It’s curious the ways these things seem to play out. You tend to daydream about dramatic settings, cool entries into birthing suites with a daughter in the middle of a screeching labor, a reflective pause and then, voila! Child, and all that is part and parcel.
But shucks folks, this is Outfoxed & Co. We don’t do daytime soaps.
Maggie was ensconced in a birthing suite, that much is true. It so happens that I helped build this particular hospital back in the day. And, as I immodestly related to everyone within poking distance, “Damn, those cabinets I designed for this joint are still holding up! Look at how well that reception desk blends with the décor, right?” Never, never take a builder to one of his past jobsites when the business at hand involves childbirth, or salvation, or any of the other mortal woes. I’m just saying.
Maggie had charged me with a “Hotlist”, a scribbled version of her close friends w/ cell numbers and I was to call them the very second I knew anything. Give them the lowdown, the room number and the proceeding range of uterine dilation for all I know. Having a list of cell numbers for a half dozen of the hottest chicks within cell range is a creepy sort of responsibility. I could have sold it for a fair amount of change to a number of local studly’s, I suppose. But predictably, the hot chicks turned the tables.
It was Lara, possibly the hottest of them all who called, well past the work day, while Ally and I trolled for time in a burger place. “Where are you guys? Maggie’s in labor here, she really is!”
I was munching a burger and probably sounded a little passive. “Uh. So how many centimeters is she? Five? Gimme a call when she hits 9. Wait a second, how come you’re at the hospital? Aren’t I suppose to be the one calling you?”
Lara sighed. “Who’s going to wait on a phone call from you? The baby would be up for a sixth birthday for crying out loud. Besides, Beth’s here already and . . .”
“Beth? As in Beth the Eldest? She’s there too?”
“Oh yeah, been here for hours. So, you coming or not?”
I got a glance from Ally, listening intently to all this. We’d agreed that there shouldn’t be much of an intrusion factor from nosy grandparents-to-be in the birthing room. Agreed that the Mom and Dad should have their own space. Agreed that we were going to be the mature, solidly respectful people that young folks want to look up to.
“We’re on our way. Dust off the hats and hooters, honey.”
roared gracefully slid out of there, stopped at a store and bought a nice bamboo plant and a blank card which I made into a very heartfelt one, with a little poem that somehow sprung right out of God’s book of verse and into my fingers (and no, I won’t republish it here, it was a gem if I do say so, but it was something just for the Mom and Dad). I write better after a burger and a longneck.
Maggie was somewhere around 6 centimeters when we strolled into the room, which looked more like a frat house on Saturday morning that a place to pop out babies. Fast food bags and flip flops were peeking from every corner, Boyfriend Bob was attempting a nap on the fold out, and barefoot Beth was checking out the ballgame on ESPN. But Lara was game.
“Pops! Hey Daddy!” she exclaimed with a jack-in-box hug for me and one for Ally too. Calls me Pops, she does. A lot of Maggie’s friends do.
My Middlest Daughter was reclined, a weary smile on her face, and seemed to be getting on rather well with the drip from an epidural. Which made my fears of a lotta pain from such a large tummy (pressing down on such a tiny lass as she) sit just a bit better. She looked at me, and she and I talk all the time without words, but the “Hi Daddy,” never sounded quite so relieved as in that barely a minute look.
“Well for goodness sakes, how much longer are you gonna hold on to this child?” I asked. “You’ve been here all day! Time to get crackin’, girl!” and my wife groaned and Lara giggled as I assumed the catchers position and pounded an imaginary glove. This was a room familiar to me. You don’t have 3 kids without getting a little familiar with the scenario. I peered at the monitor with a professional flair, fingered the contraction rate paper tape as it slowly streamed out and tapped the heart meter to check on its functionality. Pronounced it all good, I did.
“Wait ‘til you see the doctor, Pops” from Lara. And her timing couldn’t have been better, because a song could be heard out in the hall, and a brown woman with laughing eyes breezed in, a stethoscope dangling, a two-step shuffle in blue booties. “Ah, mon. I see the Grandparents have landed, eh?” And Ally and I both smiled, because we have seen Jamaica mon, and we found it good. This doctor was so Jamaica it would not have greatly surprised me if she had Marley on her Ipod and a fattie tucked behind one ear. We were in good hands.
Marley Doc checked the instrumentation and excitedly sang another half verse of Calypso. “Oooh, you’re up to 9 centimeters darlin’, that were fast, no? Just since Mamma and Daddy came?”
I grinned. “The witch doctor has come, honey. I don’t be holdin’ wit’ no long labor around here. We gonna be rumblin’ any time now.” And Marley Doc gave me a smiling appraisal, figuring me as a kindred soul I‘m sure, or possibly some old coot off the street, but in any event she was pleased with the progress. “Thas right darlin’, you be ready to beep me when you need to,” and she smoothed Maggie’s pillow and chucked her lightly under the chin. “You listen to the witch doctor, now.”
. . . And you just know there’s gonna be a part two, don’t you mon?
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