SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK
This is a tale of how reality messes with your plans and expectations, and sometimes replaces them with the most surreal of scenes.
It starts, I suppose, with the discovery months ago that I was going to be a grandfather. A grandfather! That wasn’t possible, was it? I’m barely old enough to be a father.
But that was just the prologue: The first act opened when Charis was 7 months along. Appropriately enough, it coincided with the first act of the play my other daughter was in.
Jillian didn’t have a major part in “The Wiz”, but she did have five minor parts -- a
reasonable exchange. All that practice in quick costume changes for show choir came in handy here, as she made no less than seven changes while Dorothy and friends were easing on down the Yellow Brick Road.
I watched her, as a Munchkin, welcome Dorothy to the Land of Oz, while I sat at a table with my ex-wife. See? Surreal already.
A side note: The Wiz was performed at the Noble County fairgrounds, with room for only a hundred to watch – about the same number as there were parts in the play. It’s a shame that more people couldn’t gather to see this amazing performance; still, sitting there feet from the stage, while actors ran in and out of the audience, certainly contributed to the night’s atmosphere.
As Jillian warned Dorothy about the wicked witch, we glanced across the room to see my ex-wife’s friend frantically waving us over. Charis was scheduled to have a Caesarian Section the next morning, so you can imagine what my first thoughts were, and those thoughts were correct: She was being rushed to the hospital, suffering abdominal pains.
Sneaking out of our seats at the front of the theater naturally didn’t work; before I could leave the parking lot, Jillian called my cell phone. At least she waited to get backstage, to avoid ruining the Munchkin effect. (And she stayed for the end: The show must go on.)
The C-Section was supposed to happen at a Fort Wayne hospital with a neo-natal intensive care unit, but at that moment they didn’t have any beds, so we were redirected to another hospital that had an NICU. The two best neonatal units in the tri-state area were built almost within site of each other.
In addition to her not having toured it and gotten to know the people there, Charis discovered the other hospital wasn’t covered under her insurance. What difference it should make to an insurance company is beyond me – it’s still a hospital, right? That whole concept of having some facilities covered and others not is asinine, and there’ll probably be a huge bill resulting from it even though it’s where Charis was told to go. Don’t get me started. (Oops – too late.)
So in the wee hours of the morning Charis got moved to her original hospital. Meanwhile, Jillian and I dashed up to Kendallville to grab some stuff that we would have had with us, had all gone as planned. Driving on completely empty city streets and highways at 3 a.m.? Yeah – surreal.
The irony is that Charis was wheeled into delivery at the exact same time as originally planned, but somebody up there wanted us functioning with as little sleep as possible.
And then there were babies.
Brayden Robert came out first, and was the smallest at 4 pounds, 4 ounces. He had a full head of hair – full. The egg was growing that stuff before it was fertilized, I’m talking serious hair. I was jealous.
Hunter James is the youngest by a minute, but tipped the scales at 6 pounds, 11 ounces. Sadly, my idea of naming him Hunter Hunter, which would have made learning to spell his name 50% easier, didn’t fly – he’s taking his dad’s last name.
Several people have told me they were good sized for preemie twins, but those fingers wrapped around my pinkie seemed pretty darn tiny.
Contrary to my expectations it was Hunter, the largest, who had the most health problems, but they were both premature. There were wires, tubes, lines of every kind, and they bathed them in ultraviolet light to combat their jaundice – the world’s most expensive tanning bed. It was weird enough seeing them there like that, without the glowing bluish tint.
They wore little hats and blankets donated by an organization called Newborns in Need, which in 2007 donated 557,970 infant items. You read that right. How much did all these people make for their knitting and crocheting? Go back and read the part that says “donated”.
Which brings me to the most surreal part.
As a species, we spend so much time looking for something to complain about. Concentrating on
the bad, obsessing over people who are grouchy, selfish, and unhelpful. We never talk about the good ones.
Well, I’ve spent a lot of time in two hospitals since the night of June 20. I met a bunch of people, of both sexes and all colors. I never had a bad experience with one of them. Not one. Doctors, nurses, technicians, receptionists, cafeteria workers, not to mention other people like me whose lives were thrown into disarray.
I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful every single one of them was. Helpful, friendly, dedicated, and even cheerful, they spend all day in the last place most people would want to be. It’s not the image of hospitals we see on sitcoms and movies, is it? It felt surreal, because we forget that an entire group of people can be dedicated to making things better for someone else.
As I write this, most of those tubes and wires have been removed. Two premature infants who would have been dead a few decades ago not only survived, but were expected to survive. It’s a common miracle, right there before our eyes.
Reality can really surprise you.
Daddy with Hunter, or -- attack of the disembodied hand!
Brayden just after birth -- isn't he just a doll? Well, he looks like one, anyway.