Now I have a Rubin to write about. A son....a glorious, non-sandwich son. Rubin Ford Spiegel is him.
His first name truly is a miraculous happenstance, despite the understandable connection to the world's most perfect lunch item. Regina Isabelle Rubin Spiegel was my late, wonderful mother. We just didn't love Reginald for a boy, no matter how often we tried to infuse it into our brains. Isadore is too...I don't know...Vaudeville? Tin Pan Alley? Hidden in the attic?
But Rubin. It honors queen Regina, but also implies her father Manny, her Uncle Harold, her mother Shirley, and an entire side of my family that seems to be filled with women mostly logistically challenged to pass the name on. (Shout-out to cousin Tina and her awesome son Joshua). Rubin Spiegel also unites my parents in a lovely way, carrying Trenton lore into this century and hopefully beyond. So, Rubin it is, and Rubin Ford to be complete. Ford is for Byford, my beautiful Tonya's late grandfather. There are pictures of Regina and Byford side by side in the nursery.
By the way, we know the name of our son's first band: The Rubin Ford Effect. The t-shirts will be stellar.
So Friday night the 13th, we'd decided I would go play poker. Hadn't in months, and I should and would squeeze one last bout of juvenile, mostly care free hedonism into the wait-for-baby days. Now we know: poker late in the third trimester is the equivalent of lighting a cigarette on the El tracks. The train comes. Tonya texted me at 10:07. "Matty, you won’t believe this, but you need to call me and start coming home. Now." I jumped up, called her from the table, and heard tell of step 1. I thought of Cat Stevens. "Water has Bro-ken..." The scraggly fellow degenerate to my right said "Dude, are you having a baby right now?" Why yes, shiftless punk, yes I am. As I walked/ran to the car, I told anyone who asked what this moment was.
The hospital and birth experience was incredibly comfortable, truthfully, and the process was manageable in a way we are shy to admit to couples who have struggled. My wife, she has an amazing body. It has been gorgeous for decades, healthy her whole existence, enduring through substance travails, prompt in efforts to incubate, supportive in the gestation, and efficient in delivery. Hers is a worthy, impressive vessel.
Of the 4 obstetricians in the group we've been seeing, we ended up with Dr. Blumenthal for delivery. Fitting and fated to get the well-aged 29 year delivery vet, replete with stern but helpful coaching tips for my eager-to-please girl, and Borchst Belt caliber Yiddish schtick to pass the time between pushes. “You’re not shvitzing Tonya.” “Push, push push! We’re gonna see that punim!” I added a reference to our impending naches, giving our delivery a record 3 Yiddish terms in a 90 minute period.
I began the push portion ready to help, but detached, in a chair a few feet away as 3 qualified personnel guided the wife. “You can do it baby,” offered hopefully but worthlessly from the stands. When she expressed difficulty in breathing between pushes while also arching her head properly, Dr. Blumenthal politely suggested dad get his ass in the game. I did, and by the end, I had my arm across T’s shoulders supporting her upwards, the other arm hooking a knee to pull it back, counting to ten and urging instruction in her face. It’s exhilarating to be a birthing helper monkey. I saw his head emerge, as the plates of the skull finally fit the lock of her channel enough to squeeze through, and watched his body being pulled to full freedom. I cut the cord, and cried with my wife as our spawn was strewn across her chest.
Can you blame him?
The look says "Oy...I would NOT do that again."
We spent two amazing days in the hospital, getting gentle help and instruction on how to keep this thing alive.
His face changes every time I look at him. Emotions in the post-partum room flow freely, massively, among all who enter. His skin is unlike all textures imaginable. This fatherhood thing is better than any drug I can conceive of. A friend called it “the ultimate human trip.” Perfect.
Visitors included a proud Aunt Adrienne, a curious just Bar Mitzvahed nephew Jack, and the proper bringer of the kid's first bagel, Uncle Jon. Notice the unmistakable presence of "the man in the bagel."
I’ll forever remember the moment when Matt LeBlanc won a Golden Globe award for his acting on the cable series “Episodes.” Because at that specific instance, I was changing the first black tar meconium diaper of young Rubin’s life. The shiny, thick substance just kept oozing as I cycled through somewhere between 5-8 baby wipes, and Tonya laughed wildly from the bed. It was like the Exxon Valdez disaster, but grosser. I’m pretty sure the same amount of wildlife was damaged in the process. Seagulls drowned, seals gasped for air, and the news media shook their heads disapprovingly. But eventually, there was anal relief.
And now we’re home, with this impossibly perfect little being in tow. Tonya says this is what people are like, before they get ruined. It’s so true. He has no callouses, physical or emotional. His toes, those tasty little toes, have never emitted sweat. He has worn socks twice. The first time he wore them, his third day on the planet, he shot us a look as if to say “where have these been all my life?” There’s more Rubin, there’s so much more.
Just now, she ironed an outfit for Rubin to wear tomorrow, on his 8th day of life, for a ceremony in our home. It’s the Bris outfit worn first by big brother Jon nearly 52 years ago, by brother Bob, and by me. It came with a handwritten note from Regina, my son’s namesake, and will serve to symbolically, emphatically bind them together.
And now of course the real job begins. After having read so much about, and gotten so skilled at being pregnant, I find myself feeling horribly unprepared for these first few months. What are my tasks, my missions, my prime directives? Thankfully, there is another week off of work, and wonderful resources to consult in efforts to enable. Homeboy sleeps in 2-3 hour increments, and I’ll try to use my time wisely.
I, we, are ridiculously fortunate to get this chance at this point in our lives. He is a choice we made, and the gratitude for his healthy, gorgeous presence is enormous.
The love is so great, I wish I could indeed just gobble him up.I think I'll start with the toes.