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Monday, February 9, 2009

13 Years Later

It’s official. I'm old.

I say this not because of my own advancing years, but because I have reached a secondary milestone in my life. As of today, I am the parent of a (gasp!!) teenager.

It was 13 years ago today that my very roly-poly wife turned to me as I was getting ready to head off to work and told me, "The contractions have started." As we got ready to leave the house, Kimberly informed me that she didn't like my shirt because it wasn't soft enough, so I pulled a flannel shirt out of the basket of clean laundry, got out the iron, set up the ironing board, and ironed that shirt so I could be both snuggly and wrinkle free. (My mother-in-law, the ironing goddess, has often been "blamed" for making me feel as though I needed to take the extra time to iron while my wife was in labor...) I helped Kimberly waddle to our little gray Honda Accord and we roared off in the general direction of the Yale Health building.

When we reached the intersection where we had to turn, there was a police car blocking it, with a police officer directing everyone away from the area. I turned on my turn signal, anyway, and sat there while the cop vigorously motioned me to go the other way. Unfortunately, the streets around the health center are all one-way and are laid out in such a way that there is only one way to get there, the way that the cop was blocking. Just as I was getting ready to get out of the car and explain to the officer why we needed to get through, Kimberly handled the matter in an even more efficient matter, rolling down the car window and shrieking, "Let us through! I'm in labor!!" The cop practically dove under her cruiser as she waved us through the intersection.

When we arrived at the health center, still having had to park the better part of a block away, we found out why the cop had been diverting traffic. Yale's Clerical and Technical Unions were on strike and were picketing the health center. A group of striking workers clogged the sidewalk and several police officers stood nearby to make sure that nothing happened. As Kimberly and I made our way through the picket line, she grabbed onto me and groaned as a strong contraction hit.

"Is she okay," one of the workers asked, and I explained that Kimberly was in labor. Immediately, the strikers' chants changed from "What do we want? A fair contract! When do we want it? Now!" and became "You go, girl!" The strikers and the police who were there to control them worked together, clearing a path and opening the doors of the center for Kimberly.

After a quick exam, the nurse midwife at the health center cleared Kimberly to go to Yale-New Haven Hospital's maternity unit. I went back out to move the car closer and one of the police officers directed me to the no-parking zone right in front of the health center. Leaving the engine running and the doors open, I left the car in the care of the police and went back inside to get Kimberly. As we came out, there was another round of cheers from the striking workers and the cops, then we raced off to the hospital.

Once Kimberly was admitted to the hospital and taken to a birthing suite, things deteriorated. Kimberly's temperature had spiked and a fetal oxygen monitor showed that our little one was having problems. The doctor and nurse-midwife argued about whether it would be necessary to perform a caesarian, but they finally decided to hold off unless things got worse. Several hours later, with the emergency response team from the newborn special care unit standing by in the room, Ian was born.

He wasn't breathing.

As Kimberly slumped back in the bed, the medical team went to work on Ian, pumping air into his lungs until they started to work, but each of his breaths came with a horrible sounding gurgle. I kissed Kimberly and went with Ian as the nurses wheeled him across the hall, where they put a suction tube into his nose and down into his lungs to clear them of mucous. Kimberly and Ian spent the next three days in the hospital, recovering from infections and gaining strength before finally coming home.

Looking back, it is hard to believe that all of that is 13 years ago. I spent this morning looking through photos and it is hard for me to believe how much Ian has grown. Each picture takes me back to special times: buying Ian his first shoes, making Halloween costumes, going on hikes, playing music together. Like every parent, I remember those times fondly and find myself nostalgic for the little guy that used to be part of my life. Of course, the flip side is that Ian has grown into quite a remarkable young man and I enjoy watching him grow and develop. He's a good musician. He's smart and has a wonderful sense of humor, which even goes as far as asking me to take his picture on kiddie rides. I'm looking forward to seeing what the next few years will bring and watching as he grows into a young adult. Also, I love him a lot and am very proud of him but, since he's a teenager, please don't tell him. He'd think it was "uber-dorky."

1 comment:

Lily said...

As a dad, isn't it your JOB to be uber-dorky????

Welcome to the wonderful world of parenting a teenager. LOL