I was blogging back in 2002 before I even knew what blogging was all about. I wrote this about 2 days after Sohaila was born. 5 years ago.
Thursday May 2nd, 2002
It’s as common as something that nobody knows
Her beauty will follow wherever she goes
Up the hill in the back of her house in the wood
She’ll love me forever, I know she
La da da da da da
– Jack Johnson Bubble Toes
What 48 hours can do to a man. Thursday night my largest concern was if my band would remember to come in on the 1st beat of the 4th measure of Salvation instead of the 1st beat of the 6th measure. Oh the pressure. Last night around 3:33 a.m. I was wondering if there was anyone on the face of the earth feeling the loneliness and despair of a 2 day old father trying anything to relieve his 2 day old daughter of whatever it was making her cry out in such a passionate and desperate tone. What 4 days will do to a man. A lot happened in those 4 days. Enough to change a man forever. Heres what went down.
4 a.m. April 26th 2002 . I usually wake up around 4 a.m. every morning to roll out of the sack and hit the toilet for a blurred aim and miss. It was nothing out of the ordinary. Opening my eyes I find Heather staring at the cable box. ??? Heath. What are you doing? She did not even have to explain. She just looked at me as if this was the beginning of the end. Contraction? I asked. Just another stare.
They were beginning. You have to understand something here. At the beginning of this whole process of labor I had read literally hundreds of articles and books on the who, what, when, where, and why of labor. I was ready. Or so I thought. That doctor Spock dude had nothing on me. Lets have a baby!!!
So up we sprang. WALK WALK WALK. We walked around the block stopping every 9 minutes or so for one of these Contractions. Heather would suffer for 30 seconds or so and we would meander on. How easy is this? Walk with the wife. Hold her hand. Let her breathe. Baby comes out right? Little did I know that these contractions were nothing more than mere 2 foot high gopher holes in comparison to the Andes Mountains Heather would be climbing in 30 or so hours. We walked. Smiled. Giggled. Took pics. Video taped. Had lunch. Nate and Danielle brought over pizza. Sarah D. came over. It was a nice cloudy day. Everything was going good except these darn contractions were going something like this. In minutes 12,6,8,3,2,6,20,14,5,6,8,9,4,5,7,12,10,11,9,2,6,8,7. Nothing solid. And they wont admit you into Kaiser until you are at least 3 centimeters and 5 minutes apart. So around 6 that evening we realized that this Martha Stewart, soft focus, What to Expect When Your Expecting, TLC Baby Story, labor was turning into a sort of Braveheart, Gladiator, black and white, Fear Factor, kind of labor.
11 p.m. April 26th 2002 Moans were growing louder. Tears were coming faster. Patience growing thinner. How could a woman so strong be getting beat down like De La Hoya when only hours before was on cloud nine? Lord? What is going on here? Cant you please get these contractions to at least get closer together? Around midnight Heather was basically on the floor writhing in pain. Called Kaiser. Still no on coming in. The look in Heathers eyes as I told her to gut it out for a few more hours was one I hope to never see again. All that was missing was the snakes on her head and me turning to stone.
After about another hour there was no more we could take. I packed the car. Heather at this point cannot communicate without her head spinning 360 degrees 3 times while her eyes would roll back in her head. And off we go. The 10 minute freeway ride seemed to take forever. We pull into the parking lot and scoot past Emergency up to the 3rd floor to labor and delivery.
