The Home Stretch

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012, 8:00 am

So, the last nine months.

On New Year’s Day the wife and I were at a party, the Steeler game was on in the corner, and we got to chatting about the future. Maybe, she said, we should think about maybe having a baby. In the fall, maybe, that’s when we should start trying. And I said, sure, let’s think about maybe trying in the fall. Maybe.

It was cold that night, colder than I thought, because when we got home and I dragged our expired Christmas tree out to the curb for the garbagemen, I didn’t see that our driveway was a sheet of black ice. My feet flew into the air and I executed a DDT on my left hand that Jake “The Snake” Roberts would’ve been proud of. I knew I hurt my hand, but I could make a fist and squeeze and there seemed to be good blood flow. It wasn’t until 10 days later, when the swelling had fully subsided and I really took stock of the situation, that I conceded that the pinky knuckle on my hand was about an inch to the right of where it should be.

An X-ray confirmed the damage, I got my hand splinted, and I made an appointment to see an orthopedist the next morning. That would be my second stop on the day–first I had to drive Lindsay to the airport, as she was flying to California to visit her best friend Lori. As we zipped down the Parkway I assured Lindsay that I didn’t hate her for leaving me for a week of wine-drenched debauchery while I had a busted paw. “I’ll be fine, they’ll probably just put me in a cast for a few weeks.”

“I hope they don’t have to move the bone back into place,” she said.

“Why?” I said, alarmed. “Does that hurt?”

And Lindsay, who works with transplant patients and has worked on her bedside manner for over a decade, said, “OH yeah.”

I dropped her off and drove back across town for my appointment, trying not to forget Lindsay’s cheery “OH yeah” that was ringing in my ears. At my appointment I learned the good news–there would be no manual bone-shifting. The bad news was that I needed surgery to put a pin in my hand to set the bone, and could I make myself available for that surgery the following morning? Terrific. Lindsay, who’s life’s work is tending to sick children, many of whom she helps through the trauma of surgery, was even then being whisked away from a child already quailing at the thought of the operating theater–me.

There was nothing to be done. I made the appointment, arranged for my dad to take me to the hospital, told Lindsay the news while trying very hard not to saddle her with an enormous guilt trip for ABANDONING HER COWARDLY HUSBAND in his time of need. No fooling though, I was spooked, didn’t like the idea of having anesthesia, defintely didn’t like the size of the needle they stuck in my arm for the nerve block, REALLY didn’t like watching the ultrasound of my arm as the doctor wiggled the needle around inside my arm to find the nerve. Unpleasant.

But the surgery went well, the drugs they gave me were fairly awesome, my dad stayed over at my house to make sure I didn’t knock myself out with my deadened arm, and Saturday morning he went home before a minor snow shower hit. I was sitting on the couch, a blanket draped over my legs. I had a big cup of coffee at my elbow and a Vicodin erasing the pain and making everything all glowy. Morgan the dog slumbered at my feet, one eye cocked just in case I felt like getting up and giving her a treat.

When Linsday called it was around noon. We said our hellos and then she asked if we could do a FaceTime call. We both have iPhones but we’d never used that feature before. I figured she wanted to see how I was, how her wounded warrior was rebounding from his ordeal. Obviously, the Vicodin was having a powerful effect on my faculties.

So there’s my wife’s lovely face before me and she looked lovely. Lovely, and in shock. I sensed something was amiss and and when she said, “I need to show you something,” only two possibilties came to mind. The first was that SHE had somehow broken her hand, which frankly is the sort of one-upsmanship that’s beneath her.

The second possibility is what she showed me. Which was a pregnancy test stick. She brought it closer to the screen and I was able to make out the word “PREGNANT”. Her face again filled the screen and I, always quick-witted, said, “Is that yours?”

Is that yours. I meant it as half-a-joke, of course I knew it was hers, but I was gobsmacked enough that half-a-joke was all I could muster. She explained that they’d been about to head out to a winery when she realized that she, well, was a little late. Late enough to make her go, “Hmm”. Her friend Lori happened to have a pregnancy test lying around (as I guess women do) and Lindsay took it knowing, knowing, that it would come back negative. Because we hadn’t even been trying. Lindsay was explaining all this to Lori when she looked down at the stick and just as she looked down at it the word PREGNANT flashed on the tiny screen and when it did Lindsay let out a little shriek. One that sent Lori rushing into the room, to find Lindsay walking out of the bathroom like a zombie, saying, “Lori, I’m pregnant!”.

