How better to share in the joy of the birth of our third child than with a running diary:
7:30 p.m.- While in the middle of eating dinner at Panera Bread my wife tells me that she is having contractions. Real contractions. I'm-having-a-baby-tonight contractions. I am thrilled by the news, but also saddened that we will not be eating out as much. You see, we have been regularly using the "Let's go out for dinner tonight since it might be our last chance to go out before the baby comes" excuse for the past two weeks. Good bye reasonably-priced sit-down restaurants. I savor every remaining bite of my roast beef sandwich and cheddar broccoli soup.
9:02 p.m- While putting the final items into my hospital bag I insert the large bag of Peanut M&M's. Peanut M&M's have become my official celebratory candy. It all started back on our honeymoon. For some odd reason we were addicted to the little goodies during our honeymoon in San Diego ten years ago. Ever since then I have always associated Peanut M&M's with special occasions, so I'll bring them along tonight. Man am I glad that we didn't eat Idaho Spuds on our honeymoon.
9:12 p.m.- As the NMW and I open the garage door to leave for the hospital she turns to me and says, "Oh, man! The library books are due tomorrow. I had better renew them online right now so we don't get a fine." Instead of leaving to give birth, the always-responsible NMW logs on to the library's website and renews our library books. I feel like asking her if there is anything else she would like to do between contractions. You know, like balance the checkbook or dry pack some apricots.
9:15 p.m.- As we back out of the driveway my wife sees that all of the neighbors have their trashcans and recycling at the curb. "Oh man!," she says, "Tonight is trash night!" See my 9:12 comments about checkbooks and apricots.
9:20 p.m.- I have been a distracted driver before, but this is ridiculous. While driving on a dark night in the rain I am not only avoiding oncoming traffic, but also counting out loud how long each contraction is lasting. The audio transcript sounds a little like this, "One...two...three..four...Thanks for the turn signal, buddy!...six...seven...eight...nine...Hurry up grandpa, I've got a woman in labor over here!...Uhhhh, thirty one?...twenty four?...Was that our exit?..Nine...twelve...beta...googooplex..." Probably not a whole lot of useful data for the doctors coming from this.
9:35 p.m.- We arrive at the hospital and take our seats in the lobby. There are about six other pregnant women with their assortments of husbands, boyfriends, baby-daddies, and/or frazzled mothers with the, "I ain't raising this baby for you" looks on their faces accompanying them. The television in the corner is showing Fox's reality cooking show called "Hell's Kitchen" and the volume is up pretty loud. If you have never seen the show before, it basically consists of the head chef swearing at a bunch of terrified cooks who are trying to win his approval. As if these poor pregnant womens' nerves are not frayed enough at this point, they are now being forced to sit in a cramped room with sentences like this booming from Gordon Ramsey on TV, "You call this (beeeep)-ing (beeeeep) an appetizer? It (beeeep)-ing couldn't (beeeeep) a dog's (beeeeep) in the (beeeep) (beeeep) (beeeeep)-er." I feel like yelling, "Serenity Now!" a la Frank Constanza and change the channel to ESPN. The Lakers are playing the Spurs in a critical Game 4 in San Antonio right now and I would prefer to just sneak peeks at the t.v. instead of refreshing my Black Berry. Lakers are up a few points right now. Sweet!
9:36 p.m.- Instead of sitting down and listening to Gordon Ramsey's profane tirades, the NMW wants to walk up and down the hall until we get a room. I ask her if this is supposed to help with the contractions. She says, "No. You just look like you need the exercise." Just kidding, she didn't say that.
9:42 p.m.- When a contraction hits, my wife stops us in the hall, puts her arms around my neck, and leans against me until the contractions ends. I now know what it must feel like to be a cat's scratching pole.
9:46 p.m.- There are some random photos hanging on the walls of the hallway that we are walking through. The pictures are of actual Women's Hospital employees happily going along with their daily work. We make up captions for them as we go and get a few laughs out of them, including:
9:56 p.m.- I do not have a watch so I am using the NMW's girly-looking silver watch to time her contractions. I am also carrying her purse up and down the hall for her. Right now I am praying that we get a room before I end up wearing her earrings and applying lip liner as we walk the hospital halls. Although I feel like I should turn in my Man Card for my feminine accessories, all of the other soon-to-be dads are giving me sympathetic looks. I think all men should be given t-shirts that say, "Dude's got to do what a dude's got to do." the night their wives go in to labor.
10:55 p.m.- We finally get our own room, but it is pretty cramped. I tell the NMW that the only place that I can sit is smashed into the corner. She looks at me with a hint of drama on her face and says, "Nobody puts Andrew in a corner!" Neither of us are Dirty Dancing fans, but spoofing the "Nobody puts Baby in a corner" is one of our fun little inside jokes.
11:17 p.m.- The faces on the "Levels of Pain" poster on the wall are hilarious. My wife makes the Level 3 face and I burst into laughter.
