“If I can’t eat, neither can you.” Those were the last slurry words she spoke to me before she fell asleep from the epidural she swore she would never get. That’s an entirely other story I’ll tell at a later date. We’d been at the hospital since 9:00am and the doctor told her not to eat anything. What should have been a routine check up turned into the doctor telling us to come straight to the maternity ward.
“You’re about to have a baby.” He said with excitement.
No bags were backed, we were in separate cars, both planning on heading to work. Now we were being told we were about to have a baby one week early when she wasn’t even dilated past three centimeters. After a couple hours of running around and making arrangements we were in the birthing room arguing about the pain medicine she swore she would never take.
“If I can’t eat, neither can you.”
I waited until she was good and knocked out before telling my mom I was going to get something to eat. The least I could do was wait until she couldn’t see me eating. Memorial Hermann in the Heights is a weird location. It’s close to a million restaurants but almost none of them are in walking distance.
Walking distance for New York maybe but not for Houston.
But right next door to this massive Hospital is a small Mexican restaurant. No flat screens or fancy tables. No granite counter tops or 12 dollar margaritas. Just cold Coronas in a big ice chest and tequilas I can’t name. Starving and needing to get back to the birth of my first son I ordered something quick and then something happened.
You know that thing that happens in the movies where the music gets dramatic and you know the story is about to take a dark turn. My mother’s name popped up on my caller ID. If you knew my mom you’d know one thing about her, she never asks me for anything. That means seeing her name meant I knew she wasn’t calling to ask me to bring her some food.
“Dr. Ahmed is here. There’s something the matter with the baby’s heartbeat, it’s dipping too low and they can’t wait for it to stabilize. They need to perform a C-section now! You need to get back here Demez.” Ten minutes ago we were laughing and anticipating my son coming at six in the morning. Now at 8:30pm they were telling me if they didn’t perform this emergency C-section he might not make it here. Throwing a twenty on the counter and running back to the hospital I stepped off the elevator and as soon as I walked into the room there were nurses and doctors everywhere prepping her.
The epidural was causing her to shake uncontrollably and the anesthesia was making her nauseas and sleepy. With her eyes barely open and squeezing my hand she asked me, “Do you remember your promise? If it’s between me and Lennox, choose him.” For months she’d been telling me this and for months I’d been telling her that nothing was going to happen. Now here we were with her having a bad reaction to the epidural she didn’t want to get and my son’s heartbeat dropping with every second.
“I remember what I promised you. I got you. I love you. Nothing is going to happen.”
My mom and sisters helped me put on my sterilization gear. I followed the doctors and nurses to the operating room. This is the part that literally shook me to my core. Up until this point I was sure everything was going to be alright but they put me in a waiting room that felt like purgatory.
I’m alone in this waiting room and there’s one bench and no one else can be in this room. The nurses tell me to wait and they’ll come back for me. I can see my family and her family on the other side of the door every time it opens begging me with their eyes for answers I don’t have. At this point I don’t have to be brave for anyone. Not for B, not for my family, not for her family. I’m alone and now I have nothing but my own fears. What if my son doesn’t make it onto this earth? What if his mother doesn’t? What if neither of them do? Closing my eyes and praying to God for what seemed like the first time in months all I asked is that they both make it out okay.
The operating room is cold and sterile and quiet. They walk me over to her and ask me to keep her calm, to make her laugh. I’m supposed to make her laugh when she’s terrified and shaking. Cool, let me do my Kevin Hart impression while his wife is delivering a baby. I tell her to remember our trips, to think about the first place we’ll take Lennox. I tell her to focus on me and to focus on what it will be like to hold him.
In the midst of me talking I hear the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard in my life.
I hear Lennox Noire White crying. At 9:13pm on 6 August 2018 I hear my son crying for the first time. Cleaning him up, they place him in my arms since B is still being operated on. He’s 6 pounds 11 ounces and the most beautiful boy I’ve ever seen. A thick head of curly black hair, incredibly quiet for all he’s just put us thru and my world.
An hour later his mom is wheeled into the room on her bed and holds him for the first time.
That was my Monday.
That was the story of how I almost had a heart attack trying to say hello to my son.