Friday, January 27, 2006

Birthday Boy

Today is The Lad's first birthday -- my first chance to mark the anniversary of one of the most wonderful events in my life. I know that the memories and sentiments i'm experiencing are pretty common to all parents, but they're special to me, so I thought I'd share.

I remember the fear I felt when, almost a week before his birth, The Feared Redhead's water broke, 6 weeks prior to her due date. I remember trying to keep myself calm while I drove the couple of miles to the hospital. I remember how lonely and exhausted I was by the time that weekend was over and I was going to bed alone on a Sunday night, knowing I'd have to go to work the next day and every day until she went into labor.

I remember the call at 5 AM on a work day to ask me how to deal solitaire. "Don't panic". "I already am".

I remember getting another call on Thursday morning letting me know that she was in labor. I remember the long hours waiting for things to pick up steam, while she was given Pitosin and an epidural. I remember the decision being made that since she had only been at 4 cm or so the last time they checked, I should go home, feed the dog and let her out to reileve hersef, then come back. I remember being two blocks from the parking lot, still next to the hospital, when my cell phone rang: Get back here, she's at 9 1/2!.

I remember doing everything I could to support her, to help her, to root for her. She's been very gracious in letting me know I did a good job. I remember how slow the progress was, and the increased fear I felt when the OB/GYN explained the possibility of having to use suction and the possible repercussions. I remember the moment when the doctor said "Episiotomy", and how it scared TFR so much she got the dry heaves, and how those heaves gave The Lad just enough of a push to get him out, and hhow the doc had to drop her scalpel in order to get turned back around in time to catch him. I remember the suspense as we waited to find out the baby's gender. I remember being elated that he was a boy, and guilty for being so happy, because TFR wanted a girl.

I remember that when they put him in my arms, he was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, and how I fell instantly, irrevokably in love with him. I remember turning to my wife to tell her how beautiful our baby boy was, and being unable to speak because of how beautiful she looked to me, how deeply in love I fell with her all over again in that instant.

And then I remember her throwing me a curveball, and how I swung and missed. She asked me, "Who does he look like"? I didn't know. He was gorgeous, but he was too new for me to pick out family traits. So in my panic, I accidentally let my Inner Smartass out, and despite my own sentimental emotional state, when she pressed me again, "Who does he look like", did I reply with "You" or "An angel" or "I don't know but he's beautiful"? No, I blurted out, "WINSTON CHURCHILL!" (oh come on, you know it's true -- all babies look a bit like him) A little part of me is still in the doghouse over that gaffe.

I remember holding him, singing "Whisky in the Jar" to him (he still loves it when I sing Irish drinking and folk songs to him, especially that one. I remember seeing him in that crib in the NICU, I remember hating that we had to leave him there. I remember how precious my NICU Parent ID badge was to me. I remember leaving for work early, and stopping at the hospital to hold him for a few minutes, and the way it calmed me when I started to fret about the future, about finances, about being a good parent.

I remember the joy when we finally took him home, and how it was tempered by having to keep him strapped to a cardiovascular monitor for the first moth to warn us of any "Bradies" or apneas. I remember flying to him the minute that monitor so much as chirped. And I remember how wonderful it felt when that thing finally came off, and I could once again hold him unobstructed, and how wonderful that felt.

There's a whjole year's worth of memories, but those are the ones that his birthday reminds me of. Happy birthday, Chay Baron. Your daddy loves you very much.

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