2 a.m. Sat. April 27th. Look at me. Strong grown man helping his poor tired laboring wife into the L&D ward. Heather looking the likes of an abused wife. It is time to get this kid out. Just one look at us and these nurses should spring into action and while handing me my trophy for being the best husband in the world should carry my wife off into a birthing room all the while placing the epidural into her back within minutes. UUUUUUUUUmmmmmm. No. Instead we got the nurse who they do not let work the day shift for obvious reasons. She drags Heather to room 9 and tells her to get on this bed that is too high for her to get on herself. She looks at the situation and rolls her eyes. You are a Pastor. You are a Pastor I had to keep my cool. She strapped Heath down and started monitoring contractions. 45 minutes later I was about to go and get the bags from the car when the midwife came in and checked Heather. 1 CENTIMETER!!! WHAT!!!! No way. Almost 24 hours of strong contractions and only 1 centimeter? We were devastated. They sent us home. Told us to come back when the contractions were so strong that Heather could not talk through them. HELLO. This is right now. But we went home. All I can say is that the next 7 hours were the longest in both our lives. Every 6 minutes someone might as well have stuck my wife with a butcher knife. Myself being Captain Emotional was growing closer and closer to my wits end. Nothing I could do. Helpless and armed with nothing more than a stop watch. Like I said. No words could explain the places we went during those 7 hours. I felt like we were at the doors of Hell. My wife is amazing. 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning.
RING RING. Ok that was a cheesy attempt at a telephone ringing. But you get the picture. I answer and get a smooth calming voice at the other end. It was Tammy Brown. My senior Pastors wife and one of Heathers best friends. Hey Los. Could I come over and give you a break so you can sleep? As if words sent from Heaven. Any longer and I dont know what I would have done. Sleep depraved and trying to be strong for the wife. I conceded. Tammy showed up and here began her quest for a Nobel Prize which I have already submitted a recommendation in her honor. You see Heather had been pretty much screaming bloody murder since 4 a.m. All breathing got tossed out the window with being sent home. Tammy quickly took charge and got Heath back to the
he he he whoooo action. No playing around here. Tammy put us in the van and off we went again. We get to Kaiser and I just had that feeling like we were going to get turned back yet again.
What a difference a nice nurse makes. She even smiled. J Into the birthing room we go. This room is nicer than the one the night before. This nurse was nicer too. Things are looking up. The midwife comes in to check on Heather. She is that last one we had for our last appointment. We lover her. Things are looking good. Heathers contractions are under 5 minutes apart. Things are looking good. Nascar qualifying was on Fox. Things are looking good. We just know that this kid is coming any second. I mean we had been in labor for 30 solid hours. Midwife. Latex Gloves. A Little KY. Assume the position. Then her face got that I got to tell my kid her daddy left look. We all braced for the news. 2 Centimeters. No Way. No Way. No Way. We felt like the last 30 hours had been for nothing. We knew they could not admit us under 3 centimeters. But the midwife told us to keep our bags in the room and start walking.
So Heather and Tammy started the left turn circuit. A mini Nascar Race going down. She told us that a good hour of walking should open her right up to 3 so we could be officially admitted. This was the first bit of good news. I took it upon myself to make the first set of phone calls to close friends. We were basically in. By lap 40 of the Kaiser Riverside Labor 100 our midwife calls us back in for a pit stop to check the oil. Still not 3. But she admits us. YYYYYYYYYYYIIIIIIIIIPPPPPPPPPPPPPPEEEEEE!!!!!!!!
We are in. Call in the family. They cant send us home now!!! So within 1 hour we had a good 15 close friends and fam in the waiting room. But I noticed another thing. The waiting room was WAY more crowded than usual. Then someone reminded me of the full moon. Little did I know about the party of births that was about to ensue. So many ladies in labor. Not enough beds. This never happens. So Kaiser made the call to begin to unadmit people. And Heather was still only 3 centimeters dilated. We were first on the list.
1 p.m. Sat. April 27th. It is 1 p.m. and our midwife walks back in. Closes the door behind her so as not to be heard. Guys. The nurses want to send you back home. There are women much more dilated than Heather. Lets check you out one more time Heather Still 3. But 100% effaced. And the babys head was right there. Everything was happening except the dilation. So from the end of the bed we all saw the same thing. The midwife looked behind both shoulders. As if to see if we were all alone. See at Kaiser they dont break water. They basically are told to let that happen. But with a wink of an eye she dove back in and I swear reached up into Heathers neck. Suddenly SPLASH. Another wink. You did not see me She walked out. We were not sure what had just transpired. We were trying to figure it out when she popped back into the room and said Oh my!!! Looky here Heather. You water broke!!! Well we cant let you go now. Ill get the nurse. Suddenly this woman became an angel sent from above. She didn‘t have to do that. She just asked that we keep it hush hush. OK. We were in it now. 32 hours into this game. The pieces were starting to fall into place. But the Andes were coming.
