This one's from the February 13, 2004 column...
As last week's Bootleg was being posted, the wife was still in pretty serious condition. Her blood pressure was dangerously and consistently high, while the steroids she was being injected with (to strengthen the baby's lungs) had given her head, quite literally, the circumference of Barry Bonds' and Sammy Sosa's noggins put together. I'm serious…when I saw her on the night of February 6, her eyes were nearly swollen shut. I wanted to call Linus and tell him I had found The Great Pumpkin.
The next day (Saturday), I was leaving the barbershop and called the wife to let her know that I was on my way over.
"They want to deliver the baby today.", she said.
I powered up the Saturn and almost managed to get that tinfoil rickshaw up to 40 mph, as I arrived at the hospital at 11:30 AM. Mrs. Bootleg's room was filled with doctors, nurses and specialists who were all speaking the medical equivalent of whatever Lil' Jon & The Eastside Boyz call English.
Picture, if you will, a six foot tall, 185 pound brutha in XXL jeans, Eddie Bauer long-sleeved shirt and a pair of bulky Lugz boots. Now, add a fluffy powder blue shower cap, a delivery-room "jumpsuit" to cover my clothes and some medical "shoe covers".
I looked like a thug mushroom.
They ushered me into the delivery room, where the wife was being prepped for a C-section. Fortunately, I was kept away from the "business side" of the curtain and could only see Mrs. Bootleg's face and shoulders. I casually glanced down to the floor just in time to see a pool of blood forming on the other side. The delivering nurse apparently thought I was passing out, so she (yes, she) punched me in the shoulder and asked if I was all right.
I'm tellin' ya…that wildebeest hit me like Bald Bull. I wasn't passing out, but if she had landed on my chin, I would've been.
Since this was my first rodeo, I was prepared for a long, drawn out delivery. I tried to find some empty words of comfort to calm my wife down, but it appeared the drugs had already beaten me to it. She looked vacantly at me as I rambled on about nothing in particular (Who says my writing philosophy ain't portable?)
Mere minutes after I entered the room, the doctors on the other side of the curtain exclaimed, "There he is!" I heard a few brief, raspy baby yelps from the other side…and totally lost it. Man, I had one of those nasty runny nose, inconsolable, slobbering kind of crying jags that are usually only seen when ABC gets those great close-up shots of the losers in the Little League World Series Championship game.
On Saturday, February 7th at 1:22 PM, my son, Jalen Henderson Cameron, was born.
As in future Hall of Famer and longtime Oakland Athletic Rickey Henderson?
Weight: 3 lbs. 1 oz.
Length: 16 inches
Arrival: 9 weeks premature
Fun Facts: He looks exactly like me and I'm already dreading the "talk", where I have to explain the other kids' taunts of "canned ham head" to him…He's got the longest arms n' legs I've ever seen, like a Black version of former cartoon hero Plastic Baby…. He arrived exactly three weeks before the baby shower in his honor…Amazingly, he's breathing on his own and has a strong, healthy heart.
It's been almost a week and mother and child are doing great. Mrs. Bootleg is still very sore from her Caesarian, which I'm told is not nearly as delicious as the salads of the same name (ooh, especially when you get it with blackened chicken on top). The wife should be home as you read this, while Jalen will continue to live in the ICU for six to eight more weeks.
He's in great hands with the hospital staff, though, and I'm counting down the days until I'm changing a diaper with one hand and typing up The Goodness with the other.
Pray that I remember which hand is which.