Okay, first and foremost, fuck all those pussies who stopped reading after that first paragraph. You people are my real friends. After another 10 lines or so, it's okay if you start skimming, though. Most of this shit will be for my personal benefit. Maybe you can come back for the ending. I'll try to close strong. Also, this post is more or less two years in the making, so some of the time frames will seem a little off. Hang on to your hats and glasses, folks.
So, about a week shy of the duedate, Tam and I go in for a routine check-up to check out the contents of her uterus. Turns out her blood pressure's a little higher than her OB would like, so she sends us across the street to the hospital to get a few tests run. Apparently, if this shit goes unchecked during a pregnancy, it can lead to some big, fancy word that Tam's doctor likes to throw around but I have no idea the meaning of. So, we get to the hospital where Tam is quickly robbed of a few vials of blood. Also, her blood pressure is taken roughly three hundred times. I would imagine that repeatedly preventing the flow of blood to any region of the body would have a negative effect on your blood pressure. But then again, I have no idea what I'm talking about. So, Tam and I end up sitting around watching Dog The Bounty Hunter and planning dinner while the little lab monkeys process her blood work.
Speaking of, Dog the Bounty Hunter is the most entertaining thing on TV for me at the moment. Hands down. This deserves a post of it's own, but I just gotta throw a few things about it out there. If you've never seen it, it's on A&E on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Check your local listings! Okay, this dude Dog (who actually gained notoriety while hunting down a fugitive and illegally arresting him in Mexico a couple years ago) runs a bail bonds shop in Hawaii. So, not only is he the bondsman, but if anyone fails to appear in court, he becomes the guy to bring the dude in so that he doesn't lose any of the money he fronted. It's genius. Admittedly, if this show were not based in Hawaii, it wouldn't have near the grasp on me that it does. Three quick things about the show:
1.) The ghetto locals are in full effect. If Kento and I were your only exposure to Hawaii, you might wanna catch a show just to see what we have to put up with. Idiots are routinely showing their ass for the whole country to see. Also, the Pidgin English is off the charts. Most people on the show are captioned! "We only trying for help you, dad. I no like for you go jail, eidah!" --> "We are only trying to help you, father. I don't want you to go to jail, either!" It's gold!
2.) There's a 25% chance during any given show that you'll see a decent brawl. There was one episode where Dog's son Leland ends up macing three or four dudes who managed to surround him. Eventually, they get their hands on him and everyone just starts swinging wildly. By now, all combatants (even Leland) have been rendered blind from all the mace that was sprayed. In the meantime, Dog is standing about 15 feet away screaming at his son, "Hit 'em, Leland! Hit 'em! ... RUN, LELAND!" Then to cap it off, some five-year-old boy comes running up to Leland with a broom AND THEN HITS HIM WITH IT! Sadly, no one was killed during this exchange.
3.) Dog is simultaneously the most loved and hated man in Hawaii. And any time he shows his face, you just never know if the people there are gonna cheer him on or tell him to go fuck himself. The dude's more or less a cartoon character who ranges from being a doofy, emotional version of Diamond Dallas Page to a serious badass who once called out an entire street full of pimps and drug dealers. And just to keep things exciting, his wife (who is typically at every bust) just might be the biggest cunt on the islands. If there's a 25% chance of a brawl, there's a 75% chance it's because she was standing in the background antagonizing someone until they started giving her some lip. And as soon as anyone talks shit to her, Dog opens up on 'em. It's brilliant! Tune in, won't you?
Back at the ranch, Tam's test results are in. "Okay, we're gonna induce labor tonight." The both of us just kinda stood there with blank stares on our faces. Sure, we heard the words, but they didn't really register. We had other plans for the evening. After all, we had settled on Outback. Outback! Not really knowing what to do next, both of us immediately get on our phones with the grandparents to be. I'm not sure why Tam called hers, but I called my mom hoping she'd tell us that the doctors were full of shit and that we should get out of there as quickly as possible! We were completely unprepared for this turn of events. Before the results were in, they told us that inducing was a possibility, but we just kinda dismissed it. And I can't even tell you why. I dunno.. It just wasn't time yet! And I hadn't even finished my first season in the new Madden. How can I be asked to raise a kid AND lead the Falcons to victory?
