Today is a special day. Today my little boy turns five years old. And today it is time I told the truth about whom exactly my son is named after.
Anyone who has asked me how Michael James got his name has likely heard this response: James came from both of his grandfathers, who very conveniently have the same first name, giving my husband and I a no-brainer way of making our child a namesake without offending the other side of the family. And Michael was agreed upon because we liked it, we liked the nickname attached to it, and frankly, we thought that Mike Suellentrop sounded like “a hell of a guy.” Mike Suellentrop? He’d give you the shirt off his back. Hell of a guy…Have you seen Mike Suellentrop? Yeah, he’s been working the beer tent all afternoon. Hell of a guy…Oh, Mike Suellentrop’s going to be there? Then it WILL be a party. Count me in. He’s sure a hell of a guy.
But Michael James is actually named after an anesthesiologist. Let me take you back to the year 2005.
When I was pregnant with my first child, I ended up needing a scheduled cesarean section two weeks before her due date because she was breech, and my rising blood pressure meant my doc didn’t want to wait for her to take her sweet time to flip. To be completely honest, I was very okay with that decision. In fact, the only thing I was really worried about was the epidural. I mean, a giant needle piercing my spinal cord sounded worse than being stuck at the DMV wearing a pair of Spanx that are one size too small after just having eaten a Big Mac, sitting next to a guy who hasn’t showered in a week and being forced to listen to “The Electric Slide” song on a continuous loop. Getting an epidural doesn’t sound like something any woman would enjoy, but at least those in labor are already in searing and ripping pain and willing to endure anything that will make them more comfortable again. But me, I wasn’t in labor. I was feeling just hunky-dory, thank you very much. And I didn’t have the distraction of contractions to keep my mind busy, so all I did for the days leading up the surgery was worry about it.
And it didn’t help the morning of the c-section when the nurse who put in my IV was obviously trained in the art of medieval torture. According to her, I had dainty veins. So when my anesthesiologist was ready to put in the epidural, I was deep in prayer that I didn’t also have a dainty spinal cord. And I let him know how nervous I was. He had many words aimed at assuaging my fears, but the thing that put me at ease was when he told me his name. Mike. Mike the Anesthesiologist. My husband and I smiled. We were part of the rebellious few who don’t find out the sex of the baby, so we had our girl and our boy names ready to go. Well, we actually had two boy names. It was down to Brian or Michael, and we figured if baby came out a boy, we would just decide which he looked more like. My husband jokingly said to Mike the Anesthesiologist, “Well, if you do a good job and we have a boy, we’ll name him after you.” But we didn’t have a boy. We had Grace. Still, I was so thankful that our lighthearted conversation about names helped take my mind off of getting the epidural (which really wasn’t that bad, meaning Mike the Anesthesiologist was also a man of his word), and his calming presence in the operating room kept me at peace so that I could fully enjoy the birth of my daughter. Not only that, but he also took the very first pictures of her emerging into the world so that my husband didn’t have to see my innards (ew, awkward). I would remember Mike the Anesthesiologist as an integral part of that special day.
Fast forward to three years later, when I again found myself carrying a breech baby. (What is with my kids and their directional problems?…OH, geez. Now it all makes sense why they never listen to me! They began life disobeying Mother Nature.) When I was scheduling the c-section date with my OB, I sheepishly asked if I could make one strange request. I wondered if I could have Mike the Anesthesiologist there again. My OB laughed, and said he unfortunately couldn’t make that request. I would just have to hope that Mike the Anesthesiologist was scheduled that day, at which time I could ask him to do my epidural if he wasn’t already otherwise engaged. So I hoped.
It was one of the first questions I asked when I got to the hospital. “Is Mike the Anesthesiologist working today?” …holding my breath…No. No he was not. Bummer. So I set off to my hospital room to get prepped for my surgery. And despite rationally knowing that Mike the Anesthesiologist was just one of many, many qualified people who could give me an epidural, I began getting nervous about it all over again.
Until, that is, this sweet little nurse came into my room and said, “You’re not going to believe this…” It turns out that the anesthesiologist who was scheduled for that morning broke her arm, and guess who was filling in for her? Mike the Anesthesiologist! Suddenly I knew everything was going to be just fine. It had to be. And it was.
Of course Mike the Anesthesiologist didn’t remember me, but he was curious as to why he was “requested.” Apparently that doesn’t happen that often in their field of work. So we told him the story, and told him once again that the name Michael had made the cut if baby turned out to be a boy. As I was being wheeled to the operating room, Mike the Anesthesiologist said to me, “Here we go. By the way, what’s the middle name if you have a boy.”
“James, after our fathers.”
“Because that’s my middle name.”
Fifteen minutes later, Michael James came into the world, five years ago today. My Michael may have been accidentally named after Mike the Anesthesiologist, but the fact that he is seems like part of some divine plan, just like the way Mike the Anesthesiologist accidentally became my guardian on that second special day in my life. Who would have known that when we decided Mike Suellentrop sounded like “a hell of a guy” that he would be sharing his name with another “hell of a guy” for whom I will be forever grateful.
I have not seen Mike the Anesthesiologist since that day, but I wonder what he would think of his namesake. Me, I think he is indeed turning into one hell of a little guy.