Big news, folks! Big, big news! My son was born prematurely yesterday, Sunday 17 January - two weeks early!
I’m writing this to you from Heathrow Airport where I’ll shortly be boarding my flight to the States. While we wait, let me tell you how this poop went down…
For a while now my sister (surrogate for my child) has been bothered by rashes. The doctors had initially thought that they were a side effect of the pregnancy medication and had prescribed an alternative, but when the rashes continued the doctors came to the conclusion that they were due to pressure on her liver that had in fact been caused by the pregnancy itself. They gave her two options – have the labour induced straight away at no risk to her and the baby, or continue to the due date on 1 February at a slight risk to her and the baby.
The answer was of course clear. Two days ago my sister called my dad and me to say that she would be induced the following morning at 7am her time. The original plan had been for me to fly to Houston on 28 January ahead of the birth by C-section on 1 February, so I was devastated by my sister’s news because it meant I’d miss it. I had a little cry, but only a little one because I knew the main thing was to be there for him as soon as I could, and I had to tell myself that missing the birth wouldn’t damage our bond.
Yesterday, the day of the birth, my sister was under orders to keep me posted through the whole process, which was hard because she was high as a kite on medication whilst waiting for the operation, but managed it using Facebook messenger. Meanwhile back at the ranch, I was under massive stress trying to cancel my old flight and book a new one. It was a real "Computer says no" sitaution. I remember I’d just about clicked ‘Buy’ on the new flight when the birth occurred. My sister called on FaceTime and showed me an image of a child wrapped in blankets and tubes. I hate the word “surreal” because its so overused, but what the hell - this was surreal. I was now a dad. For the first time ever, he and I shared the same world.
I spoke to my sister a bit and got the details - his stats, the operation, her condition – the whole time with a giant grin on my face. I took a screenshot of Felix and posted the pic on Facebook under the life event “Felix Was Born”. It was very touching actually because that one post invited more ‘Likes’ than I’d ever had, and a whole array of sweet congratulating messages from my friends. The warm gooey feeling continued that night when my friend Gustavo (bearded guy on the left below) arranged a surprise farewell dinner for me in a local restaurant, covertly inviting several of my friends.
There was a strange feeling at that dinner, kind of bittersweet. It was like a farewell not only to me for three months, but to the ‘me’ that they knew, forever. I’d no longer be that guy who makes a bowl of dodgy punch, or announces a round of shots is on its way, or posts one boozy event after another on Facebook – or would I? I wasn’t sure, but I knew that it was all about to change, and that was strange. As I dined with my friends around me I felt sad because I didn’t want to leave all of that behind. I liked the Salim that they knew, he was fun. Was it time to say goodbye to him? To them? Sorry to sound like Carrie Bradshaw with a bunch of column-like questions, but it really was a time of questioning. But was I asking the right questions? OK that last one was a joke.
This morning, the day after the birth, I woke up early and took the first tube to Heathrow, which is where I am now. As I wait for my flight I continue to experience that bittersweet feeling, but in a different way. This time I'm not surrounded by friends and loved ones, but alone. I'm sitting here in Giraffe sipping my tea having eaten an overpriced breakfast (where the hell is the Wetherspoon?) and I can’t help but feel lonely and afraid. I’m taking a step into the unknown and it frightens me. I need a hug. I don’t want to go through this on my own. I suppose this is what happens when you’re the only parent. Hopefully the feeling wont last because I’ll be met by my mum and sister on the other side and, of course, my son. I really hope to see you all on the other side too. I’m enjoying our chats. Thanks for sticking with me so far.
My gate is showing on screen. Time to board. On to the next chapter.