I was hoping that when Michelle told me she was going into labor, that it would be during the day. This way I wouldn’t be tired and would be fully alert. Obviously that didn’t happen. Michelle started feeling her initial contractions around 4am on Friday July 22nd. At that same time I was in a near coma of a sleep, feeling nothing. After discovering some bloody discharge, Michelle phoned her doctor and they told her to get to the hospital so they can check her out. At this point, Michelle’s contractions were not that bad.
In her initial stages of labor, Michelle was now assigned with the task to wake me up. It took several attempts, but just short of having a full marching band prance through the bedroom, she finally got me up. However, like the diesel engine that I am, it takes me a while to warm up and get going at full speed. Michelle tells me that she may be in labor and we need to get to the hospital. I look at her blankly. She tells me again. I say, “huh”. She tells me again. I’m still not catching what she is throwing. And again she tells me, emphatically. I process it this time, barely.
So now I am trying to instantly go from zero to 60. I throw on whatever clothes are around my bed. I put on one shoe and start running around the house, half awake, trying to process what I need to do and look for my other shoe that Frasier has picked up and placed somewhere. Walls were a problem at this point as I kept on running into them. Michelle tells me to forget the shoe and just put on my Adidas sandals and get the bags. I run upstairs and grab the suitcase. “I got the bag” I said. “Where are the other ones?” Michelle asks. I still have one shoe on at this point. I run back upstairs and grab the other two bags, one of which is the baby bag, that were sitting right next to where the suitcase was to make sure I didn’t forget them. It didn’t work. I grab the bags and run down stairs sans one shoe. I get the bags and Michelle in the car and run back into the house to put Frasier in his crate. I ask him where my other shoe was, he didn’t answer. I put on my sandals and we are off.
We pull out of the driveway just before 6:30 am. This is exactly what I didn’t want, to leave during the morning rush hour. However, we were still slightly ahead of the heavy traffic. With some creative driving (read: passing people using the opposite traffic lane) I got from Baldwin to West Penn Hospital within 20 minutes. Not bad. The entire way there I was having the conversation in my head regarding what I would tell the cop that pulled me over. Thankfully there was no need. We get to the hospital and they wheel her up to an exam room.
Once in the initial room, Michelle changes into a gown and they hook her up to see if she is in fact in labor and if they need to admit her. By this time her contractions are intensifying. I find out what true love is by holding a canister for her when she vomits. Then things start to get interesting. Every now and then the baby’s heart rate drops. They believe this is just due to the baby laying on the cord. They get Michelle to adjust and the heart rate goes back to normal. No big deal…yet. The doctor comes in, she went from 1.5cm dialated to 3cm within an hour, plus her contractions are only a couple of minutes apart. They get a firm grasp of the obvious and say she is in labor and move her to a birthing suite. At 9:42 am, I send out the alarm to the families and make arrangements for Frasier, as well as post on Facebook that Ava is on her way.
Michelle is happy to be moved to the birthing suite as it was the one part of her labor she was looking forward to. It is a very large room that is very comfortable and relaxing. We were in there for about 5 minutes, a brief but enjoyable stay. Shortly after they break her water, Ava’s heart rate drops drastically and won’t go back up. This is when a dozen or so doctors and nurses bust through the door like the Kool-Aid guy. They sweep me out-of-the-way, stick hoses and needles in her and announce there will be a C-section. Michelle starts crying. I give her a comforting look and tell her everything will be OK. I am panicking on the inside.
They sweep her away, throw scrubs at me and take me to a room to wait as they prep Michelle for surgery. I am in the OR prep room for about 10 minutes, praying the entire time. They bring me in. I peek over the curtain to see what the doctors are doing. I can now say I love Michelle inside and out. After a few minutes Ava is ‘born’. Michelle is awake, but not all there due to the anesthesia. They take me over to see Ava. A feeling comes over me seeing her for the first time. Not sure how to explain it. I will call it overwhelming love. I see Ava is healthy and safe, my attention turns to Michelle. It takes them about another half hour to close her up. The nurses and doctors are great at keeping us calm. I am overcome with happiness and relief knowing my two girls are OK. About a half hour after my initial texts and Facebook post, Ava was born (10:11 am). I was in awe of Michelle and all that she endured for Ava. Through nine months of pregnancy, a few hours of labor, to a C-section. She is so much stronger than me. The way events turned out was obviously not our plan, but the end result is what is important.
I am officially no longer just a guy, I am a dad.