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Sunday, June 19, 2005

Happy Father's Day

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I was browsing and came across your site. You seem proud to be a dad, so I thought I would share a story I wrote this weekend.
Word Count: 1268 Twenty Years a Father

I get to celebrate twenty years of fatherhood this Father’s Day.
It was 1985. My wife Georgia had been in the hospital for seven weeks, waiting
for our first child to come into the world. She picked me up at work one day, when she
was almost in her eighth month of pregnancy and said, “The doctor wants to put me in
the hospital.”
“The hospital? When?” I asked with a hint of fear in my voice.
“Now! The doctor took blood tests and said I was showing signs of toxicity.
He wants me in the hospital and off my feet.”
“How long will you have to be in there?” It was frightening. My baby with a
baby had to be in a hospital. Up until that point, everything had been going fine. Georgia
was still working and feeling great. What had changed?
“Most likely until the baby is born.” she said.
“But you’re not due for a month. Will you have to be there that long?”
“That’s what the doctor said.” she leaned over and hugged me. “Don’t worry. It’s
going to be fine.” She was the one going to the hospital, and she had to reassure me.
Georgia was eleven years older than me, so when we married, we decided to
have children right away. We wanted two children - hopefully a boy and a girl. The
names for our children were picked before we were even engaged. We wanted a Justin
and a Vanessa. When we went for walks and saw small children playing we would say,
“OH! Look at all the Justin’s and Vanessa’s.”
Four months after we married, we were pregnant.
Now Georgia had to go to the hospital. I was afraid for her and our unborn. We
drove home, packed her bags and admitted her to the hospital. One week led to another.
I visited every day after work. One time I brought lobsters to her. After weeks of
hospital food, she devoured this special treat. I brought her May Flowers to make her
room smell nice. She was bored to death, so I brought books and puzzles to give her
something to do.
The ward had a craft class. Once a week Georgia knitted and crocheted dolls,
hats, and booties - I still have them somewhere. She watched other mothers give birth and
leave the hospital, but our baby stayed where it was, with no signs of wanting to enter the
Her due date came and went. We waited as patiently as we could. I put a count-down to the baby’s delivery in the window of my office, for passing cars to keep track
of the coming event. I was nervous; she was more than two weeks overdue. I also worried
if I be a good father. What did I know about babies, diapers, and midnight feedings?
One night, after I arrived home, the phone rang. “Honey, it’s me. The contractions
have started. They’re small yet. The doctors think it will be awhile.”
“Should I come in right now?” She had been having small contractions for a
week. I wondered if this was a false alarm.
“They think it will be awhile yet. I know you were going to mow the lawn
tonight. Why don’t you do that and then call me.”
I did as I was told. When the lawn was mowed, and I was showered, I called her.
The nurse on her floor answered. “They have taken Georgia to the labor room.”
Labor room? I panicked. Was I going to miss the delivery?
I ran around the house looking for what I needed to take with me, realized I didn’t
need anything but a jacket, and jumped in the car. It was a twenty mile ride that I did in
record time. I rushed into the hospital, sweating and out of breath, to find Georgia calmly
sitting in bed, talking to her friend Lisa, who had been visiting.
“Are you OK? What did the doctors say? When will it be born? Are you in pain?
Is there anything I can do? Did you call your mother? Did you call my mother?” I shut
up, when I realized I was acting insane. I hadn’t even kissed her yet.
“Michael, calm down. I’m fine. The doctors say everything is normal, and yes I
called our mothers.”
I sat down with a sigh, “OK, what do I do?”
“You sit.”
“That’s it?” I thought. I just sit. How could a man sit at a time like this? Now it
was clear why they showed expectant fathers pacing. I got up and paced. It felt better
some how.
Several hours later, the contractions became stronger, and Georgia was moved to
the delivery room. I put on my cap and gown, stood by her side, and held her hand. With
each contraction, her grip would tighten, and my hand would go numb, until the
contraction ended and blood could flow to my fingers again.
We had taken “Lamaze” classes together, so I knew what to do. When the
contractions became stronger, I helped Georgia do the breathing - pant, pant, pant, blow.
“Michael, stop it! Stop blowing in my face, damn it!”
“Yes, dear. I’m sorry. Pant! Pant! Pant! Blow”
“Michael, I said stop it!” She growled as another contraction took control of
her body, and she became a she-devil.
After one particularly bad contraction, the nurse announced, “The head is
crowning. Come see, Mr. Smith.”
I took a tentative peek, “Yup, that’s a head.” and went back to my Georgia’s
side. I wanted to see it, but I was afraid I’d pass out.
I stayed where I was after that, with Georgia trying to rip my arm from its socket.
Another contraction, the doctor said, “Push, Mrs. Smith. Push!”
“PUSH!” I screamed.
She pushed, and little Vanessa popped into the world. They took her aside to
clean her up. “Is she OK?” I asked.
The nurse returned, “She’s just wonderful.” and put the little bundle in my arms.
“Say hello to your new daughter.”
The tears started. They flowed down my cheeks and dropped onto the little
blanket covering my Vanessa. She stared back at me. Her little blue eyes full of wonder.
The nurse took her and put her to Georgia’s breast, as I continued to cry.
“Michael,” Georgia said weakly. “Look at her eyes. She is so alert. She’s
watching everything. And look at her fingers. They’re so long.”
“And she’s bald.” I said.
Georgia laughed. “It will grow.”
She looked up at me then, “Michael, that wasn’t so bad. I could do it again. We’ll
have our Justin one day.”
The tears started again. My Georgia had been through so much for our first baby.
Seven weeks of hospitalization and a painful birth, and she was lying there telling me
she was ready to do it all over again. I cried and hugged her. She gave me the gift
of a daughter. The love and happiness I felt that moment will not be forgotten. The
three of us - a new family - stayed in an embrace until it was time for Georgia to go to her
room and rest.
I left the hospital that morning, May 30, 1985, and screamed into the air, “I’m a
Two and a half years later, Georgia gave me a Justin. We got our boy and girl.
In October 2003 Georgia went to heaven, but her memory lives on in our children.
There would be no Father’s Days without mothers. Georgia gave me Father’s Day. Thank you, sweetie.

Michael T. Smith

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