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.

Trump’s World Is Coming, Get Prepared

Something hit me recently, it came to my attention that most people look at Donald Trump as a character, someone who we love to hate but everything will be okay once he gets out of office. The problem with the mindset is that it doesn’t account for the scale of the damage he can do with simply the stroke of a pen.

Let me give you a cliff notes version of just a handful of the decision he’s made that can literally change all of our lives in a heartbeat.

  • He lifted protections that were in place against banks and wall-street. In the Mid 2000’s when banks were going bankrupt and people were losing their homes. When banks were giving out sub-prime loans, that’s going to start happening again and when it does, there won’t be a bailout this time.

 

  • He’s lifted environmental protections against oil and gas companies drilling in the oceans. This was put in place after those oil tankers lost millions of gallons of gas and destroyed coastal areas in Mississippi and Louisiana.

 

  • This may be the biggest one. Trump will have the ability to shape the Supreme Court and these men and women will be relatively young, meaning they’ll be shaping laws in this country for the next 20 years. Most don’t believe this but there’s a chance Roe V. Wade gets overturned. I’m not even a man that believes in abortions but I do believe women have that right. Could you imagine a world where women had to go to backwoods towns and risk their lives for an abortion?

These are just a few, this doesn’t even mention the immigration issue and the separating of families. The alienating of other countries and aligning ourselves with world leaders that are for all intent and purpose, dictators. This doesn’t account for the school programs that are being shut down.

Trump’s world is coming and it will be a dark place.

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I Don’t Think Thoughts And Prayers Are Working

Today a high school on the outskirts of Houston was shot up. So far they’re eight children dead and four more seriously injured. By the time I post this those numbers could go up. It seems that the idea of gun reform is a lost cause so I won’t beat on that drum today. I also won’t offer thoughts and prayers because if I was a parent, that would do nothing for me. Your thoughts and prayers won’t bring their child back, your thoughts and prayers won’t take away the pain that will hunt them the rest of their lives.

As someone that has a child on the way, I can only imagine what it must be like to shelter and care for and nurture a child. To survive colds and child birth and hurricanes only to have that child gunned down somewhere where you thought they would be safe. Somewhere where you’ve been sending them since they were old enough to learn.

I’ve never seen a parent that didn’t worry about their child riding their bike in the street or getting home from school safely. I’ve never met a parent that didn’t keep one eye on that kid when they were at the beach or pool. I’ve never seen a mother bathe a toddler and turn her back for more than a couple seconds. These are all natural instincts and fears, what isn’t natural is worrying about your child at school.

We as a society offer thoughts and prayers to these parents, we set up GoFundMe’s and marches and as soon as a playoff game comes on or our President says something stupid; we’re on to the next hot topic of the day. We forget that these parents will never get to move on from this, they will never heal from this. You don’t think parents from Columbine still don’t think about their children, that was in 1999. You don’t think the parents from Sandy Hook don’t watch their neighbor’s kids playing in the street or see birthday parties on Facebook and break down? This is real life, real trauma, real heartbreaking stuff.

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When our grandparents pass away after living a full life surrounded by family and friends you can understand it, you can hold their hand and feel that they’re at peace. When children don’t make it into this world, it breaks your heart, you ask God why but it’s life. It’s not supposed to happen in the middle.

I have a little sister that’s in the 11th grade. I have countless cousins and nieces and nephews that are in High School. If I’m being perfectly honest, I never really thought anything could happen to any of them. There are over 20,000 high schools in this country, the odds of one of them being involved in a shooting like this is under 1%. I use to rationalize it that way until today. Until it happens in your city, until you realize Texas leads the nation in buying guns. Now I can imagine it, now I can imagine what these families must feel.

I don’t like what I see when my imagination takes shape. So I can only imagine what their real lives must be life after today. After all the days where something like this happens.

Having Daughter’s Isn’t God Punishing You For Being A Womanizer; It’s Just Your Guilty Conscience

father and daughterYesterday was Mother’s Day and I spent it at my cousin’s house with family. As we were outside talking about life and kids and responsibility we started to talk about children. And how it was a consensus among all the men that having daughters was somewhat terrifying. Not because little girls are worse than boys or grow up to be angry women but because of our guilty consciences.

For all of my life, even before I started dating I knew there were double standards for boys and girls. Men are often times praised for having multiple conquest and women are shamed for it. A guy can be a whore is entire life and if he changes to be faithful to one woman and love her right; the whole world applauds him. On the other hand, if a woman is a whore, that stigma never leaves. That’s an entirely different conversation but just as example.

I’m not sure when this became a thing but it’s probably been around for centuries. Somewhere along the way men got it in their heads that God or fate was cursing them by giving them daughters. Especially if that man was a womanizer. You want to know something funny and sad at the same time? Watch a grown man project all of his guilt and sins and tortured conscience onto an innocent child. Not because she’s doing anything wrong but because in her he sees every woman he ever lied to, cheated on, misused or abused. In her he sees fear, the fear that he’ll have to dry her tears because a man breaks her heart.

