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Kevin Cullen

Waiting for the unknown

Waiting for the Whitey Bulger jury to come back is rough, especially for his victims’ families. Everybody’s punchy. Rumors run around the courthouse like 4-year-olds jacked up on Mountain Dew.

It reminds me of waiting for my first child to be born 20 years ago this month. You just never know when it’s going to happen and what it’s going to look like.

In the case of my first child’s entrance into this world, I sort of messed up timing the contractions.

I didn’t do it on purpose. There was a really interesting infomercial on at 3 in the morning, about probably the best steak knives ever made, and I kind of, well, I didn’t time the contractions right.


We didn’t get on the road until after 5 in the morning and, this being Boston, the Expressway was a parking lot.

We were pretty sure we were going to have to name our kid after a state trooper, but my wife’s a trouper and she hung in there.

Even before 6 a.m., the security guards at the Brigham were lined up, like centurions, guarding the handful of parking spots near the front door.

“Hey, mister,” one of them barked, “you can’t park there.”

“My wife’s gonna have a baby!”

“Well, then,” he said, relenting, “you can park there for a minute.”

Brigham and Women’s Hospital delivered 9,000 babies that year. We weren’t that big of a deal.

“I need something for the pain,” my wife said, wincing, taking deep breaths. “I need an epidural.”

A nurse raced into the delivery room, bent down, took one look at my wife, and said, “You’re ready to push.”

My wife shot her a look and said, “I’m ready for an epidural.”

So then the anesthesiologist walked in. He had the bedside manner of Hannibal Lecter.


“I am sorry, lady,” he said, walking away, “but there is nothing I can do,” and he had the gloves off and was out the door before my wife could even yell at him.

As the anesthesiologist walked out, the obstetrician walked in. He seemed like a good guy, and it should come as no surprise that men can be oblivious to everything, including a woman writhing in pain, when they can engage in something as meaningful as idle conversation.

“Have you thought of a name yet?” the doctor asked.

“Nah,” I replied. “We don’t even know the sex yet. We wanted it to be a surprise. It’s the president’s birthday, so if it’s a boy maybe we’ll name him after the president.”

“William is nice,” the doctor said, as in Bill Clinton.

“William?” I said. “Not William. Bubba.”

If my wife could have grabbed me, she would have wrung my neck, but I purposely stayed out of arm’s reach.

After pushing for an hour, my wife was exhausted. She was also despondent.

The doctor and I did not want to bother her so we just talked about the Red Sox.

“I’ve got to have this baby!” my wife said, rather loudly, if you ask me.

It was at this point, watching my wife — sweaty, exhausted, in pain — that I became convinced that if men could get pregnant, there would be no such thing as natural child birth. We’d never do it. We’d all have C-sections. We’re useless.


So, anyway, the doctor and nurse insisted one more good, hard push would do it.

My wife pushed like Sisyphus and, pop, the head appeared. The shoulders followed, and the doctor pulled the baby out with a flourish.

My wife and I looked to see whether we had a son or a daughter. But all we could see was the baby’s behind.

Still, the doctor’s smile was obvious, even behind his mask. He turned our newborn around.

“It’s a Bubba,” he said.

Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at cullen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeCullen.