“Guess where I am right now?” my buddy Josh asked me on the phone last Friday. The way he asked, it seemed like he expected me to know.
“Holy cow, today’s Friday, isn’t it?” I said.
“You’re the worst friend in the universe,” he replied. Earlier in the week, he told me that Friday was the day his wife Jaime would be going in for a scheduled caesarian section. You can see how a detail like that would slip one’s mind, what with McDonald’s revamping its dollar menu and the new Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants movie coming out. The brain only has room for so many details.
In my defense, when I first heard the news about the C-section, I’d offered to come to the hospital for the big day, mostly because my idea of proper pregnancy etiquette is informed almost entirely by sitcoms. I have no idea what real-life friends are supposed to do in these situations, but TV friends almost always hang around waiting rooms, exchanging witticisms, accidentally knocking trays out of doctors’ hands and sometimes actually delivering the babies themselves. In reality, though, waiting room seats are best filled by family members, even if they aren’t participating in enough love triangles to keep a multi-threaded plot moving forward.
Josh and Jaime’s new little son displayed his first prenatal predilections towards orneriness by turning sideways in the womb just before he was scheduled for his big introduction to the world, necessitating the appointment for the doctors to pull him out of the womb in a procedure that must have looked, I can only guess, something like when the spaceship pulled Keanu Reeves out of his pink Jell-o pod in the first Matrix movie.
Before their little Eval Knieval started pulling his first attention-getting stunts, Josh and Jaime had been preparing themselves for giving birth the old-fashioned way, with an epidural and lots of swearing, by attending birthing classes, which Josh would then describe to me in graphic detail.
“It’s not bad enough that babies come out all encrusted in goop and nastiness,” he would say, and then he’d go on to describe, in hushed tones and words not fit to print in a family publication, something called “the afterbirth.” I remember sixth grade health class fairly vividly, and I’m pretty sure there wasn’t any talk of afterbirth, or maybe I just missed it because we were throwing clay from art class at each other every time the teacher wrote on the blackboard. As Josh regaled me with tales of the video he’d just seen in class, I felt like we were on the see-saw at recess as the older kid explained where babies came from, which was pretty much the case, minus the see-saw.
“They actually put this stuff in a bowl and poke it around and examine it like it’s the most interesting thing in the world,” he’d continue, “But the husbands usually don’t see that part anyway, ‘cause they’re out in the hallway high-fiving and making phone calls.”
And so it was that he called me from the hospital on Friday, after the first round of high-fives. Little Issac Phillip Perlson was resting comfortably with mom after their first of many big days together.
“Did you name him after the Isaac from Love Boat or after the Isaac who invented gravity?” I asked.
Turned out it was a family name, and a fine name at that, if perhaps lacking the pizzazz of a “Tulula Does the Hula From Hawaii,” the girl in New Zealand who recently made headlines after successfully suing to have her name changed. My suggestion to Josh and Jaime of “José Does the Pasa Doble From Newtown” never quite got the traction I thought it deserved.
So all is well with the new family, and the stress of going through with a C-section did apparently have some benefits.
“Isaac is already perfect-looking,” he said, as he rode his end of the see-saw towards the sky. “When they come out the normal way, their heads get all squooshed like deflated basketballs.”
You can send emails to Mike Todd’s delivery room at email@example.com.