Atticus Richard Taylor
You would think that a baby, slowly growing in his mother’s stomach for 9 months, and within full view of the world, would not be able to surprise anyone. We have a gut feeling; however, that Atticus Taylor will be spending his entire life surprising his father and mother. His arrival was only the first of his little tricks. The first surprise on Tuesday the 1st of March was that he actually made it that long. None of our children had made it to their due dates and we thought that there was little chance a doctor in Maryland, umpteen thousands of miles away, would be right. Well, surprise!
Matt was enjoying another lovely day on the NIV line and Lisa was mixing meatloaf when Atticus played Ma Bell and reached out to touch us. The first call Lisa made was to tell Matt that MAYBE it had begun but not to leave work yet. Lisa wasn’t sure and because Matt loves interviewing so much he should just stay at it for the time being. So he did. A half-hour later Lisa called in what Matt likes to call, a lovely little state. The contractions were coming like raindrops of a tin roof, the maintenance men were there fixing our bedroom air conditioner and the older kids were angering Aiden. Lisa said she wasn’t sure it was labor but as a sane rational man Matt figured it was either the 7th seal of HELL being broken, or labor and therefore headed to the door. Of course, Matt walked leisurely out of the office. Never let them see you sweat. It occurred to him that Lisa should call the midwife but he passed on that. It could wait until he got home. (Note: That last sentence is called “sarcasm” and is meant to act as a part of the story where a significant future event is being hinted at, so make note. We will revisit my decision later and there will be a test.)
Matt drove home, not being particularly worried about the heavy traffic and taking time to get some cash because a baby was going to be born and I’d need money, right? He arrived to beep the horn for the gate at which point Aiden, alone (AJ is usually with him but absent for some reason), opened the gate enough to let Hank run away then close the gate…leaving me outside. He yelled a little bit then saw the gate open again and a strange man he’d never seen opened the gate and let me in. Matt guessed he was an AC repairman but still, as “portents of things to come” are concerned this was lining up to be a doozie.
At The Precipice.
So, the dog is running around the neighborhood just asking to be made into a pork chop and at that moment Matt fervently hoped it’d happen. Inside Lisa was in pain, tears and beside herself all at once. Another strange man stood by the playroom door looking extremely unsure of himself holding a pink slip and looking like he’d rather be anywhere but where he was. Matt took the slip and the man disappeared like a ballpark frank at a Yankee game. Turns out he’d tried to make a call RIGHT NEXT to where Lisa was howling. Most NAVY SEALS who would crack under THAT kind of pressure. Anyway, Matt did what any red-blooded American man would do under the circumstances. He wet myself. No, just kidding. He called for HELP! The midwife mentioned something about being there in an hour so Lisa made her way upstairs; Matt yelled at the kids (who wouldn’t??) and eventually was able to get the dog back inside the gate. It was at this point that one of our neighbor’s, the Assistant RSO’s wife Gisele, appeared at the gate because our close friend Marie Guise had called her to make sure Matt made it home ok. Confident that he had she didn’t hang around much longer.
We Are Now Descending to Extreme Nervousness
Lisa was fighting off contractions and between them trying to get me to time the distances. Matt couldn’t figure out whether to time from the end of one contraction to the beginning of another, or beginning-to-beginning or end-to-end or…well, you get the point. It became clear, however, that either Matt’s watch was broken or the contractions were well under 5 minutes apart. Thanks to the wonders of television, “M.A.S.H”, “Quincy”, “ER” and at least one episode of “The Love Boat” (thanks heavens for Bernie Koppell!) Matt knew this was a bad thing. Lisa decided to take a shower to try and take the edge off the contractions, which worked so much that she thought maybe the contractions were stopped and the baby WASN’T coming after all (HA!). While she showered Aiden came and made sure that Lisa knew his tub toys were there and that she was allowed to play with them if she wanted to. It was sometime soon after this that her water broke and Aiden’s rubber ducky was going to have to wait. While she was showering Matt called his Mom who proceeded to get online. They spoke for a moment then Matt hung up to be with Lisa.
