What do you mean you’re in the hospital?

08/22/2003

Volume #6

 

In this volume I planed to write about the last finishing touches to the nursery, stocking it with supplies and making last minute preparations while we watched the clock tick down to JoAnn’s due date. That’s what I was planning but that’s not what I’m going to write here, something funny happened on the way to typing this memory out, in a mini van running around town a phone rang. Actually it was my boss on a radio telling me to turn my cell phone on as JoAnn was going to call me. His voice was ramped up so I knew it was serious and since we had a paralyzed cat dying at home I feared the worst, through the tears and sobbing I deciphered “my water broke”, this was Wednesday morning. Now guys if your driving when you hear this all I can recommend is you pull over till your heart stops racing and figure out a clear course of action before you set off racing across town. “Where are you? You’re at the hospital good, how did you get there? You drove yourself…. You did what?” My wife never seizes to amaze me, her water breaks my cell is off so she calls her doctor who tells her to come in which she does driving herself in the frantic freaked out state she was in.

 

Now you have to remember we are still over four weeks from her due date we thought we had lots of time left and though all the lists and plans we made in preparation for Ziggy’s arrival not once did it ever cross our minds that this kid would show up early. It never occurred to me, we both make our livings in jobs where schedules and timetables are the basis for everyday life and we made the mistake of trying to put Ziggy on the same schedule too, well I guess we both forgot to fax him a copy that had her arriving in mid September because he was coming to dinner early.

 

Once I calmed down a bit I started to drive across town towards the hospital and wouldn’t you know it I got behind two little old ladies having a drag race to see who could get to the next red light last, I think I hit every red light on the way, lights I’d never seen red changed color and I felt my blood begin to boil. Relax I told myself remember the pre natal class we have hours before delivery after the water breaks. I was thinking of all the things we hadn’t done that were on the agenda for the weekend, all the major purchases were done but we had a couple big ticket items left still and we hadn’t even really considered packing a bag to have at the ready for when this moment finally did arrive. As I drove with my mind racing I figured I needed to make a plan so I called the hospital to ask how JoAnn was and what sort of time I had or if the baby was on it’s way now. As I suspected I had a little time so I carried on home after finally getting past the little old lady drag team and started to pack a bag for JoAnn and the baby.

 

I figured this should be easy we’ve traveled lots I know what she packs and I quickly stuffed some of her favorite things in her suitcase, I then went into the nursery to gather up some stuff for Ziggy already knowing what the hospital would provide from our tour I figured this would be easy. I grabbed diapers and receiving blankets and a bunch of cloths all of which were brand new on hangers with the tags still on them as washing them was a future plan, I left the tags on and stuffed them in, then I see a couple store bags on the floor. I inspect the contents to find post pregnancy nursing cloths; of course you idiot and I promptly dump the contents of the bag out on the floor and start loading in all these new cloths for JoAnn also with the tags still on them. In her bathroom I’m lost I don’t know what she’ll want so like a guy I take what I would pack a hair brush, tooth brush and a tube of toothpaste.

 

As the van I’m driving is a work vehicle I leave it on the street for my replacement to find and I make my way a half block to the skytrain station which only one stop later stops at the hospital. I’m excited and would love to yell out “MY WIFE’S HAVING A BABY” but I refrain and quietly board with the other passengers. I don’t sit, I can’t sit I’m too wound up I’m about to become a father and it really hits me what’s about to happen. I knew this day would come but even when you plan every last detail to still get blindsided like this was a shock. I’m just glad I set August 1st not September as the completion date for the nursery. Earlier in the week JoAnn started buying supplies for the room and she thought she’d budget herself to one store per week as she’d already found out the best places to buy everything she needed and had lists for all the stores but I said “the heck with it buy it all use the credit cards we’ll pay it at the end of the month, I’d rather have it in the house then have to scramble for it later” this was no time to be cheap, one of the smartest decisions I’ve made in years other wise it would be me out there doing the shopping and that just wouldn’t be pretty.

