Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Happy Birthday, Regan!

Hi! Today is a very special day for our family. This is the day, in 1999, when Regan was born! We thought we were getting by easy with this pregnancy. Her ultrasounds looked normal, her heartbeat was stable, everything was going fine. Our only concern was the fact that Kelly thought Regan seemed like a big baby and Kelly really wanted to avoid a C-section. So, with the doctor's permission, we induced Regan to be born on the morning of August 27. We checked in early at the hospital and I finished the final chapters of "Les Miserables" by Victor Hugo"--which, incidentally, is one of the five greatest books of all time in my opinion -- while Kelly was hooked up for an epidural.

Not much happened for several hours if I recall correctly, but that's the way things are supposed to go when your doctor is affiliated with the best baby hospital in the state of Wisconsin. St. Joseph's Hospital, where Regan, Jack, and Finn were born, delivers 4,200 babies per year and nearly 300,000 total since three Fransiscan missionary nuns opened a house in 1879 to take care of the sick in Milwaukee.

It was getting close to noon by this point, and I thought I might go grab a BigMac or something. I mentioned this to Kelly, and she gave me the okay, which was very kind considering she herself could not eat anything until Regan was born (but that's just the type of selfless person Kelly is). I also asked permission from the attending nurse, and she approved my errand after a quick check of the monitoring equipment. So I kissed Kelly, walked to the door, waved goodbye, stepped into the hallway, and took several steps toward the elevators when I heard this very loud and frantic "WAIT!" As I turned around, a nurse rushed into the hall and stopped me. "Mr Dodd," she said. "Your wife thinks it's time to push!"

No decent man should ever stop to argue, ask questions, or consider other options when he hears that phrase. Even I knew that. So I just followed the nurse, who now was ushering me back to my seat by Kelly's bed. Good thing they did, too. Our one-and-only Regan Margaret Dodd was born in a matter of minutes. Her vital statistics were 7 lb 13 oz and 21 3/4-inches-long. Kelly remembers all that. I don't. I remember a few events, like the doctor dressing down an overzealot medical student who was going to clip the umbilical cord without asking me first. And I remember crossing the room so that I could kiss Kelly and tell her how gorgeous she was that day (incontrovertible fact #1, if your wife ever gives birth to new life: she is gorgeous that day). I remember most of all, however, the nurse bundling up this big-eyed baby girl and after a little bumbling around--of course, the nurses never think us Dads can hold a baby--Regan was there in my arms. I gave her lots of snuggly kisses, just letting my lips rest on those sweet baby cheeks that smell so good and feel so soft and remind us why life is so wonderful.

And then I tried to get those bright baby eyes to look at mine, but they wouldn't turn my direction. Oh well, I figured, I was patient. Kelly was still getting cleaned up, so I took Regan to the window. I showed her the whizzing cars, the fluffy clouds, the green leaves, waving left and right. And then I held her out from me and tried to persuade her to look at me. If she were looking right, I would move my own face that direction, saying her name and singing. She simply looked further to the right. So I sat in a rocking chair next to Kelly's bed, held Regan very close to me, and softly sang to her. And she examined every object in that room except me. And then a question came into my mind: does Regan have a diaper on? I didn't remember the doctor putting a diaper on her. I couldn't recall a nurse putting a diaper on her. I felt reasonably confident that I hadn't done it, nor had Kelly. I thought back to Aubrey's birth: what did they do then? They put a diaper on Aubrey when she was born, didn't they?

Just as I began to convince myself that maybe a diaperless baby was the new way of dealing wih potty-training, I felt a warm sensation spread across my lap from one end to the other. I looked down, a bit surprised, and saw the culprit: a beautiful, towel-wrapped baby, making sweet little noises, and looking off into the distant. I lifted the wet bundle with my arms, held her out so she could see me, and jokingly asked, "so that's what you think of your old man?" She simply turned her head to the side, as if to reply, "yeah, what of it?"

I know enough about child rearing to know that newborn infants cannot reason, cannot play games, cannot express emotions (unless you count pain or hunger or sleepiness and those kind of basic instincts, as emotions). Regan, I reason with myself, could not have meant for any of those things to have happened that day. What is more likely is that she was expressing her queenly--and instinctual--personality on that day, making it as clear as she could, that she was destined for greatness.

Regardless of its meaning, the story of Regan peeing on her father has become a bit of a family legend in the Dodd Squad annals. And I'd gladly have her pee on me ten times more--only as an infant, of course--if if that's the price we had to pay for getting our Regan in our family! She's a wonderful daughter, a beautiful girl, and one of the reasons I think life is worth living!

As for me, the pain medication has worked, I'm eating more, and the nausea has subsided. I think I have more emotional energy, if not physical energy. Indeed, I am having trouble walking from one room to another these days.

My folks come to town tomorrow, then Kelly and I go to Chicago for a Friday followup appointment with Dr. Richards. If all goes well, or as well as can be expected, then the goal is for Kelly and I to take a couple-days for a romantic getaway at a B&B in western Wisconsin. Mom and Dad agreed to watch the kids here at our house as they burn off energy in those last few days before school starts on Sept. 2.
Till next time, happy birthday Regan!


mka said...

Happy Birthday Regan! You look so pretty in the pictures. I hope you have a fun birthday. Cute story Jeff. I hope you all have a happy day. Love, Grandma Myrna

Katie Clancy said...

As Regan's Fairy Godmother, I can attest to the fact that she is indeed the most precious adorable, sweet and intelligent Goddaughter not only in Wauwatosa, but also Wisconsin, and for that matter, the United States of America! Regan have a wonderful day and enjoy it you princess! Lots of love, "Katie Clancy"

Mary M Clay said...

Jeff: I've never heard this 'Regan Story' before, and I love it! Thank you for sharing!

Happy Birthday, Regan! I can't wait to hear all about your birthday party this weekend.
See you soon,

michelle wait said...

Thanks for the great blog. I don't think I've ever heard the full story of Regan's birth. It's so cute...just like her! Hope this weekend goes well. We'll be thinking of you.
Lots of love,

Scotty SOS said...

Happy Birthday Regan. Good luck in Chicago Jeff. Gonna miss you tomorrow Kelly, but you will be in the right place at the right time.

Have a great labor day! Not that you didn't have one 9 years ago.


Kara Smith said...

Great story! I hope you had a great birthday! I hope you and Kelly have a great getaway! Enjoy!