The funny thing about May 20 is that it isn’t really all that close to June 29. As obvious of a statement as that is, when it comes to due dates in regards to when your first child should be born, it becomes a pretty glaring and important difference. The following is a, relatively, brief description of the day nearly six weeks before Bruce’s projected arrival.
I had just started a new position at Lynden Door a mere four months prior. I settled in for a day fighting the eternally blazing fires of the customer service industry. Having worked the previous few years at a medical imaging facility, I say with absolutely no sarcasm that the general population reacts to a diagnosis of diverticulitis better than to the news that their doors will arrive a week later than expected. As I fended off the lions I was receiving occasional texts from Shannon that day. She nonchalantly informed me that she was taking a break from work to go to the doctor, but it was nothing to get concerned over. So, naturally I concerned myself over it, but not to the detriment of cancelling my plans to meet with a co-worker for a friendly game of “Small World” after work. Another text informed me that the doctor wanted to run some tests, just to be safe. It was at this point that I considered cancelling my game night so I could spend time with my, obviously emotional wife. The poor frail dear. I shot an instant message over to my friend informing him that Shannon had gone to the doctor, and it wasn’t anything serious but I should probably spend the evening with her. He must have seriously questioned what my definition of serious was after what happened next. “They think my water broke”. Poor Shannon, in her obviously frightened state she must have mis-typed that last text. I replied with something along the lines of “what?! Where are you?! Are you ok? where do I need to go?!!! I love you, What’s going on?!” keeping it cool so as not to alarm her any more than necessary.
As Shannon spilled the details of where I was to meet her I stood and turned to my supervisor. I’m certain everyone in the office was considering the possibility that a mystical board game that causes the dangers of the deepest darkest jungles to spring to life was announcing it’s presence with the furious pounding of native drums. Fortunately for all involved (except perhaps Alan Parish) it was just my heart trying to race to the hospital faster than the rest of my body, but it kept crashing into my pesky rib-cage. “Oh, hey Marissa” I began “I need to go, they think my wife’s water just broke”. I was immediately chased out of the office with questions of “Why are you still here?! following me. I jogged through the warehouse to the back parking lot, narrowly avoiding being crushed by a flock of forklifts. I entered my car and began my half hour drive to the hospital.
I had absolutely no intention of going all Steve Martin in The Father of the Bride Part II, I knew I had to calm down, if I tried to speed along the two-lane highway to the hospital I would end up dead in the ditch or pulled over, neither of which would have been very productive. I grabbed my phone, taking crucial seconds to select a playlist that I hoped would be somewhere between drive-faster-than-you-ever-have-in-your-life and this-music-is-unrealistically-slow-and-isn’t-going-to-do-anything-KEEP-DRIVING-FASTER. I settled on a spotify playlist with medium-upbeat tempo entitled “Bumpit”. It wasn’t working, with no warning my right foot had become the heaviest part of my body. Then “Love is a Stranger” by Eurythmics began to play and everything cleared. As I raced along at 5 MPH over the entire trip, I simply kept that song on repeat, an anthem that kept my heart racing, but allowed my body and mind to respond to the stress. Poor Shannon, in her frail condition, receiving this news so early must have broken her.
I burst into the birthing center at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Bellingham with ears ringing from a full 30 minutes of 80s pop synthesizer blaring into my eardrums through the stock speakers of my 96 Buick Regal. “Shannon Robison” I breathed to the receptionist who was no doubt accustomed to the shadows of terror that flashed across my face. I was given a room number, which may as well have been some sort of secret clue as I entered the labyrinth behind the security doors. After asking three nurses and solving a riddle asked by a sphinx, I entered the room where my wife sat, half in a hospital robe and half in work clothes. She was obviously in a state of shock, it was visible even through the facade of calm she had shrouded herself in. I again asked every question that came to mind in rapid succession, to which she simply informed me “They’re going to do a test, if it’s positive we’re going to be having a baby today.” Her nerves betrayed her, so to make her feel more at ease with her emotions I made myself shake like a leaf and began wringing my hands.
A nurse came in to administer said test, then told us to sit tight for 20 minutes while we waited for the results. Shannon spoke calmly and matter-of-factly about the events leading up to this point, I listened with Eurythmix still playing on repeat in my head.
“Alright, you’re going to be having a baby today” was how we were greeted by the nurse after that 20 minute eternity. How can she be so calm?! Can’t she see everything is going to change?! and a month early! They left us again for some sadistically inconceivable reason. So we sat there, she called her parents and I called mine. I remember telling my mom what was going on. She cursed me for a liar and nearly hung up the phone. Apparently I’ve joked about this situation before. “Shannon’s having the baby today” it was the first time I really comprehended the situation as a whole, and so as to let Shannon know it was absolutely fine for her to do so, I teared up a little… just for her sake. She declined the invitation. We were ushered into a small room, where we were informed that Bruce would be born via C-Section, something we had known was probable for a couple of months now anyway. We had about six hours before his birth, so we settled in. While the doctors and nurses went over the preliminary information and prepared us for what to expect, I sat there thinking two things 1) I can’t believe this is happening so quickly and 2) ♫Love is a stranger in an open car to tempt you in and drive you far away ♫.
The rest of day happened in some weird time vortex that combined slow motion and fast forward. I ran home to get supplies for a few days stay at the hospital for Shannon and I. I went to the comic book store, because I thought it very important to buy a new batman shirt to wear into the Operating Room. Then I was nearly late for the C-section because doggone it, I was hungry and nervous and needed some McDonald's. I don’t smoke, but when I get nervous I can eat McDoubles. A lot of them. So I did. I walked back into the birthing center with about 15 pieces of gum in my mouth to mask the stench of processed american cheese and fried beef.
As they prepared Shannon, they informed me that while she was getting set up, I would wait in the hallway and then be brought in for the surgery which would take maybe 15 minutes. Shannon had no labor pain, she went in calm, it was surreal, absolutely nothing like the movies which I had relied so heavily on for my education on such a subject matter. The Doctors wheeled Shannon in and I sat on a bench for what they tell me was 15 minutes. Despite what they and the clock said I stand by my opinion that they lied. I sat there in a blue paper gown, Batman shirt showing through the thin material, a plum colored camera hanging from my neck, waiting forever. alone. The silence was absolutely deafening, the gravity of the situation called for something of note to be done, so I checked into the hospital on Facebook. Then the doors opened, I was ushered into a bright room with a lot of people in gowns running around, I was told to sit in a stool by Shannon’s head. “Distract me” she said. So, doing the best that I could, I talked to her about doors, which is not a terribly exciting topic, I suppose, but it’s something when you’re trying to distract yourself from the fact that someone has just cut you open and is trying to pull a living being out of you like some twisted magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat. Shannon is a terrific listener when she’s having a C-section. at 9:23, they held up a bluish-gray little human that was desperately trying to cry but no sound was made. they assured us that he was just fine. they took the little person over to a table and we suddenly heard the shrill, loud cry of a newborn infant. Again, I wanted Shannon to feel comfortable, so I forced a few tears out. Bruce Wayne Robison had exited Shannon’s body and had entered, full time into our world.