Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: JOIE DE VIVRE (delight in being alive) (08/18/16)
TITLE: Labor Pains
By Joe Moreland
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My wife and I were tucked away inside our small apartment, warm and comfortable. Well, I was comfortable. She was nine months pregnant. Monday was the actual due date for the baby, although we had given up already on it ever being born and had consigned ourselves to my wife looking like she swallowed a beach ball for the rest of our lives. The preceding two weeks had been filled with many instances of exclamations like “It’s time!” and “The baby’s coming!” Each one accompanied by frenzied trips to the hospital and followed by medical staff shaking their heads and herding us back out the door to our car.
The whole process generated a lot of panic, hysteria, crying and frustration. Oh...and it bothered my wife a little, too I think. She definitely was a little put out by the crying.
Given the circumstances, you’ll understand why, this time, I didn’t run around screaming “It’s time! It’s time!” when my wife, with great trepidation, gently let me know that she had been having regular contractions for the past two hours.
“I think we need to go to the hospital,” she told me.
I glanced up from the book I was reading and gave a bit of a sigh, not looking forward to another long night at the emergency room. “Well, I guess you should grab your things and I’ll see if I can find the keys to the car.”
Several minutes later she was sitting on the couch, waiting for me to come back and get her. “Where have you been?” She asked as I walked through the door.
“I had to clean out the car. We’ve been to the hospital so many times recently that it’s starting to look like we live in it.”
“I was beginning to think you left without me.”
I snorted. “No way I’d do that again.”
By midnight we were set up in a birthing room at the hospital and it was beginning to dawn on me that this was really happening. Not the birth of my firstborn--death at the hands of my wife. As I looked over at the anesthesiologist, with my wife’s hands firmly clamped around the soft tissue of my neck, I casually commented: “I think we’ll take that epidural after all.”
Once the drugs kicked in things went somewhat back to normal. At least while she was sedated it was possible for me to maintain a safe distance. Unfortunately, the painkillers also had the effect of stopping the labor. So we settled in for a long night, We played cards. War, Go Fish! and a round of Spades later and we were starting to forget why we were there.
By eight in the morning the two of us were beginning to remember. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise--childbirth is painful. I was lucky to survive. She doesn’t talk about it much, but I think my wife felt bad that she was too busy to really be there for me.
It was all worth it, though, the moment the doctor plopped that little pink bundle of newborn girl into my arms. As I stood there holding my daughter for the first time, I knew it was already too late for me. Life as I knew it was over. From this moment on, I would do anything for that girl.
Nearly twenty-eight years later and not a lot has changed. I still cry a lot and react with frustration and near hysteria. My daughter and I fight frequently and my wife plays the calm peacemaker. To someone on the outside looking in, it may seem like we don’t get along so well, but I can tell you it is just the opposite.
When you love so fiercely, everything is more passionate--both the fighting and the tenderness. An abandoned style of love is little like white-water rafting. There is excitement, fear, exhilaration and frustration...maybe even a little anger.
As I said, life as I knew it was over. Now I had two women who could roll their eyes at me.
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