Renny, year zero

Wow. Serenity is five today. Five trips around the sun culminating with a solar eclipse. What started out as an idea has become a person. One of the last things my dad did was try to convince me how fulfilling getting married and having a child was. Him and I spent many of nights talking, and his basic point was I wouldn’t understand the joy of a child unless I had one. He was absolutely right. I still waited a while, wasn’t sure if I was up to the challenge, and was afraid of starting a family because I always had trust/abandonment issues. Then the overwhelming need to have a child was an idea that got stuck in my head and I finally said to heather “it’s time.” She knew what I meant and smiled. We started trying, it wasn’t easy and there were ups and downs along the way. We finally got lucky and Serenity’s Journey into the world had begun. It was over a year of trying, the night she was conceived I really felt like this was the one, and it was. The first time I found out that she had started growing was when Heather asked me to look in the bathroom, there was a surprise. My first question was “What? Did you empty the garbage?” (Clip on YouTube)

There was a positive pregnancy test sitting on the counter. I still have it. I was overjoyed. It was at that moment I knew life would never be the same, and it wasn’t. I went from a goofy guy to a person with a baby on the way that was nesting. I baby proofed the entire house, and I started buying her stuff I thought she would need along the way. Some stuff a little too early, everyone needs a copy of A Brief History of Time right? We read books about pregnancy, birth and did all the research we could to be the best parents we could. We even took a Hypnobirthing class, not proud of that one, we didn’t know at the time that people and business pray on the fear of falling as a parent to make their money. The day we went for the ultrasound to learn the gender I was excited and nervous. Ultrasound day was never fun. This is the point where we learned we had lost the last baby. We were both excited on the way to the Doctor’s office, we talked about if we wanted a boy or a girl. I had been a sudo stepdad for years at a time in the past, and I knew I wanted a girl. Ever time I said that out loud it was followed by the traditional, “I’ll be happy with either, as long as it’s healthy.” But I wanted a girl.

I was told by the Doctor that if it was a girl, we’d be able to see a diamond shape, we did. I remember squealing, and there were tears of joy. I was going to be a dad to a little girl. I was excited, and that excitement never left me. Pregnancy was an awesome experience. There wasn’t too much I could really do during that time except try to do everything I could do to make her mom’s gestation as pleasant as I could. There were the normal mood swings and cravings, and my nightly trips around town to get whatever Heather and the baby were craving. I used to joke with her that she wanted to eat nitrogenated soil. The best story that came out of that was the night Heather was crying because she wanted Thanksgiving in July. I had accomplished most of the cravings/requests but that time I was stumped. After being there for heather during that emotional time, I grabbed my keys and said, I’ll be back, on my way out the door heather said “French Silk pie too… 🙂.

I had no idea where I was going to get thanksgiving, in the summer, but I was up to the challenge, it was late at night, so I headed to Walmart, I guess planning to get everything I need for thanksgiving, I had made thanksgiving dinner a lot previously, it was tradition for me to make thanksgiving for everyone that didn’t have family or a place to go, so I was pretty skilled, the process took a long time however, and I needed thanksgiving now. When I passed Bob Evens I saw that they still might be open, and they were. I got the family Turkey meal for 5 (who are they kidding) and two pieces of pie. Heather and the baby were happy.

That night Heather and I gorged on turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy, and pie. The baby probably just needed something in cranberries, but we did it up. We sat there on the floor in front of the couch ignoring tv together, with many to go containers and forks. It was like one of those perfect nights where everything was right with the world.

As for a name, I wanted a good Star Trek name. As many families do, they either name their children after family members or people from historical fiction that they are fond of. My thought was everything I learned in life was from Star Trek, logic, peace, science, and doing the right thing.

I tried for Lwaxana, Troi, Uhura, Jadzia, Seven, Annika, Kess, B’elanna, nerys, T’pol, and more. Heather wasn’t having it.

While at McDonald’s with my buddies Frankie and Johnny, the three of us collectively known as The Boopers, we were a touring rock band, Frankie played the drums, Johnny played the guitar and base, and I was the lead singer and also keyboard when needed, that’s what we told people anyway, I can’t sing, and Frankie never touched a drum stick unless it was during the holidays. So we just had our tour shirts made up, it was much easier than learning to read music. We had even signed autographs in the Orlando mall once, because people believed we were a real band.

The topic of conversation was the same as it had been, baby names. We had even got a baby name book and started from the back saying the names out loud, seeing if one would fit or not. Nothing stuck. So we started naming random names from fandom, like Xena, and Willow. The best I came up with was Six, I understood why Heather didn’t want the baby named Seven, but surly Six is a good, fine and proper name, when suddenly Johnny dropped what he was eating and said “I got it…” Frankie and I just stopped and watched, Johnny continued and said. “It’s a good Browncoat name… “I interrupted as I normally do, and I said “I already tried, Kaylee, Zoë, Inara, Yolanda, Saffron, and Bridget.” Johnny continued, making a grand gesture with both hands saying “Serenity”

The table was silent for about ten long seconds. Then Frankie said “I like it” and returned to eating his double quarter pounder. I loved it. What could be better than being named after a spaceship?

Now to ask heather, it was really up to her, because she had the more painful part of the human creation process, I didn’t know until later that I could name her anything I wanted as I was the one tasked with filling out the birth certificate form.

So I started our normal baby name conversation pushing for Lwaxana again, knowing she hated it, named a few more ridiculous names then I happened to mention Serenity, again there was a pause, she said “I… Like it.” Right there it was planted and by the next day, our little unborn baby, what I had been calling an alien as in chest burster from alien, because Serenity kept trying to push her way out directly from the abdomen, which made quite an interesting visual, had been named Serenity.

