I'm so sorry to have to publish this twice but the first time something went wrong and this is the only way I can think of to fix it.
16 years and four months ago at about 6:00 in the morning I was getting ready for work and the phone rang. It was my mom."TORI'S IN LABOR! WE HAVE TO GET OVER TO HER HOUSE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!!" All of a sudden I morphed in to Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck and Porky Pig all in one. (I would like to reference a very, very old cartoon where in the 3 aforementioned characters over slept and are hurrying around trying to get ready for work all at the same time...if you've seen it then you know what I looked like. If you haven't seen it because you are decades younger than me and have never watched a black and white, sketched Bug Bunny cartoon...then...I'm sorry for you because it's the funniest cartoon I've ever seen.)
I started hyperventilating and running around in circles. I was trying to get dressed but I couldn't find anything to wear even though I was standing right in front of an entire closet full of clothes. I threw a tee shirt over my head and tried to squeeze my head through the arm hole. Eventually I put my head through the proper opening and then I found my Levi's and put them on, hopping through the house with one leg in and the other leg partially stuck in the leg hole. I ran to get my purse and then decided that shoes might be a good option for someone who was anticipating being in a labor and delivery room of a hospital. I hopped back in to the bedroom and started throwing shoes out of the closet. I have 50 pairs of shoes and the only matching pair I could find were a pair of black patent leather platform heels that I had worn to my 20th high school reunion. I was almost resigned to wearing said patent leather shoes when I found something a bit more appropriate for the occasion. My Birkenstocks! Both of them! Yay! I put them on and then decided that I should probably brush my teeth since I figured that I'd be pretty much face to face with my laboring sister.
I flew in to the bathroom and started brushing my teeth as quickly as I could. In less than 15 seconds I had managed to cut my gums with the back side of my toothbrush and I splashed toothpaste in my eye and had toothpaste splattered all over my tee shirt. Perfect!
I could hear my mom's car honking in the driveway so I grabbed my purse and ran out the door. When I drive from my house to where my sister lived at the time I could make it in 4 minutes. My mom, who respects speed limits and stop signs, took 10 minutes to get there. I was so afraid that I was going to miss something that I was doing everything short of pushing down on her gas pedal leg.
When we got to Tori's house we found Tori sitting calmly on the couch waiting for her husband to finish what he was doing so that we could all get to the hospital. Tori's oldest son, Andrew, was quite put out because he wasn't allowed to go to the hospital with us. He just couldn't understand why 8 year olds were not allowed in the delivery room. (Now a days, I'll bet you couldn't PAY him to be in a delivery room.) Paul was angry because he just wanted to go anywhere the car was going.
Things were silently progressing inside my sister's body. She is very, very stealth when it comes to being in the early stages of labor so none of us knew how much time we had to get this dog and pony show on the road before it would be too late. When she finally got up and started heading to the car before her husband was ready to go it was pretty clear that we were running out of time. It took Tori a couple of minutes to make it from the couch, down the steps of the front porch to the awaiting Mommy Van. She decided that it would be easier to slide in to the back seat rather than try to climb up in to the bucket seat up front. Her husband kept trying to talk to her and she would just close her eyes and puff her cheeks up. That is Tori code for "I'm in grave amounts of pain and I do not want to talk to you or anyone else for that matter. Leave me alone or I will be forced to show you my mad Karate skillz and knock your block off. Thank you."
My mom stayed with Andrew and Paul and we headed off to Inter Community Hospital in Covina. Tori had already given birth to two babies so she knew that she had very little time before this one was going to be born. Unfortunately having a passenger in labor doesn't excuse the driver from breaking the speed limit so Tori's husband drove as fast as he could yet observed all of the posted speed limit signs. Again, if I had been the one driving we would have made it to the hospital in about an hour because that is how long it would have taken me to get pulled over, be issued a speeding ticket and then get back on my merry way.
When we got to the hospital we pulled right up to the front door. Tori barely waited until the van slowed down before she got out. Labor was hitting her harder than she thought and she had over estimated her ability to run for the hospital door. She had to sit down and luckily there was a bench just a few steps away. Her husband was getting out of the van and I was getting in to the drivers seat when I heard a small shriek from Tori. The bench she had sat down on was metal and it was freezing cold and wet with morning dew. Not conducive to a laboring woman.
