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20 July 2010 @ 04:38 pm
Happy Birthday  
I was 21 years old in July of 1990. I was barely an adult, legally, and to this day, probably emotionally I am on very thin ice. I had been married for only 13 months when my beloved bride went into labor while on a bus to a checkup. We had so many false contractions for the last two months that even though my son was almost 2 weeks late, my brave spouse just endured. She grew up poor. I grew up neglected. We were almost always alone.

I got a call around lunchtime that said she she got to the midwives, they said she was already dilated 2 centimeters. The baby would come within a few hours. It was a Wednesday, and I was working in Springfield. I called my boss, but he was surprisingly unsupportive. "Don't leave the store," he said. "I'll be over regular time." That would be 1:30 pm. We didn't have cell phones back then, so I had no way to call my wife and tell her I'd be late.

And it only got worse. Unbeknown to me, there was a huge sales convention in town. All the cabs in area were unavailable, according to Yellow cab, when I finally called them. There was a 3-4 hour waiting time, and they were swamped because they didn't usually have a lot of cars out in the middle of a Wednesday. The next bus wasn't for another hour, then I'd have to take a 45 minute ride to the Metro station, then about 40 minutes to Friendship Heights and then a 30 minute bus ride to Georgetown Hospital. I didn't have parents to call. In fact, as I started writing this, it occurred to me I never told me dad when my son was born. I doubt he would have cared, though. He never interacted with him as a child or an adult, either. He CERTAINLY wouldn't have offered a ride.

Luckily, Cheryl Evry did. And so she picked me up and got me to the hospital, where I feared my son was born without me. That might have been preferable, given was was in store.

Poor takayla was in labor for nearly 44 hours. The hospital kept trying to get rid of me, and the midwives kept trying to sneak me back in. My son and her came so close to death, I was told to call relatives and look at purchasing coffins. "There's only a 20% chance of survival," I was told with a depressed tone, "in these situations." They even opened up the chapel for me. When they made the decision to do a caesarian, the midwives snuck me in, dressed in scrubs.

At 1:53am on Friday morning, doctors cut open my wife's belly and pulled out a brownish/purple small boy. My brain went into shock. Not really from the possibility of fainting, but the whole surreal experience. It was like some kind of strange magic trick. By my son was not breathing, so they rushed him to the operating table in another room. They sewed up my wife, and wheeled us away.

And then the police showed up to throw me out under the accusation I had impersonated a doctor (which I was not arrested because the midwives said they dressed me that way, and at no point did I ever claim to be a doctor). I hadn't slept since Wednesday morning, nearly 48 hours. I was told I was not allowed back, but they didn't really enforce that. I took the bus, the train, and another bus back to our empty apartment. It was now about 11am. I didn't know what was going to happen. Did they live?

By this time, Janita, takayla's cousin, had come to town. Coincidentally, she was in town for CastleCon, the FanTek convention. She drove me to the hospital later that day, when I heard both my wife and son were recovering. I finally got to hold my son in the maternity ICU. The nurses and doctors changed so much, nobody remembered I had been thrown out only 12 hours earlier.

My son, Christopher Larson, was under a glass cake dome with a little hole where he neck could go in. Oxygen was being pumped in the dome. His arms were strapped to boards so he wouldn't pull out his IV tubes. Another tube went right into his umbilical cord. He had two operations: one on his lungs, and one on his heart. One of his lungs was not fully formed, and when he inhaled, the air went in, then out, then under the lung, pushing it shut. They had to sew that up. Next, he was born with a bump on his heart like I was, but unlike me, they cut it off so it wouldn't affect his heart later like it does mine. He lived despite all odds, and was already fighting.

Eight pounds, one and a half ounces. I wanted to name him Issac, after various scientists and it was Hebrew for "Laughter." But takayla said no, "it sounds too much like the guy who served drinks on 'The Love Boat.'" I could have named him that, you know. takayla was out of it; it would have been trivial. Issac Einstein Ace Raven Bradbury Larson! Ha HA! But that's how she got HER name, so I decided to go with our original plan.

That weekend, I was at CastleCon, because coincidentally, it was in Bethesda that one year. It was only 15 minutes away, and everyone gave me free rides. This was far better than going back and forth to our apartment, which was almost 3 hours away by public transit. That convention was a blur, mostly because I wasn't there. I guess things happen for a reason.

I can't say things have been easy. His health issues have always been nipping at his heels. Asthma, bone problems, depression, and ADHD. I suppose had we been rich, we could have fixed a lot of those problems, but we were still really poor for a long time. Sometimes we had no health insurance and had to make do with whatever folksy remedies we could afford. I guess people could have said that we shouldn't have had kids or had one so young. Or with my parents, I should have cut the blood line off at my own craziness. But I have to be honest, I would do it all again if I could. I wish we could have had more kids, and lord knows we tried. We even tried adopting. Eventually, I just ended up with other people's kids, which is a good thing, too.

But nothing can compare to how proud I am to him as a person.

Happy birthday, Ace.
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Sasquatch: hippobirdiewebqatch on July 20th, 2010 08:43 pm (UTC)
You've not been a perfect father (no such thing).

But you've been there. For twenty years, you've been there. And you have a son who loves you.

Rock on, dad.

You make me proud to call you my friend -- and happy that I remember that weekend.
patches023 on July 20th, 2010 09:03 pm (UTC)
This was extremely moving. Happy birthday to C!