“Wake up, I think my water just broke”. I woke up half-dazed having just fallen asleep to see my wife half-excited half-nervous signaling that it finally might be time for our son to arrive in this world. Apparently he missed the memo on the Rapture. She rushed to the bathroom while I darted around like a headless chicken. We had already packed our bag including the camera bag and put it in the trunk so there was nothing really to pack making me wonder what I was darting around for. I asked my wife again, if she was sure. She looked at me as if I was daft and showed me her drenched nightgown. You can’t blame me for asking, can you? I knocked on my parents door and told them to get ready. My poor dad had just taken his sleep medication and was in la-la land (He would only make it to the hospital next morning after the kid was born).
Sure we had forgotten something (turned out it was the pillows), My wife and I, along with my mom, drove down to the College Station Medical Center thankfully not too far way. The ride was uneventful. I was hoping a cop would chase me because for once, I had a valid reason for speeding. Since it was after-hours, we, as instructed, went straight to the emergency room entrance. I realized later that I had driven up from the wrong side but the security guard didn’t say anything after he saw my wife. We filled out the paperwork (we had already pre-registered) and waited for the nurse from the Labor & Delivery to bring down the wheelchair. Each minute seemed long and anxiety-filled as the nurse took forever and my wife’s labor pains were starting. I was ready to ask…no…demand an explanation before I noticed the taser on the guard’s holster. Thankfully, she had an uneventful and smooth pregnancy and we hoped that the next few hours would pass by just as smoothly.
It was a slow night since we hardly saw any other patients as we were escorted to our room where my wife would give birth to our son. The nurse on call immediately got to work by making reassuring conversation and asking about vital information regarding time when water broke and other pregnancy-related questions. She was a Chinese-American woman who tried to find common Asian ground for some strange reason and at one point even asked me, why hadn’t I opted for Engineering instead of Social Science. Not now, lady, not now, I was not yet missing my dad. Not having much to do after my wife was hooked up to the monitors, I tweeted out our state and was instantly deluged with tweet replies wishing us luck (thank you, folks). I tried not to be that guy who would tweet every little detail and instead choose to send out only couple of missives an hour. It would be still hours when we would see our son.
My wife’s parents drove down from Houston as soon as they got the phone call. Wisely, my wife opted to take the epidural as soon as she started to feel the labor pains intensify and after that, almost magically, she felt no pain at all. I hope the guy who invented this stuff got a Nobel but under the aegis of ‘War on Drugs’, he is probably in prison. The drug was so potent that during the last hour of our waiting, she confessed to being bored just as I noticed on the monitor that she was experiencing massive short-spaced contractions. The rest of the night was just this long wait as nurses changed shifts and called the doctor.
Soon at around 8:30, her OB/GYN walked in looking all cheerful and told my wife, it was time to have the baby. Then she vanished into the OR assisting another doctor who was delivering pre-term twins. I guess, being low on the priority list in a labor and delivery ward is a good thing. When she returned, I was asked to stand near her head (my wife’s, not the doctor’s, duh!) urging her to push when prompted. I did my best without sounding like a irritable sports coach. Surprisingly, my wife looked all calm and prepared and uttered nary a peep as she geared up to push out our son. I was blown away by how bloody and gory a natural childbirth can be but much to my wife’s relief, I did not pass out and steal the thunder. With just 15-20 minutes of vigorous pushing, our son arrived in this world wailing and gasping for breath. It was one of the ‘awesomest’ sight I had ever seen that makes you wonder at nature and science at the same time. The nurses instantly got to work and like a well-oiled machine, they cleaned him up while the doctor worked on repairing any damage that might have occurred. The nurses, well aware of these situations, had already grabbed my camera and were busy snapping our pictures as I cut the umbilical cord. My initial fear was that I would cut the wrong cord and end up with a daughter. We heaved a sigh of relief to see he was a healthy baby with ten fingers and ten toes. A little underweight since he was two weeks early but the doctor reassured us that it wasn’t an issue. My wife had this wide goofy grin on her face as she saw the nurses clean him up and hand him to her. We had a private moment with him before calling in our parents.
It would be two days before we could go home but the speed at which everything went down took us by surprise but having heard of hours and hours of labor other women have gone through, we were glad to be done quickly. At the end of it, we had this wailing screaming little life in front of us that was literally made from our beings. Everything else seems insignificant.