The Story of Will’s Birth

Yesterday was my youngest son Will’s 7th birthday. It’s amazing how quickly time flies and looking at him now, he seems so far removed from that night in early March those years ago. Right now, he’s sitting in my office behind me reading a Lego magazine while he waits to go the doctor. He’s been feeling pretty crappy since Friday, so we want to make sure he doesn’t have strep throat.

Seven years ago yesterday, I was exactly where I am now: sitting in front of my iMac in my home in Medfield. It was going on about 10:50pm and Joyce was in our bedroom watching Law & Order, and Jack, who was three at the time, was asleep next to her. Joyce suddenly called for me and when I came into the bedroom, she was standing up saying, “it’s time to go!”

We bundled Jack up, called Joyce’s folks to meet us at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston so they could take care of Jack while Joyce did her thing, and climbed into our car and shot off for the city. A trip to Boston during the day can take anywhere from forty minutes to an hour depending on traffic. Much of the trip is on a one-lane road, so if you get stuck behind someone driving slow, you’re screwed. But at that time of night, we made pretty good time. I opted to jump on the highway as soon as possible so we could get on roads with more than one lane in order to get us there quicker.

We cruised off of 128 North at route 9 and headed east toward Boston. Route 9 goes straight into Boston and it’s right near the hospital, so that was a good route to take. As we shot through Wellesley and Newton, traffic started to increase. All the while, Joyce was trying to keep her mind off the pain by complaining that they were just about the reveal the killer’s identity on Law & Order and she had missed it.

After Newton we came into Brookline and Joyce was experiencing more pain. I was driving fast. Jack had come six week early and had taken only three hours to deliver from start to finish. Will was five weeks early and I didn’t know how long I had before the little dude was going to make an appearance. I’d gone through First Responder training and could deliver him, if need be, but I didn’t relish the thought of doing so on the side of the road, so I was damned if I wasn’t going to get her to the hospital.

As we approached the Chestnut Hill Mall, I saw a green light start to go to yellow and spotted a cop off on my left. I deliberately shot through the light, knowing he would jump on me. He did. Lights flashing, I pulled over and then waved him up next to me. He pulled alongside and I told him that Joyce was in labor and we were headed for the hospital. Without batting an eye, he simply nodded, said, “follow me!” and we took off down route 9 with his lights flashing and us tucked in behind him. By the next intersection, we had two more cruisers all around us, lights flashing and sirens wailing as we slid through the traffic with ease and got to the hospital in about three minutes.

At the roundabout by the entrance to the hospital, we swung in and I thanked the lead cop, who stayed in place until we got Jack with his grandparents and Joyce headed inside. The valet at the hospital took care of our car and we went inside to have Will. By now, it was about 11:40pm and less than three hours later, Will arrived at six pounds, fourteen ounces and nineteen inches long at 2:31am. His delivery was tougher on Joyce than Jack’s but she still managed to do it without any drugs – something that I still marvel at – and only by crushing the bones in my hand and her sister Jocelyn’s hand, while I told lame jokes to try to keep everyone’s spirits up.

My second son was as much of a gift as my first and I was thrilled that I had now had two boys, especially since before Jack, we weren’t even sure we’d be able to have children at all. Seven years later, that little bundle of joy has turned into a Monster Truck fiend and Lego architect of the first order. He has an amazing sense of humor and the wiseass sarcastic gene handed down in my bloodline is alive and well in the newest generation – for better or for worse, lol. I’m thankful every day for my sons, and even when life’s other challenges intrude, I never end a day without giving thanks for them being in my life.

So Happy Birthday, William Edward Merz. Seven year ago, you were just a sleepy little bundle of joy viewed through my misty, proud eyes. Today, you’re nursing a sore throat and handling it like a champ. In a few weeks, you’ll be back in the baseball field smacking home runs with the best of them. Seven years doesn’t seem like all that long, but you’ve already given me more reasons to be proud of you than I had a right to expect.

I love you, son.

NOTE: This blog post was inspired by my sister Johanna who runs a great workshop on Birth Stories for parents through her company Familytopia. She runs fantastic programs for corporations and companies of all sizes and does one helluva job at it.

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