"More water? More ice? A margarita?"

Babies can't read calendars. They tell us this over and over again, but knowing my wife's family as well as I do, I assumed that, being half-Sunbeam, my son and heir would be late. The due date was March 10; I figured we had at least until then, and probably another week afterward.

Not so much.

I tried to get to bed at a decent hour on Wednesday night because I'd been up late playing City of Heroes the night before (and subsequently sleeping poorly). I managed to get to sleep around 2300 or so; since I was scheduled to take my language proficiency test the next morning, I would get to sleep in until 0600 and still have time to take the test at Fort Lewis at 0830. I normally get up at 0500, so I treasure these "sleep in" days.

So at 0520 or so my wife wakes me up to tell me that while she doesn't want me to worry, she thinks she might be in early stages of labor.

Now here's the thing. We are both procrastinators. Even though the baby is due "in two weeks--plus or minus two weeks," we were only a few days previously getting around to packing bags and putting stuff in the car. My sweetie gave me a book a while ago entitled "Husband-Coached Childbirth," and while I'd read the main parts, the later ones so horrified me that I put the earlier parts right out of my mind. I'd meant to read it again to refresh my memory; heck, maybe I'd even finish the book this time.

So now I find myself trying to remember the stages and signs of "false" and "true" labor. The book is around somewhere. What was the 4-1-1 rule again, my beloved wants to know; I remember such a thing, but all of the answers I can think of sound wrong and possibly dangerously wrong. Since going back to sleep for any length of time is pretty much a joke, we set about to find answers. Being a couple of the 21st century, we don't know where the book is, exactly, but we can find our wireless-equipped laptop in the pitch black of our room. A quick Google search tells us that we are probably in "false" labor, which could last for days or even weeks. No urgent need to worry, yet. I hop in the shower and get ready for work.

Sweetie calls the hospital while I'm getting shaved and in uniform, and they give her the details for when she ought to come in, and offer some suggestions for easing the Braxton-Hicks contractions, if that's what they are. We confer and decide that I will go ahead and drive to Tacoma to take my test, and if anything comes up, she can call me and I can turn around. I'd hate to skip the test and then have it turn out to be nothing; I've already waited a month to take it.

On the way out, I drop her "go bag" off in the Subaru. It is now 0700.

At 0745 or so, as I approach the Tacoma Narrows bridge, my cell phone buzzes. I bet it's my wife, think I. It is my wife. "Turn around now." Alrighty then. I call my CPT to tell her that I won't be at the test, and I try to contact various family members to let them know that events have been set in motion. I drive the speed limit.

I get home around 0830 and fairly leap up the front walk to open the door and find my wife. She is standing, leaning forward against the wall, and breathing... oddly. And she's moving very slowly, and occasionally stopping movement entirely. I bet this behavior is described somewhere in the book that I didn't finish reading--probably in the part that I blocked out.

We load up a few more critical items and head down to the hospital. I drive the speed limit. She is occasionally nauseous and very sensitive to noise and every bump in the road, so it's mostly a silent trip. I point out that it's not too late to go with "John Jacob Jingleheimer $_Sig," but she is adamant about our chosen name. We get stuck behind a massive gravel truck as we approach the gate, but he heads off in a different lane. I wonder what the gate guard thinks when he sees a soldier in ACUs and a very pregnant woman obviously in some sort of distress; I'm prepared to tell him that it's exactly what it looks like, but he doesn't ask.

At this relatively early hour (about 0900), we can still get a good reserved-for-maternity parking spot in the upper level. We take just her purse and one small bag of essentials (like the pre-filled admittance paperwork) and cross the skybridge, stopping twice for contractions. The building entrance opens up into the OB-GYN area, where they are apparently just finishing up a staff meeting or something, because we soon have pretty much the entire department doing the pregnant lady shuffle behind us, her arm in mine, as we move slowly to the elevator. A wheelchair is sent for but never arrives; my sweetie is doing better walking than sitting anyway.

On the fourth floor, she stops for a few more contractions as we make our way laboriously (how else?) to the birthing department. Some of the nurse-midwives ask her whether there's a pool going about the baby at my work, and how far dilated she thinks she is. "Oh, maybe... I dunno. 3 centimeters?" One of them remarks that this seems a little conservative.

We head first for the examination room to see just how far along we are. One worker starts asking her questions about when her first contraction was, duration, other stuff--and Sweetie can't answer because she's clutching the wall having another one. There's a repetition or two of "What was the question again? Oh wait, hold on------Okay, what was that again?" It is decided that we will just skip the exam room and go straight to the delivery room.

Delivery suite is more like it. In addition to the awesome modular childbirth bed that adjusts 287 different ways, there's a couch (designed for Daddy to sleep on), a glider chair, a convertible sleeper chair, a few other odds and ends, a full sink and counter, a bassinet, and an assortment of medical diagnostic equipment. If we'd arrived earlier, she could have made use of a full bathroom with extra-deep tub and shower.

