It was now Wednesday, March 11 and Donna was looking like a woman who swallowed an inflated beach ball. She was already five days passed her due date and we had tried everything we knew and told about inducing labor. Exercise, garlic pizzas, Balsamic vinegar salad dressing, you name it, we tried it. We went down to the driving range in Van Nuys after eating a falafel at the local Greek place. Donna tried her hand at hitting a few shots with my nine-iron. It was truly a sight to behold watching her swiping at the ball not being able to see over her protruding belly—she missed each shot swinging the club nearly a foot over the golf ball. Exasperated and frustrated, we went home.
That night she thought she was experiencing some pains in her uterus. Was she going into labor? Her water hadn’t broken yet and this was our first child so we didn’t know what to expect. She called her mum in Scotland and then talked to my mother. They advised her to ride it out the rest of the night but if the pains became regular, she should go to the hospital. She paced and moaned to herself all night long. I felt so helpless wishing there was something I could do to help her. She really couldn’t drink and sex was out of the question so I slept in hourly intervals. The next morning we were both exhausted and by six o’clock on we watched the clock waiting for the sun to rise. I made her some breakfast but she was too agitated to eat. We decided to wait until after the morning rush hour traffic and then go down to Centinela Hospital to visit with her OB/GYN, Dr. Von Dippe (that rhymes with trippy). I stuffed her into the TR-6 and drove the coast route to Inglewood and got there around ten AM. After an hour or so they told her she was not in labor and sent us home saying if anything changed or became urgent to return.
“I canny believe it,” she said. “I thought for sure I was in labor.”
“I guess they know best. Maybe we should wait until your water breaks and then rush back. But I scared that it might be cutting it too close. Do you think we should get a hotel room around here somewhere?”
“I’m not going to spend a hundred bucks on a hotel when we live less than an hour away,” she said in her typical defiant Scottishness.
“I just hope there isn’t a lot of traffic when, you know, it happens for real.”
“It seems real enough to me the now.”
At around two or three in the afternoon I was shocked to see a puddle of water surrounding her bare feet. Her water had broken. We got our things together (her suitcase and my coaches bag) and this time we took the Nissan so she could have plenty of room to stretch out. She was huffing and puffing all the way there and I had visions of pulling over on the 405 and having to deliver our baby on the shoulder. We made it to the hospital around four and they rushed her into the waiting room. It seems like an oxymoron to be rushed into waiting, but that’s what it was. While I filled out all the paperwork she was being examined. She was seven centimeters dilated. It was definitely going to happen soon.
She was taken into a semi-private room, one she shared with an African-American girl about fourteen years old who was also in labor. It was sad because there was nobody else around to help this poor girl with her pregnancy. By nine o’clock Donna was starting to progress, but slowly. I kept a constant supply of ginger ale and ice chips while she cursed me every time a contraction hit. I, after all, was the one who got her into this condition. She was eight centimeters by midnight. It was now Friday, the thirteenth of March and I knew the baby, probably a boy, was gonna be born on this day of superstition. There was even a movie with that title. I sort of liked the idea of the baby being born on a “special day” and if he or she was healthy I would always love Friday the Thirteenth and honor its very existence.
By two a.m. She was a full ten centimeters dilated.
“Breathe honey,” I said trying to encourage her to relax.
“What the hell do you think I’m doing, swimming the channel?”
“Do you want the shot?” I asked thinking that maybe an epidural might make things easier for her. I asked the nurse but she then told me that it was too far progressed for an epidural. She was going to have to go the natural way. Dr. Von Dippe had finally entered the birthing room a little after two. I wondered what had taken him so long but then realized that most of these guys wait until the last minute to make their appearance like the main act at a rock concert. They let the nurses do all the hard work while they breeze in and steal the show. I hope there wasn’t gonna be an encore. Twins would be too much, but I could think of worse—triplets
Her contractions were now a minute apart and that’s when I heard the doctor instruct her to push. Donna was screaming like a woman possessed. I don’t think I could handle what seemed to me like excruciating pain, but she was doing fine—great. Torn between panic and euphoria as I leaned in, I saw the head crowning. Then the doctor instructed her to give one last big push. The baby’s head was out and it looked like the shape of a giant pill—so oblong and stretched out of proportion. By two-thirty a.m. on March 13, 1992, Jonathan Brewster Haymer made his first appearance to the world’s stage. He offered the scissors to me and I cut the cord. I was beyond happy. He looked beautiful. His head resumed a more normal shape as the doctor weighed and measure him at nine pounds ten ounces and 21 inches. He then handed him to Donna who cradled him in her arms. We both cried as Jonathan rested silently against his mother’s breast. I was leaning in the positive direction of believing that God was a reality. The miracle of birth couldn’t just happen by chance—no way.