 

At the time I wasn’t all that keen on the hospital tour I just saw it as stealing a Monday evening at home away from me but truly it was great as when I walked through the front door I knew exactly where the elevator was which floor to stop at and how to snake my way through the hallway to the labor and delivery ward with out asking anyone, as if I’d stop to ask directions come on I’m a guy I’d just wander aimlessly till I found it but I knew where I was going and was thankful of that.

 

At Royal Columbian Hospital they have a room with four beds where they do there inspection and asses the patient as to how far along they are and set out a course of action, this was where I found JoAnn in bed number 1. She was freaked out scared and emotional and I knew I needed to be the rock to support her; we were in big trouble that was for sure. Once she’d updated me on what she knew was going on, her doctor at the clinic upstairs sent her here I was berated for having my cell phone off while she told me the tale of how she finally got a hold of me. She called her union hall to get the number for my shows production office then she got connected to my boss whom she knew would have some sort of radio contact with me who did just that and finally I got the call almost an hour after her water had broke but in my defense her due date was over a month away I shouldn’t be getting this call now but this was no time to argue.

 

The doctor did his inspection releasing another gush of water which freaked me out this time and his recommendation was we’d wait twenty four hours then reassess her condition to see if labour had begun on it’s own and just like that he was gone and JoAnn was sent upstairs to the maternity ward where she was like a couple other woman with out baby’s waiting to deliver. Or in her case waiting for her thirty-five week cervices to realize her membranes had ruptured and her premature baby was anxious to make his debut. We knew we weren’t going to be parents today which was good we got another night to collectively get ready for tomorrow and besides who wants to be born on the thirteenth? Sooner or later your birthday will land on a Friday not that we’re suppositious but the fourteenth had a nicer ring to it. Had this happened the day before it would have been on our eighth wedding anniversary. I also was driving the creator of the show I was working on to the airport the day before. It was JoAnn’s favorite writer Stephen King and when he found out my wife was due on Sept 19th (his birthday) he asked if I would name the child after him. Steve wasn’t that far of a stretch so I agreed. I guess I’ll have to get word to him I wouldn’t be fulfilling his request.

 

For now we were in a holding pattern, she wasn’t in labor but she couldn’t leave as they had her on a antibiotic drip every four hours so I set off to finish the shopping and get the last couple things we really needed before the baby arrived tomorrow. I was convinced we were having a boy not just because of the predominates of boys and lack of girls born in my family the past century but only a boy would show up early, I was always on time, it was my job and it was obvious Ziggy was a lot like his dad. I looked forward to meeting him tomorrow and I set off to find out where JoAnn parked the car and do some last minute shopping. It was going to be a long night for all of us.

Too Much Information

06/25/03

Volume # 5

Entering the third trimester is both a magical time and the scariest of realizations that this is all really going to happen. Up until that small bump showed up on JoAnn’s tummy we were just reading books and making plans for the arrival of some imaginary beast called a baby. But now it was really starting to look like she was pregnant and all our make belief was in fact reality. Mind you JoAnn has been eating a lot as of late with great regularity so the tummy bump may just be the early stages of Teamster gut but she claims it kicks.

 

I say she claims this because I’ve never actually felt the so-called kicks first hand myself. She tries to get my hand on her belly to feel the little punter but it always stops the second I touch her. Ziggy isn’t even born yet and already she hates me. How does he think that makes me feel when she won’t put on a demo for dad, we may have some serious father son, father daughter bonding issues already. I’m two months out from delivery and already he won’t listen to me, how’s a dad supposed to feel? I’m a failed father before she’s even out of the maternal compound.

 

So far everything has been pretty text book with the exception of a little growth spurt having Ziggy about three centimeters bigger than expected at this stage and the possibility of gestational diabetes. JoAnn was spilling sugar and though I just told her to just clean it up the doctor recommended a test that had her drink a glass of nasty syrupy orange liquid then an hour later they tap a pint of blood. At this moment we don’t have the results back yet but JoAnn’s not one to fail a test but she had nothing to study so we’ll just wait and see. The only outcome would be a modified diet plan at more regulated intervals, they tell us it’s really quite common.

