Over a week ago, her OB/GYN had told her that she was definitely going to have this baby "any minute." And so, for over a week, Michael had been shadowing her, following her every move, solicitously asking if she was alright. In short, she was ready to kill him. So when a friend invited him to go see a band, Danni nearly threw him out the door. In a world before ubiquitous cell phones, Michael had his pager so if anything happened, he could fly right home.
Except for some reason Michael's pager had switched off vibrate. And he was at a bar. With loud music and his pager beeping away. So here is my very-much-in-labor sister breathing through contractions while my not-yet-fiance looked on in nervous horror, and I try to figure out what happens now. The phone rings and it's Michael. My sister, doubled over, grabs the foot board of her bed and shouts into the phone "WHERE ARE YOU?!" He's on his way but not soon enough. She says, "FORGET IT! CHRIS IS DRIVING ME! MEET US AT THE HOSPITAL!"
I grab Andy's keys, yell over my shoulder that he's watching the girls, and away we go in Andy's car. A dilapidated Jaguar with a few minor problems, like a gas leak and a few missing gears - Park being among them. By this point, Danni would be about ready to push if she were at the hospital. The hospital that I don't know how to get to. So she's giving me directions in between contractions and telling me she doesn't want to break her water in Andy's car.
At the hospital, I carefully place Andy's (
Weeks later, we arrive at Labor and Delivery where the experts thankfully take over. In no time, they've got Danni changed and on the table. She turns to me and says "I don't want to be brave. I want drugs." Right! Drugs! Got it! I rush into the hallway and request drugs from a passing nurse. She comes in, takes one look at Danni and decrees that she will not have drugs, she will have a baby. NOW.
Her water breaks and my poor sister is left with childless me, whose only known means of comfort is "squeeze my hand if it hurts." Which she does. And it hurts.
And then, because God listens to the prayers of the truly panicked, my brother-in-law arrives, cape flying behind him. Instantly, Michael is on top of the situation, finding her focal point, telling her to push, shoveling ice chips into her mouth.
I opt to stay and witness the blessed event but about two or three good pushes into it, the room starts to blacken down to one little circle, I'm sweating, nauseous, and dizzy. Holy shit! I'm going to pass out! I lean over to my sister, who clearly has other things on her mind and whisper, "you're gonna love this one, Dan, but I've gotta go throw up" and exit, stage left.
And that is how I witnessed the birth of my niece, sitting in a hospital bathroom with my head between my knees.
Happy 10th Birthday, Victoria Christine. Auntie has loved you from the very beginning.