The birth story of my youngest sister, Shawn, never bores me. I delight in the details of the New Years Eve child, fourth born, coming into the world. Every time my parents retold it I replayed the scenes in my mind and laughed. I’ve lost count of the number of times I have told this story to others. It’s one of my dearest birth stories.
My mother rolled into the birthing area of the hospital on a gurney on the last night of the year. Being the 4th time around she had nothing to prove. The party of nurses and doctors seemed to be in a festive mood. The head nurse even had light-up blinking earrings. My mom just wanted it all to be over with. One epidural coming right up, ma’am.
The anesthetist allowed our dad to stay in the room, this was my dad’s 4th time around, after all. The party, the thrill of a new baby, and the size that needle rushed up on that veteran father and … all of a sudden our dad fainted. Why it all hit him on this the 4th delivery he attended remains a mystery to this day. On his way down to the floor his head met with the door knob and he was out cold.
A group of people surrounded him in emergency mode. The nurse said, “How are we going to get him up on that gurney?” The labor room was small and the gurney had to stay in the hall outside the room. The next thing they heard was my big strong dad saying, “I can walk.” He got up and climbed on the waiting gurney.
My beautiful, young, blond mom craned around the bulging baby belly to see what was happening. Instincts and adrenaline kicked in and she started off praying. Loud. In tongues.
Nurse Light-Up-Earrings assessed the situation and called for back up. The new person came to my mom’s side swift and eager. The look was concern and care but the words were all jumbled babble. My mom stared at the talking head in confusion. Then she understood. The babbler was speaking Spanish. They thought my mom’s first language was Spanish because of her knee jerk response to the crisis of her fainting husband.
They sorted out the languages. My dad got fixed up. Shortly after that Shawn Michelle Houtz was born on that freezing Midwest New Years Eve night. Sometimes birth can be a wild party.
*My creative memory fills in the blanks and reinvents whenever it wants so the “based on a true story” disclaimer you see at the beginning of some movies applies to my regaling.