October 7, 1985 was my day. My huge baby body was ripe to be birthed. My sweet momma laid on the hospital bed like a beach-ball smuggler caught in the act. Two pink fleshy scars that my older sisters left behind stretched across her stomach like whip marks. My mark would soon be added. The extended family sat in the waiting room guessing if my big mass would be a boy or a girl. My dad, Billy Stan Sr., stood by Mom’s side and prayed to Jesus for a healthy baby (boy). In his defense, two daughters and a wife was enough estrogen for one household. He needed at least one person in our family who might like sports, wouldn’t need tampons, and wouldn’t bring
stupid teenage boys home to meet him. The last comment refers to my sisters, not my mom.
The hour came. The doctors knew they couldn’t get at me the conventional way. Had I been given the choice, I would have stayed in that warm, safe womb forever. I was holed up good and ready to fight anything that came through that tunnel. In my baby Rambo voice, I shouted out to them, “If you want me, you gotta come and get me!” So they conspired, the clever bastards. At about 7:30 that morning, in a well choreographed offensive move, they pulled me up out of her belly. An aerial attack! I never saw it coming. They cut my momma open and ripped me out kicking and screaming. Roughly translated, I said something like, “Holy Cold! What the…whaaaaa!!”
After the enforced break up of baby-me and my mother’s womb, the doctor lifted my body to God like Kunta Kinte (the pasty white version). The clouds rolled back, a heavenly light shined down on my face, and the angelic choir was heard throughout the hospital. I had arrived. I’m pretty sure it was a glorious moment for the entire world…though my memory is a little hazy. Sources tell me it was maybe a little less celestial than that…agree to disagree.
Defeated, but alive, I was one of them now—a prisoner of war. They laid me on a cold table and judged my body. They unwound me from my fetal position. My legs were pulled straight, my fingers were stretched and counted to make sure I would work. Cold machines poked me, measured me, and searched my insides for problems. I screamed baby profanities at them. The world so far was terrible. It was uncomfortable, it smelled weird, and strange doctors were staring at me and murmuring a strange language. They were definitely planning something.
When the doctor held me up for my mother to see—her first and only son, her little Billy Jr., her sweet baby child—the first thought that came to her mind was, “Holy cow…I hope that is a boy.” It’s true. I was not the prettiest baby in the world. I was ten-pounds-four-ounces. I looked like a sumo wrestler baby who ate the cute babies for breakfast. My face was so fat that my eyes squished into tiny slits. My body was as wide as it was long, which is never good (at any stage in life). I was a big ball of wrinkled fat and sheer genius—I’ve outgrown both. The doctor said he had never seen shoulders so broad before. He prophesied that I would one day be a linebacker. (Free safety, Appalachian State University ’04-’08. Good guess, Doc.)
While I protested the cold, my dad cried his eyes out (thanking the Lord for a “healthy baby”) and my newly deflated mom, relieved that her child was an ugly boy instead of an ugly girl, waited eagerly to hold me. The story goes that I kicked and screamed like a madman. But then they handed me to her. She whispered my name…and I hushed.