We Had A Baby Last Night

“If I can’t eat, neither can you.” Those were the last slurry words she spoke to me before she fell asleep from the epidural she swore she would never get. That’s an entirely other story I’ll tell at a later date. We’d been at the hospital since 9:00am and the doctor told her not to eat anything. What should have been a routine check up turned into the doctor telling us to come straight to the maternity ward.

“You’re about to have a baby.” He said with excitement.

No bags were backed, we were in separate cars, both planning on heading to work. Now we were being told we were about to have a baby one week early when she wasn’t even dilated past three centimeters. After a couple hours of running around and making arrangements we were in the birthing room arguing about the pain medicine she swore she would never take.

“If I can’t eat, neither can you.”

I waited until she was good and knocked out before telling my mom I was going to get something to eat. The least I could do was wait until she couldn’t see me eating. Memorial Hermann in the Heights is a weird location. It’s close to a million restaurants but almost none of them are in walking distance.

Walking distance for New York maybe but not for Houston.

But right next door to this massive Hospital is a small Mexican restaurant. No flat screens or fancy tables. No granite counter tops or 12 dollar margaritas. Just cold Coronas in a big ice chest and tequilas I can’t name. Starving and needing to get back to the birth of my first son I ordered something quick and then something happened.

You know that thing that happens in the movies where the music gets dramatic and you know the story is about to take a dark turn. My mother’s name popped up on my caller ID. If you knew my mom you’d know one thing about her, she never asks me for anything. That means seeing her name meant I knew she wasn’t calling to ask me to bring her some food.

“Dr. Ahmed is here. There’s something the matter with the baby’s heartbeat, it’s dipping too low and they can’t wait for it to stabilize. They need to perform a C-section now! You need to get back here Demez.” Ten minutes ago we were laughing and anticipating my son coming at six in the morning. Now at 8:30pm they were telling me if they didn’t perform this emergency C-section he might not make it here. Throwing a twenty on the counter and running back to the hospital I stepped off the elevator and as soon as I walked into the room there were nurses and doctors everywhere prepping her.

The epidural was causing her to shake uncontrollably and the anesthesia was making her nauseas and sleepy. With her eyes barely open and squeezing my hand she asked me, “Do you remember your promise? If it’s between me and Lennox, choose him.” For months she’d been telling me this and for months I’d been telling her that nothing was going to happen. Now here we were with her having a bad reaction to the epidural she didn’t want to get and my son’s heartbeat dropping with every second.

“I remember what I promised you. I got you. I love you. Nothing is going to happen.”

My mom and sisters helped me put on my sterilization gear. I followed the doctors and nurses to the operating room. This is the part that literally shook me to my core. Up until this point I was sure everything was going to be alright but they put me in a waiting room that felt like purgatory.

I’m alone in this waiting room and there’s one bench and no one else can be in this room. The nurses tell me to wait and they’ll come back for me. I can see my family and her family on the other side of the door every time it opens begging me with their eyes for answers I don’t have. At this point I don’t have to be brave for anyone. Not for B, not for my family, not for her family. I’m alone and now I have nothing but my own fears. What if my son doesn’t make it onto this earth? What if his mother doesn’t? What if neither of them do? Closing my eyes and praying to God for what seemed like the first time in months all I asked is that they both make it out okay.

The operating room is cold and sterile and quiet. They walk me over to her and ask me to keep her calm, to make her laugh. I’m supposed to make her laugh when she’s terrified and shaking. Cool, let me do my Kevin Hart impression while his wife is delivering a baby. I tell her to remember our trips, to think about the first place we’ll take Lennox. I tell her to focus on me and to focus on what it will be like to hold him.

In the midst of me talking I hear the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard in my life.

I hear Lennox Noire White crying. At 9:13pm on 6 August 2018 I hear my son crying for the first time. Cleaning him up, they place him in my arms since B is still being operated on. He’s 6 pounds 11 ounces and the most beautiful boy I’ve ever seen. A thick head of curly black hair, incredibly quiet for all he’s just put us thru and my world.

An hour later his mom is wheeled into the room on her bed and holds him for the first time.

That was my Monday.

That was the story of how I almost had a heart attack trying to say hello to my son.

I Can’t Wait To Teach You How To Be A Proud Black Man

Dear Lennox,

I Can’t Wait To Teach You How To Be A Proud Black Man

Since your mother walked into the kitchen on that January evening and told me about you I’ve been thinking of what I wanted for you, of how long I’ve been waiting on you to get here. This world, this world you’re about to be born into isn’t the kindest of places to little black boys that will grow up to be black men. We will do our best to protect you and shield you from that ugliness but that will be a time when we aren’t there. When you become aware of your skin tone, of the way you’re perceived.

