“These cramps feel different,” my pregnant wife Kara said last Monday morning, nudging me awake at 3:30am. I’d been sleeping fitfully; the lightning cracking outside the window was the kind you could see with your eyes closed.
Her due date wasn’t for another two months, so we decided that we’d go see the doctor in the morning. Half an hour later, as Kara walked into the bathroom rubbing her belly, I heard the sound that would forever divide our lives into two parts, the part before and the part after: SPLASH.
I jumped out of bed and saw Kara staring at the tile floor, straddling a small puddle of clear liquid.
“Was that my water breaking?” she asked.
“I don’t know. I don’t know!” I said.
“Press ‘0’ if this is an emergency,” said the voicemail message at the doctor’s office, and I nearly punched the zero button through the back of the phone.
“You can come to the hospital now, or come to my office at 9:00am. But maybe now would be better,” the doctor said.
Five minutes later, with the backdoor left unlocked in case we needed to call a neighbor to have our dog looked after, we were driving through the pouring rain, waiting for the GPS to pick up a signal. I could get us close to the hospital, but I didn’t know exactly where it was. Our birthing class was to take place there in two weeks.
“Ow, ow. Watch the potholes!” Kara yelled. “I pay my taxes, why can’t they fix the potholes?”
“We’ll just get to the hospital, and if this is labor, maybe they can stop it,” I said.
“They can stop it?” she asked between moans.
“Yeah, stop it. Suppress it. Something like that,” I said as I looked both ways before running another red light.
At the ER, the nurse stepped outside of our little room with curtain walls and said into her walkie talkie: “We have an admittance to labor and delivery. We have a patient who is 32 weeks pregnant and three centimeters dilated.”
The response came back: “Wow.”
Kara and I looked at each other. “Wow? What does ‘wow’ mean?”
Since our birthing class hadn’t happened yet, pretty much everything we knew about childbirth at that point had come from the movie “Knocked Up,” though our crash course was well underway.
Ten minutes later, we were in a delivery room. An hour after that, a doctor was pulling a satellite-dish-sized light out of the ceiling as the room buzzed with perhaps a dozen nurses.
“Doctor, what are the chances that this isn’t happening today?” I asked when he stopped moving for a moment.
“No chance. The baby will be here before noon,” he replied.
“Oh my God. I have to call our parents,” I said. Paul Revere had less urgent messages to deliver.
Tears welled up in Kara’s eyes. “It’s too early. We can’t have him yet,” she said. I looked at the doctor, knowing that his response could change the trajectory of our lives forever.
“Thirty-two weeks is plenty. He’ll go to Harvard if he wants to,” he replied, and for the first time, we began to breathe a little easier. At least I did. Kara still needed more drugs.
An hour later, the epidural in place, we had a few moments of calm.
“We still don’t have a name picked out yet,” I said. Broaching that topic before the epidural had yielded results not printable in a family publication.
“Do you still like Evan?” I asked.
“I do,” she said, tears falling down her cheeks as she nodded her head. And so Evan Edward Todd was born last Monday at 9:13am, four pounds, one ounce, beautiful, healthy. And exhausted and crying, just like his parents.
You can smoke a cigar with Mike Todd at email@example.com.