A year ago today, I lived in a much different word. A year ago, we were freshly celebrating the one-year anniversary of killing the most wanted man on the planet, Osama bin Laden. A year ago, we still weren’t sure if the first African-American president would be elected to another term as the leader of the free world. A year ago, many people thought the world was going to end just because the Mayan calendar was running out. A year ago, most people didn’t know where Aurora, Colorado, Oak Creek, Wisconsin, or Newtown, Connecticut were on a map. A year ago, Neil Armstrong, Andy Griffith, Norman Schwarzkopf, Mike Wallace and Ernest Borgnine still walked among us. A year ago today, we lost TV personality Dick Clark to a heart attack at the age of 82. One year ago today, I was working for the same company that had hired me three weeks off my last college final.
One year ago today, I thought life was hectic enough having one child and a full-time job. That’s probably because work had become a 24/7 job. I wasn’t particularly happy with my current position at the time, but nothing could take away from the joy that I was about to experience.
In the wee morning hours of April 18th, 2012, Mommy B was having some rather intense pregnancy pains. Since we basically had to force Alli out of the womb, Mommy B just thought these were the “fake” Braxton Hicks contractions she had heard so much about. She had never really experienced true labor pains before as she had her epidural in and flowing by the time Alli was evicted from her almost-10-month apartment. She had been having some shorter and less severe bouts earlier in the week, but that night/morning they were especially painful for her. At about 2am or so, she left the bedroom and told me that she was going to try to lie on the couch downstairs to get more comfortable. At 9½ months pregnant, that’s almost an impossibility. She had even called Grandma C to tell her how much pain she was in. Mother’s intuition struck, and Grandma C was in the car by 4am to make the 12-hour drive from Ohio to Charleston.
I dozed off for a couple more hours, but not fully asleep as I was still concerned about how my lovely bride was holding up downstairs. My alarm went off around 5:30am and I jumped in the shower to get ready for the work day, just as Mommy B came back upstairs to let me know that she was in pretty intense pain and she thought we should go to the hospital. 2 problems with that – 1) Alli’s school didn’t open until 7am and we didn’t have anyone around to watch her while Mommy B got checked out, and 2) I didn’t have my work laptop at home and therefore had no way of letting my manager (and my 50+ clients) know that I was going to be unavailable for the foreseeable future. Luckily, we had a hospital bag packed already and my work (and Alli’s school) were on the way to the hospital.
So I made a plan – we would all get in the car, dash by my work and grab my laptop, throw Alli at her teachers as soon as the school doors were unlocked and book it to the hospital. And we did just that. I pulled into work and have never flown up 8 flights of stairs faster in my life. I sprinted to my cubicle, grabbed my laptop and was back in the car before my door shut. Even Mommy B was impressed – and that’s saying something for a woman who has been dating a track star for 9 years and was in full-blown labor. We headed over to Alli’s school right as they were opening up. I handed Alli to her teacher and she said, “Is it time?” I yelled over my shoulder, “We’re on our way to the hospital! One of us will pick Alli up later!” I jumped back in the car, looked at Mommy B and said, “Can you make it?” She looked back at me, knowing we only had a couple miles to go up the road to the hospital and said, “DRIVE!” Well, yes ma’am!
After dodging some rush-hour traffic and a moron driving like he was out for a Sunday stroll even though it was 7:05am on a weekday, I swung the car into one of the Expectant Mother parking spots in front of the hospital and we ran inside. Mommy B had called ahead before we left the house, so they were expecting us. Right away, they got us checked in and the doctor came in to see how things were going. Again, since Mommy B had only been 3 centimeters dilated with Alli and had to force labor to start with Pitocin, we had no idea what to expect. Yeah, this time was a little different. Try 6 centimeters and her water about to break…
Well, holy crap… this was really happening. Today.
The doctors put Mommy B’s epidural in and we were ready to rock and roll. I spent the next hour or so getting on my laptop and informing work that I wouldn’t be into the office that day nor the next few days. Mommy B got on it as well to update Facebook and whatnot. And just like her labor with Alli, this one went just as textbook. No complications and just a few minutes of actual “pushing” and a year ago today, Aiden Ringling, my baby boy, was brought into this world.
While I was holding Aiden (with a permanent grin on my face), I couldn’t help but think about how different the process had been that day versus when we went through it 18 months earlier with Alli. When Alli was born we didn’t know her gender beforehand, so I was anxious and excited at the same time. It was like Christmas – I knew it was coming (even to the day, since we had to be induced) but I didn’t know what I was going to get. In addition, we had never been through the process before so I was nervous about labor complications and all the other stuff a soon-to-be-first-time-parent thinks about. So when she came out and I saw she was a she, I was over-the-moon excited, surprised, relieved, and still somewhat nervous about what lie ahead. She had all her fingers and toes, check. She had no issues breathing, check. Knowing that one day she would be a teenager… oh crap. Easy there Dad, one day at a time.
When Aiden was born, the script was totally flipped. We already knew Aiden’s gender (even though no one else did), but didn’t know that he was going to show up 2 weeks early. So once I finally calmed down from the rush to the hospital, I was actually able to relax and enjoy his birth. Not saying that I didn’t enjoy Alli’s birth, but I was in a constant battle of nerves and excitement that day being a first-timer and not knowing her gender. With Aiden, the nerves had subsided (for the most part) and I was able to really drink in the whole experience. With experience and knowledge on my side, I walked around the labor room with a grin already attached to my face. And when he finally came out 4 hours after we had gotten to the hospital, thank goodness again – no complications. He had all his fingers and toes, check. He had no issues breathing, check. Knowing that my family was finally complete, double-check.
Happy birthday Aiden! I love you big guy and I’m proud of how far you’ve come in a year.