It will be in that moment that you still hold your head up high, that you don’t respond with anger or violence or fear but respond with the confidence of knowing where you come from, who you come from and who you are.

Text books will tell you that slavery never existed.

Schools will tell you that the Civil War was over States Rights.

Teachers will want to silence you if you ask too many questions.

Slavery did exist.

The Civil War happened because they wanted to keep us in chains.

Ask all the questions you want and I will have your back.

I want you to grow up watching your mother laugh, watching us be affectionate. I want you to know that it’s cool to love a woman, to need a woman, that they are not easily replaced. I don’t want you to sexualize them before you even know what sex should be. I won’t tell you it’s cute when you grab a woman on her ass. I won’t smile when you sing words to songs you shouldn’t be listening to. I want you to understand that love is an amazing feeling and has nothing to do with your hormones.

I’ll never be your friend but I’ll always be someone that you can come to and talk to about any and everything. I won’t judge you or curse you out but I will tell you when you’re wrong. I will tell you when you have to live with the consequences of your actions. And then I’ll hug you, I’ll hug you because my father never hugged me and I grew up thinking that made me tough.

There’s nothing tough about hiding your emotions. Nothing tough about needing to cry, about wanting to cry but holding it in because you don’t want to be seen as weak. There’s nothing soft about hugging your mother or calling her when you’ve had a bad day. You won’t know what it feels like to have to do it on your own blindly. To have to search for answers. We will be here to give you the blueprint so that when you go into this world you won’t be blindsided the cruelty of it.

I’ve been a lot of places. Traveled and enjoyed their cultures, their food, their music but I’ve also collected books in each of these places. Books to teach you, books to make you want to explore the world one day. I read to you while you’re in there baking, I rub her stomach and tell you about the beaches of Belize. I kiss her belly and tell you about where Langston Hughes studied in Paris and where Eddie Murphy ate steak off a models back. I talk to you because I want you to know the sound of peace when you hear your father’s voice.

Your biggest responsibility as my son will be being yourself. I’d love for you to love reading and writing and boxing. But if you end up loving dance and painting, I’m going to support you.

The first time your mother heard your heartbeat on a monitor she cried. Not like one of those sweet teary eyed cries but an actual ugly cry. I didn’t cry, I didn’t shed a tear. I just closed my eyes and said a prayer that you make it into this world okay.

We Aren’t Our Grandparents; Not Sure If That’s A Good or Bad Thing

When I was growing up my bedroom was right next to the living room and there were so many nights I would hear my grandmother and grandfather sitting in the living room talking. It was their routine. My grandmother would sit and read her bible and my grandfather would wait until the news went off and join her while she fixed him something sweet to eat.

Most nights I’m not sure what they talked about but I know they had very few secrets if any and they were each other’s sounding board. The thing about their generation is that they understood at some point your family evolved. Your immediate family went from your mom and dad and brothers and sisters to your husband or wife and your children. Your secrets and concerns stopped being between bestfriends and siblings and started being with your husband or wife.

Our generation has moved away from that and I can’t tell anyone reading this whether or not that’s good or bad, what works for you and your relationship works for you and your relationship but I can tell you that it can’t help that we don’t have that same sense of closeness and loyalty anymore.

It also works on the opposite in. My grandparents and that generation, the women didn’t ask a lot of questions and in a lot of cases, they didn’t have a lot of options. If they found a man that had a good job and was a good provider they didn’t divorce him no matter his flaws. Our women are different, they have jobs and careers and in a lot of cases are more financially stable then the men they’re with. There isn’t that same sense of accepting whatever he brings.

How cannot that not be a good thing?

I wish I could work and not worry about my wife working but we don’t live in that world anymore. You need two incomes and when your woman has to work how often can you come home to a homecooked meal? It’s the last day of 2017 and I haven’t one time this year.

Like I mentioned in the beginning, there’s no right or wrong answer but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a happy medium.

In case I get the feeling to write at 10:00pm on my cell phone this will more than likely be my last blog of 2017. So let me leave anyone reading with this thought.

Generations may change, cost of living and eras may change but the bond that a man and woman share will never change. If you find yourself questioning the priorities you share with a person you need to talk to them, make sure you’re on the same page. Often times we spend so much time analyzing that we forget to put down the cell phones and laptops and talk.

