At the time of this writing, I’m into my 15th day of being a granddad. Granddad – just saying it about myself just feels so surreal. I mean, I’ve grown up hearing many others older than I say the same thing about themselves, but until it happened to me, it was just a concept. I knew my daughter-in-law was pregnant – they told us she was pregnant. Pregnant – ok, that means she’s having a baby, my son’s baby. Yeah, I get the concept. And that’s what it was…until I received the very first video on my iPhone that first full day after the birth.
Here’s the short video:
All of a sudden, it was a baby; it was real and I was linked to it by blood. I was whisked back 33 years to my own first day as a father, that moment of seeing and holding my son for the very first time and feeling the enormity of the job that lay before me. This little future man in my arms would look to me for guidance and role modeling. I fell in love immediately. I loved this little boy and I loved the whole concept of being a dad. Well….not all aspects of parenting are desirous. I learned this on day #1 – read on.
“You’re doing great Mrs. Wyatt”.
“No I’m not, I’m ready.”
“Hmm, no you’re only 3 centimeters Mrs. Wyatt”
“I need drugs.”
Finally I decided it was safe to speak – “honey, you said you didn’t want any drugs.”
“You shut up, this is all your fault. I’m going to kill you”.
My fault? What? I just wanted sex. I didn’t make this happen. (Be nice Rob, be understanding).
“Is there anything I can do?”
“You can go find me some drugs!”
It was summer, June 18, 1981 and we were at Fort Hamilton Hospital. Kim was in labor with our first child. We knew already he was a boy and we had already chosen a name for him – Mitchell Lee. I was working for HP Deuscher Foundry in town there during the day and had begun my evening classes at University of Cincinnati. Kim was an LPN, still a few years away from becoming an RN. If memory serves me well, I think she was working for Drake Memorial or else she had begun working for Fairfield’s Community Multicare Center.
We were actually going to be parents. Well, Kim was – I wasn’t sure if I was going to survive the night. In fact, I was quite certain that If Kim could get up, she would have superhuman strength and would snap my neck like a twig. To make matters worse, it was a busy night for babies and all of the little fetal monitor thingies were already in use so a nurse had to come in and manually check Kim’s dilation every 15 minutes or so.
This whole deal was so new to us. We had been married as 20 year old babies ourselves just 2.5 years earlier. We weren’t really educated or enlightened. Neither of us really knew much of the world outside of Hamilton, Ohio where both of us had spent all of our lives. We both were the oldest amongst our siblings too – no advice coming from brothers and sisters. This ‘ordeal’ was to be like everything else for me and Kim – we knew nothing, we were still learning and growing up….hopefully we grow together and not apart. Statistics were against us, but we were both very driven, we both enjoyed playing sports and doing things together, we had great chemistry and we found we were generally aligned on our major life objectives.
The late afternoon soon turned into early evening. The nurse on shift came in about every 15 minutes on queue. Coincidentally, on the exact same timing my wife would announce that she ‘is ready to go in, that it is time for the baby to come out’ and that she was ready for drugs. To which, the nurse would pronounce that the baby is taking his time and that Kim was not in need of drugs. There were no such mandates placed on me. Since Kim was not allowed to partake, in a magnanimous gesture of solidarity, I too refused to get drugged up. Let me tell you, it was tempting.
Finally, in the last half hour of labor, the doctor decided that Kim would require a spinal because he would need to use the salad spoons to pull Mitchell out due to his position, (the baby’s, not the doctor’s). Oh yeah, we already knew his name, Mitchell Lee. We had been told that he likely would be a boy. This was good because we couldn’t agree on a name for a girl. As soon as the spinal was administered, happy times were back again; all was right with the world – the birthing room was filled with fluttering butterflies.
Once the salad spoons worked their magic, we were blessed with a baby…..Conehead. Did I bless the moment with gratitude? Did I reach over and give my wife a tender kiss? Did we look at each other and shout hallelujah? No, none of these – the first words uttered were by me and they were of course brilliant. I merely said the first thing that popped into my head – “we should name him Beldar!”
Yes, Mitchell had a cone-shaped head. I blame Kim for pushing too hard. We were told that this was common and that within a few short days Mitchell would have the Charlie Brown head we were expecting. Fortunately for us and for Mitch, the doctors and nurses were right and we didn’t have to name our son Beldar. The cone head disappeared and Mitch did not have to one day learn how to use the senso-rings.
And so we were jettisoned into parenthood; piece of cake. This is going to be easy. What’s next? What’s up? Shouldn’t we feed it or play with it or something?
Looking a bit bruised up, the nurse soon brought him in to us. Swaddled in a cuddly blanket and a little bruised looking, he lay there in Kim’s arms, looking up at his mommy when a funny look appeared on his face. Shortly after that, a funny look appeared on our faces for when we eventually inspected his diaper, we were confronted with black gold, Texas tea. I wish I had this moment and the look on our faces recorded on video. Neither of us were expecting what we saw. I thought something was wrong. Was poopie supposed to be black and look like road tar?
The nurse was in the room with us. Was that a smirk I just saw on her face? It was – she just smiled. Hey, this isn’t funny, something’s wrong with our baby.
“Would you like me to change the baby’s meconium?”
And so we were then educated about the word meconium which is Latin for ‘messy tar-like baby poop from Mama food’. We gladly accepted the offer and handed ‘it’ over to the nurse. Meanwhile, I kept humming the theme song to The Beverly Hillbillies to myself….must have been something to do with the vision of black gold. Soon, the IT was brought back to us, free and clear of the black doodie. We were now parents. We had experienced our first surprise, our first adventure into the realm of parenthood and were on our way now to many more…..hopefully we will be better prepared to deal with the future gifts our children will present us with…but I doubted it.
Ooh yuk – meconium