4 words in succession. These were words that will forever change who I am. HEEEE HEEEE HEEE WHOOOO. They made the Andes Mountain Range somewhat scaleable. Word started spreading around town that the baby was coming. Friends started showing up. By 8 p.m. that night we had 20 people in the waiting room playing 21, uno, eating Krispy Kreme, sleeping, and watching me go from within the halls of screaming women back out to the so called real world where most of our single friends had invaded a waiting room with no concept of what was taking place only 20 yards away behind the double doors. From the halls of Labor rang out from various rooms AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!, Oh My God!!! Oh My God!!!Get This Thing Out Of Me!!! I Hate You and Your Mother!!! Get Me Someone Who Can Speak English!!! But the most heard chorus bellowing down the halls of the 3rd floor of Kaiser Riverside late that night was, Get this #@*$^$!@ thing $@#!$#1! Before I !!#%@**!! RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
HHHHHMMMMMMMmmm I thought. This is really going to suck. From the moment Heathers Water Broke the contractions were getting stronger by the minute. She was slowly losing it once again. Her he he he whoos were turning into he he did this My fault. Always. Another funny thing happened after the first 24 hours. Tammy suddenly became the only person Heather had any interest in seeing as a contraction rolled around. She told me numerous time that my breath was kickin. And not to breathe with her because it was making her sick. I was also told that I he he he whood way to fast and Tammy knew how to do it better. I was told not to touch. Now being the man of the hour I obliged with the wife. I graciously turned over the coaching role to Tammy. She has had kids. I have not. So I resorted to fervent prayer. Up until 8 or so my wife only got a sedative. No Epidural yet. They only give them at 4 centimeters. Here we go again with that dreaded dilation. So she would literally be snoozing and sawing logs when she would wake up in despair ranting, Oh No Oh No!!! Here comes another!!! This was driving me crazy. Give her the epidural for crying out loud. At 8 p.m. they checked her dilation again. Get ready. 3. I was thinking C-Sec all the way. Lets open the oven and bring out the meatloaf. No need over cookin this thing. 36 hours of this and the curtain was not rising. So once again the angel disguised as a midwife made the call to give the epidural one cent. Early. Everyone had to leave the birthing room. Only I could stay. Heather was stuck with me again as the epidural lady pulled out the box. Heather leaned against me as I watched this lady pull out this needle I knew was not going to enter my wifes body. She lathered her up with iodine. And shoved this needle right into Heathers spine. I almost lost it. But remember. I am super husband. The trophy is on the way. Then 10 minutes later Heather had a wire sticking into her spine dripping with this drug that only a loving God could provide. I mean give me a break. My wife turned back into herself. Within 1 minute of getting this thing she told me she loved me. Only 10 minutes before she barely wanted to stay married. Suddenly visitors were streaming in and out of the room while I watched Heathers contractions peak off the chart and her not feel a thing. All these young married and singles and a few others finally got to see Heather. I tried to tell them that this is only a figment of their imagination and deep within the smile and beauty was this non drugged woman waiting to pounce on and destroy anything in sight. But they would have nothing of it. They just saw strong Heather. Being her strong self. And in the end I am glad. Cause she is the strongest woman I have ever seen. Ever.
