August 6, 2008.
Sunny, warm, but not hot.
Sergeant Major Mommy was not SMM yet. But, she was close. Official due date for the twins was August 24. Ok, we felt that we have a couple of weeks to get the house in order for the big arrival. We’d just had the kitchen touched up, the main bathroom remodeled, the hardwood floors refinished. All I had to do was move the furniture back into place over the next few days, finish building the baby furniture, set up the baby bedroom with pictures and mobiles and furry stuffed animals placed conspicuously about. We had plenty of time.
On this day, SMM-to-be was scheduled to see her doctor in the morning as a regular checkup on her pregnancy. She asked me to accompany her since I was, now, out of work.
I had been laid off two weeks prior to this date. How inhuman is it to lay someone off knowing that their wife is pregnant? I had the last laugh. The company has since gone out of business.
We went to her OB/GYN at the hospital. I was not impressed by her and I didn’t like her. She was a little too short for me, short in attitude that is. SMM-to-be liked her, and I guess that is all that mattered. My wife dealt with high blood pressure throughout the pregnancy and was being monitored closely. She was put on bed rest for the past two weeks.
The doctor took my wife’s blood pressure and announced “Today is The Day.” I immediately objected and said things like “We are so not ready”, “We have another two weeks for her due date” and “Can we not wait at least another two days so that their birth day would be 8/08/08?”
But, the doctor would have none of it and said, “Be at the hospital by 2:00pm.” It was now 10:00 in the morning. My wife stayed at the hospital and I had to go home and pack the bags.
I could not feel anger or frustration or disappointment. After all, I was about to become a daddy and I really had no choice but to trust the doctor. I wanted to support my wife and she didn’t need me to be or feel anything other than support and love.
I head home and begin the process of packing for the hospital. The house was a mess. Since we were not anticipating such an abrupt and immediate end to the pregnancy, we had not prepared. Bad move. Preparation is everything. We figure we would have a few days for the babies to come home, so we did not pack anything for the little buggers-to-be. I made sure SMM-to-be had everything she needed, cosmetics and clothes mainly. After all, she had given me a list. If I missed or forgot something, we would have to make do and pick it up on the rebound.
I have done a lot of acting in my life and there is a feeling I’ve always gotten the minute before I go on stage. It is an odd combination of excitement and fear. This is something I’ve prepared for, but I didn’t know what it was going to be like until I actually did it. The feeling I felt of driving to the hospital was 10x the feeling of going on stage. This was a much bigger stage.
Even bigger than the thought of “What do I do now?” in the operating room is the thought, “Will I be a good daddy for these kids?” In reality, I was not prepared emotionally for the birth of my children. Nevertheless, I don’t think I could have been.
We get to the hospital and check in. We are ushered to the prep room where we both have to put on hospital garments including masks. Looking back at it all, it was all a blur and happened so fast. Moving from one room to another. Anticipation is bubbling over. What do I do? Am I doing whatever right? I realize the best thing for me to do is to support SMM-to-be. She is the one doing all the heavy lifting, so to speak. Be here for mommy, be here for mommy, be here for mommy. I repeat in my head over and over again. Follow directions. Be positive. Hold her hand. Smile.
She is taken to the Delivery Room and will have a C-section. I found out later most twins are born this way, especially since she is two weeks shy of full term, which is really good for twins.
A curtain is placed over her abdomen so that we cannot see the actual incision. I sit next to her head. The doctor sort of gives us a play by play of what’s happening. It’s so fast. I’m not ready. Am I ready for this? Will I be a good daddy? I hope she is ok. Yes, dear, everything is ok, smile, smile, smile….
And here is Number One.
He comes out kicking and screaming. He wanted to come out right away according to the doctor. Nurses taken him and weigh him, clean him and wrap him in a nano-second. Wait a minute, why am I crying? I’m holding back tears. What’s going on? Am I ready for this? Will I be a good daddy? How do you feel mommy? Everything’s ok. Smile. Smile. Smile. The waterworks are getting heavier.
And here is Number Two.
He didn’t want to come out. A nurse smacks his butt for him to cry which he does obediently. I walk away from mommy to be with my new sons. Oh my God. Oh my God. I love you. I love you. I’ll always be here for you. Have a blessed and happy life. Am I ready for this? What do I do now? In a blink they are whisked away to the nursery. They are healthy and perfect. I’m a mess.
We did it mommy. Waterworks are flowing freely. Why am I crying? I’ve never been so happy and so scared. Will I be a good daddy? I’m here for you mommy. She is sewn back up and carted away to recovery room.
I’m a daddy.
Mommy’s blood pressure stayed a little high and she was forced to stay in the hospital for a week. The boys stayed, too, since she was there. They were fine.
I came home and spent the next week fixing the house ready for the little buggers to move in and the parenting adventure to begin.
The intense emotion of the delivery day I will always remember and probably never completely understand. On the other hand, what is there to understand? My babies were born, it was a beautiful thing, mommy did well and I cried. So what?! I still don’t know if I’m ready or if I’m a good daddy. Maybe someday I’ll find out. In the meantime, I’m just going to enjoy the little buggers and obey Sargent Major Mommy.
You can read more of Jeff Jackson’s writing here.