**It’s at this time that, due to a slight difference of opinion, Matt and Lisa would like to offer two separate narratives on what happened next, then the compromise version**
Matt- “I knew I had to act fast. Lisa was hysterical and the Communist Rebels, who had put a hit out on my life due to my extreme diligence on the visa line, had chosen that exact moment to call in a mortar strike. Explosion were going off all around me but I ignored them. ‘Get me 2ccs of ringers lactate and a saline drip, stat!’, I yelled to the nurse…but there was no response. Lisa began to scream so I slapped her face. She looked at me with gratitude. Damn the torpedoes, I thought. This baby was coming and I was its only chance. I ripped off my shirt, six pack abs rippling, and delivered that baby!”
Lisa- “Matt was gurgling like a baby, tears flowing down his eyes and, crying to himself “I want my mommy! I want my mommy! Where’s Steve?” He even seemed to lose control of himself and the sound was like mortar rounds going off, or something. Still, although not much of a man he was still the only other “adult” there, although I’d seriously considered having Abby help me. He began to cry harder so I slapped his face and he finally stopped blubbering long enough for me to cup his hands for him. I aimed as best I could and dropped the baby into his hands. Even that simp couldn’t have missed.”
Ladies and Gentlemen the Captain has switched on the “Fasten Your Seatbelt Sign”.
The contractions were coming harder while AJ waited by the gate for a midwife who wasn’t, for some reason (remember that test folks?) walking through our front door. Matt would look down from the bedroom and silently ask while AJ looked up, shrugged, and silently answered “I don’t know”. Abby was hovering around, taking care of Aiden and peering into the bathroom at her Mom. The computer phone rang so Matt went, answered it, heard Lisa scream “I NEED YOU!” and hung up. This is the part of the story where things happen really, really………REALLY (get the point?) fast. The following ten minutes are a blur of contractions, looking out the window, more contractions (Matt began having them too), more looking out the window…etc.
“What’s up doc?” aka “You can feel WHAT coming out??”
Lisa reached down and felt the head. Now, how’s THAT for a portent?? She asked Matt if he wanted to feel it, which he did, and it was at that moment, that VERY moment, that he knew he was going to be delivering a baby. Matt remembered thinking that he didn’t need to call the midwife until he got home. (There’s the test. Did we all pass?) Lisa knew this earlier, of course, but then again isn’t the man ALWAYS the last to know? Lisa pushed and the head came out into Matt’s hands, head facing backwards. This explains why Matt reached around and said, “I think I just shoved my finger up his nose!” It was at this point that Aiden appeared behind Matt’s shoulder to show him a picture of some sort. Matt said, “That’s very nice honey. Daddy is busy right now but I’ll look at the picture in just a minute.” Aiden seemed satisfied by this answer and moved off to do something else. Then came the second push and Abby coming in to find out what was going on. Lisa told her that the baby was coming right now and to tell AJ to leave the gate open and come upstairs. Abby could be heard running downstairs yelling then AJ in the distance cried “What!?!?!!”. By this time the baby’s shoulders were still stuck so Matt reached inside to help to baby through just like (forgive the author, ladies but it is just the same thing) a new tire is mounted to a rim but in reverse. The whole time this was happening Lisa was in a crouch in front of the toilet and trying hard not to lean back too much just in case Matt screwed up his one main job and dropped the little bugger into the commode. I mean, talk about traumatizing! It wouldn’t be good for the baby either!
The third and final push comes and Matt guides the shoulders through. The rest of the baby, cord and all, pops out without a hitch and Matt manages to hang on…and not get his shirt dirty either. Not bad for an amateur. It’s 4:55pm and Momma has just delivered Atticus Richard Taylor into the world…in the bathroom to be sure, but into the world nonetheless. She sits down, Matt clutches the baby in his arms like a Tight End heading for the 1st down marker, and Atticus pisses on him. So much for gratitude!
