December 13th, 2014. This was meant to be my daughter’s birthday, in a perfect world. A few weeks ago, one of the girls who works at our local Carter’s store asked us to make an announcement outfit for her first baby. In the course of the conversation, she asked me if my wife ever did anything special to announce any of our kids.
I was unemployed when she announced the birth of my first son. She knew, she knew that when our second child was announced, that it would be a girl. I wasn’t so sure, when she started in on her “sea of pink” clothing, I warned her to wait until the ultrasound. But she announced it to Facebook, that Caitlin was coming in February. and then the ultrasound tech says…”well, I hope you kept your receipts…” So Caitlin became Charlie, and shortly after she decided that our next boy would be named Callum.
It was in the discussion of our first kid’s name that I suggested that she keep her names to a single letter of the alphabet. At the time, I made the suggestion so that I might not have to spend hours droning “no” to suggestions from her favorite television shows. I did not, at that time, expect to have five kids with the same initials. I did not want to be the leader of that weird family. And yet here I am.
Then in 2011, I lost my son. My wife had been pregnant at the time, and miscarried due to the stress surrounding the whole thing. 2011 was pretty bleak, but then in 2012, in spite of the end of the world, (thanks Mayans) Callum finally made his arrival. So it was that my wife resigned herself to being a “mom of boys.” I was fine with that, we had plenty of hand me down clothes for boys, plenty of hand me down everything for boys, I knew how to deal with boys, my wife knew how to deal with boys, and then in the beginning of 2014, she showed me an ultrasound photo with the word “GIRL” clearly printed on it. I got woken up from a mostly dead sleep (I was still working nights at the time.) and my response was “No F-ing Way!”
I’m not sure if my response was due to being woken up with “Surprise, we’re pregnant!” or “surprise, it’s a girl!” At any rate…finally…
For all of that excitement, it suddenly meant that our hand me downs were essentially useless. Not that either of us minded dressing a girl in boy’s clothes, but a little girl is, of course, a little girl, and in a house full of boys, well, that makes her all the more special. As the reality of needing a whole new wardrobe and any number of girly accessories set in, my wife started having second thoughts about having a baby girl. I followed up with an “are you kidding me? You’ve wanted a girl for the last six years, and now, you don’t know?”
Pregnancy Sucks…for Men.
Turns out it’s not just a clever title. So we massaged our clothing situation by putting the word out to some old friends. We don’t normally do baby showers because, well, we both have to deal with social anxiety on some level, and much like recent forays into public events, even baby showers turn into competitions around here. We asked around for hand me downs, and fortunately for us, we know a badass lady with a tattoo gun who, through a clothing drive, managed to fill our daughter’s closet for almost two years.
As we got closer to the due date, it was discovered that we were in line for my wife to be induced on December 13th, 2014, or 12/13/14. So I planned my vacation time around that day, and for a week we tried everything make that happen. Of course, we tried induction by fornication, and nothing. We tried eggplant parmesan, as the herbs in the food are supposed to stimulate contractions or something. Lucky for us, there’s an amazing spot around the corner from our house, and they loaded the plate with extra, everything. Me, being the dutiful husband, rolled out to collect it, and was met with a chorus of “who’s wife is pregnant?” by half a dozen female staff in the place. Was it that obvious? Too bad it didn’t work.
And then, finally, the last resort. Castor Oil. The stuff smells terrible, and I have no idea what other use it has other than, apparently, to motivate labor in pregnant women. By now, I think, about three days into our week till baby, I’m a grim, no-nonsense, man on a mission, and that mission is the nastiest substance on earth. I brushed past a bewildered police officer who was apparently on the same mission, and let out a sigh of relief when he saw my hand reach for a box.
“You too, huh?” he asks with bit of a smile.
“Does this stuff really work?” This guy’s nerves tell me it’s probably his first kid.
“I don’t know, but I sure as hell hope so.” I ask and he verifies that he’s on a mission to help induce his girlfriend for their first kid. I wish him good luck, he does the same, and I take the bottle in a box back to my wife, who consumes half the bottle while complaining all the time. For nothing. Our week comes and goes, and a midnight craving for a breakfast burrito sends me out into the streets (again, dutiful husband) and I get a text from my supervisor congratulating us on the baby, asking how she is.
“Still in there.”
After a few minutes back and forth, I relegate myself to heading in to work on a Sunday. I work for two more weeks until a panicked call on Christmas Eve sends me home early. So much for 12/13/14. I’m about to have a Christmas Baby.
Or so I thought. Christmas comes and goes, and it’s not until New Year’s Eve that my daughter finally decides to get into the world. I see now, maybe somebody made a typo, 12/13 was really supposed to be 12/31. Logistics with the boys kept us out of the hospital, and as a result, mom got a whole weekend of uninterrupted bonding time. And then my life became an unspecified quantity of hair bows, ruffles, and princess time.
This little girl has been our inspiration, and the motivation for our business that kind of grew out of our search for my wife’s “sea of pink.” As it turns out, by the time my wife got around to shopping for that sea of pink, it was more like a sea of scandalously short (for a toddler anyway), headache inducing, neon colors. And so, the concepts at least, for The Sparrow’s Closet were born, with my wife at the helm of it, and my daughter, now 3, a surprisingly capable creative director, product model, and only occasionally, a wrench in the works.
I’ve got plenty more to say about this amazing little girl, who uses Mulan to karate kick Barbie, who follows her older brother like a shadow, dragging the baby along behind her. This crazy girl who’ll offer up a nerf gun to help mom shoot out the sun for better photo lighting, and who loves mother-daughter makeup time because she can be “like a clown!” But that would literally be an ever evolving book, and it gets tough to write when the cat keeps walking deliberately across the keyboard. My life changed pretty drastically with kids, but with a miniature version of my wife in the house, well, I never really expected it would change me like it has. I may struggle, may have good days, and not so good days, but even when the boys have driven me to drink, mostly, let her get away with everything, much to my chagrin.
I keep telling my kids “no one’s immune…” with regard to the rules. Maybe one day I’ll actually convince one of them.