Thursday, October 16, 2008
I had a Tonic Ball meeting (November 21, mark your calender) at the Northside Newsstand. I moved up to the counter to enjoy some delicious tomato and artichoke soup and conversation with one of those bad boys, the kind your friends tell you to stay away from. You know the type; long beard, leather jacket, no discernible source of income, hoop earrings, keeps a protective eye on you in the bars late at night and has a motorcycle parked out front....
Anyway, I snapped out of it, finished the conversation about early 1980s punk rock bands and headed home. When I fished my keys out of my purse I checked my iPhone.
Three missed calls and a text message from Tammy.
The Tammy who is pregnant with twins. The Tammy who asked me to be with her for the birth. The Tammy who is counting on my to get her to the hospital. The Tammy who is due in the beginning of December, seven weeks away. The Tammy who told me that twins usually come early, probably around Thanksgiving (I was convinced that it would be Tonic Ball day).
The Tammy who's water had just broken. The Tammy who was driving herself to the hospital because she couldn't reach me. That Tammy.
I raced home and did my best bumbling sitcom father routine. I tripped flying in to the house, shucking off my dress as I went. I pulled on jeans and a top. I fed the cat, grabbed my tooth brush, a book, a big cozy scarf, my camera and my computer and raced out the door. I saw that I'd missed another call from Tammy - could I please print out the phone list she'd mailed everyone last week? I raced back in to the house walked in circles, raced back out to get the computer and back in to print the list. As I was locking the door I looked down to see that I'd put my top on inside out. I whipped my top off walking down the driveway and juggling my computer and turned it right side out. I stopped at the Red Key to cash a check- I don't know what I thought I'd need money for, but you never know.
By the time I got to the hospital they'd given Tammy a shot of steroids to help mature the babies lungs. The doctor on-call came to check her. As it turned out she lived right down the street from Tammy and just a few blocks from me. We joked that we could have all stayed in the neighborhood. They moved her to a room and started an I.V. designed to stop labor.
Within an hour Tammy's contractions were two minutes apart. Apparently there was a queue for the Delivery OR. In the meantime the neonatal pediatrician came in a told Tammy all kinds of scary things about premature babies. Tammy did a great job, but I wanted to scream "Dude! The train has left the station. Can't we just cross that bridge when we come to it?"
I finally asked Tammy if she'd decided what to name the babies. Our group of friends have been calling them Corn Dog and Tatar Tot, but I assumed that was not her final decision.
They whisked Tammy to the OR and gave me a bundle of paper-ish clothes to put on while they got Tammy ready. I used the time wisely, zipped on the white jumpsuit, put on the cap and mask and took selftimed photos of me trying to do my best Elvis sneer. By the time I was allowed in the room the drape was already up and I was given instructions not to look and to let the anesthesiologist know if I started feeling woozy. Ummm, okay.
The room was full. A team of doctors for each baby and the team doing whatever they were doing to Tammy (I didn't peek, not at first anyway). She was a champ! I'm good in crisis situations, but I'm not so good at the comforting stuff. I was saying helpful things like, "hey the anesthesiologist is wearing a Purdue cap, you know he's got to be smart" and "wow, who thought the day would end like this?" and "if you hurry, we can make last call at the Red Key." I think it was soon apparent to the doctors and nurses that the twins did not have two mommies.
Baby Boy (5.4) was born at 11:46 and Baby Girl (5.3) at 11:47. I decided that the best sound in the world must be hearing a baby cry for the first time. They let me step around the curtain and peek at the babies and snap a few photos.
Evan and Katherine are beautiful, just beautiful. And I was honored to be there for the first minutes of thier lives.