This all unfolded with me 3,000 miles away, watching big fluffy snowflakes fall from the sky unto our deck below. Oh, how simple life was then. Well, as simple as it can be with your hand encased in fiberglass and a four-inch pin stuck into your flesh. And then came that phone call and my broken hand suddenly wasn’t such a big deal anymore. I remember pacing around the first floor as we talked, me reassuring her that we were ready for this, everything would be fine, that I was surprised but happy. I guess I actually believed all these things because I had a goofy smile on my face the whole time. And it wasn’t the Vicodin. And I remembered that conversation Linds and I had on New Year’s Day. We’d talked about maybe trying in the fall–turns out she was already pregnant. And instead of trying, we’d be having a baby.

I had to wait a week for Lindsay to get home, to see my wife and, in some manner of speaking, meet our child. It didn’t seem real then, that in nine months, God willing, we’d have a baby. It got really real a few weeks later when Linds was feeling acute pain and we thought something was wrong, we went to the ER and they did an ultrasound and there she was, a little grey shadow on the screen, with a little kernel in the center pumping away, her heart chugging along already.

There have been other milestones along the way–we learned that the baby is indeed a she, we picked out a name (Reese Jacquelyn), my office was repurposed into the nursery, and then we filled that nursery with gifts from Lindsay’s showers. Lindsay went from losing weight early in her pregnancy to finally showing a little bump, to having a somersaulting, hiccuping dervish inside her, and now she’s big enough and round enough that she can comfortably rest a bowl on her belly, something that she enjoys doing a bit too much. People keep asking, are you guys ready, and we say, sure, we have everything we could possibly need.

Except for Reese. Her due date is September 21st but of course she could come any day. And we’re just waiting for THE day, her day, when she’ll arrive and join our family. I don’t really feel nervous right now, I think I know that I’ll be nervous enough when the time comes so I might as well conserve my energy so I have gigawatts of adrenaline to burn off when it’s time to head to the hospital. It’ll happen when it happens. If I can’t quite believe that this IS going to happen, after nine months of waiting, well, I’ll bet I’m not the first father to feel this way.

I don’t have anything especially perceptive to say about my impending fatherhood, people ask me what I think, what I’m feeling, and I’m at a loss for words. About all I can say is that what I want most of all is to finally meet my daughter. I want to see her, wish her Happy Birthday, and see her and her mother together. And then, we’ll see how it all goes after that.

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7 Responses to “The Home Stretch”

  1. Darcy Says:

    Aw, y’all might get a little Virgo baby! So happy for you guys. A Libra baby would be great, too, of course. Wishing every good thing to you both during these last days of waiting and in your whole lifetime ahead with Reese Jacquelyn.

  2. SirFWALGMan Says:

    Gratz Gene! You know she did kinda one up you.

  3. Craig Cunningham Says:

    Girls are terrible, because a father simply gives them any and everything they desire. What an exciting next volume of your life that will unfold. Could not be happier for you, Gene!

  4. Cynthia Closkey Says:

    Congratulations!

    Also, welcome back to the blogging world. You were missed. You’re going to have to perfect some way of blogging while drowsy, because you’ve got a lot of late nights and early mornings in the near future.

  5. Pauly Says:

    Congrats Gene & Lindsay I’m holding out for the UNDER on the due date by just 24 hrs so Reese and I have the SAME birthday.

  6. Bertille Donohoe Says:

    A beautfiul rendering of your experiences, Gene. I am really moved by your story. I have seen that “goofy” smile on your face since I first found out that Lindsay was pregnant, and it’s the most sincere, joyous and proud look I’ve ever seen on your face. Love and prayers to you three, Bertille

  7. Brenda Cole Says:

    Wow! Congratulations! It’s a touching one. Just so grateful for sharing such. :)

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