On the evening before her birth, my wife and I traveled on Interstate 80 and were stuck in traffic for hours resulting from the most horrific automobile accident we’ve ever seen - that stress instigated the labor.
The next morning we traveled to work from Pennsylvania to New Jersey and visited the doctor early in the afternoon. Though my wife knew our daughter was coming, he insisted there was plenty of time, and possibly not even today. He encouraged us to stay busy for the day and come back early in the evening for a follow up.
So we went to Chevy’s and ordered some spicy food and delicious guacamole, drove around to a scenic lake, and contemplated staying the night at a hotel to be close to our doctor and hospital in New Jersey.
We later visited the doctor, in which he continued to suggest our girl was not arriving today. Since my wife thought differently, we decided to check into the Hampton Inn after all, a nice hotel that we stayed at during a previous Valentine’s day.
In the room, my wife showered while I brought in the rest of the luggage, plugged in the laptop and watched the news and reruns of Good Times. The presence of severe physical pain engulfed her face as she rested on the bed. Following the instructions from the doctor, I kept close notes of her contractions. As they grew closer and closer, the pain sent her spirit in a transcendent journey void of human persona.
She went to the bathroom for a second shower, but the contractions reached a critical closeness which initiated the labor. She urged me to call the doctor, and he urged to meet him at the hospital. As I tried to put her socks on, she claimed that she was not leaving the room, that this baby was coming now, and to call the doctor and get him here, now! I called the doctor and he politely suggested to call 911.
Not being able to figure out how to get an outside line, I called the front desk to make the emergency call. By this time, my wife was on the bed and I over her with my hands at the ready and the phone between my ear and shoulder. Through the receptionist at the front desk, instructions were being sent to me to stall her delivery until the emergency unit arrived. My instructions not to push were met with strong and opposing pushes, with our daughter’s head making its presence - there was no stalling this delivery.
On the phone, 911 gave instructions to the gentleman at the front desk, and in turn he instructed me to keep her breathing steady. I kept her breathing as she pushed, then she felt something on the baby’s head that she interpreted as the umbilical cord being wrapped around her neck. As I asked for clarification on the phone, they panicked some and asked for more visual clues. I noticed that the crease she felt was an occurrence we learned in parenting class: the baby’s skull folding in and the skin folding on the top of the head made her feel like it was the baby’s cord. After clearing it up for her and the guys on the phone, we all took deep breaths and moved on.
I quickly answered a knock on the door and let in a young, single police officer into the room then grabbed the phone and continued to work. The baby’s head was coming out at this point and I could see her squished eyes and nose as tiny fingers were starting to come out next to her cheek. The guys on the phone urged me to clear her nose and see if she was breathing, and as I cleared her nose I saw no movement or breath. By now my wife was panicking and asking if the baby was alive, and the guys on the phone were also asking if there were any signs of breathing or life.
On my knees and removing fluids from her nose without noticing breaths or movement, my mind fell into deep shock and remorse. At that moment I quickly came to the full possibility and realization that my daughter was in the act of being born dead. In a flash, I felt the powerful regret that everything we have done in our lives; every decision that we’ve made leading us to this very moment, had been a painfully true and irreversible... mistake. I also felt the crushing end of our marriage along with the endless and unforgiving reprimand of my mother in law.
And in the very next second, her fingers began to move. I quickly shouted, “she’s moving, her fingers are moving!” And everyone from my wife, the guys on the phone, to the now two policemen and one policewoman gasped strong signs of relief.
Quickly thereafter, her arm and head came out followed by the rest of her until our daughter’s full, living body was in my arms. To the left of me, a friendly medic cleared her nasal passage and cut the umbilical cord as I held our daughter.
As I stood up and gave our daughter to my wife for her first breastfeeding, my wife looked up at me with magic in her eyes and said, “Wow Claudio, you delivered your own daughter.” That single phrase will forever resonate in my mind until the moment I cease to exist.
They placed my wife and daughter on the stretcher while asking her if she was on drugs. After convincing them that this was a planned and healthy pregnancy, they took her to the hospital while I stayed behind to clean the room and check out. The young policeman took notes and information, and I thanked him for being there. He replied, “you did all the work, you were standing like a football player and looked like you knew what you were doing.”
I have to admit that it was one of the most significant and proud moments of my personal human existence. Months afterwards I continued to glow with feelings of pride and invincibility, and to this day it is one of my favorite stories to tell and will continue to tell it whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Our daughter, now almost two, has turned out to be an amazing little creature with powerful dual personalities. She can be both brooding and tough while at the same time glowing with happiness and laughter. Through her deep kisses and hugs, she expresses honest feelings of affection and love. And when she disagrees with you, you best respect your differences and take a diplomatic approach.
Being a girl and having an older sibling, she’s learning life and developing speech incredibly fast, which makes her the cutest thing as big words and spellings come out of her tiny and cute mouth. Returning from a break to feed her and put her to sleep, I’m reminded of the profound and deep love I feel for our daughter.