I want you to picture this: It’s a Sunday and we’re hurtling down Interstate 84 on the way to Portland. Camo Man is driving and the teens are one row behind where my wracked body is clenching in abdominal pain.
I’m but a couple hours past the point where that same body released the effects of food poisoning in a rather explosive display. Another such event threatened, and I winced at every sharp turn.
Author’s note: When you wonder if that piece of rare steak, delicious though it was three days earlier, is past its prime, the answer is always “yes.” No need to seek other advice on this — “yes.”
I was a mess in fetal position. But there was no stopping me, or any of us. MoMama was on schedule to deliver twins the next day and we were going to be there.
Although I could only crawl to my oldest daughter’s guest room that evening, Monday morning found me alive and armed with a camera. I was to be on the surgical team, playing the part of photographer and cryer. MacDaddy was going to have both hands full, after all.
How full we weren’t sure. MoMama was delivering at 361/2 weeks, so we knew her new boy and girl might be teensy. At full term, their big brother Mac had arrived in 7-pound, 15-ounce form, on the smallish side for a Hagar baby.
And since MacDaddy stands within spitting distance of 7 feet tall, I’m guessing he was a big bundle for the stork, as well.
Our morning at the uber-urban medical center passed in a surreal blur. We had the company of Dana, maybe the best labor and delivery nurse on the planet. Her expertise quelled our jumpiness, her ready laugh making us feel silly for worrying for one second.
There were the usual paperwork, lab tests, pre-op instructions. Admiring the cityscape and playing with monitors. The big question hanging in the balance was me: Would the anesthesiologist agree to let me in the operating room? Forget the surgeon, we had to get past the real boss of the OR, we learned.
Eventually Dr. Sternmeister arrived to greet her patient, all business and professional smile. MoMama worked up her courage.
“Is it possible for my mom to be my second support person?” she asked, bestowing her best I-am-unbearably-pregnant gaze.
The good doctor whirled around to size me up. I tried to appear small and nonthreatening, scrunching down my shoulders and proffering a demure smile.
“All right,” Sternmeister said. “I suppose so, since there are two babies, but I always regret it when I agree to these requests.”
After four days — that’s what it felt like — it was curtains-up. MacDaddy and I had changed into scrubs and now paper-bootie shuffled to surgery. MoMama was waiting for us there, nicely numbed up, and excited to see her children.
I flattened against the wall, trying to be a “yes” Sternmeister wouldn’t regret. And I didn’t want MoMama to see my tears — there’s something about seeing your child cut wide open that jumps your heart into your throat.
Of course, I couldn’t see the actual surgical field. Sterile drapes made a solid wall to block germs and vision. My reporting skills kicked in, however, and my eyes began searching for information I wasn’t supposed to have. That’s when I realized by looking up at the operating table light, I could see a reflected image of the scene below. I couldn’t breathe as the surgeon’s tools painstakingly went through layer after layer.
There was blood, people. I had to bite my lips to keep the mom in me quiet, especially when they called in reinforcements to get through the tough scarring from the previous C-section. I prayed instead of shouting out the warnings in my head.
I alternated between watching the procedure and the team of nurses lining the wall, waiting to be baby greeters. Their eyes would be my first signal something was wrong, I knew.
Dana caught me in the act, and realized I was able to see way too much action.
“Come over here,” she said, guiding me to a stool. “I’m trying not to be in the way,” I told her.
“I know,” Dana nodded with an air that brooked no interference.
I joined the team of MoMama and MacDaddy at the top of the table where we pretended no one was nervous, even as our eyes were wet. I noticed I still had a decent view of things, and when I next focused, a dusky-skinned infant was emerging from my own kid.
I stood up and the surgeon announced that Cyra Willow Anneliese had arrived for her debut birthday. There, a few feet away, was the clone of the baby I’d produced some 28 years earlier at one year older than MoMama.
“Honey, she is beautiful,” I exclaimed. “She looks exactly like you!”
Dana was on top of things.
“Pictures,” she reminded me. “Get that camera out.”
This woman is seriously a contender for some humanitarian award.
I began snapping and texting to the army of fans out in the waiting room. And in one minute more, Alistair Lantz Walter was with us, his cries joining ours.
It was a double-rainbow moment. Unicorns pranced, angels grinned and universal happiness spread into every corner of the world. MoMama was safe, no twinster had to go into neonatal intensive care, MacDaddy had an armful of children and every face shone with joy.
Altogether we had a yard-plus and a few ounces shy of 13 pounds of babies who were sporting enough hair to brush, cut and style. They were immediately robust eaters, those tiny pink and blue hats bobbing with suckling force. Like they knew they were owed cake.
Can you imagine how hard it was to drive away from that the next day? Just leaving Macalicious has always been like ripping out a vital organ.
We have a helper schedule, however, and my turn is coming. It’s like waiting for Christmas. I see the babies every day through Internet magic, but that doesn’t tell me how Alibaby and Willow Seed will fit into my arms. It doesn’t allow me to cuddle our Malcolm, assuring him he came first and is firmly the apple of his Grampa’s eye.
Those are the gifts I cannot wait to unwrap. Tick-tock.
Sheila Hagar can be reached at 509-526-8322 or firstname.lastname@example.org.