“I’m not getting in the car, Charlie. Forget it…”
After three moaning hours of “slow dancing” with my wife, being stood up by our doula, having a doctor basically tell me to do whatever I thought was best, calling a friend to assist us who’d recently had a baby, my brother probably losing his mind in the next room and, to top it all off, not having our bags or a printed off “birth plan” prepared since he was now coming a week early, I was ready to say, “Cool. Let’s poop that baby out right here. We have hardwood floors.”
But I’m not one of those people who think like they talk. I think in concepts, not in words. So, it was only a split-second before I said, in a tone of voice that would make God do whatever I wanted and with as much charm as the snake in Eden, “We’re getting in the car now.”
And so we did.
Our doula, bless her errant and absent heart, decided we were wrong about my wife’s contractions calculations that I was frantically emailing her. She must’ve chalked it up to her “those parents-to-be are just freaking” spider sense. Well, she was wrong. And did I mention the birth plan she drew up for us when we first met with her? When I attempted to print it, it said TWENTY pages. We discussed it for 10 minutes. EFF THAT.
But let me back up for just a minute. We know we aren’t medical professionals, and we’re good with that, but we figured we’d earned the right to make some decisions about our birth process, so we wanted a birth plan. We studied harder than the majority of our friends and armed ourselves with knowledge. But we also understood the fluid reality of birth. Situations change. Things develop. There is no EFFING NEED for a birth plan to be 20 pages because I can’t imagine a nurse speed-reading it and saying, “Sounds good to me” upon arrival.
…So, in between minute long contractions every other minute, we scooped up some pillows from the couch and we all struggled to the car. We loaded my wife into an SUV, in the “way back”, as we called it when we were kids. You might call it “the trunk”. She was on all-fours. It was the only position my wife could stay in. It was 12:20am.
I drove like a ninja, if ninjas knew how to drive, racing like a man with a death wish and hearing my wife makes sounds I could never imitate or want to hear her emit ever again. We got to the hospital in about 20-25 minutes and pulled up into the massive parking structure maze. By then, Avara’s contractions were coming less than a minute apart and she basically couldn’t walk and couldn’t talk. We asked the half-brained attendant if they had a wheelchair we could use. Nope. I mean, it’s a hospital for godsakes. Why would THEY have a wheelchair.
We finally made our way to the registration area (having pre-registered for Finn’s delivery). The nurses were very nice and things seemed relatively calm, but the nurse who checked us in, noticed my wife having a nuclear contraction and asked, what would we come to know as, the billion dollar question:
“Are you pushing right now?”
“No… I’ve been trying not to… for over two hours.”
This nurse, as far as I’m concerned, is a Nobel Prize winner. She saw what was happening with my wife, what I’d tried to explain for over 3 hours to others, and she leapt on it. We went immediately to an “active labor room” (by wheelchair) where she checked my wife. “Well, you’re 10 centimeters dilated. You’re going to have this baby,” she said overly perkily. She then turned to me with her eyes wide and mouthed, “I can feel his head.”
Then came the sh*tstorm. Clothes ripped off. Machines plugged in. More nurses (with less bedside manner). More stress. If only I had my 90 page birth plan to tell everyone to shut up and speak in hushed, calm tones. I’d love a whisper, if I could get one. But every time I asked for lowered voices, I got: “YEAH, NO PROBLEM. WE CAN DO THAT” in the style of a Texas trucker trying to beat out his big-rig for sound. They paged our doctor, an installation of some celebrity in his own right at our hospital, but they worried he wouldn’t make it. And remember, from Part 2, he was supposed to go out of town.
At that moment, the heart monitor could no longer find a heartbeat for my son and they began administering oxygen to my wife. I could tell the nurses were getting skittish. I kept myself buoyant by thinking about user error and machine failure. They wanted us to push. Where the hell was our doctor? They told us ‘he couldn’t be reached’ and in came a resident who looked like he was twelve years old, deciding out loud what do with his “patient”. My stomach sank and right then in came our doctor, pulling his sweatshirt off like Superman in a phonebooth with his scrubs underneath. We were both relieved better than any drug they could administered us, just seeing his face. He dove his head down by my wife’s chocha and then popped back up with smile, “So, we’re going to have a baby now!”
Yep. And we did. Three to four pushes later, no more than 20 minutes from setting foot in the Obstetrics wing, my wife produced the most amazing baby boy I’ve ever seen. No drugs. No substitute doctor (he was drop kicked out of the room). No one stronger than my wife. Yes, she did crush my hand to brittle dust. Yes, I did look down and watch my son being born. And no, I wouldn’t take back any of it.
We remained there a day and half afterwards because my son’s oxygen levels were a bit low and our night nurse, Hailee, was amazing. After a rigorous bath and few more suction appointments, he was right as rain and we drove home at about 13 miles per hour the whole way. In Los Angeles. Where people kill each other over driving too slow.
It wasn’t how we planned it. There were many failures along the way. But when you have that baby in your arms, it really doesn’t matter. Nothing matters. Except that perfect baby and his perfect spit-up, all over your clothes.