Chicago, IL 3:23 AM December 13, 2011 at 22 and a half inches, 9lbs and 6 amazing ounces my first child, my son Noah made his entrance to the world.
What I learned? The placenta and me have a lot in common, could be useful in the future, nobody talks about it, and is the part of the birth that just has to be dealt with. After birth and after thought is what we are and that is cool.
I went into the day being supportive, labor had to be induced, I knew the day would be long and luckily it lasted only 10 hours (I am sure there is someone I am very close to that would not talk to me for the rest of the week and if she had the energy choke the hell out of me for saying ‘only’). The most important parts of this are healthy baby and healthy mommy this was not about me. I did my part in causing this day and will learn to play my role under the direction of the two stars of this event.
A few of my friends sent me texts asking how I was holding up and my response was “this is not about me”. I have taken mental notes from family members and friends and went into this knowing that I could not be present and have the same impact on the event. There is nothing in the world that could have kept me from seeing my son born… unless it involved $10,000,000 and knowledge of every tax loop-hole the Republicans are protecting, my son could use a rich father too he should be in the 1%.
I ready for the treatment I will receive, to prepare for my role in this production I have studied every non-essential member of groups, teams, and pairs for the last 50 years. I have read up on the feelings of Tito Jackson, the other two members of the Police, every member of Young Money not named Lil’ Wayne, Drake, or Minaj. I reached out to and spent time with Dan Quayle, the other guys from Maroon 5, Kobe Bryant’s back-up, reporters on CNN not named Anderson Cooper, and Jon Cryer from ‘Two and a Half Men”. It is surprising how easy it was to get in contact with these people, most of them are still listed in the phone book and in the case of Jesse Carmichael from Maroon 5, I was leaving a message for Jesse while doing that my phone beeped with a call waiting. I took that call said ‘hello’. “Hey this Jesse, sorry it took so long for me to call you back Rob. What’s going on? Wanna hang? I can fly you out to LA! Better yet where are you at? I’ll just drive there; I could use something to do”. Kind of sad, I just hung up on him when he started to Google me.
Even more surprising was that I received phone calls from Gloria Cain, both of Newt Gingrich’s ex-wives, and Nick Cannon. So as you can see I am ready to be ignored by others and not made reference to by anyone including my spouse. This should be minimally humbling for me; my son may actually have some respect for me after this.
Wrong, the nurse comes out to roll my wife to the room. That is fine, one problem, I was standing in front of the wheelchair. I am 6’4” I am not invisible, but I do not exist today. Everyone comes in and speaks directly to the mommy-to-be, which is the right thing to do. I take issue when they try to include me int the process. “Ok daddy, you just keep sitting down in that chair like you are, that is a nice hat you have on. What is that the Cubs?”
“No, it’s my hair. I haven’t had time to get a haircut. By the way, I’m standing right next to you. I’m like right behind you… hello?”
“So daddy’s a Cubs fan, that’s nice.”
We bought in a doula, not that we were going for natural child-birth. All medication was an option going into the day. Why not use everything available a combination of natural and modern science is a great combination. The doula arrived to the labor room, she was carrying an exercise ball and some snacks. Awesome, some unique relaxation techniques for mom and something for us to snack on through the night… how nice is this? Wrong, before I could tell her hello, she threw the exercise ball in my hands took the seat I was sitting in, ripped open the snacks and began eating. Apparently the exercise ball was to keep me occupied. While they are doing real work I could do some stability sit-ups and work on my core.
I had such a fear that I would be called every name possible, say something that would irritate and cause great anger that I was so careful with my words, that it is possible that if someone documented every word I said the entire 10 hours they would form a haiku. By the time the doula showed up, the baby was well on his way. An epidural was administered and 8 hours of slow progress went into hyper-drive. My wife went from 4cm to 9cm in less than an hour, in simple terms… IT IS ON!
The doula actually took the heat I was expecting to get, it probably did not help that she was arrive a couple of hours later than when she was really needed. Once the needle went into the spine, the doula was to be regulated to camera operations and shut the fuck up duty. The doula would make suggestions and in return get pretty much a verbal slap.
“Just try to breath”
“Obviously I am breathing, I’m not dead”
“I’ll just rub your leg”
“Actually could you stop that, the epidural has kicked in my legs are numb, and your hands feel like sandpaper”
I have done a great job keeping my mouth shut, such a good job that the person she handpicked to be the voice of reason in the room is getting the verbal jabs. Cool, I will keep this going until my son gets here so I can finally get some attention and he can stare at me.
Do not think that I was smug about the direction of those daggers. When the doula took it and had a tough moment, I looked at her with a supporting look, even offered to get her some water. It was the right thing to do, I needed her there taking that attention away from me. This is the best decision this family has ever made, since my great-uncle pistol whipped a restaurant owner for giving him cold food and the entire family left Mississippi before they got strung-up!
My wife is struggling supporting her head by now, I place a pillow behind her neck. She says “thanks”, I am #winning!!! A few minutes later, my wife is still struggling with her neck and the pillow is a source of irritation. “You need some help baby?” What the hell did I say that for…
“I don’t need any help from you. Here take this damn pillow!”
The pillow was thrown at me, hitting me directly in my face. Where in the hell did she get aim from? Stunned by the display of Brett Favre like accuracy and the sudden show of anger and frustration directed towards me, I looked at the doula for the same support I had been given her. I just needed a kind look, something to tell me that I should not take any of that personally. Only to look at the doula and to find her lips twisted up to the side with a “that’s what the fuck you get” look on her face.
Not long after that, the baby arrived. I will spare all the details, I am under the impression all of you took 6th grade Health classes and have the act of child-birth burned into your memories. I will share that Noah’s heartbeat got seriously low and we became scared. After he came out, it was only a couple of seconds but seemed like an eternity to me, he was there on the bed completely still. I immediately prayed for his well-being and asked God to let him be okay. He moved his little arm and cried a little, the best cry I have ever heard in my life. It helped that he only cried for less than 5 seconds so it never reached “okay kid that’s enough” levels.
He was cleaned, weighed, checked, tested, foot prints taken, all I could do is stand there and look at him. The nurse said he was 22.5 inches long, tied the record for longest baby born at that hospital… already in the history books, good job kid! Finally I said something, after being speechless and on the verge of tears for minutes. I said, “hey Noah, I waited so long to see you”. He opened his eyes like he recognized my voice. I said “he looks like he knows my voice”. The doula said, “He does”. Great moment, this is what I was waiting for some attention from my son.
His blood sugar was a little low, so they kept him to check levels. He was not near us too much after the first bonding period with mommy. All wanted was that moment where he would be that person that would confirm my part in this process. After seeing him, the usual things take place that should take place for any father. Protecting him, giving him every opportunity, immediate comfort with letting go anything that gets in the way of your time with him, and that love at first sight is indeed possible. I also made a renewed commitment to my dreams and goals, because he deserves to see me loving what I do for a living. He deserves to know that it is possible to make dreams realities. I believe the best way for me to provide for him is through my dreams. Not because of money, but because he deserves to have a father that is happy and at peace with his own life.
I think about watching Bears games with him on my lap. How I cannot wait to see his mother feeding him and how much healthier he will be from that. That I wish my mother were alive to see his face and that I wish she were alive so I could still see hers. I am cherishing the possibilities of time with my son and accepting every responsibility that comes with it. Finally, he comes to the room. After more much-needed bonding time with mommy, it is time for him and I to have that moment I have waited for what is at this point 24 hours of being ignored.
And how does Noah justify my much-needed time with him:
Time/date stamp is wrong
Yes that is my son… a very humbling moment. He is allowed…