This is the second entry in a series of essays from actor and co-creator of the Superego podcast, Jeremy Carter. He has been performing improv comedy for over 20 years.
"I thought I was sterile! A struggling actor should not have babies!" I thought to myself and probably mentioned to a friend. I'd hoped to at least establish some semblance of a career before becoming a parent, but by the time my son was on his way, I didn't think it was possible.
However, the thought of having a baby, a person for whom to leave a legacy, to perhaps follow in his father's footsteps. . . was absolutely terrifying. I didn't know what I was doing, and if he could be happy growing up to be an actuary, that would be wonderful! Sure, entertainment is a gold mine. Fortunes are made every day! I've just been digging in the wrong place, I guess.
And so, in December of 2007 my girlfriend was pregnant and our son was due in March. Due to complications, we had to call an ambulance around 2 a.m. Nine very large firemen in heavy gear clambered into our bedroom, placed her on a gurney, and with the sound of heavy boots on a creaky hardwood floor, whisked her away to the hospital. I went back into the bedroom to retrieve her overnight bag. It was then, that our sweet fat pug, Mojo (snoring on the bed through the commotion) propped his head up from his slumber and gave a "Bwoof."
My girlfriend would be in the hospital almost a month. All was well with the pregnancy, but the physicians wanted her to stay until she delivered.
I would sleep in a chair in her room often, and go to work as a pirate in the morning. I was a pirate. . . at a place. . . that takes a lot of credit for being THE happiest. . . of places.
She usually told me to go home to rest. Often I was in the chair memorizing lines for a show where I would be a Jedi Master! A dream come true for a guy that had loved Star Wars his whole life. I hoped to do the show long enough for my son to one day join me onstage. This is as far as I had imagined in terms of a "legacy."
The day arrived for the scheduled C-section. We are not "Do it in your home the natural way!" people. I mean, somebody went to all the trouble of making all of these pain reducing drugs. It would be a shame to let them go to waste.
Drugs were induced, as well as, panic. The medical team was calm as if they were making a latte for a regular patron. Chatty, pedestrian, this was logically no surprise to me. They do this all the time. Emotionally, I felt as though I'd spent the last 35 years drooling and soiling myself. These people are doing something AMAZING! And I'm . . . an actor.
There was much waiting. I was running Star Wars lines in my head when, suddenly the medical team was in motion. They took my girlfriend to the delivery room. I was gowned, masked and gloved. When next I saw her, she was just a head poking out from a tiny curtain. We exchanged pleasantries, joked a little, then the work began. "I feel a lot of pressure." She said. Watching her head move back and forth. It seemed the medical team was dismantling her entire body.
She and I met at the dog park in Long Beach, California. She had recently divorced and so had I. So, with that and a love of dogs and a love of avoiding the more unusual patrons of the dog park, our relationship evolved.
She had not changed her married name on her medical insurance forms, so, the hospital staff often referred to me by her ex-husband's last name, McCall. "Mr. McCall," I heard a nurse say. "Could you stand up a moment?" They had to move some equipment, and I promptly stood up. Quite unintentionally, I saw beyond the tiny curtain, and in my peripheral vision, glanced a table of meat. I didn't want to see that. I must have turned white, because Jennifer asked if everything was alright. "Lookin' good!" I muttered.
"Mr. McCall," said the nurse, "look over your left shoulder. . . Your other left shoulder."
There he was. Purple. Eyes closed, arms almost forming a muscle pose and wearing a tiny hat. Our son. I must have snapped a photo, because we have that picture of the dude hanging on the wall.
I was invited to cut the umbilical cord. It looked like kimchi. But did not cut as easily as kimchi.
All of this happened in about ten minutes, possibly less.
They ushered The new mother away after a few moments with the baby. I went to the waiting room and to the gathering of grandparents and relatives. "Well, that happened." I said, really knowing how to wax poetic in this, one of our most precious life experiences.
They were shocked that it was over, and that their grandson was here. Six weeks early, but healthy,and strong.
I had hopes that one day my son would get to be on stage with me to battle Darth Vader. 3 and a half years later, he did! I was elated. He was all brown robe and blonde beach hair. It's the only role at this particular theme park, where he wasn't afraid of me. Usually, he would just peer out of his stroller at me with suspicion. That's my "legacy!"