I look over at my cell and its Mary's number. "Oh My God" I think. I answer and it’s Jake.
He tells me that they are pretty sure Mary is in labor. The contractions are intense, 2 minutes apart and lasting for one minute! "What?" I yell inside my head. I can't believe they waited this long. "We'll be right there"
Brian hears this; we fly up and out the door grabbing towels "just in case". When we pull up to the house, Jai is outside smoking a butt and has his own blankets and bags and such. Brian once again rearranges the car to try and make it as comfy as he can for her. I rush inside, all smiles and say "Hey Girl long time no see" since we had just dropped her off five hours prior. Mary didn't respond to my hello and I realize, "Whoa! She is really in the thrall of contractions here". I rubbed her back while she breathed through and while I wanted to rush everyone into the car so we could start the 81 mile drive to the birth center, I remembered that the whole reason for a water birth was to make this a calm and stress-free experience. I immediately try to get Zen.
I breathe with her and try to exude calmness.yeah right! Finally we are in the car and we are off.
Now I have to say, in the new car we have a built in GPS. It has some pompous chick voice that we lovingly named Pussy Galore after Austin Powers’s movies. Well P.G. doesn't like the location of the birth center so every time you select that destination she goes into a 2 minutes explanation of how "your destination is in an area that cannot be navigated by this system". So we heard that message and figured at this point we knew where we were going so I cancelled it. I guess Brian was too flustered so as we pull away, he restarts it and P.G. goes back into her explanation which was enough to break Mary's Zen state. She shouts, "can we turn her off?!" I say "YES!" and cancel it again. Brian's face was classic and he proceeds to find the "Spa" station on the satellite radio so we can drive "serenely".
We get on the highway and Brian is doing the speed limit. Without making a scene, I am like, "umm, can you drive faster please?" As usual he argues. "We have NY plates, if we get pulled over for speeding we REALLY aren't going to make it." Not to add conflict to the air, I bite my tongue.
Mary is now moaning like a metronome. It is so regularly that I don't need my watch to time the contractions. They are hanging steady at 2 minutes apart and 50 seconds in duration for most of the trip. I am texting my cousin Ivy because although she is an Oncologist she is telling me that she can walk me through the delivery if I need her to. Say what???? I start taking off my jewelry.like really??? Is this going to happen???
About half way there, she starts to get ill. I mean really ill. She is vomiting and Jai is being wonderful for her. He is holding her hair like all good boyfriends do at some point in the relationship and whispering to her and keeping her calm. We didn't know until later but it was during this time that her water broke. After she was done being sick, the contractions got kicked up a notch. And as if her uterus was connected to Brian's foot, the car went from 75 to 90 mph. Thank God!
I started to feel relief when we saw our exit off the highway but the sky has opened up and there was a downpour like I haven't seen in a long time. The waves of rain were coming so hard that it was difficult to see out the window. Good thing, there weren't a lot of people on the road.
We pull into the lot and the midwife is there to greet us. We are thinking Mary is going to hop out and I hoped she would. I needed to get this girl into capable hands. But she wasn't going to move until she was ready. We are all standing in the pouring rain waiting for this contraction to pass. Again we found out later that the baby's head was crowning at this point. OMFG!
Finally, they are all inside. Poor Jake had worked 24 hours straight, 12 at one job and 12 at another. The man needed some coffee. We let them go inside and we went to Mc Donald’s because you know, as everyone said "it’s her first baby, it’s going to take hours." We go to McDonalds, get a bunch of coffee and breakfast Mc Muffins and start calling people. The lawyer, the agency, etc. We texted our family and friends. We head back to the birth center to hunker down. We are only settled in our room for about 5 minutes and one of the nurses came flying out of the room where Mary is. She finds us and says "the baby is coming now!"
Umm exSqueeze me?
We rush into the room (without our camera mind you) and Mary is in the tub and Jake is behind her holding her arms and head. The baby's head is already out. I simply stood there with my hand over my mouth in complete awe.
CAMERA! I fly back into the room, get the camera and hand it to the nurse and resume "shock and awe" position. One more push and boop, instant baby. 5 pushes total! We were there for the last 2.
I wish we had a picture of Mary and Jake's face. It was the single most magnificent and intense expression I have ever witnessed in real life. That moment when the life inside took on a life outside. There was love, there was joy, there was awe and there was relief all in one single shot.
I don't remember what was said. I don't think I even looked at Brian- if I did I don't remember him, just them and her. Mary placed the baby on her chest and sweetly and quietly the baby realized it was born and let out a sweet and gentle cry with healthy lungs. Mary held her tightly and kissed Jake passionately (we got this photo!) and it was sublime. I did not feel at that moment that this baby was mine. She wasn't. She belonged to them and I was thrilled just to witness it and share it them, my new friends who I came to love so deeply in such a short time. Two amazing human beings faced with a difficult and challenging circumstance. People who are so selfless and filled with love and reason that if they had decided to parent this child, I would have supported them 1000% in this moment.
After a few moments, Mary lifted up the baby's leg and said "Yup, it’s a girl". My daughter was here.