I was sitting on
the couch watching tv in the early evening sometime in May 1986 when
Gail came home with a sheepish grin on her face. She had been to
the health clinic about what she thought might be a bladder
infection and handed me an illegible handwritten diagnosis from her
doctor. Gail hoped I’d be able to read it because she was obviously
too excited to speak. Through the irrepressible smile on her
gorgeous face, she managed to utter these few words “We’re going to
have a baby.”
Her words hung
in still air as the color drained from my face. I was stunned and
speechless. My palms sweated. My mind raced. The silence was
deafening as my mind raced struggling to find something positive to
say. My heart sank knowing that by lack of response I was hurting
Gail with each passing second. Nothing in me wanted to deprive her
of the certain joy she found in becoming a mother.
Gail and I had
been married now for about three years. For the first time in my
many years, things were starting to go well in my life. Gail worked
for AT&T and my young business was just beginning to blossom.
Shortly after getting married, we moved into a beautiful townhouse with a
hefty mortgage. We had car payments, and the expense of a nice
lifestyle barely within the reach of our combined incomes, and no
I was selfishly
thinking in a negative light about the changes having a baby would
bring to our life. I had not even nearly been able to enjoy my
wife’s body anywhere close to what I had desired and now she was
going to change and I’d have to share her with another.
Gail kept our
home neat and clean and perfectly decorated for each season. That
was something special to me having grown up in a messy home. I
feared that new sights, sounds, and smells would detract from the
comfort I found in our home.
my concerns, fears, and silence, one thing was certain. As Gail
said to me just moments earlier, “We’re going to have a baby.”
Gail surprisingly understood my reaction though no doubt equally
disappointed. With typical sweetness she insisted we call our good
friends Greg and Janna and that I tell them the news. She rightly
figured this would help me break the ice and get on board with what
Gail called from
the kitchen phone and told Janna that we had some news to share as I
listened on the bedroom phone. Janna called Greg to the phone and
soon it was my turn to speak. There was no turning back. The words
echoing in my head struggled through denial to finally be
mechanically uttered from my lips… “We’re going to have a baby.”
Greg and Janna
erupted into elation on the other end of the phone. I was still in
shock. Gail’s joy despite my cold reaction would not be
repressed. She put me through the exercise of calling Greg and
Janna hoping to prime the pump by getting me to talk.
Gail had enough
confidence in my good judgment knowing that within a day or so I'd
come to my senses, realize this was going to happen, and that I was
going to be a father.
Gail was in her
fourth month when she learned she was pregnant. We attended one of
the several classes offered at the hospital to new parents. In the
morning of October 22, two days before the second class, Gail came
to the door of my home office announcing that her water bag just
broke. The baby was not due for another month! I called her doctor
and he insisted she come immediately to the hospital.
haste, Gail packed an overnight bag with nothing but a nightgown,
and for some inexplicable reason, a bottle of talcum powder. I
drove her to the hospital where we awaited the inevitable knowing
little about what was about to occur. Hour by hour passed and Gail’s discomfort grew as her body prepared to deliver our
Having only a
few short months to adjust to the advent of the birth of our first
child, I was sorely unprepared. Now well past midnight, early the
next morning, after Gail had been through tremendous pain and
incredible physical changes, suddenly our baby began to emerge.
Everything started to happen fast now. Within seconds the doctor
handed me surgical scissors instructing me where and how to cut the
attended to my crying infant child as the doctor declared us parents
of a son. Gail lay deliriously exhausted panting as her eyes
searched for any possible glimpse of her new baby. He resembled my
father. His little cries were quiet and sounded like a lamb.
possible a nurse handed Gail our baby and I beheld the precious
sight of a new mother’s expression as she for the first time saw
with her own eyes the infant son conceived and nurtured within her.
It was now 6:00
am. Gail was totally exhausted and we were both in need of sleep.
I decided to go home and sleep for a few hours. No sooner had my
head hit the pillow than the phone rang. It was Gail. She said the
doctor told her something was wrong with the baby.
Strong in faith,
I assured Gail the doctors were wrong and that I would come right
back to the hospital just a few minutes drive from our home. I
arrived to find Gail sitting up in her bed in the company of our
doctor, a counselor, and two nurses. The doctor explained that our
baby’s lungs hadn’t fully expanded because he was born a month
premature. That explained his little lamb like cries.
The doctor went
on to explain that our son would require special attention that
hospital was not equipped to administer and that he would be air
lifted to the prenatal center at Northwestern Hospital. The
hospital counselor was present expecting Gail and I to freak out at
urgency, two paramedics brought our son into the room inside a
portable incubator. As we beheld our infant son enclosed in the
plastic box with all manner of accompanying tubes, tanks, and
monitoring devices we remained at peace. This much to the surprise
of all present. Thank God Gail and I were strong in our faith
trusting Him for any eventuality. In less than a minute, our baby
boy was wheeled out the door to the awaiting medivac helicopter.
