53 years ago tonight – almost to the hour (it’s a little before 10:00 pm here in Portland, almost 1:00 am in Miami) I finally woke your dad to take me to the hospital. I’d been having increasingly frequent contractions, had called my doctor, and he told me to get to Mount Sinai Hospital.
Of course, our only car was the VW, so I lay down as well as I could in the back seat while your dad raced from Kendall to Miami Beach. I was excited and scared, but mostly excited – in between labor pains. When we got there, someone wheeled me away to the labor room while your dad gave them all the information they asked for. He was finally able to join me in the labor room, but they kept kicking him out while they checked how “things” were progressing.
It was a different time when you were born. Because your dad hadn’t been able to join me in Lamaze classes – I really wanted a natural birth – he wouldn’t be allowed in the delivery room, so we tried to make the best of our time together. After what must have been a couple of hours (time had no meaning to me) and more exams than I could possibly remember, the doctor decided that you weren’t quite ready to make your entrance into this world. The nursing staff told me that I should stay the night – no charge for less than 8 hours in hospital – and they would send me home the next morning, a Sunday.
Your dad returned sometime after 8:00 a.m. to take me home – this time in Carmen’s car, a Chevy Malibu. I found the back seat much more comfortable than the VW! We were home by about 9:00, and your dad carefully helped me up the stairs to our apartment. I went into the bedroom, changed from my clothes to a nightgown, sat down on the side of the bed… and my water broke. What a weird feeling that was! Dad grabbed towels for me and then called my doctor. After probably 10 minutes at home, we were headed back to the hospital – and this time there was no doubt I was in labor. Such pain!
We made it back to Mount Sinai in record time – thank God it was Sunday and traffic was minimal – and back to the labor room. I believe I checked in about 10:00 a.m., and I knew there was no way I could have a natural birth. First of all, I had no coach. Second, the pain was horrendous and all in my back. (Carmen told me later that while in the waiting area, they kept hearing someone screaming that a dragon had its talons in her spine. I looked at Carmen and said, “That was me.”) It hurt. A lot. If I could have cancelled the whole venture right then, I would have!
Finally, the nurse approached me with a mask so they could give me gas to knock me out. Well, you know how claustrophobic I am, so I resisted her putting if over my mouth and nose. Finally, I persuaded her to let me hold it, promising that I would keep it on my face. Fat chance there was of that – one or two breaths and off it came so I could breathe AIR! She looked at me, took the mask from me, put it over my face and…
… I woke up to find your dad at my bedside. I was in a hospital room – not a delivery room – and your dad was smiling. “What do we have?” I asked. “A boy or a girl?” “A boy,” he replied. “Eight pounds, eight ounces.” We hadn’t really decided on a name for a boy; I wanted to name the baby after my brother Martin, but your dad couldn’t decide, so my next question, “What are we going to name him?” “I’ve been telling people his name is Martin Jacinto,” he said. Finally, “I want to see him. I want my baby!” And off he went to tell the nurse that I was awake. In just a few minutes she brought my beautiful, healthy, strong baby boy to me and I held you in my arms for the first time. You were perfect in every way.