Wednesday, October 7, 2009
I'm not sure how it sunk in, for the Spouse, that he was going to be the one delivering a baby. I know that it only dawned on me, slowly, that we didn't even have time for the paramedics. But at no point did I feel panic, and at no point did I see panic on my husband's face. I think we both knew that it was up to us, and we would do it. He simply set the phone aside, on speaker, and did what the 911 dispatch told him to do.
"Sir--can you see the baby's head?"
"No... yes. Yes. I can see it."
"Alright, now sir, I want you to guide it out slowly... Don't drop it! It will be slippery!... Is the head out?"
"Okay. Now guide the shoulders..."
"The shoulders are already out."
"Is the baby out?"
"Yes! Yes--the baby's out!"
And there it was. Our baby. Caught by his father's own hands and handed right into my arms. I remember my first look at my baby's face. All wrinkled and tiny.
At that moment, a knock came at the door and the Spouse yelled "Come in!" There was the slightest note of excitement in his voice. I heard my friend, Lisa's, voice answer back "How we doin'?" I remembered then--we had called her to stay with the kids while we went to the hospital. The Spouse answered her by saying "Well, we have a baby!" She gasped and hurried in, grabbed a towel and started rubbing the baby vigorously. I wanted to hear a vibrant, furious cry, but we were getting only baby squawks that worried me a little. Lisa and my husband both assured me that the baby was breathing. Then Lisa realized we were all referring to the baby as "he" and said "Oh wait! Did we look?!?... It's a Girl!!!"
I looked up at my husband and he looked down at me in utter surprise. A girl! We had both been secretly expecting a boy. In all the surprises of that night, we hadn't even thought to check if it was a boy or a girl.
And then the party started, my doula rushed in leading the firemen who had come to our rescue. They knelt down beside the couch and suctioned the baby, cut the cord, and started looking her over and making notes. About 5 minutes later, the ambulance finally arrived with the paramedics. They got right in there with the firemen and began shooting off questions, "What time was she born?" "Uuuuuh... 3:30?" "We'll say 3:28." In all the quiet commotion, I looked up from the couch at my husband, holding our baby girl in his arms--wrapped in one of the bath towels we'd gotten for our wedding, and my eyes met his. In that moment, we both smiled. I was so happy that I cried. It was like we had the greatest secret on earth. We had just brought a child to this planet--just us. We were the only ones present when she was born, in our calm and quiet home. He was my hero in that moment, and reflected in his eyes I saw all the love and strength that I possessed. I wouldn't have traded that experience for anything in the world.
Several minutes later, they wrapped our baby girl up in my arms and loaded us on to a gurney for the ride to the hospital. Dave stayed behind to clean up a little bit and to send a skype message to my friends Tori and Rob in New Zealand that our baby had arrived, at home, and it was a girl. I asked Lisa to please tell them the story, if she had time.
And then we were out the door, in the warm night that was full of stars. They loaded us into the ambulance and I remember my precious baby girl clutching my finger in her fist with a death grip as her eyes looked up into mine. I'd never had a baby quite that strong before.
When we arrived at the Emergency Room they wheeled us through a crush of nurses who had been on alert for us, and all of them wanted to see the baby. We reached Labor and Delivery and met another huge group of nurses who were chattering and excited. It felt like the biggest, happiest birthday party ever. We finally got a weight, however inaccurate, and guessed at an Apgar score. And I marvelled at the whole experience. I had given birth and never been hooked up to a single monitor or I.V. I was amazed at how much I had loved it.
Eventually, we hugged our paramedics goodbye and settled into the night. It was just our little family again--a baby and her parents. I held Ainsley in my arms, with her little pink hat, and I can honestly say: I have never known happiness like that.