I asked my dad awhile ago to write what happened throughout Nella’s birth from his account. I wanted to know what happened behind the doors of that beautiful room where our girl was welcomed. I am told many different stories from the friends and family that gathered there before they entered our room.
He finally did it…wrote it all down and sent me the first part last night. And I, with tears, read it and remembered all the love.
This is his account.
If you have ever been in theatre, you can draw from your memory…the backstage. It is awfully real. It is filled with the props and backdrops of all the theatre that has occurred and will occur…on stage. It is the antithesis of the other side of the velvet curtains. It is comfortably unkempt. It is gritty and unmagical, honest and blemished. It is raw. It is where the last minute checks of the tattered script are made. It is where we ask each other how we look and turn to have another once-over of our costume. It is where we cough and clear our throats away from the audience and rehearse again our memorized lines. It is where our expressions can be flat and faces sour until we step on stage where, with exaggerated smiles and pumped up expressions we project with rich resonance our character voice.
Such was the first floor corridor of The Birthing Center of Naples Community Hospital on the evening of January twenty-second, two thousand and ten. It was our backstage, our barrier reef, our solace in the storm.
The corridor was first just the space we quickly walked through to enter the anticipated enchantment of an already loved baby’s debut. I remember arriving. I was wearing my black polo shirt on which I had carefully iron-appliquéd POPPA in rhinestones.
Silly me, I had brought my Nikon D40, knowing it would be like a child’s play camera in comparison to the equipment of the pretty-girl paparazzi I knew would be in the room. My heart was skipping beats and I was the usual close-to-tears I generally am when in those intensely wonderful moments with my children. I had never actually witnessed the birth of a grandchild and was only here at the insistence of my Kelle-girl. I would be positioning myself carefully…
to be there for the first glimpses of the baby out-of-the-chute…with the operative timing and visual perspective being “out-of-the-chute.”
There was a festive mood in the room, with that rapid cadence conversation of gal-pals, punctuated by laughter and all appearing like a music video with the music in the background being the steady underwater sound of a baby’s heartbeat on the fetal monitor. The room was filled with the signs of preparation…the little favors awaiting first guests, hand lettered champagne toast glasses, small flameless candles and music subtly competing with the din.
Things began to move quickly, like planets aligning for some cosmic event. I saw the bed broken down and stirrup braces suddenly emerge. The obstetrician and nurses stepped into position. Paper sheets like sails unfurled. Faces and friends, like guests at a wedding awaiting the bride’s entrance, formed an arc around my daughter. I was deeply moved with the welcome assembled for my new and precious granddaughter whose name I already knew and was whispering in my heart.
Swiftly she arrived. Almost instantly we heard her little voice. Just before she stepped into the world, I had called my niece and Kelle’s kindred cousin, Joann, on my cell phone and she was, in Michigan, part of that circle hearing Nella’s first sweet Hello!
Ooohs and ahhs spread like a wave around the room. With everyone’s “She’s so cute!” and “She’s beautiful!” the resounding message, I remember being almost annoyed with Kelle’s sober, “Is she alright? Her nose looks smooshed.” I quickly assured her she was just fine, and had my answer amended by Katie, the nurse, who explained something about a posterior birth and that, yes, her nose might appear a little flattened but it would pop up with time. Only then did I even see anything but a perfect little nose—which incidentally did pop up with time. Kelle’s queries would continue.
It was probably thirty minutes of jubilant and detailed birth reviews later that it was announced Dr. Foley was here and would now do the new baby examination. It was then, we would be directed to…the corridor. Still light and laughing, we stepped out one by one…like a team that was winning taking a break to the locker room. I can recall hearing Kelle ask Dot, the nurse, as I walked away, “Why is Dr. Foley here? Did you call her in? Is everything alright?”
By then, we were in the corridor. We positioned ourselves all over. Excited reviews of how swift and smooth the delivery was were shared. I-phones seemed in every hand, as the glad news was called out and texted. I remember being amazed that there were more in this amazing circle of friends than were in the room…and they were all awaiting word.
I don’t know when the corridor boredom turned to worry. I don’t know how long we were there. Working in a hospital, I began to be concerned. I could hear nothing through the heavy wooden fire door that separated the birthing room and my babies from…the corridor. It seemed too long. It seemed too quiet. I later would learn that others in the corridor were watching me. My face was telling.
I didn’t have many moments to wrestle with worry in the corridor. I heard the heavy latch release and saw the door open and my eyes…all eyes…met with the somber face of the nurse I knew least. Her voice had a faint tone of sadness. While her words were few, they spoke volumes…of a chapter we did not want to open. She simply said… “She wants her dad.”
The rest of his account coming tomorrow.