Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Benster Turns 18

It's difficult to wrap my mind around it, but my son is now an adult. Eighteen years have passed since the day he was born.

I remember it being a cold but sunny Tuesday morning, November 21, 1995. As it turned out, two things happened that day that are historic. First, the Dow Jones industrial average climbed over the 5000 mark for the first time. At Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the Dayton Peace Accords were initialed, marking the end of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. And at 1:52 p.m. CST, in a room at United Hospital in St. Paul, our first child was born.
Bundle of joy

We'd had a bit of a scare a month earlier and Mrs. D had spent about a week in the hospital with pre-term labor. She'd returned home and had been on bed rest. When we woke up that morning, it was clear that something was up. We called the hospital and they told us to come down. We worked our way down from our townhome in Shoreview, stopping once so I could get my cup of morning coffee. Momentous events require coffee.

Once we got to the hospital, we went to our room and Mrs. D went through the experience. Things were progressing along slowly but it seemed possible that this would be the day. The nurses and doctors came and went, none seemingly too worried about things. It was possible that it might be days before the baby would arrive, we were told, or the baby might come today. It seemed like a long morning. We'd been through the Lamaze classes and we were clued into what we might expect. We'd brought music to listen to and Mrs. D's favorite teddy bear, which she'd received as a gift in college. Whatever it took.

As the morning dragged toward noon, she turned to me and said, "look, I don't think anything is going to happen any time soon. Why don't you go and get some lunch. Take your time." Knowing that she was in good hands, I left the hospital and walked down to a Subway shop on West 7th. I got myself a turkey sub and a Pioneer Press and had a good long hour of decompressing. Although we were both excited about the possibilities of the day, it was good to get away and think about things other than the life-changing event that might happen. I strolled back to the hospital, got on the elevator and headed for the maternity ward.

When I got back, it was obvious that Mrs. D had had an eventful hour in my absence. She was rocking uncomfortably back and forth in the bed and she looked at me and said, "you can't leave now." There was a nurse nearby and we were told that the obstetrician would be arriving shortly. "It looks like the baby is going to come today," I was told. The next hour was a blur. I remember trying to hold Mrs. D's hand, and hold the teddy bear to give her a focal point. I remember trying to fish through our bag to change the tape (yep, we still had cassettes). I put on some Miles Davis - Kind of Blue, a favorite and something that would be comforting enough. As the bottom of the hour passed and we headed toward 2, it became pretty clear that this was the time. A close family friend had arrived to offer support and was pretty much horrified to realize that she had walked in at the moment of truth. She quickly beat a hasty retreat the waiting room. I will never forget the look on the friend's face.

Meanwhile, the moment had arrived. Childbirth is simultaneously amazing, frightening and a little bit bizarre. As the song All Blues wailed softly in the background, I saw the baby emerge. It was our son. As the nurses quickly took him to the side table to give him his first exam, the Apgar score, he let out a healthy wail. Mrs. D looked at me. I looked at her. It was the beginning.

Who is this guy? Ask Benster
Benster is now a senior in high school and while he is now legally an adult, the long road he's traveled to get to this point seems like a short trip, given what's out on the horizon. Benster is a bright, energetic young man with a quick wit and a boundless enthusiasm for discussing the topics that interest him, which range from the career of Nathanael Greene to the fortunes of Everton FC. Like his mother, he's an avid historian and he plows through books the size of coffee tables concerning the events of the past. Like his father, he bleeds Green and Gold. He's recently completed an Eagle Scout project that spanned the month of October and he's now in the process of figuring out the college he'll attend. Although Mrs. D and I worry a lot about the future he's entering, I have no question that he'll approach that future with great enthusiasm. Opportunities await a young man willing to find them and I am confident that he'll find great adventures ahead. We're eager to see what he'll find.

1 comment:

R.A. Crankbait said...

Happy birthday, Benster!

Births are such momentous events that there always seem to be stories around the experience. When our first was born there were a series of complications and frustrations. I would stay face to face with my wife as she rode through the contractions - and then I'd retreat to the other side of the room, out of sight and lift any heavy object I could get my hands on in order to vent and burn off some adrenaline while we waited for an anesthetist to show up for the epidural. I think the staff was seriously considering ordering up a tranquilizer gun to use on me.