We entered the pre-delivery ER area around 4-ish. After a quick exam and some conversation with the doctors on duty we were moved to a delivery room. Lauren was not having any contractions, but since her water broke they knew they would be delivering Maxfield within the next 24 hours.
They hooked up Lauren to the two machines with those wires hanging out of them (that is a medical term. Look it up), one to measure her contractions and the other to measure the baby’s heartbeat. I made some phone calls to our parents and we set up shop for the evening. Lauren was familiarizing herself with the room and I was familiarizing myself with the TV remote and what stations had proper reception. The Oscars were on and I did not want to miss it.
Different nurses and doctors came in to do the basic 36-point inspections. At one point a doctor suggested to induce Lauren to make sure the process would start. They injected her with inducing serum (another medical term). While we were waiting for something to happen Lauren’s parents showed up and hung out in the room with us. This would be their first grandchild and they were quite excited.
One of the residents with a group of 5 or 6 interns stopped in to check on Lauren’s status. He introduced himself and went about writing stuff on his clipboard. Lauren at this point started to feel the contractions but they weren’t that bad. The Oscar’s were underway but I was not paying too much attention. There were about a total of 12 people in the room. After the interns left, Lauren felt somewhat awkward with all the people in and out. I now became the gatekeeper. I had a job, which was great because it gave me something to do. Everyone left as Lauren’s contractions worsened.
We watched the contraction monitor, with the lines going up and down over and over again. Every time it blipped I asked Lauren if she was all right. She responded with, “That wasn’t so bad.” The Lord of the Rings won another Oscar. A man walked into the room. He was wearing a white jacket and walked right up to Lauren and grabbed her chart, he spoke with an accent and said something about having a look. I jumped up.
“Whoa whoa. Who are you?” My nervous energy jumping into my voice.
“I am Dr. So-and-so.”
“Okay and what are you doing?”
“I’m the chief resident.”
I looked to the nurse and she confirmed with a nod that he was Dr. So-and-so.
“Well it would be NICE if maybe you introduced yourself before examining my wife.”
He kind of backed away. The nurse explained that if our doctor for, some reason could not make it, this doctor would be delivering the baby.
“Fine. But you could still introduce yourself. Like “hi I am Dr. So-and-so, I’m the chief resident” before just saying you are going to examine her. I mean seriously you could be anybody in a white coat.” I was pissed.
The nurse and Lauren calmed me down and let the doctor do his work. They suggested that Lauren take something to help her sleep because she was going to be in for a long night and wanted her to have her strength for the pushing part. They also said it would help calm her and let nature take it’s course. They gave her some meds and she rested.
The nurse assigned to us suggested it would be time to get the epidural and the doctor concurred. It had to do with dilation and effacing and centimeters (damn I knew I should paid attention in grade school when they went over the Metric system) and percentages. Eppie the Epiduralist came in and worked his magic and inserted the needle thing into Lauren’s back. She winced but she said she was okay. Lord of the Rings wins another Oscar.
The rest of the time is a blur. Lauren woke with pains. She asked the nurse, “Should I be feeling this with the epidural?” The nurse answer no. “Well I am.” Said Lauren. The nurse got the doctor and they did an exam and the Lauren went from 2 centimeters to 8.5 in a matter of 1/2 an hour. The epidural probably was not going to work because of speed of her progression. Lauren really started to feel the contractions. The time was getting near. The Oscars were over for about an hour now.
There was pushing and breathing and medical staff in and out of the room. I stayed by Lauren’s face and was doing my best to coach her. I was thinking “That’s’ the old pepper that’s the old pepper” because that is how Bugs Bunny coached in that one episode where he is playing baseball, but I was saying, “Good Job” while holding her hand. Lauren turned to me and said, “Bill, Your are squeezing my hand too tight.”
There was more pushing and more pushing. Lauren did not moan or curse. She hunkered down. I was amazed at her thresh hold for pain. Our doctor showed up and got into the catchers position. “Oh the baby’s head is crowning. Wow, sure does have a lot of hair. Dad? Would you like to see?”
My back was towards the doctor my face inches from Lauren. “No. I am fine right here.”
“Oh the head is out. Dad? Do you want to see your baby?"
“I SAID, I am fine right here.”
Someone said final push. I looked back over my shoulder to see the doctor make a jerky sweeping motion with her arm towards the floor. She said “Whoops. He is a wiggly one.” As she snatched Max inches before he hit the ground. Wow. Close one. It was after 2 AM on March 1st.
The medical staff did the whole cleaning the baby thing and there was the usual gross stuff that followed deliveries. They brought Maxfield over to Lauren and placed him on her chest.
It was a moment I will never forget. For it was the first time I ever saw anything as beautiful, as amazing, as glorious as I witnessed right there, right then. It was the most beautiful sight I have ever seen.
It wasn’t Max.
It was Lauren. My wife. A mother. Beautiful.