As much as we want to believe that having a daughter is karma for the bad you’ve inflected on others; a much easier thought to believe is that maybe there’s no secret revenge plot by God and fate but it was just the sperm that made it first. Maybe instead of projecting your insecurities onto your daughter, you could give her confidence and not let the double standards and misogyny that you were raised with live in how you raise her. Maybe you raise a daughter strong enough not to ever let a man disrespect her like you disrespected women. All of that takes looking inside of yourself.

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The Karate Kid, YouTube and Life Lessons

Fun fact about me, I love scripted television, maybe it’s the writer in me or maybe it’s the fact that nothing is quite as rewarding as not having to wait a week for the next episode. This past weekend YouTube Red, which is YouTube’s original content and streaming service, was offering a one week free trial of their Karate Kid reboot. For some reason I thought it might be interesting and I wasn’t wrong.

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Cobra Kai is set thirty years after the Karate Kid but the way they wrote it and tell the stories you don’t feel like it’s a sequel. It actually stands alone and that makes it ten times better. They add the social media bullying and midlife crisis story lines that appeal to both young and older viewers and more than that, almost every one of the main characters is likeable.

This doesn’t happen often by the way. No one feels stale or inserted into the story line for no real reason. I’m not a TV show critic so I won’t give you a breakdown of each episode or what hits or misses but I will tell you I love the life lessons in this series.

Everyone Has A Story

One of the really cool story lines in this show is that they take us back to 1984. They tell the story of both Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence. Anyone familiar with the movie knows Daniel is the poor kid from the single parent household and Johnny Lawrence is the popular rich kid with the pretty girlfriend and likes to bully. The show takes you behind the scenes to where he was coming from. An abusive step father, a mother that died when he was young. Feeling threatened by a kid that was constantly trying to take his girlfriend. You don’t feel sorry for him but you understand him. This applies to sooo many situations in real life where each side has a story and they believe their story 100%.

I Feel Sorry For People That Peeked In High School

There’s a theme in this entire show that revolves around individuals that had the biggest moments of their lives in high school. Daniel has built a successful business using his karate championship. Johnny is a drunk and has no ambition but constantly has dreams and flashbacks of his glory days in high school. He even drives the same car that he had in high school. Both men have a scene where they’re sitting in a bar looking at the Facebook page of the woman they were desperately in love with in high school. Both wondering where she is and is she happy in their own way.

Be Careful Of the Energy You Feed Children

The secondary story line of the show revolves around high school kids. The rich kids that are bullies and the poor kids that are getting picked on. Through karate the kids love to defend themselves but the part that’s scary is what they become. With miscommunication and constant training that teaches them to have no mercy and strike first the kids become mirror images of what Johnny was in high school. He doesn’t see it until it’s too late and by then the train is off the tracks. Even his own son gets caught up when he realizes his father is teaching these other children but hasn’t been there for him.

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Overall it’s a great show with tons of life lessons and if YouTube continues to put out content of this quality, they’ll become a force to be reckoned with in these streaming streets.

Being Depressed Isn’t A License to Be Destructive

Depression can come and go like the weather. One minute it’s sunny and breezy and you can’t wait to go get a drink on your favorite patio bar and the next minute it starts to storm and you don’t have an umbrella. When you do get in the car, you realize you need gas and the windshield wipers aren’t working like they’re supposed to.

It hits you quick and hard and can be paralyzing to the point where you feel as though you don’t have the mental or physical energy to do anything. It’s in these moments where you have to fight the urge to be self-destructive.

I’m going to let you all in on a little secret. Everyone you know has battled some form of depression or mental illness. It can be something as simple as losing your job or breaking up with a mate. Our brains interpret that pain and hurt as though it’s actual physical pain. When these moments of shock of happen you can’t use them as excuses to be destructive.

“I’m not happy in my relationship,” so I’m going to go find happiness between the legs of someone else. “I’m not getting what I need from my job,” so I’m going to leave work that other people are depending on me to finish undone. These are self-destructive traits and when you wake up from this cloud of depression you’ll have to deal with the consequences that came from your bad decisions.

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I often write that the fundamental problem with most adults, men and women, is that we are unwilling to accept our roles in our own depression and bad situations. It is human nature to look out and see how someone has wronged you. When we should be looking within ourselves. You can be an amazing woman and do everything a man asks but he cheats and you have a right to say it’s his fault. But after you get past the tears, the depression, the anger, there’s a part of you that knows you saw the signs and chose to ignore them. There’s a part of you that knows you looked the other way when things didn’t feel right. You aren’t the one that broke the trust but you are the one that should have been honest with yourself.

Talk to someone.

Be honest about your feelings and allow your mind to pursued your heart out of foolishness.

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.