It started with a wince. I was sitting on one couch. Kate was on the other. She looked like she was in pain.
“I just had a really painful contraction,” she told me.
I didn’t really think anything of it at the time. “Alright, well let’s not worry too much. Just get ready for bed and try to relax.”
Kate went upstairs and I gathered our dishes from the coffee table and started to wash them. Over the running water I heard Kate yell for me, but her sound was different. It was mixed in with her crying and once I put that together I dropped the scrubber and the dish I was cleaning. I hit the water off and bolted upstairs. Kate was waiting for me at the top.
She said she just had two more contractions and she was panicking. I guided her to the bed. We talked about our options. There were really just two. One, we just go ahead like it’s a normal night and we settle into bed and try to fall asleep, hoping the pain will just subside. And two, we call the hospital and see what they recommend. We noncommittally went with option two, still thinking we were overreacting. I grabbed some paperwork off the dresser and looked at a short list of reasons why we should call the hospital, painful contractions was there. “I think this is a good idea,” I said.
Kate called and explained what was going on. Up to four painful contractions in the last fifteen minutes. “Yep, you better come in just to be safe,” the lady on the other end of the line said.
I changed into jeans. I grabbed a book, Stoner by John Williams, and put on my heavy coat and we were out the door. It was 10pm.
On the way, Kate requested that I take the corners slowly. I did, but it was tough. Kate was clearly still in pain and I didn’t know how fast I had to be driving. We live ten minutes from the hospital. In that time Kate had another sharp, painful contraction.
I dropped her off at the main entrance. At that point, I was nervous to even let her walk a little bit by herself, but we agreed that she should start making her way to the fourth floor, where labor and delivery was located. I sped off to one of the visitor lots, parked in the first spot I saw, and sprinted into the hospital. Kate had barely made it to the reception desk on the fourth floor by the time I caught up with her.
We stated our situation and the receptionist told us to take a seat in the waiting room and someone would be with us in a minute. We shuffled over to a dark, square room tucked away in the corner of the 4th floor reception area. We sat down on a well-used sofa. CNN was on the one small television shoved high into a corner of the room. We were only alone for a couple minutes, but it felt like ten because already my mind was racing, trying to flip through scenarios, but it was so early in the night my imagination wasn’t going too wild. The way I saw this unfolding was that we were going to be called back to a room and the doctor was going to give us some magical drug that would stop the painful contractions and we might be out of there by midnight. Not bad. We wouldn’t lose much sleep. Kate would even be able to work in the morning. Maybe, at worst, she would have to come in a few hours late the next day.