Her water broke at home, even though she recently told me that only happens in the movies. It was Friday night and I missed a call. Luckily, it only took me one minute to realize this and give Lisa a call back. I wasn’t truly focused on the time when I was dialing. I was still thinking about the poker game I was in with a group of friends. Thankfully, I only had 2.2 beers. Assuming Lisa was calling to say “goodnight” was incorrect.
“Jeff, I think my water just broke.” Later, at the hospital, I learned she released a stream of f-bombs when she woke up with a good bit of confidence that she didn’t she wet the bed. I assumed Lisa was wrong. Yes, it’s odd to doubt a doctor about such a matter, but I was pretty convinced we would make it to the full 40 weeks, you know, “because.”
I asked my friends for an immediate ride home, and one hopped up first. The entire ride home I explained to him that we wouldn’t be having a baby tonight, we probably wouldn’t need to go to the hospital, and that Lisa can be quick to judge when she’s the patient. Once home and walking through the garage, just in case, I tossed the baby seat in the back of the car. I realized Lisa was leaking everywhere. That was my first clue that I didn’t know what the hell I was talking about. I even, very cautiously, smelled the giant wet spot on the bed. Not pee. That wet spot was a green light to fatherhood.
It didn’t feel real. That’s what everyone probably says. It was kind of true, but it all felt very ordinary. That was the big surprise. We quickly gathered everything, one suitcase, two bags, a purse, and one 38-week pregnant wife. No panic, just movement.
“Man, I should be speeding right now, shouldn’t I?” It felt like a wasted opportunity. There was nothing movie-like about this except the water normally waits until women are at the hospital. Lisa thought the schedule through and figured her good friends would be working at the hospital during process, which made her very happy. That was the car ride, well, that and me apologizing for assuming we didn’t need to head to the hospital tonight.
Best room in the house. One of her co-workers was saving it for us. Imagine a corner suite at a very fancy hotel, and then knock it down four or five levels. Still, it was the best. Once we got Lisa in bed I had one question for everyone that passed by, “Are we not leaving until we have this baby?” Our gynecologist was on-call, and she was the final nail in the non-fatherhood coffin. We weren’t leaving until we had a baby. My heart wasn’t racing, I wasn’t worried. Nobody was worried. I was surrounded by professionals, which was the main reason I didn’t bother with the birthing class. I knew that anything Lisa needed, she would get, and besides moral support, she wouldn’t be getting it from me.
Lisa was surprised to find she was at 3 cm. She thought her cervix wasn’t budging. The waiting game was quickly upon us. At about 1:45 a.m. I got about two hours of sleep on an odd chair, pull-out bed that my feet (typically) dangled off. I woke up cranky and then it hit me, this is it. This is my foreseeable future. I immediately regretted not implementing my previous plan. About a month ago I told Lisa I should start sleeping in four hours shifts, do a small task, and go back to bed. I didn’t.
Before we did some laps, we stopped at the station to talk with the residences. One immediately started rubbing Lisa’s lower back. All of the ladies explained this is something I would have known to do if I would have taken the birthing class. I pointed out that I now knew I should rub her back during contractions, one of them was doing great work that I wouldn’t get in the way of, and for the nine women not to gang up on me right now.
We did some laps, and that is when I asked Lisa if I could go see movies on Thursday (I’m a film critic). After all, advanced screenings of “Skyfall” and “Lincoln” don’t happen every day. She made it to 5 cm before she called for the epidural. High-fives all around. She did really well with the pain. I’m pretty sure I could have made it without the epidural, but we’ll never know for sure. Yes, I actually wish there was some sort of odd fantasy camp where I could feel the pain of child birth. Oddly, the most uncomfortable I was during the entire experience was with the epidural going in. The needle/wire combo is very weird, just doesn’t feel like something that should be going into a body.
Not sleeping, but with her eye’s closed, Lisa relaxed for a while. Friends came by around 8:30 a.m. to say hi one more time before the major stuff started.
At about 8:50 a.m., Lisa decided it felt better to push during contractions. We (mainly her) did three sets of three, 10-second pushing sessions. Our nurse came in, did two more with us, and decided Lisa should slow down a little bit, so our doctor could arrive before our baby did. It was 9:05 when LeClair walked in. Lisa started with the final pushes. I think we did about four sets when Lisa’s face finally showed the pain/energy/effort she was going through. I should know. My gaze was only on her. Even though I have great perifial vision (something I have idiotically bragged about in my life) I didn’t see anything, which couldn’t be unseen. My wife’s beautiful face is my only memory during the event. Lisa said something about “Only one more.” It was. Baby. Our doctor quickly said that this might be the most convenient, easiest delivery she’s ever had. Tears streamed for Lisa. Tears streamed for me. Lisa was handed our baby. I was handed scissors. I couldn’t see through the tears, so I waved the sharp object about as I was drying my eyes. I cut through 99.9% of the umbilical cord on my first cut, the second cut finished it off. No spurting. They asked the name. I said, after a deep breath trying to compose myself, “Dylan James Bayer.” Actually, I don’t really know what I said the first time, no one could understand me. I tried again, and that was that. Lisa was amazing during the delivery. I feel like I was a decent coach, whose star athlete politely accepted his advice of breathing and pushing.
Becoming a father is one of the easiest things I’ve ever done.