d made up to that point was what flavor of wine to give my wife on the night I knocked her up.
But all had ended well, and here was the proof. Mother and child, finally face to face. In due time, the nurse handed my daughter to me. I looked into her beautiful face, speechless. Then, she opened her eyes. They were dark hazel eyes, deep as the deepest forest. She looked at me, as if she were sizing me up. Then, in my mind, I felt her verdict:
She closed her eyes and went to sleep, and I felt for the first time in forever that things were going to be okay.
On the day my granddaughter was born, I was working at the STEM Computer Lab on campus. The blessed event was about a week overdue, so I had Post-Its all over the room for anyone who walked in while I was gone. I told my boss I going, and she dismissed me with a cheerful, “Have fun!”
I arrived in the waiting room to a roomful of my ex-wife’s friends and relations. Most of them knew me, and they clued in the ones who didn’t. Oh, yes, that’s her pig of her first husband. Being the only one from my side of the former alliance who lived here in the Big City, I would like be without back-up for some time. I found a quiet corner of the room to wait it out.
Every half hour or so, a nurse would pop out into the room and give us an update, usually in the form of a number of centimeters of dilation. I sat by myself, and waited. Oddly, I had thought this was going to be quite a lot more fun.
Then, I noticed my ex-wife, walking toward me. With intent. Like she was going to sit down next to me, and speak to me. And she did.
“This is a lot nicer than our hospital, isn’t it?”
I agreed that it was.
“It was so dark there. Do you remember it being a lot darker than this?”
I told her I did.
“Those doctors scared me, too. I was glad you stayed with me. You didn’t have to. But it made me feel better.”
I thanked her for saying so. She started talking about times we had together, she, and I, and the baby, our baby who was now having her own baby, back then when we were still a family. I was so focused on the bad things that happened as we split up, I had forgotten to remember the good stuff that happened while we were still together. Some of her friends and family came over, and the ones who were there at the time laughed with us, and told stories. It was a beautiful time.
The little one didn’t arrive until very late that night, so we had to return in the morning to see her. In due time, it came my turn to hold her. I looked into her beautiful face, speechless. Then, she opened her eyes. They were blue eyes, deep as the deepest ocean. She looked at me, as if she were sizing me up. Then, in my mind, I felt her verdict:
“Where the hell have you been?”
Then, she closed her eyes and went back to sleep. Child, I’ve been lost. Lost, desolate, and wandering. My life got away from me. I was confused about what I wanted, and I ended up with nothing. But you’ve come now to light my path, little teacher. For you, I will be better.
JUST FOR TODAY: I will remember the power of the next generation to heal the brokenness of the last one, and I will remember to look for the memory of joy that often hides behind the memory of anger.
*** Copyright 2017 by Mud Toe Sasquatch – all rights reserved