Though the lone television set was on, few in the room were “glued to the tube” with fanaticism and undivided attention even as the Detroit Lions staged a sizeable fourth-quarter comeback to take the lead against the San Francisco 49ers. For Detroit fans, the Lions fell one point short, as Joe Montana manufactured a final drive of his own, connecting with Freddie Solomon for a game-winning touchdown.
To my faint recollection, the room was filled with men and, what’s more, with smoke as anxious fathers awaited their respective new arrivals in Toledo Hospital. I had not planned to be among them but was unexpectedly escorted to this congested waiting room the evening of Dec. 31, 1983. This was due to the fact that the agonizing induction my wife was enduring regrettably reversed itself, leading to the decision for a Cesarean section rather than a natural birth delivery of our first child.
While I had graduated summa cum laude from Lamaze classes, having acquired exception skills in unique breathing patterns, focal-point selection, massage therapy and comforting and reassuring vocalizations, I did not sign up for the “elective” class covering C-sections, so I was whisked off to the hospital’s rather impersonal “men’s” room!
Much to my chagrin, I had left my beloved bride and soon-to-be mother of our first child enduring excruciating back-labor pain in a cold and sterile operating room with mostly strangers. What awaited her was a razor-sharp scalpel to giving her a less-than-endearing “bikini cut” across her lower abdomen.
No box filled with “Cubans” or Bazooka bubble gum in the shape of cigars was in my possession to hand out to the masses awaiting the news. On the level of handouts and celebratory gifts, I was ill-prepared. Eventually, the scrub-adorned hospital emissary pushed open the waiting room door, waved helplessly at the accumulated second-hand smoke and asked for a “Mr. Pollitz?” I quickly stepped through the crowd and was congenially congratulated and led to the location of both my recovering wife and our beautiful daughter born that New Year’s Eve night, Stephanie Ann.
That how we did a “gender reveal party” in the early 1980s.
Two years later, with twins on the way, I “upped my game” and secured the “graduate level” degree, thereby allowing me to participate in their C-section birth firsthand, from beginning to end. Knowing we had twins on the way, my wife and I had four names in waiting to cover all the possibilities.
Never having seen a human being pulled from a uterus before, I watched as the first cottage-cheese-covered and carrot-topped-baby made an appearance from behind the curtain. Even with a lifetime of anatomical familiarity, I refrained from any pronouncement amid the excitement. The revelation professionally proclaimed, “It’s a boy!” “I thought so,” I internalized, as Timothy Donald had arrived. Shortly thereafter, another milky-white redheaded infant was presented. With bold confidence, I preempted any declaration and proudly announced, “It’s another boy!” He would be named, Eric John.
Now an assured veteran of such arrivals, our fourth and final child may not have had all the unanticipated elements, but we were no less elated to have a third son, and though he too was a “ginger” on top, his name would be Joel Christopher.
Fast-forward almost 30 years, and it’s a whole new ball game, and we’re not talking football, either. The millennials among us baby boomers have had a new revelation, of sorts. Waiting patiently has given way to immediacy. Why endure nine months of uncertainty? With barely a bump, a party is planned, and we’re not talking about some simple shower.
The jury is still out as to whether or not twins run in our family, but our youngest, Joel, and his bride, Kyesha, now in her second trimester, is pregnant with them. Reserve the park shelter house, send out the invitations, fire up the grill, sign up for the side dishes, order the cake, organize the games, set up the cornhole, solicit all predictions, and finally, make ready for the big reveal!
In their case, the mother-to-be’s sister and mother and the father-to-be’s former college roommate were the only ones privy and in-the-know! Two powder-filled balloons, one taped to a basketball for Joel, a former high school player, to shoot, the other, taped to a shot put for Kyesha, a former UT Rocket track and field athlete, to throw, were alternatively aimed at a nail-studded piece of wood spray-painted with question marks.
The conservative guess was that of a boy and a girl, guaranteeing at least one right answer. Yours truly took a flier foreseeing twin girls.
When all the “smoke” settled, it was powder blue and pink. As grandparents, the thrill of our first “gender reveal” could not be contained, but it didn’t change our planned gift to the new parents. They’re still getting that double stroller!
Ken Pollitz moved to Ottawa in 1991 as mission-developer/pastor of New Creation Lutheran Church. His biweekly column provides insights and viewpoints from Putnam County. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org