Good evening and welcome again to The Single Dad’s Guide to Life and our collaboration with Brandi Kennedy of Brandi Kennedy: Love Stories and Lifestyle for the Undaunted Woman. We are partnering throughout the month doing a perspective series. One doing things from a single mother’s perspective, and the other one from a single father’s perspective. And as emo a guy as I may be, I don’t really think I can properly do things from a single mother’s perspective, so I cover the single father’s angle.
While I cover fitness, parenting, and lifestyle issues and there is a great deal of overlap, we each do things unique to our brand. And so today I am going to extend to myself and doing fiction as Brandi is a marvelous fiction writer. The theme for our fiction piece will be the day we became a parent. As I write Saturday Stories, “Once Upon A Time, There Was A Girl.”
Once Upon A Time, There Was A Girl
Once upon a time, in the land of California, there was a strange place called Orange County. Orange County had a strange people. There were lots of rich people in Orange County. And there were poor people too. But the rich people liked to pretend the poor people didn’t exist. They built their big mansions and huge estates upon the hills which would reach out and touch the ocean, to show how big they were. And hidden in the midst of this vast rich land there were pockets of the forgotten poor. And in amidst those pockets was a man and his wife.
The man had married this woman several months before, wanting to start a life and a family with this woman. He appreciated and love this woman for everything she had gone through in her life. Somehow, despite the ups and the downs, she seemed to have a desire and a will to live on. And he loved her. So when the day came early on they found out she was with child, he celebrated. For they would be having a representation of the perfect expression of their love.
But this perfect moment, as with all perfect moments, was short lived. As the man and the wife were rejoicing over the coming birth of their child, the wife’s brother was stricken with cancer. While spitting up blood and cancer cells(unbeknownst at the time), they took him to the hospital to treat him for whatever was ailing him. They told him it was an infection. They told him he just needed a little surgery. And they said it would be no big deal and he would be in and out.
Only it wasn’t what they said. And as the days turned into nights, our wills melted away. Within the first sixteen hours, he would be gutted from the bottom of his stomach to the top of his chest. He lost a third of his lower intestine making it so he had to go to the restroom in a bag we would have to empty for him. And day after day they lied to the couple and family about his condition and the prospects for survival. The stress grew on the couple so much, the man felt suffocated enough, one day he felt like he would have a meltdown. And the wife isolated herself from everyone else, except for her husband.
She held it together for a time until the stress and strain ate away at her very soul. The doctor which took care of her told her if she didn’t calm down she would not be allowed to see her brother in the hospital. Eventually, her brain would shut down to the point where she could not focus on anything and a different doctor told her she could not take care of herself. Things began to spiral out of control, even for the couple who seemed to keep things together. Because no one can take the roller coaster of life and death forever. After a certain length of time, their heart gives out.
And six months later it came to pass, they released the brother from the hospital. Only now he couldn’t walk on his own. He couldn’t go to the restroom on his own. And whatever food he was given, he couldn’t keep down. He was only a shadow of the man he once was . . . literally. He lost nearly half his weight as his cancer ate away at his insides until nothing was left of him. Nevertheless, he wanted to live. He had goals and dreams. And he demanded he be able to live them.
The wife was now home on bedrest as the couple took the brother into their home. They did not want him to die. But they definitely did not want him to die in some antisceptic room in a hospital. And so they moved him into the room next door in the house. The last month before the birth, the brother seemed to gain some amount of energy and strength. He wanted things. And if he had to die, he was going to live every day before then. He went out to restaurants and to amusement parks. And every place he went, he did everything he could do with the energy he had left.
The last month before birth, the time slipped away from the man and his wife. It went so fast they barely noticed when the due date had passed. They had false starts. They had midnights trips to the hospital where nothing came. It took so long the doctor decided he would intervene in the process. He picked a date when the child would be born.
At midnight on April the 14th the man and his wife entered the little hospital by the sea, in Newport Beach, Orange County. She would be placed on a bed they had prepared for her, lifted upright and given medicine to bring the life inside her out into the world. But the light refused to come. Hour after hour, the medicine which was supposed to cause the light to come did its work. The baby refused. So the doctor tried a sneaky little trick to get her to come. He punctured her nice soft waterbed and assumed the baby would have to come out right away. The baby didn’t.
After half a day of waiting and watching and trying every dirty trick to get the light to come out, the doctor decided he needed to go in after the child. He told the couple he would have to do this or the baby might die. Death had threatened the couple one too many times, so the couple relented. They agreed to let the doctor go in there, with a lot of medicine.
So the hour came to take the baby from her resting spot and bring her into this world bringing joy to her parents. And after pumping the wife full of medicine to make her smile when they took the baby out, the doctor started in to cut out the child from the womb. A few minutes later, the doctor raised the baby into the air and began to unravel the cord wrapped around the child’s neck.
“One. Two. Three. Four. Five.” The doctor counted with each time he unwrapped the gift given. “Would you like to cut the cord?”
The man, holding his wife’s hand stood up and looked past the curtain to where his bundle of joy was held. A tear came to his eye as he saw his baby girl. She looked up at him and cried briefly as he cut the cord to what had once sustained her. He noticed somehow she had tied it into a knot. And he laughed to himself about how smart his child was for not wanting to try to get out before it was time. She knew someone who knew better could get her out safely.
While the wife was happy to see her child, she did not have the strength to hold her very long. The man had to hold the child in his arms but anxiously watched his wife. They connected her to monitors to make sure everything went well with her healing. But the monitors made the man feel sick inside. Unfortunately, for the man, he had seen these monitors once too often. He had watched them day after day as they showed the progress of his brother-in-law. And day after day they showed how bad things were, or could get. With every moment, the man’s heart began to sink as he held his baby tighter.
It seemed like everyone around him was dying. His brother-in-law was dying. His grandparents were dying. And now his wife, barely a year married, looked to him like she was dying. Yet, somehow, this little survivor, this sweet light survived. And he loved her. He looked down at her as she stared up at him, and turned. She turned towards the man’s breasts and started to suck like she could get sustenance from them, which made him laugh.
And as the man began to laugh, the wife looked up at the man carrying the child in his arms. She could see the bond already growing between the two of them. And as she looked up she smiled. Just then, the man looked up and tears of joy filled his cheeks, as he saw his wife would recover from this surgery. Because once upon a time, there was a girl. And she brought light and life to the pair. She always would.
Continue The Conversation
I have to admit, this expanded my thinking when it came to writing. I’m not saying I don’t write creatively, or even tell stories, like the fake history of food. But trying to turn my life into a piece of fiction always has its complications. So thank you, Brandi, for pushing my boundaries.
For those of you with children, what was it like with the birth of your first child? And what were all the emotions you had when that day finally arrived? For those without children, what things concern you the most about having children? And what stories have you tried to tell about important events in your life? How did they turn out?
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Until next time, this is me signing off.
David Elliott, Single Dad’s Guide to Life