Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Birth

            I believe it. I see it. He’s sleeping in my lap at the hospital right now as I type – his gorgeous tiny lips so delicately nestled under his little fist. Even though we knew this was coming for nine months, I’m amazed. I’m a father again. This precious cutie pie already astounds me.
            Joshua Ephraim Risho was born 7lbs 2oz this morning, and he’s already showing promise of being a piano player, athlete, and artist.
            At 11:45pm Michelle woke up drenched and confused. Her water broke in the middle of her dreams and it was everywhere, all over the newly cleaned sheets. Thankfully, when Michelle had changed the sheets a couple of days ago she’d followed the inspiration of a friend of hers and put down a pad on her side of the bed, which soaked up nearly everything.
            I shook my head in amazement (and also to wake up). That could have been a big cleanup job. Good thinking ladies!
            Michelle got on the phone with Siamak right away. “The water broke. Get over here.”
            He was literally on our doorstep within half an hour.
            I wanted to go back to sleep, but couldn’t. Based on the last time, I knew I’d want as much sleep as possible, but how can a man sleep when the labor is moving along so quickly? The contractions escalated so rapidly, I wondered if the baby would be born way faster than the first one.
            I thought of some of the stories we’d heard recently of people having births in random places for their second child – like the lobby of their apartment, the car, or on their couch. I made some tuna sandwiches and we shot out the door to the hospital.
            It turns out the birth came quickly, but not as fast as the stories we’d heard. It took about eight hours in total.
            The birthing process was much more painful than last time, according to Michelle. I just shake my head, because from my perspective it was pretty darn similar. My theory is that she blocked out all the pain she went through from the first time, so the second time it was more of a surprise. I’d hear her tell the stories of the birth to other women and think, “Are you nuts?! You’re telling it as if there was no pain! You were in a lot of pain. I know. I was there.”
            But of course, I have kept my mouth mostly shut in these kinds of moments. I wonder if that was a bad thing, after all, because this time I felt like she wasn’t prepared for the pain like she was the first time. She says it was more difficult because it went so quickly. This may be true, but I wonder if she wasn’t in the right mental space.
            Her favorite place was sitting on the toilet. I suppose every woman has her quirks. I can’t remember her “mantra” last time, but I hear it’s normal for a woman to repeat the same line over and over the entire birth. This time it was, “O God!” She must have said that at least fifty times. Sometimes, it was said like a prayer, pleading with God to make it easier. Other times it was used as an exclamation, and drawn out to fifteen syllables. As in, “O my Go-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-od!”
            At one point she turned and looked at me and said, “Ephie! You should be thankful you don’t have to go through this!”
            I nodded my head and thought, “That was uncanny! I was just thinking the exact same thing!”
            Off in the distance the sound of another newborn baby screaming as it took its first breaths pierced the air. It gave encouragement to Michelle just when she was getting worn down, almost as if to say, “Kids get born all the time. You can do it.”
            Our doctor was a big positive contributor to the delivery. He told me stories about some of the deliveries he’s done, including one woman who gave birth in the SUV as her husband hurtled toward the hospital. He found the little boy in the woman’s baggy sweatpants. He kept telling Michelle, “This baby is coming out today. There’s no stopping it. You’ll do it.”
            That always seemed to cheer Michelle up. But then she’d ask him how much longer she needed to go, and I could see his true experience kicking in – he never gave her a straight answer. I thought that was brilliant. He’d say things like, “Every time you push, it comes out two more millimeters. Just keep pushing.” Or what I thought was particularly brilliant, the use of the double-negative: “You aren’t going to have a non-rapid birth at this rate.”
            When Joshua finally came out, he was bright purple everywhere. I started to cry instantly when I saw him. Just like when Celia was born, I thought, “This is the best day of my life.” It really is true. What a joy to see your newborn child. It suddenly makes life seem so unbelievably precious.
            But the purple confused me. Why purple? At first I thought he was dead, but then I remembered that they’d kept checking his heart rate. I figured perhaps he’s just an artist, with a flare for vivid color. He gave a little gasp, and a brief, “Meh!” and I knew he was doing okay. He didn’t say much more after that, which shocked me because Celia wailed like crazy when she was born. Different personalities?
            They were amazed at his long fingers and muscular thighs. “He’s going to be a piano player and an athlete,” Michelle told me. I nodded my head. Why not? At this point, I’m so thankful that he’s out, and we can start thinking about what he’s going to be, instead of whether or not he’ll be healthy. That’s a relief.
            He’s conked out in my lap right now. The little darling. Babies are so cute when they sleep, and this guy’s no different. He didn’t like sleeping on his own in the little bed they set up for him, but he seems to be doing fine on my lap. I suppose it feels more like the womb here. The warmth, the noise of my typing, the sound of my regular breathing.
            They say that the first three months of a baby’s life is really like the fourth trimester of pregnancy. They’re not really engaging with the world for the first stretch, just slowly waking up to reality. As my son opens his droopy eyes and “looks” at me, I think, “Just you wait, buddy. You’re going to see an awful lot in the next few months.”
            Just you wait.

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