My Son Gets Two Minutes For Delay of Game

05/11/2009 By Shawn Burns

Friday was upon me before I really had a chance to realize how little work I’d done during the week. I was anxious, awake late into the night with a racing heart awake too early in the morning when my daughter would make her presence known, and, if she had a toy within reach, felt.

A new dresser purchased at Ikea lay on the bedroom floor, awaiting assemblage. It’s for the baby’s clothes, and Erin’s clothes, since for the moment (if “moment” can mean “two years”) Erin’s clothes are in our dresser. There are six drawers in our dresser, and we each have two of them. I’d like three. Emily would like three. Without a new dresser Emily and I would be down to one each. So, a new dresser purchased at Ikea lay on the bedroom floor, awaiting assemblage.

Emily has been on maternity leave for a week or so, taking advantage of the pre-baby time to see some movies, get some pedicures, have some lunches with friends, and in no way advise anyone about trademarks. She’s also preparing for the baby, nesting (in that weird “I’m going to bake at 2am” way that she has developed).

But on Friday afternoon, when her contractions started with regularity if not severity, we were still unprepared. Her suitcase wasn’t packed, the birth plan wasn’t printed, the champagne and glasses weren’t in a bag, nor was the iGroove dock. I had no playlist of relaxing ocean sounds ready, nor a “welcome to the world, son” playlist. Cameras were strewn about the apartment. Infant car seat bases remained uninstalled in our cars. Friday afternoon, for an hour before we had to leave to go to Erin’s swimming class, we packed and prepped furiously. And we did it all, and we got it all into the car, and drove to swimming and called Emily’s mom and told her to get on a plane, and after swimming we had dinner with our friends (with whom we had shared a party a couple of weeks ago, since their daughter is Erin’s best friend and one day older) and told them to be ready for a late night phone call. They had volunteered to watch Erin while we were in the hospital, which is why we love them.

After dinner the contractions grew more regular, and I picked up Emily’s mother at the airport and I made calls to my mother, father, and sister letting them know that the kid looked like he was making an appearance. I drove Erin over to our friends’ house and put her down for the night, then stopped at Target to buy a plunger.

This may take some explaining. “Shawn, you idiot, your wife is in labour and you are stopping at Target to buy a plunger? Are you, perhaps, less smart than a monkey? An armadillo? A golden retriever eating his own shit?”

Late on Friday afternoon, while Emily and I were packing furiously, Erin was busy (a) using one of her plastic blocks to drink water out of the toilet bowl, which was a fantastic parenting moment for us and (2) flushing that block down the toilet.

If you know anything about plastic blocks you probably know this: they don’t dissolve in water.

So, knowing we’d have company over the weekend, or at the very least that we’d have to use the toilet once or twice before going to the hospital, I determined to get the block out. Because my nesting takes the particular form of needing to fix things.

The plunger was ineffective. It lacked the penis part and was instead just a plunging vagina, so there was nothing to insert into the opening at the bottom of the toilet and so I couldn’t create a seal and then suck the water back out of the flushed toilet by drawing the plunger back up. All I could do was push things further in. Vaginas are good for pushing, not sucking.

So, what do I do at 11pm on a Friday night while my wife is in labour, my mother-in-law waits in the living room, and my daughter sleeps over at a friend’s house? My wife says “How about a coat hanger? Can you unbend a coat hanger and then use it to catch the block?”

Apparently what I can do is unbend a coat hanger and get it stuck in the toilet. Now what?

I took the damned toilet apart, flipped it upside down, and pushed the blocked into the bowl from the other end of the pipe. I was very manly and strong and there were tools and sweat and probably urine involved. Then I grabbed some needle-nosed pliers to twist the wire hanger out of the toilet, and emerged from the bathroom completely victorious (although covered in what I think wasn’t urine, but I can’t tell for sure so you probably shouldn’t hug me).

Despite all of my efforts, my dedicated nesting and the packing and driving around and picking people up and dropping them off and going to Target…my son refused to show up. Emily’s contractions got a bit worse, then she fell asleep. She woke up, they got a bit worse, then she fell asleep. They never reached a “damn damn damn damn damn ooh eeh ooh eeh” stage.

But on Saturday morning she hadn’t felt the baby move in a little while, and had been in labour for 15 hours, so we went to the hospital just to check things out.

Our uncooperative son was there, fine, and the contractions were 5 minutes apart, but only going halfway up the little graph thingy on the printout. The nurse said “Could be today, could be next week.” Thanks, nurse.

We picked Erin up after her fun-but-unnecessary sleep over, then met grandma for lunch. Emily’s contractions persisted, but we said “Screw It” and sent grandma home with Erin while we went to see Star Trek.

Star Trek was great. It was a great Star Trek movie and a really good action film. It’s also heavy on the fatherhood angle, and I appreciated that.

What Emily didn’t want was to be in the hospital on Mother’s Day. “Oh, how great! You’re here on Mother’s Day and you have a new baby! That’s so great!” The thought of enduring person after person saying something stupid like that to her was enough, I think, to convince my son not to poke his head out for a look the rest of the weekend.

On Sunday we waited, and the contractions seemed to be gone. We spent the day coddling Erin and eating frozen yoghurt and (me) watching the Wings-Ducks game before taking Emily’s mother back to the airport in the evening.

Overnight, Emily’s contractions grew stronger, strong enough to keep her awake most of the night, and then she fell asleep. They were consistently strong most of the morning, but in the afternoon they settled down again.

So we went for massages.

And now here I sit watching hockey and making a roast as we wait another evening for this kid to show up.