Nine years ago today, nine years ago this very minute, John and I were on our way to Kaiser Moanalua because Baby Girl Bender, aka Kid2, aka Charlotte, was ready to be born.
As per our usual routine as a one-car family, I got my first contraction just as John was walking away from the car to punch in at The Honolulu Advertiser. He was part of the crew that put together the afternoon edition, when they had one.
The best way to describe a contraction is to bang your funny bone. You know that electrical sense you get, that sproingy coiling sensation? That, to me, is the best way to describe what your tummy does when all of its muscles agree its time to nudge the baby out.
I had Sophie in the back strapped in her car seat. She was 21 months old and mimicked me as I huffed and puffed on the drive home. We had a 1988 5-speed Acura Integra. So while I was pushing on the clutch, the brake or the gas, I was doing my huffs and puffs to get through the contractions. I had to push down hard on my left foot to survive the multitasking. And I didn’t once get my feet or the pedals wrong.
Another contraction hit hard just as I was passing Kahala Mall on the H-1 viaduct to Kalanianaole Highway. I reached for my phone and told John it was time. I told him to call his parents so they could meet me at home and I could leave Sophie with them. When I got to the house, my in-laws were waiting to receive Sophie. I came in for a few minutes, got her settled, had a few more contractions, and left.
Yep. I got back in the car about 630am and drove back to town in the morning traffic to pick up John at The Advertiser. Imagine how exciting it must be to drive during contractions! It was. It was crazy. What was I to do? Lose my cool? Freak out? Cry like a baby? Whine? Are you kidding me?
I got to the paper and surrendered the wheel to John who drove to Moanalua. We got there about 720. I was dropped off at ER, placed in a wheel chair, and taken to the maternity ward. John went to park the car in the lot, which takes a few minutes since you have to leave Kaiser, go up the street, cross the freeway overpass, down the street, under a freeway overpass and back up the street to get into the lot.
The nurses strapped me to the monitors and I had my biggest contraction while I was alone. I whited knuckled it. I’m not much of a moaner, so they didn’t really know until they checked my tape.
When Sophie was born, her head kept anyone from knowing my water had broke. She had “corked” it. With Charlotte, it didn’t break, so the doctor did it for me. She came out in a waterfall. Until that point, it felt like a train was trying to get out. There she was. Long, lean, big dark eyes locking with mine. Nice to meet you, I said. Drug-free births, FTW!
I was 41 when Charlotte was born. I have led a non-traditional life. My children came to me late, I finished college late, I’m on this career track late. When I get asked at job interviews about how well I act under pressure, this is a story I don’t get to tell. But I think it’s one that shows I don’t crack under pressure. I stick to the mission and I push on until the job is done, and done well.
Happy Birthday, Charlotte. What an amazing effect you’ve had on my life so far. Thank you for being my daughter. I love you.