 

If anyone ever tells you a pre natal class will be a lot of fun for you and your spouse, run. Get your fishing rod or your hiking boots go camping get tickets to a game or detail your car just be busy the day this goes down because the information that gets pumped into your head over the course of an entire day is not erasable. Up till this day my pre conceived notion of what the delivery of a baby was going to be like has been feed to me by what I’ve seen in movies or on TV, the reality of the matter is very different and far messier. The idea of this class is to alleviate any fears or concerns with regard to the delivery and the first waking days of your new baby and to better equip you for the actual birth but for me it scared the crap out of me. JoAnn too was a little overwhelmed and I think for the first time during her pregnancy a little worried. The nurse that taught the class Lois was very kind and informative but she let us in on things I don’t think either one of us had ever considered. It was a lot of information in a short time and though it was nice to talk to other couples suffering from the same thing ( pregnancy) it made it no easier to sit through. I think for me the low point was when Lois recommended that mom’s put a bunch of maxi pads in the freezer after spraying them with water and won’t it be nice for all you husbands to bring one of these little bundles of relief to your spouse. If I open the freezer months after the birth to get a Popsicle and am confronted by a freezer burnt maxi pad I think I’ll close the door and never go in there again. I’m sure this idea brings great relief to new moms but I don’t think I really want them mingling with our frozen treat supply.

 

When it comes to a woman’s cycle I like a lot of men have a “don’t ask don’t want to know policy” and clearly this was way more information than I was prepared to hear. I know she’ll have just given birth to my child and I will do anything to make the transition in our life easier for her, I’ll take out the garbage clean the cat’s litter box, prepare dinner, wash the dishes, do the shopping, even change diapers not necessarily in that order but I won’t be buying or fetching maxi pads from the freezer. Sorry Hun I love you and all but a man has got to draw the line somewhere.

 

The next main event we had to under go was to pre register at the hospital and tour the facilities where the birth will hopefully be taking place. I’m not a big fan of hospitals on any given day but I see their worth in the community if for nothing else to have debates over their funding and nursing shortage woos. The only piece of advice the nurse taking us on the tour told us that I retained was where to park your car so that’s a bonus when I need it. After that the next two hours were a blur.

 

The fetus removal room was a scary sterile looking affair with no windows lots of cold hard surfaces and as she showed us all the equipment I did get quite light headed and was sure I was going to hit the floor. Of course if your going to pass out and hit your head on a hard tile floor, a hospital is not the worst place for this to happen, “can I try some of that Demerol now please”? I did however much to my surprise stay on my feet and was glad for it because then she showed us one of the other eight delivery rooms, which was much lighter with lots of windows and a far warmer looking place to bring a new life into the world. The only reason she takes the tour to the nasty fetus frightening room is it’s bigger and easier to get the ten couples on the tour into. After the tour JoAnn wanted to know if I wanted to be the one to deliver the baby as she’d gladly pass that honor onto me which lead me to believe she’s not really looking forward to the whole ordeal either. I reassured her as best I could and promised her I didn’t think I’d be able to hear her screams at the end of the hall through the set of doors that separated the delivery room from the waiting area where I was sure I’d be sitting while she delivered our baby.

 

More than ever everything was starting to register that in two months we’d be doing this for real. Up till this point it was fun nesting, planning the nursery picking colors and doing the reno to our home to accommodate the impending change to our lives but doing the class and watching all the video’s of births and seeing the room where this was going to take place was really starting to sink in. We’ve been watching a lot of reality TV on TLC and all the shows about new borns and the delivery all looked a lot less complicated and scary than it really does in person. It’s kind of the same as watching a home improvement show and trying to replicate something Norm Abraham demonstrated so simply with nothing more than a couple hand tools that all looked the same as the ones you have in your own basement, the reality is a far harder thing to build yourself.

