The-Child-Who-Would-Become-Known-As-The-Mouse arrived at 2008 January 20 17:13. And Life changed.
The Wife was strapped to the operating table, feeling nothing from about her mid-back below because of the spinal block that had to be performed because the epidural wasn’t working. I had to wait a significantly longer amount of time to enter the OR because of the delay in getting The Wife to the point where the actual C-section could be performed. I was ushered into this sterile aqua/blue ninja inhabited, machine infested room and guided to a spot by The Wife’s head where I could continue in ‘sharing’ the ‘birth experience’ with her (cue laugh track).
The Wife smiled at me. I smiled back. She couldn’t see me smile back because I had joined the aqua/blue ninja crew. I probably squinted my eyes. I was wearing my glasses. I remember that annoyed me a little. I don’t like to wear my glasses. She had teared up a little. The ninja nurse-anesthetist wiped The Wife’s eyes. I think I tried to be amusing. I don’t remember if I was. I was just staring at her, blathering like an idiot. One of the aqua/blue ninjas (maybe it was the aqua/blue ninja doctor, might’ve been the aqua/blue ninja nurse, I don’t really know, they all had masks on) told us that everything was going well, the baby’s vital signs were very strong and it was all ‘progressing’ well. The ninja also cautioned us to not worry if the baby didn’t cry or squall initially after being taken from the womb (‘untimely ripped’ ran threw what was functioning of my brain… Shakespeare… go look it up) because she normally would have been able to clear her mouth of fluid if she had gone through natural child birth instead of the C-section. In fact it was better if she didn’t make any noise or sound because of the possibility of aspiration of some birth-fluid which could cause complications, so don’t worry. Can you say, “Wrong thing to say,” during this procedure? You don’t tell a parent, no matter how new, to not worry. We will worry. Especially if you tell us not to (Those late night phone calls that begin “Mom/Dad, first of all, everyone’s ok, don’t worry,” come to mind).
There was a stool beside the nurse-anesthetist by The Wife’s head, and I sat there, blathering to The Wife. The aqua/blue ninjas had put a sheet vertically between the operation site and The Wife’s head, I’m guessing to spare her the sight of her innards being on display to the world. It also prevented her from seeing what I saw. Which could explain the following events and resultant dialogue.
The Wife and I exchange pleasantries while the aqua/blue ninjas did their jobs of staring intently at the machines. It was just a few moments, actually, after I had been escorted into the OR. Or perhaps that whole Theory of Relativity was happening again and I was at the opening ‘pretty girl’ stage. As I’m trying to say something suitably distracting to The Wife, the nurse-anesthetist grabs me under my elbow and physically lifts me up from the stool just in time for me to witness the aqua/blue ninja doctor pull our daughter from The Wife’s abdomen. I was not prepared. I was completely and utterly astounded at what I saw. I was (unfortunately) not speechless.
“Oh. My. God,” was what I said.
Now, let me explain something. Hindsight is truly 20/20. When witnessing the birth of your child via C-section while your wife is strapped helpless, feelingless below the middle of her back, on an operating table with her innards open to the world and an aqua/blue ninja doctor has just pulled/removed/taken her/our first child from inside her, “OMG” is probably not the best choice of utterances.
“What?!?! What is it?!?!”
Again, this was probably not the smartest thing to say in that current circumstance. But I do have my reasons. Firstly, I am a male and that means actions, especially during times of extreme stress, do tend to be prevalent, i.e. the speech centers of the brain go on auto-pilot. And secondly the baby was big, at least comparatively. Now, let me defend my lapse of speech. My wife is a petite woman, despite her personal assertion that she is as big as everyone else. And contrary to her inability to reach things on the higher shelves in the kitchen, she refuses to be dissuaded on this point. In spite of her continued argument to contrary, she is smaller than the average bear. The Wife thinks she’s a Kodiak. In reality, she’s more of the koala variety (At least in size. In ferocity, I’m thinking Polar Bear). And even in the later days of her pregnancy, she never appeared to be carrying a large baby inside her belly. I mean she had organs and intestines, etc. inside prior to the nine month growth. How much of that could really be actual baby? The ob-gyn predicted the baby would weigh around 7 1/2-8 pounds, about average, perhaps a little on the upper side of average. The-Child-Who-Would-Become-Known-As-The-Mouse weighed 8 pounds 6 ounces. A few months prior to the arrival of The Mouse, there was a news report about a Russian woman who had a 17 pound baby. Along with AMA, size of baby is not a joking matter to a pregnant female. My pronouncement was a cause of much concern and consternation to The Wife. Remember she is strapped to the operating table with a sheet blocking her view. She can’t see our newly born daughter. My exclamation was probably not the wisest ‘choice’ of words. So when I see this whitish/blue/purple dripping mass of a baby the aqua/blue ninja doc is hefting up, all I can think is “Damn. That Belly was All Baby!” (I’ll probably pay for that last statement, even though I am just being honest in what was happening in that moment).
Now, I must have had some sort of brain activity resume (or survival instinct kicked in) because I followed up with “She’s Beautiful!” Which she was. And is. Realize that a child at the moment of birth is a Beauty that only a parent can love. The ‘birth experience’ is not pretty. Not by a long shot. Anyone ever says to you, “Hey! Wanna watch a video of our sweet child being born?” Decline. Rapidly. Run for the door and d NOT come back. The actual ‘birth experience’, ultimately, is very messy. Very wet, very bloody, very birth-fluidy, and very yucky, especially when it has to happen via C-section. And it is indescribably Beautiful. It is a wondrous paradox.
And then, before the ninjas could react or clean her up, The-Child-Who-Would-Be-Called-The-Mouse squeaked. Three times. I’m positive one of the ninja nurses giggled. And I laughed, “She sounds just like a mouse!” And Life changed. The ninjas cleaned The Mouse up, wrapped her in swaddling clothes and passed her off to me. I took her very carefully and bent down with her so The Wife could see our little girl and give her a kiss (The Wife was still strapped to the operating table. She had to watch us walk out of the room, leaving her with the aqua/blue ninjas. There were more complications for her, major blood loss, the ninja doctor vacillating back and forth on the necessity of a transfusion for her, etc. She spent well over an hour in recovery before they wheeled her back to our room. I love The Wife immensely, but I didn’t notice that she hadn’t come back in the 15-20 minutes they told me it would take. I didn’t notice the passage of time any longer. I was holding the whole world in my hands. The Wife understands and forgives me for this lapse. We agree on where our worlds now begin and end). One of the ninja nurses led me as I held The Mouse out of the room to the nursery where an unmasked ninja nurse took all the vitals and record the information required. I didn’t look away from The Mouse the entire time I walked down the hall to the nursery. I’m amazed I didn’t run into a wall or trip. The sheer enormity of my world became at once constricted to this squirming, squeaking, swollen, red-faced bundle and exploded into the Infinite Universe, beyond comprehension.
One last Shakespeare quote, from my favorite of his comedies:
Don Pedro: … for out a’ question, you were born in a merry hour.
Beatrice: No, sure, my lord, my mother cried, but then there was a star danced, and under that was I born.
Silent Night, Holy Night, Child of God, Love’s Pure Light
“Poppa? Is that song about me?”
Yes, my darling little girl, my sweet, sweet Mouse. That song is about you.