By, Ryan Cartwright
The room was cold and hollow. The sounds were too much to bear. The I.V. machine beeping incessantly while the nurses swirled through one after another all speaking at once. I thought this was it, the moment I had lost everything. I should have watched a show or read up on the subject to prepare myself for what was to come, but I was stubborn. I knew better and was fully prepared. I have never been so wrong.
We traveled into the hospital early on Thursday. I thought that this was the moment my life changed, I’m about to become a father. I wasn’t aware that the induction process could take so long! I imagined it would be like a switch, once flipped the baby would spring out ready to accompany our family home. The nurses chattering amongst themselves as they hooked up the machines to my wife was the beginning I believed. My excitement didn’t diminish the whole night or even as the next day began.
The room grew undesirable as we continued on through what at this point felt like confinement. The air was stagnant and the smell of cleaner wafting in from the hall was churning my stomach. The longer it took for the process to really pick up pace was miserable, but it did give my wife and I tons of time to discuss what we would eat once we were finally free from the self imprisonment. At that point the food was the most important thing we could think of, as the food in the hospital was best described as the color grey. Nothing contained salt or seasoning as if they were trying to punish us for being there. The multitude of choices we discussed grew valuable, almost like we had been talking about cherished childhood memories.
The night went on and it grew late, I sat straight up in my chair doing anything to keep my eyes open for fear I would miss the main event. My eyes grew heavier and heavier and my strength began to wane, Then they slammed shut. It was only for a short while before the sounds of the midwife awoke me. “It’s time little lady, are you ready?” I sprang to, filled with energy and excitement! She bargained with my half asleep wife laying there, “how about we give you an hour and then begin?” she left the room and all I could think was, how in gods name does she think we will be able to sleep now. I glanced to my wife in hopes that she would share my humor in this concept and she was fast asleep. I turned the television in the room on to the beginning of Planet of the Apes, the remake with Mark Walburg. As I spent the last little bit of time as an adult free from the confines of a child, I pondered what people’s reaction to my movie choice would be.
Then the Midwife stormed in with her team of nurses like they were prepared to take the beach. The grimace came across my face as the screaming and pushing began. My part was the easiest I was only responsible for the waiting for the hour or so and cutting the cord.
This was it, the moment my heart sank. The midwife pushed me aside and clipped the cord from around my daughter’s neck. My daughter was blueish gray and lifeless; the midwife scooped my daughter to beyond my sight and handed her to the staff at the door. My worst fear was actualized fatherhood would not be achieved and this was the moment the room started to swirl. I look back at this moment and smile as they had called in the smallest nurse they could find to support me and walk me to the nearest chair. Before I could gather myself I looked forward to see the moment that the afterbirth was expelled.
I should have prepared myself or attained knowledge of this moment. Unaware of the normalcy of the gruesome act that it entailed, I thought something terrible had happened. At this moment I started the panicking, my skin grew hot and I felt the tears well up in my eyes, I’m losing everything. I stood from the chair and the room started to shake, my breath became shallow and the words from the midwife echoed like loudly, “He needs to leave the room!”
Here comes the munchkin to escort me to the bathroom around the corner within ear shot but out of sight. The nurse trying to console me was growing impatient as I displayed no signs of response. Clutching the cup of water, which to this day I still don’t know how I received. I was playing in my head all the moments that I wouldn’t share with my family, this whole experience was only a moment long but felt like hours had passed. Then, the sounds of a baby crying, experiencing sight and sounds for the first time. I stood, excitement and hope swirling through me as I stepped across the floor. I approached the table surrounded by nurses to see my daughter, alive and safe.