It all started innocuously enough. My wife and I were laying sleepily in our bed not 15 hours after I wrote (but had not yet posted, sorry) the first ever PuddinTopia “Supplemental” about my unfortunate lack of employment. The dogs had just woken me and the poor, suffering Mrs. Puddin up for the morning round of “wake the neighbors with incessant, pointless barking as if an enormous horde of armed barbarians was pouring over the back fence like in those Capital One credit card commercials”. Recognizing that I too have responsibilities in the game, I dragged my lazy ass out of bed (doubtlessly muttering something unflattering about pound puppies and Chinese food vendors) and yelled at the inconsiderate mongrels from the back door to shut up and quit making all that god-forsaken noise (obviously further endearing myself and my canine miscreants to the neighbors). When the dogs had safely returned to the confines of the house, I returned to the warmth of my sheets for a few more hours of nice, cozy sleep on a dreary Friday morning when cold November rain seemed to be falling steadily, just as a man named Axel promised so many years ago. 30 short seconds later, life was forever changed.
“I’m having a Braxton-Hicks contraction”, my wife sleepily announced.
“Murrmphhhh”, was all I replied as I prepared to slip blissfully back to sleep. I mean, seriously, these damn Braxton-Hicks things seem to occur with more frequency than a Cincinnati Bengals’ loss. This was nothing to get excited about at 7:45 in the god-forsaken A.M., really.
“OwwwWW!! That one hurt!!”, she cried.
As I rolled away from her, and began drifting quickly back to sleep, I distinctly remember mumbling, “well, if you have any more, start timing them”.
And then, just as I was nearly enveloped by the soft, pillowy arms of a deep morning slumber, my lovely, long suffering wife calmly said just four short words, “My water just broke”.
In one single instant, those soft pillowy arms of deep morning slumber shattered into a million flying shards of brittle, sharp material and dove straight into my eyes. In the movies, you always see these highly dramatic shots of a second hand seemingly stuck just before reaching 12. I had always assumed that shit like that didn’t really happen, it was just in the movie for effect, for crissakes. Well, I’ve come to find otherwise. She said those 4 simple words, and time simply stopped. The words eventually found their way into my brain, where they were introduced into some Rube Goldberg-ian machine that took them, ran them down a ramp and plopped them on a see-saw thing that flung two pieces of bread into a toaster causing a match to light and ultimately resulted in a complete breakfast, including a fried egg, 3 strips of bacon and the realization that SWEET HOLY MOTHER SHE’S GOING TO HAVE THE BABY RIGHT FRIGGIN NOW OH SHIT OH SHIT OH SHIT I’M NOT READY TO BE A FATHER YET AND WHAT AM I GOING TO SAY WHEN THE KID FINDS MY STASH OF SKIN MAGS AND OH GOD HOW DOES ONE CHANGE A DIAPER AND CHRIST ALMIGHTY WHAT AM I GOING TO DO? Well, that’s kind of the gist, although I don’t think I could possible put into words the sheer terror I felt in that one single moment when the obstinate second hand couldn’t quite reach it’s goal and time seemed to stand still for at least 3 days.
And then, with the force of a .357 shell slamming into my chest, the damned 12 on the clock called “uncle” and the second hand triumphantly slid home. The machine in my head stopped spewing the endless stream of fears and I was filled with an overriding sense of purpose. Your wife needs you, jackass, get the hell out of bed and move your ass. Don’t you have a suitcase to grab or something? I jumped out of bed and moved to my wife’s aid with such blinding speed that I will forever wonder how it might be reproduced on a hockey rink.
