The epidural was done and the glorious drug was making a slow crawl through my body, numbing me from the waist down. Kurtis was nowhere to be found and I was lying on my back enjoying the warmth of all the blankets they’d brought for me in the ice cold operating room. The excitement of meeting my first child far outweighed the fear of what was about to happen to my body. The anticipation also far negated my pride as I laid there with my arms strapped down and my legs spread eagle. It was all out there baby. Out there of the world to see. I’m pretty modest and it took a few moments for me to get past the scene I was imagining from the view of one of the nurses. I told myself it was for the baby. Nurses had seen this numerous times. My wonderful doctor—a woman—had delivered countless babes this way. Like a dentist looking into a mouth or a podiatrist looking at feet—all in a days work.
The nurses were prepping for the surgery. I could hear them counting tools and checking them off a list one of the nurses had on her clipboard. The anesthesiologist kept asking if I was dizzy or if I was having any discomfort. All was well and I was anxious to get on with things. The door to the operating room opened and in came my doctor. I was happy to see her and confident in our decision to proceed with a c-section. I was two weeks overdue, had been induced twice with absolutely no results. I think I was dilated all of a centimeter. Nothing had happened. All I had was gas and heartburn. Given my family history, size of the baby, and current circumstances, we decided to proceed with a c-section. I was at peace with it. After losing my first pregnancy I really didn’t care how the baby arrived as long as it arrived.
I was somewhere in that line of thought when I realized someone was following behind my doctor. At first I thought it was Kurtis but quickly realized it wasn’t. If I could have, I would’ve slammed my legs shut and covered up. In came a tall lanky young man who appeared to be around twelve? Sixteen? MAYBE eighteen? He had a baby face and the remains of adolescent acne between his mask and his cap. I was mortified. I wanted to tell him to keep faith—we don’t usually look like this. What was he doing in here? Hadn’t I just seen him skateboarding outside? He had red converse sneakers on for crying out loud. Doctors wear loafers or Sperry’s don’t they?I think he was a little embarrassed for me (as he should be, I’m sure I looked like a beached hippo). He struggled with eye contact at first. I didn’t. My eyes were burning like lasers into his soul—the waiting room is out there son, go find you mother. He was quickly introduced as a pre-med student from up north in Saskatoon. He was shadowing my doctor for the week because he was from a small town and had expressed interest in setting up a practice or working in a small town instead of a big hospital or practice in the city. My doctor asked if it was ok for him to be in on my surgery. It was something along those lines. I was only half-listening. I couldn’t believe he was that old and I couldn’t get my mind off those red Converse sneakers.
I said it was fine. I mean, by now the damage was done for the poor guy—and for me. Kurtis arrived shortly after and no joke, he even glanced twice at the student. “I’m going to let him make the cut,” yelled up my doctor. In my doped state, I still fell back on sarcasm and told him he better not screw it up. It was a dumb comment but part of me was concerned she was letting a kid hack me apart. A few years later my new doctor would comment on what a beautiful c-section incision I had from my first surgery. From there, Doogie Howser was but a memory and all that mattered was my baby girl who arrived screaming and healthy.
A day or so later Doogie came to visit me in my room while I was recovering. I had honestly forgotten about him and I was confused as to who this young man was at my door—maybe a cousin I hadn’t met yet on Kurtis’s side? He had a lot of them. The guy still looked about sixteen—did you ride your bike here? He was grinning ear to ear and went over to see Tia right away. “How are you doing Mrs. Peterson? She is the most beautiful baby I’ve ever seen in my life.” It clicked then he was the med student. We chatted for a bit and I learned a little more about him. He was a warm, kind young man and I was happy I had let him stay. He told me I was his first c-section and that it was as miraculous as he had imagined. On his way out, he said something I’ll never forget and it warmed my heart because I believed him. He stopped in the doorway, looked back and said, “I’ll never forget the birth of your baby girl.” It made the initial awkwardness I had felt disappear. We said our goodbyes and out the door he went. Those red converse sneakers a shock of color against the dull hospital flooring.