Happy Ninth Birthday, Stephen!

Always_serious_stephen It was a constant, fervent prayer for all of late January, "Please God, just let this baby stay put until Mike gets home." Super Bowl Sunday was fairly mellow. We made it to halftime and then I urged everyone off to bed (those were the days). I fell fast asleep. And awoke at 3AM to an unmistakable "Pop!" Sure enough, my waters had broken. There was no holding this baby back. I called the hotel. At first, the clerk wasn't going to put me through. When I explained the situation, the creeping edge of hysteria in my voice persuaded him. Mike tried to tell me that this couldn't possibly be happening. Again, the creeping edge of hysteria. He'd take the first flight  and be to the hospital before 11. Could I hold on until then? Oh sure, no problem. My first labor was 5 hours. The second was 2 hours. The last two were 3 hours each, but 15 minutes from ruptured membranes. Eight hours should be no problem. I pictured myself sitting up in bed, happily nursing our newborn when he arrived.
My friend Lynn came to stay with the children. My friend Barbara came to get me. My friend Leah met us at the hospital. Mike's sister came to take pictures and to narrate the birth over the phone to Mike should that be necessary. Heretofore, I was a relaxed childbirther. Mike and I had a routine, a rhythm. Driving to the hospital with Barbara, I was pretty sure that we could find that rhythm and get this baby born quickly and safely.
My doctor was out of town. We were greeted by a strange doctor who made a snide comment about it being a birth and not a slumber party when he saw the four of us walk in together. The nurse began her incessant questioning. When was the last time I ate? "Halftime," I replied. The nurse didn't even crack a smile. Oh, good grief,if I have to have a Super Bowl baby, can't we laugh about it a little? No.Time to discuss my entire cancer history. I realized that usually Mike handled this and that it was making me crazy. Barbara and Leah tried to field the questions and they tried to stop the needle-wielders, too. But the tension was ramping up. And I wasn't contracting at all. We started walking. And walking. And walking. At some point my mother-in-law called. The plane had landed and Mike was fighting rush hour traffic and to get to me--not the airport close to the hospital ,but the one we call "National Airport"--DC rush hour on a Monday morning. I envisioned a scene from a sitcom-meets-Bruce-Willis-movie. I smiled briefly.
The doctor spoke with a heavy accent. I am hard of hearing. I understood almost nothing he said. I did pick up on the word "pitocin." Walk more. Walk faster. I could not relax for anything. My sister-in-law suggested that I just sit and save my energy and wait until Mike arrived. I heard the word "pitocin" echoing in the air. No sitting. No way. I was stubborn and determined to have my typical quick labor.
And then I was tired. I got into the bed for the mandatory 20 minute monitoring. I turned away from my labor support people towards the curtain around the door. Tears gathered in my eyes. This wasn't what I pictured. Why couldn't I get it together and do this? And then I saw his sneakers beneath the curtain.I will never forget how happy I was to see those shoes.  He was with me.
From that moment on, I had a typical 3 hour labor.
Mike cut the umbilical cord.
And the baby? We call him "Super."