Dan is the one character around here that I don’t write about that much so you wouldn’t know that he’s always been, in my heart and my head, My Special Only. He really dislikes the press and he’s very humble pie and sweetly shy but I’m going to slip this one in anyway because I just reminded myself to give him his license renewal when he comes in from Cleveland today; May is his birthday month. He was supposed to be due April 23 and by the time he got around to coming he was REALLY late, not just a wrong guestimate. I was one of those women who stood up the morning after, took a deep breath and began clutching my breasts for fear air would pass over them so I KNEW when I was pregnant. Dan was planned, wanted, loved and welcomed even if I was a little cranky by the time May 13 rolled around. Back then you didn’t know what or when so precisely and he was going to be my lovely petite baby girl. His name was Sarah.
Around the 10th of May they did all those tests to see how he was cooking and sure enough he was past done. So on the 12th of May I saw the good doctor and he said well, you need some sleep and this baby needs to come so you take this pill, get a good night’s sleep and we’ll induce you in the morning. At that point, although I was only 25# heavier, every ounce of that weight was resting like a giant shot put on my lower belly and I was beyond uncomfortable. So we left the appointment and went to Red Lobster. Where I did something bad. I hadn’t had any alcohol for my entire pregnancy but somehow, at that point, all I wanted was a good last meal (don’t worry; I haven’t been to Red Lobster since), a GOOD night’s sleep and my lovely Sarah. So I had a drink. I also took the sleeping pill thinking it would take time to work. Then I ate dinner and passed out in my dessert. John did some fancy footwork getting the car to the door of Red Lobster, me to the car and me to the bed but I was definitely asleep by 630 pm. And I stayed that way, knocked cold, until 930 pm. When I awoke with contractions 4 minutes apart.
I spent the next 19 hours in the shower of the pending room, refusing to come out and leave the relief of hot water on my lower back. The baby was facing the wrong way and now there was some speculation that the baby might be a bit larger than anticipated. At one point they coaxed me out and sent in some hapless intern and I hissed at him, ala Linda Blair, "If you say 4 centimeters one more time…" and my head spun around so he left without saying anything. Soon after the real doctor came in and said, with his nice southern drawl, "Ma dear, you are 4 centimeters now and you will be 4 centimeters a month from now if we don’t do a c-section." And so they did. And the first thing he said when he delivered Sarah was, "Vicki, you have a nice BIG boy! What’s his name?" While the resident and the nurse were taking bets on HOW BIG IS HE? ( 9# 6 oz, 25 years ago and I’m not a large person) the doctor handed me our baby. Although we hadn’t ever seriously considered a boy’s name or even a boy we simultaneously -right in absolute unison- said "Daniel." I still have no idea what was at work then because Daniel wasn’t a name I particularly liked and there were none in the family so it was a name out of the blue -but obviously meant to be. Now, of course, it’s my favorite name.
Soon, John went home (they sent dads home at night back then) and I dozed until the nurse brought him in a few minutes before 11pm. Here’s the best part: every single night for the whole month of April and the first part of May this baby hiccupped inside my belly for about 10 minutes right when the 11 oclock news came on. Now the nurse left and I sat with this very big baby boy resting on a pillow on my lap. His eyes were WIDE WIDE open and he was absolutely quiet as he stared at me and I stared at him for a few long moments. Then I said aloud to him, "And what exactly am I supposed to do with you, stranger?" In the background the music for the evening news came on the TV hanging from the ceiling at the foot of the bed. Daniel stared at me a bit longer and then- yes- he began to hiccup. I said, "I guess I do know you"; I began to cry because I was so happy and that was that.
For more than five years he was our Special Only; sometimes I would kiss him goodnight and say, "Night, Special Only." He cried one day shortly after Abby was born because he couldn’t be our Special Only anymore and I said he always would be our Special Only Son in more ways than he could ever know. And that’s the truth.