Birth in and of itself is an amazing thing.
Ten years ago, my husband John and I were a typical couple anxiously awaiting the arrival of our first child. We chose not to find out the gender of our baby, so we were filled with extra anticipation to meet our son or daughter.
We made sure to talk every evening on our then “fancy”(but not ‘smart’) phones. After all, ten years ago, smart phones were not a thing yet. In fact, I had a super cool red flip phone, and John had a new model where the keyboard slid out. Yeah, that’s where phone technology was 10 years ago.
When we were 5 weeks out from my due date, John scheduled his last trip trip out to the Phoenix office of his company before the baby, while I had already taken a break from traveling by this point. The day after he left, I went in for my 35-week appointment. The doctor was worried about the size of the baby (measuring large for 35 weeks) so she ordered an ultrasound. I looked at her and said “You shut your mouth with that kind of talk! My husband is out of town for two more days!” We laughed and moved on with the appointment, and I went on with my day. In fact, I went on a job interview- yes, a job interview at 35 weeks pregnant — and, no, I was not one of those women who barely had a belly bump!
That night, I woke up around 2AM to go to the bathroom and noticed some things that were not normal. I assumed it was nothing, and went back to bed. After an hour of laying in bed without being able to fall asleep, there was no way to deny that something was not right. I called the doctor on call, and she had me come to the hospital. I wasn’t fe eling contractions, so I assumed it was all false labor. It was three in the morning, my husband was out of town, my sister lived 10 hours away in Texas, my mom was in Chicago for work, and I wasn’t about to wake up my in-laws at that hour for false labor. So, after stopping to get gas, I drove the 40 minutes to my hospital. Fun fact: your in-laws will never let you hear the end of it if you drive yourself to the hospital while in labor!
The nurses all seemed confused as to why I was there by myself. I explained that my husband was out of town on business, and, yes, I had called him, but he wasn’t answering. And, yes, it was starting to worry me, but at the same time, I was sure there was nothing to worry about. At 6:30AM, I was extremely tired and ready to go home and get some sleep. So, when the doctor came to check on me, I nonchalantly asked “So, do we know what’s going on?” After all, I had to be at work in a couple of hours! She looked at me like I was insane and said “Um, well you’re having a baby. So… that’s really all that’s going on.” Somehow, I just thought they were monitoring me. Keeping an eye on things. Turns out, I was in active labor, and they were monitoring my progression. She showed me the timing of all of my contractions on the computer, and was amazed because I had never felt a single one. I was in the middle of a sentence and she interrupted, saying, “You’re having a contraction right now, you really don’t feel anything?” “Nope. Not a thing. But can I go ahead and get my epidural, just in case?”
And that’s when panic set in… I decided it might be time to start calling family and letting them know what was happening. Of course, I kept calling John over and over and over. His phone was now going straight to voicemail, and I was getting really worried. I had no idea what hotel he was staying in – and there are a million hotels in Phoenix. I never needed to know before now — does it really matter if he was at the Comfort Inn or the Holiday Inn in Cleveland? (Yes, in hindsight we should have always left flight and hotel information with each other… but we traveled so much, we just didn’t. Please don’t think we are bad people!)
At 8AM I called the Kansas City office and enlisted the help of a friend who knew where most people stayed when they were out there. He called the hotel and, sure enough, John was there! He got through to John’s room and told him to call me ASAP. When John called I could tell from his voice that he had obviously still been asleep, so he was confused as to what was going on. He had fallen asleep the night before with the TV on and couldn’t hear his phone (the man can sleep through a parade — no joke). I called so many times during the night that I killed his battery, which is why it was going straight to voicemail… Oops. When I said he needed to get home NOW because the baby was coming, he snapped out of it and said he had to go call the airlines. He called back to say that he was on his way to the airport, and that he was on standby for the next flight back to Kansas City.
Minutes later, he was on the plane headed home and told me to ‘just sit tight’ until he got there. (Sure thing, buddy. I’ll do just that.) But, as I am ‘sitting tight,’ I have the sudden urge to push. I call the nurse and she checks — yep, it’s go time. Because it’s five weeks before my due date, they brought in all of the NICU equipment and nurses for premature babies. It was complete chaos. Just as they finished setting up my phone rang, and it was John. His flight got rerouted, and they had to touchdown in Denver. I said, “Hang on, I have to push.” I remember setting my phone on my chest, pushing through the doctor’s counts, and then picking the phone back up and asking him what the weather was like in Denver. John said “Um, weather is fine. Were you pushing pushing? Like, the real thing?” I said “Yep. Hang on, I have to do it again.” The next thing John heard was my doctor saying, “It’s a girl!” and then a baby crying. I picked the phone back up and said “It’s a girl! It’s an Addison!” John was so quiet. So quiet, I wasn’t sure if he was still even on the phone. Finally, he broke the silence. “They’re shutting the doors and I have to get off my phone. I love you. I will be there as fast as I can.” He told me later that he was afraid he was going to lose his composure in front of all of those strangers on the airplane. He was so choked up he couldn’t speak, or else the flood gates would have opened.
After the doctors and nurses had done what doctors and nurses do after a baby is born, they started clearing out of my room. Addison had been checked out and, though she was early, she weighed just over 6lbs and was completely healthy and fully developed. No need to go to the NICU. They wrapped her in a blanket with a little pink hat on her head, laid her on my chest, and then suddenly the room was empty. Everyone and everything was gone. It was me and this baby who I was SO excited for, and yet not prepared for — I mean, we hadn’t even bought the car seat yet. She opened her blue eyes wide and stared right at me (she’s always had a very intimidating stare!) as if to say, “Okay, so now what?” I looked at her and said, “Your dad is on his way. He’ll know what to do.”
John raced into my room. He picked up his new daughter and, even now, after 10 years, I’m pretty sure he would still be carrying her around if she would let him.
Since then, John has never traveled farther than 32 weeks into my pregnancies. He has always driven me to the hospital.
He was there for the births of both of our sons. And he ALWAYS leaves very detailed itineraries for even a one-day trip.