And So It Begins…

stageoffools

11:30 PM, November 26, 1991.

The hospital delivery room is nothing short of organized chaos.

People moving rapidly from place to place. Doctors in. Doctors out. Nurses here. Equipment there. Everything is oscillating madly, yet, with a purpose. All of the activity seems… directed. Like a virtuoso musician with a finely tuned instrument, the movement is unbelievably furious, but each individual movement is directed at a finely crafted purpose. No energy is wasted.

Somewhere in all of this directed confusion is my the woman who was my wife. She’s buried under layers of sterile sheets and fussy nurses.

I’ve slipped into a sort of walking unconsciousness. The world has gone to an otherworldly white color, and I’ve disconnected. My heart is threatening to hammer its way out of my chest. I’m certain I’m going to have a heart attack at any second. I can actually hear the blood running through me in my ears.

Somewhere, a disembodied voice from somewhere far away is prompting me to “Look! Look Mr. Athair!”

I’m completely frozen up.

Kind hands on my shoulder direct me to a station in front of a raised blanket, under which is the woman who was my wife’s lower body. As if she’s been cut in half in some bizarre nudists magic trick, and I’m being asked to watch her feet wiggle as proof she’s still alive.

But it’s not her feet exactly that’s wiggling.

There seems to be blood everywhere. There’s something coming out of her, and like those funny “guess what this is” pictures of everyday items at extreme close-ups, at first I can’t place it. Then it hits me that it’s a tiny head.  A tiny living head. Coming out of my wife.

The world starts to swim away, and I can feel my legs starting to give out.

More kind hands grab me, and hold me up. They were prepared for this, apparently. I hear an amused voice say “Called that one.” They had a pool going on whether or not I was a “fader”. Someone had just won it. They were ready.

More confusion.

More blood.

Time lapse memories. Not just a head anymore. Shoulders, arms, then legs.

“It’s a beautiful baby girl!” another disembodied voice says.

Still more kind hands. Grabbing me. Turning me around.

Someone is stuffing a pair of surgical scissors in my hand.

Someone shoves something that looks like a bloody eel in my face and says simply “Cut!”. My leg’s buckle again. Kind hands again. Someone takes my hand, and works the scissors for me like I’m a three year old. The umbilical cord snaps in two.

More disembodied voices.

“ Six pounds!”

“Nine Ounces!”

“Twenty Two Inches!”

“All ten toes!”

“All ten fingers!”

“No problems!”

“Completely healthy!”

“Wrap her up!”

A very young doctor grabs my hand like I’m an invalid. Shakes it profusely. I don’t remember seeing him here before. I’m sure he’s been here the whole time.

“Congratulations! What a pretty little peanut baby you have!”

The young doctor had unknowingly just supplied a nickname for this little girl that she is still referred to today.

A small, wriggling bundle is laid on my wife’s stomach. Peanut is crying. My wife is crying. I’m crying.

It’s been a long, wrenching trip.

This was not easy.

We had been trying for many years to achieve this moment.

There had been a lot of pain, and heartache on the way.

Years of work, and worry. The vague fear that one or both of us were infertile. Years of agonizing and “why?”. Medical tests. More medical tests.

Then a series of heartbreaks.

Miscarriages. Three of them. One late term.

More years of worry.

Finally, this one, perfect, shining moment.

The years of work and worry were over now.

This little girl was no “oops”, or “surprise”.

This little girl was the answer to years of prayers and effort.

I went home that night, and prayed some more. Grateful prayers of thanks.

We had wanted nothing more than to be parents. God had granted us that wish.

As I drifted off to sleep that night, I felt one great weight lift from me, and another great weight settle on me.

We were parents now. We had, somehow, miraculously, actually created another human being. And now… we were responsible for her. Completely, entirely, wholly, responsible for every aspect of her. Feeding her. Protecting. Nurturing her. Teaching her.

We had been granted our wish.

It was all up to us now.

And So It Begins.

 

ATHAIR’S NOTE :

This piece was written many years ago. The “wife” in this piece is, of course, my ex wife. Framed against the backdrop of a “high conflict” divorce, it seems particularly poignant that when all was said and done, all the years of “work and worry” would end in a way that would cause heartache and drama between several families for decades.

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