 

The more I read and prepare myself for the blessed event the less in control I feel and more scared about the future I become. An even worse thing is JoAnn who’s already been on a bit of an emotional roller coaster was starting to get worried too and up till now she’s been very confident. So now it falls to me, do I step up and stand tall and show her everything will be ok and reassure her, I guess that’s what I should be doing to ease her worry but I don’t know how much good I’ll be passed out on the floor under the bed while she delivers.

I’m Let in on the Secret

02/19/2003

Volume #1

I was sitting in a chair in the living room of our home when the news was delivered to me like a blow to the head. She asked me if I remembered when I was twenty-five and had chicken pox which of course I did, don’t even get me started on that one. There was a chance that having this childhood aliment at that age could cause sterility in adult males but on this day she informed me apparently not in my case. It took a moment to process what she said and I sat there dumbfounded with a blank look on my face still starring at the TV. “Are you saying you’re what I think your saying? Is this your cleaver way of telling me?” Apparently it was and she had confirmed her own suspicion earlier in the day with one of those sticks you pee on. It shouldn’t really be such a surprise she stopped taking her birth control pills back at the end of August when we decided maybe we should throw caution to the wind and see what happens and I guess now we know.

I think really she was ready to take this step a couple years ago and only made little suggestions here and there but never really forced the issue. If there is one thing my wife has learned in nearly twelve years together it was never to try and force me to do anything, it was a sure way to not make what you wanted to happen really happen if you tried to force it on me. Her being the cleaver manipulative woman she was knew this and only dropped her subtle but well placed hints and waited biding her time till I finally came around to her way of thinking. She knew to be successful she had to make it look like it was my idea when in reality it was all part of her own master plan that she hatched years earlier before we even got married seven years ago, possibly while we were still living together, though I had my suspicion this plan was hatched June 8th 1990 the night of our first date.

A blind date set up by a friend of mine I worked with who was dating her best friend who selfishly wanted to piece this third wheel off so he could make some time with his girlfriend, that’s when I was drawn into the plan. Her name was JoAnn and I knew her father already as he was the guy responsible for the coffee machine where I worked and I often spoke to him when he came in every couple weeks to restock our coffee and clean the machine. The only thing I was told about JoAnn by my friend Dave was that she that she was a really nice girl and had big beautiful …eyes yeah that’s it, that was all I needed so I was in.

I was twenty-three and single for a couple years and starting to worry I’d never meet that one special girl. I never went out much other than with a couple friends and being a relatively shy person I wasn’t one for talking to girls in bars. I’d been seeing a girl I went to high school with off and on for quite a few months but for me there was little magic and I was just putting in time till someone came along to light me up. With little other prospects on the horizon I agreed to the blind date, something I’d never done before so I didn’t have the first hand knowledge to know this was doomed to failure, there was no voice telling me to jump out now, don’t worry about the parachute just jump save yourself. So blindly I agreed and hoped for the best fearing the worst but it was just a couple hours of my life I’d never get back I wasn’t giving the girl a kidney or anything radical like that.

When the car pulled up in front of the house I was as nervous as a geek in a sweater his mom had knit for him could be at meeting a new girl, did I think I’d get any action tonight? Not a chance looking like this. Apparently She’d not been given the same opportunity to know she was being set up and sat blindly in the back seat of the car while Dave knocked on the door to retrieve me. I can only imagine the words exchanged by her to her friend Melanie who was in on the fix, having already met me and my sweater weeks earlier at a local bar. First impressions are important and short of staring at her in the back seat as we sat nervously beside each other I avoided eye contact with her and spent more time talking to Dave in the front seat but when I first climbed into the back seat with her and said “hello” I was blown away by her radiant smile and beauty. She had this weird hair thing going on I couldn’t figure out at the time but I was sporting a stupid crappy looking ponytail so who was I to point fingers. Over drinks that night we sat oppisite one another and got lost in conversation after conversation as we had a lot of interests from music to favorite comic strips in common. The whole concept of love at first sight was unfamiliar to me and truly I didn’t believe in such a thing but there was indeed magic and electricity in the air and my stomach didn’t stop it’s nervous flip flops till sometime later that night after we said good bye to one another knowing full well we would see one another again. She wasn’t pissed at her friend for setting her up now and I think it was somewhere around when we were talking about our favorite Beatle song quotes that she hatched her plan of attack.

