The wife, the kid, and I just got done doing a nickel (that's five days for you good Christian folks) at the Memorial Hermann Maximum Security Infant Birthing Center. This is a result of the decision my betrothed and I made recently (about nine months ago, give or take) that sanity was for sissies. We thought, if we can barely keep our s**t together with three kids, why not up the ante and go for maximum chaos with another? So we did that thing that grown ups do (you know what I'm talking about – don't make me say it, pervert) and got pregnant with our fourth child. I won't bore you with the events leading up to our mandatory five-day stay in Infant Max, but let's just say that it was a wild nine months. I will tell you this – the pitching speed of a pregnant woman in the third trimester increases exponentially when you factor in the stupid things her husband says. About that internment at Infant County Correctional. It started out the same as the first three deliveries. My wife checked into Super Infant Max by herself after calling me at work to tell me the birthing process had begun. I raced to the house and grabbed our "go bag." Those of you who are parents are familiar with the "go bag." But for the non-parental readers, a "go bag" is a collection of essentials, usually prepacked in a suitcase, that you bring to the hospital when it's "zero hour." Our personal "go bag" included items like our favorite toiletries, comfortable clothes, some snacks, fruit and sugar for making toilet hooch, and writing material to communicate with your associates on the outside. I'm kidding about those last items. Or am I? Plot twist. I arrived at the hospital just after my wife had been assigned to a room and the nurse had administered the first round of drugs. I tried, yet again, to request some of the drugs for myself but no luck. Stingy bastards. The majority of delivering a new offspring consists of waiting for your wife's body to be ready to push the baby out. This is something we were familiar with given our three previous convictions for Aggravated Sexy Time Resulting in Pregnancy. Like I said, everything was "normal" up until it was time to push. That's when we discovered the first personality trait of our newest minion. She was what doctors refer to as "stubborn as shit." During the three previous deliveries, "pushing" was the shortest part of the entire process. It usually only took about 30 mins of hard work and determination on the part of my wife until our children exploded forth in all of their gory glory, greeting the world with the signature Noisetopia middle finger. However, thanks to our newest daughter's flair for the dramatic, after two and a half hours of pushing she hadn't moved at all. I'm not exaggerating when I say that either. She hadn't moved. Period. No progress despite ample encouragement from all concerned parties. So the decision was made to perform a cesarean section. For a "non-emergency" C-section, I'm almost certain the doctors performing it were going for a hospital record. From the time we wheeled my wife to the operating room to the time I brought our infant daughter back to our cell, approximately two minutes and 13 seconds had passed. Okay, now I'm exaggerating. But it was fast. Faster than I thought it would be. Mom and baby were back in the room and resting comfortably and we were all looking forward to a couple of days of getting to know each other and letting the baby review our parenting credentials. That was the plan, anyway. Now for the s**t-show. Without going into much detail, I'll tell you that because the baby had spent so much time in the birth canal, it had some negative effects on her blood work and general demeanor. Her prison tats would have to wait until she was stronger. And, because the baby had spent so much time in the birth canal, it had some negative effects on my wife's blood work and general demeanor. She went ahead and got her prison tat. (Just in case you were worried, my blood work and general demeanor remained acceptable.) What was supposed to be a couple days of easy time turned into a roller coaster of manual labor. My wife and baby played a game of tennis between their vital signs. One would be stable enough to be released on good behavior, while the other had time added to their sentence for shanking someone in the lunch line. What we predicted to be two or three days turned into five. We were finally released when my wife and baby decided that a truce between their two sides would lead to peace and prosperity in the community. We got to come home this afternoon. I'm currently typing this in my office (read: small desk in our messy bedroom) and listening to the sounds of a new member being welcomed to the family in the next room. Despite all of the turmoil of the past few days, this moment is what we did it for: The girls alternating between eating their frozen pizza and arguing over who gets to hold the baby next. Just remember – it's okay if the journey is rough, as long as the destination is everything you hoped it would be.
I now know there are steps I can take to change how I think, to find the true me again. That is why I am going to take better care of myself this year. In fact, that’s the only resolution I care to make. For both my own health, and as an important example to my kids, this year, I'm resolving to practice a kindness that starts from within.