I won’t bore you with the details of the next 19 hours of my life. Suffice it to say that my blinding, purposeful speed wasn’t needed for the remainder of the day. It seems that our not-yet born child was intent on making his coming known well in advance of his actual arrival. At any rate, please allow me to make a few observations to you guys out there who might be looking forward to child birth sometime in the not so distant future…
1) You, as the father, are less useful in the childbirth process than a born-again prostitute. Sure, you’ll stand around and try to look involved. You’ll talk to the people who come in to see you and the nurses and doctor will make some attempt to act like you’re there for a reason. You’ll find yourself coaching your lady’s breathing just like you see on TV, not because you think you should, but rather to keep her from grabbing a handful of balls and twisting it like that girl’s head in “The Exorcist”. Trust me, a woman who’s concentrating on breathing is much less likely to make you a eunuch than one who’s chock full of labor pain and looking for ways to force some empathy out of you. Yes, you look stupid when you’re trying to make her concentrate on something as fundamentally basic as breathing. Hell, even the term breathing coach sounds stupid. But really, you’ve done stupider things for your nuts, haven’t you? And hey, if you’re a good boy and help the mommy out, maybe the nice doctor man will let you cut through the umbilical cord. Would you like that? Huh? That and a nice lollipop for the good boy…yes siree.
2) Babies are ready for male bonding the second they hit the outside world. They’ll want to stay up all night and eat every damn thing they can get. They like breasts just as much as any guy does, maybe even more, and they can display a good case of gas unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Admit it, every bunch of fellas likes to sit around and marvel at the wonder that is a perfectly toned belch or a well drawn out fart. These kids are capable of things that only God could be responsible for, and sweet home Alabama, is it funny when this 8 pound lump of flesh that can’t even hold his head up rips one that surely is capable of eating clean through that diaper and sleeper.
3) Modern diapers are a thing of wonder and joy. These things are more absorbent than entire rolls of paper towels. I mean, there’s not a doubt in my mind that these things are capable of absorbing the entire stomach contents of a college sorority just after a night at the pizza buffet. I used to live in fear of the great Tsunami that would strike the Midwest, cursing us all to life in an aquatic wasteland where only the web-footed one, whose coming was foretold, could save us (and surely those of you familiar of my water-born misfortunes can understand my fears). Well, I stand before you today a changed man, living in fear no longer. When the great Tsunami comes (or when my washing machine finally circumvents my masterful repairs), I will stand before the coming flood with a diaper held aloft, knowing that all will be well.
4) Timing a diaper change is apparently something of an art form. Within the first week of life, your child will use every opportunity you offer to pee or poop just when your defenses are down. Let’s face it: during any diaper change, there is at least a 3 second window during which you will be open and unguarded. And really, what says “I love you, Daddy” more than being peed on? You must practice, my young apprentice, practice and practice even more. Only with the passage of time will you be always on guard against the dark side of the diaper change. Oh, and by some kind of newborn union by-law, within 30 seconds of any diaper change, the clean diaper must be filled to capacity with some yellowish-brownish-greenish mush that not even nuclear waste removal specialist will touch. Why? No one really knows. Maybe so the little devil will get an extra chance to fire a good squirt on that new Old Navy shirt of yours, or maybe just because, hey, this is a newborn we’re talking about here, and when you can’t even hold up your own head, what sounds like more fun than shitting a brand new diaper and then pissing on Dad. The world may never truly know, but trust me, you did it once too. I think it might be instinctual.
5) Child birth is a messy process and not one for the weak of heart. We’re talking fluids, slimy gunk, icky stuff, and something that reminded me of cheese. Oh, and bleeding. Lots and lots of bleeding. Sure, a lot of guys fancy themselves all manly and whatnot, but let me fill you in on a little something. Beating your head against a beer can until you put a tiny dent in the latter and a trickle of blood down the former is nothing like what we’re talking about here. Guys, let’s face it, we’re not half as tough or cool as we think we are. We’re a bunch of damn babies. Of course, I would be remiss in not mentioning that all the slime, gunk, and stuff is completely ancillary. Yes, it’s a messy damn process, this birthin’ of babies, but it really is pretty fucking beautiful too.
The long and short of all of this is that the Puddinpop has come, and I couldn’t be prouder. I promised myself I wasn’t gonna get all mushy, but when they pull this mottled, cheese-covered, purply little guy out and hand it to you and say “It’s a boy”, well, there for a few moments, the second hand does that little trick again, and you entirely forget that you even keep a List of Eternal Sodomy. And that right there just about says it all. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think the boy just soiled his diaper, so it’s time for a little more practice.