Today my son turns twenty-one. Wow. I have a full grown adult. Well, in age at least ;).
My baby boy. I sit here and try to think of the inspirational words I want to give to him on this monumental day. They fail me. Why, you may ask, does a person with a million words and even more opinions find herself not able to express herself in regards to this fine young man? Simple. I am awestruck.
Twenty one years ago yesterday I found myself feeling the immediate need to move all of my possessions from the little one bedroom apartment on Riddle Road just below the University of Cincinnati to Amelia, Ohio. To the best of my recollection, it was something like an hour drive (remember, it was over two decades ago). My Mom was there to help me move and to help me welcome this little soul into the world. As I was unpacking dishes in my new kitchen, Alex’s father left to get the last load of items from the old apartment. My Mom was bustling about. I suddenly realized that I needed to use the bathroom, bad, now. To remove the graphics I will leave you with this – as a mom to be who had just turned twenty, I had never been around pregnant people, did not know the stories, was ignorant of the ways of childbirth (yes Ms. Scarlett, I had never birthed a baby!). So, when I went to the use the bathroom and simultaneously my water broke – I was mortified not knowing what had happened and thinking that the baby had somehow broken my bladder (pause, two, three four). Yes, of course my Mom laughed (in retrospect, can I blame her?).
My Mom, in all of her wisdom, took a hand towel and rolled it up, stuffed it strategically into my sweatpants and handed me my coat. So not only did I have the pregnant (ready to pop) waddle, it was exaggerated to umpteenth degree with this towel between my legs (obviously my Mom must not have been around a lot of pregnant people either! hmpf). Picture John Wayne nine months pregnant. Yep, that was me. She loaded me and my bag into the car and away we went.
I pause here – this morning I watched snow flurries and almost cried. You see, twenty one years ago in Cincinnati, Ohio we were experiencing a huge snow storm of dangerous proportions. Snow was crazy. So it is only fitting that today, heaven allowed a few new flurries to fall to remind me even more of that day…
Back to the story – twenty one years ago it was not as if everyone on the planet had a cell phone. So we left a note and to the hospital we tore a path. Well, Mom tore a path, I waddled one out. We were in the car, making the trek to the hospital, in the blinding snow. My contractions were under ten minutes apart. Breathe, breathe, breathe. My Mom was fueled by my labor pains. She was in a panic. She was speeding. Speeding, snow, major city…cop! So as the lights came up behind us, my Mother looks at me and says, “It is an emergency and I am not going to stop.” And stop, she did not. We were moving right along, the cop was in tow. He pulls up along side of us and Mom points at me screams baby and keeps going. He pulls in front of her, slows, we stop. He comes to the car. To this day I can remember the cop in detail. He was a big fella, big cheeks that were red (either from the cold or from his blood pressure of having a car chase on his hands). My Mom screams – “SHE’S HAVING A BABY!!!” He calmly asks, “Which hospital?” She screams “UC”. He calmly says, “I see she is having a baby, which hospital.” Still screaming “UC, the University of Cincinnati you idiot”. The cop, now a little redder tells my mother to follow him.
Pause again – I have seen movies with a car chase and one with a police escort. They are all good and fun. HOWEVER, that is not translated as well in real life…
With escort leading the way we made our way through downtown Cincinnati. The cop would roll in front of a green light, Mom would speed on through. He would speed back in front of us to repeat the same at the next light. We get to the hospital as I realize that I am sitting on the edge of my seat (literally), one hand clutching the dashboard, the other clutching the handle of the door. You might think that this is because of the overwhelming pain that accompanies labor. Nope. It was from the sheer terror of the trip, the snow, the cop, the speeding. My labor pains, in my terrible state of panic, had come to a complete halt.
The cop runs into the hospital and brings out the most ancient wheelchair that was rackety and wobbled back and forth. He was so proud of himself. I got in, he pushed me into the hospital. “Lady having a baby!” And away we go. I was then taken to the birthing ward where all of the mothers go (kind of like a staging area). Moms-to-be are on beds, separated by curtains. No real privacy. That is why I could hear the conversation of the people next to me. Sigh. Even today I cannot understand the why’s and wherefore’s of this world. The “couple” next to me, it was divined through LENGTHY conversation, were discussing how long it had been since she turned her last trick and that she needed to ask the doctor how long it would be before she could start having sex again. He told her that he was tired of footing her bill. My heart broke for this faceless person on the other side of the curtain. As they wheeled me to the birthing room, the man looked from behind the curtain and I mumbled, “poor girl you piece of shit”. Sometimes I wonder what happened to the baby of that woman. Where did it end up? But that is a sad thought and this is a happy day….
To the birthing room we went. In it there was plenty of room, a bed with stirrups and a tv. Enough room for a couple of people. TV….a couple of people….yeah. On the TV through the night we watched two things – old black and whites of Tarzan and the Glorious Ladies Of Wrestling (GLOW). Now, about those people. There was Mom, Alex’s dad and grandmother and a number of doctors. See, my doctor asked me if I would mind, seeing as it was a learning hospital, if a few doctors could step in from time to time. And they did. En mass.
A few other details – I did not scream with pain, I had tears stream down my face. They could not find contractions only to find later that I was having back labor. After fourteen hours of labor, into the world popped Alexander Zachary and into my life.
To borrow a line from Robin Williams, he looked like Ghandi dipped in forty weight. Why would I bring up Robin Williams – well it was at the end of his concert, Love at the Met, that Robin is speaking to his son and he says, “Come on Zach”… I had chosen Alexander as my unborn son’s first name in honor of my Grandfather who was so very dear to me. The moment I heard “Zach” I thought – Alexander Zachary….that is a good name. So, thank you Robin Williams, I appreciate you and your son greatly.
That is the story of the birth of my son. The snow has started back up. My eyes have tears. My Son sits in the recliner in front of me preparing for his evening of debauchery. And I sigh. My baby boy.
My life has been forever changed by this wonderful, caring soul. He is a quiet figure that is very steadfast in his thoughts. He is caring to a fault. He has chosen to teach math. The world will be forever changed by him, my world is forever changed by him.
My Son, the man.