“Ouch. The contractions are getting stronger and longer. I think it’s time to go to the hospital,” The Bride said.
“Oh, baby… Really? I have Pearl Jam tickets tonight. Can you maybe just do your pussy clamp trick and keep him locked down until tomorrow morning?”
In the interest of full disclosure, I must state that I’d already seen Pearl Jam the night before. However, Chris Cornell had not made a surprise showing to perform my favorite song, Hunger Strike, with Eddie Vedder and the gang. In fact, in the approximately three dozen times I’ve seen Pearl Jam, this had never happened. Rumor had it tonight would be the night.
Now, before you write me a letter to tell me what a horrible person I am, in my defense, I must state that, at the time, I probably loved Eddie Vedder more than my unborn child, so this was a totally logical thing for me to ask The Bride. I mean, I had crazy man-love for Eddie. In fact, if presented with that hypothetical scenario in which I were being sent to a deserted island and could take only one person, I’d take Eddie. I realize that most guys would choose their wives, or maybe Mila Kunis, but neither of them would sing Yellow Ledbetter to me, and even if they did, they’d probably suck. Also, Mila Kunis has very narrow hips, and if she got pregnant on our island, she’d probably die during the birthing process, and that would leave me alone with a newborn baby, which would end very badly for both of us. Even if Mila survived, her ridiculously big, beautiful eyes would start looking pretty fucking crazy after a few years together on a deserted island. As for The Bride, I love her with all the tiny little parts of my heart, but… well, we’re talking about Eddie Vedder. I’m sure she’d understand.
Besides, I’ve always believed that if I were to get an hour alone with Eddie we’d have tons to talk about and would become best buddies. So, after being on a deserted island for years and years with my BFF, exchanging ideas and philosophizing, once we were rescued the two of us would probably save the world.
If we weren’t able to save the world, at the very least, after a decade of listening to me play percussion on coconut shells, Eddie would fire Matt Cameron from the band and put me on the drums. I mean, I love Matt Cameron, but let’s face it, we all know he’s the weakest link of the Pearl Jam crew.
Now, let’s not conflate issues. By choosing Eddie Vedder over my wife and Mila Kunis, I am not choosing music over sex. In a head to head battle, sexual gratification defeats music every single time. However, on the island I’d have my right hand and an endless supply of coconut oil. Also, considering the fact that it’s a deserted island, there’s probably not much to do, so I could probably convince Eddie to sit outside my cabana and mumble mood music while I made love to myself.
Needless to say, The Bride’s answer to my question was, “No, I can’t do the friggin’ pussy clamp trick until tomorrow morning. What the hell is wrong with you, Matthew?”
The Bride and I arrived at the hospital at 7 AM, ready to pledge our eternal love to the seven pound human that was trying to break out of his little padded cell.
“I need medication!” The Bride yelled, no more than a minute after being put in a room.
An anesthesiologist came to deliver the epidural with a needle so HUGE I could’ve defeated Darth Vader with it. As soon as he administered the medication, The Bride fell sound asleep. She was mere hours away from pushing a football ball-sized human out a quarter-sized hole in her body, yet she seemed to be comfortably numb, snoring away like a drunken lumberjack.
“Umm, could I maybe get one of those epidurals?” I asked.
Once The Bride was sawing logs, the anesthesiologist and nurse exited, leaving me alone with my thoughts.
This is crazy. In a few hours, a person will come out of my wife’s vagina. They will hand it to me, and it will be my job to make sure it doesn’t die.
I became filled with dread. Would I be up to the responsibilities that fatherhood entailed? I imagined my child getting into mischief: I saw him running with scissors, taking food out of a Rottweiler’s mouth, and falling into a swimming pool. I played these scenarios out in my head, over and over, and each time they ended badly.
If I was failing him in my imagination, what would happen in real life?
Zzzzzzzzz. The Bride’s snoring got louder.
If I succeeded in keeping our baby alive through his childhood years, he would become an impressionable teen that would eventually become an adult that would effect either a positive or negative net impact on society. It would be my responsibility to help him find his way and make sure he didn’t end up becoming the proprietor of a meth lab, or the owner of an adult book store, or an ambulance-chasing, personal-injury attorney. And while waiting for him to come out of his cozy baby-cave to join us in the fluorescently lit hospital room, all that responsibility felt like a metric fuck-ton of pressure that was likely to cave in my chest and kill me before I even met the little fella.