Tori waddled towards the door and I went off to park the van. It only took me a couple of minutes to find a place to park and get inside the hospital. As slow as Tori was walking I was sure I'd be able to meet her in the lobby but when I got inside the hospital she was nowhere to be found. I would have asked the person at the front desk where my sister had gone however there was no one sitting at the desk that early in the morning.
I found my way to the maternity ward and asked them if they knew where Tori was and of course they had never even heard of my sister. I told them that she had just, not two minutes ago, come in and was in active labor. I described what my brother in law was wearing and still...nothing. Apparently my sister and brother in law had wrapped up in their cloak of invisibility and snuck through the maternity ward. I thought it would be in poor taste to go from door to door to see if I could find them so I stood in the lobby and called my sister's name. That went over almost as well as going from door to door. The nurses told me that I would have to wait quietly and they would help me find her. "You don't understand", I told them, "my sister goes from 0 to 60 in mere moments. If I don't find her immediately I might miss the whole thing!"
After about 10 minutes my brother in law came out and found me. The maternity ward was so full that they had to put Tori in the recovery ward. Left to my own devices I would have never thought to look for her there so I'm quite thankful he came out and got me. The room had 8 beds in it and several of them had women in various states of recovery. None of them were in the mood for the child birth cheer leader and his wacky side kick. Tori looked pale and green and I could see that she was in quite a bit of pain. We did what we could to ease her pain but she didn't want to be touched. She lay there in silence, trying to do her Lamaze breathing and then I heard her mumble.....
I looked at brother in law and said, "What did she say?", and she repeated it but with more emphasis and a lot more volume....
"I WANT TO PUSH!"
Ok, well that wasn't good. Brother in law and I immediately morphed in to our unrehearsed 3 Stooges routine. He went up to the head of the bed and told her not to push and then tried to get her to concentrate on him. She wouldn't even look at him. She was still doing her Lamaze breathing but now it looked like she was trying to blow up an imaginary balloon that had a hole in it. I went running for the door to try to flag down a nurse. "MY SISTER WANTS TO PUSH!! WE NEED HELP IN HERE!!!" The nurse that had just shown Tori to her bed looked at me like I was making all of this up. "She's only been her for 15 minutes...she couldn't possibly be ready to push....", she said. We made it back to Tori's bed and now her Lamaze breathing was reminiscent of someone chewing who had no teeth. She was slobbering air all over the place! The nurse asked me and brother in law to go to the head of the bed while she checked the dilation situation. I can only imagine that the baby was basically waving at the nurse when she pulled back the blanket because the next thing I knew the nurse was throwing scrub suits at me and brother in law and telling us to wash up. In the time it took us to wash up and put the scrub suits over our street clothes two orderlies had shown up and were moving the bed out of the recovery room. Of course they had to connect with each and every obstacle in the room and in the hallway. It truly looked like they were driving bumper cars!
Our scrub suits included covers for our shoes and here is a word to the wise: If you are ever going to attend a child birth don't try to run down a hallway wearing Birkenstock sandals with surgical scrub coverings over them. I was slipping and sliding all the way to the delivery room. I'm very thankful my morning at the hospital didn't conclude with a head full of stitches.
We got to the very small delivery room and the orderlies parked the bed and locked the wheels. The labor nurse started to take the bed apart and put Tori's legs in the stirrups. Tori had been virtually silent up until now but then she started making this dreadful noise that came from the depths of her soul. She sounded like a wounded animal. As fascinated as I was with this whole child birth situation I was woefully unprepared for dealing with seeing my sister in such pain. It scared me to death. I panicked and thought, "I can't do this. I have to get out of here." I was getting ready to bolt for the door when brother in law thrust a video camera in my hands. This was before the cute little hand held video cameras that we are familiar with today were invented. He had a state of the art camera that was about the size of a professional news crew camera. I got a 1 minute lesson on how to operate this thing and then all hell broke loose.