But fuck it, right? Even cavemen had children. I guess we were as ready as we were gonna be. Onward with the delivery! BUT WAIT! We have nothing with us. No baby stuff, no overnight shit, no car seat, nothing! Strangely, I put the car seat base in the night before thinking the good deed would buy me some time before I had to do anything else for the delivery. I guess they showed me. So, I go home to grab the car seat, get our bag that isn't packed yet, pack it, eat (in retrospect, I feel terrible that I ate that night while Tam labored in pain.. But, screw it, I was hungry, and I'm not the one with the uterus.), shower, and whatever else crossed my mind (like hopping on the computer to see if anyone was online so I could tell them what was happening in case we all died at the hospital; thankfully, I found Jubes and left her in charge of this information). By this time, Tam's sister got wind of the ordeal and had showed up at the hospital. And if you know anything about Tam's relationship with her sister, you know that by now, Tam was on the phone trying to get me to hurry the fuck up. After the second phone call, I start to panic. I thought I was gonna miss it! How shitty would that be if I missed my kid's birth to stuff a Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger from Wendy's down my throat? So, I sped back to the hospital thinking the worst. I'm thinking Tam's already pushing. Maybe I'll be just in time for the delivery!
When I get to the hospital, Tam's sister runs out to get me to usher me into the room... to watch Tam writhe in pain. I dunno what the big hurry was, cause she had dilated like 2cm at this point. And for those of you scoring at home (or even if you're by yourself), that's about where she was a week prior. So, after Tam gets me in her sights, she lets me in on what's so urgent.. "GET HER THE FUCK OUTTA HERE!" Haha. They induced at about 10pm while I was at home. When I got back to the hospital, it was probably a little bit after 11pm. So by then, she had been in labor for a solid hour. I guess you can only hear, "Areyouokay? Doesithurt? CanIhelp? Areyouokay?" so many times during labor before you go crazy. So, I took Tam's poor sister (whose on-again-off-again-semi-boyfriend asked me to take her home. What the fuck? Am I not having a kid here? At the time, I had too much shit on my mind and it didn't faze me. But I'm actually sitting here with a furrowed brow while I type this. What an asshole.) away and apologized for Tam being so mean to her. But inside, it was still really, really funny to me. Heh.
Back in the room, they got Tam hooked up to this machine that both monitors the baby's heart rate and the intensity of her contractions. So, I could sit there and watch the contractions start to hit. "Ohhh! Here comes one!" I felt like some kinda prophet who could predict pain! It was cool as hell. I was loving it. Tam, not so much. Then I start saying shit like, "Pfft. That one was only a two. The three you had four minutes ago didn't sound that bad!" Take it from me, no matter how much you want to, DO NOT SAY THOSE WORDS. Fortunately, I was spared by a disgusting emission of fluids. "Either I just pissed myself and I can't stop, or my water just broke." For me, this was tremendous news. Water breaking = Baby time, right? Or at least close to it! That's what it says on TV and shit, right? FUCKING WRONG, OKAY?! I run out to tell anyone who will listen that my wife's water just broke. To their credit, they were very cordial toward me. "That's great! Congratulations!" ..Heh. Okay, clearly not as important to them as it was to me. Meanwhile, whatever's coming out of Tam is all over the place. Walking around the room begins to sound like walking around the uncarpeted part of a movie theater. The high-tech, advanced medical solution to this is to stuff some towels between Tam's legs. Heh. What Tam's water breaking did mean for us was that we'd be out of the Triage shortly and into our own plush little room.