Sitting there, waiting nervously, I needed a distraction. Eventually, curiosity got the best of me, and I peeked under the covers.
I will forever regret this.
The Bride’s vagina looked unlike any other I’d ever seen. It was swollen, wet, and bloody, like road kill on the side of a highway on a rainy day.
God, if you’re listening, please let me un-see that.
An hour later, The Bride awoke. After she got her bearings her food cravings kicked in.
“Matt, I need you to get me a burger.”
Before The Bride was even pregnant she had the appetite of an eight-hundred pound gorilla. She’d eat about five meals a day, but miraculously never gained a pound. I heard stories about weird pregnancy cravings and ridiculous appetites, and I couldn’t imagine what it would be like if The Bride’s appetite got bigger. Then, one day, I came home and found The Bride eating a salt, mayonnaise, and pickle sandwich… for dessert, after she’d already consumed an In and Out Double Double.
It became obvious that I was going to have to get a second job to keep my little Asian gal fed.
“You’re dilated to ten centimeters. You don’t have time for a burger,” said the nurse.
She was lying.
Sure, The Bride was dilated to ten centimeters, but we had plenty of time for a burger. In fact, in hindsight, we had time to nurture a baby calf through adolescence and into adulthood, slaughter it, grind the meat into hundreds of burger patties, create handmade invitations, mail them to all our friends, and have everyone join us at the hospital for a good old fashioned birthing bar-b-que.
The nurse told The Bride she was almost ready to start pushing, but then, instead of doing actual nursing stuff, she sat at a computer and began typing. I don’t know if she was requesting Facebook friends, surfing the Internet for weird German porn, or Skyping her incarcerated pen pal; regardless, I became agitated.
Half an hour later, the nurse briefed me on how to read the electronic jiggy-ma-bob with the red flashing lights that was connected to The Bride. When the machine beeped, it meant The Bride was having a contraction and I needed to help her push.
Then she left the room.
Are you kidding me?
I was ready to raise hell, but The Bride was relaxed from the dope, and I didn’t want to be the one freaking out. While I was trying to calm myself, the electronic jiggy-ma-bob thingy beeped. We were all alone, and it was time to push. I had to man up.
“Okay, baby, are you ready to do this!?!” I yelled, in an over-adrenalized voice, as if she were getting ready to step into a wrestling ring to fight Andre The Giant.
“I’m ready,” she said.
“Good, now push!”
Grrrr! She growled, pushing.
“Yes, baby! Yes! Great job! Okay, now give me another big push! Do it!”
“Stop yelling at me!”
“Sorry! Okay. You can do this! Push that little guy out! Push, push, PUSH!” I yelled.
And she pushed. After just the second push, I could see the top of his head.
“Holy fuck, that’s a baby head!” I pointed and yelled. I didn’t expect it to happen so quickly. When I saw our baby’s hairy head, things became very real. I kissed The Bride, excused myself, walked to the nurses’ station, and had lapsed into what murderers sometimes refer to as “temporary insanity.”
“There’s a person coming out of my wife’s body RIGHT NOW! Go in there and get it!”
“Your wife’s going to be pushing for a while. He’s not coming out yet, and we’re short staffed,” the nurse said.
I couldn’t believe it. While walking back towards the room I gave myself a pep talk in attempts to gather my composure so I could help my wife. I stopped outside the door, took a few deep breaths, and then entered the room to help The Bride push.
After three or four pushes, the nurse finally entered. “The doctor just finished surgery and he’s going on break,” she said.
“You’re screwing with us, right?”
“The top of the baby’s head is right there!” I said, pointing between The Bride’s legs.
“His heart rate is elevated so we want her to stop pushing and rest for a while,” she said.
“His heart rate is elevated because his head is stuck inside a vagina! I’ve never been in that position, but I imagine it’s fairly stressful.”
Much later, after hours of fruitless pushing, the doctor finally showed up. “Hey, look who made it. Who won the big USC game, doc?” I asked, making no effort to hide my irritation.
