Okay, so today is my little Buggy-boo’s 13th birthday. Now that he is 13, I should probably stop referring to him as my little Buggy-boo. It is also the 13th anniversary of me becoming a Papa. I wanted to become a Daddy, but his Mama called me Papa, and it just stuck. When your little toddler calls you any name, it just sticks, no matter what!
Anyway, my little-boy-who-is-not-so-little-anymore is now officially a teenager. It really is amazing how time flies past. I do not often look through photos, since I keep all my treasured memories stashed in my brain (ironic, since I still take a kajillion pics), but I was thinking of some pictures that I could share for this post, and a flood of memories hit me.
Liam and I have moved around quite a bit during his lifetime, and I associate specific memories and ages with the places that we lived. Where we are now, I consider the Modern Age. The last house, we shared with my ex-girlfriend and our 6 cats and 14 bunnies, so that was the Animal House. Before that was the Fountains, before that was the House in Midtown, and before that was the place in Roseville. Finally, we come all the way back to the home we lived in when he was born.
His Mama and I split-up right after his first birthday, but we remained friends (often), or at the very least, civil. She is, and will always be, “Co-Captain” on “Team Liam”, so we get along nicely if for no other reason than that.
I wish that I would have written about his birth sooner, since some of the detail is starting to fade from me. I remember that Heather’s contractions started to gradually get more regular about two days before he was born. We were prepared to go to the hospital, but the contractions were not close enough yet. On Monday the 20th, I came home from work in the afternoon to find Heather and her mother making last minute preparations. We all knew that the time would be very soon.
Still we waited. Finally, at about 11:00 p.m., her contractions got to about 6 minutes apart, and the hospital said we could come in any time we were ready. I was nervous, since we lived way out in the country, and the hospital was about a 45-minute drive (rookie dad), but the baby was not born in the car. We made it there with no issues.
In fact, Heather still felt great. We got to the hospital, which was a Kaiser Permanente hospital, and there were only two of them with delivery rooms. One has many private rooms, but no NICU, and the other has only two private rooms, but an NICU. We chose the latter. As the nurses did a preliminary check on Heather to see how close she was, we were afraid that it might be a false labor and that we would have to go home. We had already resigned ourselves to sharing a delivery area with others; we knew the sacrifice needed to have an NICU at the ready, but just as they decided that Heather would, in fact, have the baby tonight, they released another couple from one of the private rooms and let us have it. The other couple had a false labor.
So, we got the private room, and Heather’s contractions got closer and closer. It was after 1:00 a.m. by the time we got settled. I brought a bag full of food and snacks and water, but we would never need them. As Heather’s contractions got harder, her sensitivity to everything rose. The smell of food sickened her. Other people’s soap and cologne sickened her. She couldn’t lay on her back—she needed to be on her knees. Nope! Being on her knees was killing her—she needed to be on her back again.
A nurse suggested a warm shower to calm her down. It took about five minutes to walk the 50 feet from the bed to the shower, and when Heather got under the water, it was too much for her—back to the bed. I had been a trained Massage Therapist for about a year by this time, and we had planned for me to do some specific massages and acupressure to relieve her discomfort. However, her sensitivity to touch was too high for her, and I couldn’t do any of it.
This went on for hours and hours. Heather wanted a natural childbirth, which was tainted only by a nurse breaking her water for her, but otherwise remained as natural as can be. It was brutal for me to watch her get beaten down with every contraction, and being able to do nothing to help her. I remember that we could see on the EKG ticker tape when another contraction was coming, and so we both braced ourselves. Heather was always a bit waif-like, but she could grip my hands into powder when a contraction hit her.
By around noon the next day, I asked a nurse at what point we did the emergency C-section, and she just laughed and laughed at me. “This is natural childbirth, honey. This is what that looks like.”
And so we soldiered on. I say “we” because it was hard on me as well. I know that a lot of mothers will think I am a selfish idiot, but I had a rough time in that room, too. It was not easy watching the woman you love go through so much suffering and stand there helpless. I wanted to be by her side the whole time, but I was getting hungry, I wanted needed fresh air and sunshine, and a bathroom break would have been nice, too. At one point, Heather said that when her mom got there that I could take a little break, but once she did, Heather refused to let me go. I could see that it was a gorgeous first day of spring outside, and I just wanted five minutes.
But that was okay. I was there for the long haul, and I really did not want to miss anything. I knew that Heather was having a much rougher time than I was, and even if I could not help her, I know that being by her side was enough.
Finally, at about 2:30 p.m., the nurses decided that it was time to start pushing. The doctor came in, and suddenly everything around us was a flurry of activity. It almost seemed as though everyone ignored us (not true, but, you know…), and then we got all the attention.
Heather pushed and pushed. She started to hyperventilate, and the nurses gave her an oxygen mask. There was some concern that the umbilical chord was wrapped around Liam’s throat, but they did not think that it would present a problem. And so, Heather pushed and pushed, and it did not seem as if she was getting very far until Liam finally crowned. Once Heather reached down and felt the top of Liam’s head, she went into overdrive, and practically shot him across the room!
At 3:25 p.m., March 21, 2000, after 15 ½ hours at the hospital, Liam Gabriel Marckx breathed his first breath, and raised the friggin’ roof with his cries! I mean, he was loud. He announced his arrival to the entire hospital!
I cried, and Heather started demanding to hold him, and then at some point some random nurse gave me the scissors to cut the umbilical cord. I said, “Are you sure you want to trust me with that job?” I had tears in my eyes and could not really see straight.
I have so many associations with his birth. I was reading what would become my favorite book ever; Sometimes a Great Notion, by Ken Kesey, and I had just discovered a new band; The Disco Biscuits, and I was listening to their second album, “Uncivilized Area” repeatedly. It was a gorgeous week, weather-wise, and I simply expect perfect weather on every one of his birthdays.
Looking back on all the years that he has been in my life, I have beautiful memories from every age. When his mom and I first split-up, and I was taking care of him by myself a couple days each week, I had to sing him to sleep, which required holding him and walking around the living room in a circle until he finally drifted off. Then I would lay him down, he would wake up, and then we would start all over again.
I remember his laugh as a toddler. Such an infectious laugh that bordered on hysteria! I wish I had a recording of it, but it still exists in my memory vault. I remember his first trip to Disneyland at age four, which was also his first flight. I was so excited to take him there, but he was too afraid to go into all those dark, cavernous, hallways that led to the rides. We spent most of that trip on the few outdoor rides.
We used to have a game called “The Mauling Game.” Before bedtime, we would read together, and then I would tickle him, and when he tickled me back I would yell out, “Help, help, I’m being mauled.” That game eventually evolved into him taking a running start down the hallway and pouncing on my chest. We stopped when I thought he was big enough to actually break something.
I could not ever imagine life without Liam. Even now, at 13; when he is no longer a dependent little toddler, he is still my baby. I am so proud of the young man he is now. He is a straight-A, Honors student; he is a musical prodigy mastering any instrument he touches; and he is an avid reader who devours any book that crosses his path. He is well-rounded and mellow—we NEVER argue about anything.
I, of course, credit myself for instilling all of his good habits at such an early age, but he has never fought me on any of them. This is why I also celebrate today as my “Papa-versary.” His mom and I wish each other a Happy Papa- or Mama-versary. It is a significant day in our own lives, and not only because Liam was born, but also because it is the day that we became parents.
I could go on and on about how amazing he is, or how much I love him, but if you have followed this blog at all this week, you get the idea. So, I’ll just stop here.
Happy Birthday, Kid-O! I love you many muchos!