Monday, May 28, 2012
What’s in a Name?
Celia just gave birth to a son, whom she cradled as Rob leaned over and embraced them both.
“Don’t call our moms in yet,” Celia said. “I want it to be just the three of us for another few minutes.”
“I’m so proud of you, Cele,” Rob said. “Look what you did!”
Celia, looking at their son, began to tear up.
They gazed together at their son, whose eyes were open wide and gazing back at Celia, as if putting together the face with the voice he had been listening to for months. “So what do we name him?” Celia said. They had talked about names early on, but life had gotten crazy with Celia’s mother moving in with them, deciding to buy a house and the move. It seemed like a long time since they had talked about it.
“Well, we have dad names and grandfather names,” Rob said.
“You have a name, too,” Celia said. “I like Robert.”
“Too confusing,” Rob said. “But maybe for its middle name. I mean, for his middle name.”
“OK. So maybe ‘something Robert.’”
“Pssst,” they heard. Rob looked up at the doorway to see Celia’s mother sticking her head in. “The nurse said it’s here,” she said. “What is it?”
Rob looked at Celia for permission to reveal and she nodded. “It’s a boy!”
“Can we come in?” Rob’s mother said, peeking around Celia’s mother.
“Let’s get him named first,” Celia said, quietly.
“Give us five, Mom,” Rob said. “We’ll let you know.”
What do Rob and Celia name their son?
Monday, May 21, 2012
It’s a Boy
Celia is in labor.
Here she was, pushing, on the verge of giving birth, and all Celia could think about was that the birthing classes had been no help at all. The epidural, however, had been a godsend, both relieving pain and helping her to maintain her sense of humor. So she could laugh when Rob’s boss texted that the office had voted and wanted a girl, and when Rob kept getting the on-off wrong when he tried using the new camera his parents had given them. They had lots of footage of the floor.
“OK, Celia, you can rest a minute,” the doctor said.
“Are our mothers still here?” she asked Rob as she lay back.
“Yeah. I don’t think they would leave if we paid them to,” he responded quietly. His strong, firm voice grounded her. They had decided ahead of time to keep everyone else out of the delivery room. Celia didn’t want her mother, who would be no help, and she didn’t feel like she knew Rob’s well enough to keep her around when she was this vulnerable.
“OK, get ready,” the doctor said, watching the monitor. “Push.”
As Rob bent down to put his head next to her, Celia crunched and pushed.
“And there’s the head,” the doctor said. “One more push”—
“And here’s your son!” the doctor said. “Rob, come cut the cord.”
Celia tried to watch Rob cut the cord but she was too tired. A moment later, the doctor put her son, wrapped in a towel, on her chest.
Rob leaned over and put his arm around Celia and the baby, so they could look at him together.
“Hello, handsome boy,” Celia said. “We’re so glad you’re here!”
“I’m going to go tell our moms to come in,” Rob said, standing up.
“Wait,” Celia said.
What does she say next?
Monday, May 14, 2012
Rob and Celia have just moved into their new house, two weeks before their baby is due.
Finally, finally, finally, Rob thought. Not only was the most massive item on the pre-baby to-do list completed, but Rob was also experiencing a bigger, primal sense of accomplishment. It engulfed him now as he watched Celia, dozing on the sofa in the middle of the living room, and listened to their mothers set up housekeeping; Celia’s mother upstairs in her own room, since she was living with them now, and Rob’s mother in the kitchen putting away the first grocery store run of their new life.
Rob identified the feeling: I am an adult. It was hard to believe. Rob and his friends had graduated college right before the economic downturn, and he was one of the few to have hung onto to his first job. He was the only one to have gotten married and he was certainly the first to be on the verge of having a baby. Some of his friends had boomeranged back to living with parents and others were in doubled-up roommate situations, and here Rob was, standing in the living room of his own house.
Of course, the down payment had come from Celia’s mother selling her house, and heaven knows he still had his reservations about living with the inclined-to-be-flaky ding-dong who had birthed his wife. But the arrangement killed several birds with one stone when Celia’s mother lost her job and they suddenly needed both childcare and a bigger place to live. Rob had been raised to be financially conservative and owning a home represented a key piece of being responsible.
In the back of his mind, Rob tried to figure out how to put money away to buy his mother-in-law out of her interest in the house someday. God willing, his income would outpace inflation and the value of their home would rise and maybe someday he could do so with a home equity loan…
But he had to wait to cross that bridge when he got there. He thought about Celia’s words in response to his control-freak insensitivity right before they had left the apartment for the last time. “You’re going to make yourself crazy, Rob. You’re only as alone as you make yourself with your incredibly unrealistic expectations of—everything. You can’t expect us to work to your perfect script.”
“I get it, Celia, but it will still drive me crazy,” he had said as he kissed her.
His life now seemed to be comprised of a relatively solid foundation, with a structure of pure chaos built upon it. Well, maybe not pure chaos, but there was much that was unpredictable, and Rob did not like unpredictability.
But Celia did OK with predictibility. Between the two of them, maybe they could manage a live-in mother, a baby, two jobs and a mortgage.
Suddenly, Celia sat up her eyes confused. “Rob?”
He smiled at her, feeling good.
“I think my water just broke!” she said.
What happens next?
Monday, May 07, 2012
Living off script
Rob’s impatience with Celia’s bed rest for the remainder of her pregnancy made him react quite insensitively during the move to their new house, driving her weeping into the bathroom.
Celia heard Rob’s rap on the bathroom door. Her crying eased inexplicably when he did; there was something about him pursuing her just when she felt helpless and alone that improved the situation by half, before he even said a word.
“Rocco says I need to lighten up before I pop a blood vessel,” Rob said through the door. “He said the work will get done eventually.”
Celia rolled her eyes. “I know that,” she said. She was sitting on the closed toilet seat, leaning forward with her elbows on her knee, which meant that her very pregnant belly dropped down between her legs. She sat up, took a piece of toilet paper (since the tissues were packed) and blew her nose.
“Can I come in?” Rob said.
The door opened and Rob joined her there. Celia reached out so Rob could leverage her to her feet and stood up, but since the bathroom was small they could not help but stand close together. Even then, the baby filled the square foot of space between them.
“Rob,” Celia said, with one final sniff. She reached out and put her hands on his arms as she spoke. “This is going to get harder before it gets easier. Once we have the baby it may be years until the work is done.”
“I know,” Rob said.
“You’re going to make all of us crazy, acting like the things that need to get done are more important than the people the things get done for. Please don’t do that.”
“I know,” Rob said. “I’m sorry I snapped at you.”
Celia was on a roll. “But especially, you’re going to make yourself crazy. You’re only as alone as you make yourself with your incredibly unrealistic expectations of—everything. You can’t expect us to work to your perfect script.”
How does Rob respond?
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