Sunday November 11th, 2012

The exercise:

Today we write about how someone or something came to be.

This can be personal or about how one of your fictional characters was created or something else entirely. I imagine you can guess which path I have chosen.

Took great joy in not doing much of anything today. Lots of sleep to catch up on. I expect more of the same tomorrow.


Dear Max,

Your mother felt her first contraction shortly after midnight on Tuesday, November 6th. Nothing too painful, but it was enough to wake her up. She was kind enough to let me sleep until around three in the morning before sharing the news, knowing that I would have to drive us to Penticton sometime soon.

I got up and finished packing our supplies for your birth. Once everything was ready, I went back to bed to try to get a few more hours of sleep. I think I managed two or three, but your mother didn't get any at all. We were both pretty excited and nervous.

Shortly after nine we made the decision to head to Penticton in order to avoid doing the one hour drive while your mother was experiencing the stronger contractions we both knew were coming. I called my parents (your grandparents) on Vancouver Island to let them know what was happening and soon everybody was on the road.

At some point during all of this your mother must have let her parents (your other set of grandparents, the ones just up the hill) know as well. Either that or your Grandma Sue figured it out on her own.

We arrived at Sally's (our backup doula, who kindly offered up her home to us) house around eleven. The plan was to bring you into the world in that beautiful, peaceful space, but that didn't quite work out the way we'd hoped.

As it was, your mother was able to labour there, with the support of Sally, Lindley (our doula), and Aly (our midwife) until two in the morning, which brought us to Wednesday, November 7th, your birthday. It was at this point that the decision was made to break your mother's waters, in order to hurry your arrival along.

Unfortunately Aly discovered meconium amongst the waters, which can potentially (but not particularly likely) lead to some serious complications. Following the code of better safe than sorry, the call was made to go to Penticton Hospital so that we could have the support of the expertise to be found there, just in case. Your mother only had two contractions during the five minute drive and the fingers of my right hand are still grateful for that.

After we arrived at Emergency, I called both sets of grandparents to let them know what was happening. My parents had already arrived in Penticton, while your mother's parents were anxiously waiting back here in Osoyoos.

About an hour and a half passed in Birthing Room #3 before we entered the final stage: pushing. I have to tell you Max, your mother was an absolute superstar all the way through. I could not be more proud of the job she did to bring you into our lives.

At 5:34 in the morning you made your grand entrance at last. From start to finish, that adds up to 29 hours. You certainly took your sweet time, young man.

Good thing you were worth the wait.

Your Dad


writebite said...

marc, tnat is very special.
i hope u keep up such letters.

i write a yearly letter to my grandson, detailing month by month events and achievements.
i keep a copy for my album and give him a copy for his.

Greg said...

That's a fascinating story, with just the right amount of drama and a happy ending. You've paced it well as well, though I appreciate the pace may not have seemed so great in real time. I do feel a little sorry for Kat, ending up having to do the extra travelling during labour!
The picture is great as well; he looks very peaceful sleeping.
There's a story, possibly apocryphal, about a somewhat ill-educated woman giving birth in a hospital and overhearing the doctors talking about meconium and deciding that it was such a mellifluous word that she wanted to name her daughter that. I hope it's apocryphal, anyway.