After a moment to breath Lisa is in pain (wouldn’t YOU?) and wants to get into the bedroom. She holds her son to her chest for the first time while Matt guides her to the edge of the bed and the kids hover like the 3 wise guys… which they are, of course. We won’t get specific about our attempts to keep the bed clean or about how much there was to get it dirty, but let’s just say that we failed miserably and that there’s going to be some explaining to do concerning the carpet. Sorry GSO. :>) Aiden had the presence of mind to get the pacifiers we’d prepared because, of course, here was a baby and babies need pacifiers, right? Makes sense to us!
As she sat on the edge of our bed the second half of the miracle of life began to occur, the placenta delivered. There was a rush at this point because as Lisa sat holding the baby, and the cord and placenta fell towards the ground, we realized that the baby was still attached. Does anyone reading this remember that scene in the first “Die Hard” movie where Bruce Willis is attached to the fire hose and is being dragged to certain death 25 stories below? Well, you get the picture. Lisa was leaning forward in pain, the placenta was sinking to the ground, Matt handed the baby to Abby and told her to get low then turned to rummage through the mounds of medical supplies for a clamp and some scissors…. and managed to get it wrong a couple of times before finding the right stuff. A GUY would have bought a fishing tackle box with those organizing trays…but that’s for later.
AJ was back downstairs but Lisa realized that she’d promised him the job of cutting the cord. Since he’s quite good at arts and crafts this is a cinch. Matt opens the window, shouts for him to come running (still no midwife, by the way… not that we needed her then!) and kneels with the clamp. He gets it into place, AJ begins cutting, the blood spurts everywhere (but not on Matt’s shirt) and then the baby is physically separated from his mother for the first time. Dramatic stuff, huh?
Lisa is holding the baby and Matt calls the pediatrician (he’d called her before and she was coming but, like everyone it seems, was late). She told him to sterilize the scissors and prepare to cut the cord but he laughed and said “Sorry. Too late!” He then called the midwife to inform her that her fee had just been cut in half and at this point HE was going to begin charging HER! The last call was to the Guise Family who made it over in record time as true friends would, and also because they have diplomatic plates and like us care little for the humorous traffic laws of the host country that nobody pays attention to anyways…………but that’s another story. :>)
Steven and Marie arrive, Steven carrying a bottle of bourbon and two shot glasses thus making their arrival crucial to the rest of the afternoon. Matt and Steve toasted Atticus and Matt realized that he must have absentmindedly wiped his hand on his shirt. Auntie Marie became the first person outside the family to hold Atticus.
Oh, sure. NOW you show
Of course, this is when the midwife shows up with her husband, son Aubrey, a Filipina midwife, her friend and another infant. They’re nice people and we’re thankful they’ve come but for the time being we’re in the bedroom and unaware of the number of people in our living room. Steve assumes crowd control duties. Next to screech to a stop in front is the pediatrician who has an office just outside our village gate but was not AT it when we called…..naturally. She ran upstairs to find her patient having pissed, pooped, cried, nursed, breathed and just about made the doctor’s presence unnecessary. Still, she checked him out and pronounced him fit as a fiddle. A scale was produced and Atticus tipped it at 9lbs/9ozs and 22 ½ inches long.
Adding up the numbers we have determined that, including Atticus, there were 15 people in the house when it became clear that someone was going to have to feed them all. Matt did the modern version of the loaves and fishes routine (he called for take out pizza) and everyone, except Matt, settled down for a while. The pediatrician promised to come back the next day (which she did) and left without eating, the midwife and her crew stayed to keep watch on Lisa then THEY left, and then Steve and Marie left. Not that going from a family of five to a family of six in one night can be considered “normal” we were finally able to settle in for the night and enjoy having our little boy with us for the first time.
Abby, AJ, Aiden, Atticus not quite an hour old. Just a few minutes past an hour.
Getting checked my Deborah, our midwife.
Getting the once over by his pediatrician, Dr. Saloug. The delivering doctor and Steve.
Marie, Matt, Atticus and Steve. Marie and Steve were the first to arrive on the scene.
Notice the snowman, rather appropriate for the Philippines, since we are dreaming of snow. Aiden enjoying being a big brother.
AJ and Atticus, was AJ ever that small???
Below are pictures taken Sunday February 20th.
Here is what happens when you take belly shots with Aiden around.
Here is a picture of Atticus Growing.