Today is my daughter’s first birthday and all I can think about is the movie Fight Club

***This was originally written in March, 2011. I could never bring myself to publish it, until now. Happy First Birthday, my little peanut.***

“Push on my belly.” Sounded like a simple request, but after the pushing and prodding something needed to be done. When your wife is a doctor. it is hard to listen to her give herself medical advice. Was all the pain and nausea simply symptoms of pregnancy, or something more serious, like appendicitis?

We hopped in the car and drove twenty bumpy and agonizing minutes to triage at the Women’s Hospital.

While waiting in the triage room there was not much to do. Over the course of the next few hours, we flipped through several TV channels: American Pickers, Scared Straight, Wizard of Oz, and finally landed on the movie Fight Club. I clearly remember one scene where Brad Pitt’s character (Tyler Durdin) holds a gun to the back of a guy’s head and threatens to shoot him. After a few minutes Tyler lets the man go. He then goes on to talk about the new appreciation that the man will have for his life. He says, “Tomorrow will be the most beautiful day of Raymond K. Hessel’s life. His breakfast will taste better than any meal you and I have ever tasted.” This struck me as a deranged but somewhat understandable comment.


Three hours in triage later the answer was clear, appendicitis. It’s relatively simple procedure (at least that is what i was told) but everything becomes a little more complicated when your wife is fourteen weeks pregnant. At 1AM she was wheeled away for surgery.

She returned to the room at 4AM.

After a trouble free surgery and a short night of rest it was time to check the baby’s heart beat. First, the doctor brought in a Doppler machine, but that did not work. No heartbeat was heard. “Don’t panic, don’t panic,” was all I could say to myself, over and over. I gauged our obstetrician’s behavior to help me know how to react. He was calm, so I stayed calm.

In came the ultrasound machine. After a minute of fumbling around to get set up, we could see the baby. The baby was not moving and no heartbeat was visible. Panic began. So many thoughts raced around in my head. Calm down, be strong for your wife. Calm down. Calm down. Again, I looked at the doctor to help measure my own reaction, this time I could see the fear in his eyes. I gripped my wife’s hand even tighter.

What happened next was the saddest moment of my life. The doctor said, “I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.”

That’s it. There was nothing left to do but cry.

While this was going on, another doctor, a close friend of my wife’s, ran to grab a different type of ultrasound probe. They decided to try a different probe, hoping for different results.

Then, all of the sudden, you could see MOVEMENT. Wonderful, beautiful movement! Our little baby was fine and kicking away. I have never felt the range of emotions that I felt that morning. From the deepest darkest place to a feeling of pure joy. Amazing! Unbelievable! Miraculous!


Tyler Durden made a good point. Never in my life have I appreciated the joy that is watching a baby move inside my wife’s belly quite like I experienced that morning.

Even though it was a stale bagel with a plastic tub of peanut butter smeared in it, Tyler got it right… my breakfast tasted better than any meal I have ever tasted.


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