Until this point, Tam was pretty intent on having this kid naturally. But after we settled into our new room, she was ready for the drugs. For those of you who don't know what an epidural is, let me take a moment to explain. You see, they take this GIGANTIC FUCKING HORSE NEEDLE AND JAM IT INTO YOUR SPINAL CORD AND START TO PUMP DRUGS INTO YOU AND THEN THEY STUFF A GOD DAMN TUBE (albeit a teeny one) INTO THE HOLE THEY JUST MADE SO THEY CAN CONTINUE PUMPING DRUGS DIRECTLY INTO YOUR SPINAL COLUMN AND DID I MENTION THAT IT'S SHARP OBJECTS AND DRUGS RIGHT INTO YOUR FUCKING CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM?!?! This isn't a slam on Tam or anything, but after listening to someone moan and groan in agony for a couple of hours, you're ready for them to stop. The spinal tap sounds like a damn fine idea at this moment. I realize that statement sounded pretty selfish considering I wasn't the one in pain, but it was just horrible to listen to. Especially from someone you happen to give a damn about. I remember reading something about the conflict in Somalia once (think Black Hawk Down). One of the soldiers maintained that the worst thing about it wasn't the prospect of dying, or running out of supplies or anything like that. The worst thing for him was listening to all the wounded soldiers screaming and crying for hours and hours. After this night, I can totally understand that. Because, between Tam not being able to sit still and the doctor who knows "about where" the spinal cord is, this epidural just ain't happening. The procedure was so painful for Tam that she opts to continue to have blindingly painful contractions until she gives birth over giving the psycho with the needles another chance to paralyze her.
Okay.. So, the nurse tells us that we should get some sleep cause we have a pretty long wait ahead of us. Fat fucking chance, lady. It's kinda shitty for me to say so, but it was kinda comical in a way. Heh. Let me explain. Most people, when we are in pain, cry out in agony with a "ARGH!" or "AUGH!" or some other kind of clever onomatopoeia. When Tam is in pain, she simply says "ow", "ouch", or "owie". So, for a little while at least, I got a little chuckle out of listening to that. "Owieowieowieowieowieowie! Ow!" Heh. Eventually though, Tam's cries became much more pathetic and depressing. Not pathetic like, "Jeez.. What a pussy," but more like.. I dunno.. It was like listening to someone being tortured. Earlier in the evening, I was given power of attorney over Tam. This meant I was able to make decisions on her behalf when she was unable to. So, after I couldn't take watching her in agony anymore, I exercised this right by asking for whatever drugs they had available.
They pumped her full of something and she FINALLY went to sleep. Well, she was sleeping before, but only two or three minutes at a time; until a contraction would come and rudely wake her. They said the drugs would be good for about an hour and after that, any subsequent dosage would be less and less effective. But I was like.. Fine, I'll take the hour. Now get the hell outta here so we can sleep. Well, an hour became only 15 minutes. Because after 15 minutes, a slew of nurses came barging into the room to take this opportunity to see how far Tam had dilated. The good news is that her uninterrupted sleep allowed her to dilate an additional 7cm. The bad news is that her being awake rendered the painkillers useless. Thanks a fucking lot, you turds. But this 7cm thing has got me all fired up. I'm wide awake and I'm ready to have a baby. Keep in mind that I have zero idea how far you're supposed to be dilated to have a kid. But it's action and I'm clinging to anything I can sink my pathetic little brain into. Unfortunately, I'm on my own cause the nurses are done with whatever they were gonna do. So they take off and leave me with the shell of a human that used to be my wife. This is where it got really bad for me.