How things came to be
I was sat in my study, my blue pen crossing things out on the latest draft of my latest short story when I felt a draught around my ankles. The dog raised her head and barked sharply, and I heard cursing coming from the kitchen.
"Mac?" I asked, knowing perfectly well that no-one else let themselves in through the window without knocking – or even let themselves in through the window for that matter.
"You need better security," he growled, his voice sounding like a cement mixer with rocks in. He was already fumbling in his pockets for cigarettes. "A drink would be nice."
"I'm sure it would," I said, remembering that the last time I'd poured him a drink he'd taken the bottle. "What can I do for you, Mac?"
"How did we meet?" It was an abrupt question, but there was a gleam in his eyes, like the unshed tears of a man whose tear-ducts were cauterised by an author needing to progress his story, so I thought for a moment before answering.
"Accidentally, I think, Mac," I said. The dog sniffed his ankles and wrinkled her nose in disgust. "I was at work, chatting to a colleague over instant messenger. Earlier that day I'd been writing all my messages as haikus, just to be annoying, and my colleague was retaliating now by pretending to be a cowboy. Not to be outdone I fished around for something else, and there you were."
"There I was?"
"Yeah, just waiting to come out and be noirish. I could hear your throaty growl as I typed, could feel your language patterns growing as the words came out. Your tendancy to hyperbole, and the oddly dark world you inhabited all grew out of that moment."
"Uh-huh. And Miss Sapphire?"
"Bombay? The other side of the coin Mac!"
There was a pause and I looked down at my page again, checking how much I had left to do. When I looked up, Mac was gone once more, and, I noticed moments later, so was the single malt from the drinks cabinet.

morganna said...

She gave us
five hours notice of arriving soon,
twenty minutes notice of imminent arrival,
five minutes of 'I'm coming now!'
and then she was here,
five minutes before the doctor.
My daughter's arrival in 6 lines.

g2 (la pianista irlandesa) said...

It started, as some things do, as a joke.

Two of my friends---the one my roommate, the other her boyfriend---were talking over IM, filling in the phone calls and the miles put between them at separate schools with text. And about a year ago, for some reason, I asked if I could take over her chat box, saying it was me and that she had been vacuumed out of the window up into a passing flying saucer. He's massively into the whole roleplay scene, but from his apparently slow uptake I can only imagine the confusion on his end.

My roommate and I, however, had enormous fun with it: I can't remember specifics, but there were at least two massive creatures---one of them very messy somehow---and oodles of children. Apparently the handful of families of beings that had the ship were on holiday here, and needed someone to keep an eye on their kids for them. And despite their abrupt request they were really a lovely lot. But when he finally got a handle on the situation, he as this Prince of Spades and I were able to help extricate my roommate from her ET-babysitting duties.

A few weeks after, I was still fascinated by this Prince fella, and wondered how he'd deal with, say, a interstellar hitchhiker crash-landing a small rowboat in his realm.

The ensuing adventure has lasted for at least a year, and still chugging along. And recently I've taken to "prosifying" it: we essentially construct the dialogue together, and I take that and put it in the proper prose framework.

I started in the middle of August, and at entry 35 (posted about a month ago), I did a word count, just for curiosity purposes.

56,282 words.

Without intending to do so---or indeed realizing what I was doing---I had written a novel. It's certainly not my best writing, it's just a fun thing we've been working on, but it's a novel.

And it's nowhere near "done". I've written 10 other entries since, and in fits and spurts my friend and I are chugging away at the next one.

As a writer, I'm a self-proclaimed "pantser": there's some sketchy planning here and there, but beyond that I just go. The plot of this thing has been almost entirely "pantsed"---the most planning we do is say "I have an idea for something", though my friend pointed out that, without really meaning to, our adventure had taken an arc with a weirdly monomythic flavor---but in the prosifying the entire thing's been mapped out. I have to come up with some of the inner bits (they're all in the starhopper's voice), but I've admitted to one of my planning-heavy writing friends that I gladly chalk one up for planning things out.

My first "real" novel-length amount of work. It's just my luck that it's come out of a joke.

Marc said...

Writebite - thank you, I suspect I will.

That's a great idea, I'm sure he'll treasure it years from now :)

Greg - yeah, in the moment the pace was much too slow for our tastes. And I could totally picture someone wanting to name her daughter that!

Love your scene. Isn't it funny where some of our characters come from?

Morganna - five minutes before the doctor! My goodness, I can only imagine.

g2 - hah, fascinating stuff.

And I reckon a joke is as good a place as any for a novel to be born :D

g2 (la pianista irlandesa) said...

Fun fact: Just updated the word count. 75,124 words; 18,884 of those written in the span of about 20 days.

... I'm gonna have to graph this or something, the numbers are completely blowing my mind. And making NaNo vaguely feasible in the future.