11:56 p.m.- THE BLESSED MOMENT IS HERE! THE NMW AND I HAVE BEEN WAITING SO LONG FOR THIS WONDERFUL EVENT! IT HAPPENED SO FAST! THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST INCREDIBLE MOMENTS OF MY LIFE! I DON'T THINK I HAVE EVER BEEN PROUDER. THAT'S RIGHT! THE LAKERS JUST BEAT THE SPURS IN SAN ANTONIO TO GO UP 3-1!!!!! (FYI - I had the NMW's permission to check the Black Berry to see how the game ended. I would never be insensitive enough to say, "You get through the next contraction on your own while I look at the Lakers box score, okay?")
12:38 a.m.- We have been moved into our delivery room and the contractions are coming hard and fast. In between contractions the NMW points to a mirror on a stand in the corner and says, "I want to watch the baby come out, so get the mirror in place when the doctor comes." This is the same woman who only had local anesthetic when she had her wisdom teeth pulled because she wanted to see the dentist at work. I am not surprised at all by the request to set up the mirror.
1:00 a.m.- The nurse checks the NMW's progress and she has dilated to an 8. The baby could be coming any minute. Things are progressing too quickly for an epidural, so my wife is just going to have to bear down and tough it out. The exact same thing happened with our second child and the epidural did not work with our first baby. In short, this will be her third straight delivery without the assistance of any pain killers. I am pretty sure that the NMW is tough enough to take down Kimbo Slice if she needed to, but I can tell she is in almost unbearable pain right now. This is one of the most helpless feelings in the world for a husband. I wish I could just go through this for her. It kills me to see her hurt like this.
1:13 a.m.- The doctor is here and my wife could deliver any moment now. During an incredibly painful contraction I remember the request the NMW made about the mirror. I wonder if I should even bring it up? After carefully weighing my options, I conclude that it would be best to ask her and give her the chance to change her mind if she is in too much pain. In the exact moment that she is dilating from a 9 to a 10 I ask, "So do you still want to watch through the mirror?" For a split second, time stands still. The doctors and nurses stop cold in their tracks. Sound ceases to exist. The whole time-space continuum nearly unravels. The NMW looks at me and bellows, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" Her voice is deep and gruffy, like Claw from the cartoon-version of Inspector Gadget. On second thought, maybe I should not have asked the question. (24 hours after the delivery the NMW was chuckling about how she reacted to the question. I assured her that anything she says while a baby is crowning receives absolute immunity.)
1:15 a.m.- We welcome our beautiful, healthy daughter into the world. She weighs 7 lbs. 2 oz. and measures 21 inches. The whole experience is overwhelming. Between my heart breaking for my wife's pain and my heart swelling with love for this new little life at the same time, I am overcome with emotion.
2:06 a.m.- The NMW is recovering beautifully and our all signs are positive with our daughter. I go to the Nursery with her and am greeted by a member of our ward who is a nurse in labor and delivery. I did not know she was working tonight. She comes over, gives me a hug, and I proudly show her the new addition to my family. My ward member tells me that she reserved the best recovery room for our stay in the hospital. How grateful I am for a loving ward family.
I guess that is the best way to end this post - with a thought about all of the different connotations of the word "family".
Our ward family here in North Carolina is so very important to us. While we live on the opposite side of the country from our parents and siblings, we have this wonderful group of friends (okay, brothers and sisters) who have already stuffed our freezer full of pre-made dinners. There are people in our ward who were willing to watch our two older children when the NMW went into labor, no matter what time of day or night it may happen. I am grateful for a ward family that provides us with a home away from home.
Our family also consists of wonderful parents on both sides and a number of loving siblings, in-laws, nieces and nephews. We were fortunate to have the NMW's mom and dad arrive the day she went into labor. My mom and dad are just a phone call away in Utah, and I could sense their excitement and yearning to be there with us when I gave them the good news. Both my wife and I have been blessed with parents and siblings who have blessed our lives. So much of what we become as adults - whether for the good or for the bad - has to do with our families. How blessed we are to have two dads and two moms and a host of loving, caring siblings to share in our joy.
Our immediate family now consists of a rambunctious six-year-old boy, a princess of a four-year-old daughter, and another little one whose age can be measured in hours. The day after our daughter was born I was able to watch my older daughter dance in her first pre-ballet recital followed immediately by my sons baseball game where we hit a nice single to left field. Parenting is not always easy, but the joy I get out of seeing my kids grow, learn, and develop enriches my life more than I can explain. Experiencing these wonderful moments with an awesome wife makes it even that much more fulfilling.
Lastly, the family that I am a part of but fail to remember often enough is that of my Heavenly Father. The moment my daughter was born I was so clearly reminded of how big, how special, this life is. The veil between heaven and earth is thin when Heavenly Father welcomes a fresh, new, pure spirit into this world, this life, that he has given to us. I know God lives. He is my Father. I love Him and have felt His love for me. How awed I am that He has given me this opportunity to raise another one of His choice children. I just hope I can give her everything she needs to succeed, spiritually and otherwise, in this world.
Thank you for sharing in our joy.