People always say how difficult labor is. They tell you horror stories about uncomfortable delivery rooms, hours of pain and a dinner menu consisting of nothing but ice chips. Dads-to-be, I want to put you at ease a little by letting you know that these people—and I want to be perfectly clear on this—are complete and total liars. I found labor to be quite easy and, other than a mild paper cut I sustained while filling out an insurance form, painless.
The time was five p.m. on Monday, July 16. I was over at my parents’ house playing with my new MacBook Pro—a laptop that is so cool, it took the head cheerleader to prom and got to second base—twice! I called my wife to brag and to see what time she’d be leaving the office.
“I think I might be going into labor.”
“Holy (expletive)! Are you serious?”
“I’m going to send out a few more e-mails and finish up some odds and ends …”
“Are you crazy!?! Get your rump in the car. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Come. Home. Now.”
The next 20 minutes were the longest of my life. I paced around the house. Was she coming home? Was she tidying her desk? Was she auditioning for VH1’s “The World Series of Pop Culture”? Only one thing was certain: Within the next 24 hours Steven the TV and Rico the Snoogle were going to have a new brother or sister.
Finally, Brittany’s car pulled into the driveway. She was in obvious pain, less because of her contractions and more because she was listening to Dane Cook's standup. She walked in the house, set down her purse, grabbed my arm and started screaming.
“They are 30 minutes apart. Call the doctor.”
After several rings the doctor picked up. When I explained the situation he politely told me to stop wasting his time and call him back when the contractions started occurring every three minutes.
Brittany, bent over in pain, turns to me. “What’d he say?”
Now, if you’ve ever been around a pregnant woman on the verge of having a baby, the last thing she wants to hear is, I know you’re in pain and it’s going to get worse … and happen more frequently … and when it gets as bad as you think it’ll get, then we can call the doctor and ask for permission to go to the hospital.
“I don't know. I think he was drunk.”
For the next couple hours, Brittany bounced around the house like a drunk Tasmanian Devil. First on the couch, then on the floor. She ran upstairs because it was warmer, then back downstairs because she was too hot. She did enough laps around the coffee table to wear a foot-grove into the carpet. I was afraid that if the contractions didn't reach the three-minute mark soon, she'd bore a hole into the wall with her fist.
When the time finally arrived, I called the doc back and he gave us the OK to load up the car. I grabbed her beautifully packed hospital bag, a stuffed chicken to use as a focal point and a Hot Pocket because, well, I was hungry.
Most who know me know I'm a fairly
After parking the car, I raced into the hospital, running up to the 9th floor, the pregnancy floor, and signed in. "Forget something?" the nurse asked. So I rushed back down to the car, opened the door, grabbed my lovely wife (who was not amused) and made my way back up to the 9th floor.
We were moved into the triage room where the nurse kicked me out to ask Brittany a series of questions.
"Why am I not allowed in there?" I asked the receptionist.
"They want to ask her questions without you there so she can answer honestly," said the receptionist. "They essentially want to know if you beat her."
"What, like in Scrabble?"
No one—and I mean no one—laughed.
Moments later, we were transfered to a delivery room. A man walked in and shoved a needle in Brittany's back, filling her with what I can only describe as a miracle. The miracle's name was "epidural" and all of a sudden the pain was gone. She stopped screaming, stopped yelling at me and transformed back into the pleasant woman I had married. Needless to say, I gave that man a hug.
The next several hours were a blur. I can't exactly remember the order, but I know these things happened: I called family and friends, family and friends showed up, the doctor broke Brittany's water, I drank four Mt. Dews, Brittany's sister (Melanie) took bets on time-of-birth and gender of baby, I peed out four Mt. Dews, Brittany's other sister (Ali) video-taped her boyfriend sleeping in the waiting room, my sister (Jennie) text-messaged me every few minutes asking for updates and my softball team (too many names to list) won by way of a run-rule.
When it finally came time to push, I was given the job of holding leg number two. Pushing isn't like you see in the movies or on television, where the woman pushes constantly until the baby arrives. The pushing process can span hours and the mother-to-be pushes only about 10% of that time. Reminds me of an after-lunch bathroom break.
Brittany made her first push, which lasted 10 seconds, followed by two more 10-second pushes. When she finished, she peered around her leg and said, and I am not making this up, "Am I done?" That will always be one of my fondest moments from the night.
Push. Push. Push. Break. Push. Push. Push. At precisely 3:51 p.m. a baby emerged from Brittany's who-ha—a beautiful baby with two arms, two legs, hair and her very own who-ha. A little baby girl. A daddy's girl. I couldn't have been happier.
It was the most amazing thing I've ever experienced (and I was at game two of the '90 World Series!). I knew at that moment my life had forever changed, but it had changed for the good. And, as I got to hold Ella Jane for the first time, only one thing crossed my mind:
The psychic was wrong.