The doctor and
counselor remained in Gail's room with us anticipating that we would
require their support after seeing our son carried away. Gail and I
were at peace confidently trusting that God was in control of the
situation. I suspect that our peace at that moment was both
puzzling and comforting to the hospital staff assuming that in
similar situations, other parents had been traumatized requiring
lots of special attention.
I was very proud
of Gail that morning. She was exhausted and we both needed sleep.
Knowing that our son was in God’s care, we were at peace. I went
home to get some sleep.
I slept a few
hours and called my mother asking her to come with me to see the baby at
Northwestern Hospital. As we drove there, my head was filled with
questions about my own birth having just experienced the delivery of
my son. I wanted to know all the details of what it was like for
her and my dad the day I was born.
I was the
first born. The circumstances of my own birth were now much more of
interest to me having just cut the umbilical cord of my
own first born hours earlier. Vague memories of the story my parents told me now
begged for more detail.
Mom simply told
me that she didn’t remember my birth. I was born in 1950 when it
was common practice to put the mother under anesthesia to deliver
without pain. She said that she just woke up and I was there.
I already knew that
the day I was born my father suffered his first heart attack. What
I hadn’t fully appreciated was that mom was pregnant with their
first child, due at any moment, when her husband had a heart
attack. She called an ambulance and watched it carry her husband
away to a hospital not knowing if he would live or die. Then she
went into labor and called another ambulance to take her to
earlier, I was present at the birth of my first child. Still
trembling from the experience, I am driving down the Congress
expressway with my mother as she calmly tells me of what surely had
to have been one of the most traumatic events of her life.
We soon arrived
at the Northwestern Medical Center and found the prenatal floor
where we were required to scrub, wash, and don gowns and masks. I
was deeply moved to see many dozens of incubators housing babies far
more premature than my son. Many busy nurses attended infants so
tiny that you cannot imagine them being alive at all.
There were rows
and rows of incubators. It was a baby warehouse equipped with
electronic devices, heat lamps, monitors, and all manner of medical
technology that defied description. One of the attending nurses
directed us to Aisle one, incubator 10 where we found my son, “Baby
us stools upon which to sit along side my son’s incubator. My
mother saw her first grandson for the first time. She sat on one
side and I on the other. As her mind flooded with emotions I could
hardly imagine, and that her countenance could not conceal, I beheld
the precious sight of my mother’s smile drop suddenly from her
face. She began to fall. Were it not for the attentive nurse
nearby who rushed to catch her, my mom would have collapsed on the
recently reminded of the traumatic events of my own birth in the
shadow of my father’s first heart attack, I feared that my mother
had now died before my own eyes.
As it was Fall
weather outside, in our haste to wash before entering the ward, both
mom and I still wore our coats underneath the hospital
gowns. Due to the heat lamps over each incubator, the ambient
temperature in the room was close to 98.6 degrees. My mother had
simply fainted but was soon revived and all was fine. My heart
Knowing that all
was well I drove mom back and returned home. That evening I brought
pizza to Gail at the hospital where our friends Tracy and Tony
joined us. It was an odd celebration considering our son was 20
alone past 10:30 pm, I quickly appropriated a pint of chocolate
Toffuti ice cream from the freezer and took my place in front of the
television to watch Joan River’s TV show and enjoy what I figured was a
well deserved treat before a good night’s sleep.
No sooner had
Joan Rivers begun her monologue and my spoon filled with sweet
treats delighted my tongue, than I was struck the thought of my
infant son alone in the baby warehouse. Just hours earlier he had
been living in the most perfect of all environments inside mommy’s
tummy. Now violently withdrawn from that perfect place, he was
abandoned miles away from his mommy in the care of strangers and
by diligent careful nurses, they could not possibly be as conscious of
his needs as was I. Stricken with compassion for my little son I
left my Toffuti on the coffee table, quickly threw on my coat, and
ran to the car. My thoughts were sharply focused on my little son
all alone in the baby warehouse. Wiping tears from my eyes, I sped
down the Congress expressway pleading with time to stand still until
I could be with my son.
I quickly parked
in the first available spot and ran from my car to the hospital door. Racing toward the elevators I
slid across the floor, hit the "up" button, and counted the seconds until
the elevator door opened. Arriving at the prenatal floor I once
again washed and dressed though this time knowing exactly where my
Baby boy Hora
was all alone exactly as I suspected. Sleeping innocently I
approached him in his incubator and stood by his side knowing that I
was the only one there who cared for him as only a parent can. I
looked down at my baby boy wearing his little blue knit wool cap as
With my right
hand I held his little right foot and with my left hand I reached
toward his tiny right hand. His little fingers wrapped around my
index finger and I bent down and kissed my son for the first time.
Tears streamed down my face. Love flooded my heart.
All the lights
on the switchboard inside of me lit up at once. Stunned by these
new feelings, I instantly became a father that night.
late night nurse passed by casting a knowing glance my way as I
lingered there for an hour or so as love for my son overtook me. I
don’t remember the ride home but I will never forget the ride there
that night. Something in me had profoundly changed for the better.
I was now a father with a son depending on my love.