Thursday, April 15, 2010

Birth Day #1: Champaign 1991

It wasn't all that long after moving from Montana that Fru became pregnant. She had just started a controller's job at her old bank and I was doing landscape work. I remember how shocked I was, how I asked her to take the little store-bought test twice. I mean, we'd planned to start a family. She had gone off the pill. But we were under the impression that it would take a while.
It took me a while to adjust to her pregnancy. Og course, it took Fru the whole nine months to keep readjusting to it. But she loved being pregnant and I loved that she was happy--and I was happy--and we waited and watched for our first baby.
(In many ways it all seemed unreal. I was never the marriage/baby kind of a guy, not until I met Fru, so the idea that we would have a child was strange to me. Babies were for TV and movies, for relatives and strangers. But, I was also fascinated. I was anticipating fatherhood, though I had no complete concept what it meant. [Though this is not entirely true in the sense that, obviously, Fru and I had discussed having children, had agreed on it and tried--it just came a tad sooner than I thought it would, besides the fact that having a child is something you have to experience to understand the enormity and deep pleasure of it.])
Then came the day. Our first daughter was early, actually. I know Fru woke up very early, then woke me later to tell me she was having contractions. Okay. She wasn'T nervous and I wasn't nervous. We called her sister and father to tell them. (I'm trying to remember if this was when I was writing a screenplay and had to fax it to L.A. that same exact day and had to go do that before we went to the hospital, or if that was when Second Daughter was born.) We had been to see the doctor at his clinic, we had been to Lamaze classes and watched videos, read books, talked to people, so we thought we were ready. We were ready.
Eventually we got in the car and drove. Fru's contractions were picking up, so she felt more comfortable riding in the seat backwards. Champaign is a small town--the hospital, Covenant, was in Urbana--so I didn't worry about driving slow with her not in a seat belt and sitting on her knees backwards in the passenger seat. Okay. But there was another problem: it turned out we didn't know where the hospital was.
In my mind, I knew where the place was. But it turned out that that was Carl Hospital, which was near Covenant. Now, this was Fru's town (her hometown is Chicago, but she grew up in Champaign by age 13 or so), so I assumed she knew where the dang hospital was. But she couldn't tell me. (Oh yeah, she was wearing this big, billowy t-shirt that had a big elephant imprinted on it--I don't know where she got it, but that's what she wore.) So, I was driving down these small roads looking for the hospital while Fru sat backwards having contractions wearing her big elephant t-shirt.
Eventually we pulled over and asked some very surprised people walking on the sidewalk where the heck Covenant Hospital was. Luckily, they knew.
So, off we went.
Wheeling Fru into the elevator the person coming out was her pediatrician. He was surprised to see us, as she was not due for a few more days or a week. "Not you?" he said--he'd just delivered an early baby. "Yes," Fru said, smiling. "Okay, I'll see you soon then." And up we went and they gave us a nice room and nurses came and eventually the doctor came and then we went to another room and then it was push push push, good good good, here comes the head, it's a girl, cry cry cry. ohmygods etcetc and I was holding my daughter.
And Fru got to hold her too.
Then there was a move to another room, our new first baby being taken to the room with other babies. The staying, the people visiting, our baby being brought into the room for feeding and care. I mean, it's so strange and wonderful: You have a baby! What do I do with this baby? You love the baby.
So, Fru and I loved the baby.
After a slight delay--she wouldn't eat much and wouldn't pee in her diaper--we took her home.
We had a crib set up--I said we were ready--and other things we were told we needed and then we got our brand new baby to sleep and we went to sleep and then "WHAAAAA" the baby wakes up and we feed her. Sleep and "WHAAAAAA" wake and so on.
But, the baby is ours. She is sweet and smells sweet and is a joy to hold and she is ours, Fru's and mine.
And we love the baby.

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