Happy Birthday to you…

The date was February 23rd, 2007. I was finishing up my shift at Wal-Mart when I got the call. “Hey Zach, your wife is on the phone in the break room.” She must want me to pick something up before I go home. I made my way to the break room and picked up the phone. 

Hello?

“Zach, I don’t think we need to go to the hospital yet but I have been having labor pains for a couple of hours now.” I had about 30 minutes or so left on my shift so we had a short conversation about whether or not I should finish up or just leave. A couple of the cashiers we sitting within earshot and quickly picked up on what was going on.

“You are going home right now, young man. Get off the phone and go to your wife.”

“Okay, that settles it. I’m on my way home.”

I remember sitting at the house, timing her contractions and deciding that we should head on out to the hospital. I drove like an idiot out of fear that she would start giving birth in the truck. If I had any understanding of just how much more time was going to pass before my baby girl was actually here, I would have taken my time.

The doctor set down with Elisa to check on her. Yup, she was definitely in labor. This was no false alarm. However, she was nowhere near ready to go. He says, “Go get something to eat and rest up. You’ll be back here later tonight.”

I’m pretty sure we went to Dairy Queen. I don’t remember what I ate. I think Elisa had a blueberry Blizzard. After dinner, we went on back to the apartment and settled in for the night. With the outside chance that I might actually have to get up and go to work in the morning (my shift started at 4:00 AM), we decided that it might be a good idea for me to get some sleep in case we didn’t end up back in the hospital that night. Around 10:00, that concern disappeared quickly.

So, we loaded up and I drove like an idiot to the hospital for the second time. The checked us in and the doctor assured us that we would not be leaving again without a little baby girl. This was around 11:00. At that point, I felt like it was fairly safe to call my mother and let her know to get up to the hospital. Surely, Sydney would be here soon.

My future brother in law, Chad Kerns was the first to arrive (which is funny because he actually lived further away than anyone else). My mother and sister came shortly after. Elisa’s family began arriving at some point during the night as well. My father, who I often vilify in my posts but was actually sober at the time, showed up with my grandmother as well. The waiting room was turning into a bit of a party as family and friends began packing in awaiting the arrival of this precious baby girl.

Minutes turned into hours and rolled right on into the next day. Something wasn’t going right with the birth. Sydney was turned the wrong way and was causing swelling for Elisa. The baby was not going to come out naturally.

Just yesterday, Elisa was asking me what I thought about that day. I responded that there were really two thoughts that just kept going through my mind. Thought #1: All of the pain that she was going through was 100% my fault. Thought #2: There is nothing at all that I can do about it.

Something like 30 hours has passed when they finally decided to do the c-section. The took my wife down a hall and disappeared into surgery. I was told that I would be able to be in the room but I had to get into scrubs first. I got ready and then stood next to the door, waiting patiently for a moment that I thought was never going to come. Finally, the door opened and a doctor that I had not yet seen said, “Mr. Strange, come on in.”

Elisa was laying up on a table with a sheet that was preventing us from seeing anything below her armpits. Elisa looked up and smiled at me. She was so tired. I cannot imagine bearing that pain for the length that she had. Guys, appreciate your wives for everything that they provide for you but especially for this moment. It is more of a sacrifice than what you will make for them ever.

She reached her hand over and put it into mine. We both knew that we were finally here. Very shortly, we would see our baby girl. There were something like 800 doctors and nurses in the room and there was so much going on. I couldn’t see what they were doing as I sat behind their secret curtain. Then I heard one of them say, “Here she comes.”

And then I saw her. They lifted her up and she was kinda blue colored and covered in goop. A normal color almost immediately showed up in her skin. The blue started to go away. She was perfect.

Sydney Parker Louise Strange was now completely a part of my world.

The nurse hung her upside down by her ankles so that they could measure her. After this, they laid her on the scales to get her weight.

8 pounds, 9 ounces, 21.5 inches long…

Those were the exact same measurements as mine when I was born. Oddly enough, those also ended up being the exact measurements of Caleb when he was born nearly five years later.

The nurse cleaned her off and then turned to me. “Would you like to carry her down to the nursery?” Oh my gosh, YES!!! She stole away my heart at that moment and I haven’t gotten it back since. I carried that precious baby down to the nursery so they could clean her up further and then I went to get my mother. We stood outside of that nursery window and just cried together (much like I am doing now) while we watched her. Then, the rest of the family came to see her.

That is, everyone except for Elisa got to come see her. My amazing wife had no feeling below her neck from the epidural they had given her. It would be a little over an hour before she would get to see her.

So, we fast forward eleven years and there is a birthday to celebrate. We’ve had some parties over the years.

 

That’s what happens when there is this much love in a home. It’s difficult not to celebrate. In the past, the parties have been bigger. Things have been different since we moved to Virginia. Our family cannot always be here. We don’t have as many friends here either. The parties are smaller but still just as fun.

Today we’re just going to take Syd and a couple of her best friends out for an evening in Lynchburg. They will spend some time at JUMP and then we’re going to eat at La Caretta. Afterwards, she is going to stay the night at one of her friend’s house. It should be a fun time.

So, this morning I am thankful for three things.

Thing #1: My wife was so pushy about having a baby fast. She didn’t want to wait a few years before we started on our family. Sydney was born one month after our first anniversary. I was afraid that we wouldn’t be ready. I should have just trusted that God would see us through it. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Thing #2: My baby girl is the most perfect little girl that has ever existed. She is so sweet and compassionate. She treats people nice. She loves her family and her friends. I don’t know if she got that from me. I can be a selfish person at times but I don’t see that in her.

Thing #3: God has blessed my family tremendously in the past 11 years. We have a unique (dare I say Strange) family and it works for us. I cannot wait to see what lies ahead.

Life is Strange. Live it Well.

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