Tori's usual doctor was unavailable so the the doctor on call had to fill in. How would you like to meet your obstetrician for the very first time when you are in the throes of labor and find out that his name is Dumwrong Tanksherknob?? Ol' Dumwrong was wearing a head piece that looked like a welders mask so we couldn't see his mouth. So that coupled with his very thick accent...we couldn't understand anything he was saying. He was trying to talk to my sister and her only responses were shrieks and moans. Apparently that is OB speak for, "Yes, I give my permission for everyone in the hospital to come in here and look at my uncovered nether regions.", because before the doc got down to business there were 4 med students standing elbow to elbow at the end of the bed taking it all in. To this day we don't understand what they were doing there because the hospital we were at is not a teaching hospital and we were a good 30 miles from the nearest medical school. *(*UCLA)
So as soon as we had as many strangers in the room as possible the doctor said, "POOSH". Tori pooshed twice and presto chango there was a whole new human being on this planet. I. Was. Aabsolutely. Stunned. This was simply the most amazing thing I had ever seen in my entire life. There is nothing more pure and hopeful than watching a baby come in to this world and I am truly sorry for anyone who hasn't gotten to see this happen. I feel like I could go on about this for hours and I still couldn't begin to capture and express the wonderfulness I had just witnessed. I had been sobbing from the moment the camera was put in to my hands and now I got to trade the camera for my perfectly beautiful brand new niece. She was so tiny and gorgeous. She had dark hair and lots of it. Highly unusual for our family which famous for birthing bald headed babies. She was crying that pitiful "mwat mwat" cry of a new born and I knew right then that this child would have me wrapped around her finger for the rest of my life.
Tori was crying and shivering uncontrollably. Apparently there is a rush of hormones that flood the body after you give birth and it makes some women shiver. I thought Tori was going to shiver herself right off the table. "Smell her head", Tori told me. As I was still sobbing there was no way I was going to be able to smell anything so I tried to fake her out by doing what most 2 year olds do when you tell to smell something...I made a loud attempt at breathing out. I could smell the tiniest hint of what Tori wanted me to smell. I had no idea that newborns smell just like Johnson's baby products. I'm guessing that is what heaven smells like.
I got my act together enough to quietly sing the Jackson Browne song, "The Pretender" to her because that is the most beautiful song in the world and I wanted it to be the very first song she ever heard. I could only get through a few lines of the song because I was going to start sobbing again so instead I talked to her. I told her that I loved her more than life itself. I told her to always ask for big diamonds. I told her I would always be there for her no matter what. And..because I've seen every episode of "Friends"...I told her that I would always have gum.
Watching that birth was the most exciting moment of my life and I can't remember anything that happened after that baby arrived. The next day we got to bring the baby home and we all sat down to watch my cinematic efforts from the jumbo video camera. Imagine my surprise when it was revealed that my sobbing was the sound track of the entire birth. I'm sorry to say that the customized sound track paled in comparison to the approximately 5 minute long stretch where I thought I had put the camera on pause and had it resting at my side. The camera was not on pause and thus we were treated to several minutes of the camera just staring at the wall...however...my favorite part was the couple of times I was walking down the hall way and I was swinging the camera. UUUUUUppppp and dddddooooowwwnnn. UUUUPPPP and dooowwnn. It looked like bad special effects from a B movie of 1935. We laugh at it now but I was mortified when it happened.
Now that 16 years have passed I've watched that baby grow up. What was her name? Hannah Maureen? Kimberly Rebekah? Bethany Grace? We wouldn't know the answer for a couple of days. *(Interesting side note to the naming of this child: At the time of her birth her father was working on the TV show "ER", which starred Anthony Edwards. One of the names in the running for this new baby was Bethany. Paul confused "Bethany" with "Anthony" and for weeks after the birth he told everyone that he had a new sister named "Bethany Edwards".) She wound up with the name of Rebekah Maureen. "Rebekah" because it is a biblical name and "Maureen" because it was our grandmothers name. We hardly ever called her Rebekah. We called her BekahMo for the most part and then she was called "The Bekahnator". (We called her that so much that Paul thought her last name was "Nator"!) Now I just call her Bek.
Bek has always been as tough as nails which I'm sure is the result of being the first sister to two brothers. But no matter how tough she appears to be it is very hard to just sit back and watch when some stupid boy comes in to her life and says that he loves her and then changes his mind a few weeks later. It would be bad/sad enough if he'd only done it once but she's fallen for it 3 times now. She shed a few tears in front of the family but I'm sure there were a whole lot more that we didn't see. It has taken everything I have not to go to her city of residence and hunt down the idiot foolish*, (*title made up by Bek when she was about 2 years old), who did this and slap him silly. I have always been a firm believer in "an eye for an eye" and so I can only hope that when someone breaks his tender heart in half that I'm there to take pictures.