I have been very blessed and very lucky to have been able to be in the room while my very best friend gave birth to her baby girl. It was miraculous, beautiful, joyful...all that cheesy stuff you are always told by your mom and her friends while you're sitting there going, "Yeah. Right. That's disgusting."
(Some names and places have been changed. Just go with it.)
Shavia and Jose, my best good friend and her husband, had asked me several months ago if I would like to join them in the delivery room to take pictures of the baby after she was born. I was honored and flattered that they would invite me to share this moment with them. I accepted with tears in my eyes. I was just so touched.
"Do you think you'll be able to handle it?" Shavia asked point blank after I said yes.
I don't do well with blood and bodily functions. When I see my own blood, I pass the eff out. When someone else is bleeding, I feel as though my stomach has been filled with worms and I have been dunked in cold water. When people tell me about that time they broke a bone, I close my eyes and shout "No, no, no!"
So, it was a valid question.
"Of course I can handle it. I mean, I might pass out. But I'll be totally fine. Just have someone shake me."
Cut to six months later, AKA Monday night.
I had been hanging out at Shavia's house watching Baby Mama with her until Jose got home from a late night at the office. Towards the end of the movie she got really quiet and seemed extremely uncomfortable. I asked her if she was alright, but she would just brush it off saying it was heart burn and cramping. She has the pain tolerance of a prize fighting pit bull, so she's really hard to read when it comes to that. I took her word for it and went home at about 11:30.
11:40 she sends me this text:
I doubt anything is going to happen tonight. But you should keep your phone near you just in case.
I had gotten texts like this before, and I always kept my phone near me at night, so I didn't think much of it. I went to sleep at 12:09.
My morning alarm went off. I groaned and shut my eyes tighter. It can't be 6:30 already! I rolled over to hit snooze. Mid-roll I realized that the tune wasn't my alarm but my reggae ring tone. Picking up my phone, I saw Jose's name and face staring back at me, under the time 12:59am.
"Hello?" I asked, completely befuddled.
"Hey. You need to come to the hospital."
"The hospital? Why? The hospital??"
"Yes. You need to go to the place where babies are born."
"Oh. Oh. OH!"
"Shavia and I are almost there. Kim is at our house with the kids."
"Ok. So I need to come straight to the hospital. Not your house?"
"Right. Unless you want to go to our house."
"No! No I'm coming to the hospital. I just wanted to make sure I heard you right. Ok. I will get dressed and come to the hospital. Bye."
I sat up and swung my legs off my bed. "Ok. Go time." I quickly thought of the essentials I needed: Jeans, shoes, camera, a spot of make up. I hardly remember getting all these things together, but I was out the door at 1:06am.
Driving through my desolate neighborhood, I started to wonder if the conversation I'd just had was real. I had been so asleep, and there was about a 50% chance it had been a dream. Nothing added up quite right. The plan had always been that as soon as Shavia went into labor, she would call me first. I live with Kim, and there were no lights on in the house when I got up and came down stairs and the doors to her rooms were still shut.
What if I get all the way to the hospital and none of this was real?
I decided to voice text Kim to make sure.
So you are at Jose's?
Yeah. Shavia's in a lot of pain. I've never seen her like that before.
I floored it. Shavia birth's babies quick. There wasn't a minute to spare.
The hospital looks like a castle, and it's not exactly down town, so it was very dark. I couldn't tell where I should turn in at, so I finally just chose an entrance and wnet with it. I quickly came to a fork in the massive parking lot, and found a sign that gave me a left and a right option.
"Well...I mean she is delivering..."
I was baffled! You would think that a hospital would make things crystal clear to understand but I didn't know what they meant by "deliveries." It was a delivery room, after all. In what context were they using the word "delivery"?
I went with my sleep deprived gut and drove towards Deliveries.
When I got there the place was completely deserted. I knew this couldn't be right, because I didn't see Jose's car. At 1:22am I called him.
"Hey, it's Baylor right?"
"Yeah. It looks like a hotel."
It looks more like a castle to me. "Ok. I'm here."
"We're on the second floor."
I ran up to the front desk.
"Can I help you?" asked the cute, blond security guard.
"My friend is having a baby."
Elevator. Second floor. Fancy lobby with way too much furniture blocking my way. Another security guard.
"Down this hall, take a left. Push the intercom to get a nurse to help you."
Hall way. Sealed doors. Intercom.
"Can I help you?"
"I'm looking Shavia Knight."
"Hold on. Who are you?"
I waited in the hall for about 5 minutes until Jose came and got me. He lead me to the room, where Shavia was already in a gown, on the bed, talking to a nurse who had an accent I couldn't understand.
"Hi. I'm glad you're here." She said to me, through grimaces.
Everything happened very fast next. They hooked Shavia to an IV, made her sign a million papers, asked her a million questions, went running for the anesthesiologist (CRNA), gave her ice cubes, told her to breath and called her doctor. The CRNA came waltzing in and the nurse said "We are either going to have an epidural or a baby."
I wasn't going to watch the epidural process. I don't especially love needles and I'd head horror stories of how big and epidural needle is. But as they pushed my friend over and the CRNA painted circles on her lower back, I couldn't keep my eyes from wandering over.
The CRNA held up the first syringe, and the needle glinted in the spot light. Oh that's not so bad. That's normal sized. That shot came and went. Then he pulled out another needle. One that looked like a drill bit.
The blood drained from my face and I quickly looked away. Holy shit that's big! Don't pass out. Keep it together. I concentrated on breathing in and out and pictured a calm meadow in my mind. This picture of calm was soon shattered.
The CRNA didn't get the epidural to Shavia in time. The baby was coming and there was no stopping it. She was coming au natural. No pain meds.
I'm not going to go into detail here. I don't think it's appropriate, and you probably don't want to hear it. All I can say, is natural child birth is exactly how it's portrayed in the movies. They don't exaggerate.
At 2:39am the nurse pulled out a screaming baby girl. I saw the whole thing. I saw her come into this world. It wasn't gross, or scary or messy. It was honestly and truthfully the most amazing thing I have ever seen.
I was so proud of my best friend. So happy for their family. And so excited to see the little baby I had felt kicking around for months.
She is perfect.
"The miracle of life" is an over used expression that is synonymous with health text books. But life really is a miracle. There is a new person in the world. She's one of us now. She's going to laugh and play and read and watch movies and go to school. It's easy to get caught up in thinking of all the things she's going to do, but when you stop and look at this tiny little baby just a few days old who can't even hold her own head up...it really just blows your mind that this life is even possible.
I wish the deepest congratulations to my friends and all of their family.
Thank you for reading. =)