« Modern Love

My First Son, A Pure Memory | With Sterling K. Brown

2016-08-24 | 🔗

Emmy-nominated actor Sterling K. Brown reads an essay about a new dad and his emotional journey toward fatherhood.

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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which at Quicken loans, dot com, slash, modern love, o from the New York Times and WB. You are Boston. This is modern. The stories of love loss and redemption. I'm your host magnet Chakrabarti, the every pregnancy with its own challenges and mysteries. Those nine months are a lesson in waiting and hoping, and there is a guide book for the intense emotions? P feel along the way. This week's essay written by David loves her ex blurs the emotional terrain of pregnancy and what that can feel like when things go right and when they go wrong stir Kay Brown delivers this week, story he's nominated
an Emmy this year for his portrayal of Christopher Darden in the FX series, the people vs Oj Simpson, American Crime story, Here's sterling reading David loves us essay, my first son a pure memory. The waited until we were in our thirties. To start a family wife and I were having trouble conceiving, leading the sperm tests hormone shots. the other extraordinary measures. Over many months, the process of conception became so technical that when LISA told me she was at last I found it hard to know what the credit after the first ultrasound Came home with a black and white picture of a tiny curled up creature, we put it on the refrigerator my son, the Lima bean at twenty weeks we went in together for the second ultrasound, the technician
made small talk and part his gun, Lizzie them the lights. Lisa lay back on the table. I shifted in my seat with my hands into my pockets and stretched out my legs like a teenager, settling in to watch a movie. As the technician slid, the paddle around on LISA's belly, the image on the computer green, wheeled dipped in blood. Finally, my son's image popped into focus arms and legs folded, he seemed to be Resting on his back as if lie, on the bottom of a pool waiting the spring. To the surface. The technician muttered something hit a button to freeze the image and walked briskly out of the room
a few minutes later and walked a small man wearing a rumpled white coat and steal them glasses his boat. I skew he shut the door behind him. I don't remember exactly what he said. He looked as if someone had left him out in the rain. What we had taken for a frozen image he explained was in fact absolute stillness. We still referred to the man is doctor death, always sad always breaking news. They keep them in a closet somewhere a year later pregnant with our second son, Benjamin, my wife turned the corner at the hospital and saw him at the nurses station. She didn't abrupt involuntary about face. After doctor, death left or midwife arrived to explain that we had a decision to me
did we want to schedule a Dnc, or did we want to induce labor her language was very plain, but it took awhile for me to understand what she was really asking. Did we want the pregnancy to end and a surgical procedure in the outpatient clinic or in the maternity ward? As a stillbirth, we asked whether the where medical advantages or disadvantages die the choice she told us. It was simply a matter of preference. No hurry, let us know on the drive home, we were mostly silent as if exchanging grounds. Lisa lie so what we need to and no more We each assume there was only one possible decision. So when we talked, we talked logistics, appointments to reschedule job responsibilities to manage, We asked questions. We might have asked the midwife about recovery time
Then we realized we weren't in agreement. I was talking about the Dnc, but LISA had decided to give birth incredulous. I asked why she would want to go through. that pain. She said she couldn't imagine just getting rid of our child by surgical procedure. She wanted to see him, so I had to ask myself Why did not want to meet my own son? We pulled into the driveway phone, the hospital turned around and drove back going to the hospital for stillbirth, is the photographic negative of going for a live birth. You carry the overnight bag check into a room in the maternity ward, and so on but they put a marker on your door to alert the nurse midwives that, in this room, things are different.
As a means of inducing labour in a body that is not yet ripe, Porthos and is brutally effective, but it can take a while to kick in After an hour flipping through magazines LISA, and I decided to take a walk no said it might speed things alone: wandering about in the midwinter Dusk, Seattle sinking to the bottom of the grey scale. We were about a quarter mile from the hospital just about to turn around when the drug took hold doubling So far we considered calling a cab, but she decided she can make it. So we stop back with her arm around my shoulders for support time we reached LISA's room. Her contractions were frequent and prolonged. More so than they would have been at the early stages of a natural labor and each surge of It seemed to levitate her body above the sheets,
Last, the anesthesiologist gave her an epidural LISA side and fell back into the pillows. in an hour. She was asleep and shortly after that, I dozed off as well like lab curled up in an armchair at the foot of the bed My first son was born sometime in the gray dawn in such case, is there is no rupturing of waters. The birth sex slips out home and unbroken the bag was a little bigger than my fist. The midwife put it on a towel and with a small pair of scissors, carefully snipped it open. She unfolded. one's limbs disentangling one from the other unfurling him like a new leaf talking softly to us all, the while describing him he was about five inches long. She said he
and and which means his brain and nervous system had failed to develop. He had probably died about a week earlier. gingerly. She handed him to LISA and though it was clear that LISA wanted to hold him long, It was only a minute or two before she passed them to me later, LISA told me she was afraid he would come apart in her hands. Resting on my outstretched hand, he was thin nearly weightless, his skin pinkish gray and translucent. He seemed to me less like a small baby than a scale model of a stripling child. I cradled his head between the ends of my middle and ring fingers. His features peaceful, perfect blank.
feet reaching nearly to my wrist. His toes were like mine and my father's, the second toe longer than the big toe. When we got back from the hospital, the epidural had not quite worn off, so LISA did not have the full use of her legs and clung to me as we started up the front steps Is thinking of ourselves as a public spectacle? How much we look to the neighbors drunk again, we burst out laughing once inside the bleak humor continued and it's a alright, so he won't go to Harvard wasn't until I settled LISA onto the couch that my own legs quit working, I was in mid sentence something about an errand.
