It was midnight—the twelve o’clock hour between the closing of the 25th and the creation of the 26th. I couldn’t have been more excited or more scared if… Well, if anything.
As we entered the parking lot of the local hospital it reminded me a little of Norman Bates’ home. Set on a small hill. The building was old then (it’s half condemned now). It was dark (the sky, not the building). It just sort of loomed up and leaned away from us. We found a parking space. And the following dialogue may never have even happened.
“Are you ready for this?” I asked
“Doesn’t matter, does it.” She responded.
That’s my wife: Practical. I love her. I know we had some banter, I just don’t recall the details of it. Funny how the mind works. I can tell you how many rubber worms were in my garbage can of slime from when I was five years old, but I cannot tell you the words that my pregnant wife and I exchanged before entering the hospital. Go figure.
It was four rubber worms, by the way.
She was nine months pregnant. There was no hiding it. Getting her out from behind the steering wheel was entertaining (I know what I wrote). That’s right folks, my wife drove herself to the hospital. Now, before some of you freak out—for different reasons—let me explain a thing or two: First, our car was a 1978 Pinto. It had peculiarities. It was a good car. It lasted us for as long as we needed it to. I am happy we had it. No real complaints. The other thing is this: I don’t drive a stick very well.
I can drive a stick. I can do it well enough to get from point A to point B, but, it just might not be very smooth getting into first gear or going into second. Add that to a car that sometimes will have the gas pedal stick due to a fray in the wire cable and a few other quirks that made driving a unique experience, and, well…That said, my wife did not want to have to worry about that. It was easier for her—mentally, emotionally, physically—to just get behind the wheel herself and drive the three of us to the hospital. So, she did.
We walked in, found the front desk, and let them know why we were there, “It’s scheduled.”
The nurse smiled and helped us get settled in, paperwork, questions about what we were to do, was it our first?, and so many more things for my wife to do. Seriously, she did it all. I was useless. I stood there, held stuff, and worried. I look back on that time in my life and wonder how we did it. I see photos of myself and I look like I’m twelve. It’s ridiculous. But, there we were. My wife. Me. And, our first child soon to be on her way into this world.
Because it was our first, our doctor had suggested that we plan the birth rather than let the child get too big and possibly create complications. Less likelihood of complications? Count us in! Yeah. Good doctor. Smart doctor. We liked that doctor. Yeah, so, planned birth. That meant we had to arrive at midnight so the anesthesiologist could just arrive at their normally scheduled arrival work time. Fine. I get it. Midnight it is. Midnight it was.
The procedure began. All the normal stuff that is supposed to happen, happened. The doctor came and went, checking on my wife, and seeing how things were progressing. Slowly. They progressed slowly. So very, very slowly. The doctor tried a few things to help speed things up. Nope. Our daughter wanted to stay indoors just a little longer. She was not ready to join the world—yet.
A whole day went by. I kid you not. No joke. A whole day. Twenty-four hours! Still no baby.
At one point the doctor had come in, gave something to my wife to help her sleep, and in that sleep-state she began to do the rhythmic breathing. I thought that she had woken up and was breathing because she was supposed to, so, I held her hand and coached her. She had been doing that breathing pattern all day, so I suppose that, in her sleep, she didn’t know any better. Her mind must have figured that she should just keep doing it. And, I, not knowing she was actually asleep, just coached.
Now, if you dare to wonder, “How could you not have known?” Well, let me explain, my wife was exhausted and had not always answered every question posed to her during the day. When I asked, “Are you awake?” and the response was the patterned sound of heeh, heeh, hwoo, yeah, I assumed she was awake. Enough to breathe, not enough to answer. I wasn’t taking chances, I sat, held her hand, and coached all. night. long.
Eventually, birthing began. I will not go into details, because not only is it private and (in my opinion) not important, it is not relevant to the point of the story. Twenty-seven and a half hours after arriving at the hospital my first child, my oldest daughter came into the world. She was—and still very much is—magical.
I recall a point when I had fallen asleep in the chair next to my wife’s hospital bed, sort of waking to the sound of people entering the room, and hearing my mother say, “Don’t wake him, he’s had a rough night.” I also recall thinking, “I had a rough night?!? I didn’t just give birth.” But, I wasn’t going to argue. I was tired. I went back to sleep.
If you have ever had that experience… the wonder and awe of holding your first child in your arms… just wow… so many emotions… She never got older—for me. But she did. And, this is her day.
She grew up, went to college, got married, became a parent, graduated college, got a divorce, met a new guy, found fulfilling roles in work and life that make her happy, and continues to discover and impress.
While there are things that we don’t agree on—and I don’t know what parent/child relationship doesn’t—I still love her, and I hope she does me. She keeps me in her life, and I want her in mine. She was asked for. I don’t care if you believe in a higher power or not, I asked God for my daughter, and I got her. She is amazing. She is so much more than she realizes. And, from that tiny little bundle that eventually showed up, to the woman she has grown to be, she is my daughter and I love her.
Happy birthday, princess. I will always love you.