It was on this very day, more than a couple handfuls of years ago, that daughter TJ came into my life.
Back then, it was about three o’clock in the morning when Mrs. Parkway awakened me to tell me that she thought it might be “getting to be about that time”.
I took the news very calmly. I got my two stopwatches out of the drawer (one for timing the pains and the other for timing the inter-pain intervals – I was seriously calm) and timed a couple of the inter-pain intervals. As I recall, the pains were about 12 to 15 minutes apart. Being really calm, I said, “I’M CALLING THE DOCTOR!”
The sleepy doctor listened to my babble and asked that I call him when the pains got to be about five minutes apart. After timing a couple inter-pain intervals, I decided I only needed one stopwatch. Besides, I was screwing things up trying to keep track of two watches.
The pains went something like this: Twelve minutes apart … twelve minutes apart … ten minutes apart … nine minutes apart … eight minutes apart … TWO MINUTES APART!! TWO MINUTES APART? WHAT HAPPENED TO SEVEN MINUTES APART AND SIX MINUTES APART? TWO MINUTES APART? HOLY SHIT!!”
I called the doctor back, and calmly said, ”THE PAINS ARE TWO MINUTES APART!! THEY WENT FROM EIGHT MINUTES APART TO TWO MINUTES APART!!” He said that I should bring Mrs. Parkway to the hospital, which was about a ten to twelve minute drive from home.
I calmly said to Mrs. Parkway, ”THE DOCTOR SAID WE HAVE TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL NOW!!! LET’S GO!! NOW!!”
As I was running around the house gathering up the stuff necessary to go to the hospital, including the pre-packed bag, I looked up the stairs and saw Mrs. Parkway slowwwwly brushing her hair in the bathroom, and I calmly said, “FOR CHRIST’S SAKE, LET’S GO! NOW!!”
As she continued to brush her hair, she said, “I knew it. I knew I’d look like hell when it was time to go to the hospital.” She was the one having the baby, and I was the one damned near having a stroke.
I got her into the car and hit the road, calmly at about eighty miles per hour, all the while hoping that I would not have to deliver the baby myself on the shoulder of the Garden State Parkway.
We pulled into hospital parking lot, and (I swear this is the truth) I ran like a madman into the hospital, screaming like a lunatic, “We’re here to have a baby!”
The woman behind the counter said, “You’re here to have a baby?”
“Yes, yes. We’re having a baby. Where should we go?”
The woman looked at me and asked, “Where’s your wife, sir?”
I turned around only to see her just managing to exit the car and begin the waddle towards the hospital entrance. It was a scene right out of I Love Lucy.
“Don’t worry sir. We’ll get her,” and an aide went outside and collected her in a wheelchair.
We were spirited up to the maternity ward and were placed in a small “labor” room. I won’t describe what the next couple hours were like other than to say. “Holy farookin’ shit”.
When nature finally got around to dictating the time of imminent birth, Mrs. Parkway was taken into the delivery room – without me. Remember, this was quite a few years ago, and it was in my pre-lawyer days when I worked in a pharmacology laboratory – a job that required that I read lots of medical stuff. As such, I knew just enough about biology, medicine and childbirth to be a menace in the delivery room. Instead of witnessing the wonder of the birth of my child, I would be watching the IV drip, the monitors and the doc’s every move. Consequently, I sweated out the next hour or so, calmly, in the waiting room.
It seems strange as hell now, but back then, you could smoke in the waiting room, and I breathed through cigarettes (calmly, of course) for the next hour or so.
Finally the doctor appeared and said, “You have a daughter.”
“Wow! A daughter!” I started to run in the direction of the pay phone (these were pre-cell phone days) to call relatives when the doctor said, “Don’t call anyone just yet.”
I damned near died. “Don’t call anyone just yet? What’s wrong?”
The doc laughed and said, “Nothing’s wrong, but wait until we weigh her, because the first question everyone will ask you is ‘How much does she weigh?’” Obviously, the doctor sensed how calm I was about all this.
In a few minutes, they brought her out for me to see. I gazed in wonderment at my beautiful daughter, and as I was counting fingers and toes, I was dumbstruck by what I saw.
I hollered, “Nurse! Nurse!”
“Yes sir? What is it?”
“It’s her feet! Look at her feet! THE BOTTOM OF HER FEET ARE BLACK! WHY ARE THE BOTTOM OF HER FEET BLACK?”
“That’s the ink we used to take her foot footprints, sir. We haven’t cleaned it off her yet.”
The nurse also must have been able to sense how calm I was.
It wasn’t long before the three of us were together, and I got to hold my beautiful baby girl for the first time. My heart completely melted, and it has stayed completely melted for all these years.
Happy birthday, TJ.