My son, Anderson, is an awe to me. I often just stare at him, wondering if that’s what I looked like when I was his age. I look at him and wonder if my father did the same thing. Staring. He catches me sometimes, and looks me off, and I smile. I love him very much. Often times it is hard to discipline him but I know that the discipline I render may one day save his life or help someone else’s. His story is short as of now, but I feel like he has come a long way.
Anderson’s entrance into this world was nothing short of spectacular. Anderson, or Andy as he would later be known as, was born under all the right circumstances. His parents were married, his family was all together and happy. We lived in a house in Inglewood, CA in a part of town where Mexicans grew rose bushes in their yards and where airplanes flew low overhead, in preparation for landing at Los Angeles International Airport. We were happy there. It wasn’t the best part of town, but it was a community. I often think about the walks we would take in the area, stopping to admire the floral diversity that the local botanists had provided for us. When the man who owned the house defaulted on his loan and it foreclosed, we were forced to move away by the Bank who took possession.
Andy wasn’t planned per say, but when Holly and I found out she was pregnant, we were both very happy. We already had Bryce and Sadie, and announcing an addition to them was a joy like no other. They had no clue that their lives would be changed forever, neither did we. We all expected a bouncing, joyful baby, and that’s exactly what we got. And more. Today, the sound of silence means one of two things: that Andy’s sleep, or that Andy isn’t home. The noise becomes a pseudo soundtrack to life one could say.
We entered the hospital on, or a day after Andy’s due date of February 6th, 2003. I can’t remember the weather, the drive to the hospital, the conversations we had that day nor the meals I had leading up to that day yet it was one of the most important days of my life.
Holly was in good spirits leading up to the birth. Nurses came and went as family members huddled into a room designed to hold much fewer people. There was a monitor attached to Holly that followed Andy’s heartbeat. It was a constant beeping, so faint, so constant. Small talk couldn’t cover the slight angst in the room. Holly was not dilating wide enough for Anderson to pass through. Nurses monitored and Doctors came in ever so often, but very little advancement occurred. Holly had agreed to have a C-section if necessary. In short time, the machine that monitored Andy’s heart would slow dramatically. Nurses would come in and roll Holly on her side, to relieve pressure and return his heart to a more stable rate. Epidurals were administered.
The details of the days are fuzzy, but we were transported to a more luxurious room due to the amount of labor and time Holly had been through. Nurses were coming in more often as Andy’s heart rate was dipping and rising at a curiously odd pace. I was scared, not nervous. I know nervous, this wasn’t it. I had no control over the life of my son, and I was scared. In less time than I had to realize this, a very upset doctor rushed into the room, reprimanding the negligent nurses for what was a very critical situation. A C-section would be the only way out for Anderson.
Tubes were pulled and machines unplugged and Holly was rolled on her back, while a doctor coldly reassured us that our baby was coming very shortly. The doctor’s coldness gave me a sense of calm, her professionalism grounded my fears. She does this for a living. She has seen this before. I trust her. The give me a coverall to put on over my clothes and I put them on as best as I can. The next few minutes are so intense for me, I fight tears of joy, emotion, fear and thanks to God as I type them.
“I need the C-Section room 114 prepped and clear, now…get me the breather and tell Johnson to prep for emergency C-Section, baby’s coming now!”, shouted the Doctor, now resembling a Field General in the Civil War.
Nurse: “Patient’s breathing is fine, father is on standby, all levels fine, baby’s heart is stable but dropping, all areas clean and ready for procedure…We’re ready.”
A large white door shuts as my pregnant wife is carted into a room. I catch a glimpse of what appears to be 5 or six people inside waiting for their instruction. The room has a large light affixed to its ceiling that one person pulls down towards my wife. Before the door closes, a female Doctor makes confident eye contact with me and I know, at that moment, that these strangers are the only people who can bring my son into this world, alive.
After what feels like 2 minutes, a nurse exits the room and walks over to me, pulls me by my elbow, into the room where my wife is. Did I want to go in there? I had no choice. I was seated near my wife’s head, her lower body unseen by a light blue drape that went from the ceiling to the bed. She was hooked up to a respirator, and was barely conscience. I held her hand. We were together. I was scared. I usually hide genuine fear from my wife but now was no time for that. I held her hand tight.
“Applying Gel to abdomen now,” gently said one Doctor to another. “Incision will go from here to here, ready when you are.”
“Incision made, preparing vitals check, all vital are good, baby in sight, prepare for passage, Mom’s vitals are fine, prepare baby’s neck and head…”
All I could hear at this point was the soft air pushing through the machine that helped my wife’s breathing. It was my solace, I wasn’t scared anymore, I was in a state of meditation, I was there and that was all I knew. It got very quiet in the room and then a voice brought me back to consciousness, “Baby boy being brought up. Unwrapping umbilical chord one time. Unwrapping umbilical chord second time, and here we are. Baby is out.” And then, silence.
The entire room went silent. Silence isn’t powerful enough a word for how quiet it was. A deafening abyss of nothing. No respirator, no doctors, no machines, no people. Just quiet. I believe in my inner heart that it was at this moment that God entered the room. Silence.
And then he cried, Anderson Daniel Sparks cried. He was alive. All of the doctors in the room applauded and cheered. The respirator made noise again, the beeping of machines came back, doctors worked together to stitch Holly back up. Business as usual. The birth happened and it was back to the business of prepping the baby, cleaning the mother, and sending us on our way. I looked at my wife, who’s hand I was holding very tightly, and we shed the same tears. I felt as if we were one, together. No longer scared, we shared a nervous giggle.
The next few days were a mixture of nerves, emotions and family. Andy runs around playing and laughing, enjoying the life that God so graciously granted him. I am under constant guile with the knowledge that I have no control over his life as it pertains to destiny, fate or God’s Will. And I’m fine with that.