I was tired, really tired. I wasn’t paying attention to the book in my hand and was drifting somewhere between being asleep and not – I was in that place where the body is completely relaxed; where all thoughts are pure and pleasurable.
It didn’t last long, it never does.
“Why is the bed wet?”
I’m not sure what the response to my wife’s questions was, probably something to the effect of “I’ll wash the dishes in the morning.” I was still in that slightly incoherent, intoxicating, I-don’t-know-what-the-heck-I-just-said state.
My wife jumped out of bed and began clawing at the wet spot.
Prophetically, I was shaken from my near-sleep state. “What’s going on?” I mumbled.
“The bed, it’s all wet.”
Now, this statement could mean a lot of things; I mean a lot of things, but most of those things were out of the question: I wasn’t suffering from malaria-induced, cold sweats; I hadn’t fallen asleep with a glass of water in my hand; I’m not a chronic bed-wetter; there wasn’t a hole in the ceiling and it sure as heck wasn’t raining outside; and – no – my wife and I weren’t…you know. She was eight months pregnant; about the only thing happening these days in the bed was leg wrestling with the Snoogle (Men, if you don’t know what that is…learn) and partner-assisted roll the pregnant lady out of bed maneuvers.
Do the math: there’s only one possible thing, at this point in our lives, that would have caused this.
Her water broke.
“There’s no way; my water didn’t break! This is just normal for pregnancy.”
“Honey, look between your legs; it’s like a garden hose is turned on!”
That’s right – a garden hose. Not at full speed, but it was pouring. It’s not like in the movies, you see, there isn’t this big splash and suddenly you’re slipping all over the place. Nope. The water just kept on coming in one continuous, steady stream.
“My water didn’t break,” she repeated. She was in denial. She was scared.
Into the bathroom she went.
I left the bedroom then stopped. I went back in then stopped. I turned around and headed back out and stopped.
What the hell was I doing?
Where was I going?
What am I supposed to do?
Take a breath, Joseph, I told myself. My eyes drifted over to the floor; my hands were on my hips. “Man, that’s a lot of water,” I blurted.
Out of the corner of my eye, I could see my wife; she was just as frazzled as I was.
I called the nurse hotline; explained everything. The nurse’s words said it all; I could tell she was smiling through the phone when she said it:
“Somebody’s having a baby tonight!”
Well, there it was: of course someone’s having a baby tonight; I mean thousands of women around the world were probably pushing and screaming and birthing babies at that very moment. It really wasn’t a prophetic statement. She might as well have said: “Somebody’s breathing some air right now!”
My baby, excuse me, our baby wasn’t due for another three weeks or so, and I was mentally preparing for diapers, bottles, and late nights then and not tonight; I had to go to work in the morning, but there it was.
“Somebody’s having a baby tonight!”
The nurse had meant my wife; that we are having a baby tonight.
“No! No, I’m not! It’s not time!”
“Yes. Yes, you are. The nurse said so. You’re water broke. It’ll be fine. Let’s get you packed up and to the hospital.”
“It’s too early! The baby’s not due yet!”
“Sweetie, we have to go. Put some clothes on, I’ll get the car ready.”
“No, it’s not time!”
I was face to face with my wife. She was scared; I could see it. We both were. She was right, it wasn’t time. We weren’t ready. A moment ago, we were in the bed and both of us were falling asleep.
We were in shock.
I cupped my wife’s cheeks and smiled at her. The tears in her eyes brought a few small ones to my own. “Sweetie, your water broke. The baby’s coming tonight.”
“But, I need my flat-iron!”
“No, you need to put on some underwear.”
In the car, my wife called her father. Her fear tugged at my heart. “Dad, I’m so scared,” she repeated through her sobs.
I focused on the road ahead thankful her father was soothing her with his words.
Normally, when my wife and I drove in the same car I am certain to hear “Slow down!” and “Don’t drive so close!” and “Look out!”
Hah! Not tonight! Tonight, I was a NASCAR driver and she didn’t mind.
