We parked in clergy parking- I tried to park at the ER entrance, but your mom insisted on walking. So we walked from the parking garage to the maternity ward. Well, I walked. Your mom sort of swayed side to side with gradual forward progress. It wasn’t from the pain- at this point she felt none. It was because she was straddling a towel, laughing and repeating phrases like, “Water is pouring out of me,” “It won’t stop,” “I feel like I’m peeing myself.” Fortunately, a kind night shift janitor followed us with a mop.
We finally reached elevator D and went straight to triage, as we were told to do on the hospital tour. A nurse met us at the door and asked what we needed. What could a waddling pregnant woman riding a wet towel possibly need? Kris just said, “I think my water broke.”
The nurse’s name was My. She became a good friend of ours and even came by our room a couple days later to meet you before we left the hospital. She was very reassuring and gave us the good news that you were healthy, happy and ready to come out. By 10:30, your mom was dressed in a hospital gown and having her contractions timed. By 11:00, we were wheeling her into our labor and delivery suite. Your Naani and Podiddy were there waiting for us.
We said goodbye to My and hello to Debra, our new nurse. Her main task was starting your mom on a magic potion that would make her contractions come faster and harder. Though I have never experienced them myself, son, I believe these contractions are like doing crunches while nursing a stubborn bowel movement. These contractions are evidently pretty uncomfortable. Nurse Debra quickly fell in your mother’s esteem, since every fifteen minutes she revisited our room and increased the dose of magic contraction pain potion. By 1:00am, we were getting your mom popsicles and crushed ice and encouraging her through contractions.
Now, there are lots of women in the world, many of whom have successfully delivered children, but your mother surpasses them all. Up and down the halls, women moaned and groaned and screamed obscenities. Not your mom. Even though the mother to be in the next room was screaming in what sounded like Japanese, your mother simply closed her eyes and breathed through the pain. She was really something.
At 2:30, nurse Debra returned with good news. It was time to call the anesthesiologist to administer the epidural.
I had a lot of misconceptions about the epidural. The epidural is not a shot in the back. It is the insertion of a wire down the spine through a pipe that is burrowed between two vertebra. Nurse Debra said most of the dads who faint in the delivery room faint during the administration of the epidural.
Dr. Millar appeared in the doorway around 2:40 with a cart heavy laden with medieval torture devices. Our confidence was shaken when he began speaking in a very groggy voice. I thanked him for waking up from his nap to help us. He parked his cart next to the bed and set up his sterile working zone. My confidence in Dr. Millar was climbing until he asked the nurse on three separate occasions what time he had come in the room for the epidural. He was too tired to remember the time, but was alert enough to shove a pipe in my wife’s spine? After he asked a third time, I told him I would be happy to write it down.
When I saw the foot-long needle approaching your mom’s back, I decided it was not the time to prove my manhood, so I turned away. Your mom, though, ever the soldier, never flinched. Soon, the good stuff was coursing through her lower body and her legs went numb and heavy. Dr. Millar kindly reminded her not to tense up at the cool sensation running down her legs, because there was still a needle in her spine. “Great,” I thought, “hiccup and you’re paralyzed from the waist down.” But no one was paralyzed. Everything went perfectly.
Contractions continued pain free for the next several hours and a shift change. At 8:00, our new nurse, Annie, introduced herself. Annie came just in time to see your birth. She said we were on the cusp of pushing time. More on that later.