As I remember it

Posted by – February 25, 2013

I just read Jonna’s blog post about Allie’s birth. It brought me back to that day, nearly nine months ago, and made me realize that I never recorded my version of the events. I’m nowhere near the writer that Jonna is, but I wrote about Samantha’s birth, and I want to write about Allie’s too.

Sadly, I can’t remember the specifics of where I was when Jonna informed me that she was having contractions. My memory begins with Jonna, Sam, and I driving to drop Sam off at school. We’d arranged for Jonna’s sister to pick Sam up, and we were planning on heading to the hospital after dropping her off. Or so I thought. Jonna was measuring her contractions with an iPhone app. She was talking normally and was quite relaxed. She was so relaxed that I didn’t ask her about the specifics.

As we pulled into the school, we bumped into a few of her girlfriends. My presence there was enough for them to quickly determine that Jonna was in labor. They clapped with excitement then asked, “How far along are you?” Jonna replied, “My contractions are five minutes apart.”

Um, what?

Now, I’m a fairly clueless dad. I don’t know half of the pregnancy stuff that Jonna knows, but this wasn’t my first rodeo. And from what I recalled, five minutes apart was pretty damn far along. As Jonna continued to CHIT CHAT with the other moms, my heart began to race and I started tugging her arm saying, “OK, time to go to the hospital.” After a couple of minutes she finally agreed and back in the car we went.

Then she told me that she needed to stop by the house to pick up some paperwork that she left there.

Um, what?

So, I dropped Jonna off at the house, while I ran out to pick up a prescription at CVS. Yes, I picked up a prescription. It sounds ridiculous, and it was, but I was gone for ten minutes while Jonna was grabbing her bag and her paperwork. When I got back to the house she was still dilly-dallying around, and I had to chase her out.

We got on the road and I punched in the address of the hospital into the GPS and began driving. I quickly realized it was taking me down an obnoxiously trafficy road for most of the way. I probably should’ve abandoned that route, but I didn’t want to get lost, so I stuck with it. Within 15 minutes we were in awful traffic.

Jonna continued to track her contractions on her app, and I continued to prefer blissful ignorance over asking her what it was reporting. I did notice that she was pushing the damn button really frequently though. After twenty minutes of fighting traffic, we were still only about halfway there. Jonna started to grimace and gyrate in her seat during contractions. At this point, I was seriously considering calling 911 to get a police escort. I was only a few minutes from the highway though, and I hoped that I could make up for lost time there.

By the time I got on the highway, Jonna’s contractions seemed constant. I turned into a Nascar driver at that point, doing 90 in a 55 and weaving through lanes. Jonna was so focused on her contractions that she didn’t notice this. If she did, she would’ve yelled at me (and the kid probably would’ve been born in the car). I remember thinking that if a cop tried to pull me over at that point, I wasn’t going to stop. I even practiced a hand motion to communicate “pregnant wife in labor.”

As we pulled into the hospital parking lot, I breathed a sigh of relief. This child was not going to be born in the car! I grabbed the bags and we quickly made our way to the maternity ward. We burst into the registration area looking frazzled, sweaty, and unprepared. The woman at the desk gave us a little contrived smile and asked us to take a seat while she finished up registering someone else.

Jonna said that she needed to use the bathroom. So, I grabbed the registration paperwork and began filling stuff out. There were two other couples in the waiting area. They seemed calm. I remember thinking how weird it was that for Sam’s labor, that’s how we looked, yet for our second child, instead of being relaxed by experience, we were acting like a couple strung out on crack. I took a deep breath to calm myself. And that’s when I heard a horrific moan coming from the bathroom.

I froze for a moment, looking at the other couples as their eyes got big. Then I sprang up, walked over to the registration desk and said, “No more waiting, we gotta go.” Another moan came from the bathroom and the woman at the desk immediately picked up the phone and called a nurse. Jonna came out of the bathroom just as we were approaching it. She looked scared and said, “I need to push.”

Oh shit.

From that moment on, we hit the fast forward button three times. Two nurses put Jonna on a gurney and whisked her into a small room. I grabbed our bags and struggled to keep up. By the time I got into the room, I heard them say, “the baby’s head is crowning, it’s time.”

Jonna kept repeating, “I have to push.” And they kept saying, “just hold on a sec, hon.”

Jonna then asked for an epidural.

“Sorry, it’s too late for that.” they replied.

Jonna got MAD and huffed, “I need one!”

“Sorry, it’s too late.”

Jonna became belligerent. “Well, I’m not doing it without an epidural.”

They calmly replied, “You’re already doing it, sweetie.”

Oh fuck.

They whisked her away to another room while a nurse tried to explain to me what was about to happen. Again, I picked up our bags and tried to keep up with the gurney. By the time I got into the new room, Jonna was pushing… sans drugs. In her blog post, she describes her moans as cavewoman-like. Yup, exactly that. I mean these moans were coming from a deep, dark place. And right at that moment, Jonna’s sister texted me asking for our wireless password. Of course, why would she think that we’d be in the middle of labor at that point.

Allie was born while Jonna was wearing her dress and I still had a bag strapped to my shoulders. As I did with Sam, I got to see Allie’s first breath. That is the most magical thing in the world and I’m so thankful that I got to see it again, considering the circumstances.

Unlike Sam’s birth though, Allie didn’t cry immediately. The nurse did the little snot suction thing and wrapped her up, but Allie just kinda sat there, quiet as can be. At first it didn’t bother me because I could see her moving around, but after a minute, I started getting nervous. They took Allie to the other end of the room and began poking around, but still no crying. Jonna was in bad shape at this point, so I didn’t want to make her nervous. She kept asking me, “Is she OK?” And I kept saying, “Yup, looks like it.”

I kept walking from one end of the room where Jonna was starring in a very gory horror film, to the other end of the room where a bunch of people were poking my silent daughter. I kept asking the nurse, “Is she OK?” And she kept replying, “Yeah, she’s fiiiine.” But her voice kept going up at the end and I didn’t entirely believe her.

Eventually, I stuck to Allie’s side of the room. Not because she needed me more, but because Jonna was fully sparring with the nurses at that point while they tried to fix her up with still no meds. My wife is the nicest person I’ve ever met, but those poor nurses took a beating that day.

It took about 30 minutes of poking and prodding, but we finally got the thumbs up that Allie was fine. My favorite explanation was that it all happened so fast that she had no idea she was outside of the womb. Labor is typically traumatic for the child, but in Allie’s case, she was basically teleported from womb to a comfy little basket.

And that’s the fittingly-dramatic story of how our family became five (don’t forget Sunny) and how I realized that I was married to a superhero.