After Dark: A Blast From The Past, Part Four

When I last left you, I had just become a father. Let’s look in and see how that was working out for me:

Updates from the Fatherland

August 23rd, 2007

3:23 a.m.

So, he’s 8 weeks old today, but will be two months old on monday.

Stop and think about that: WTF? I think we need a new system of time measurement. Says the guy who thinks the metric system will destroy the universe.

Sorry I haven’t written anything for, like, 2 months, but, well, I’ve been kinda busy. Turns out that babies don’t much care if you’re working 10+ hour days, and would like to try to sleep a little before doing it again. But his mother has been more than fantastic, and honestly, I haven’t had to wake up more than a few times. Also, I’ve only changed half a diaper. I got it started, and was replaced by a professional before I could screw it all up.

For awhile, I was pretty sure he hated me. He always seemed to cry whenever I got near him. I came to realize this was less because he hated me, and more because I have inactive mammary glands. But now as he gets older, I am able to amuse him. He still cries on whim, but I’m trying to help him learn to communicate. To date he has actually spoken these words: “Okay”, “Hi”, “Chin”, and “Fuck You”. I may have to begin editing what I say while at home. Some people have said that he’s too young to actually be able to speak, but I would like to point out that he was in the womb for an extended stay, and nothing speeds up development like unlimited resources. I just wrote a sentence explaining that he was incapable of real usage, and he was only repeating recent sounds, which in and of itself is still fairly remarkable, but then I realized that he is making those  “noises” in context. Whether or not he understands what they mean is beyond the scope of my experience. But the fact that he has identified these sounds, and is trying to make them as seems appropriate, is something I do find fascinating.

He also makes an assortment of guttural sounds, indicative of some kind of attempt at speech. Unfortunately, his mouth is still to unsuitable to most forms of speech. At this stage, his cute giganto-cheeks are huge muscles used, in conjunction with his tongue and gum stubs to extract sustenance. My point being that his tongue gets in the way.

He also drools a lot. Both his mother and my mother say it’s indicative of pre-teething. God, he’s not even a season old, and he’s trying to grow teeth. I haven’t taken a tape measure to him yet, but he’s gotta be over 2 feet now. And we weighed him a week ago, and he was already at 21 lbs.

To be fair, I am still fascinated by the things he does, but they are usually not “Stop the presses! I have to tell the world!” interesting anymore. It’s really easy to fall down the rabbit hole of babies, but by the time they’re doing all the things you couldn’t wait for them to be able to start doing, you’re more concerned with getting them to actually do them on a semi-regular basis. Not really the accolades that they were expecting, just a higher standard to live up to.

Nothing prepares you

August 26th, 2007

2:44 a.m.

So, I was fairly nervous about being a dad before David was actually born. There had been two women before in my life with whom I’d wanted to have children: The first was already a mother, and didn’t want to have another baby, and the other was a psychotic Panamanian whose great aspiration was to become a stripper. She actually was pregnant, but terminated the pregnancy right after she’d convinced me that being a father wouldn’t be so terrible. Of course, I’ve always said that if I had a son, his name would be David, whereas she’d always dreamt of calling him Amir. Somewhere on a Playstation 2 memory card, I have a create-a-character in MVP 2004 called Amir Baxter. Of course, I no longer have either a Playstation 2 or MVP 2004, so I haven’t had much of a chance to resist that.

I haven’t really mentioned it, but the loss of my son kinda messed me up. I’d had another close call, where an ex had told me she thought she might be pregnant, and flippantly, I quoted “The Doors” and gave my support for her single motherhood or choice to abort. I sort of go back and forth on it. Or, at least, I did. It’s a little late now.

I mean, I suffer from Bi-Polar Disorder, and there is a chance that it can be passed on. I’m not sure I know how to be a dad. I never knew mine, and, I’m sort a creature of self-interest. So when she told me she was pregnant, I naturally freaked the hell out. I wasn’t even sure I really liked this chick. I mean, she was totally into me, but in a scary way, and, really, aside from the convenience, I wasn’t terribly motivated to stay with her. A short while later, her “visitor” arrived, and I began to seriously think about cashing in while I was still ahead. But her love of me was too overwhelming, and I began to fall a little for her.

And then the night came when I did. Drunkenly, and without caution, I pollinated the Flower, and promptly passed the hell out. A short while afterwards, she informed me that this time it was not a drill. I don’t believe that I have ever uttered the words, “Are you sure?” so many times in so short a time.

