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 oâ€™clock in the morning when Mrs. Parkway awakened me to tell me that she thought it might be â€œgetting to be about that timeâ€.
I took the news very calmly.Â I got my two stopwatches out of the drawer (one for timing the pains and the other for timing the inter-pain intervals â€“ I was seriously calm) and timed a couple of the inter-pain intervals.Â As I recall, the pains were about 12 to 15 minutes apart.Â Being really calm, I said, â€œIâ€™M CALLING THE DOCTOR!â€
The sleepy doctor listened to my babble and asked that I call him when the pains got to be about five minutes apart.Â After timing a couple inter-pain intervals, I decided I only needed one stopwatch.Â Besides, I was screwing things up trying to keep track of two watches.
The pains went something like this:Â Twelve minutes apart â€¦ twelve minutes apart â€¦ ten minutes apart â€¦Â nine minutes apart â€¦ eight minutes apart â€¦ TWO MINUTES APART!!Â TWO MINUTES APART?Â WHAT HAPPENED TO SEVEN MINUTES APART AND SIX MINUTES APART?Â TWO MINUTES APART?Â HOLY SHIT!!â€
I called the doctor back, and calmly said, â€THE PAINS ARE TWO MINUTES APART!!Â THEY WENT FROM EIGHT MINUTES APART TO TWO MINUTES APART!!â€Â 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, â€THE DOCTOR SAID WE HAVE TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL NOW!!!Â LETâ€™S GO!!Â NOW!!â€
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, â€œFOR CHRISTâ€™S SAKE, LETâ€™S GO!Â NOW!!â€
As she continued to brush her hair, she said, â€œI knew it.Â I knew Iâ€™d look like hell when it was time to go to the hospital.â€Â 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, â€œWeâ€™re here to have a baby!â€
The woman behind the counter said, â€œYouâ€™re here to have a baby?â€
â€œYes, yes.Â Weâ€™re having a baby.Â Where should we go?â€
The woman looked at me and asked, â€œWhereâ€™s your wife, sir?â€
I turned around only to see her just managing to exit the car and begin the waddle towards the hospital entrance.Â It was a scene right out of I Love Lucy.
â€œDonâ€™t worry sir.Â Weâ€™ll get her,â€ 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 â€œlaborâ€ room.Â I wonâ€™t describe what the next couple hours were like other than to say.Â â€œHoly farookinâ€™ shitâ€.
When nature finally got around to dictating the time of imminent birth, Mrs. Parkway was taken into the delivery room â€“ without me.Â Remember, this was quite a few years ago, and it was in my pre-lawyer days when I worked in a pharmacology laboratory â€“ a job that required that I read lots of medical stuff.Â As such, I knew just enough about biology, medicine and childbirth to be a menace in the delivery room.Â Instead of witnessing the wonder of the birth of my child, I would be watching the IV drip, the monitors and the docâ€™s every move.Â Consequently, I sweated out the next hour or so, calmly,Â 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, â€œYou have aÂ daughter.â€
â€œWow!Â A daughter!â€Â I started to run in the direction of the pay phone (these were pre-cell phone days) to call relatives when the doctor said, â€œDonâ€™t call anyone just yet.â€
I damned near died.Â â€œDonâ€™t call anyone just yet?Â Whatâ€™s wrong?â€
The doc laughed and said, â€œNothingâ€™s wrong, but wait until we weigh her, because the first question everyone will ask you is â€˜How much does she weigh?â€™â€Â Obviously, the doctor sensed how calm I was about all this.
In a few minutes, they brought her out for me to see.Â 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, â€œNurse!Â Nurse!â€
â€œYes sir?Â What is it?â€
â€œItâ€™s her feet!Â Look at her feet!Â THE BOTTOM OF HER FEET ARE BLACK!Â WHY ARE THE BOTTOM OF HER FEET BLACK?â€
â€œThatâ€™s the ink we used to take her foot footprints, sir.Â We havenâ€™t cleaned it off her yet.â€
The nurse also must have been able to sense how calm I was.
It wasnâ€™t long before the three of us were together, and I got to hold my beautiful baby girl for the first time.Â My heart completely melted, and it has stayed completely melted for all these years.
Happy birthday, TJ.