My youngest son, Coleton, arrived in a way that I love to recall as being both unique and funny in a way only a parent could really enjoy. If you’re a parent, feel free to share the laugh because, we all need to kick back and enjoy the chaos that sometimes arrives the same day as our newborns.
We were moving from San Carlos, California to Colorado Springs, Colorado when Coleton was due to arrive. We had an offer from my company to move us there so I could help set up a new technical support center. It was my dream job coming true. We had the perfect timeline: wrap up things in Calif., sell our first home, buy our second, travel before mom got too huge to function, get moved in, get the kitchen unpacked, get the beds unpacked, etc. etc., and get the baby stuff unpacked because Coleton was only about two months away. The timing all fit just right – until chaos caught up with us.
Here’s what happened to our perfect plan.
The perfect buyer for our home backed out of the deal, leaving us with a house we HAD to sell quickly to be able to afford a home in Colorado. This sent us into home seller’s panic mode, because this first domino HAD to fall for all the others to work. We did find a new buyer, but now it was very late in the perfect timeline and Coleton was unlikely to negotiate the time of his arrival.
Then – with funds in our hot hands from the California house, we couldn’t find an acceptable one in Colorado. We saw some bizarre buildings, but not the perfect place to raise our kids, so we widened the net and had to get creative because Ev could not fly back and forth to keep on visiting homes. We compromised on what we wanted and finally, a house I toured when she couldn’t be with me seemed like it would work. So I videoed the place so she could at least see what it looked like. It wasn’t our dream home – but it had plenty of room inside and a barely acceptable yard.
There was a mad press of packing and shipping stuff and cars and bodies from California to Colorado and my family arrived with boxes piled everywhere. And we still had some time before Coleton arrived. We did the fast setup of kitchen and bedrooms all by ourselves because, outside of my work, we knew no one – no family nearby – no church family yet– no friends. But it was going to working out. It had to.
My parents made plans to join us in time for Coleton’s arrival so at least, someone we trusted would be nearby to watch Connor and Victoria while we got Ev and Coleton across the delivery finish line. Everything was set, the timeline was corrected and we had it under control.
Through work, I had met a family from Orlando who I became friends with. The dad, Jay, was also moving his family to Colorado. We had met while I was helping setup the Orlando support center. I met his wife once at dinner and had a great time with them. I found them to be fun, salt of the earth type of people. Ev and I had made one outreach to them about getting to know each other and introducing our kids and such. His wife Carol had even made the faithful statement to us, “if you need any help, day or night, please give me a call”. It proved to be one of those defining statements because…
My parents were still two weeks away when late one night, and right at one month after arriving at our new home, Ev wakes me and tells me it’s time.
From the depths of deep REM slumber, I surfaced and politely told her that it’s too early. “The baby can’t come yet. No baby stuff unpacked yet, no parents, no one here to watch Connor and Tori at, what time is it… oh, just after midnight. Shall I call you a cab…? “
No, I didn’t really say that – but I thought it – stalling for time while I got the brain awake enough to think and figure something out. That’s when the flash-idea happened. Carol, who I’d only met once before at that dinner, had said, that I could call her if I needed anything. So, on the experience of one dinner, I found and dialed her number at something like 1am in the morning and asked if she could come and watch my two sleeping toddlers while I took my wife-with-child to attend to the untimely needs of the third. She was very gracious and not awake enough to not agree.
This is when the fun started. Carol arrived in about 10 minutes. Amazing! By this time, Ev was almost ready to pile into the car for the drive to the hospital. Carol had never been to our home. I had not even seen her for many months since that now-distant dinner in Orlando before both our families knew we’d be moving to Colorado Springs. But here she was, in my home very – very early in the morning to take charge of my two other children who had never met her. Perfect. What could possibly go wrong?
Ah, I suddenly realized what will go wrong. Every (and I do mean “EVERY”) night, both Connor and Victoria would wake up somewhere between 2am and 4am, stagger to our bed, crawl in for a cuddle and then go back to sleep. Ev and I had long ago decided this was pretty cool, so we not only allowed it, we encouraged it. But exactly how was this going to work out tonight? Should I wake them both, introduce them, make everyone a cup of hot chocolate while everyone gets to know each other? Ev had not reacted all that well to my first delay tactic, so I decided against this one. Not doing anything would certainly expose Connor and Tori to a traumatic early morning wake up when they discovered that they had been abandoned and left with a stranger. What to do – what to do?
I had Ev in the entry way with her little collection of hospital stuff ready to roll. I had Carol there ready to help, but how was I going to buffer the two shock waves of my kids waking to find that they had been deserted? Suddenly inspired, I decided to deceive them into not knowing it until I was ready to tell them.
“Carol, come with me. Here, hop into our bed and go back to sleep. In the next few hours, you’ll be awakened by my other two kids. When they arrive, pull back the covers to let them in, give them a quick cuddle, cover and curl up with them and go back to sleep – but DO NOT SAY ANYTHING. If they hear your voice the deception will be blown and I can’t predict how they might respond – but terror and chaos is the most likely outcome.”
Carol was a great sport and readily agreed. Recall, that she’d only been awaken from deep REM herself about 15-20 minutes ago herself and any plan that included going back to sleep sounded great to her.
So off we went. Coleton was now in a hurry. No time for our prearranged doctor to arrive. No time for certain meds to be administered. Nope, we only have time to get into the right room and let the screaming begin. But even that didn’t last long because in what seems like no-time to me, I had my new son in my hands – and yes, I’m one of those dads who wanted to be the one to catch my babies and cut the cord. He was safe, he was healthy, and he was perfect. Mom was exhausted (go figure) but not so much so that she was fully able to yell at the doctor and me for examining the parts of the placenta while the baby-doc checked Coleton out. She wanted to be sewn back up where – umm, well, suffice to say that she had a point and stitches were merited. We, looked at each other and yielded. In my defense, I wanted to be prepared for any future need to examine a fresh placenta…
When things quieted down, I had been watching the clock and it was pretty close to 5am now. My time-bomb at home was getting close to going off. Ev and Coleton were secured, safe and being watched by trustworthy medical folks, so off I went to defuse the situation at home.
One of my favorite memories is standing in the doorway to our bedroom, looking at our big bed while my wife and new baby were away in the hospital recovering from their pregnancy-induced separation anxiety. There before me was the sight of some other man’s wife, in my bed with my children all piled up around her thinking it was their own mom. Somehow God, I thought, I must not deserve a calm normal life where things like this NEVER happen. I took a moment to let the memory sink in because this was just so weird, then quietly walked over to the bed and began gently awakening everyone. “Connor and Tori, wake up. You have a new brother. He’s with Mom down at the hospital.”
One of my second favorite memories was the look on their faces when they collected enough consciousness to realized that Mom could not both be at the hospital and lying there next to them in bed. Confusion reigned in their minds as they looked back and forth from Carol to me. In fact it was way-past confusion and yes, I found it immensely entertaining. This was even better than playing with Coleton’s (or Mom’s – whose is it anyway?) placenta only a few hours earlier.
From this point everything went smoothly. Jay, who had quite a sense of humor enjoyed how his wife, Carol, had played such a fun part in Coleton’s arrival. Connor and Tori loved Coleton and immediately set to threatening his life with various plots and games – most of which he survived, and we now shared our bed with 3 little ones.
I’ve thanked God for Jay and Carol, every time I’ve recalled how Coleton was born.
I also reflect on how his life started with a bit of fun-chaos and so everything that has followed, has just fit the pattern and made sense.
I’m a very fortunate dad – am I not….?