But we are substantially farther along than 3 centimeters. Within 10 minutes, we have learned that she is actually dilated 9 centimeters. At this news, along with her continuing contractions, the obstetrics department starts swinging into high gear. Tables and more gear and stools and people start spontaneously appearing in the suite. The bed goes into amazing contortions, like a La-Z-Boy on meth, to become comfortable for my sweetie--an increasingly impossible mission as time passes. Tables and stools and catcher's mitts are prepared--and then progress sort of grinds to nothing. Having come this far, Siglet no longer cares to progress further on his own.

"As soon as you feel like you just have to push, you let us know, OK?"
"OK." Time passes. A contraction hits.
"Do you have to push?"
"Umm... No, not really. Maybe a little. Not really, no." More time passes.

Various positions are attempted. None of them look comfortable to me.

We are asked again if we're absolutely certain that we don't want an epidural or anything else. Nope. We're doing this Nancy Reagan-style (Just Say No, for you younger kids) as far as we can. "Well, whatever you're doing, keep doing it, because you guys are doing great."

Eventually, it does become necessary to push. Good humor is maintained throughout. When not actually in contractions, my wife has reverted to her normal talkative and friendly self. A contraction will set in and everyone will be focused on that, and then it will be rest time. One of the nurses takes a few photos. We all get discussing cameras. My wife explains why she switched from Canon to Kodak for her digital camera needs, and in between pushes manages to convert the staff on the quicker shutter response time of the latter. I barely refrain from suggesting that she break out a Mary Kay Kult spiel, as she has a semi-captive audience and looks absolutely wonderful, all things considered.

There's really not much for them to do. They adjust the monitor bands on her tummy every time the parasite tries to kick at them, and they tell us how great we're doing, but there's not much else. Occasionally, they all get chatty and I have to repeat my Sweetie's quiet proclamation that another contraction is on the way.

They tell us how great we're both doing--a lot. My job consists solely of rubbing the small of her back, providing her water and ice chips, and mindlessly repeating whatever the nurse-midwives say. "Okay, push push push push.... Nice and steady... Okay, deep breaths get ready... Okay, relax... No, really, please, let go of my remaining fingers." I try to liven this job up some, and gauge my wife's humor. "More water? More ice? A margarita?" I get a tired but emphatic affirmative to the latter.

The nurse-midwives decide that it might be helpful for her to be able to see the baby coming out. A pair of DoD anti-satellite laser/spotlights are aimed at her unmentionables, and a giant mirror is brought out. This is not something that we had really planned on doing in our birth plan, mostly because I have seen all of the Alien movies and didn't really fancy living one out. But once they wheel it out and allow us to see the Miracle of Birth live and in full color, my response is pretty much the same as my wife's: "Ew."

This is followed shortly by, "Hey, there's a little man in there."

I didn't have time to take notes. We didn't have time to really call anyone after we got to the hospital, but word was getting around based on the few people we'd each called prior to my arrival at home.

Eventually, at 1210 local according to the records--just three hours after we checked in--a baby arrives. He is "cheesy," coneheaded, and kind of gross--he looked a lot like the alien baby in Enemy Mine, the old Dennis Quaid flick. He starts yelling immediately and it is just the coolest sound ever. As we had requested, they put his nasty, gross, and terribly cute little form on her chest immediately so they can do the whole bonding thing. I really can't imagine a scarier experience in life if you don't have any other experiences to go through, and it makes sense to me to cling to someone who loves you immediately.

After more of the scary and disgusting biology, they gently pull him away and clean him up some. I am profoundly impressed by how aware and alert he is just 5 minutes after being born. He is looking around, tracking motion, and generally looking pretty pissed. Like Daddy, he doesn't much care for change.

There is a little bit of tearing and they do some stitches, but they tell us later that it was really a judgment call whether that was even necessary. My sweetie was wonderful and they have nothing but praise for her hard work. In the end we have a terribly cute little coneheaded monster, and as agreed, we name him Ian Anthony.

More later. My battery is dying and I have not the foggiest clue where I put the A/C adapter.



Great Birth Story!

Awesome, thanks for taking the time to write this up. My favorite part:

"...while I'd read the main parts, the later ones so horrified me that I put the earlier parts right out of my mind."

hahahaha that's awesome

Congratulations! So, how


So, how does it feel to be a Daddy?

It feels tiring

He's barrels of fun to play with, although he doesn't play back much just yet. He likes to look at stuff, and gives me odd looks of consternation, confusion, and vague disappointment. That is, when he's not doing his Winston Churchill impression, which usually signifies an impending bowel movement.


New Sons

Congratulations Dad!! I remember when my first was born (years ago in a galaxy far away). At that time being in the OR, with the docs permission, I was allowed to watch him come into the world. Prior to this I had the same opinion of being able to see all the details as you... EW. And in fact wondered how folks could actually take pictures of said event. After being there for the first (and his two younger brothers, sometime later) it quickly went from EW to WOW! Can't think of a time that was more awe inspiring or wondrous.

May your son grow up to become everything he wants to be and more then you would ever hope he could be.


Your wife is a ten times braver than I will ever be on my best day. I'd sooner go on a thousand straight "man with a gun" calls.