As some of you may have noticed, I was expecting a sweet little package to arrive today. But since it came via birth canal and not Canada Post, it was actually early....or should I say she was early!
Yes, it was a baby we were expecting, just not mine, although I don't think I could have been any more nervous or excited had she been growing in my belly these past nine months.
When Katie first told me she was pregnant, I was shocked. Katie is single, and plans on staying that way. She had sex with a guy in her office (they are "just friends") exactly once, but as they tell you in health class, that's all it takes.
She told the father but he's not "into that" right now, which is fine by her. However, this meant that the position of father was open and to my astonishment, she had already cast me in the role.
Fast-forward three months and I'm listening to the rapid heart beat of a tiny human being while holding Katie's sweaty hand. I have spent months rubbing balm on her stretch marks, washing her hair, making 18 loaves worth of peanut butter sandwiches, but it wasn't until a couple of weeks ago when I was happily grooming her twat that I realized our friendship had entered a whole different level.
I have had 8 months to prepare for this day, and I can tell you now that I was soooo not prepared. I mean, we went to those child-birthing classes at the hospital where they teach you lamaze...and all it did was make my cheeks hurt. Not so much from the breathing, but from laughing out our blue-haired instructor who I'm pretty sure was one of those perpetual virgins who frowned on my being there but insisted on calling me the Father anyway. And we read books. Boy did we read books, and they all had phrases like "Birth is beautiful", which is not at all helpful, and painted tablets of rosy-cheeked young women lounging on their hospital beds, which turned out to be so far from truth I could just barf in outrage. Luckily, Kim pointed us in the direction of perhaps the one book we hadn't read. Just yesterday morning I was reading passages to Katie aloud and she'd be all like "Ew...mucous plug" and in a matter of hours, there it was. Mucous plug.
Anyway, rewind past mucous plug.
We were lounging about on her living room floor, reading through this book when she abruptly sent me home. "I'm going to take a nap," she said "so you go home and have sex with your husband, and then meet me back here at noon."
It was a good plan, in theory. But when I got home, Jason was sitting in the car in the driveway, headlights pointed toward the road. It was Time.
He wanted to drive us to the hospital, of course, but we had planned to labour at her house for the first little while. I clipped her toenails, gave her a massage, ran her a bath which she then refused to get into, then cried about refusing it, then as soon as I'd drained it, wanted in again, so we refilled, and I washed her back.
We still got to the hospital in plenty of time, so we paced the halls of the hospital in the matching hideous pink slippers I'd bought as a joke, but she insisted on wearing. It was apparently 11 hours from arriving at the hospital to the baby's arrival, but they flew by. I have no idea where they went. I mean, there was a lot of screaming, a lot of breathing, and a lot of tears (most of them mine).
It was amazing. I remember when the nurse was first hooking her up to one of the monitoring machines, I was like "Holy crap, your belly moves with each contraction!" and Katie looked down and was like "Holy crap!" and the nurse smirked at us like we were idiots because we hadn't spent our lives witnessing births 5 days a week. I don't know if it was the same nurse I kept having a problem with, but boy did I have a problem. When the nurse caught me giving sips to Katie out of a can of vanilla cherry diet Dr. Pepper, she scowled and said "Only ice chips!" and in my infinite wisdom, I yelled "Fuck you, she's thirsty."
Around stirrup time, things got messy. They got wet, wetter than I could have imagined, and chunkier than I had anticipated (thank god I was only wearing the ugly slippers). The doctor was up to her elbows in my friend's kooch, but I doubt if Katie even noticed because she insisted on being entertained over and over with my excellent rendition of the Carlton dance which I normally never do until I've had 3 bottles of tequila, but boy did this woman know how to take advantage of giving birth. She had me wiping the sweat from under her breasts, checking periodically if she'd accidentally pooped (this was a grave concern of hers...until she completely forgot about it halfway through because she had more important things to obsess about).
Then the doctor told her it was time to push. I yelled "Already!?!?" at the very same time that Katie yelled "Finally!!". I placed her knee ever so gently up around her ear, and covered her face with kisses. I breathed, she breathed, the nurse told her to "pretend you're taking a really big dump" and Katie's private parts turned inside out. Well, maybe not literally. But they sure looked that way, and judging by the grunting, it felt that way too. It was more pink and less bloody than I'd thought. And then, there was hair. Lots and lots of hair. I could have sworn she was giving birth to Ernie. But then the hair suddenly had a face; the most angelic face I've ever seen and I was hypnotized by it. It was all pinched and smeared, but it was beautiful...and big. And that's when I remembered that this baby was being squeezed through my best friend's vagina (poor Katie, she used to think tampons were uncomfortable) and that I would have a lifetime for getting to know baby Ernie, but this moment was still about Katie.
I was holding a mirror between her legs and was rocking out to Switchfoot when the baby finally popped out - I mean, hours of work, and then baby just flung itself out with this weird plopping noise, and then there were cries in the air, and relief, and a weird smell, and a lot of sweat. Katie was lying there, exhausted, naked except for the SpongeBob socks on her feet and the newborn baby squirming on her empty tummy, and she somehow managed to look happy, just infinitely happy.
Baby weighs in at 8 pounds, 6 ounces, 19 inches, with a shock of almost-black hair and these perfect tiny finger nails that make me cry. Her name is Janie Lee, after me (Katie calls me Janie because Jason's cursive is so bad, he always spells my name Janie...actually, he spells it Fanie because he can't make a cursive J either, but Janie is a much better name, I'm sure you agree). Already Janie is the luckiest little girl alive because her Mommy cares so much for her - Katie is so enthralled she asked me to put off calling her parents so she can enjoy some more alone time.
So that's where I've left them, three floors above me as I write this shakily in the hospital cafeteria (why do hospitals always serve cream soups? does anyone eat them?). I still can't wrap my mind around what I just saw, and I'm sure I haven't described it very adequately, but for once, words just completely fail me.
Janie, you made an awesome entrance.