For almost a month, yes a month, before the big B-day, the MTB was starting to have mild contractions. They were mild enough and had no regular timing that there was no need to head to the hospital, but it did start raising the level excitement. It was a great reminder that our son was nearly ready to join us. We started a walking regimen, started eating spicy foods to try and get the contractions on a regular schedule. After several weeks, he started to make his intentions known a little more seriously. Finally, after about another week of the MTB being completely miserable the contractions began to get closer and closer. I had gone to bed and the contractions were about 15-20 minutes apart, the same they had been all day. I woke up the next morning, asked the MTB how she was doing and she said they were about 5-6 minutes apart. I said, “What, for how long?” Her response, “Oh, for a couple of hours now?” “Why the hell didn’t you wake me up?” “I figured this was your last chance to sleep.” So, we went for one last walk, just to make sure they stayed consistent because we had heard horror stories of people going to the hospital and being sent home. To my delight and the MTB’s discomfort they started getting closer together the more she walked. When they were an even 5 minutes apart we grabbed the keys and headed to the hospital.
The week before on the local news, it was reported that a new record had been set for the number of births in a single week. So much so, that every hospital was “booked” to capacity and they had to send really pissed off MTBs to secondary hospital to deliver. While on our way to the hospital we were joking that thank goodness the record was set last week. We should have known better than to joke about the cosmos. We arrive at the hospital, get checked in, and they set us up in the triage room to check the heart rates, contraction strengths, their timing, and blood pressure. After checking everything out, the nurse said the contractions weren’t strong enough or close enough together to admit her. But, her blood pressure was elevated, so they kept her hooked up a little longer to monitor it. So, after another 30 minutes or so the blood pressure continued to stay elevated and crept up a little higher. I personally think she was trying to win the baby pool at work and was holding her breath to keep it elevated. She’s yet to admit it and I haven’t seen any proceeds, so I have no proof. Turns out it was a moot point, because after being in the triage room for about 1.5 hours, the water finally broke. That sealed the deal, she was getting admitted and we’d soon be parents. Remember the cosmos though, turns out we were in the midst of another record breaking week for child births because there were no vacant rooms available. Thankfully, since the water broke they couldn’t send us to another hospital. So, we just hung out the triage room for several hours until a room was made available.
Once we got into the room, time seemed to slow down and things felt more relaxed. We had made it, the baby was coming, not much more to do than just wait it out. Eventually, things progressed enough where it was time for the MTB’s epidural. Remember the birthing class? The epidural procedure was briefly discussed with a few graphics in a notebook, but there were no videos. The MTB never saw the needle, but the naive father did. Having seen the needle and knowing they were about to jab it into her spinal area, I personally would have opted for the monkey bars. But, that’s why men don’t deliver babies. After the epidural, things got even more relaxed. So much so, that we both took naps. It’s kind of funny remembering back to the sleepless nights, that now on the day of and only hours before the main event, we’re both taking naps. The nurses would come and go, checking the monitors for heart rates, contraction strengths and timing.
In the early evening, they started dialing back the epidural so the MTB could start feeling the contractions and know when to push. Once she was ready to start pushing time sped up again, the nurse looked at me and said, “Grab a leg.” Eh…wait a minute, this was not discussed in birthing class nor is it part of the birthing plan. So, whilst holding one of my wife’s bare legs in the air I began the diligent role of counting out loud as taught in class. Up until this point, I had figured that the counting portion of the FTB’s training was equivalent to a trivial task you give a child that’s in the way. “You’re going to handle the counting, it’s one of the most important tasks during the delivery, now you stand here and just starting counting and throw in an occasional phantom breath.” “Duh, okay doc!” I can tell you however, though the counting may or may not do anything for the MTB, it sure as hell keeps the FTB calm, especially when he’s called to pinch hit in this case. So pay attention in class, if not for the MTB’s benefit, then for your own.
After probably the 50th round of counting and breathing, counting and breathing, the nurse finally said, “There’s the head.” It was like a bat signal was sent up, because all of a sudden, boom, there were ten nurses, equipment seemingly is coming out of the walls, my wife has apparently been laying on a Transformer because a button is pushed and half the bed disappears, stadium lighting is turned on, and the Gorton’s fisherman arrives and presents herself as the doctor. At this point, time feels like it is moving at the speed of light. To my wife’s credit, there was no taking my name in vain, no crushing of body parts, the only thing she really said during the pushing was after the Gorton’s fisherman told her, “Okay, there he is, just one more push!” Her response without missing a beat, “Don’t tell me it’s just one more push, you’ve said that the last ten pushes!” After a couple more pushes, I was apparently so focused on keeping the counts steady, that I recognized hearing a pop sound, but when the wife shrieked in surprise I must have let up on her leg, because she nearly kicked me across the room. After regaining my footing, the doctor announced GT’s arrival and we had become parents.