Then, suddenly, it happened.
Erin was pushing, as she had been for 1 hour and 39 minutes, and the next thing you know they were putting our child onto Erin’s chest. The nurses went into a flurry of activity, using snot suckers to remove detritus from our baby’s mouth and nose. The baby’s eyes popped open, as did its mouth, and it began to breathe. It was one of the singularly most amazing things I’ve ever seen, and I can barely remember it, it was so laden with emotion. I looked at Erin, she looked at me, we both looked at our baby curled up on her chest.
To be honest, this part is a bit of a haze. I’m not sure Erin remembers any better. We had a baby! It was breathing! The little worm had finally arrived! In fact, I think both Erin and I were talking to the baby, calling it Little Worm, which we had been calling it for the past nine months. We didn’t find out the sex before the birth, so Little Worm was a way of addressing whatever it was that had been inside Erin’s womb.
I think it was Dr. Koala who made some comment about “Little worm? Is that what you call him?” Erin and I looked at each other – “him?” We hadn’t bothered to check what sex Little Worm was! Dr. Koala realized she hadn’t either, so she grabbed a leg and lifted, and said “Well Dad? Whaddya think? What have we got here?” “It’s definitely a boy,” I said after taking a peek. And thus, at 4:39PM on 7/24/2010, our little baby began his life.
After the nurses got him roughly cleaned up, we took a slightly closer look, and that’s when we noticed his hands. They were huge, with big, long fingers. I looked at Erin and said “Those are piano playing hands. It looks like it’s going to be Thelonious, then.” We’d had a short list of names we liked, but Thelonious (Theo) had been at or near the top of the boy’s list for some time. Now we knew the name would fit perfectly. But what would his middle name be?
I wanted James, for James Brown, and because I just loved the sound of “Thelonious James.” Erin didn’t love “Jim,” so we had others to consider, such as Dashiell, Pascal, and now because of the music that was playing when he was born, George! It was Erin who said “He should be Thelonious James,” which of course made me so happy I started to cry immediately. Our little funky baby had a name.
There was plenty left to do still – there’s the placenta, there’s the umbilical cord (which I got to cut!), and there are all sorts of proddings and pokings that immediately follow a birth. Like I said, it all gets pretty hazy at this point, I was so overwhelmed with emotion. I did, however, take a minute to go out to the visitor’s area and tell the news to the family. I could barely stand. On the way back to the birthing suite, I bumped into Lisa, our lunch break nurse, who wrapped me in a big hug and offered congratulations. What a great day.
When I got back, the doctor and extra nurses were pretty much done, and once again we were alone with Elaine. Now it was time to do some measuring, so she asked me to help out by bringing him over to the scale, and then to the table where they measured his length. That’s when the first photos of Theo were taken.
From the scale to the table with the heat lamps, to get measured. 21 inches long. A string bean, just like his dad. While on the table, he did a push-up and looked around at us. Elaine was slightly taken aback, and jokingly asked him “Could you please behave like a newborn? You’re not supposed to be able to do that.” (Okay, we promise we won’t bore you to tears with percentiles or stupid baby tricks. But you have to admit a push-up within the first hour of birth is pretty wild.)
Usually I’m pretty bad about taking pictures. All of the sudden all I want to do is photograph our baby, over and over. Just look at him! What’s not to love?
Of course, now Erin could order food. She hadn’t eaten in a very long time, and had just done the hardest workout she’d ever do in her life. It was time to order everything off the menu, which she practically did, and ate with relish. We brought in Carlin, Rob and Cheri to see Theo, which is when I start appearing in photographs:
And after what I’m sure was an agonizing wait for her, an adoring Grandma:
Eventually we moved from the birthing suite to a maternity room, where essentially we collapsed. It had been a very long day, which no sleep the night before. But we were happy, and now we were three. Theo slept in a little bassinet next to Erin’s bed, and nurses came in every few hours to check on all of us. I had a fold out chair to sleep on, but Erin said I should sleep in her bed with her. There wasn’t a lot of room, but we didn’t need any room. We just needed sleep.
As restless as that first night was, it was still wonderful. Theo made little noises every now and then, and Erin and I laid there, listening to him, thinking about how different our life would be from now on. We finally drifted off, catnapping for the rest of the night in between nurse visits.
The next day was a non-stop parade of visits, mostly doctors and nurses. There were tests to administer, forms to fill out, cord blood to donate, lactation consultants, baby pictures (see the photos section)… it was endless. The family stopped by to visit, and we talked Carlin and Rob into staying one more night so that we could celebrate Carlin’s birthday, which it now was. We had to stay in the hospital until they could get his weight at exactly 24 hours, after which we left and went home.
We had a quiet barbecue in the backyard to celebrate Theo’s arrival at home and Carlin’s birthday. It was a wonderful end to a very long weekend.
Well, Theo, that’s your story. From here on out, it’s up to you. We can’t wait to see how it turns out.
Steve & Erin, August 2010.