Good morning, everyone! Hope you're having a festive Cinco de Mayo thus far. This morning, I'm coming to you from a post-delivery room in Meriter hospital. A very tired Marissa is in bed, sailing off to sleep after a complimentary breakfast. Beside her sleeps a tiny swaddled human - Miles Dirk Recker, born at 5:50 AM on this day.
Sip. Yesterday went just about perfectly. Though Marissa was showing some pre-labor symptoms, things remained quiet through Monday, giving us the entire day to relax, clean, and prepare for the hectic birth. The excitement immediately rubbed off on Rodney. Even before lunch, he was marching around the house deliberating on what to put in his tiny blue backpack. He was ready for an adventure.
After a final meal together, eating McDonald's in the parking lot beside our house, we headed across town to Heath's house. We met them at the end of their driveway. Rodney boldly marched forward, back pack slung over his shoulder, dragging his basket of stuffed animals behind him.
"HEATH," he called out. "DO YOU HAVE A CAT?" Heath, amused by the immediate line of questioning, nodded.
"We have two cats," replied Jess from the doorway. Rodney nodded in approval.
"See you later dude, we love you!" I called out, walking back to our car. Part of me wanted Rodney to look back just one more time and, maybe even express some inner turmoil over what was a tearful goodbye for us. But all we got was an over the shoulder wave, and a "SEE YA" as he walked into Heath and Jess's house like he owned the place.
"What a little weeny," I muttered, watching him disappear into the house. "He's acting like this is a regular thing for him. That kid hasn't been anywhere in months!"
With still an hour to kill before the scheduled birth, Marissa and I drove around town. "You know it's a shame," I laughed. "This would have been the perfect time to grab a beer." I playfully patted her swollen stomach. "But that ain't happening."
"I could go for a donut," blurted out Marissa.
"Say no more!" I replied, whipping the wheel into the drive through lane of a Dunkin' Donuts. The car lurched to a stop at the order window.
"Get me a long john. But none with the filling," whispered Marissa across the front of the car.
"Yeah, I'll take a long john - no filling," I parroted. "Aaaaaand a dozen munchkins - just mix it up."
"Sir," said a voice buzzing in the speaker. "The only long john we have left is star wars themed, is that ok?" Marissa shot me a puzzled look.
"Um, yeah that's fine," I replied. We paid for our donuts at the next window, and Marissa hungrily opened the bag. "Oh I get it," she said. "It's May the 4th be with you" She held up the long john so I could snap a picture, capturing her wry disappointment.
"I really hope Miles isn't born on May 4th," said Marissa through the first bite of the long john. "I really hate those jokes."
We parked, and carrying our heavy back packs, wearing masks over our mouths, we made our way to the lobby. A nurse wearing a face shield and scrubs took our temperature using a instant read thermometer.
"The last time they took my temp with one of these, I thought I needed to touch it. So I kept head butting the thermometer," laughed Marissa.
We made our way to a room in the birthing suite, and after settling in for the night, our nurse Kenzie asked Marissa a series of questions while mixing in plenty of chit-chat to put her at ease.
"And what's your pain plan this evening?" she asked. Marissa's eyes widened.
"Oh as much epidural as you can give, and as soon as possible," said Marissa, trying to chuckle her way through a mid sized contraction.
We remained in that room, patiently waiting for the induced labor to kick in. We paced, ate snacks, and binged the newest episodes of The Last Dance. The show had us so sucked in, that for a moment in time I forgot I was in a hospital.
From the corner of my eye, I caught Marissa wincing through another contraction.
"I really want an epidural," she sighed.
"Yeah I wonder why they're being so stingy about it," I replied. "But hey - look at the bright side. It's 1 AM, and we can be sure Miles won't be a May the 4th baby." Marissa acknowledged that with a weary fist bump.
A rap was heard at the door, and a resident joined by our nurse Kenzie filed beside Marissa.
"I'm afraid I have some bad news," said the resident. "Your platelet count is too low for an epidural. It would be too risky." Shocked, Marissa silently listened to the explanation.
"Some women get down to 100 or in the high nineties, but most anasthesiologists won't give an epidural to anyone under 90. You're at 70."
Marissa bursted into tears. "I'm sorry," she said damping her face with her blanket. "I... I'm scared." Kenzie rushed to her side.
"You got this girl," she said. "You're stronger than you think. We have a birthing ball, a tub, hot packs, cold packs... we can do this."
The doctors and nurses left our room, and Marissa began to quietly weep in her bed. I joined her in the rocking chair beside her.
"I'm afraid - what if I can't do it?" she asked. I rocked back in the wooden chair, searching for the right words.
"Well," I said hesitantly. "It's scary, I know. But it's not like you're suddenly going to stop in the middle of giving birth. I think your body knows what to do, and you just need to be strong enough to go along for the ride. And you can do that, you've been through a lot of tough things. Kenzie is right, you're tougher than you think."
Marissa cracked a smile.
"It's just a little bit of pain - one last time," I continued. "You can even call this... I don't know... The Last Dance."
Feeling a little more accepting of the circumstances, Marissa and I drifted off to sleep. I rolled out of my fold out couch bed a few hours later. Seemingly in a matter of minutes, Marissa went from being slightly uncomfortable, to watching her water break, to being in labor. Doctors and nurses filed into her room, followed by carts, gloves, and tools. Marissa's heavy breathing turned to painful shrieking. The Last Dance was underway.
Breathing. Shrieking. Screaming. A damp, dark colored head emerged. The doctor gingerly unwrapped the pale chord from around his neck. Marissa sank into the bed feeling utter relief as I carefully laid Miles on her chest.
I didn't even notice the nurses and doctors put the room back together. Moments later, we were alone with Miles, and I was spreading cream cheese on Marissa's bagel while a nurse was quietly checking her vitals.
"I feel like you gave birth to that baby in the same amount of time it took me to smear cream cheese on your bagel," I laughed.
The nurse weighed him on the table. "Six pounds, nine ounces," she announced.
Marissa is doing really well. She's having the best sleep she's had in months. Miles is well too.
As for me - I'm looking forward mentally slowing down to reflect on things, and getting to know the tiny swaddled stranger sleeping in the corner. Thanks for stopping by this morning. Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone.