I could hardly let the Fourth of July pass without a mention on the blog today. After all, it’s my birthday, as well as that of the good ol’ U.S. of A. In years past on this date, I’ve shared an excerpt from my humorous memoir, A Dead Tomato Plant and A Paycheck about my childhood foolishness in thinking the parades and picnics and fireworks were all for me. This year, however, I thought I’d share a bit from my new book, Evelyn Evolving: A Story of Real Life. This is how I imagined my entrance into the world might have happened:
The strongest contraction hit Evelyn when they were standing on the corner watching the parade. She’d had mild ones for the past two hours, but the baby wasn’t due until next week, so she’d ignored them.
This one couldn’t be ignored.
She turned to Russell. “We need to go home.”
“But the parade isn’t over.” He shifted Juanita from one shoulder to the other. He’d put her up there so she could see over the heads of the adults gathered along the street to watch the Fourth of July parade.
“I need to go to the hospital.”
That got his full attention. “Now?”
Another contraction squeezed her abdomen; almost making her go to her knees, and that was enough answer for Russell. He eased Juanita to the ground. “You’re going to have to walk. Daddy has to help Mommy.”
“No. Don’t worry. Just keep walking.”
Juanita trotted ahead, and Russell put his arm around Evelyn, supporting her as they walked the half a block to the house. It was a good thing that the house wasn’t any farther away. The contractions had started coming every few minutes.
Once they were inside, she sat on the sofa while Russell hurried to take Juanita to the back-door neighbor, Mary. A few weeks ago, she’d agreed to watch Juanita when it was time for Evelyn to go to the hospital, and a bag was already packed. All Evelyn had to do was sit and wait until Russell came back. Thank goodness for helpful neighbors.
Another contraction tightened like a metal band around her belly, and Evelyn moaned with the pain. She wished Russell would hurry. The pains were coming hard and fast. Moments later Russell ran into the living room. “Are you ready?”
Evelyn stood and made it to the car as fast as her pains would let her move. It wasn’t far to the hospital, which was another stroke of luck. She could feel the urge to push and remembered from when Juanita was born that the urge meant the baby was ready. Russell drove the few blocks as if he were in a race car, then pulled to a screeching halt in front of the hospital. He turned off the engine and ran around to open the passenger door for Evelyn. “Can you walk?”
“I don’t know.”
“Never mind.” He swept her up in his arms and ran to the door. Once inside, a nurse spotted them and hurried over, pushing a wheelchair.
“Put her down, sir.” Russell did and the nurse told Evelyn to breathe in short pants and “don’t push” as she was whisked down the hall. Another nurse helped get Evelyn onto an exam table.
“The baby’s coming,” Evelyn said, panting through another contraction. “Oh my God.”
The nurse pushed Evelyn’s dress up and pulled her panties off just seconds before Evelyn’s water broke in a warm rush. The other nurse grabbed towels to catch the flow of water as the doctor walked in. “She’s crowning,” the nurse said. “We’ll have to deliver her here.”
The doctor grunted a response and lifted the sheet the nurse had draped over Evelyn’s knees. The nurse standing beside Evelyn said, “Okay. Now you can push.”
Four excruciating pushes later, another baby girl was born. Hair matted with sweat and breathing heavily, Evelyn collapsed against the bed. Russell wanted a boy. Would he be horribly disappointed? She tried not to worry about that as the nurses cleaned her up, then wheeled her down to the maternity ward. After the nurses got her settled in bed, with strict instructions that she was not to get up, Russell was allowed to come in.
“We had a girl,” Evelyn said.
“Yes. The nurse told me.” He sat on the hard wooden chair that had been put there for visitors.
Nothing had changed in the hospital routine since she’d been here before, but she wished that he would be allowed to sit on the bed. And maybe they could hold hands. Anything to make her feel more connected to him. Evelyn sighed. “They said she was healthy.”
“Are you happy?”
“Sure.” He gave her a smile, but it wasn’t like the smile when Juanita was born.
Evelyn had hoped that once the baby was here, Russell would be more excited about another child. She didn’t doubt that he loved children. That was clear in the way he treated Juanita. He often sang to her and always picked her up with great delight when he came home from work.
“Are you horribly disappointed that it’s a girl?”
“Not horribly.” He gave her another small smile. “But a man does look forward to having a son.”
That’s all for me folks until after the holiday. If you celebrate, I do hope you have a grand time. Be safe. Be happy.