August 14, 2013

Mark Millican: And then there were five ... boys!

Mark Millican

— It’s become a periodic guessing contest — cued up by my daughter’s pregnancies — since she and her husband flaunt recent tradition and refuse to learn what gender their newborn child will be until he shows himself in delivery.

I say “he” because she’s 3-for-3 in boys as of last week. To be honest, after four grandsons total most of our family was kinda hoping a little girl might make the scene and perhaps help civilize her brothers and male cousins during their coming front-yard antics together. And that sentiment also broadened among friends of the family, such as the staff of the Times-Courier where Amy worked for awhile when she was a student at Gilmer High School.

In fact, our office manager — who does not want me to use her name in a column (but it rhymes with “Lisa”) — got in the habit of asking me how “Little Susie” was doing as the pregnancy progressed. I went along with her moniker and gave updates as they arrived from Alabama, then she and Amy got to emailing each other and “Pop” again became the last to know.

Incidentally, the name “Susie” made me think of growing up as a boy and visiting one of my uncles and aunts in South Carolina along with my own two brothers. They had the 8-track cassette of Johnny Cash’s “At Folsom Prison” recorded live with the inimitable “A Boy Named Sue.” I would play that tape over and over and chuckle along with the inmates who were roaring with laughter about the lyrics. I imagined them thinking, “I may be in here for (such-and-such) felony, but at least my dad didn’t name me Sue before he ran off!”

But I digress.

Jokingly, I had told Amy she was not to have “it” on a Monday or Tuesday, since both are heavy production days as we head into deadline for our weekly issue. She knows the drill. Then I got the call last Tuesday — they were going to induce labor on Thursday since she had reached her due date. Good girl.

But the ’Bama gang had failed to tell Pop and Gran (Teresa) how seriously their oldest son, Reece, 4, was taking this gender issue. Evidently he had picked up on the family’s hopes and desires for a girl and decided that’s exactly what “it” was going to be. He would bristle when someone at their church guessed it was going to be a boy — “It’s a girl!” he would proclaim — and when one of us would try to extend counsel and let him know it could quite possibly be a boy, he would hear nothing of it.

So we’re in the hospital on Thursday and Devin’s father, James, and I had taken the boys down to the play area. Before lunch I got a call from Devin — “You guys want to come see the baby?” Immediately I asked if it was a boy or a girl.

“Don’t you want to wait and see when you get here?”

“Sure,” I replied, knowing how the nurses wrapped the little bundles of joy in a blanket right after they’re born so they look like a cocoon.

How was I going to tell?

Devin met us in the hall and as we were walking toward the delivery room I picked up that he said “he” in a sentence about the newborn. So then I knew — but how would Reece respond?

We walked in and Amy said, “Reece, Abel, you’ve got a little brother!”

It was the most amazing thing to see. I’m sure Reece heard the announcement, but his bright blue eyes were locked onto that new little brother with the most wonder and love I believe I’ve ever seen. All his resistance melted away and I felt my own eyes welling with tears — because it didn’t matter anymore whether it was a boy or girl, just that he had arrived.

And my little girl was OK too.

Later, I became even more thankful as Teresa recounted to me how the physician had stopped the delivery when she discovered the umbilical cord tightly wrapped around the baby’s neck — thankful for all the prayers and an on-her-toes doctor who knew exactly what to do.

It took them two days to name the child, and so he became Wyatt Joshua Wright.

Anything but Susie.