The doctor called at about 10:00 am on a Sunday morning. We were still asleep. When you are in your twenties, with no kids, you tend to stay up late and sleep in on the weekends. This was before I was conditioned to get up early. The doctor said we should come to the hospital right away. The wife insisted on showering and looking nice, I shaved and showered too since I could be done while she applied the makeup etc. We jumped into the car and drove the twenty-five minutes to Home Hospital in Lafayette. The doctor was impatiently waiting.
We went to the room they had assigned us. It had a nice view of the park across the street. The wife lay on her back and I had the uncomfortable experience of watching another man stick his hand between her legs. He poked, she yelped, and her water was broken. The doctor said she should start labor in a few hours and he would probably see us again Monday afternoon. My lifelong adventure had begun.
By four o'clock my wife was in serious labor and a lot of pain. The nurse told her it was way too early to start deep labor and she should relax. The nurse's attitude was that my wife was a wimp and crying wolf. They told her to walk around the hospital. By six o'clock I told the nurse she was in a lot of pain. The nurse said "fine, I will see if you are doing anything, but it is way too early". She gloved up with an impatient "lets humor this bitch" attitude. There sure was a look of surprise on that nurse's face when she discovered my wife was 8 centimeters dilated. Whoops, somebody screwed up and did not listen to the patient.
Sometime later the doctor was called. I should add an interesting tidbit here. My wife's OB GYN was a Mennonite. They are like the Amish, only they drive cars. He had the button pants, the hat, little beard and all. It was kind of interesting. I am not sure if he still practices or not. The doctor arrives, the room is broken down, the heavy labor is going on, my baby is on the way. This was the early days of letting the father in the birthing room and I was told to stay at the head of the bed and not move. We did the breathing thing, mostly I was useless. The ritual of pain and blood and birth remains the sole purview of woman, as it has through the existence of mankind.
Around 11:30 that evening, Sunday September 14, 1986 my lovely daughter was born. My real life had begun.
Sometime later I walked down the hall to get a drink or find the phone, I saw the doctor sitting in a room, still in his scrubs, head hanging in exhaustion. He did a good job, professional, and comforting, still the image of a doctor in my mind.
I got home around four in the morning. I was to go to work at six. I set the alarm and called in at about 5:30. The boss said since my daughter was actually born on Sunday, I did not get a day off work. He said I could come in at noon and work 2 hours overtime the next three days to make up for the lost time -- a real prince.
It did not matter, I had a little girl.
Happy Birthday, baby. I cannot believe you are twenty years old! I remain the proudest Papa ever.