Like you, I was born. Then I became a man. I still am a man. Just ask my wife. Never mind. Donâ€™t ask my wife. Pretend I never even brought my wife up. Just take it from me: I am a man.
But like I said: I was born. Most people are brought into this world by a mother, but I was brought into it by a grandmother. My daughtersâ€™ grandmother, to be exact. And most people donâ€™t remember the day they themselves were born, but I do. I remember every moment.
I remember there being a light. I went toward it. After about three hours of crowning, I emerged successfully. The doctors gently delivered me and placed me on a table. First, they removed my bicycle helmet, which they placed into a tub of warm water. Then, due to a slight measure of incompetence on the doctorsâ€™ part, my father had to cut my umbilical cord with an Earth, Wind & Fire 8-track. It went smoothly, or at least as smoothly as things could go in a stolen â€™74 Lincoln Town Car.
The next few hours were a blur. Not for me, but for my father, who was hyperventilating. I was fine, and I remember everything with pinpoint accuracy. I felt the doctors poke and prod. Mainly prod, but there was definitely some poking. If I could break it out, Iâ€™d say it was about 23% poking, 76% prodding and 1% doing that magic trick where you pretend your sliding your thumb across your hand.
While I could only see light, shadows and some motion, I did notice a silhouette looking down at me and shaking his head. Not in a bad a way, but more of a Are-you-kidding-me-? kind of way. When I was a teenager, I brought this up to my mother and she said the head-shaking is standard operating procedure. Much later in life, when my daughter was born and put into the nursery, I noticed the doctors (obviously incompetent ones) didnâ€™t follow this procedure. So, when I was in the nursery, I made sure I looked down at her and shook my head. Sheâ€™ll thank me one day.
When it was time to leave the hospital, my mother carried me to the car. They didnâ€™t use baby seats back in those days, so they had to strap me to the hood with bungee cords. Luckily, we didnâ€™t live far from the hospital, although it felt far what with the below-freezing temperatures. Nevertheless, we made it home in what my father called â€œrecord timeâ€ with a â€œrecord low number of speeding tickets,â€ hitting a â€œrecord high number of deerâ€ while mother tried to keep the â€œrecord number of copsâ€ off our tail by throwing out the window a â€œrecord number of records.â€
Those first few nights in my new home were both strange and beautiful. Strange because, admittedly, I thought the only two places in the world were my motherâ€™s womb and the hospital. My world immediately opened up to a third place: my parents’ home. And now, as I write this, I can only assume there’s a fourth, fifth, perhaps even a sixth place somewhere out there. We can all dream, right?
Back in those days, breastfeeding was looked down upon, so my mother fed me Italian Wedding Soup, which was the formula du jour.
Every day, sheâ€™d cut up the vegetables and make the broth and shape the little meatballs with her palms or any two palms she could get a hold of. It was a lot of work, but what were her options?
I could go on and on about those first days on earth, but Iâ€™ll stop here for now. All I ask is that you, too, try to remember your first days. If you’re having trouble, start by thinking about your last days on earth, then go backwards from there. Eventually, you’ll get back to your infancy. (We all do.) What went through your mind during those first few days? How did you feel? And, if you could break it down, what were the percentages of poking, prodding and doing that thumb trick? These are all important questions only you or your doctor can answer.