This is the story of a boy.We had been waiting for it, and expecting it, and anticipating it, but we weren’t entirely ready for it.
On the morning of Wednesday, July 21st, my wife started experiencing some mid-range contractions - nothing serious, but worth noting. Of course, she had been feeling them more and more during the preceding couple of days, so it wasn’t really new, either.
She had taken Emma to her first real movie at a movie theater with a friend earlier that day, and that’s when they started. They left the movie a little early because Emma had become more entertained by going to the movie theater restrooms than watching the actual movie.
The day continued somewhat normally for a nine-month pregnant mommy of a two year old and the family dad (me).
I had worked on some pictures at Starbucks for the morning, ate lunch at Barry’s, then went home around 4pm. My parents had asked us to come over for dinner that night, which I had forgotten about, and didn’t want to do because (among other things) I was extremely tired - like, pass-out-while-driving tired, not feeling well, and it had already been a pretty busy day. I felt like I was getting a fever.
My wife asked me if I wanted to go to the pool with her and Emma before dinner at my parents place. I said that I did not, because I would fall asleep and drown and have to get mouth-to-mouth by a weird 10th grade lifeguard dude. Instead, I dropped them off at the pool and went to my parents house early to try to catch a nap (the pool is right across the street).
I cashed out on my brothers bed for a good hour and a half, and then woke up to the commotion of the rest of my family arriving downstairs. We ate dinner, chatted for bit and left. My wife had been contracting all through dinner, which was enough to make my mom super excited and super jump-the-gun-ey. She was all telling me to drive slow and everything cause the baby might fall out on the way home.
We made it home, still with just the one kid, and the contractions cooled out a bit. Then they picked up a bit. We started timing them at about 10pm but decided it was a false alarm and went to bed. They had been coming as close as 10 minutes apart.
At 1am I swam out of a deep sleep with the feeling that something important was happening. My wife was not next to me. The house was dark. I sat up in bed and noticed her silhouette emerge from the floor. She made a longoooooohhhhhooooohhhhhhhhhh sound and put her arms and head on the bed, her knees on the floor. I asked in the dark how she was doing and she said she had been having consistent contractions for about an hour. They were now coming as close as seven minutes apart.
Now - with our first child, my wife had spent the three nights prior to the actual birthday having strong and consistent contractions, only to have them go away in the morning. So this was not entirely freak-out worthy action. However, everything should be taken seriously. Before our short conversation was over, she was back on all fours, grinding out another one. We talked for a moment, still in the dark, about whether this was the real deal.
I flipped on the bedside light and we called our doula, Cora. She said she’d be there in ten minutes. I called my mom to come over to stay with Emma in case we had to make a run for the hospital.
Cora got there and my wife worked through several long contractions and after maybe thirty minutes, we decided to go ahead and check her cervix. Cora said she was dilated to about a 6 or 7 (10 being complete) and that, yeah, it was probably time to hit it. This baby was on its way. It was about 2:30am
I flipped off the “not-feeling-so-great” switch in my brain and flipped on the “I-do-what-I’m-told” switch (it was a little dusty from the last time). In three minutes our car was packed and ready to roll. My mom arrived and gave us an excited grin and we were out the door. During the eight minute drive to Baptist Hospital we had exactly four seriouscontractions. She told me she felt like she was going to have to push.
Now, this is the part that will forever be stored away in my brain for easy access:
As we drove (in almost slow motion) down Interstate 630, with the towers of Baptist Hospital appearing over the hills in the distance, and the soft moonlit cirrus clouds sailing slowly across the sky, with a completely empty road in front of and behind us, and a slight cool breeze in the air, even at 70mph, and the familiar places that I grew up driving past all lined up beside us, the moon hung low in the sky. Like a big circle, low and barely above the horizon, like a Waffle House hashbrown ring with a fat dollop of butter and thick shredded potatoes in it. Like grits. Like breakfast. It hung there, still but still moving, far far away in the cool deep sky. It rested there. Perfectly.
We took the exit and pulled into the parking deck, making sure to creep just barely over each speedbump. The maternity section was full so I steered us into a vacant spot near the footbridge. Outside the car and before we’d made it to the room, we had another three contractions. She took the offer of the wheelchair this time.
Up the elevator, down the halls, we made a few turns and they were checking us into our room. The nurse checked her again and she was complete. Ready to push. The time was exactly 2:50am.
Now what happened next remains in my head as a whirlwind of several very important things and circumstances and moments, none of which settle into any sort of solid, static thought. It was a movement of people, it was arrivals and latex gloves and bed equipment and computer monitors beeping and talking and moaning and groaning and the doctor smiling peacefully and sitting down on the end of the bed and me blacking out and falling into a chair and the nurse tending to me with orange juice and my wife pushing a baby out of her body. A living thing that moved and screamed and jerked and heaved with life.
A son had been born. Just like that.
Again, my adam’s apple split open in my throat and yet another new heart simply busted into my chest, pushing everything else out of its way, shoving my lungs into my ribs, stretching my diaphragm down into my stomach, cramming my other two hearts up into my throat.
I, too, heaved with life.
The time was 3:43am. Not one hour after we had checked in.
A son had been born.
Welcome to the world, Winn Bender Slaton.
A few notes:
Once again, my wife did this without any medication, drugs, or painkillers of any kind. She won’t brag about this to you, but I will. She quite literally walked into a room, laid down on a bed, and pushed a six pound, twelve ounce, twenty inch long human being out of her vagina. That’s what she did. I was there. This happens.
Baby Winn was the exact same size and weight as Emma.
My blackout lasted only a few seconds, and yes, I was fully conscious during the actual delivery. But man, I was straight up gone for a sec.
The entire active labor lasted just under four hours.
My son has ten fingers, ten toes, one penis, and two awesome little man balls.
Stay tuned for a video slideshow of the first few days…