The doctor ignored me and went about his business with a disinterested demeanor. He looked at the mess between The Bride’s legs in the same bored manner that a plumber looks at a clogged toilet.
“Push, honey,” the doctor calmly said.
With the doctor in charge of the pushing, I was demoted to the foot of the bed where I squatted into the ready position, as if I was going to be the one to catch the baby. As she pushed, her vagina stretched to ridiculous proportions; it was red and swollen and bloody and I knew there was a good chance it was permanently stretched out and deformed. I was going to have to put my penis on some quality Mark McGwire level steroids and feed it nothing but raw meat if The Bride was ever going to feel it again. As she continued grimacing through the push, the baby’s head inched out stretching The Bride’s tiny, fragile little taint at both ends like a man hooked up to one of those medieval torture devices. I didn’t see how the baby could come out without ripping her open, and I felt queasy in my stomach and toes. All I could think was, thank God she took the epidural.
After only two pushes, the doctor sat back and concluded, “He’s stuck.”
The doctor rummaged through his surgical tools until he found a pair of giant scissors that looked like the same ones our mayor used to cut the red ribbon outside the town’s new library the day it opened. “Whoa, what are those for?” I asked, trying not to die.
“She needs an episiotomy.”
Without hesitation, he grabbed The Bride’s vagina and began cutting through it. It took exactly three slices, and I’ll never forget the sound. It was the same sound my grandmother’s poultry shears made as she cut through raw, whole chickens on Sundays after church.
By the time the doctor finished slicing and dicing, my sweetheart’s pretty little petunia and her no-no hole had become one giant, gaping wound.
Next, the doctor pulled out my grandmother’s giant salad-tossing fork (I had really expected his tools to be a bit more sophisticated). He put the salad-tossing fork inside The Bride and said, “Push.” And just like that, after hours of drama and fruitless pushing, The Bride bore down and grimaced through one hard-core push that popped the baby’s head out.
It was terrifying.
This baby didn’t look like any human I’d ever seen.
The Bride’s baby was a mutant.
With a colossal sized head.
He had crossed eyes that were blacker than Wesley Snipes after losing a fight against a giant ink-squirting squid; his face was wrinkled like he’d spent all day in a YMCA steam room, and his giant head was badly misshapen, like it had been molded out of clay by a kindergartener who’d lost his thumbs in a see-saw accident. I felt a dizzying wave of confusion and horror swelling inside me. I feared I might vomit. Or spontaneously impale myself on The Bride’s IV pole. Or excuse myself from the room, get in my car, and drive to Canada where I’d learn to love curling, Tom Green, and the Barenaked Ladies.
“A couple more pushes and he’ll be all the way out. Push!” he yelled. The Bride pushed, and as she did, our baby’s giant head twisted around 180 degrees, like Linda Blair’s in The Exorcist. I was positive his head was going to pop off and fly across the room, laughing at me during its flight.
But that didn’t happen.
The Bride pushed again and out came his disproportionately waifish body.
4:50 PM, 21 inches, 7 pounds 4 oz. (which was mostly head) Matthew Keller Nespoli is born.
Unfortunately, I knew our crappy HMO would only cover a portion of the bill, so we were going to have to sell The Bride’s new baby in order to pay for all this. I decided to wait a few hours to dump this news on her, because in the moment, she looked happier than I’d ever seen her.
While The Bride cried tears of joy, I cut the cord and took inventory of all the baby’s parts. He had four limbs, ten toes, and ten fingers. Still, he was far from normal. His shoulders were covered in long, brown hairs, which made me suspect that The Bride might have had an affair with Chewbacca. Also, he was covered in blood and a mysterious white goop that may or may not have been cottage cheese. I wanted to feel proud of the boy, but it’s hard to be proud of a baby who comes out of the vagina looking like Benjamin Button after swimming in a vat of cottage cheese and blood.
“I’m sorry, but this baby is hideous. For the sake of humanity, I’m going to put him back inside you,” is what I was expecting the doctor to say.