Sitting at my mom’s one night, oh it must have been about five years ago, Heather’s water broke. I went to get a towel to clean it up realizing only while I was up, that this was it. I dropped the towel, helped Heather up and we were at the hospital 8 minutes later. Doctor George came in, that was a crazy night, no sleep, I made many phone calls letting everyone know, I called out of work for the next few weeks, talked to people on Heather’s side of our family, some for the first time letting them know the good news. In the birthing suite it was Heather, me, my mom, and her mom.

I had know idea, but this was about to be my new best day of my life. The day I was going to meet my little girl for the first time. I loved Serenity so much, loved everything about her, all I knew about her really at this point was what her ultrasound photographs looked like, she is very photogenic, even back then, and the fact that she liked cranberries.

I wasn’t prepared for the moment I would meet her, really. It was a long labor, heather had been given and epidural and not everything was going so good. Doctor George pulled me into the hallway and had a chat with me. He said the epidural was effecting the birthing process and it was getting to the point where Serenity had to come out or it would start to be dangerous for both of the women in my life. He said he had to let the epidural ware off and she had to feel everything, it was the best and only way. My first adult decision I think. I said “Of course, whatever you need to do.”

Another few hours went by, and it was time. The moms and I had a front row seat with a view of the birth canal. It was intense, when it started happening, everything started slowing way down, like when you are mid air upside down in a car crash. The first part of Serenity I met was the top of her head. I was, and still am in love with it. At that moment my dad switch clicked. From then on I would always know how to fix everything and tell if someone had touched the thermostat.

Serenity was having a difficult time coming out at first and it was taking a bit, when all of a sudden, the other 98% of her came swooping out in a fast downward then upward arc. Doctor George caught Serenity, did the Doctoring things to help her start breathing, checked her out and in my mind it looked like he was tossing her around like a football, they wiped some of the cottage cheese looking stuff off her face and handed her to Heather and I. I was crying with joy, I couldn’t control myself. It was literally the most overjoyed moment in my entire life.

Looking at Serenity for the first time, I knew she was perfect. Time still moving slowly, I noticed that one of her ears was folded over and attached to her face. In that moment, I knew what I had to do for her, get two more jobs and pay for whatever surgeries she needed. How would I break the news to heather? It seemed I was the only one that noticed. She was beautiful and healthy, ten fingers and ten toes, and I loved her and she was mine. Then the suction that was holding her ear down released and her ear popped up with the sound a pacifier makes when removed from a child’s mouth. And everything was perfect, absolutely perfect in every way. I had the obligatory cutting of the cord ceremony, to help me feel involved, yeah, Heather did most of the work, but I helped right!?! Lol. Things just started to return to a normal perception of time, where the silence of focus began to fade into beeping and a murmuring from the medical staff. The head nurse said “Doctor!” Everything in the room had shifted in that moment from Serenity to Heather. Serenity was taken by two female staff members to her crib on the other side of the room to be cleaned up and checked out. I followed the baby, as I was rounding the foot of the bed, I saw a lot of blood, I didn’t know if that was normal or not, but as I was looking, the Doctor made direct eye contact with me to convey the gravity of the situation. Time slowed down again. He then looked at Heather’s mom, Donna looked at my mom, we all looked at each other, we knew what was happening, we were losing heather. You could see the heartbreak on Heather’s mom’s face, but she stayed strong and reassured heather that everything would be okay. The blood kept coming out. Pouring as quickly as boiling water into a colander in a sink. I honestly didn’t realize humans had that much blood. Heather asked what was going on, no one really said anything other than the medical staff and they were communicating in CCs and Stats. My tears of joy turned into tears of sadness as I felt that this was going to be one of those times that the mom didn’t make it. I knew I had to be strong, I held Heather’s hand and she started getting woozy, I, looking back and forth between her and the baby, heather asking still what was happening, I looked at her, and she knew, and we both looked at Serenity and each other as I kept assuring her it was going to be okay. Heather had the look on her face of realization and also knowing it was worth it. She had brought an amazing baby girl into the world. I just looked into her eyes and put on my best smile, and held her hand. Blaming myself, thinking what had I done, loosing my whole world.

The doctor jumped on top of her, called for some injection, started squeezing her uterus through her abdomen, it looked very painful and the blood kept flowing, we both had one final shared look at Serenity and then…

Heather was going to be okay. The doctor had stopped the blood loss, and everything was going to be okay, and it was. We were all going to be okay.

All the things we learned hadn’t really prepared us to be parents at all. Donna and my mom had been there with us for that first week in the hospital, helping with everything, but when it was time to take Renny home with us, they just handed her to us and said “here you go” we both looked at each other like now what?

A lot of sleepless nights just watching Serenity breath, listening to that heart monitor that they had attached, just spending time loving and being a family. I had spent that first week and a half with Serenity before I had to go back to work, leaving was the most difficult thing I had done in my life up until then. Spending those work days away from my baby was horrible and I knew I had to find a way to be with her 24/7 and I did. A work at home daddy I became. I have a bond with Serenity I only ever had with one other person, my dad. I now know what it’s like to have and feel that unconditional love. Serenity is not only my daughter, but my best friend. The person I want to spend every moment with, experiencing everything again for the first time with wonderment through her eyes. There are a lot of stories to tell of Renny’s first 5 years,this was just the first one. In that time she went from the worlds largest premature baby to a genuinely kind, strong, super intelligent, empathetic, caring person. She has an amazing personality, thinks the best of everyone, has the confidence to introduce herself to people, tell them about herself, ask them about themselves, and make friends anywhere. I know, or at least think every parent thinks their kid is the most amazing, beautiful person to ever live, but I think in this case it’s true.

I love you with all my heart Serenity.

Happy Birthday. 🎁