“Joe, Joe, wake-up.”
“Why? The alarm didn’t ring.”
“I think I’m in labor.”
“You think, and you’re waking me? When you know, get me up, until then, let me sleep. I didn’t sleep all night; it’s an oven in here, besides getting home late from your cousin’s party. I’m the one who has to work all day if you don’t have the baby. Go back to sleep.”
“And if I am having the baby, I’m the only one working today.”
Turning away from my husband, my tears flowed. I can’t believe him. Like I didn’t toss and turn all night with the heat, and this belly? He wants sympathy from me? We agreed to wait seven years before having kids, not thirteen months after the wedding. Yikes, the party... the book said they’ll need to know what I ate last, and when. Doc wanted me to watch my weight, how do I tell him I ate cake and ice cream after 11pm?
“J-o-e! O-h-h-h-h-h, n-o-o-o-o-o. Joe, that was sharper than the last one. I can’t do this. I want a c-section. How long since the first pain?”
“I don’t know, remember, I was trying to sleep? Look, why don’t you wake-up your mother. Wasn’t that the point of moving here for the summer? To be with your family when you had the baby? If this is it, wake me when you’re ready to go to the hospital.”
Hurt, confused, and frustrated, I got out of bed. “You’re unbelievable, Joseph.”
I stood in the hallway, unsure what to do. Finally, I tapped softly on my parent’s bedroom door. Inside their room, I heard stirring. “Who is it?” Mom asked.
“It’s Katie. Mom, can I talk to you for a minute?”
“Katie? What time is it?”
The door opened slowly. Mom slipped out quietly, signaling me not to wake-up my father. She waited until we were away from the door before whispering, “Are you alright?”
“I don’t know. It could be gas, I really pigged-out last night, or maybe the baby’s a week early.”
Just then, I reached for the wall with one hand, as the other one hugged my watermelon shaped belly. “O-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h!” I tried to keep my voice down and my body up. My legs felt weak, my knees buckled. Mom wrapped her arm around me. Once I caught my breath, we slowly walked to the living room. The couch was almost in reach as we heard my dad walking down the hallway.
“Katie, what’s going on?”
“Nothing,” Mom answered. “Go back to bed.”
“Don’t tell me to go to bed if something’s wrong with my daughter. And where is Joe?”
“He’s sleeping, Dad. I don’t know for sure, it could be labor, I just wanted Mom’s opinion...”
As I doubled over again, Dad retreated to his room. Before we realized he’d left, he returned fully dressed, car-keys in hand.
“Dad, we didn’t even call the doctor yet!”
“Your mother can call while I put your suitcase in the car. It’s up to you if you get Joe up or not. With all five of you kids, I never left your mother.”
“Hon,” Mom looked at him disapprovingly, “the hospital is two miles away. They won’t want her there yet, and she doesn’t need you getting worked up. Go water the garden.”
Dad hesitated, looked at me emotionally, and then headed for the front door as my 19-year-old brother entered the living room. “Is she having the baby?” he nervously asked my mother.
“Probably. Sit with her while I call the doctor.”
While she dialed the phone, my younger sisters started coming down the hallway. “Is this it? Is the baby really coming? Cool!” They were 11, 13, and 18 years old.
My answer wasn’t in words, but in moaning and shrieks. My brother bolted out of the room, the girls followed him. Dad ran in the house, Mom signaled him to go back outside again.
Within forty-five minutes, my labor pains were three minutes apart. Dad had been outside a dozen times. Through the bay window, I had watched him pace, repeatedly watering the garden. My brother and sisters whispered while eating in the kitchen. Mom called Joe. He was ready in two minutes.
Driving to the hospital, Joe cracked jokes, Dad simmered. Later I learned Joe slept in the waiting room, Dad paced. Two men, each loved their children, yet showed it differently.
They say women marry men like their dads, I didn’t.
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