I remember this day, twenty-two years ago like yesterday.
Sue was almost a month past her due date. Her belly was enormous. I thought she might just pop (as it turns out, she did). Hurricane Hugo had stalled over northern Virginia. The wind and rain rattled the house. Hail would pelt the windows. On this Wednesday, it was not fit for man nor beast outside.
Sue was schedule for induced labor on that Friday. She finished her last day of work before going on maternity leave, planning to ready the house (even more) the following day. That evening, just before 7:00pm she fell asleep on the living room couch.
I had the game show Jeopardy on the television. I was listening to it in the background as I repaired the ceiling from some water damage. Sue’s water broke at 7:25pm. How do I know this? Ironically, the theme to Final Jeopardy was playing.
She sat bolt upright.
climbed down jumped from the ladder, covered in a layer of drywall dust that made me look remarkably ghost-like. The only part of me not white was around my eyes and mouth where I just removed my goggles and dust mask. I instantly knew that those Lamaze classes were a total waste of time… everything they prepared me for was lost to instinct.
We called the doctor right away. She tells Sue to relax. Take a bath. Try to get some sleep. She’ll see her in the morning. We figure we’re in for a long night and I start up the stairs to draw her a bath. But, she calls to me as I’m almost to the top. She’s having another contraction. Already? They certainly never said anything about this in Lamaze, did they?
I remember sitting at the kitchen table, doubting the doctor’s recommendation to relax. We get back on the phone, hitting redial. Nothing! Dead air. Sue re-cradles the phone and picks it back up. Still dead. The hurricane has knocked out phone service.
We gather up the “go bag” and cover our heads as we run to the car. We bought a huge, white Crown Victoria station wagon just weeks before. It’s a monster of a car, for it’s time. The rain is coming down in sheets. It’s horizontal, for pities sake! The wipers are of
little no use, as the rain drenched the windshield as quickly as it’s being removed. I’m pissed that my one chance to speed and run stop signs is literally washed up.
Nobody is on the roads. Not a soul. It’s like the world has ended and forgot to tell us. The suburbs are pitch-black now. The electrical power is out too. The traffic lights have decided to take the night off. It’s a painfully slow drive (in more ways than one) to the hospital. I remember sitting up in the driver’s seat so close to the windshield to see the road that I was fogging the window. My vision was less than ten yards over the hood of the car.
When we get to the hospital I drop Sue off at the emergency room and park the car. I flat-out sprint back to the same place I dropped her off just a minute ago… and she’s gone! I ask where they took her and the receptionist has no earthly idea what I’m talking about. I wonder if this situation should be included in the Lamaze curriculum. Then it might be worth my time.
I find the maternity ward (don’t ask me how) and I am escorted to the delivery room. Sue is already hooked-up to IV fluids and monitors. She has already quickly abandoned her ambition to give a natural birth and is scolding the nurse for not getting the anesthesiologist… NOW. Meanwhile, they explain one monitor that shows from when she is beginning a contraction until it subsides. I’m mesmerized.
A resident comes in and examines her. She’s already 70% dilated. They begin debating about the value of giving her something for the pain, since this is likely a quick labor. Sue cuts off that discussion, demanding relief. I start signing waivers and work through the hand cramping, else I have to answer to Sue. The only thing I knew was it wasn’t going to be me holding up the anesthesia. Besides, I really wanted to get back to watching the contraction monitor.
At 12:38am, on Thursday, September 21st, the doctor finally was reached and arrived. She came in long enough to basically catch Ryan coming out and to bill us for it. Ryan entered the world as a whopping 10 pound, 4 ounce baby boy. I cut the umbilical cord and they whisked him to the other side of the room to clean him up. Sue then held him as she fell asleep. I spent the night, without sleep, staring at him in the nursery. I also took full advantage of the “Dad Refreshment Center”, sucking down drinks and eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
The morning broke bright and sunny. The type of morning that you have to squint to see. It was the bluest sky I think I ever observed. Hurricane Hugo moved out sometime overnight, leaving only scattered debris as a reminder.
This was surely a sign of things to come.[poll id=”27″] See previous poll answers here.