It's been a long day and it started before dawn. We were to be at the hospital between six thirty and seven and Ruth had her alarm set for five. I would have set it for five twenty, but I let her do as she wished and relied on her to awaken with her alarm and to wake me up.
At about a quarter after five, my eyes just luckily happened to pop open and as I contemplated dragging myself out of bed and checking on Ruth, I heard her coming up the steps (for several weeks now she's been starting out in bed but ending up sleeping in the recliner downstairs as she found it impossible to get comfortable laying flat) at exactly five twenty.
While she was getting ready I went into Isaiah's room to see if he was awake. He was just waking up and when I asked he said he was working on getting ready to wake up so Rupie could come and get him. When I got out of the shower Ruth was already downstairs feeding our pets and getting stuff together. Isaiah was still in bed, but he was awake and ready to get up.
We got all our stuff together, sent Isaiah off with Rupie, and made it to the hospital by six thirty five. Of course, we live about five minutes from the hospital, but I still felt we were doing pretty well for such an early hour.
The nurses were all friendly and considerate as they plugged, inserted, and taped-down all the different monitors and sensors connected to different locations such as the baby's audio heartbeat monitor and the automatic sphygmomanometer (blood pressure cuff) which was the one piece of equipment she hated most. At one point as one of the nurses was asking questions and filling out forms she asked,
"Do you feel safe in your home? Have you ever been threatened."
"Of course I feel safe," Ruth answered.
A second later I figured out what she meant and jokingly asked if the nurse would like me to leave the room so that Ruth could answer honestly.
"No," she replied, "I normally do ask them to leave the room, but not always. I trust my reflexes."
Soon all the attachments were complete and the nurses left us alone. As we sat listening to the child's one hundred forty-ish beat per minute heartbeat and smiling at each other, I soon unzipped my heavy bag and started in on the long morning of reading I'd been looking forward to. I also very chivalrously waited until Ruth had her ice chips (which was all she was allowed to eat until after delivery) to start in on my stash of junk food beginning with Pop-Tarts for breakfast.
Most of the morning was spent pleasantly and languorously as we spent the time together drowsing and talking a little. I was also doing a good bit of reading along with my snoozing. I remember at one point awakening from my dozing to see Ruth was asleep and feeling the exultant thrill of looking over at my bag and wondering which book to fall asleep reading next. I pulled out one of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors- "Lord Jim" by Joseph Conrad and stuck with it for the rest of the day.
As the process gradually progressed, Ruth's contractions became quite obviously more painful. I was glad when she finally got her epidural around noon, but probably not as glad as she was. Once that happened things began to progress more quickly and about one I called Rupie to tell her that it might be entirely possible for me to be able to pick Isaiah up from preschool at two thirty.
I dialed the phone, "Hi, Rupie, this is Roger- Guess what?"
The nurses in the room laughed when I replied "No, not yet." to the incorrect guess made in response to my misleading query.
Things began to move even more quickly soon after that, and not much later they became somewhat hectic. The nurse called the doctor's office and soon he showed up and the day's main event was underway. Ruth did a marvelous job and in practically no time Gideon James Waggener was born at precisely one forty five pm weighing eight pounds, fourteen ounces and being twenty one inches tall.
I suppose technically I could have gotten Isaiah at two thirty but I didn't. It was about a quarter after two when the whole process was complete and Ruth and I were alone with the little fellow. For a long time we simply enjoyed his presence, holding him and listening to him cry every now and then. He had a pretty full head of black hair and exhibited very healthy lungs right from the start, but he was easily comforted by being held.
About three thirty we called Rupie and Isaiah at Ruth's folk's house. After hearing the news, Rupie said she'd put Isaiah on the phone and I waited as she called him from his play room in the basement. I heard her shout to him in the distance and I heard him rumbling up the steps as he made his way to the phone.
"So... Where's the baby?"
"Right here in your mother's arms. He's very cute and he can't wait to meet you. Are you ready to meet him after a while?"
"Good, that's great."
"Yup. Well, Bye!" and off he ran back to the basement.
It took a long time for us to get moved from the delivery room to the post-partum room where Ruth will stay for the next couple of days, but by six we were relocated and settled in. Gideon continued to become more adjusted to his new form of life and sleep more and cry less.
The Denby's had all gone out to dinner and I eventually got in touch with them on their cell phone. Isaiah was fast asleep and with them at Applebee's (I call the one here in town "Crapplebee's" since I've never had a good experience there) and wondered if I wanted to come and pick him up.
When I showed up he started waking up and was excited about meeting Gideon.The Denby's had bought a bouquet of flowers and Isaiah insisted on taking it to give to Mommy himself. On the way to the hospital he told me he'd not only had a good time playing all day with Uncle John who's driven in from Dallas, but a 'super' time at preschool where they'd watched a video about astronauts.
When we got to the room Isaiah gave the flowers to Ruth and was instantly transfixed and delighted by the baby. He likes babies in general and he especially likes Gideon. He kept going up and looking at him and petting him gently. He wanted to hold him "by himself" by settled for sitting in my lap while we held him together.
Isaiah then told me he was hungry. It turns out he had fallen asleep before the group left for the restaurant and hadn't eaten anything. This actually made me happy since I'd wanted to take him to Subway because that was where I got my supper the night he was born. Unfortunately the only close Subway closed at eight and it was already after eight so we settled for Rally's.
We took the food back to Ruth's room and had supper "sitting right by the baby" as Isaiah insisted on doing. Ruth had put together a gift bag for Isaiah from the baby containing a couple of t-shirts (one Scooby-Doo, one Spiderman), two small Bionicles, and two videos. One of the videos was "Finding Nemo". The other was "It's My Best Birthday Ever Charlie Brown". Isaiah wanted to watch Nemo while we ate, but accepted that it was too long, and agreed that we should watch the birthday video on Gideon's birthday anyway.
"It's My Best Birthday Ever Charlie Brown" was a revalation to me. I have been a hardcore Peanuts fan all my life and never thought there could be such a thing as a bad Charlie Brown video. Well, let me tell you right here and now there is such a thing as a bad, lousy, in fact, Charlie Brown video and this one is it. The thing is only twenty five minutes long and I think at least a third of it is footage of Linus rollerblading! Not only was this simply super-cheap filler, the idea of Linus Van Pelt rollerblading is ludicrous. Charles Shultz' imprimatur was visibly shown in the opening credits, though I can't understand how he could allow his name to be put on such a project. I mean- Er, sorry. I'm ranting. It's just that I've never been disappointed by a Peanuts product before and it stings a little. The bottom line is save your ten bucks. Isaiah liked it, though, and that's the important part.
Isaiah continued to be fascinated by Gideon. He would stand and stare at him in the transparent sided crib they put the babies in at the hospital and he would always be right next to the baby when we held him. I think his very favorite thing to do was to sit in my lap and hold the baby with me. I know I had to get the slumbering infant out of his crib at least three times so that Isaiah could hold him in my lap.
Around ten we were all getting sleepy so we had a prayer and big hugs with Ruth and Gideon and then left them both tired but happy. I dropped Isaiah off at the Denby's house where he wanted to have a "sleepover" with Uncle John and then ended up here at home.
Those of you who have children know that glowing transcendent feeling that accompanies the birth of one of your children. I knew it with Isaiah and I am still (and will for a while yet) experiencing that with Gideon. This time, however, that feeling is intensified and multiplied by seeing it reflected in the eyes of my first son.