By Tim Hayes
The slate-gray, indistinct, diluted-milky skies had opened overnight, dumping more than a foot of fresh, soggy, weighty snow onto our house, our tiny back yard, and our relatively reliable Chevy Celebrity.
So out I plodded, having laced up my clodhopper boots and wrapped myself in layers of sweatshirts, parka, tossle-cap and gloves, snow shovel in one hand and car keys in the other. Once a passable trail from the back porch to the driveway had been cleared and salted, the Celebrity next got sprung from its precipitatory prison.
I climbed behind the wheel and rocked that Chevy to and fro until the back tires caught sufficient traction to get into the alley and go for a test run. All through this process, the snow kept falling, so I knew I had more shoveling and sweeping and salting ahead of me.
But on I drove, through city streets unplowed, slipping and skidding and fishtailing my way toward my destination – Allentown Hospital, where our first child would be born. Maybe even that day. Assuming I could get back home that is, where my dear wife sat, great with child, as the Good Book says.
In my rookie days of fatherhood, I had convinced myself that making a test run alone – even though the possibility of getting stuck or having an accident stood pretty high – remained the smart thing to do.
What is it about men getting their wives to the hospital to have a baby? We lose our minds. Looking back now, I’m reminded of that “Dick Van Dyke Show” episode, where Rob Petrie goes to bed fully dressed in a suit and tie, and keeps practicing putting his hat on to leave the house with maximum speed. That’s about how clearly I must have been thinking in our situation, too.
Anyway, thank heaven I made it back home unscathed, because we ended up going to the hospital later that day. This time with the mom-to-be on board.
They got her situated in a pre-birthing room, waiting for the contractions to intensify. And we waited. And waited. And waited. The doctor eventually came in and told us to go home, have a nice dinner, and see if things would start moving along overnight or the next day.
With the dawn, the main event truly got rolling. The doctor broke her water and declared, “You are going to have a baby – today!” After an epidural and some other medications to help things along, at 7:50 p.m., 25 years ago today, our first child – a beautiful, healthy girl – was born.
They tell me that the doctor had me cut the umbilical cord, and I have no reason to doubt their testimony, but I’ll be damned if I can remember doing that. The waves of emotion, amazement, wonder, joy, and a thousand other feelings cascading and crashing through my head and heart by that time were only matched at the birth of our two other children years later.
You wonder whether miracles happen? You wonder whether God exists? Not if you’ve witnessed the birth of your own kids, you don’t. There’s no doubt. None whatsoever.
Since that January evening in 1991, we’ve seen that tiny infant grow and learn and blossom into a confident, intelligent, accomplished, funny, productive young person – just the same as her younger sister and brother have done, each in unique and wonderful ways. I like to think I’ve advanced somewhat from my Rookie Dad period, as well, but that’s not for me to determine, I guess.
We’re lucky that the holidays for us extend a few more days, as we celebrate this birthday each year. Hard to believe 25 years have gone by. In the blink of an eye, my darling girl. Truly, in the blink of an eye. Happy Birthday!
Copyright 2016 Transverse Park Productions LLC and Tim Hayes Consulting