Suddenly seeing my life coming to an ignoble close, I proffered the thought that perhaps we might just take care of this small medical issue, remove the parasite, and call it a do-over. For a month I tried everything to persuade her to come around to my way of thinking. I’d stressed the dangers of my bi-polar and perhaps exaggerated the probability of its hereditary transference. I beat out her Latina Catholic arguments.I won every argument on a rational level. Have you seen the pictures of my son?

I learned a valuable lesson that month: Nothing can withstand the beating of the biological clock. It was like a Poe story, only more frightening. I was seriously thinking about cutting and running, hoping that, if her arguments for love were true, she would solve my problem if I just left. But then I realized it would leave me with a child in Mexico that I would never get to know (For anyone thinking, “Wait! If you wanted to find him enough, you’d have been able.”: You don’t actually know me very well, do you? Or my Superhuman powers of apathy.). And I thought of the father that I have never known. I took a deep breath, cursed God for his amazingly similar sense of humor, and plunged wholeheartedly into the world of denial.

I managed to avoid most of her prenatal checkups, one of the few benefits of slowly working yourself to death. I also tried to keep her family at bay. I already hate meeting new people in general, and more than them, I hate new people to whom I must be nice and about whom I must pretend I give a shit.

Shortly after the beginning of the new year, we discovered that, according to something on the ultrasounds, he was at risk for Down Syndrome. Here was my way out! I argued that knowingly bringing into this world a child with such a disadvantage is not only irresponsible, but morally reprehensible, a sadistic act. I was told that he would be loved no matter what, and I agreed, but asked if it was fair to knowingly subject someone, especially someone we supposedly were to love to the taunts and mockery and general humiliation he would undoubtedly receive. There was a surefire way to know: an amniocentesis. But this was a somewhat risky procedure, and as we would not be hitting the reset button on her womb, moderately irrelevant.

I would like to point out that when pregnant, apparently most woman can become insatiably horny, and if you are unconcerned about disease, this provides an opportunity to dispense with the raincoat. Of course, from the moment she began showing, even slightly, I became unable to think of her as a sexual creature, and even though she has a daughter in Mexico, she was now somebody’s mother.

I slowly came around to the notion of parenthood and began trying to interact with David. By the time I could feel him moving, he was kicking fairly strongly, and seemingly enjoyed heavy metal by headphones. I spoke to him from time to time. He began kicking and punching me in the face, and although every one of the “experts” said he was just trying to interact with the point of contact he kind of remembered, I knew what the deal was.

So finally, after months of trying, she quit working. It amazed me how much faster my money was disappearing. I’d kind of been hoping that she’d given birth at work so that we could have gotten more money up until the end. Also it would have been an almost 100% chance that I could attend the birth.

42 weeks. He took after his daddy in that fashion. It got to the point where, on Tuesday the 26th, we’d set up an appointment to induce labor on the 28th, pretty much ensuring that he’d be born on June 29th. It seemed that God was trying to be funny again. But, despite my best efforts to do him in, it turns out that my son loved me. Wednesday morning, about 10:30am, her contractions began. It was a couple of hours later when they were serious enough to merit the mad dash to the hospital. Her water broke at 2:00pm, during the 1st examination to determine how far dilated she was. Mixed in with the amniotic fluid was his meconium (think baby’s 1st poo). Apparently when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go, even if you haven’t started breathing yet.

And then it happened. At 8:03pm, Wednesday, June 27th, 2007, I witnessed the scariest thing I have ever seen: My son’s squished head being forced out of an area that, at least the last time I had seen it, was really far to small to accommodate it. I realize I will take some flak for this, but I found the entire process profoundly unsettling, extremely disturbing, and not in the least bit natural. It was finished at 8:10.

Everyone kept saying how big he was, but, well, he was still significantly smaller than me, so I was not impressed. 11 lbs, 14 oz., 22 inches long. They had him under the heat lamps, and were having difficulty getting him to breathe on his own, as he had most likely over-developed himself while procrastinating in utero, and begun trying to breathe. I watched his head slowly begin to reflate as I accompanied the nurse up to the NICU.

He seemed so weak, So helpless. I tried my best to stay out of the way and ask intelligent questions, but then they needed to do something which they thought might freak me out (intubate him, I believe), and suggested I go back down and take care of Mom. And so began the night of the gigantic pace.

It was a couple of days before I got the chance to hold him. I was debilitatingly nervous. I felt that if I was going to drop him or something, I’d rather that it not be in a hospital where they could see how terrible of a father I’d turned out to be.

A few days later, we got to take him home.

He cries a lot now, and generally, pretty much his current M.O. was described in the previous blog.

