May 2, 2008

by MW Cook

How it all went down.

May 2nd, morning. Cramps and slight contractions had made Ruth’s night a bit of a touch and go in regards to sleep. But that was kinda nice. A good sign, she figured. We woke up around eight, got ready for the day and decided to head out to the hospital around nine or so.
We headed downstairs to the car lot, high on cloud nine. This was it, we happily mused to ourselves, the day we had been waiting for. Perhaps by nightfall we would have a new baby in our family!
We bounced into the black car a very nice British family had lent to us for a couple months. With great joy and gladness I inserted the key and turned it as I had countless time before.
Nothing happened.
No lights, no beeps, no engine revving into life. Silence. Confused, I tried it again. Nothing. I scratched my head and tried to think about this for a while. I tried again. Nothing. Again, nothing. It soon became apparent that the engine wasn’t going to start.
But we were not yet daunted. Because there was another car in the driveway that was waiting for its owners to pick it up after a week. Surely, I thought, they wouldn’t mind me borrowing it in an emergency. So I hopped in that car and turned the ignition. Guess what? It wouldn’t start either. At this point we were getting worried. Ruth was to meet with her doctor at nine. It was already half-past. I tried both cars a couple more times, then took my wife’s hand and ran (rather, waddled) down the street to get a rickshaw.
We got to the hospital at nine forty-five. Ruth doctor, a lovely lady named Aliya Aziz, saw us at about ten thirty. After some talks and examination Dr. Aliya decided that today was, indeed, the day. She predicted a baby by seven or eight that evening. “Joy!” said our hearts.
Eleven o’clock found us in the maternity ward. Ruth was directed to a room while I was given papers and told to get to admissions and admit her. That took almost an hour. It was nearly twelve when I found Ruth again in Delivery Room 5. The strangest thing about this delivery room was that it was shared. That’s right, there was another lady ready to give birth in the same room. A curtain separated the two of them. This is where things started to get…annoying.
Nurses would come and go. They had to examine Ruth a few times, and every time the examined her they wanted me out of the room. I couldn’t do much, so out I went. Then they would call me back. And them kick me out again. At twelve they broke her water, active labour began.
Eventually they were able to move Ruth into a delivery room that wasn’t shared, which was nice. I stayed with her in this one, and I resolved to stay even if all the nursing staff wanted me out. Most of the nurses were small, anyway. I figured I would take them.
When Joseph was being born Ruth had an epidural. Unfortunately the doctor who administered it kinda…screwed it up, giving Ruth back pains that still bother her. So we both decided to steer clear of that. Aga Khan (the hospital) offered some sort of injection or laughing gas for the pain. We had decided on laughing gas, partly because needles are no fun at all. Partly because I was hoping I could sample a little bit of it myself.
So the pain hit. And it hit hard. Joseph’s birth was completely different. This time around it was raw and real. The raw reality of the situation made normal life seem surreal. It was as if we had been living a dream all our lives and had only now arrived at what life really was. And it hurt. So Ruth called out for the gas that had been promised her.
“I’m sorry.” Said one of the nurses. “We’re out.”
“What about the injection?” I asked.
“It’s too late for that.” Was the reply. “She can’t have it.”
“That’s retarded!” Ruth yelled out. The nurses, who grasp of English was tenuous at best, didn’t get it.
A light of hope went out for Ruth at this point. She was still hanging on to the words that Dr. Aziz had given her, that the baby would come in the evening. Here we were, at one o’clock, and the pain was racking her like…a woman in labour.
Things got intesnse. Nurses piled into the room, along with a friendly looking doctor who took the time to greet, hug and kiss every nurse while my wife writhed on the table. Eventually they got prepped for the birth.
Up until this point they had all been sternly commanding Ruth not to push. Ruth was about to smack then in the face when finally the blessed permission was given. “Push.”
It only took two.

And that was it. No meds. Baby at 1:30. Yeah…baby.