The Birth of Wheels

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Dear Wheels,

It’s been almost a month since we welcomed you into the world. I was hoping you could make it to June 10, so your birthday would be number palindrome, but you came a day earlier than that. This means you may have to suffer through some lame teenage boy jokes when you hit high school. We’ll teach you to say your birthday is June 9. You will never say six nine, okay?

You rang out your first cries in the exact same room your brother did two years ago. You came out with the same black shock of hair on top of your head, like the top of a carrot being plucked from the ground. You weighed 6 pounds 6 ounces and measured 19 inches tall. You have long eyebrows, long fingers, long toes. You have what we affectionately call in our family “turtle lips,” where the top overhangs the bottom like a crisp little beak. You have grey-blue eyes, the color of the ocean in the morning twilight. (That might change, but we’re holding out hope.)

You’re beautiful.

You look so much like your brother.

You don’t look anything like your brother.

I don’t know how that juxtaposition is possible, but it is. And you do.

Your entry into the world came at 10:50am. You were originally scheduled to be born on the 17th in a scheduled c-section, but the doctors decided that was too far away. Your mother’s blood pressure was dangerously high and when asked what was the best way to alleviate that symptom, the doctor said, “Have a baby.”

So we went into the hospital on the 8th. The anesthesiologist decided it was better to wait until the morning when they had more support for the c-section, so we waited until the 9th. Unlike your brother, your c-section was not an emergency so I had time to enter the room with your mother. After they had injected local anesthesia and it took effective, they ushered me into the room to sit next to your mom. We couldn’t see anything. Just a blue tarp covering the doctors from view. I was not allowed to stand up until they said it was okay to stand up. So we waited. Then they said okay. I peeked up, and there you were, slathered in a pile of placental fluid. I willed myself not to look at your point of origin into the world, your mother’s open abdomen, but my will is not strong.

It’s a moment of profound humility in a man’s life, when he sees his wife’s internal organs not presently internal. Women are strong, Wheels. I could never make it through what your mom has now done twice.

I met you for the first time at the warming table. I cut the umbilical cord, which was already cut off but you know…ceremony. It’s surprisingly difficult to cut. I blamed it on me being a lefty.

And there you were, and there we were. We spent the next few days in the hospital. Your brother came to stay with us. When he wasn’t trying to climb up in the bed to say hi to you, he was outside in the garden trying to track down rogue pillbugs or roaming the seemingly abandoned west wing of the 4th floor like the kid in The Shining. He did great.

You did great. You’re a nursing whiz kid, Wheels. Figured it out within seconds and haven’t stopped eating since. The double chin you’re now sporting is a testament to that.

I’m going to write a lot to you, Wheels. A lot. I get the feeling that you’ll need a little more guidance than your brother, not because of who you are but because of who the world will try to say you are. In all honesty, I have very little clue how to raise a strong, independent, free-thinking woman who is unafraid to stand up for what she thinks is right, defends her loved ones passionately and wrings out every last drop of enjoyment life has to offer her.

However, I married one such woman. Your mother and I have a lot to teach you.

We love you, babe. Welcome to your family.

-Dad

 

 

Memory #902: That Time We Were Almost Crushed By A Flying Tent

 

Dear Blue and Wheels,

Blue, I saved your life yesterday.

I think I saved your life. We’ll never know entirely for sure because I was busy saving your life instead of figuring out the alternative, but I’m pretty sure I saved your life.

It went like this.

I took you to a “Touch a Truck” event at the horse track. This is exactly what it sounds like. You buy a ticket, and then you get to walk around and touch trucks. A lot of them. Dump trucks. Trash trucks. Fire trucks. SWAT trucks. Pretty much any and every sort of utility vehicle, and you can touch all of them You can touch ALL the buttons.

For a 2 year old obsessed with cars and trucks, this was your North Pole.

They even had Star Wars cosplayers and Batman roaming around.

We spent about two hours there. We got to touch everything but the trash truck, which was surprisingly the most popular truck by far. You weren’t able to wait in lines, not when there were UPS cargo trucks to explore.

As we were leaving, I had you on my shoulders. There was a gust of wind, and I heard shrieks. I look up and there’s a portable booth tent flying in the air like a kite. It floated there for a second like a nylon jellyfish, and then started coming down.

Right.

Toward.

Us.

I quickly ducked under a horse starting gate, and the tent came right down on the spot where we were just standing.

Somebody said, “Is everyone okay?” I said, “Yeah.” You said, “Choo choo truck.”

And that was that.

Our lives were almost changed forever in the blink of an eye and then the blink passed and they weren’t.

Another crazy thing. The tent that almost smashed us? It had your sister’s name printed on it.

I do not believe in omens. You two are going to get along great.

-Dad

Memory #854: Hi Mommy

Dear Blue and Wheels,

The other day at the playground, you wanted to ride the tire swing, Blue. The tire swing is a popular apparatus, and normally it’s off limits because the older kids like to hang around on it.

But on this day, it was free, and you rushed over to it, converging on the swing at the same time as another kid. You both climbed in, and as per tire swing etiquette, I was offered the pushing duties since you were smaller.

I don’t know if you like the tire swing, Blue. My suspicion is you get on it just to prove to yourself that you can, but it’s clear every time you go on you are not enjoying yourself as much as you are when you’re climbing up the slide backwards.

You grabbed the chain with both hands, white knuckles just above the links. You didn’t smile. Didn’t laugh. All that you did was mumble “Hi mommy” over and over again.

“Hi mommy” has become your most recent self soothing mantra. It’s something you do when you get really nervous. For a while, it was spinning in a circle. Before that, it was making raspberries. These sorts of things come and go, so I try to get them on video in case they disappear and are never seen again.

So you kept saying “Hi mommy”, even though it was daddy that was pushing you and mommy was across the playground. The kid across the tire swing from you, whose knees you were touching, looked at you, confused.

“I’m not your mommy,” he told you.

There wasn’t much more to say, as you two strangers shared the inside of a tire, swinging dizzily in a slow circle while touching knees.

Wheels, you can now kick mommy so hard we can see your footprint now. Impressive.

 

-Dad