The kettle in hand. Halfway between the tap stove, a spasm went through me, I doubled over and I heard my own voice howling from far off the full cry of a child On the day I went back to the small college where I work. I felt myself in another kind of altered state, not above the flow of daily life, but just below its surface heavy settled. Still. I've been thinking about how to tell my colleagues my students, some new, that lesson. I've been expecting a child. Clearly, I had to tell them what happened. Others didn't know about the pregnancy, though just bring the whole story on the mall at once when a parent dies or
partner when we lose someone who has lived in the world, their customs worn path to follow ways to talk about it. But I didn't see any paths with this. Was I supposed to keep quiet and pretend nothing had happened? I couldn't accept that. So I typed out an email message, brief and plain explaining. Lisa had been pregnant, the child had died and we took some comfort from the belief that all he had ever known was love. I stared at the screen for time. Then I clicked on the top of the email program and addressed the message to everyone at the college faculty members, student staff, people. I knew well people, I didn't know it all. I had a fleeting thought that this might be inappropriate, but then I pressed send it felt like a form of protest.
I wasn't really looking for response. I just wanted to get the news out. I couldn't bear to repeat it over and over, and although my departments, administrative assistant, did feel the few complaints about receiving something so personal by a general message, who is this guy, most apparently understood, or at least excused my gesture and then came the outpouring for weeks after people. I barely knew would come into my office gently shut the door and burst into tears. I heard stories of single and serial miscarriages pregnancy carried, nearly full term stillbirths. All the lost lost children. grief hold about, and nowhere to put it down. Some said
never told anyone who would understand. My first son is like the faintest scar on my skin now nearly hidden over time, with a marked disappear, as my skin becomes muddled and wrinkled LISA was planning the barriers ashes about a teaspoonful than the garden part of which was to be his. Instead, she kept his ashes and the bedside table drawer right next to her ass. If afraid he would weaken the night in need her. She felt him close to her. A whisper
spirit, the smallest presence when Benjamin was very young just beginning to speak in sentences. He asked if he had a brother once LISA paused a moment before answering, but by the time she started to speak, he had moved on to something else I love spelling bee my boyfriend and I often play spelling bee together by together. I mean sitting next to each other playing intervention and not cheating. Sometimes when I open up spelling bee- and I see that you have completed a few words on your own, I feel a little betrayed. They may have happened again. Are you? I have one for and who I will send screenshots from spelling bee of inappropriate words that I always get nervous that I sent it to my parents or something
me and my dad. We likes this funny together and I wish Heather out it J C k P, o Jack. Jackpot panic, yeah nice. I'm same as their escape. The digital puzzles editor for the New York Times. You can try spelling bee and all our games at annoying times not come flash games
Sterling K. Brown reading David loves his essay, my first son, a pure memory, there's more after the break living proof. Products save you time and angst just as tests from Boston. Sometimes My husband refers to me as a lion, because when I wake up in the morning, you never know what my hair is going to look like, but it's definitely a lot of work. I got introduced to living proof I just fell in love with their products and then, when their curl line came out, I started using their who are sterling conditioner and their moose the code, love for a free travel,
eyes dry shampoo, with your twenty dollar order, living proof, dot, com, we're back its modern love, the podcast, a magnet Chakrabarti Party, a postscript from the editor of modern love for the New York Times Daniel Jones and the author of this week's essay David loves her well, we lost James in doesn't one and then, a year later, Benjamin was born so he's now, a fourteen year old, six foot tall and rail thin he's like a walking, exclamation and and a lovely, a lovely child. I had written the essay for it was actually a collaboration between three
accurately, where I teach and we were all writing each other's assignments in a creative writing class, and I I had never written a personal I say before, but that was the homework, so I wanted to write something that was close to the bone. That was personal David's essay. Such an example of the power of description and the well chosen detail to carry emotion and it's really a kind of magic. How he, during these emotional parts of this essay, just pulse back and describes how holding his son and unfurling his sons limbs like a new leaf. That's a discreet!
that has stuck with me for years. This is an essay that just moves me as much on the thirty read as the first read and every time a story gets published in modern love, it takes a very private experience and turns it into a very public one David. his wife LISA, had no idea what to expect people all over the world. Read this essay and The reaction was pretty immediate and very strong.
