Thursday, March 27, 2014

Rosie Jo Hrabe

Rosie Jo Hrabe – Rosie Jo Hrabe
Hrabe Clan, 2014
Acquired: Overland Park Regional Medical Center, New, 2014
Price: Priceless (after medical bills and general upkeep)
Once every five years or so, I’ll come across an album that is strikes such a perfect chord in my heart that it vaults directly onto my personal Top 10. It’s a list I know by heart, and when it abruptly changes it’s special. Last week my wife gave birth to our daughter, Rosie Jo, and we both immediately dropped to #2 on our Top 10 People I Love lists. There was just no question that this little purple, screaming, bodily-fluid soaked baby was the most amazing, beautiful thing we had ever seen and from that moment on she came before everything else. 

It’s just so easy to love this little critter. It’s not just because she’s basically a perfect baby who only cries when she’s hungry or has a dirty diaper and it’s not because she’s the stinking cutest baby I’ve ever seen. It’s mostly because for the first time in my life, I’m a part of something way bigger than myself. I can’t remember what my life was like before Rosie. These are the sentimental thoughts that my brain has been simmering in for the last week and I’m OK with that.

While it takes two to make a baby (in most circumstances), Jenny did all the hard work. Watching her give birth was like witnessing the Big Bang. Everything changed so quickly and so violently I didn’t even know what hit me. My wife is a fucking champion, by the way. On the morning of March 18th she woke me up at 4AM and said she was having contractions. She said they didn’t hurt, and I said she should call the doctor when she told me they were 6 minutes apart lasting for 45 seconds. Close enough to the 5 minutes/60 seconds for an hour rule-of-thumb we were taught in the mostly useless childbirth class we attended. Dr. Stone told us to come in so we went.

After a couple hours of Jenny being hooked up to machines and pacing the halls of the third floor labor and delivery unit at Overland Park Regional Medical Center, we were admitted. We got the best room on the floor because those are the perks of being the son of a labor and delivery nurse at the hospital where you are having your baby. I should note, Jenny was in no pain and barely in any discomfort. She was planning on going 100% all natural and when she was 5cm dilated and still walking around the room grooving to Lorde and eating a popsicle I was totally convinced she was going to get her wish.

It was so fucking awesome. I can’t describe what it’s like to watch someone you love be so strong. To face some the purest, most violent pain with a smile. Sure, there were some moments in the last half hour that got hairy as Rosie worked her way through the birth canal, but by the time it was time to push she was fucking smiling. Smiling! The nurses all said they were amazed, they’d never seen anyone so upbeat and happy as a baby literally ripped its way out of a human body. It was some inspiring shit. I watched the doctor put Rosie on Jenny’s chest and I watched them lock eyes. It was incredible. The greatest thing I’ve ever seen by far. I cut the umbilical cord with shaking hands, took a step back and said in my head: “Goddamn, my wife is a REAL woman.” Strength like that shouldn’t go unnoticed. That’s some real shit, childbirth. It’s where you get to see what you’re made of. And you get a kid at the end of it, which is great too.

Rosie was 7 pounds 10 ounces and a little over 21 inches long (which is long for a baby and, fingers crossed, will translate into a basketball scholarship 18 years from now because lord knows I’ll still be paying off my student loans when she goes to college). She’s gorgeous. Jenny and I had fretted because, yeah we’ll love her no matter what, but WHAT IF WE HAVE AN UGLY BABY? We lucked out. Best baby ever.

Once all of the schmutz was wiped off and Jenny was sewn up, we settled into the Mother Baby wing and got to know our kid. That room was like a forge for manhood. Every minute I felt a little less freaked out by the responsibility of caring for this tiny, exceedingly fragile thing before me because there was absolutely no way to deny that this was going to be my life for the rest of my life.

The first night in the hospital was spent with both of us wide awake, watching her like hawks, stumbling into newfound parenthood. On the second night I got to really bond with my baby. Jenny finally drifted off after being awake for nearly 48 hours and I held Rosie to my chest and watched the awful-yet-kind-of-hilariously-awful TV edit of Pulp Fiction on AMC. It was special beyond words, feeling her little chest rise and fall against mine.