It's probably about 4am now. The second dose of drugs didn't take, and Tam is in absolute misery. There was nothing I could do to stop it. I could just stand there and watch while she'd fall asleep for a minute or two before another contraction would come. And after it (and the pleas for mercy) would subside, she'd fall asleep again. Except that as soon as she'd fall asleep, her arm would fall from the bed rail she was clutching during the contraction and wake her up again. I was helpless. I pretended to be of use by rigging a rolling table near the guard rail on the bed so that when Tam's arm would fall, it would only make it an inch or so before landing on the table, hopefully leaving what little sleep she could get uninterrupted. Y'ever go on one of those workshops or classroom functions where you do bullshit activities where you learn about the people you're there with? Inevitably, you'd find yourself in a circle of people spilling their guts about their biggest fear in life to people they barely or don't care to know. Most answers are clichéd whining about growing old alone or never being loved or some candy-ass fear like that. And I'd always feel so out of place cause when they'd get to me, my answer was always this: "Mine's a little different. I'm afraid of sharks." And people would kinda chuckle BUT FUCK YOU! You're powerless! If a shark wants to kill you, you're done! It wasn't until years later when I came to the realization that my biggest fear is not sharks, but helplessness. And that's what I was. Helpless. Helpless and useless.
When you hear stories of childbirth, no one mentions this part. No one tells you about the eight hours in a dark room where your wife is screaming in agony. No one warns you about the part where your wife's cries of pain turn into uncontrollable sobbing. No one mentions the part where she's begging you to do something; to do anything. But you can't. All you can do is sit and watch. Maybe that's because all their wives took the drugs, but fuck them, I don't have any. So, instead, I did what any self-respecting man would do in my position.
And not like a manly, stoic cry where my eyes just welled up while my face remained somber. I cried like a bitch. Just sobbing and blubbering like a fucking child, just begging Tam not to die. If someone else were telling this story and I just read that line, I might have laughed. You gotta understand, though, I've had a solid six hours or so to convince myself of the worst. All that screaming and weeping, I just knew something was wrong. Later, I would find out that Tam thought the doctors told me that she or the baby wasn't gonna make it. They didn't tell me that, but that's what I thought at the time! So I felt doubly terrible that after everything else she was going through, I dropped that bomb on her as well. Then it got even worse. Due to Tam's anxiety, the baby's heart rate started dropping. (SEE?! I FUCKING KNEW IT!) And anxiety? What the hell? Tam was damn near comatose at this point. Even her outbursts of pain were very, very subdued by now. Not that they didn't hurt, but she was just spent. If you were torturing someone, their first scream would be much louder than their 500th, y'know? So a nurse and I were standing there asking her to calm down. Also, I had to pretend I wasn't crying because a nurse was here now. And to her credit, Tam calmed down, I guess.. Cause the baby's heart rate came back up and all was well. Well, not for Tam. She still had to deal with excruciating pain every two minutes.
It's 8am now, and after that episode, we decided to give the epidural another shot. Thankfully, the previous nurse's shift was over, so we were blessed with Dr. Jackson. Dr. Jackson would continue to make cameos here and there throughout the rest of the day to rescue us from her inept staff. Actually, that's not fair. They were all very good, just not too slick with the needles. But in their defense, Tam's got some crazy ass veins that don't take well to needles. I've yet to see someone draw blood from her in one try. Ever. But forget all that! This is a joyous occasion! THE EPIDURAL TOOK! After they plugged Tam in, I watched the monitor for the next contraction. It came and Tam sat perfectly still. I'd never been so happy in my entire life. Some of the nurses made fun of Tam, noting that most people get the epidural before going through ten hours of labor. Haha, motherfuckers. Get outta here. SLEEEEEEP.
They woke us up at noon to try and have the baby. Sweet! Tam's doctor had told us that we'd probably have to have a cesarean due to Tam's narrow birth canal. I'll take her word for it. (Speaking of a narrow birth canal, one time, Tam's doc sticks a finger.. uh.. into Tam to check on whatever. So then Tam kinda winces and makes a noise suggesting this is uncomfortable. Then I swear the doctor kinda shot me a real disappointed look and shook her head at me. Sniffle.) Anyways, on with the show! But like I said earlier, Tam is intent on having this kid naturally. She'd like to push. And I'm like, let's do it! ANYTHING! I WANT OUTTA THIS GOD DAMN PLACE! PUSH! PUSH! PU-Ehhh. This isn't working. Tam's doctor just sat there and humored us. She did everything but look at her watch. Heh. She was pleasant and helpful, though. Even though she stepped out for a drink half way into it. So, after an hour, we gave up and asked for the C-Section. Thankfully, nobody shit themselves during this process.