Heard from one man who said that it had been fifty years ago that he and his wife had a stillborn child and they never talked about it. They didn't talk about it at the time and ah he said this was the first time that he'd ever cried about it when he read the piece, so it was really clear to LISA and me that there was a story here. That was something that people really needed to hear. You know the truth is, of course, there's no real accepted way to act or to grieve for any kind of loss. You go through what you go through, and in this case he just does what he feels like he needs to do, and it, sir. serves as this you know, of release valve for all these other people who've gone through similar things that you know what a what a relief that is to be able to tell your store,
and now I'm in a large cent. This is what the column does with essays like this. It it serves as a pressure release for all these people Andrew, similar things and haven't, found the words for them and haven't found a way to tell them. Long story and suddenly, at all just comes pouring out. but we wanted to know more about what David's wife LISA thought. So we Why did her into the studio and asked her what it was like to see David's essay in print? You know, I think it's important to hear from a dad. Most of the literature that I've read anyway is by moms, but you know it's also hard to be the partner of a woman, who's trying and failing to stay pregnant and obviously I'm biased, but I think David's writing is so truthful and compassionate
I am happy to give up a little privacy for his work to be out there yeah. It's really unusual to get a male perspective on a lot of relationship issues and only about twenty twenty five percent of submissions and stores. We publish in modern love for a male perspective, but to really dig deep emotionally is more rare, so I was so pressure to get this perspective from a man. In two thousand fifteen David published a memoir called walking, distance pilgrimage parenthood, grief and home repairs included in that memoir was the story of their second son Benjamin's birth. It was a very challenging one. Halfway into her pregnancy, LISA, almost lost Ben and almost lost her own life. She spent the last few weeks of the present
in the hospital. So when ban finally arrived, I came to mothering with a deep intention to live with no regrets and to clarify. No regrets for me doesn't mean some impossible image of being a perfect mother, because that's crazy. I yell at my kid I get impatient. I get bored, but every day I really try to connect with Ben authentically to let him know that I love him completely. So no matter what happens. He'll know that my love for him is immutable. David, LISA and Benjamin live in Seattle. Lisa teaches yoga and David heads, the Theatre Arts Department at Saint Martens, university Ben, will be a freshman in high school this year. There is a delight that comes after you, ve been through a grieving process. I think
where you start to see what is a blessing in the world. Much more clearly remain of the word unduly anxious parents for all of this, given the context that Europeans were pretty relax. That's David Lobster, author of this week's essay and his wife, LISA Hold, be they ve been married for twenty seven. you also heard from Dan Jones, the edit. Of modern love for the New York Times, special thanks to sterling a brown for reading this week's essay. We asked him what drew him to this particular story. I am a farmer I love spelling bee my boyfriend and I often play spelling bee together by together I mean sitting next to each other playing individual and not cheating, sometimes when I open up spelling bee- and I see that you have completed a few words on your own- I feel a little betrayed. They may have happened again. I have one
and who I will send screenshots from spelling bee of inappropriate words. Then I was getting nervous. I sent it to my parents or something Me and my dad we liked the first together and I wish her out. I it J C K. P, o jack jackpot panic yeah. nice I'm same as earth's sky. The digital puzzles editor for the New York Times. You can try spelling bee and all our games at N Y Times, dot com, slash games of two young boys, and so, I think, being a father
is me I I lost my own father when I was ten years old, so stories of fathers and sons, just sort of speak to the core of my heart and just imagining what it must be like to be in these parents' shoes and acknowledging the existence of your first child and having a second childhood. You know remembering, and appreciating even more that Benjamin had come into their lives. Just spoke to me. It was the story that I had to tell sterling picked up first Emmi nomination for his work on the people, verses, OJ, Simpson, American Crime story find out if he wins on September. Eighteenth heels stars in the New NBC dramedy. This is us which premieres September twentieth, find out coming up next week on the podcast after the break
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the son and a daughter, and that my future with him would not be in New York City. Contrary to what I had long assumed. Finally, I asked the question. I really wanted answered Will I die and later this week on modern love, we hear some of your stories about near death experiences and what they taught you about love. My husband was my anchor during this time. He had to juggle a gravely sick, wife and newborn and a and a toddler I truly felt like I was in a death spiral and I just didn't see it. scenario in which I left the hospital alive. Never miss episode of modern love subscribe on Itunes or your favorite podcast death and sign up to receive modern love, Emil updates at an why times, dot com, slashed loved talk, modern love is a production of the New York Times and Wbur,
NPR station, its produced, directed and edited by Jessica, Albert one parity and Emery Sea in the gear for the modern love podcast was conceived by LISA Tobin are casting consultant, is Amy Lippens, Iris Adler, our executive producer, Daniel Jones, is the litter of modern love for the New York Times and adviser to the show music for the podcast, courtesy of a p dot m, Thanks to buzzes recording in LOS Angeles the chopper body see next week the.
Transcript generated on 2022-04-17.