7 AM. My wife lies atop a raised platform, like a human sacrifice. I watch helplessly as her hands claw at her altar, her head raised to the sky as she unleashes a ragged scream.
The birthing process is just about the most brutal thing there is. More brutal than the album art for Cannibal Corpse’s entire discography. Because as grotesque as Tomb of the Mutilated or Butchered at Birth are to look at, it’s another thing entirely to see it happening right in front of you.
7:09 AM. Blood and other wretched fluids are gushing out in torrents from her nether regions, pooling in pus-colored puddles on the floor. Amid her anguished cries, I somehow come to the grim realization: “I did this.”
Birth has all the gruesome aesthetic qualities the public generally associates with metal music: all blood and gore and growls. But no one talks about the emotional brutality involved, and how that affects a guy whose taste in extreme music should, by some strange logic, prepare him for this kind of thing.
7:13 AM. A swarm of mask-wearing women in powdery blue robes push me aside. They crowd around my wailing wife. I know the moment’s close; I can taste it hanging in the air. I hardly realize it, but I’m holding my breath.
Except metal doesn’t celebrate the mushy stuff the way other popular music does. Metal ballads usually don’t go the “luv u 4ever” route, and if does it does so at arm’s length, veiled by virtuoso guitar solos and high-pitched vocals.
7:14 AM. My wife screams in a way I only hear in my worst nightmares.
Metal simply didn’t prepare me for this.
7:15 AM. Then, from the blood and goop and assorted viscera, something emerges. A quivering, squalling mound of flesh the color of a week-old bruise is slapped against my wife’s chest. As I crane in for a closer look, it hits me: this is my baby.
It’s a collaborative effort, the creation of a child. Like making an album, maybe. I mean, you get a similar feeling of gratification at the end of it, right? Except my contributions in the nine months since have been minimal. I’ve input the equivalent of hitting the record button, that most basic of creationary functions, and left the majority of work to my wife. And now I know it’s my turn to reciprocate.
Minutes later. She’s slimy; she’s crying. She looks kind of otherworldly. Someone has severed her umbilical cord – it might have been me, but I’m not quite sure. It’s all happened so fast. It isn’t until I’m sitting down after the whole ordeal, cradling my newborn daughter in my arms, that I’m able to collect my thoughts. “I did this,” I remember. “I helped make this happen.”
Okay, so I may be cranking up the experience to an 11, but that’s artistic license for you. It works for Alice Cooper, doesn’t it? Just dial this blog post down to 6 or 7 maybe, and you’ve still got some pretty honest source material.
Still, there’s no other way to slice it – birth is brutal, man. I may not have been actually having the baby, but I got the experience. I bought my ticket and the goddamn t-shirt. And it’s a shirt I’ll be repping for the rest of my life.
Life as a Mostly Metal Dad
Being a dad and being metal doesn’t seem like the most natural fit. I can’t think of a single metal song that captures the feeling of fatherhood. Like, as soon as James Hetfield pens a song about how much he loves his kids, Metallica’s probably run their course. Not to say that he couldn’t, it’s just not what I’d expect a Full Metal Father to do.
Sometimes I can think back to that exact moment I saw the wrinkled, purple blob that was my kid and I just start tearing up. Not very metal. Maybe if I were more than “Mostly Metal” I’d be able to keep it together. Then again, I never could commit to much more than that. I took too good of care of my black band shirts and hair; my jeans never had any rips. So this normal-ish dad thing might work out just fine.
Maybe it’ll be the same for you. If you too end up all misty-eyed at the birth of your child, you might be Mostly Metal, like me. Which means we’ve got a lot to look forward to, and we may need each other to get through the dark times.
So come on back to this blog; at the very least we can trade mixtapes. So long as we both know it’s okay to cry.
I’ll bring the tissues.