The Horrific Day My Daughter Was Born

7:57 A.M.

I heard the question, but I was a mist, trying to catch up with the moment, and choking on my emotions. I heard it again (“What’s her name?”), but it was an echo in the distance, a faint and muddled inquiry in stupefied ears. I couldn’t respond.

A full cast of medical staff swirled about the room like a Broadway dream-scene dance number. I was little more than a prop, frozen and dimly lit–an unremarkable tree tucked ignominiously in the background of a delivery room set. Lindsey, in the spotlight, played the role of the suffering queen while a maiden emerged on center stage in nothing short of horrifying fashion.

Having skipped the usually-immediate skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby, the nurse snatched our child and rushed her to the scale. It was then that I heard another, more familiar, voice begging beneath the noise.

“Is she breathing?” The voice seemed to be muted under gallons of water. “Is she breathing?”

Helpless and dull, like drifting wood, I followed the nurse who carried my baby. Her body was tiny, blue, unmoving on the scale.

“Does she have a name?” the nurse asked with increased intent.

I hadn’t found the moment to have a final consultation with Linds. I hardly had time to realize where I was or understand what was going on. I eked a response, empty though it was.

“…Yeah…”

It was only twenty-seven minutes earlier that we were home.

6:30 A.M.

Linds woke me up and said, “I might be in labor.”

I shot out of bed and hopped in the shower.

With our first, Lindsey labored for six hours at home before we left for the hospital. Even then, we spent ten hours in the delivery room before he was born. But the story of my friend, Joe, delivering his own second-born in the backseat, and the story of my friend, Andrew, who delivered his second-born in a bathtub haunted me. I didn’t want to be caught with my pants down–or, I guess I should say–with my wife’s pants down at the traffic light as she’s screaming at me to catch the head.

“Look at you,” Lindsey scoffed. “You’re freaking out!”

“We should go.”

“I’m ironing my robe.” She stopped for a contraction.

“Linds, we should go.”

“I need to shower.” She moaned under the showerhead.

“We need to go!”

“I have to brush my hair…”

7:30 A.M.

The loaded Equinox backed out of the driveway. The contractions were getting worse. And closer. The last time I checked the app, it said they were three minutes apart.

Three minutes.

The traffic lights were on our side as I raced down Michigan Avenue. In the back of my head, I collected an inventory of possible birthing spots.

Blimpie parking lot. Urgent Care. Should we have stayed home?

“I’d guess I’m at four centimeters,” Linds said like she was guessing the number of marbles in a jar between contractions. “What’s your guess?”

“Four centimeters,” I curtly responded, brushing the question aside. My guess was that she was about to pop.

7:41 A.M.

We checked in at the third-floor maternity ward, Lindsey in a wheelchair. The sliding window opened. A man sat behind the desk. Mid-60’s, dark-rimmed glasses, thin with raised eyebrows and a permanent smirk.

“Mains–Lindsey Mains,” my wife shot out before an intense moan.

“…Okaaay…” He responded like it was an Arby’s drive-thru.

Are we lost? I thought.

“Aaand…you’re here fooooor…?”

Are you asking us why we’re here, sassy grandpa? I’ll smack that smirk right off your wrinkly old–“She’s having a baby!”

This must be why men are so scarce in maternity wards, I thought to myself as he appeared to play Freecell on his computer.

Finally, he wheeled her back to triage.

7:48 A.M.

“I’m going to check your cervix now,” a nurse told Lindsey as my wife wailed and writhed on the hospital bed.

Without warning, the nurse whipped open the door and yelled into the hall.

“She’s at ten centimeters!”

It was go-time.

Nurses poured into the triage room and kicked the bed into gear. They wheeled her away, and as she begged for an epidural, the distant echoing voice began as I drifted into a world of transcendent shock I’d never been. “There isn’t time for an epidural!”

7:50 A.M.

The delivery room was dim-lit. The doctor entered on a chariot of nurses as panic set in.  Lindsey’s agonizing screams filled the room and the distant voice began its interrogation with me.

“Who is her doctor?

“How long as she been laboring?”

And, I don’t remember the rest.

Lindsey clung to the handrails of the bed like she was being dragged under by a Great White. The screaming had me wondering if the Great White was what she was giving birth to.

“You need to get on your back,” the voice commanded.

“Curl in.”

“Push!”

I’d never witnessed such agony. Such chaos. Such panic.

7:57 A.M.

Helpless and dull, like drifting wood, I followed the nurse who carried my baby. Her body was tiny, blue, unmoving on the scale.

“She’s just stunned,” the voice said from the abyss. “Does she have a name?”

“…Yeah…”

And, in a strained whisper with a voice just remembered and tears bulging behind my eyes, I answered.

“Shiloh…it means peace.” 


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Shiloh Anne Mains made her grand entrance on May 26 at 7:57 A.M., after only 16 minutes in the hospital. 7 minutes in the delivery room. At 6 pounds, 14 ounces, she was born with a tiara.

Anne is a name with a depth of personal meaning. It is Lindsey’s middle name (Lindsey was named after a dear family friend, Anne Foster), but it also honors our adopted sister and beloved household leech, Annie Hrapkiewicz.

Shiloh means peace or tranquility. And while it was a riveting birth story, we are at a divine peace with our beautiful baby girl.

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