Her water broke at three. She made my dinner: chicken, shells, and pesto. And then she called me at work. “Babe, I don’t want you to worry, but I think my water broke.”
I swallowed; looked at the clock. 4:31, two weeks and four days before the due date. I prayed.
“A while ago.”
“I’ll be home in a minute.”
I got home and the bags were packed. My dinner was on the table, hot and ready to be covered. She was in a towel. I kissed her.
“I need to shower,” she said.
“Then me.” She showered as I looked at our tomato plants in the backyard. Kansas clay and wind and hail left me pessimistic. I pulled my uniform off.
She stepped out of the shower and I jumped in. I got out and kissed her, she was sweating again. I got a picture of her belly, full and oblong.
“I left room in the backpack for your computer,” she said. Another kiss.
I grabbed the car seat and the bags and threw everything in the truck.
“I’m not sure if this is it,” she said. The ride was surreal and the traffic thick. I was more patient than usual.
We arrived at the hospital with hems and haws. “I think my water broke…. I’m not sure if my water broke.”
We checked in with strong vitals, baby and mom. The hospital gown was light green and modernist and nicely set off her dark hair.
“Kristin a little poke here.” “Kristin, this is going to be uncomfortable.” I sat on the pullout couch and ate my chicken, shells, and pesto. The nurse swirled a test for a minute in a tube and then set the tube down for a minute. And smiled. “Yes, it broke,” she said and a fury of calls were begun.
“Dad. It’s me. Her water broke. Yep. In the hospital. What? Yep. Yep! Ok. Love you too! Bye.”
“Boss. Yes. I will. Yes. See you Monday. Thanks.”
My heart beat faster and my prayers were more focused and I thought of Pope, “One truth is clear, whatever is, is right.”
Doctors and nurses came and went with tests and drips and the hours ticked away.
She packed me Hershey’s Miniatures and fully salted peanuts. I ate all of the Special Darks and Mr. Goodbars as the procession proceeded. I was a little out of the loop, but watched attentively.
We watched movies until she was at 1 1/2 cm and decided to nap/sleep. Kris got mad at me for wanting to sleep with no clothes on. I pointed to her hospital gown and pulled a second one out of the closet. She pointed to the go-bag she packed. Inside were some shorts. I tried to sleep in the pull-out bed that was too small for my 5’8″ frame.
I slept in fits between contractions and nurses. After eight hours, dilation went to four centimeters. After three more hours of contractions every three minutes, four and a half centimeters. I exhaled, cranky and looked at my trouper wife sucking on ice chips. A kiss and a prayer and an hour and another dilation check revealed more unbroken water.
A flick of the nurse’s fingernail and a gush and the game was on. Breathing techniques changed to match new levels of pain. My jokes received glares and not perfunctory smiles. Two hours and a check and six to seven centimeters!
“What’s the next step?” Kris asked the nurse.
“The baby’s head is coming out and we’re calling the doctor.”
“No, what’s the next step so you check again to see how far I’m dilated?”
“Oh, when you get a contraction and it feels like you have to push no matter what. Like you have no choice, then I’ll check again.”
The nurse left. My lunch came. Beef stew and biscuits. I dunked my buscuit in the stew and the first contraction entered a minute later.
“Babe,” she said, “I feel like I have to push no matter what. Like I have no choice.”
“She’ll be back in fifteen minutes, we’ll ask then.” Each contraction brought low wails and “I have to push” exclamations.
The nurse came back in twenty and checked the baby’s heart-rate.
“I feel like I have to push no matter what,” Kris said, “Can you check me?”
The nurse humored her and measured her dilation. The nurse looked up. “You’re right, you’re ready.” She called the doctor. “When your body feels like pushing, push.”
And the contractions were two minutes apart. Kris pushed. The nurse pointed out the tip of his head. Kris pushed. The head expanded and disappeared.
Kris pushed. The head expanded and disappeared.
Kris played this game with the nurses for about 20 minutes. The doctor arrived. Local anesthetic. Push and I saw some hair.
Kris pushed and the doctors pulled, but missed.
“One more contraction,” they told her.
It was three more contractions. And he was so blue. And someone handed me scissors. “Between the two,” she said. And I cut the blue and veinous cord between the clamps.
And he cried! And turned pink!
And we took photos and made phone calls. And I held him!
And now the duet has become a trio.