Do more of that in 2018.DSC_0341(1)

The Week Houston Stood Still

I was born the year Hurricane Alicia hit Houston. My grandmother would tell me stories about us not having lights and being flooded in for a week or so. I was only around six months old so I don’t remember any of it but I’ve often wondered what it must have been like for them. The stress, the fear, the anxiety, the nervousness.

On Thursday night I came to work for a 6:00pm to 6:00am shift. I haven’t been home sense. I have no idea if my house is underwater, I have no idea if it’s perfectly fine. What I have come to accept is that I’m going to survive either way. What I’ve come to accept is that my city will be bigger and better than before either way.

I feel like I haven’t felt the warmth of my woman in months and it’s only been a weekend. I feel as though I haven’t seen my mother’s smile in years or heard my God Children’s laughter. I’m constantly cold because we’re all constantly wet. I’m constantly checking my phone to make sure no one I love is stranded or hurt. I’m constantly looking out of windows and doors hoping to see sunlight or clear skies. I say these things not to complain but to say that we’re all feeling the same emotions. The same sense of helplessness, of loss, of uncertainty.

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I’m working with a Hispanic guy who’s father and sister are trapped in Monterrey, Mexico. A Kenyan who now lives in Katy, a Ethiopian that lives down the street from where I grew up but in the gentrification section. I Mexican guy that doesn’t speak Spanish and loves comic books and tattoos. These are the five men I’ve shared food with, walked in waist deep water with, told everything would be alright when they’re worried about their families. There have been no conversations about elections, about race or about status in life.

Everyone ten minutes or so I hear helicopters flying overhead. I see alerts on my phone for flash flooding. Every time I look out the backdoor I see that the water has risen just a tad bit more. None of this scares me, none of me makes me second guess coming to work or not leaving when I had a chance. I think about the roads we closed and what would have happened had we not and someone drove into that water. I think about responsibility and sacrifice.

We all have a role to play, be safe out there.

Why Aren’t You Married Yet?

FB-Ring.jpgIt’s in poor taste to ask a woman her age.

It’s sort of not cool to ask a married couple when they’re going to have children.

Why do we really care when someone is going to move out of their parents’ home?

I can list a dozen different questions in a dozen different areas of life that aren’t probably the coolest questions to ask but people ask them anyway. Let’s add one more to the list.

“When are you going to get married?”

There are several reasons why people ask.

  1. They can be family and friends that are generally interested in your happiness and they want chubby babies to hold and put on Facebook and Instagram.
  2. They can be friends that think he/she is wasting your time and they’re asking you the question so that you can see he/she is wasting your time.
  3. Their relationship sucks and they are married or aren’t married but either way they see in you two what they want so it makes them want it for you.
  4. People are just nosy.
  5. If you’re too impressive in life it intimidates people. They start to look for reasons to pick you apart. If they can’t do it on a singular level they’ll do it on a relationship level.

 

I’m not naïve to the fact that friends have conversations. That guys talk at work or in the barbershop and girls talk in group text and over drinks. I’m not blind to any of this at all, so I know the question will get asked, especially when you’ve been dating someone for a while. What I don’t get is when it comes from complete strangers or people you aren’t cool with.

My mom wants to ask me why we haven’t gotten married, it’s my mom. Her aunt or best friend wants to ask me, those are people that love me. A random co-worker that sees a picture or reads a blog wants to ask me? Who sent you? I’m not cool enough to insert meme’s into my writing but if I was I’d insert one here.

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This may sound cliché but there’s no right or wrong way to do marriage or love. I’m sure you’ll read a hundred different experts tell you they have the answers. Most of those experts have been divorced three times and probably don’t slap their wife on the ass when she’s leaving the house. Some people get married in 3 months and they thrive and some get married in 3 years, either way it’s their decision. I get it, believe me I do, we let people in our lives via Social Media and they care. I know it’s become cool to “give no f*cks” and to say, “I’m not on social media like that,” but if you have a smart phone and have to deal with Houston traffic, you probably are on social media like that.

The next time someone that doesn’t know my middle name or wouldn’t call me if they hadn’t or from me in a month asks me, “When are you going to get married?” I’m going to start to ask some questions back. “When are you going to stop commenting on pictures of women that look nothing like your wife?” “When are you going to tell your kids to stop asking to play with my phone? My games are for me, not them.” “When are you going to respect your marriage?” Nothing to shady but just enough so they understand that it’s not okay.

The Cowboys lost last night and the Texans won so that’s always good too.

