Still, it's just twenty more days. I like to think of myself as a manly man who could endure twenty days of anything. I'm really just a big baby, though, so to help me through the twenty days, and to celebrate his return, I'm going to share my twenty favorite memories of Brad. I'm going to try and go in chronological order but since I'll be coming up with these off the top of my head some of them will probably end up out of order and I'll probably end up omitting a few things. Also, some memories will have to be grouped together otherwise this would end up being a list of a hundred or a thousand memories. I guess what I'm saying is this won't be a definitive list. It's just me writing about my buddy.
The Day He Was Born
There were things that made us think that day might be the day when we woke up that morning. Those of you that have been through it know what I mean. Still, we didn't feel the need to rush to the hospital or call the doctor or anything. We were pretty calm for first time parents. Mostly because she already had a checkup scheduled for nine in the morning anyway.
The doctor said labor would happen naturally in a few days but that he wanted to admit her and observe her because of a few concerns and that they might induce labor that day. I called friends and family and told them of the possibility and then we tried to pretend to be as calm and unconcerned as the doctor told us to be. About eleven in the morning the doctor explained to us that he wanted to induce labor that day because the umbilical cord was pressing against Brad's throat. He said that this wasn't doing any harm but he wanted to get him out of there before the umbilical cord could wrap around his throat and cause an actual problem. Brad's mom, Sherri, was of course more than ready for her pregnancy to be over with and was completely agreeable to this.
I called my mom and told her there was no hurry but that they were going to induce labor so her and dad needed to drive down sometime that evening. She laughed and said they were already on there way. When they got there Mom asked Sherri how she was feeling and looked over the monitors. Then she confidently declared that we would have a baby around eleven that night. It was like she had been through this a time or two before.
I smoked cigarettes with Dad and hugged Mom and tried to keep Sherri as calm and comfortable as possible. Dad and I cracked a lot of jokes because that's how we deal with tension and nervousness. Our jokes alternated between annoying Sherri and distracting and helping her feel better. I would've felt bad about this but really that's all a guy can do for a woman in labor; sometimes annoy her, sometimes comfort her.
The doctor wanted Sherri to walk so, even though she gave him a look like he was crazy, I helped her out of bed and we strolled the hallways. A contraction hit in the middle of our walk and we had to pause. Sherri looked at me in the middle of the contraction and told me she didn't think she would live through this. I shouldn't have laughed but there was something about the look on her face and the complete sincerity with which she spoke that struck me as funny and I couldn't help myself. Sorry Sherri. I did assure her though, after I stopped laughing, that she would indeed live through it and I hugged her tight.
As the afternoon turned into evening more family and friends showed up and I started to smoke more. My smoking became less because of nervousness and more of an excuse to take people outside with me and get them out of the hospital room. Sherri was becoming visible annoyed at all the people. I hope they didn't take that personally. I think rainbows and unicorns would annoy a woman in labor. Myself and the nurses asked Sherri several times if she wanted the room cleared but she was too nice to say so. Note to future mom's; while you're in labor is one time you can and should be completely selfish.
I've heard a lot of stories about fathers having a hard time dealing with labor, and seen all the television jokes about them passing out dealing with it, but I didn't have those kinds of troubles. During her contractions I would calmly hold her hand or rub her back and do my best not to show how much her being in that kind of pain concerned me. The actual birth was too exciting for me to be nauseating. No, the only time I had trouble was when they gave her the epidural. They had her sit up and hold onto me. They told me not to let her move when they stuck her with the needle as if anyone can hold a woman in labor getting a needle stuck in her spine still. I hugged her close and buried her face in my stomach so she couldn't see my eyes widen when I saw that big ass needle. I watched the needle go into her spine and I winced and reminded myself I was fortunate to have been born a male.
The epidural did it's job though and she felt better and relaxed. It may have did it's job too well though because things slowed down and she couldn't feel anything below her waist. Still, about ten o'clock it was clear Brad was coming. This time the room was cleared of visitors except for me and my mother. They had us hold Sherri's legs up and pull back on them when it was time to push because she couldn't feel her legs herself. At one point they had to tell my mom not to pull so hard because she almost had Sherri's leg behind her head. My mom doesn't know her own strength in times of excitement but I really think she was just trying to make sure her eleven o'clock prediction came true.
It's a good thing I'm not a doctor because as his head came out two inches then went back in one inch over and over again I wanted to just reach down and drag him into the world kicking and screaming. I didn't though. I just pulled on Sherri's legs when I was told too and kept assuring Sherri that she was doing good and would be okay. She called me a liar with her eyes. Soon the moment came when Brad was completely out of his mother and born. It was ten fifty-eight pm. He was either the most disgustingly cute thing or the most cute disgusting thing I had ever seen. The nurses put him under a heat lamp and told me to rub his foot so he would cry more and gain more oxygen. I gently rubbed his foot and the nurse scolded me and said I needed to rub harder like this. She rubbed his foot hard and he cried and I wanted to hit her. I knew that she was doing the right thing for him but I still wanted to hit her. I learned the irrational protectiveness of parenthood pretty quickly.
They cleaned him up and handed him to his mother. I looked at the two of them and probably had the biggest shit eating grin on my face that I'll ever have. I maintain to this day that those weren't tears, my eyes were just watering. I stroked both their hands and basked in the beauty of the moment but something wasn't quite right. Then I remembered the baseball with the Cardinals logo I had kept in my pocket all day and I put that baseball in his little hands. Now it was perfect.
All of the visitors were let back in and there were pictures taken and pass the baby was played. Then we were left alone in the room with our child for Sherri to try and feed him and put him to bed. She was completely exhausted, of course, and fell asleep holding him before he fell asleep. So I took him from her arms and for the first time really got to hold my son. I've never told anyone this but I as I talked to him and rocked him to sleep my eyes watered again. It was the damnedest thing. I don't know what was wrong with my eyes that night.