My eyes popped open before my brain registered that my phone was ringing. The blinking display told me Josh, Lyndsay's husband, was calling. It was 3:00 AM. Why the Hell would anyone be awake at that hour, let alone daring to wake me?
And then I figured it out.
"Hello?" I said, hoping it was the call we'd been waiting for.
"Hello," Josh responded, calmly.
"What's going on?" I asked, wanting his words to come out faster.
"Are you ready?" he questioned.
"Are we having a baby?" I shrieked excitedly as I sat straight up in bed.
"We're having a baby," he replied.
"How long until you get here?" I looked at the clock.
"We can see the building now," he answered.
From a conversation Lyndsay and I had just had yesterday afternoon, I knew she would labor at home as long as possible to make sure she wouldn't be sent home from the hospital once she got there. Since our hotel is directly across the street from the hospital, they waited to call us until they were sure it was really time.
"How long has she been contracting?" was my final question.
"A while. She finally decided it was time to go," Josh told me.
"Ok. Getting up now and we'll be right over!"
I hung up the phone and announced, "We're having a baby!" loudly enough to fully wake Jimmi from his interrupted dozing. "She's in labor?" he asked from under the warm covers. "Yup! They're getting to the hospital now!"
I dialed my parents' number. My mom's sleepy voice answered, "Hello?"
"We're having a baby!" I announced, only half believing it myself.
"You had a baby?!" my mom's excitement was clearly audible.
"We're HAVING a baby!" I reiterated. "She's almost at the hospital now."
"You're having a baby?" I could hear her holding back the happy tears.
"Yes! We're heading over in a few minutes. I'll call you when I know more."
I grabbed a hoodie and a pair of jeans from the hotel room closet, debated about whether or not to pack a suitcase, then decided Jimmi could always run back and get anything I needed. As I brushed my hair and threw on just enough makeup to make me feel presentable, I started to regret the fact that we'd stayed up late enough to only allow two hours of sleep on what will probably be our last chance for an uninterrupted night in a very, very long time. But who knew Lyndsay would go into labor two days before her actual due date? She's never been early before. In fact, she's always been late!
Jimmi and I took the elevator down to the subway level that connects our hotel to the hospital with underground tunnels and started following signs for the building that houses Labor & Delivery. A thought crossed my mind as we saw the closed doors at the end of the hallway. "I wonder if they lock this up at night?" One nonproductive push on the door told me my fear was correct. "Damnit!" We turned to the nearest stairway that would lead us to street level and headed out into the cool, Minnesota air. Our bearings were off when we exited the unfamiliar door. I looked across the street and was relieved to read the sign inside the glass doors. "That's the building we want," I pointed and we hurried toward it. But the bad luck continued when we reached the automatic doors and they didn't automatically open for us. "Shit!" I exclaimed, losing patience. We ran around the building to another set of doors that weren't about to let us in either. "I don't know where to go," I said, half to Jimmi, half to myself. I called Josh as Jimmi and I wandered around the building and before he had a chance to figure out exactly where we were, Jimmi spotted a security guard driving out of the hospital driveway and flagged him down like a New York City taxicab. The guard, who was much more helpful than anyone in NYC would ever be, pointed out the large, red button to the left of the first door we tried that, for some reason, we didn't see when we stood right in front of it a few minutes earlier. We thanked the guard and I pushed the button that elicited an awful buzzing noise. "May I help you?" asked the voice that stopped the buzzing. "Hi! We need to get to the third floor. We're having a baby!" The door magically opened, as if we'd told the guard at the giant door at The Emerald City that I was sent by Glinda, The Good Witch of the North, to see The Wizard. I just hoped she didn't look through a secret security camera, notice that I was clearly not pregnant, and send the flying monkeys to come take us away.
The five second long elevator ride seemed never-ending before the sound of the bell alerted us that we'd made it to level three. The way-too-cheery-for-three-thirty-AM receptionist smiled at us, "May I help you?" My mind drew a blank as I tried to come up with as few words as possible to explain our unusual situation. "Hi. We're the parents of the baby Lyndsay B is having right now." I expected a look of confusion to creep over her face but, instead, she nodded without losing her smile and sent us to the Family Waiting Room until Josh could come out with an update.
The room was small with nothing more than a vending machine and a TV. I found the remote and flipped to the Rock Show on VH1 Classic, where I was greeted with a Def Leppard video from the days when their drummer still had two arms. Jimmi dozed off in the chair next to mine and I pulled out my laptop and began to write. "Labor," I titled the post I hoped to publish within the next few hours while I waited for my daughter to make her appearance into the world. I knew Lyndsay had requested that Jimmi and I wait in the waiting area until she was ready to push, which I assumed would give me plenty of time to work on my prose.
Josh entered the room a few minutes later to let us know Lyndsay was four cm dilated and 75% effaced. She had gotten her epidural, so she was comfortable, and had invited us to come see her. I packed up my computer and Jimmi and I followed Josh through the maze of hallways the led to the room where my daughter would be born sometime that day.
*SIDE NOTE* All but the last two paragraphs above were written upon our arrival at the hospital last Friday, May 16, 2014, at 3:30 AM. The events that played out during the rest of the day left us all so traumatized, I was unable to write about it until now. Also, I wanted to make sure all of Lyndsay's family and friends knew what had happened before I broke the news in a blog and scared them all to death. I'll now continue with this post, attempting to remember all of the details.
Lyndsay looked tired but happy when we entered her room and I hugged her with excitement. She had a sly smile plastered across her face when she announced, "I've been having contractions since Tuesday night but I didn't want to say anything in case they stopped. Do you know how hard it was to keep a poker face in front of you whenever one of them would come?" I had no idea she'd been in pain for three out of the four days we'd been in Minnesota. She continued, "That's why I didn't want the midwife to do an internal at our appointment yesterday. I knew it was coming and I didn't want to stress you out until I was sure it was time. She knew I wasn't telling her something because she called me when I was on my way home to see if I was ok." I was stunned by that information, but it was probably smart of her to keep it from me since I probably would've been a nervous wreck if I'd known.
There were many questions about the safety of a 2 day old baby flying in an airplane. I made sure to clear the possibility of issues due to pressure changes in Aria's ears with the pediatrician, who assured us she should be alright, but keep a pacifier or bottle handy to help her pop her ears with the sucking motion, if necessary. But the part I worried about most was the going through a large airport with lots of people and even more germs. And what if we had to sit on the runway for another three hours due to the ongoing runway construction? What then? Well, luckily, that part was taken care of for us by some very generous friends who know people in high places. A private jet was lovingly donated to get our precious angel home without unnecessary exposure to germs she's too young to fight. And, let me tell you, it was pretty awesome traveling like a rock star! We called to tell the pilot when we wanted to leave, we drove our rental car right up the plane where a porter loaded our bags and returned the car for us. We got in, got strapped, immediately started down the runway and were in the air within 10 minutes of our arrival at the small airport. Barely two hours later we were on the ground in another small airport in New Jersey, where my parents were waiting for us in the car on the runway where we landed. The entire trip took three hours, door to door. It was crazy!