Particularly in the last month Charleyne couldn’t get comfortable in bed, and tossed and turned, complaining, keeping us both up (“If proto-Momma ain’t happy,” etc.). When she did sleep, she had very odd dreams. In one, as she told me the next day, she gave birth to a giant cookie, and passed it around to her parents and me. “Oh,” I said hesitantly, and then, not sure I wanted to know the answer, asked “What happened to the cookie?” She beamed. “We ate it!” A number of her dreams were terrifying ones in which birth complications led to an emergency C-section and Charleyne’s death! I don’t believe dreams are prophetic, but they certainly do reflect the dreamer’s own fears, and I promised her that I would do all I could to make sure doctors didn’t put her in unnecessary danger.
Neither of us slept that night. Next day when we arrived at the hospital, Charleyne began a labor that lasted more than seven hours. Contractions first increased, then decreased, then increased again; it was very hard on her, Lamaze be damned. All I could think to do was hold her hand and coach her, aware I was of little help. I did resist Dad’s method of taking his wife’s mind off labor pain when I was being born. At a particularly difficult moment, Dad leaned close to Mom’s ear and endearingly murmured: “Sissy.” I don’t believe he was ever forgiven for that.
Nothing the doctors did produced a baby, and eventually they took me aside and proclaimed that the umbilical cord appeared to be wrapped around the baby’s neck; they would have to immediately perform a caesarian. Oh, no! I thought—Charleyne’s nightmare scenario has come true! I made everyone evacuate the room, and then took her hand and explained what the doctors had just said. “Honey, I know you don’t want a C-section,” I said as tenderly as I could, “but the doctors think it’s the best thing for both you and the baby.” She almost snarled at me: “You idiot! Why are you holding this up—get this baby out of me and NOW!!!” All righty then—that message came through clear. Char was promptly wheeled into surgery and I was consigned to a waiting room, where I first tried to read (ha, ha), then just paced around in a stereotypical expectant-father mode. When a nurse came in after 45 minutes or so, she told me with a broad smile that I was the father of a baby boy, who was doing fine. “What about my wife?” I asked, more concerned about Charleyne and her dream. “I don’t know” was the reply, and with that she left me alone to pace anew.
Eventually I was told that I could see Charleyne, and I was taken to a waiting room just outside the surgery, where she was lying on a gurney. As I approached, nurses walked by wiping a baby with a cloth, which, in my anxiety over Charleyne, I barely noticed. Instead, I took her hand and asked how she was doing. “I can’t feel my legs,” she replied, very worried about this. “Just the drugs, I assume,” I ventured, but she asked me to stay with her until she could feel them, and I of course agreed. “Did you see the baby?” she wanted to know. “Only in passing,” I muttered, concentrating on her, holding her hand, patting it softly. Shortly thereafter she was moved to a hospital room, and, happily, felt sensation returning to her legs. “Go see the baby,” she commanded, “and make sure he’s all right.” Relaxing for the first time in days, I nodded, kissed her, and went to view our child and check number of toes, etc.
At the huge maternity window, with lots of babies in bassinettes on the other side, I held up the sign saying “WHALEY.” One of the nurses promptly fetched a baby, and brought him close to the window.
I’m here to tell you it was a life altering moment, that was—wow!—totally unexpected! Up until then I’d been focused on Charleyne and the process of having a baby. Now, suddenly, amazingly, THERE WAS A REAL LIFE BABY TO DEAL WITH, AND IT WAS MINE!!! A wall of bricks collapsed on top of me, and—already exhausted from lack of sleep and the stress—my knees almost buckled.
|Clayton Robert Whaley|
December 29, 1972
The one thing I was sure of was that neither Charleyne nor I had any idea how to take care of an infant. We weren’t licensed or trained or anything. It would be highly irresponsible of the government to put that tiny child in our care! How dare they! Surely they wouldn’t let that happen. Surely.
I felt panic sweep down to my toes, all ten of them. I suddenly remembered the giant cookie’s birth, and wished that the solution was that easy. Gulping, staring stupidly at the baby, who was asleep, looking worn out himself, I nodded my thanks to the nurse. Then I turned and walked woodenly back to Charleyne to tell her my astounding news.
She’d be amazed to learn we’d become parents.
“I Married a Hippy,” April 14, 2010
"Far Too High in Las Vegas," September 1, 2010
"Bowling With Charleyne," February 13, 2011
"The Cheesecake Incident in Williamsburg," January 6, 2012
“A Guide to the Best of My Blog,” April 29, 2013