This coming October will mark the 15th year on earth for my son. He is smart, kind and watching him grow up has inspired me as a man and as an artist. He shows up in my sketches, illustrations and cartoon doodles. I even drew him once before he was born, much to the dismay of my wife.

Fifteen years ago, my wife and I were anxiously awaiting the birth of our first child. We didn't know if it was a boy or a girl and we couldn't wait to find out. Her due date was November 12th but we were both sure that that was much too long; according to both our calculations and the size of my wife. On the evening of October 14th, my wife started having contractions. Feeling both excited and scared, we got our things together and headed to the hospital. The hospital we were traveling toward wasn't the one we were supposed to deliver in but we were afraid to make a longer drive. After arriving at the emergency room, the doctor examined her and determined that she was indeed in labor. Because she was a month early (by their calculations), the doctors eventually decided to stop the labor with a drug called Brethine. Her contractions slowed down, then stopped completely, sending us back home. We were dissapointed but we knew it was for the best.

The next evening I asked my wife is I could draw our as yet unseen child on her protruding belly, to help me better visualize the impending offspring. Her reply was quick and to the point: NO! On October 18th, despite the Brethine, she started having contractions again and once again we lept into Go mode. We quickly gathered our things and began the 40 mile drive to the hospital that we were scheduled to deliver in. Upon checking in and getting examined, it was determined that she was in early labor. She was feeling some serious back pain and the doctor suggested we walk around to help relieve it. As we walked, I massaged her bulging belly to encourage the labor along. After six hours of this, the contractions slowed down and the labor stopped. Once again we drove home dissappointed.

I, by nature an not what you would call a patient person. As a child it was always torture for me to wait until Christmas day to open my presents. This baby was for me like a giant wrapped present that I had been waiting to open for far too long, so a week later I again timidly bridged the subject of the belly drawing. This time my wife surprised me by saying yes. She was either taking pity on me, or the need to visualize the growing person inside her outweighed the embarrassment of being my canvas.
Excitedly I gathered my supplies. This was the chance I had been hoping for, and believe me, I was ready. At the doctor's office, while waiting for our doctor to appear, my wife and I had spent countless minutes gazing at posters depicting children in utero. Added to that was my active imagination and four years experience as an art instructor. In short, I came to this challenge almost as well prepared as Michelangelo before he began the Sistine Chapel. "Will it come off easily?," my wife asked nervously as I was preparing to make the first stroke. "Of course," I answered, "they are water-based markers, it will all dissapear with a little soap and water."
I began by drawing the uterous, (people who haven't had children or are squeemish may choose to stop reading here) I then proceeded to the child it'self. I drew the umbilical cord and capped it all off with the placenta. I used several colors and articulated finite details such as veins and eye lashes. It isn't bragging to say the final work was a very realistic rendering of a child in utero. My wife and I looked at her belly in amazement. Neither of us could speak for a moment. I went to sleep happy that night, knowing that my artistic skills had enabled us to visualize the child we both longed to see.

At around 12:30 a.m., she woke me to say that her water had broken. After a happy hug, she immediately turned her attention to the masterpiece on her midsection. "I'm taking a shower," she said, "You load the car." I had just come back in after taking the suitcases out when I heard my name called, or more accurately, screamed. Worriedly I raced into the bathroom to encounter my wife, standing in the shower, frantically scrupping her belly with a back-brush. "It's not coming off, " she said, with a wild look in her eyes. I was so relieved that she was o.k., that I stood for a moment at the bathroom door laughing at our predicament. Wrong move. A tip for fathers-to-be out there: Never laugh at a woman in labor. Especially one holding a back-brush!
After another 20 minutes of scrubbing, soaping and loofah-ing my wife, it was evident that my artwork was going to be seen by a few more people than we'd intended and after another forty minutes of my wife declaring that "I'd" be delivering the child, I finally convinced her to get into the car. Well, I like to think that my threatening to carry her did the trick (not an easy feat considering she'd gain 50 pounds), but actually it was probably the increasing intensity of the labor pains that provided the impetus.

My artwork was the hit of the hospital! In fact the baby "on" her belly seemed to be of as much interest there as the one "in" her belly. Word quickly spread throughout the hospital, and a steady flow of doctors, nurses, janitors and cafeteria workers popped in to "take a peek" at my masterpiece. Let me say this about the whole affair: it evokes much more humor from my wife today than it did at the time.

After 12 hours of labor, we were able to see our beautiful baby boy in the flesh. He was a healthy 8 pounds 6 ounces and looked much like we'd pictured him earlier. My art, on the other hand, looked quite deflated. Within a few days it had totally dissapeared, yet it remains my most memorable artwork to date!

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Kevin, funny I should run in to this post today of all days. Today, after our audio session, Jona told the story of her first encounter with you. hehe The first time she met you she was pregnant with I believe her second child. You had just drawn the picture of your son on your wife's belly because she wouldn't do a tummy-cast. So funny and just another addition of how you touch lives in positive fields of energy!

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