She’d date this guy for the next ten or so months spending countless hours together then she’d move into his Niagara falls home with him for a couple years while she finished college. Then she’d move with him across the country to isolate him from family and friends. After a year out west when they’d been together five years she’d get him to propose marriage then it was just a matter of time till the trap closed fully on him and she’d harvest his sperm one night and have his baby. It was a cleaver scheme only one a true master mind could hatch and follow through on but she was a woman so that gave her the edge over me and she was patient, I never even saw it coming after all those years.

We still had the formality of the prerequisite doctors visit to confirm hers and the pee sticks suspicion that she was in fact pregnant, there was always the chance this was a great miss understanding and things would return to normal as quickly as they had been upset. The following Friday was set for the doctor’s appointment and I wandered around the house nervous all day awaiting the official word, lets face it those pee sticks are about 99 % accurate so I already knew the out come but it was something to get it from a doctor trained in these things there was always a slim chance she just had a hormonal in balance or some form of cancer. The call came in a few minutes after the appointment that confirmed she was clinically diagnosed as pregnant…. With child…a mommy to be which made me a father to be and I had so little time to prepare.

After years together and seeing friends and family have children I’d shake my head in wonder at the amount of responsibility involved in such an undertaking, I couldn’t believe how grown up these friends of ours where to have children. It was remarkable and I wondered if I would ever grow up myself and take this plunge, every time I thought of it I got scared and retreated like a frightened rabbit. JoAnn was banking on the fact I’d come around. She didn’t want to face the reality of divorcing me and finding someone new to procreate with her if she couldn’t get me around to the idea myself. It was a long trip but I finally got it on my own or at least while sleeping with my dog Abbey, that’s not as creepy as it sounds we were on a camping trip.

After a well-deserved break from work I took off camping just my dog and me and we headed north not knowing where or how far our journey would last. After a week we crossed into Alaska but by the time we were through, emotionally we’d traveled a lot further. I think we were four of five days out when I found myself sitting in the Yukon enjoying the warm summer sun watching Abbey play with a little girl at the next camp site when it really hit me and it hit me hard. There was a family of four next to us and seeing Abbey play with this little girl and her brother did something to me and caused me to well up a moment. I was alone and probably that’s why it happened in the first place had JoAnn been there the spell may not have been cast but I liked the idea that this could be my own daughter playing with our dog as we had a daddy /daughter camping trip. I wasn’t getting any younger and I liked the idea of this, I didn’t think about all the hard or crappy aspects of child rearing at that moment like I was prone to do most of the time always seeing the negative. I just saw a pure moment of a little girl playing with a dog and I was hooked. Had Abbey not come with me I wouldn’t have reached this moment and it was my idea to bring her to spare JoAnn from walking her before and after work everyday and now I had to wonder had she suggested I take her? Was it really my idea or was Abbey part of the conspiracy to trick me into feeling this way. No matter I did and it freed a spirit in me I wasn’t truly familiar with but it put a smile on my face and made the rest of our trip to Alaska very fulfilling. I really couldn’t wait to get home to JoAnn. I needed to let her know after just over twelve years of trying she’d finally broke me and I was both ready and wanted to have children I needed them in fact, my biological clock that I’d been hitting the snooze button on for years finally woke something up in me, you did it girl congratulations I was ready.

Now here I am at thirty-five years old starring down the barrel of a whole new chapter in my life. So far I’d spent over a third of my life with this woman now we’d be sharing ourselves with someone new, an amalgamation of our genes someone wholly new a son or a daughter it didn’t matter because after all this time I was ready to grow up and after only a few months without birth control we’d hit the genetic jackpot my wife was pregnant and I couldn’t be happier.