Bad night, not a lot of sleep. Yesterday night, for the first time Merritt was having some really strong and worrisome contractions and I wake up with a lousy feeling. She calls me a few minutes later but I press the wrong button and her call gets forwarded to the voicemail. Here is the message she left me. If you have never heard a pregnant woman scared shitless of losing her kids, that’s what it sounds like.

(click the icon)

Merritt is shaking in bed
Merritt is shaking in bed

I arrive at the hospital too late. Merritt is still in the Operation Room; I wait for her in Recovery. When she comes on the gurney, her whole body is shaking because of the drugs. The room is hot and stuffy. There is a heat wave today with temperatures not seen in 40 years; records are falling all around the Bay Area. I don’t understand why a hospital doesn’t have a better air-con system. I don’t understand why the doctor is blabbing so much about the anesthesia but nobody gives details about the kids. Merritt is still stiff and shaking. No sleep, no food, no air, no kids and my girlfriend straight from The Exorcist… My head spins, I need to sit down.

20 minutes later, a nurse takes me to see the kiddos. We cross two doors with access codes and enter the Intensive Care Unit. It’s a long room full of medical gear and computer screens, lined on both sides with sci-fi pods - the incubators. As soon as we step in, I see about 20 feet away a dark mauve fetus lying completely still in an open incubator. The thing seems to be about the size of the puppets that anti-abortion demonstrators love to exhibit on TV, and as life-less. Lights are off, nobody’s around. A few feet behind, a group of doctors, all masked and in surgical gowns, fuss over another pod under bright spotligths. The nurse hesitates: “Er… stay here, I’ll go check.” She talks five seconds to the doctors, comes back, grabs me by the arm and leads me back out, explaining vaguely: “They’re not done yet, we’ll come back later”. From all I see, one’s dead, the other’s a guess, but if the nurse doesn’t feel like telling, I certainly don’t feel like asking. She tries to put up a smile; it’s a bit futile but I’m grateful.

Back to Merritt. She’s still got the shakes. Her lower body is numb, she can hardly move her feet, but her upper body is shaking as if she’d just had 20 espressos. I feed her ice cubes, apply wet clothes on her neck and fan her with a cardboard sheet to keep her temperature down. Half an hour later, the docs come in: “Everything’s fine, they’re both hooked up now”. Wow! Phew!

Eraserhead
The little screams of Baby “A”

Back to the pod room, I finally get to take a peek up-close. The nurse claims they’re fine I ‘m not sure I believe her: two small fetuses strapped to the bed with velcro bracelets, struggling to breathe with pipes, wires and tubes coming out of their mouth, plugged into their umbilical cords or attached to the arms and feet. I don’t want to give them names yet. They’re not finished. Baby “A” cries weakly. Baby “B” looks like he’s not going to see the end of the day.

Manu at 2 hours
Manu at 2 hours

 

Max at 2 hours
Max at 2 hours

 

Merritt & Manu
Merritt & Manu

Two hours later, Merritt is feeling better, she can leave the Recovery Room. Of course, we are not going to take her directly to her bedroom. The nurse and I push her bed through across the hallways to the pod room and she finally gets the see the babies. “I can’t believe how tiny are these things!” I tell her. She replies sternly: “They’re not things anymore, they’re little people!” And she’s right, they’re not “A”, not “B”, not “things” anymore… Welcome Max & Manu.

I stop by the house in the afternoon. A quick check on the web shows me that the kiddos’ numbers are in fact perfectly normal, their condition is fine. 29 1/2 weeks, 1300 grams: It’s almost a no-brainer nowadays. So much relief. A bit later, Merritt calls with more good news. It’s starting to sink in now, the joy of being a dad. I check my phone at a red light on the way back to the hospital. It opens on the Yahoo News page with a big rainbow flag: “Supreme Court overturns gay marriage ban”. “Yes!!!”, I scream. I immediately turn left to go through the Castro, the gay district of San Francisco. Everybody’s out celebrating, laughing, smiling, kissing. What a symbol to have our kids born in an America where people are finally free to marry whomever they love, an America where the President might soon be a wise, thoughtful, competent, articulated and brilliant young black man. I feel waves of joy and I am immensely proud.

May 15th, 2008. The happiest day in San Francisco since 1849.
May 15th, 2008. The happiest day in San Francisco since 1849.

 

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bushplant.jpgI am so proud to be American today! An association lead by “Chicken John”, one of Merritt’s good friends and a former San Francisco mayoral candidate, decided to honor our President’s legacy in the most appropriate way. If all goes well, a ballot initiative will rename the city’s wastewater treatment plant the “George W. Bush Sewage Plant”. The new name will take effect, with no doubt amid colorful local celebrations, on the same day he leaves office.

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