However, he didn’t say that. He took the baby and handed it to the nurses so they could rinse all the cottage cheese and blood off his hairy Chewbacca shoulders. While watching, it occurred to me that it might not be safe for such a huge head to sit atop such a little body. I’d read in National Geographic that the warthog has the most disproportionately large head in the animal kingdom. I’m pretty certain that had just changed. His arms were rail thin and his shoulders came to sharp points like that of Boston Celtic’s forward, Kevin McHale. It’d be incredible if my son grew up to become a professional basketball player like Kevin McHale; however, I considered it highly unlikely because his neck would never be strong enough to support the weight of his giant head when running down the court.
Plus, he’s half Asian, and as far as I know, he has no relation to Jeremy Lin.
As the nurse began cleaning his face, he started screaming, and the noise grated on my nerves almost immediately. I didn’t feel an affiliation to the critter; I didn’t feel new purpose in life; and I didn’t have an epiphany. All I wanted was a silent, empty room, an oxygen tank, and maybe a few beers, or a giant needle full of epidural juice.
“He’s looking at you!” the nurse said, excitedly.
“Really? With which eye?” I asked.
The nurses ignored me, and for the next couple days, they behaved as if I didn’t exist.
Over the course of the next year, I came to realize that I had, in fact, stopped existing.
After they finished cleaning him, they laid him on The Bride’s bare chest. “Hi son,” she said, in a nurturing tone that I’d never heard before. Keller started suckling, pulling life from her breasts.
And I haven’t touched them since.
While she held her baby, I watched as the doctor took a hook and string and began sewing my wife’s perineum back together, separating her butt from her vagina, once again, like a normal person. When he was done, it still didn’t look right, and all I could think was, Yeah, that area’s gonna be out of commission for a while.
As Keller enjoyed his first meal, The Bride nuzzled his face with hers. “He’s so beautiful,” she said.
And that’s the day I stopped trusting her judgment.
Her baby lay on her chest, completely innocent and helpless, totally dependent on his mother. The Bride stared into her baby’s eyes with a peaceful look of contentment on her face. The love she felt for him was palpable.
I could write about the science of how a mother-child bond is instantaneously created by hormones secreted in the mother’s brain during the birthing process. I could write about how women have evolved into nurturing creatures so that babies will survive and the human race can thrive. However, none of that is very entertaining, and this isn’t that kind of book. So, I’ll just say this:
Watching The Bride feed her baby, I witnessed a kind of love I’d never seen before, a love that said, If you try to harm my baby, I will rip your limbs from your body, stick the severed limbs up your ass, then hook you up to machines to keep you alive so I can torture you every day until the end of time.
After The Bride fed him, they took him to that big room where they keep all the newborns. I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you I was secretly hoping they’d mix him up with another baby. Maybe Alanis Morisette or Serena Williams had also given birth and we’d end up with their baby in some hilarious hospital mix-up like you’d see on a 1980’s style sit-com. But really, I’d settle for anyone’s baby, so long as they brought us one that didn’t look like the spawn of Chewbacca and that warthog from the LA Zoo.
Basically, what I’m saying is that, overall, the birthing experience was … I dunno … surreal. The most upsetting part was that I didn’t feel an immediate connection to my child, which made me feel guilty. Society expects fathers to feel an instantaneous and magical connection to their newborn. These expectations are unfair. Unlike our partners, we don’t carry the baby inside us for the better part of a year; so, when our child is born, we need a little time to develop a bond.
Later, once he was finally in my arms, he felt like the most fragile thing I’d ever held. I pressed him to my body and smelled the top of his head. It was the greatest smell I’d ever experienced and it gave me a weird fuzzy feeling in my head. Holding him tightly against my chest, I felt him growing roots into my heart.
“Hey, son, I’m your daddy,” I said. “We’re gonna be best buddies. Did you know that?”
As I touched his hand he wrapped his little fingers around my index finger, and just like that I was hooked. In that instant, I knew I loved him, and that I’d never love anything more. I put Keller’s lips to The Bride’s and then joined them in our first family kiss. And in that moment, for the first time in my life, everything was perfect.
Later that evening, I got a text from my buddy who’d gone to the Pearl Jam show. Yes, Chris Cornell showed up, and yes, he performed Hunger Strike with Eddie. However, as it’s turned out, Keller’s a pretty dope little kid, so I’m certain I came out ahead.
This is an excerpt from my second book, “Daddy Versus The Suck Monster” – you can get it for $.99 here: