I woke to a vivid dream at 3:23am this morning. It wasn't a weird nightmare or indigestion, but it had an urgent, compelling electrical charge that had me wide awake. It also featured my ex.... and usually those dreams are brought about by indigestion, but it only took me a few moments to realize that this was completely different. My daughter was born twenty years ago, at precisely 3:10am. Wowsers! My ex...... ah, forget this "ex" thingee, Cheryl.. her name is Cheryl, and she was a prominent actor in that drama twenty years ago, too. Go figure that one! And the real deal is that the story of my daughter's birth was really a good one and for that I will always have a good thought for Cheryl for as long as I live.
It was a hot summer in 1989 and July was a real heat wave. I remember the day-time high temperatures were consistently in the mid to upper 90's and would only cool off in the evening to the mid 70's. Now that can't be a lot of fun for a pregnant woman who is ten days overdue. We were living, for the most part, in a air-conditioned second floor bedroom. I was remodeling the downstairs bathroom.... I had that sucker ripped out to the bare walls; had finished re-wiring the room and had installed the new sink.... but the heat and the extra time I spent being a supportive father & husband to a nine month along pregnant had rather curtailed that project. I would be home at five; too hot to cook downstairs so I would run and get carry-out or deli, fruits &salad, play with three year old Max... do the chores, laundry..... then try to get some remodel work done. It was a hectic time, but we were all good and very happy. ( except those moments when Cheryl would tell me, in flourished terms, how fucking lousy she felt being nine months pregnant during a heat wave. Oh, the vocabulary she had in those moments!)
So at 2:30am on July 15th Cheryl wakes me up with a scream, actually several, and then nonchalantly said, " I think I am having the baby now!" I sensed a certain veracity in the way she made the pronunciation and called up Uncle Mike to come watch Max and then did the Fatherly kind of stuff.... threw the bag in the car, watched a little MTV, smoked a joint..... no, I jest. Mike was there in minutes and seconds later I have assisted Cheryl to the car where she takes one look at the open door and says," Oh, my God, I can't sit down!" Well, having a baby in the drive way is not an option, so I help maneuver her into the back seat where she crouches on all fours. Now, this is where the fun really starts.
Now the Oshkosh hospital is only five blocks away but Cheryl has checked this all out and has decided that we will have our babies at the regional medical center in Neenah.... state-of-the-art stuff for having babies and a really neat-o spiffy emergency neo-natal center& bells&whistles. If anything was to go drastically wrong they would ship her there anyway and it was really only a nine mile ride up the lake road from our house. And it is truly not my call. If she had told me she would rather have had the babies on the moon, I would have helped make the arrangements.
So I am doing about 75mph up Cty A while periodically reaching over to the back seat and bracing her butt so she doesn't tip over. "CAN YOU PLEASE HURRY!!!", she demurely implores. I push the needle to 80 and hope there are no errant raccoons on the road. Now the whole deal starts seeming kinda funny and I start chuckling a little. "WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU LAUGHING ABOUT AND CAN YOU PLEASE FUCKING HURRY." I believe there were a few other comments she made and a few screams and that deep breathing shit that they tell women to do. I have a quick thought of picking up a six pack at the Payne's Point Bar, but realize that they are probably closed. The thought makes me chuckle. "THIS IS NOT FUNNY!!" I believe the volume from the back seat is getting louder and so is that deep breathing thingee.
So we make it to Theda Clark Memorial.... I pull up to the main door, which of course is locked, run to the emergency room, grab an orderly with a wheel chair and run it back to the front door where the orderly and I prepare to extract Cheryl from the back seat. "I CAN'T MOVE!" she calmly states and continues panting. Ok. So he grabs an ankle, I grab an ankle and we slowly help her get out of the car. When she is standing, she looks down at the wheelchair and casually says, " I CAN'T SIT ON THAT GODDAM THING!!", and when she puts it that way makes good sense, but she also can't walk and the water has broke and if a drive way at home is no place to have a baby, a sidewalk in front of a hospital isn't going to be a lot better. So my buddy, Mr. Orderly, and I arrange to have her kneel on the seat of the wheel chair facing backwards. He pushes and I help brace her in while we cruise right through the hospital and up the elevator to the maternity section. I remember seeing a clock on the hall wall that said 2:55 and thinking that I really made good time on the drive up the lake road.
So we are in the room, I have a nurse with me and the orderly now. The nurse tells Cheryl to 'just climb into bed' , to which Cheryl calmly replies "I CAN'T!!!!!!", So the orderly guy, the nurse and I help her get into bed; the nurse says, to me, "Take her panties off...I'll get the Doctor" to which I think, simultaneously, that there is no way the Doc is going to be here and it is underwear, not panties. They were panties before she was pregnant. I barely finish taking off her underwear when the Doc walks in (there was a record number of babies that day... he was in house) goes into a crouch like a baseball catcher and immediately stands up with a beautiful baby girl. I cut the cord, the nurse finishes up the stuff, Cheryl looks at me and says, "You were a dear, but I am a little tired and think I will take a nap." It was just all that quick.
And I was a Dad, again.
Thank you, Cheryl.
I love you, Bug! Happy Birthday!