order of oddfish cover

The Order of Oddfish

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Lucy Momo Kennedy

May 8, 2009


And now I am a father! There’s my beautiful wife and perfect daughter. How lucky am I?

Heather’s contractions began at around 4 am on May 3. We knew enough not to go to the hospital immediately, but spent the day trying to relax as the contractions became more frequent and intense. We walked around Humboldt Park. We cleaned the house. We got everything ready to go. It was a beautiful spring day.

We were playing Scrabble when Heather’s water broke. We’re pretty evenly matched when it comes to Scrabble, but this game she was blowing me away: she had a whopping 336 points to my piddling 187, thanks in part to her two “bingos” (a word that uses all seven tiles in your rack): “regaled” and “encrust.” I was getting clobbered.

Then Heather leaned forward to make a move—she was sitting on an inflatable exercise ball—and suddenly she leaped up. I was flabbergasted to see a gushing torrent coming out of her. “Run and get towels!” she said, and I ran to the bathroom, stupidly coming back with a single face washcloth. “No, all the towels!” The facts were on her side: about two gallons had already splashed on the floor.

We interrupt this story for a Lucy baby burrito:

Moving on! We drove to Illinois Masonic Hospital, and made good time, considering the Cubs game had just let out. Heather’s father—who, conveniently for us, is an obstetrician—walked over to the hospital from Wrigley Field. Soon the contractions got so fierce that Heather needed an epidural.

What followed was surreal. The anesthesiologist rolled in and, out of nowhere, as he was putting the epidural in Heather, started slagging the Twilight series.

“A bunch of nurses were all telling me I had to read this Twilight book,” he says. “It sounds ludicrous to me! Who’s the vampire? Edward? Sounds like a wimp! Now, you got your Wesley Snipes in Blade. Now that’s a vampire. Why do people care about this Twlight vampire?”

As Heather is moaning in pain I find myself saying, “Well, you see, Edward is holding himself back from drinking Bella’s blood because he loves her so much . . . ”

“Oh boo fricking hoo,” says the anesthesiologist as he sticks the needle in Heather’s back. “Give me Blade any day. Wesley Snipes’ vampire has a sword. What kind of powers does Edward have?”

As Heather is enduring unthinkable pain, I’m getting sidetracked into a discussion about the subtleties of the Cullens vis-a-vis the Vulturi. It seemed to me this anesthesiologist’s bedside banter—mocking an phenomenally popular series—was counterintuitive at best.

I start, “You see, in the climax—”

“Where does the climax happen?” demands the anesthesiologist. “In Blade it happens in an ancient temple.”

“Well, the climax between in Twilight happens in a ballet studio . . . ”

“A ballet studio!” hoots the anesthesiologist. “Don’t even tell me any more! I can’t take it! But hey, did you know, Twilight was written by a Mormon?”

“So was Ender’s Game, I think,” I say.

“Say what you will about those Mormons, I guess they sure can write!” cackles the anesthesiologist.

“I’m a Mormon,” says the nurse testily.

“Really?” shouts the anesthesiologist. “But you’re Filipino! They have Filipino Mormons?! Now I’ve heard it all!”

And so on.

Once the epidural was in, Heather felt a lot better. The contractions kept coming, and then it was time to push. Heather went through two hours of pushing, with her father helping out, and me holding her leg, and the doctors encouraging her. During one push, the doctor was sprayed with a blast of blood. “Whoa, okay, okay!” she sputtered, leaping up to change scrubs and wash off. I felt strangely proud of Heather at that moment.

And then, suddenly, Lucy came out all at once—she just kept coming and coming, even as I was watching it was impossible to believe all of Lucy had been inside Heather, it was like watching dozens of clowns get out of a tiny car—and best of all, she actually looked like a baby! Heather and I had watched birthing videos where the baby looks like a bluish-gray, slimy goblin, but Lucy came out looking like a real baby right away!

I had called my parents as soon as we arrived at the hospital, and they’d leaped in the car and driven 6 hours from Michigan to Chicago. So they were able to meet Lucy just minutes after she was born. It was unforgettable. We stuck around the hospital a couple days, and now we’re back at home. Heather’s parents are staying with us for a little while, cooking and helping out with the baby, for which I’m very grateful. I don’t know how we’d get on without their, and everyone’s, help.

Here’s the Scrabble board as we left it. By some trick of divination, can these words somehow serve as a foretelling of Lucy’s life? If we rearrange these words, or write a story that uses all of these words, can we hit some divine truth about her future? A qualified logomancer should make the attempt. (Yes, yes, I know that “Eloi” isn’t a legal Scrabble word, but Heather didn’t challenge it. Neither is “Morlock,” for all you curious H.G. Wells fans. But shouldn’t it be?)

Here’s the racks as we left them. If Lucy ever becomes a half-orc magic user, I hope she uses this glorious name that fortune has provided her:

Yes, “Tid Gobnikt.” Evocative, isn’t it?

OK, enough. Thanks, everyone, for your congratulations and support. And if you happen to stop on by our house with a delicious casserole—why, we wouldn’t say no.