I pulled up to the red light; every part of my body was on edge. I was nervous and impatient.
I looked at the driver next to me; he looked back.
I gripped the wheel tightly and narrowed my eyes. I might have even given the engine a slight rev.
I think his look was something like “Dude, what’s your problem?”
Pregnant wife in labor, bud! See ya!
I floored it and blew through the red light never looking back.
It was like this for five miles; the hospital was soon in sight.
By her elbow, I helped my wife to the door; as we approached it, another couple – the woman still very pregnant – was leaving. Obviously, this night had been a false alarm for them.
The look on their faces spoke of some small form of terror.
I could see why.
Behind my wife was a long trail of still leaking amniotic fluid; one could follow it right to where I had parked the car some twenty yards away.
“Doesn’t that hurt!?”
“No, I’m fine.”
“But the graph on the computer is spiking; it’s climbing above the max!”
“I’m fine, just a little pressure, that’s all.”
Later I would learn that she was lying; it had hurt like hell.
My wife was hooked up to this machine and that machine. The night dragged on, but we were happy; we were excited; and we were very, very scared.
The contractions came and went – for hours. Each new one could be seen on the machine’s monitor. The graph would churn along on a near flat line, and then would suddenly start to rise and a display of numbers would spin upward like a casino slot machine. The spikes were coming sooner, and the steepness of the graph was shooting up much higher.
“You sure that doesn’t hurt?”
“No,” she said through closed eyes, “it’s just a little uncomfortable.”
The nurse who had monitored the machines’ measurement from her station burst through the door, “Are you alright, how are you right now? Would you like something for the pain?”
“No, I’m fine. It doesn’t hurt.”
Again, my wife lied.
She was scared, really scared. That’s why she wasn’t telling us about the pain. She was worried that something awful would happen if she told the nurse how badly it hurt. She didn’t want to be filled with drugs and forced into labor.
I think she might have left claw marks on the hospital bed’s railing.
The sun broke and an army of doctors and nurses arrived.
It was time.
But the delivery wouldn’t be there; it would be in the Operating Room.
The Operating Room was cold; I guess it had to be that way.
My wife was shaking, but it wasn’t from the cold; she was horribly frightened, I could see it on her face. I could see it in the uncontrollable convulsions that shook her body from head to toe.
“I’m right here, sweetie, you’re doing great.” I’d never seen her that way. I don’t want to again.
The anesthesiologist was having trouble; he couldn’t find the right place with his needle. My wife’s leg shot out along with a scream. He had hit a nerve.
Her tears flowed. I swallowed mine.
On her back, a blue veil separated us from the doctors at work. We held hands; we stared into each other’s eyes.
There were unusual sounds and odd smells; and hard-to-hear conversations.
My wife’s eyes became heavy; the drugs were making her fall asleep.
“Stay with me, sweetie, I want you to be awake when the baby’s born.” It wasn’t a he, or a she; at this point, we didn’t know what we were having. We wanted to be completely surprised; to feel the anticipation. I guess on this night we got our wish.
We continued to stare, smiling at one another.
And then we heard it, a small cry; it was a little squeak really, I don’t think newborns know yet how to cry.
“Dad, come meet your baby.”
I didn’t realize it at the time, but the doctor was giving my one final privilege: to be the one to say what the baby was – a boy or a girl.
I stood and looked at the baby. Instantly, I was in love. My eyes were wide as I focused; the baby’s eyes were wider. It was a night of tears and this moment was no different; they welled in my eyes.
I double checked to make sure; I looked at my wife and whispered, “It’s a girl.”
At that very moment, the moment when the last letter drifted across my lips, my wife’s face glowed with a new kind of love and filled her eyes with new, joyous tears. If I could capture that moment just to feel it one more time, I would…they were the most beautiful eyes I have ever seen.
“Just what you wanted,” she smiled through those eyes, “Baby Sonia.”
Be prepared; be calm; it will be okay.
Sterling Novels Book 1
Sterling Novels Book 1