It was warm and sunny in Augusta as we made our way towards the hospital.
"We're having a baby today," I say to Rob, then reach over and squeeze his hand.
I can't remember exactly what I was feeling.
Excitement for the day ahead.
Relief that we made it to Georgia before his arrival.
Anxiety that everything would go well.
But most of all, everything felt surreal. It's hard to explain. It was almost like we were going to visit a friend who was having a baby. It didn't even occur to me that after our visit we were taking that baby home with us. That he would be OURS.
Our parents were due to arrive on later flights into Augusta at 8pm.
The Women's Hospital was quiet when we arrived. I guess there aren't many babies who want to make an entrance into the world on a Sunday (day of rest and all that).
"Lordy, Lordy!" the woman behind the desk at the nurses' station hollered when she say us. "Y'all made it! Y'all made it! Woo hoo!"
And that was when we realized that we were a big deal. Well, a big deal in the Women's Hospital in Augusta, Georgia, anyway.
"Nancy, they're here!" she shouted over to another nurse walking by.
"We've all been waiting for you to get here!" Nancy smiles at us.
You have? Us? Do they have the right people?
"She's right this way," another nurse ushers us towards a room. "We've been waiting for you so we can get things moving!"
The warming unit is all set up and waiting for Baby M to make his arrival!
Our surrogate smiled when we walked in, probably relieved that she could start to get our little creature out of her body.
"Let's jack up that pitocin now that the parents are here," our nurse said. "And get this show on the road."
Now that we were getting this 'show on the road', I started to panic that we weren't quite ready for this show to begin. Or end.
Still 4 centimeters.
Rob and I head outside to our rental car with our surrogate's husband to install our car seat, that they have so kindly been keeping at their house for this very day.
Nothing like installing the car seat for the first time into a rental car!
Because the hospital was so empty, our nurse set Rob and I up in the delivery room next door to our surrogate.
"After the baby is born, we'll walk him next door to this room and I'll do everything I need to do to him in here with you. That will give your surrogate some privacy and allow you guys to be a family for the first time and to bond with the baby," she tells us.
Only in the south, where people are nice and accommodating, does this happen. I tried to imagine Yale Hospital saying, "Hey, we're going to give you this room for free to use and do everything we can to be nice to you and give you the best experience possible."
And they would realize that they were from north of the Mason Dixon line and take everything back.
Our "delivery room" for the day.
Our parents are just getting ready to board their flight from Atlanta to Augusta.
We see our doctor coming down the hall. He's finally here!
"How much longer?" I ask him.
"Oh, I'd say about 15 minutes or so."
Any chance 'or so' is code for 3 more hours???
Wait! I want to scream.
We're not ready yet!
It is then that we realize that our parents aren't going to make it to the hospital before our baby's birth. We decide not to tell them, so they don't worry about it for the entire flight over.
When they ask for an update instead we say: "Things are moving along!".
The latest in post-birth 'skin to skin' fashion: the double Johnny coat.
Don't be jealous.
The very last picture ever taken of just the two of us.
I'm pretty sure we're both thinking,
"Do we have time for one last quick beer before this show???"
Have you every been in a delivery room? Well, I hadn't. Everything I knew about delivery rooms I learned from the movies.
Screaming women in labor. Husbands being told it was all their fault. Mayhem. Bright lights. And incompetent doctor and a jokester nurse.
Funny thing…it's not like that at all.
The room wasn't that big, but the cast of characters was assembled:
- The doctor (probably the second most important person in the room) who was suited up in what resembled a Hazmat suit (including booties that went up to his knees – what exactly was he going to be stepping in???). It seemed his primary role was to stand back and observe our surrogate's nether regions and say things like, "That's it" and "Good job" and "Keep it up".
- Our nurse (whom it seemed had the most vocal role in the room), who SWORE she was going to deliver this baby before her shift ended at 7pm. Her primary goal was the count. "10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. PUSH! Great! Do it again! 10, 9…"
- A second nurse who watched the monitors. Every once in a while giving updates and maybe handing something over. Monitor watching and staying out of the way seemed to be her forte. Oh, and making sure the incubator was warm.
- Our surrogate, who was being quite the trooper.
- Our surrogate's husband, who stepped in as birth coach/hand holder/motivator.
- Rob, who stood north of the action near our surrogate's head, holding the umbilical cord cutters and providing blockage for his lovely wife.
- Me, the lovely wife, who was plastered up against Rob, arm wrapped around his, head facing the back wall continually asking "What's going on now???" and "Can you see him???"
The room was very calm and very quiet. In fact, I think I heard chatter about the weather in between pushes, and I think our surrogate was laughing at jokes. But I still didn't look. I just couldn't.
One big push and Baby M made his way into the world.
I think I looked because I could have sworn I saw the doctor holding him up and thinking, "Did she just give birth to a toddler???" because he was so round and plump.
I heard things like, "Big boy!" and "Rob, come around here – watch your step – and cut the cord". (I believe Rob described the experience of cutting the cord as "weird" and "squishy".)
I remember being asked to come around the incubator to see our son, squirming and squawking as the nurses cleaned him off. I stared at him in awe.
You are mine, I kept thinking. You are mine.
Shortly after the birth we were whisked next door, to start our life as a new family.
Our very first family photo
My cell phone rings.
"We just landed," my mother in law said. "We're here!"
"You're not the only one who's here," I tell her, smiling.
And as if on cue, Baby M lets out a howl to say hello to his grandparents.
to be continued...