Michelle text me and said: “Baby coming today!” Then the brakes went on the way to the hospital. I did what everyone probably does when their brakes go. Thought of a million things “Gear down! Brake. Handbrake. Swerve. The baby. The hospital. Don’t get injured. What’s coming the other side of the road. This is going to hurt. Why the hell didn’t I burn this car a month ago?!” There was a hill that granted a vital ascent and helped slow the ball of shite down sufficiently enough to dawdle into the hard shoulder. Cars passed. Gave me weird looks. It was time for a plan. Ring the breakdown. They’d take too long. Get a taxi, but what’ll I do with the car? I decided on Supermacs. It was across the road and I could chance the red menace and hopefully something might happen. Rolled up outside. First gear. Clutching it to decelerate. All business. Had convinced myself it was only brake fluid and I could buy some and get going. Michelle text again with“They’re taking blood pressure, baby here in 45 minutes. Where are you?!” Shite! Abandoned the car entirely. Nearly pulled the door off Supermacs. Demanded a taxi. There was a Jackie Chan double behind the counter, relaxing on a fridge, working on a Kung Fu I-phone. He scrolled through the martial arts contacts, then handed me the dial tone. They said they’d be her in ten minutes. Sat down and tried to wait. Let the morning clouds breeze by, afraid of the next message.
The taxi driver was in a purple Passat and he was full of drawl mechanical wisdom. It’s probably your Master Cylinder. Could be the pads. Did you get a new driveshaft? Is this your first child? I’ll tell ya now, there’s a fella down pasht Corofin and he fixes yokes kinda cheap…. The fare was €8.30 and I gave him a tenner and burshted in.
There was doctors everywhere around Michelle’s bed. Sign this. Consent to that. How’re you feeling? Let’s do a trace. Ok, they’re ready for you now. Suddenly everything was surreal and pixelated. Something monumental was happening in the fabric of the Space-time continuum, like a big gusty hole had been torn into the side. The bed was wheeled to a door which they opened with a magnetic key. It was like the exact opposite of going to the electric chair. We got to another door and they opened it too and brought Michelle in. Inside, there was about fifteen people in masks and gowns, surrounded by lights and metal instruments and monitors. The receptionist was at a counter close by. She asked one of the nurses “How do you spell caesarean?” and the nurse didn’t know.
Soon, there was a hoard of doctors, students and other medical types around Michelle’s bed. All wearing masks and gowns and waiting. Some of them chatted, others watched with folded arms. They looked like they were outside the back of a church on Christmas morning, bladdering through the ritual before it was time for the communion. A midwife type came and told me to “Gown Up.” She pointed to a box. Inside, there was a green apron and gloves. There was also a hat and some bags for my shoes. When I was finished it looked like someone had dipped me in green plastic paint. There was a squishy rustle when I walked, like I was ready for a human clothes bin.
The Clooney’s had the gas ready and told me to wait outside and I did. They were putting her under and they don’t allow fathers attend the birth in these circumstances.
Outside, I started to shake and thought of all the dead people I ever knew, looking down and watching, and all the living people I knew that had no idea that Nairobi was about to be born, and all the people that weren’t born yet and somehow they were all here at once like what big lamp focused on the goings on. I sat down on the gown box. A few of the audience left and entered the operating theatre. An odd time they gave me a look, but didn’t say much. Had all sorts of thoughts about things going wrong, clichéd speeches from doctors, we did everything we could but…that kinda stuff. My knees were shaking under the plastic. A consultant arrived and asked the receptionist if she’d seen him on telly last night and she told him no, but she’d read about him in the papers. He seemed happy enough with that. The door swung open and there a flurry of beeps and scalpels and anxious eyes. They were working fast in a way that said: Everything should be fine if we don’t panic. There was five or six them huddled around a small table with a lamp. A woman in the middle explaining something, the rest looking on, confused and interested. The door fell shut again and a Polish girl clattered by with a mop and bucket and she didn’t notice me at all. I turned off my phone and then turned it on again and stood up and paced the few steps back and over. Squish, rustle.
Eventually a blonde woman told me she was born and she was ok and there was no need to worry. I could hardly see her through the haze of amazement, like she was talking to me from an island the other side of an ocean. More extras arrived. Stethoscopes, beards, scrubs. She was in the middle, being wheeled to the lift. They asked me her name and I said Nairobi and they started to talk to her. “Hello, Nairobi, say hello to Daddy…” And when I saw her face I knew I always knew her, she was always here, it was only a matter time. I went in and told Michelle and she was still a bit demented from the pain drugs. I showed her a video on my phone and she cried for a little bit and then descended into sedated gibberish so I went back upstairs to where they had Nairobi. I was still “gowned up” and the nurse looked at me like I was mad.