I’m a dad now, and it’s not as weird as I thought. I still feel a little bit like I’m fumbling around in the dark, but it feels like it’s supposed to be that way. It’s a huge change, but one that was absolutely for the better. Everything is better with Rosie, and I know I’m a better person, and that she will continue helping me be a better person. She’s magic. I’m lucky.

Playlist: Over the last 9 months, there were certain songs that held certain significance. Ok, most of that time was a blur and most of these are from the day Rosie was born but I did spend a solid 4 hours putting music on Jenny’s iPhone and trying to plan for what would be playing as Rosie entered this big old goofy world. In the end (read: when shit hit the fan and I was coaching Jenny through breathing exercises as she labored) the music was sparse, but helpful.

Cocteau Twins – “Cherry Coloured Funk”
There is a very good chance our baby was conceived to Heaven or Las Vegas. That’s probably TMI, but despite being a damn sexy album most of the songs were about Elizabeth Fraser’s newborn daughter, which adds a fun little layer of subtext. One of the warmest memories I own is biking home from work, meeting Jenny and Panda in the back yard, and her telling me she took a pregnancy test and that she was pregnant. There was no fear, no freaking out, I was exceedingly happy. Sure, we were poor, were 500 miles away from our families, and would definitely need to move back, but all of that was absolutely worth it.

Natalie Merchant – “Wonder”

I cannot tell you how many copies of Natalie Mercant’s Tigerlily I see come across the buy counter at work on a daily basis. At least once daily, usually two or three times if it’s a busy Saturday (don’t even get me started on 10,000 Maniacs). I was not familiar with this track, but Jenny was, and she recognized it when it was playing over the doctor’s office’s stereo system during the ultrasound that determined our baby’s sex. There’s a line that goes, “Know this child will be gifted” and though I rarely buy into Jenny’s metaphysical leanings, I gotta admit it felt like a sign.

John K Samson – “Heart of the Continent”
I put on John K. Samson’s Provincial for our drive to the hospital to deliver Rosie because I can’t think of another album that makes me feel more content and at ease and at one with the universe.

Lorde – “Tennis Court”
Jenny has been diggin on Lorde for the past few months, but this was the first time I’d heard her music. She’s good! Like really fucking goddamn good! Anyway, this album seemed to jazz Jenny up quite a bit and I have a photo of her jamming out to “Tennis Court” with a popsicle.

Lady Gaga – “Hair”

Despite painstakingly adding meaningful music to Jenny’s iPhone, I forgot to remove the shit ton of Lady Gaga that populates the device. And I made the mistake of putting it on All Songs Shuffle. At 5cm dilated, Jenny opted to have the doctor break her water manually and when it went down, this fucking Lady Gaga song came out of the speaker. Jenny freaked out a little bit. “I can’t believe my water is breaking to Lady Gaga,” she said with loopy disgust. Fortunately, now she realizes how funny it was.

Neutral Milk Hotel – In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

When Jenny finally started feeling pain, I put on our favorite album, and she said it helped. This album is a cornerstone of our relationship, and I’m glad it got to make an appearance at Rosie’s birth (it lives on in the middle of the night when I’m trying to calm her down as Jenny gets prepped to feed her and I sing her the album’s choicest cuts). Anyway, as if that album wasn’t intense enough, try watching your wife moaning on an exercise ball as “Oh, Comely” soundtracks the scene.

The Mountain Goats – “Minnesota”

Either right before Rosie was born or right after she emerged from the birth canal, this song played, and it gave me chills. It’s Jenny’s favorite Mountain Goats track, and one that we sing to each other whilst making googly eyes whenever it comes on. This was a rare case of shuffle actually working out.

Arctic Monkeys – “Suck it and See”

Though it may seem like an inappropriate song to sing to your newborn daughter as a lullaby (her first), considering that 50% of her existence involves sucking on a nipple, I find it fitting. It’s also lovely, lovely track. Perfect for crooning in a near whisper to hush a crying child. It works. There are a few songs I sing to Rosie when she’s fussing, but despite knowing a lot of songs I barely know any of them by heart. But I know this one, and it works every time.

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