Sunday, May 11, 2014
Great Reversals had just played our second show in our friend Dana's basement. Afterward we went to a newer film-house spot, The Burton, to see the modern blaxploitation spoof: Black Dynamite! As the opening credits rolled and I'm yucking it up with the dudes, my pocket vibrated with a text, a picture from Candice. I open the phone to see a positive pregnancy test with a giant "OMG!" attached to the image. Holy Shit! I disconnected from the gang, and we talked. It's real. The movie no longer seemed important.
December 26th, 2009, in the basement of a repurposed middle school, my life changed with the delivery of one digital photo.
About two weeks later we miscarried. It was a whirlwind of beginnings and ends to so many worlds our minds had created in that small window. She, of course, took the brunt of the blow. From those we foolishly told too early came waves of support. The bodies familiar with our loss came out of the woodworks. We hadn't known how common our grief was until we were in the same boat. We were not alone. It had only been 2 weeks of awareness, but it took it's toll. It was 3 months before we could think about trying again.
Trying didn't come easy. A fear of the whirlwind hindered our ability to be care-free about it. Once we were comfortable with those intentions, it was slow going. The first round had come within one whimsical moment where we agreed on the spot we'd take the risk. Now that our minds had intentions, our bodies couldn't seem to get on board. And so we tried, and tried, to no avail. For our second anniversary I organized a surprise stay at a B & B downtown with dinner in Mexican-town and a trip to the DIA. Within this weekend we had both independently come to the conclusion that there would be no more trying. And like a goddamn cliche' that I still resent to this day, that night the seed was sewn that would again create new worlds in our minds and lives. This time we waited the recommended twelve weeks before telling anyone. We made it through Thanksgiving and Christmas without cracking. Obsessively watching the hands on the clock's face, we waited for the doctor-ensured safe-zone. We had faith that if we could make it to three months everything would be fine and there'd be no more pain until labor. Luckily, we were right.
And our new road was paved. The ones who'd turn into Mamoo and Papa returned to snowy Michigan, from adventures out West, to help prepare our household. The hand-me-downs started pouring in. Trips to second-hand stores became regimented. The stuff accumulated, paraded as necessity, we'd eventually learn we wouldn't need much at all. Candy's body was changing, but not quickly enough, which she found frustrating. But when it did there was no denying she had more than a pot-belly under her shirt. At nearly nine months we went camping with friends in South Haven. In a tent, we slept on a borrowed air mattress with a bum-seal. By that point Candy had developed what I called her torpedo belly. She looked like a fit, regular gal from behind, but the moment she turned it was terribly evident she had an alien within, defying gravity as it pointed the way on her behalf. Children on the beach laughed and stared when they saw her bikini-revealed belly, it was spectacular!
We were due Thursday, August 11, 2011. Saturday, August 13, the adventure began. We had woken early to attend a farmer's market, meeting both sides of family, we ate pizza and hoped for the excitement to come quickly. That evening, the labor-signal they always show in movies made it's mess and we headed to the birthing center. We arrived to find my best friend and his wife in labor one room away. It was destiny. While I dealt with paperwork, Candice heard their delivery on the other side of the wall. Hoping for a girl, a cacophony of laughter and disbelief came as they realized they had yet another boy. On our side, it seemed we jumped the gun. Upon assessment of minimal dilation and spaced-out contractions, we were sent home with orders to have a bath and a glass of wine. Just as things settled, the chaos began. Candy couldn't keep anything down, the contractions and back pain hit her, inspiring a wail I'll never forget. I felt helpless. We called our Doula and the birthing center and piled back in the car. I drove too quickly, clutching the wheel. It was like a familiar dream, living in the re-runs of sitcoms portraying the very same scene. It was 3 a.m.
Everything was slow going. Back labor runs in the family, and so it reared it's ugly head, relentlessly staring us down. Heating-pads, baths, back massages, water-shots, yoga poses, sipping juices and broths, the "baby-friendly" playlist on the ipod, and nervous inquiry our Doula, and Midwife, made up the entire next day. Candy was dehydrated and unable to eat or sleep. It was the perfect combination of factors to drain her completely. She was given a sleeping aid that helped her sleep for about an hour, waking within a dream where she forgot she was pregnant. She was given an I-V to hydrate. I felt guilty for wanting to sleep. She selflessly assured me it was fine. 11 p.m. Sunday night, after a manual dilation and intentional breaking of waters, it was determined we needed to transfer to the other side. We had hoped to do it all the old-fashioned way, but the alien within was being stubborn.
Pitocin is the devil. We had done everything up to this point to maintain natural methods for delivery, but there was concern now. It was not in our plan to use any drugs for anything, but it became a necessity. She made it through two rounds of contractions without an Epidural, it was grueling. My wife is a bad ass! Dehydrated, famished, and exhausted, it was time to give up a bit of control. The Epidural had to be installed twice. Just as the I-V, Pitocin drip, catheter, and fetal heart-rate monitor had been as well because that is how this had to go. There were no breaks cut. As the fetal-heart-rate was causing concern, bless her heart, my wife, numb from the gut down, wired like the Matrix's harvested humans, graciously turned herself onto all fours in order create space for this precious baby. To no avail. It was time, the final step, the final concession. A Caesarean was necessary.
7am, Monday, August, 15, 2014. As they prepped my beloved, I suited to be by her side. This was the first time we were apart. I entered the operating room, Candy and I locked teary eyes. The last two years had led to this moment. I peeked over the curtain, I couldn't help myself. On pins and needles, we waited, to hear something, anything, to tell us he or she was now with us. Eyes blurred with tears and joy I looked up to see...no penis....NO PENIS! IT'S A GIRL! The whole time we had felt it was a boy. But that doesn't matter at all, nothing in this moment matters except the cries of our beautiful baby girl! Arms tied on the cross of her Papoose board, precious baby girl was draped, bare skin to bare skin, on the bosom of her mother. The same body and grace within which she grew, now experienced in the harsh world. And, Frances Jane, your mother and I wept, tears we may never weep again. Tears that if bottled, might heal all the wrongs in the world.
There is no hell, Mother, that you will not walk through for her. No sacrifice you will not make. And so we celebrate you, with flowers, and special breakfasts, and preparing ways so you don't have to. And with this, the story I've said I'd write someday. Hopefully I painted the right picture. I love you. Happy Mother's Day.