They were young, and they decided to have one more date night before the baby was born. Since poor goes with young, they got some pizza and went to the movies to see The Empire Strikes Back. The husband was amused with Yoda, learning his mannerisms and speech to entertain his nephews at a later time.
The next morning the wife woke up feeling queasy and a bit in pain. She assumed it was indigestion from the pizza and went on her way. Until a few hours later, she was sure she was in labor, three days early. The husband luckily had the day off from work. They went to the hospital where they took the wife’s vitals and measured her. It wasn’t time. She wasn’t dilated enough. They sent her home.
The wife fretted as her parents would arrive home from vacation the next day, believing they wouldn’t miss the event. The husband called his father in an immediate panic.
Husband: Hi, is Dad there? Wife is in labor.
Stepmom: He’s unavailable right now.
Stepmom: Wait! You haven’t picked out a boy’s name yet!!
Husband: Wife thinks it’ll be a girl.
Stepmom: There has never been an oldest girl in your family. Your family has boys. It’ll be a boy. And HE needs a name.
Husband: Fine. Ebenezer.
He hung up.
Hours passed slowly. The pain increased. In the evening, the couple went back to the hospital. But not before the husband decided they were NOT going to have a baby.
Husband: Suck it up. We don’t need a baby. We can have one done the road.
Wife: Husband, I think it’s a little late for that kind of talk. Perhaps nine months too late.
The husband admitted defeat and drove the wife to the hospital. They admitted the wife but believed the baby would deliver in the wee hours of the morning, on the husband’s brother’s birthday.
As the evening darkened into night, the doctor agreed to give the wife an epidural. At the same time, he felt they should break the water to move things along faster. The fluid was green. A fetal monitor was brought out. The baby’s heart rate was dropping. The baby was in distress.
There would be no pushing, no panting, no vaginal birth. Everything became chaotic. They rushed the woman into surgery, giving the husband another chance to call his father.
Stepmom: He’s not available.
Husband: What?! Where is he?!
Stepmom: He went to the family cabin to think about this new turn in his life.
The husband slammed down the phone and ran to get suited up to see his child born.
The doctor increased the epidural up the spine, since the wife was already numbed. She was not put under as was usual back then. They lifted a sheet, so that she could not witness them removing the organs to get to the child. The husband held her hand. He glanced at his watch. 9:00pm.
He glanced at his watch again when he heard the angry cry of the child who was now cold. 9:20pm.
The doctor: It’s a girl!
Wife: I told them so.
They whisked the baby away to test her, but the tests were positive. She showed no signs of distressed. They handed the baby to the wife, now mother. She smiled at the wrinkly, skinny thing.
Husband: She looks like Yoda with her big head and big ears.
Wife: So she does.
Later the husband, now father, decided to impress his young wife by changing the first diaper. He was the eldest of six, so this should be child’s play. Instead he got every diaper, every wipe, every blanket covered in the tar-like first bowel movement. Dirty and cold, the baby screamed. The wife laughed, helpless from the stitches and the laughter. She could barely tell the nurse on the intercom why they needed her. The nurse came in, took in the mess, picked up the baby. As she left, she turned and tsked in disgust at the young father.
The next morning the paternal grandpa called from a pay phone to hear the good news, deciding that maybe being a grandfather wasn’t so bad. Upon hearing, it was indeed a girl, the first eldest girl born on his side in living memory, he smiled. Before he left to see his new granddaughter, he planted a cherry tree at the cabin, so that she could have pink blossoms and sweet cherries.
When the maternal grandparents arrived home, they called around for news as soon as they walked in the door. On hearing that they missed the event, they drove straight to the hospital without unpacking the car. The grandma was beside herself over the thought of having a little girl to dress. She hugged the new mother and took the baby.
The quiet, tall grandpa walked in the room. A man of his generation, he said nothing. He confiscated the baby from his wife, sat down in a chair, staring into the little face. Beneath the silent, strong exterior beat the soft heart of a man who loved his family dearly.
He whispered to the baby, “No matter what. You’ll always be my Netty.”