There’s A Difference Between Being Selfish and Doing What’s Best For You

Don’t let people try and make you feel guilty or selfish because you don’t want to go along with their wishes or agenda. Children are a perfect example of this, especially in work environments. Do you know how often I’ve had men come to me and say, “My son has a game this weekend or my wife can’t pick the kid up from daycare so I can’t work late. I know you don’t have kids so can you stay?” If you say no people look at you like, “Oh my God, you’re so selfish.” How am I selfish because you and your wife didn’t plan better? Why is you having to pay a late fee at the daycare anymore important that me wanting to watch Netflix and take off my pants?

Having a sick mother or a grandmother that can’t drive and you can ask for some help financially but you can’t pick her up to take her to the grocery store, that’s selfish. Putting your mother in a elderly community where they have doctors, resources, where she won’t have to be at home by herself all day; maybe people judge you for that. But sometimes doing what’s best for you and being a little selfish go hand in hand.

We’re all somewhat selfish even if our selfishness is rooted in selflessness. Say someone works at a shelter and they feel as though people aren’t donating enough. Isn’t it sort of selfish and a little arrogant to feel like a person should not buy a plane ticket or a new coat but instead donate that money to the homeless? It’s their money, they worked for it, whether they want to throw it at strippers or spend it on a steak, that’s their right. And if they only want to give 20 dollars to your cause, so be it. Unless it’s family or someone that has been there for you; very few people owe you anything.

Society has a way of making you feel like doing what’s best for you is selfish. Your family is struggling, your brother lost his job, your sister is depressed; so you have to turn down a dream job to stay home and help. You have to give up on your dreams because it would be selfish to not be there. In 10, 20 years when you’ve realized that you haven’t lived the life you wanted because you were so busy taking care of everyone else; that regret will eat you alive. What so many people fell to realize is that you can help the ones you love so much more by being selfish. By building and growing and in the end you help them build and grow. As opposed to all of you struggling together.

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Author Demez F. White

Why Are We So Quick to Demonize Black Women? Why Are Black Men So Silent? The Korryn Gaines Story

korryn You know what I’ve noticed these past couple months, with almost 100% certainty if I say anything praising or defending black women I will get a get a man that disagrees with me. He’ll say something like, “You’re pandering to them” or “You’re just telling them what they want to hear.” I’m often confused because most of my statements aren’t the kind of statements that cause friction but none the less these guys come at me guns blazing.

I know four things about the Korryn Gaines story.

1. She has a 20 minute video where she was pulled over and it doesn’t make her look good. People have seen that video and decided she deserves whatever happened to her.

2. The police lied about getting the key from the super and kicked in her door. They shot first when she was holding a child.

3. In Houston about a month ago the police were shot at and after an 8 hour standoff things ended peacefully. In Norfolk, Virginia there was a 7 hour standoff with a gunman and police and things ended peacefully. But after 6 hours the police that accidently broke a guy’s spine decided this woman was a threat.

4. A woman that lived on social media has all her social media deleted right after she’s gunned down?

I’m a smart enough man to know two things. The first is I’m not going to sit on this computer and condemn police for a murdering a black woman when I don’t know what happened in that apartment. The second is I’m not going to condemn a black woman for provoking police when they kicked in her door over parking tickets. I have a ticket for an expired inspection sticker, should I expect a SWAT team to kick in my door, shoot my dog, pull my girl half naked into the front yard and handcuff me? That’s what we’re doing over parking tickets? We get so caught up into wanting to make people victims or heroes that we tend to forget most of these violent encounters start over the smallest things. Parking tickets? Selling CD’s? Selling DVD’s? A broken taillight? When does common sense overtake the need to be right?

“Korryn Gaines used her son as a shield?” “Korryn Gaines should have never had a gun?” Even though she was in her own home. Korryn Gaines wanted to fight with the police even though they kicked her door in. Do I believe black men need to stand up and scream Black Lives Matter and get angry over Korryn? No, not at all, but I do believe that we should just accept she was in the wrong and move on? When police shoot someone they often lie about the circumstances, especially when there’s no video. This is a fact. So why are we so quick to throw this woman away?

People will accuse me of pandering to women for saying what I’m about to say but I know it’s the truth. Had that been an attractive black man in a room protecting his cute son with a shotgun from officers that kicked in his door over parking tickets black women all over this country would be shouting his name! Black men would be posting Malcolm X quotes and talking about how he went out protecting his family! We would give him not only the benefit of the doubt but even if he was in the wrong we’d make him a legend. Not only are people not waiting for the facts to come out but they are calling this woman everything from a fool to a coward to a crazy person. I don’t need anyone to answer me but I’ll ask anyway. If the roles were reversed would black women be this silent for us?