At four in the morning, May 7, 2009, we were both up on the dime. I, to go to work, and Rachel, because she was in labor. “It’s nothing,” we thought. “They say these things progress slowly. It could be a false alarm.” She was pacing my parent’s family room, moaning through the contractions. We still had not been able to move into the apartment.
“Call me if you need to.” I kissed Rachel and drove off to work.
At seven o’clock, the classic rock was interrupted as I was breaking down boxes and stacking packages of meat in the open refrigerator. “Telephone call for Mr Stix.” (As skinny as I am, it didn’t take long to acquire that nickname.) I picked up the receiver.
“I’m not sure if I should go to the hospital,” she said timidly. Then some moaning.
“What?” It was hard to hear her over the music. After some time I gathered that she was in significant pain. “Can my mom take you? I’ll meet you there.”
I attempted to tie up some loose ends at work, but I was told by my co-workers to move it. They would take care of it. I stepped out into the morning sun, squinted, and hopped into my Protegé.
* * * * *
We got to the hospital at the same time, and were quickly admitted. Before I could say “Good morning,” Rachel was in a gown and lying back in a hospital recliner. The nurse left. We were alone. Rachel groaned through a few sets of contractions, then, a different nurse casually strolled in, as though she was looking for something that she may have left behind.
“Well now, let’s have a look.” Some sort of measurement was taking place under the gown. The nurse’s movements quickened, as did my heart. She jotted down some notes. “She’s 8 cm dilated. We have to get her into the birthing room.” Why this particular room was not sufficient for the purposes of birthing, I did not know. But I dutifully followed.
The next three and a half hours were somewhat of a blur. All I remember is that Rachel and I were alone in a large room. She, strapped to a machine measuring vitals, and me pacing nervously, reciting scripture verses to her through the pain.
One must understand that up until then I rarely heard Rachel raise her voice above the volume of a refrigerator hum. So to hear her groan deep and loud was a very alarming experience. I imagine, to the nurses outside our room, it probably sounded just the opposite. I can still see them sitting in front of their computers saying, “Oh, she’s got time.”
It wasn’t long, though, before Rachel cried out, “Can someone come help me! Where’s the doctor, Jos? Can you get the doctor?” This was more than I could bear, so I went out to plead for help on Rachel’s behalf. They looked annoyed.
The next contraction or two, a nurse came. Gown up. Another look of alarm and quickening of movements. The doctor was paged. Another nurse came. More moaning as the caverns of her body shifted and opened. Contraction. Broken water. Instruments lined up on a side table. Swaddling cloths laid out. Contraction. A scrunched head meeting the chill of the sterile room. Another contraction. A purple head popped out, face scrunched, eyes tight. “She looks like a girl,” I thought, holding Rachel’s hand. Contraction. Body slips out into the hands of a doctor that I do not know. “She’s here!” I cried. Rachel’s body trembled while they cleaned and wrapped Micaela.
“Can… I… I… ho… ho… hold her?” Rachel stuttered. Our Micaela Jane was laid on her breast. Her whole body relaxed, and a joyful smile swept over her.