When we last left our story, baby Claire had given some dramatic signs that she was ready to move herself out the comfortable yet confining space of Jen’s womb and into the larger world around her. More specifically, Jen’s water broke. I say dramatic, but here I’m probably guilty of using hyperbole to heighten the tension of the storyline (it’s a accepted literary technique). Anyway, the truth is It wasn’t really as much a break as a trickle (this will not be expanded on further). The dramatic part was that we know knew Claire was about to be born. It was about 8:00am on January 30th, 2009
As soon as the certainty of what was happened had established itself, long-made plans sprang into action. Jen called her mom, who hopped on the next available flight from Spokane, WA. I called my mom, who came and took the other three kids for a weekend at grandma’s and grandpa’s house. The stage was set.
Jen’s contractions began in earnest around 5:00pm, around the same time Jen’s mom (who I will now refer to as Coralee, as that just happens to be her name) was sitting on a fog-bound tarmac at the Spokane International Airport, waiting for her plane to depart. The fog and a minor security incident involving a couple being removed from the plane for “inappropriate activities” threw a little unwanted tension into the trip, and Coralee began to despair she would ever make it on time, but eventually the plane did leave, and four hours later, after a flight to Seattle, a puddle-jump to Bellingham and a car ride courtesy of my father to our house, Coralee finally did arrive.
From there things progressed as they should. I discovered an iPod is actually quite useful for timing contractions, and so the long process of trying to figure out when Claire was going to make a serious move south settled in. At around 1:00am the contractions were such that we called the midwife. Normally they would make a house call to evaluate the baby’s progress, but apparently two other babies did not receive the memo and decided they too wanted to see the larger world that night, the result being our midwives were tied up at the hospital. So we packed up Jen and made the drive, only to be told that she was just 1cm dilated. The birth would be a while yet, so go home and (try) to get some sleep. We crawled back into our bed around 3am, and amazingly Jen did manage to nod off, unlike myself, who had a hard time getting past the low, long moans my wife would give out every time a contraction came on. I still have no idea how she slept through those.
At 6:00am the action picked up once again, this time with an exponential increase in intensity. At this point Jen began to contemplate the use of drugs. Once again we called the midwives, who happen to be right in the middle of delivering a baby. However, they managed to get hold of another of their team, and she was sent out to evaluate Claire’s progress at around 6:30am.
Within a few minutes of us being notified that the midwife was on her way things moved from very intense to “ok, this is absolutely-can’t-be-happening-crazy.” Jen started to push. She didn’t want to push. She tried not to push. I tried telling her not to push. But the sensation she was experiencing was all too real. At first I thought it just must be another stage of the whole process. After all, the birth had to be hours away yet. It’s Jen’s first. “They always take longer,” they said. “You’ll be hours yet,” they said. But it was hard to deny what was happening, especially when Jen cried out, “she’s coming!!. I can’t stop it.”
“That can’t be it! It’s too early”, I tried to tell Jen. “It must be something else.” But even as I said those words I felt panic begin to set in upon me and I began to frantically wonder when the midwife would arrive. Remembering the story of the unexpectedly sudden birth of my own mother, I looked for a towel to catch the baby in.
Will the midwife arrive on time? Will Ken have to catch baby Claire in a towel? If so, what kind of towel will he use? Will he stick with family tradition and use a tea-towel, or will he choose a larger and more luxurious bath towel, preferably Egyptian cotton? Speaking of Egypt, will there ever be peace in the Middle East? Will Ken manage to somehow stretch this story out to an even more interminable and painful length, or will it finally come to an end in the next installment?