The good thing about a cesarean section (Ava was transverse in the womb) for me, aside from the free painkillers,was that it allowed me to see the finish line and get adequately pumped up for the event. It was like getting prepared for an interview. I’ve seen ‘Knocked Up’ a few times, so I know how this is going to go down. Scrub up, hand hold with reassuring look combo, cut the cord, a couple snapshots and bang, we’re outta there. I’m not sure I would’ve survived the anxiety of not knowing when this baby was coming, overnight bag by the door, sleeping with my shoes on, et cetera.
On the day of delivery we were to report to the hospital by 10:00am for check-in. We arrived with time to spare, thanks to my supremely skillful driving. Normally I drive somewhere between defensive and aggressive, shifting back and forth as dictated by my blood sugar levels. On this particular day, I found myself mimicking the driving style of my beloved late Aunt Polly, white-knuckled with my face pushed up into the windshield, hovering 5mph below the speed limit in the right-hand lane of the 405, the busiest freeway in the country.
“I can’t believe this is happening!”, I said. There and then, I realized the importance of inflection when you’re using words. There’s a really BAD way to say “I can’t believe this is happening!”, which gets you blacklisted from the operating room and sent immediately to Tiffany & Co. to buy something to make up for your shortcomings. If you happen to visit the Century City location, tell Rebecca that I sent you, she’ll take you under her wing. There’s also a GOOD way to say it, which usually scores delivery day points. Make sure you have this one figured out before you do something stupid, like open your mouth and speak out loud.
I had printed maps of the hospital and it’s parking structures to ensure speed and proficiency upon arrival. The key is to look over these maps ahead of time, memorize your route and keep them hidden in the car. In doing this, you make yourself look like a stud and it appears that you’ve actually got your shit together for the big day. I chose self-park, because honestly the last thing I needed on this particular day was some Ferris Bueller valet taking my new car off jumps with his buddies. Also, I saved like 6 bucks. We schlepped our way to the elevators and took them up to labor & delivery. We checked in with reception and they took us to a room to prep for surgery.
At this point, I felt like I took a 2×4 to the face and was kind of, just, going through the motions and following our nurse wherever we were going next. After a few minutes, our prep nurses came in to hook up an IV, which I naturally assumed was for me, in the event that I lost consciousness. Turns out, it was for my wife. While they went ahead with getting Jen ready, I was asked to put on an outfit for the operating room.
See the blank look on my face? I wasn’t kidding earlier about the 2×4 to the face. The suit was medical blue (my favorite color) and made me feel like a Top Gun flight instructor. It’s weaknesses include zero pockets and no penis access hole. This means that I had to use Jedi bladder control for at least 2 hours and was also forced to use the wristband on my camera, which was fairly emasculating.
As I finished putting on my flight suit, I noticed one of the nurses asking Jen questions with a whisper. Obviously she wasn’t aware that my hearing rivals that of a barn owl and I overheard her ask my wife (state requirement) if she was in a physically abusive relationship, at which point, I pretended I wasn’t in the room. For the benefit of rookie jokesters out there looking to loosen the mood, this is not the opportunity to look at the nurse and say, ‘she wouldn’t get hit if she kept her mouth shut’.
We stuffed all of Jen’s belongings into a plastic bag and as far as I know, they either traveled with us through labor or met us later in recovery. Our parents came in to take some final pictures and then we were off. The nurse lead us through a maze of hallways, pushing Jen in a bed, leaving me to trail behind. Everything seemed like it was going in slow-motion, as if I had stepped out of my body and been sent to watch from the clouds above. I felt a little like Sean Penn in ‘Dead Man Walking’.