by Buddy Rushing, Tree of Life dad
I always imagined driving while your wife is in labor to be a cross between Mad Max and the Indy 500, where you blast through stoplights, scream at the cars to get out of the way, and screech into the parking lot with six cop cars hot on your tail. In reality your heart is beating like your are about to be dropped into a cage fight but you do everything you can to act calm and not wreck the car during the drive, your top priority being to protect the precious cargo inside. 🚗
Once we arrived at the birthing center we walked inside the "sun room" ☉ which was a lot like a small hotel room with a bed, hot tub, bathroom, shower and windows facing the ocean with the curtains drawn over them for privacy. The walls were decorated with bright, soothing artwork that complemented the various green plants strategically placed around the room. We set our things down and proceeded into the adjacent room so the attending midwife could check her dilation. "This is going way faster than I expected!" I thought to myself as Kimberly climbed up on the exam table. The midwife's eyes brightened as she finished her exam, "well everything looks good and guess what...you are already at nine centimeters!"
Kimberly and I looked at each other with disbelief, and then I muttered what would be one of many clueless sentences to follow, "Isn't that close to being finished?" The midwive smiled knowingly at me and simply stated, "We still have some work to do." Little did she know the prophesy in her words...
Kimberly would stay at nine centimeters for the next eight hours, her contractions continuing to increase in frequency and intensity with each three minute interval. We would transition from the hot tub to the shower, to lying on the bed, to walking around on the veranda, to sitting in the chair, to squatting on the Bosu Ball, and then back through it all again.
Sweat poured down my face as I ground my fingers into Kimberly's lower back every three minutes, like clockwork. My hands were cramping but I didn't dare complain for overwhelmingly obvious reasons: my discomfort paled in comparison to the crucible my wife was enduring. She alternated between frustration and anxiety, between breathing deeply and grinding her teeth to control her whimpers...between courage and despair. The heaviest weight of it all was that it seemed like we were making no progress. As the hours ticked by her water still had not broken, and she was no more dilated than when we had arrived. 😔
The lowest point came when it seemed like we had tried everything there was to try, and it looked like we might need to go to the hospital and induce medical intervention. Kimberly and I walked outside and stood in the sun after 17 straight hours of her body laboring to bring forth our beautiful child, and I asked her point blank: "If this goes another 20 hours, how much gas do you have left in the tank?"
She gave me a long look, with tear-filled eyes and said in a tone that sent chills through my body, "As much as I need."
Kimberly has always been impressive to me but I'm going to share a secret with you guys: she is a girly girl. As much as she likes to say she's a tomboy, there are times when she's a complete wuss (ask literally any type of spider) and I make fun of her constantly for being wimpy. But on that bright Sunday morning, drenched in sweat, dehydrated, delirious from lack of sleep, and frustrated to the point of tears, her resolve remained ironclad. It instantly became the single proudest moment of my marriage.
We headed back inside and found the entire staff of the birthing center waiting for us. The lead midwife smiled at us, "We've got an idea."