Nine years ago I was wide awake and freaking out…it was just past midnight in Brooklyn and the Mrs. had just gone into labor for our first child Jr.
I thought I was prepared but in reality I was nowhere near prepared for the delivery, it’s immediate aftermath, nor what lay ahead for me as a Father, Husband, and New Yorker.
That Summer I had attended all of the “Bradley Method Natural Childbirth” classes in the Village with the Mrs. and skimmed the required reading. None of it really stuck. That said, the bags were packed, numbers at the ready, etc. I spent the night with the Mrs. timing her contractions, giving her back massages, and checking in with the on call midwife. Around 5 or 5:30am it was deemed time to head to the birthing center at St. Luke’s Roosevelt in Manhattan.
We spent the Labor Day Friday morning walking up and down the hosptial halls or with the Mrs. sitting in our private room’s whirlpool (it was a pretty chi-chi set-up) and timing contractions. Turns out the whirlpool was prolonging the labor which wasn’t good so that got stopped. Then around mid-day or so, it deemed time to start the hard labor.
Pro tip to everyone: NEVER. EVER. HAVE. A. KID. OR. GET. SICK. ON. A. HOLIDAY. WEEKEND.
You’ll be with residents (who are fine doctors) and other medical professionals (fine people too) who just want to get out of there and start their holiday weekend. I can’t blame them. But it SUCKS when it’s your first kid…or your second kid (Baby Gurl was born on Christmas Eve unexpectedly). The staff changes every day, you get different answers to the same questions, and residents won’t make commitments until the A-team returns.
Back to the hard labor…it wasn’t hard for me - it was just traumatic as all hell watching the one you love go through that pain up close and feeling totally inadequate. I tried to help massaging and literally providing physical support but really I was a tool. In retrospect, after my second was born (Baby Gurl), I believe childbirth should be left to women, their midwives, and doctors. Births and deaths are messy. They just are. And for childbirth, hubbies like me should be in a bar across the street, drinking something strong, and trying to chill out. Just sayin’.
Soooo finally, after all lot of hard labor and drama for the Mrs., on Friday, August 31, 2001, at 2:55pm, in borough of Manhattan, New York City, Jr. was born.
This is nuts but when Jr. was born I remember clearly hearing sharp loud thunder booming…on a sunny day. Then it was shinny happy although the Mrs. was completely drained for all of about 10 minutes. Jr. was quiet after he was born (that wouldn’t last - HA!) and made a cute little peep sound with each breath.
Turned out he had liquid in his lungs from the childbirth and was whisked off to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). It’s pretty freaky seeing a newborn being held by his mom one minute and then hooked up to all kinds of monitors and IVs in the NICU the next.
The doctors and nurses in NICUs are TREMENDOUS CAREGIVERS and are AMAZING people. When a newborn is taken to the NICU, parents lose a lot of control and decision making power as the staff often have to make quick life saving decisions. NOT FUN. That said, the medical pros at St. Luke’s Roosevelt are almost always right.
So there we where, prepared for this big life changing event that’s supposed to be a joyous, beautiful experience and it was anything but that. Jr. ended up in the NICU for a week.
We were lucky - he rebounded and we brought him home on Saturday a week and a day after he was born. We had several days of happy shinny - just us and our new baby boy. It was TREMENDOUS.
On the following Tuesday morning, we were walking out the door to take Jr. to his first doctor’s appointment and we heard on WNYC that a small plane had hit one of the World Trade Center towers. I remember turning on the TV because I was curious, seeing the first tower on fire, and thinking, “Aaah that wasn’t a small plane.” Walking to the pediatricians I remember hearing sirens in the distance. When we arrived at the doctors office three blocks away, the second tower had been hit. Dr. Gordon saw us quickly, told us a plane had just flow into the Pentagon (the effing Pentagon!?!), and they were closing their office immediately. I remember her trying to call her husband in Manhattan while checking out Jr. and I couldn’t blame her.
If you’re a New Yorker, you remember that morning. There was a gorgeous blue, cloudless sky. The air was crisp. It felt like Fall had come early.
Walking back to our apartment all you could here in Park Slope were sirens heading towards Manhattan. We stopped at Ozzie’s for a cup of coffee and the radio confirmed that AIRLINERS had slammed into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon in D.C. They weren’t sure if more planes would hit buildings.
We turned on the TV when we got home then saw the first tower fall. Then the second. I ran to the bodegas to get food because we didn’t have anything at home from us being at the hospital for a week. At Union Street I saw the massive debris cloud heading towards Brooklyn from New York harbor.
Our boy Jr. ended up in Methodist the next night because he started breathing funny. I’m convinced it was from the smoke blowing over us - we had the A/C on and he went out Weds afternoon for all of 15 minutes. But it happened. He got out of Methodist the following Saturday and he was fine. But everything had changed.
The city was quiet - the only planes flying overhead were the Air Force fighters doing loops around NYC. No one was honking car horns. The desperate photos of missing loved ones started appearing in Union Square. Twelve firefighters from our neighborhood station - “Our Guys” - we’re lost. And so were a lot of neighborhood people. There was a candle light precession down 7th Avenue in the Slope one night that ended at the fire station on Union. 7th Avenue was full of people as far as I could see…
There’s a whole lot more to write about those days as it’s all fresh in my head nine years later like it was yesterday. That’s for another day.
Looking back on it now, there was a tremendous innocence lost for me personally that Fall and the nine years since. I’m still kind of bitter that it had to coincide with the birth of my big boi Jr. But that’s life….literally. And I’m lucky we didn’t lose anyone in attack.
But it’s been nine years of full of all kinds of amazing, difficult, fun, scary, and joyous times. I. WOULD. NOT. TRADE. IT. FOR. ANYTHING. The memories of Jr. growing and developing before my eyes are still vivid - his first laugh, first steps, first words…first trick, first baseball game, first time to the beach, meeting la familia, visiting with da familia, learning his first curse word…from me, starting to read, count, and think for himself…and it’s just begun!
Like I tell him, he is the best birthday present I ever got. He’s smart like his Mama and good lookin’ like is Papi. Man is he tremendous! I love him to death.
Happy Birthday Big Boi Jr.! Nine years old today - August 31, 2010. He is so awesome!