Febrary 5, 2001, 5am
I was in the process of recuperating from the hustle and bustle of a wedding day. My wedding day to be process. The day before, I married my high-school sweetheart, and after the ceremony and reception, then all the photos and doing meet and greets with the guests who showed up, I was tired. It was about 1 am by the the time I fell asleep.
At 5am, when I was woken to the sweet sound of my new bride's voice screaming at me "I THINK MY WATER BROKE!" And I did what just about any man would do in that situation. I freaked out. I started to panic and asking her what she wanted me to do.
So began the process of a very long process. First thing I did was page the midwife. My wife had a thing against doctors and had her heart set on a homebirth (many of our relatives, however, kept advising against it and being the no-backbone people we were, agreed to have the baby in a hospital. We did, however still go with a midwife instead of a doctor because of the personal contact we got, and because it was basically no holds barred in the delivery room. We could do it anyway we wanted.)
The midwife called back almost immediately and I explained the situation to her. I asked if we should go to the hospital, and she told me it was still way too early for that. She told me to make sure that my wife was comfortable, and to wait it out. I hung up the phone, and my wife and I promptly went back to sleep.
When I woke up a few hours later, I found her on the phone telling everyone that she was in the early stages of labor. I'm pretty sure she even called the people at Blockbuster to inform them why we weren't showing up to rent movies every weekend, just in case. This, by the way is a bad idea. If I were to give any young couple expecting a child advice for the birth of their firstborn, it would be this: DO NOT EVER CALL ANYONE TO TELL THEM YOU'RE IN LABOR. Except, of course your doctor/midwife and anyone who is going to be a support person in the delivery room. The reason I say this, is because when you inform people that you are in labor, you then recieve phone calls every 5 minutes from well-wishers to find out how things are going.
So, in order to make sure that my wife got a lot enough rest so that she would be well-rested for delievering the child, my job was to man the phones and inform said well-wishers that "no, she hasn't had the baby yet" and "yes, we will call you when the baby is born."
This went on for two days. Yes, my wife was in early stages of labor for 2 days. We didn't get to the hospital until late February6 but it may even have been late enough to be the 7th, when her constractions were starting to get closer together.
I will say this, a good way for women to help take their mind off the contractions is to sing, or recite a poem out loud. It won't make you not feel the pain. of course, but according to the mother of my children, it helps you to bear it a little more.
My wife, took to humming through the contractions, which resulted in what I thought was a hilarious situation. We recieved a phone call from the midwife who asked my wife how she was handling the contractions. My wife responded, "Oh, not bad. I find humming songs during them helps." At that exact moment a particularly strong contraction hit, and she dropped the phone and ran around the room, yelling "OW! OW! OW! OW! OW!"
So, I picked up the phone, and I heard much laughter and then, "Nice song!"
Okay, back to the hospital. I found out, that jokes are not appreciated in the delivery room. I also found out that apparently the husband isn't supposed to sleep when you're in the delivery room for 14 hours. (I'm pretty sure the picture of me sprawled out on the hospital bed and using a rather large birthing ball as a pillow sitll survives).
So, the night pretty much consisted of myself and my mother-in-law taking turns walking with my wife down the hallway, since we were told that walking speeds up the birthing process. My father-in-law spent most of his time in the waiting room, probably hoping that we'd hurry the hell up.
And then the moment finally came. They had my wife on the bed, and the baby was on it's way out. During the night it never hit me until this point that I was actually going to be a father in the very near future.
Of course, when I get stressed out, I make jokes. Usually at the most inappropriate times. Just as the baby was starting to come out, the midwife turned to me and asked if I wanted to catch the baby. I ran to the back of the room and yelled at my wife, "GO LONG!" To which the midwife responded, "Okay, you are no longer allowed to catch the baby."
Which, was all right with me, really, since I have never in my life held a newborn and I'm sure in my current state of anxiety, might have dropped the baby. So, I think all-in-all, it was for the best.
Then I watched as my child came out of my wife. It's a surreal experience, really, when you see that head come out. Once the shoulders make their way out, that tiny body just basically slips out. And then I saw the midwife holding my child.
Just as the baby came out, I heard a nurse (who really needs to go back to nursing school and retake the anatomy course) yell, "It's a boy!" and my heart leapt with joy. I had a son. A beautiful baby boy. The midwife walked the baby over to me and handed me my son, who was apparently missing his penis. Turns out it was a girl, and I gazed down at this little bundle of joy. I even got to cut the cord (and resisted making any jokes, as this privilege might have been taken away from me as well) and then I started making calls to family members to inform them of our new family member.
I'll never forget my father's response when I told him. "Congratulations, I guess." I was later told that he was in shock from becoming a grandfather for the first time.
It was less than a half hour after I spoke to my mother that she arrived at the hospital. I had the baby in my arms and I asked her if she wanted to hold her. My mother shook her head and said, "No," obviously nervous to hold the child. It took about two minutes before she asked me if she could hold her, and I saw her eyes light up when she looked into her granddaughters eyes for the first time.
Of course, by the time we got home (another good thing about midwives is that, as long as they're are no complications, you get to go home pretty much right away) everyone was exhausted. So, my wife went straight to bed, and I went into the living room with my new daughter. I walked her around the room until she fell asleep, then I placed her in the bassinet we had in the living room and I fell alseep on the couch.
Now, the worst thing you can do to a new parent is tell them that their baby will be up every two hours crying. People had told me this. I had prepared myself for this. So, I was up every two hours checking to see if she was still alive because I couldn't understand why she wasn't waking up. She was okay every time.
I would also like to add to any men reading this: "Daughters are wonderful. Every man should have them. They truly are a joy to have around and they will inspire you to do things you never thought you could ever bring yourself to do. Every dad who has played Barbies with their little girl knows I speak the truth."
I hope one day my daughter reads this, because I want her to know that I remember the day she was born like it happened yesterday. I also remember on nights when she was cranky, I would put on music and dance her around the room until she fell asleep. And then I would sit in a rocking chair and hold her and just looked on her as she slept, thinking to myself how amazing it was that I had a hand in making something so beautiful.
My daughter is 8 now. She is still a lovely little girl and she is extremely smart. She amazes me all the time at how brilliant she is. She is fun-loving and and inquisitive and doing very well in school. She is also very sociable, and makes friends very easily.
I love my little princess, and I wish I could offer her more than what I can. It breaks my heart that I don't get to see her every day like I used to, but I'm hoping that will change one day soon.
Well, that is the story of my firstborn. The first part of a series of posts I call, The 4 Happiest Days of my Life. Hopefully, the second part will be posted soon.
Tad on tour: Live-Stream Reading October 19th, 19:30
21 hours ago