Sunday and I didn’t have the opportunity to have one of those silly scenes so often depicted in television shows or in movies, where the father runs around like he’s on drugs while the mother, who is in labor, calmly walks to the car. We had an appointment to have our baby. We had scheduled him in, mainly because he wasn’t going to come out.
So I sat there, in the waiting room with Sunday next to me, about as alone as I could be. There was no running ahead, no outward excitement. I knew any emotion that I could show Sunday would be magnified in her soul. Sunday reflects anxiety and multiplies fear. That’s just her personality. I knew I couldn’t freak out in the waiting room like I wanted to freak out. So I just had to do it: RELAX. “We” weren’t going to make it if I didn’t. I had to relax. My hands. My mouth. My eyes and legs and torso and feet. Everything had to be relaxed or she would know it.
Not to say that it all depended on me, because it didn’t. She was the one who had to do this, but I certainly could be the one person in her life to make it exponentially more difficult. I could, if I didn’t relax myself, make her feel much worse. If I shared my nervousness with her, she would still make it, but it would hurt much more than it needed to hurt. So I heard my father’s voice as it compressed RELAX into a one-syllable word.
I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know how long we were going to be in the hospital. I just didn’t know. Neither did anyone else. The doctors, the nurses, no one. Sure, babies are born every day, but not our baby. Not for us to keep or to see live in health and happiness. Not our child.
Sunday and I were feeling alone. So the only thing I could think to do was relax. There I sat. In the waiting room, watching really bad network television and wondering what I could do to relax. The following section describes my effort.
February 25, 2004—9:00pm: Sunday and I entered the hospital where she began the pitocin drip to induce labor. Although her comfort was the primary cause of concern, my back in particular began to hurt and I was just praying for an epidural after a night in the reclining chair they called a cot. In fact, Sunday added to the pain by subjecting me to the final episode of The Bachelor that night, and I still walk with a slight whine in my step. The nerve.
February 26, 2004—6:00am: The small, wide-eyed girl who was our nurse for the night was replaced by a small, wide-eyed Romanian girl who was to be with us for the next thirteen hours. Why is it that they find the first person who looks like a thirteen-year-old to give us comfort, encouragement, and to “check on” my wife? (By the way, Sunday would be “checked on” about ten times during the next twelve hours. In fact, one nurse came in and “checked on” Sunday and then introduced herself. I was just glad she took her gloves off before she shook my hand). At this time, Sunday had been on pitocin for about nine hours and she had dilated for only three centimeters. Obviously, Jonah was not coming out without some serious coaxing.
February 26, 2004—8:00am: The doctor finally showed up to “check on” things a bit. This was the first time that Sunday has been “checked on” by a person who had gone to school longer than I had. It was quite a relief that an expert in this field had arrived, but he told us that she had not progressed much past three centimeters. I was getting a little antsy because I was wondering what I was going to watch now that “Good Morning America” had finished. Sunday was getting a little antsy for other reasons. The doctor broke her water and discovered that Jonah had poopied in utero. Not a good thing, and all of us were relieved that labor had started and J-Dawg was going to be al fresco within the day.
To be continued….