So, they get me all scrubbed up and start wheeling us away to an undisclosed location. Everything is white, bright and clean-looking. They wheel Tam into the operating room and ask me to wait while they set her up. Then they promptly close the door in my face and leave me out in some lonely hallway. A few minutes pass and I'm feeling very forgotten out there. Tam's long been up on the table while I watch through a narrow pane of glass. What the hell? After all of that, this is how I gotta watch my kid being born?! Through a piece of glass no wider than my head?! The wave of helplessness washes over me again. I can't help but look at Tam and worry about her being in there all alone. But before I could start crying again, an angel opens the door and rescues me from my girlyness.
When I get to Tam, she's almost sleeping. I kinda stroked her hair and assured her of my presence which prompted pretty much no response. Good thing I was worried! They've got her on this crucifix-shaped table which was a little weird. Also, just above her stomach, they've draped a curtain between Tam's head and I and the doctors. Then the doctors brief me on the game plan. "When we say so, look around the curtain!" "Uhh.. Okay!" Look around the curtain? Pfft. FOOLS! I cleverly notice that the lights above Tam have enough reflective materials to offer me a scant view of what's going on over the curtain. So, I can kinda make out some fleshy tones and random body parts. AND THEN EVERYTHING TURNS RED! Blergh. Then it got really chaotic. "Okay, look!" And I looked! And there he was. Purple and crying. "Uhh.. Is he okay?" "He's great! You wanna cut the cord?" "No thanks!" Besides, they had already cut it. I would have only cut off a useless part. Then they would have to fix the mess I made. It was way too much pressure. But none of that matters now! I have a son! I can't be bothered with some disgusting leftovers from childbirth!
I've always contended that newborn children are about the ugliest things on the planet (next to vaginas). I figured that one day, I'd have my own kid and think he was the most beautiful thing in the whole entire world. Okay, let me just tell you.. That ain't true. He was disgusting. There were bits and pieces of who-knows-what all over him. He had little skin tags all over his body. And the hair. The hair was everywhere. On his ears, back, forehead, just all over. Plus, he was still purple and his face was all scrunched up. But then they handed him to me and a serene calm just washed over my body. I felt like Picasso admiring his work. He was gross, but he was still my work! He just needed some time to cool and harden.. Then he'd be okay. For some reason, it became very important for me to show Vaughn to Tam who was more or less passed out on the table. After a couple of unsuccessful attempts to get her to look at her son, I begin kinda screaming at her. "DAMMIT, JUST LOOK AT HIM! KISS HIM!!" We found a clean spot on his cheek for her to kiss and then she lapsed back into unconsciousness.
I don't mean to make this sound like life is not fulfilling without children, because that's absolutely untrue. It's just hard to explain. In fact, my life has been thrown into complete ruin since his arrival. I spend all of his waking moments making sure he doesn't kill himself. I'll never receive another Christmas present for as long as I live. All of my sick days at work are spent driving around from doctor to doctor to find out why he's such a sickly little turd. I routinely find myself in contact with piss and shit. We've had three prolonged stays in the hospital because of him. I can't take a dump alone, as God intended, for more than just a couple of minutes before he comes barging his way in to mock me. I don't remember the last time I wasn't awaken before 7am. But at the end of the day, I can look at him and know that none of that shit matters. All that matters is that he's here and he can give me little hugs. It's extremely rewarding, but I can't really pinpoint exactly why. I mean, it's a little kid giving you a hug, right? Some people go to jail for that shit. I dunno.. After 4,000 words, you'd think I'd have a handle on expressing this last part just right, but I guess I'm just not that articulate. Simply put, he's the best thing that's ever happened to me and I love him to death. So much for finishing strong. Ah, well.
And by the way, the results of Tam's blood pressure that night? Normal.
Off to do that whole parenting thing. Wish me luck. Happy Birthday, Vaughn!