It's hot and steamy in Brooklyn. 93 degrees yesterday. Susanna and I had been holed up in our tiny basement apartment for over 48 hours blasting the air conditioner and living on popsicles. But it wasn't because of the heat. She was suffering a latent contraction every five minutes and had been in that uncomfortable state since Thursday morning. We whittled the hours away with music and backrubs waiting for something to change. Finally, at about 9am her body seemed to give her some reprieve.
I made the dangerous mile and an half drive to Costco to stock up on the last few provisions needed before we get holed up again for a few weeks with an infant. The heat was sticky and sweat was running down my forehead and off my nose as I stuffed the last of the groceries into the back of the car and held them still with my hip so that I could reach up and close the hatch__ and then I saw myself from a distance: young guy, desperately in need of a shave, disheveled hair, thin, tired, in ill fitting and mismatched shorts and T-shirt forcing a box of 234 diapers into the back of a trying-not-to-look-like-a-station-wagon. And that was the first time it really hit me; I'm a Dad!! __ Almost.
The more I turned it over in my head the more excited I got and the faster I drove home so that I could make Susanna take a picture of me unloading the car. I was honestly having the most exciting time of my life.
We ate a small dinner and decided that I should take advantage of the moment of peace to walk the dog, who also hadn't been outside for three days. So I harnesed him up and out we went into the heat as the sun was setting while Susanna rested.
It was almost 9 o'clock at night on a Saturday in July. People were lined up around the block at Bartlet Pritchard Square waiting to see The Dark Knight at the Pavillion Theater. There was a crowd gathered at The Bandshell in Prospect Park watching a Bruce Lee movie and laughing together at the racial stereotypes and bad dubbing. Reggie (our dog) chased the fire flies. People were playing in the shower of a fire hydrant that had been opened for a block party on 12th street and I dipped my head into the water to escape the heat.
That was when Susanna called.I ran down 7th Avenue with the dog under my arm, through the shoppers and the resturant patrons, the water in my hair dripping onto my shirt. Running across the bridge over The Prospect Expressway I could see summer fireworks bursting above the harbor between New York and New Jersey. When I turned the corner onto 21st Street there were red and blue showers of sparks popping over the Statue of Liberty on the water down the hill from our front door.
The rest happened like clock-work. From the first, the contractions were about ten minutes apart. I gave Suzi a blessing and they soon jumped to five minutes apart. I packed a bag for the hospital and they were three minutes apart. We drove the 14 short blocks down 7th Avenue to New York Methodist and they admitted Susanna at 11pm.
An Epidural is an amazing thing. One minute my sweet wife is screaming that my breathe stinks like Blue Corn Tortilla Chips and I better stop blowing in her face, the next she is my best friend, smiling and joking. We should maybe think harder about solving more of the world's problems chemically. After three days of labor, no sleep, and little food we were both grateful she could get this bit of intervention.
I, on the other hand, was starving, despite my tortilla chips. It was about 4am and all signs showed that we still had an hour or two to go. I let Susanna get some sleep and walked across the street to the only all-night spot in our neighborhood; The Grecian Diner. It was in this little resturant that Susanna had shot a scene in a film five months earlier. And now I was the only customer, just before the sun was to come up on Sunday morning, trying to flip through the Post and eat my spinach omlette, itching to leave. I couldn't stop smiling.I ran back to the hospital and within 15 minutes we were pushing, or at least Suzi was. She pushed for about an hour, then suddenly, there was a gulp for air, and a cry, and a new little man stepped through the door and into the Earth. Our little man. I cut the cord. His Mother said he is beautiful.
6 lbs. 14 oz. 20 Inches July 20, 2008 6:05am Sunday Morning