I was freshly 29 years old a decade ago, and I was heavily under the influence of anesthesia. Little 2-years-and-3-months-old Poppy was waiting at home with her doting grandparents, and Rockford and I had gotten up in the wee hours of the morn and driven over to the hospital to greet our little gentleman, Pete.
We’d only moved to the area two months earlier, so my original birth plan — which included midwifery, rainbows and a harpist playing gentle, lilting tunes in the corner1)only 2/3 of these were part of the plan — was out the window. I had to scramble to find a practice that would even see an 8-months-pregnant human person. The doctor I ended up with told me a lot about his plans for the weekend when I saw him, and after Pete was born he gave me what turned out to be awful advice for my personal self.
But he delivered unto us our Pete, so he’ll always hold an appreciative but complicated place in my heart.
Anywho, it was November 7, 2007, and we were at the hospital for a scheduled C-section. We twiddled our thumbs in the waiting room for an eternity, and then they whisked us back for Go Time.
“Do you have a playlist you’d like to hear?” a nurse asked.
“A what?!?!” Rockford asked, astounded and miffed. “You didn’t tell me we could have a playlist!”
“I’M SORRY THAT SLIPPED MY MIND,” I said calmly and lovingly.
“Here’s my iPod,” the nurse said. “Is there anything you’d like to hear?”
“Do you have anything from the ’70s?” Rockford asked.
“Sure,” she said, and she pushed the Play All My ’70s Songs button.
The anesthesiologist didn’t believe me when I told him that he wasn’t going to need to give me as much of whatever he was dishing out as his charts and PhDs and what-have-you told him, so he went ahead and followed his heart and then suddenly I couldn’t feel my lungs anymore. So they flipped me hither and yon and gave me some oxygen until things were A-OK again, and then we went trit-trotting along our merry way to Babytown yet again.
Rockford didn’t notice when “Come Sail Away” started to play. Nor did he notice when the song when it hit its crescendo just as Pete’s tiny head — and he did have a very tiny head — crested my splayed-open abdomen and entered the world. He didn’t notice it at all; I had to tell him later that the world’s most ridiculous song had ushered our child into the world.
As soon as Pete was out and uttered his first cries, Dr. Weekender held him skyward as Styx declared “We climbed aboard the starship and headed for the skies” and the doctor said “Boy, someone hasn’t missed a meal!”
“Hey,” said I. “I’m in a very vulnerable position here and that’s a really inappropriate thing to say.”
And Dr. Weekender apologized to me for that at every appointment for the next two years, even thought I assured him every time that I knew he was talking about Li’l Petey and that I was making a hilarious joke.
Pete, meanwhile, was perfect and tiny and one of the greatest things I’d ever seen. His sister came to meet him later that day and said “No Baby Pete” when we asked if she wanted to hold him, and then she threw up on the way back to the car because she had, unbeknownst to us, a raging ear infection.
A few days later we took him home, and he was the most easy-going, cheerful newborn on the face of this planet or any other. He stayed that way for quite awhile, too. He slept through the night when he was just over a month old, and he’d eat just about anything we offered him, and he smiled with his entire being every time he saw his sister.
Today he’s 10. He almost always sleeps through the night still, and he’ll still try most anything we offer him. Except mashed potatoes and sushi. He hates those. He’s funny and bright and determined and brave, and he’s still one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen.
Happy birthday, Petey. I can’t imagine my life without you.
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