With those three words my entire life changed. Seven hours and about 300 ice chips into labor with our first child, our little boy's heart beat dropped dramatically and inexplicably. The nurse tried to remain calm as she gentle poked , prodded and pushed my wife's belly in an attempt to get things back to normal. I am sure even the nurse knew it would not work, but like when the TV stops working, you hope that all it needs is a solid whack. Despite the nurses desperate cajoling, my son's heart beat would not go up. A doctor was immediately ushered in and after looking at my wife and the heart beat monitor, he uttered those infamous words.
One thing they don't tell you about going into labor is the number of cables and wires it involves. The minute the decision to do an emergency C-section was made, there unfolded a ballet of unplugging and yanking that sent multicolored tubes and wires flying through the air like spaghetti. I could not tell if my wife was giving birth to a human or to a super computer.
As my wife was being wheeled out of the room a nurse handed me a pair of scrubs and told me to change quick. Rushing down the hall, I walked into the operating room to see two doctors beneath searing lights with scalpels at the ready. They looked at the anesthesiologist and said simply, "tell us when."
The anesthesiologist injected a clear liquid into my wife's arm and seconds later gave the sign. In a whirlwind of precision, the doctors began cutting and pushing. With each push, my now-unconscious wife would groan as the air was forced from her lungs. This unsettling sound was quickly followed by the most comforting and horrifying sound I have even heard. My new born son, screaming from inside the womb. (As a side note, Screaming from the Womb would be a great name for a band. But I digress.)
Within seconds this muffled scream became a full blown yell as my son emerged from the womb and let the cold rough world know exactly what he thought of it. The nurse, who not moments before was poking my wife in a desperate attempt to save my son, burst into tears and rushed my son to the baby warmer to make sure he was okay. But we all knew he was. With a scream like that, there was certainly no doubt his lungs worked.
And there I stood, sobbing uncontrollably, surrounded by a screaming son, an unconscious wife and a team of doctors and nurses breathing a sigh of relief.
Welcome to Fatherhood.
Since then, fatherhood has brought with it no less crying , screaming and groaning. And that is just from me. Now, five years and three kids later, I can say parenthood is nothing, if not educational. In a fair world, anyone who has a child while still in school should be allowed to skip every required class on biology. Believe me, having had two kids by the time I graduated from college, I knew what made life possible: cheerios and applesauce. Luckily, the lessons of parenthood don't stop there.
I have learned that it is possible for a mouse to live inside your minivan and survive on only the crackers and Craisins lurking beneath your children's car seats. What I have not learned is how to get rid of said mouse.
I have learned that, when done properly, putting in a car seat should never take more than 33 seconds. Of course, the first time I put in a car seat, it took three hours, two gallons of sweat and a naval expidition's worth of profanity to get it in.
I have learned that going to the bathroom is not a team sport, as much as your children wish it was. A solo deuce is not an oxymoron. It is a privilege.
I have learned that when you tell your two year old son to "put Daddy's glasses away", you better make sure did not hear "throw Daddy's glasses away".
I have learned that whenever you get two or more mom's with young babies in a room, within minutes the conversation inevitably turns to pooing, nursing or both.
I have learned that if the baby passes gas while you are changing his diaper, he is not being cute. He is issuing a warning. This phenomenon has many names in our household. I like to call it "the preamble to the constitution." My wife prefers "a turd honking for the right-of -way."
I have learned that nothing gets kids to change into their pajamas faster than an Elmo puppet accompanied by a great Elmo voice. It is a great source of pride to my family and the generations that have preceded me that I can impersonate virtually every character from Sesame Street. In my house, I like to refer to this as my Street cred.
I have learned that no matter how hard I try not to, watching pregnant women walk still makes me laugh. They look like they just got off a horse. And then ate it.
I have learned that the most important thing you can ever do for your marriage is to get your children sleeping in their own beds in their own rooms at as early an age as possible. Believe me, if it were possible for the child to sleep in his own bed in his own room before birth, my wife and I would have found a way.
I have learned that no sound can arouse a slumbering mother and father as quickly as that of a puking child. If I could somehow program this sound into my alarm clock, I would already have the child in the bath and the sheets off the bed before my wife even hit the snooze button.
I have learned that parenthood causes you to say the weirdest things. My personal favorite: "Son, quit biting the coffee table."
I have learned that most disputes over whose turn it is to change the stinky diaper can be settled with a simple game of paper-rock-scissors. Oh sweet rock, you've never let me down.
I have learned that the term Projectile Vomit is an understatement.
I have learned that no life is worth living if it does not involve bathing your son in a Walmart sink after exploding out of his diaper in the middle of the store.
I have learned that when your not-quite toilet trained daughter pees in the middle of the aisle in any given store, you are pretty much obligated to buy at least something.
I have learned that nothing wakes a sleeping child quite like your college fight song. Especially if your college fight song starts with the words "Rise and Shout."