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Sunday, September 25, 2011

"Suck it Up" May Work for Rambo but Not my Wife...

I wouldn't want to be Murdock...
In hindsight, maybe “Suck it up,” was the wrong choice of words for me to use in the delivery room of Baptist Hospital, as my wife was in labor with our second daughter. (Oh, yeah I di-id)

However, in my defense, I think I was just caught up in the moment.

At the time, in her desperation, discomfort, and pain, my wife was insisting, “I can’t do this. I can’t do this!” Therefore, a nurse in the room gave her a heavy dose of reality, as only a black woman could have done, “Honey, women have been doing this since the beginning of time. Of course, you can do this. You got to do this. You got no choice!”  (Reality check.)

Mind you, my wife is a woman who runs marathons and triathlons. She can go for a 10-mile run and then do an exercise video on any given day without training (although she says Insanity kicks her butt!). She has a high threshold for pain.

So, when I saw her sobbing like John Rambo recounting the harrowing story of witnessing his friend die before his eyes after being blown to pieces in the last scene of First Blood, I had to give her some encouragement.

“Suck it up” was my way of saying, “You can do this, Gorda. I know you can!”

In fact, if I had had pompoms, I would have whipped them out and broken into a cheer, "You can do it! Yes, you can! Goooo, Yanik!” (Only it would have been a challenge while holding her head up with my left hand and pushing her right leg back into her chest with my right)

It didn’t go over too well. Not that she reacted at that particular moment, because of the pain she was in.  However, she remembered a couple of days later.  In other words, despite the agony she was going through, she registered it. And, I have been trying to live those words down ever since.

Today, we celebrate my younger daughter’s birthday.

As I recall that day seven short years ago, I can’t help but smile.

It started with my wife thinking she had an accident (that ran down her leg). Her mom, who was staying at our house that weekend because Hurricane Ivan (coincidentally the name of my wife's ex-fiance) was near South Florida, told her we should go to the hospital to make sure everything was alright.  Hurricanes have a tendency of prompting women to go into labor because of a drop in the barometric pressure.

As soon as we got to Baptist, they took my wife in for an examination and determined, she was ready to pop. Two and a half hours later, our second daughter was born.

It’s funny (now more than at the time, especially for her), my wife kept asking for an epidural knowing that in her first delivery, our oldest daughter came out so fast that they couldn’t administer the anesthesia in time.

However, by the time she was taken into the delivery room for our younger daughter, it was already too late, as well.  She would have to push a la natural.

Not only could she not get the epidural, but to top it off, the doctor had not arrived yet.  She was ready to push but had to wait.

I think the doctor arrived just in the nick of time. She should have given us a discount!

After the baby was born, the doctor asked me, "Do you want to cut the umbilical chord?" I thought, “Aren't there more qualified people than me in this room?”

Look, I know some guys want to be participants in the delivery and feel a sense of connection by cutting the chord, but for me, that was my wife's moment.  She can take all the credit.  I wanted nothing to do with the umbilical chord.

“No thank you,” I answered. C’mon. She had to earn her pay! She shows up 15 minutes (I'm exaggerating) before the birth, practically catches the baby in mid air before she hits the wall, and immediately wants to delegate.  No way!

Then came the moment of truth.

The baby is placed in my wife’s arms. We hugged her and each other as we both cry (actually, it may have been all three of us, I don’t remember). And, then the question.

“What are you going to name her?” asked one of the nurses in the room.

Unlike our first daughter, who was named from the time my wife was in grade school and living in Spain (she had a name picked out before her first boyfriend!), we had been arguing about our second daughter’s name.

Since my wife had named our first daughter, I wanted to name our second daughter. It was only fair, don't you think?  But, noooo…. She had chosen three names; one, that reminded me of an old lady I once knew and the others that I simply was not going to accept. No way. No how. It was my turn to name our second! (I would have held my breath if I didn't think I would have died waiting)

In fact, I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and was open to negotiate, except for her original three (I had to draw the line somewhere).

Several months before, I had given my wife a book with over 100,000 baby names for her to circle the names she liked, as I had done, and maybe we could reach a consensus. She circled the same three names (I don’t think she even looked through the book). And so, we had given up and stopped talking about names, to avoid arguing.

So, there we were in the delivery room and the nurse asking our daughter’s name. My wife was exhausted and beaten down. She turns to me for my answer, too tired to even speak.  The nurse waited for my response.

“What is her name?” I paused as my mind started racing.  Should I make an executive decision and go with a name I preferred?  Should I go traditional and select a family name that neither of us had previously discussed? Should I give in? 

It’s… it's... and one of the three names my wife wanted came out of my mouth.  Then, without skipping a beat, I selected the name I wanted as her middle name (it seemed that was my specialty any way, since I gave our older daughter her middle name too). It came out naturally, like we had been planning the name all along.  And, then I looked at my wife and saw her smile.

Then again, what was I going to do? I had just seen the love of my life, who I had chosen to be my wife and mother of my children, suffer through the most horrendous agony and exhausting experience that any women can go through. Did I really have a choice?

Come to think of it, it may have been part of my wife’s plan all along (Expecting mothers take note).

Anyway, as I reflect on my blunt and spontaneous cheer in the delivery room that, in retrospect, may have sounded a bit insensitive, I can only take solace in knowing that my wife, like Rambo needed a hug from the Colonel Trautman in the end, and giving my daughter the name my wife wanted, was my way of saying, “It’s O.K., John,” as I wrapped my arms around her.

And, maybe more importantly, it avoided her telling me later, “Murdock, I’m coming to get you!”…

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