Skyler decided when to show her face, and once she made up her mind, there was no stopping her. Being first-timers, we had no idea what to expect, but we did know that we had been waiting for the moment for close to 10 months (anyone who tells you it’s only nine months is full of it). And for us, close to 10 months arrived on June 11, exact term for a Sept. 11 conception.
Ironically, she got going on the day we’d finally given up hope of having the baby and finally unpacked our hospital bag. And so with all our birthing necessities strewn around the house, my wife Rachael’s water broke, and it did so with a resounding pop.
No worries, I thought, labor frequently takes days. We’ll just hang in the garden and relax at home for a spell. There’ll be plenty of time to repack the bag. But the baby had other ideas. Rather than the 20 hours of casual build-up we’d heard so much about, she sent Rachael straight into contractions that came quick and heavy. As Rachael rode these waves with steep crests, I frantically dialed the hospital, packed the four-pack of Guinness she’d been waiting nearly a year to drink and ran out to fire up the car.
“Is that Rachael?” the receptionist at Southwest Midwives asked of the loud grunting and moaning in the background.
“Uh-huh,” I replied stupidly.
“Oh,” she replied as a grunt approaching a howl sounded. “You guys should probably come in right away.”
Roughly three minutes later we stepped out of the elevator and into a chaotic scene at the Mercy Medical Center maternity ward. People were zipping in and out of doors, and Rachael’s were no longer the only audible grunts. With my then oversized wife doubled over in a bout of heavy breathing, I approached a nurse with a look of concern on his face and said, “We’d like to check in.” He looked perplexed, and I suddenly realized the concern was warranted. All of the birth rooms were full.
Another nurse immediately took charge, whisked us into a temporary room and checked Rachael’s progress. “We’re going to have to get a room ready quickly,” she said. “This baby’s coming.”
And so a freshly born baby and his exhausted mother were transported down the hall to a room for rest and recovery as we entered the room just behind the cleaning staff. It was a fortuitous decision. After only a handful of extremely intense contractions, more than a few heavy moans and only one moment of doubt, Skyler wiggled her way into the world. The moment Rachael’s water broke to the moment I snipped the umbilical cord took only slightly more than 90 minutes. And it was only a few more minutes before we had to give up the coveted birthing room to make way for the next round.
When it was all said and done, Mercy Medical Center handled 15 births during that June 11 rush, a landslide of babies compared with their standard two per day. And despite the rush, a hint of Sept. 11 was definitely in the air that day. One couple of new parents was giving thought to naming their new daughter Ameriquess. Another was resisting parental pressure to bestow the name of Independencia on their youngster. People made mention of the tragic events, but more than anything, the whole ward was focused on the energy of new life and new beginnings.
Since that day, I read dated predictions that the crash of the World Trade Center towers and the death of more than 3,000 people would lead to another baby boom. One rationale stated that the incident showed us that life is dangerous and unpredictable and that couples on the fence had decided to stop waiting.
Our participation in the June 11 La Plata County baby boom had a different source. There’s something to be said for creating in the midst of destruction and bringing light into a dark situation. As people around the country gathered to commemorate the event in ceremony, I realized my family had its ceremony three months ago, and we’re no longer looking back.
Like everyone, we’ve now spent a year grieving for those lost in the tragedy. We’ve spent a year enmeshed in the gloom of terrorist attacks and a suffering economy. And we’ve spent a year dreading that new attacks would come on this Sept. 11.
Now that we’re over those humps, a message of life rather than death seems more appropriate. On Sept. 11, our new baby celebrated three months of life, and our lives are still charged with the energy of new life and new beginnings.
Durango, particularly after our summer of struggle, has at least 15 reasons to look toward a hopeful future. And there have been and will be hundreds more to come.
- Will Sands