My name is Danny Boice and I am the CEO of Trustify. This post is the Chapter 2: Doubles as part of our Journey to Trust book series.The whole OR team moves forward, everyone at their stations, precise and measured choreography amid chaos. I stand perfectly still, not wanting to disturb what is happening. No one is paying attention to us in the first moments of our parenthood and that scares me more than any blood. Joanne doesn’t look at me and I don’t look at her. My every cell is attuned for the next cry and the next, but instead the doors bang open and he’s gone.
The sting in my eyes surprise me because I’m pretty sure at this point I have no gooey soft center. I’m big with tattoos, the sort of fucker you hire to stand outside your bar in a black t-shirt and tell people to stuff their fucking asses in the taxi. But Nolan cuts through to the heart of me the second I catch even the barest sight of him as he’s rushed away from me. His eight pounds punch through. I haven’t cried at anyfuckingthing in ten years but I’m standing in the middle of an operating room, my wife is being stitched together with medical staples, and my eyes are pouring salt water. In my center, I am ocean.
I hear the words spoken by nurses and doctors over the next few hours, drifting in through the static.
“…to the NICU… around the neck.”
“…your wife…losing fluid …days.”
“…baby….took in too much…supervised…antibiotics.”
All the things the doctors had missed, now coming at us in a flood and what I’m thinking is: I never got to hold him.
Two shitty days later and I still haven’t held my son. A nurse with a bun of shiny blonde hair comes to talk to us, clipboard in hand.
“Unfortunately, your insurance only covers two day post-op, so your discharge would normally be today. Are you in pain? If you’re in pain, you might be covered for an extra stay.” Sly smile, small nod.
She’s filled to the brim with knowing kindness as she bends over the clipboard, over the keyboard, tries calling Kaiser Permanente. We’re broke and this crap insurance is all we can afford. Their “no” comes back at us, final. Sucks not having fistfuls of cash to shove at the hospital billing department, at the slavering chops of the insurance machine. Instead, I’m sweating the $1500 deductible and forced to leave without my son.
As they do their paperwork, their discharge of parents who can’t pay, I sit by Nolan’s incubator, stretched out on the chair that reclines not nearly enough. Nolan’s a giant among a sea of preemies, his hands grasping at nothing. No milk for you, little man. Not yet. To get into the NICU, I have to sign in, talk to the nurse, put on the gown. Protocol every fucking time and I can’t even hold him.
When we walk to our car, parents, no kid, my eyes are shining with tears just as Joanne’s are. We’re both being strong, not quite letting the anger and fear slip free. In the car, she reaches across the console and puts her hand on mine. We’ve made a baby but there’s an empty car seat. At home, while Joanne sleeps I stare at the crib, the decals on the wall, the nursery too quiet. Not a dad yet for even two days and already I’m facing the silence that’s every parent’s worst nightmare. I want to move close to Joanne, hold her. Instead, I drift to my office.
Log into the computer. Hum of motherboard. Two clicks and I’m in.
“On October 5th, 2007 at 2:14 AM Joanne gave birth via c-section to our 8lb 4oz baby boy! Both mom and baby are happy and healthy.”
Doesn’t capture the moment. Not what I wanted to say. I want to grab someone, yell, but nothing in this motherfucking language captures what I feel. If I open my mouth what will come out is one silent scream. Noise that’s not noise. The only thing that captures the wonder, the terror, all the raw emotion in between my ears right now. Nolan. His name drops vibrations from my brain to my heart. My lifeline. Drip. Drip. Drip.
The words on my blog march tidily across the screen and they bring back equally neat congratulations. The words are meant to force conformity. Look here. Not there. They don’t show Joanne bent over a white line years ago, nostrils poised for take-off. They don’t show me screaming “fuck off” at her when she’s slamming the door in my face. They don’t show how perfect Nolan is, angry in his incubator.