Nobody knew the gender of the child I was carrying. They only knew our joy in the fact that after two miscarriages, a long trial of fertility testing, and an impossibly difficult time conceiving, I was actually carrying a baby to term. I had spent four months in bed, with everyone jumping through hoops to help see this thing through. My brother would pick me up in the mornings and drive to my parent’s home, which doubled as the home base for my father’s business. I worked for him for eleven years. They set me up in bed, where I did paperwork and telephone work. My brother worked there too, at the time, and at days end, he would take me home, where I would get back into bed.
My doctor finally allowed me back to a normal existence when I had safely gotten halfway through the second trimester. It was then the fun began. A sonogram clearly showed the sex of the baby. My husband didn’t want to know. He wanted to be surprised. It was then I learned two things about my husband. He has no ear for music, and he’s rather dense when it comes to hinting around. By the way, after thirty years of marriage, neither of those two things has changed.
We had already decided on names. In fact, we had decided on names several times. This time, thankfully, we would get to use them. If it was a boy, it was going to be Daniel Mason. If it was a girl, we would call her Dana Michelle. I would rub my belly and sing “Oh Danny Boy,” or Elton John’s “Daniel.” I still can’t get over the fact that he never caught on.
Daniel had me at the hospital with false labor only once, which is surprising, because first, I was extremely anxious to have the baby… I had gotten to the point where I couldn’t turn over in bed without holding on to the headboard, and second, I’m a bit of a kvetch. For those who don’t understand Jewish? …a complainer, a whiner.
Prime rib, roasted potatoes, fresh steamed green beans and chocolate éclairs for dessert. That was the menu. The guests were our closest friends (my maid of honor and her husband). It was my due date. They left at around 10:30. We finished in the kitchen at 11:00, and I promptly had my first contraction! Within an hour, they were five minutes apart so we headed to the hospital.
After laboring through the night, being bounced around on the table because the baby’s heart beat was irregular, at 5:30 my water broke. At 6:30 my doctor arrived to do an emergency C-section. The epidural didn’t take, and I felt either the cutting or the pulling. They knocked me out. Within minutes, I awoke to hear the doctor say, “It’s a boy.” My first reaction was that we need to call Corky’s for the Bris. The second thing I said was, “Oh God, thank you for bringing him into our lives.” It was then that the doctor said, “Put her out again!”
I didn’t see him again for two days… Not because I slept that long, but because he was incubated with all kinds of tubes and wires. He had a little bit of a rough start. To this day, my mother gloats that she touched him (“his tiny little toes”) before I did. We took him home on day four and on day ten we were at Children’s Hospital for a kidney scan, as he was born with only one umbilical artery. There was a fear that he only had one kidney. My husband wasn’t the least bit worried. He KNEW there were at LEAST two kidneys, having changed his diaper enough that first week, and learned the cardinal rule: NEVER LEAVE THE DIAPER OFF WHILE STANDING OVER THE BABY BOY, ESPECIALLY IF YOU HAVE YOUR MOUTH OPEN!
Daniel was quick out of the gate. He walked early and he talked early. And we learned early on that he had a mind like a sponge. Toddling through a mall in Louisville Kentucky at 15 months, a young man in a card shop gave him a balloon and asked him, “How ya doin?” Daniel looked straight up at him and said, “Fine, you?”
Being from Kentucky, my husband is a big college basketball fan. You can’t be from Kentucky and NOT be somehow affected. He may have been watching a little too much basketball in Daniel’s first year. We are not racists nor do we have prejudice… the reality is that a large percentage of ball players are African Americans. When my husband took my son to buy something at Home Depot, they happened to come upon a tall African American man, at which point my one-year-old son declared, “Batta ball.” Like I said… he made logical connections early. He was a smart kid.
When I said he had a mind like a sponge I meant it. We subscribed to the Zoobook series, and we literally forced into reading an entire volume each night to our son. When we took him to the zoo, we were standing with a crowd and my husband asked him “what kind of giraffe is that?” He stunned the crowd when, at age four, answered, “a reticulated giraffe, dad.” Or when he was eight, Daniel got into a disagreement with my husband’s partner about the paw of a member of the large cat family. I don’t even remember the species to accurately tell the story, but I bet Daniel does. And my husband actually had to take the Zoobook in as proof to his partner that Daniel was, indreed, correct.
The one thing about Daniel that he has finally overcome was that he wasn’t very willing to try something unless he knew he would be good at it. (He was unlike his sister who would dive into anything if she thought it was interesting). At the very first T-ball practice, the coach asked all the kids to run around the bases. Not Daniel. Nope. His dad and the coach agreed that he wasn’t ready.
One year later, they tried again, with little league. He was ready. Boy, was he ready. Baseball became his passion. He played spring ball. He played fall ball. He played shortstop! Boy, did he play shortstop. One of his coaches, in his last year of eligibility for little league, drafted him first, saying that, “the kid beat us almost single handedly last year.”
Unfortunately, there can be bad teachers and bad coaches along the way, and Daniels love for the game was destroyed by a Junior Varsity High School Coach (among others), and he stopped playing in favor of bowling and water polo. His first day of practice for polo was an experience. When he got home, he stood on the doorstep, his hair still wet, with a huge grin on his face, and he said, “Mom, I puked.” He then proceeded to eat everything in sight, and then fall asleep in his plate. His Water Polo coach wanted to strangle him for not coming out for the team as a freshman. The passion was back.
Daniel took to driving easily. That didn’t mean I was comfortable… It’s just that his Dad let him drive part way home after getting his learner’s permit, and despite a few swerves and wide turns, he took right to it. (When his sister got her permit and Dad offered her the same opportunity to drive home, she didn’t want to, mainly because she didn’t even know the difference between the gas and brake). Today, Daniel is a great driver, and he always offers to be helpful, by saying “I’ll drive… we’ll get there faster.”
The old expression goes, “A daughter is a daughter all of her life, but a son is a son till he takes a wife.” Daniel has, I believe, met the love of his life. This young lady has truly turned his head. Of all things, she found him on FACEBOOK. She definitely has good taste in men. They met over the internet the spring before they started college, and have been together ever since. That’s seven years or more. I do believe there has been discussion of marriage. This makes me happy only if that expression does not hold true. I have a feeling that with Natalie, it won’t. She will be, I HOPE, a wonderful addition to the family, and Daniel will forever be my son.