9.24.2003 *That* Time
All I remember before falling asleep was the clock reading 1:14AM. The time was close to the previous two nights when Elizabeth also felt contractions. We were told this was a common occurrence when the moment to deliver the baby nears -- they were called Braxton Hicks contractions, or false alarms. We were clever however and had decided to try and fall asleep and if they progressed, we would be awaken and then instinctively known that it was truly time.
Tonight, it was going to be *that* time.
I heard Elizabeth call out my name - first faintly then growing suddenly louder, more panicky as I snapped awake. The clock read 2:13AM.
"Peter," Elizabeth said, "Here in the bathroom. I think my water broke... I think I need to..."
My mind grew very congested with thoughts of what to do next. Pacing back and forth holding my head between my hands, I kept repeating the words, "Okay... okay... okay..." I just wanted to start grabbing stuff, but I realized that it was just important to get dressed quickly as possible and if anything, grab Elizabeth.
Moments later, we were bustling through the streets of Brooklyn, yielding through red lights -- Elizabeth half laid across the back seat. I struggled retrieving my cell phone from my left pants pocket, placed it in the passenger seat, and sifted through the middle sectional compartment for the cellular headset. I briefly thought about how convenient daily life has become due to gadgets, yet we've grown so accustomed to them that we are dependent -- after all, I relied so heavily on this 'personal phone' of mine -- I always thought this was a more suitable name.
I speed-dialed two numbers -- the hospital to let them know to expect us, and my parents, who wanted very much to be a part of this.
By the time I completed the calls, we were already on the highway, racing to the hospital. Again, I was grateful for the timing of this. The hospital was quite a bit a ways, in Queens, and usually, this highway was crowded with cars, sometimes packed bumper to bumper. Seeing how it was now sometime between two and three in the morning, it was mostly barren. We approached another car every now and then. Checking in the rear-view mirror and glancing back, Elizabeth appeared stable sitting in the back. I raced onward in my surreal-like daze.
Reaching the hospital a half-hour later, we somehow found our way to the Labor and Delivery unit on the 4th floor -- this was a feat seeing how most of the hospital was closed -- we had to walk through a dark corridor or two.
We were put in the first vacant room, where Elizabeth laid in this bed and two monitor pads were placed about her abdomen. The air was filled with the gracious sounds of the baby's heart beating. I looked up at the clock -- it read 3:15AM.
The contractions soon started -- more real and more painful than the Braxton Hicks ones. Honestly, it was nerve racking and frightening to see Elizabeth in such pain, but I knew that I had to appear somewhat strong, somewhat stable -- but she probably saw through this. This is what I thought anyway.
My parents soon showed up, followed by my sister a few hours later. Elizabeth was transported to another room, a nicer version of the other one -- I was told this was *the* delivery room. I always thought it was going to be an operating room, one with huge white walls, a big spot-light, and a tray full of cold chrome instruments -- like on TV. Apparently, this was where deliveries were performed unless complications arose, and we would then be transported to an actual O.R.
I spent the following hours in and out of my sleep-deprived daze. I stood by Elizabeth's bed holding her hand, and then sat again. I was startled awake by a nurse entering the room. Looking at the clock, I realized I had fallen asleep for about15 minutes. My legs and feet tingled as though I slept on them wrong -- I probably did. The clock read 9:23AM.
In a little while, Elizabeth felt the baby approaching. It was time to push.
The next two and a half hours blurred by. In the room was the doctor, the nurse, myself, and of course, Elizabeth and the soon to be born baby. Things that I learned:
- 10 centimeter dilatation
- What a Toco machine was and how to read it
- The wicked, yet pain-relieving epidural
- What the umbilical cord and placenta really look like
- The doctor really does not hold up the baby and slap it in the butt to get it started
Although the entire experience surpassed hours, it all seemed to happen very suddenly and quickly and nothing seems less miraculous than childbirth. I do not have the words for it and somehow I feel like if I truly tried to define it, it would somehow lose its' mental impact -- and this I don't want to happen. Nonetheless, it seemed so surreal.
The clock read 12:24PM. Welcome Megan. We are your parents.