So midnight hits. People start heading home. Looks like the baby will be here around 5 a.m. Church is in the morning and most people are involved in ministry at Sandals in some way shape or form. After a while I wondered the halls looking for a place to crash. I found this security desk with no one at it and crawled under it and hit the hay. Lights out. Then at 3:45 I was awaken with 3 words that started my fatherhood Time to Push. Groggy from 45 hours of watching my wife labor in pain I gathered myself and walked the long hall toward the room where my wife might just cuss in front of my mother and drop a few F bombs while the Video tape rolled. I warned Carmen. Lets do it. I have not seen Heather in a few hours. She was sleeping as well. As I entered I expected to see Heather strapped down in stirrups wanting my head on a platter. Instead I got a scene straight out of an article in Martha Stewart Baby. Soft focus. Dim Lighting. Moms with Cameras. Wife putting on makeup on directing the photographers. What??? After all this intense pain and drama this is what we are going to end with? A Party in the delivery room? Well see.
I went down like this.
Push. Push. Push. Watch Bob Villa on Home Time Push Push. Watch Bob Villa on Home Time. Squirt. Splash. I‘m a dad. I never felt that Warm Fuzzy most people talk about. I only felt amazed at my wife and in awe of this child. It was more worship than fuzzies. How anyone can witness a birth and not believe there is a God I cannot understand. Cause God was there that morning. And I am just beginning to understand that concept of Gods love in a way I never knew before. So I will try. Try to reciprocate that. Try.
I could go on for 15 more pages about the hospital stay, ride home, first night, but I will let you call me for that scoop. It is amazing as well.
So as I type this with my Sohaila on my lap fast asleep to the rhythm of the keyboard, I will tell you where I now stand.
1. Heather owns Proverbs 31. She is more than a wife. More than a best friend. More than I will EVER need. So many men go looking elsewhere for something more. All I ever need is her and she decided to double the fun by giving me Sohaila. I know all men might think the same of their wives. And they should. Mine is just better.
2. My child farts on me. Pukes on me. Sneezes on me. Screams at me. Then just looks at me. And it is then. When she forces her HUGE eyes to try and focus on the big brown blob called my head. That I understand. All the fussing and crying and stuff that people are scared of. It all goes away. Cause she is looking at me. Just a simple stare. It is then when she is at her calmest. Oh my Lord. How parallel is that to You? You hold us all the way. Yet you feel the most loved when we quit staring at the world around and just focus on you. I am beginning to get it.
3. My friends and family is amazing. Just to see Fermin (dad) hold Sohaila trying not to break her and not hold back the tears amazed me. We could not have done it without them. He must have led 5 people to the Lord at Kaiser during our 30 hour stay. Heathers side. My side. We are lucky.
4. My role is stronger. I am the Worship Leader at Sandals Church. Service Pastor at Sandals Church. And this is all I know. Leading Worship is being a good husband. Being a good dad. Paying the bills on time. Keeping my word. Leading worship is not giving people goose bumps every Sunday all the while feeling proud of yourself. It is so much more. So much more. A way of life.
5. And last. I stand a bit lower now. A bit more of myself is gone. Not just thrown away. But being used. Remember the playground in Kindergarten? Boys chase girls? You got tagged and had to go to jail And for the longest time you just ran around avoiding getting tagged. Ducking. Sprinting. Stopping. Shaking. After a while if you ever made it as one of the last ones not tagged the game changed. Now it became time to not run away from Jail but to run toward it to free the trapped souls of your fellow men or women. Time to sacrifice. You spend time plotting who to run towards that is not quite as quick as you. You tag a friend and he or she is free. Then you do it again. And again. You become sacrificial. Sometimes even being tagged and going to jail
Well the game has changed for me. It used to be all about me and how fast and quick I was. But now I focus on getting my family out of any situation we find ourselves in. I focus on so much more than myself. I become sacrificial. It is not about me anymore. So much has happened in this huge game of tag. And you know what? Sometimes I am going to get tagged. Then if you are reading this right now you got to promise me to come tag me out of jail. I have trusted most every one of you with some aspect of my so called life. And now I trust you with more than I have before. For some of you it has been secrets. For some it has been friendships. For some it has been late nights at the Waffle House. For some it has been my education. Now I trust you with Sohaila. Be near us in prayer or in person. I just beg you be near us.
Tag. Your free.
Back to 2007…
Happy Birthday Sohaila.
You have given me the best 5 years of my life.