But I have made a real connection with my son. I’ve been able to sing him to sleep. I mean, most of the time, he prefers Mom over Dad, but I’m okay with that. When we’re playing the “chin” game, or I’m reading him chapters from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and he’s hanging off my every word…

I have begun to live my life again, finally breaking free of the continuous holding pattern I’ve been in for a decade. I still think God’s got a juvenile sense of humor, but as it’s mine as well, I cannot fault Him for it, merely feel disappointed that the Creator thinks this is all funny.

For true and for real, though, I have never felt more alive, as when I am gazing into his eyes, and he into mine, and it’s like we’ve known each other all his life, and neither of us can remember a life that was before him.

Wow. Sorry that went on for so long, but it was nice, at least for me, to take that stroll down amnesia lane. I’ve just got one more reflection on fatherhood that I’d like to leave you with this evening:

B.P.D.- Bi-Polar Disorder or Battle Point Drive?

September 4th, 2007

2:57 a.m.

This is not a new revelation. It is, however, I believe, worth mentioning.

When I was 15, I’d planned on coming to California the summer after my freshman year. Life came up, and I put off my plans. Events coalesced, I met people, did favors, and set myself up for the summer of ’97. I met someone, fell in love, dropped out of school, and started working for myself. I had a, for lack of a better term, wife, and children (though not my own, I was actually received, as I’d still had fears of passing on my madness). It was the happiest time of my life. And then the Drug came in. Call it my penance, my learning curve, my pre-paid purgatory or damnation, it really doesn’t matter. It all amounted to the same. My life took a marked detour, and I began learning… something else.

There came a time, amidst the hell, when, faced with utter failure, I decided it was now the time to go to California. I’d written a poem just a short while before when I’d thought that both my “brothers” were leaving to different parts of the world beyond. One to Central Washington, and the other to California. One went, one did not. I got to Central, with all that I could carry, and planned to hitchhike down to Cali. But I was struck down with a fevered illness, and forced to return, to face the ruins of what I’d tried to leave behind. And events played out. And the fairy-tale gone horribly awry ended.

I took a few preparatory steps toward my new life, but was still held back by chains of pain I’d tried to leave behind. New loves came and went, people that I loved passed away. And then I got a phone call from the other brother. He was finally moving down to California, and thought I should come along. Whether he was uncertain of this new life, and wanted some token of “home”, or guided by my fates is unimportant. I finally came to Cali.

I met a girl, under certain circumstances, some familiar (at work), some new (residential status), and tried to get my life back to the family ideal. I’d like to think that we were in love, but it’s easier to think she was just using me for something I was born with. She got pregnant. I lost my son. Events played out that I had seen during the darker days. My world collapsed and I reverted.

I began again, following the friend asylum pattern, established after the nightmare. Got a job at the same company (more or less) as before, and fell in love again, and again, and once more, and then a few more times for good measure. Nothing worked out how I’d planned it, and it felt like High School once again. It’s like my life was rewinding, queuing up events to the moment where they’d once diverged.

I met someone who was madly in love with me. We didn’t even speak the same language (I had been prepared for this by a month-long practice course at the beginning of my job). It was like my life was mixing and matching people and events to hurriedly reposition me. Within 9 months of starting my new job, I was back to the position I had held at the last. Hmm… okay that part is a new revelation.

Then, 2 months shy of 9 years from the DAY, I began dating her. We dated for a while, and then, due to a rather bizarre set of events leaving me without a home, we began cohabitating. All the while I was fighting it. And then she became pregnant. I was still devastated at the loss of my son the year before, and did all I could to hold back destiny. But one should never underestimate the curmudgeonocity of God. The child was born two days shy of 10 years from the DAY.

I am now where I left off 9 long years ago. I have completed the journey I’d known that I must undertake since I was 15 years old. I have a wife, a son. And my life is hiccoughing out the last of the repetitions. I suppose it will be down to: A) Dealing with my BPD to avoid destroying everything positive I have built, and/or B) Beginning to write the story that I was, apparently put through Hell to as preparation for. Like the Divine Comedy only not nearly as rad.

And you want to know something? None of this really matters any more. When he grabs my finger and squeezes, smiles at me with all his face, and speaks to me in his unique mixture of language and monkey-grunts, I am lost within the moment, living in the present, and realize that, as far my day-to-day OCD goes, there’s never been anything else so perfect.

Thanks for sharing in these memories with me. I know these were a little philosophical, so if you’d like something to cleanse your palate, and inspire a chuckle or two, why don’t you check out these bonus Blasts From The Past: I hate Comcast!, If you are not where I say you are, and Superman: Doomsday: WTF?!!.

Have a wonderful evening!

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