My mother was in labor for five hours before she became convinced that natural childbirth was a mistake.

“Drugs!” she screamed. “I want drugs!”

It was too late for an epidural and morphine was out of the question. She had to get by on mere painkillers, which to her pain were the equivalent of sawing through a redwood with a toothbrush.

She demanded that my father be summoned. He was on alert, so he was supposed to stay on the Air Force base, in case war broke out unexpectedly. A compromise was reached: his buddy Dave would have to sit in the hallway of the hospital next to a phone, waiting for a potential call to arms. In full uniform.

My father stroked my mother’s hair and promised he would never do this to her again. Dave slouched further and further down in his chair, accepting the occasional cup of coffee from a sympathetic nurse. My mother screamed and cried and my father paced frantically. Dave nodded off.

Twenty-two hours later, just after ten in the morning, I was dragged into the world with my umbilical cord wrapped around my neck. Six pounds, seven ounces. My mother couldn’t believe it.

“All that work for that little thing?” she said.

My father tore himself away from my side to give Dave the good news. The phone hadn’t made a peep and their shift was over, but Dave was still there.

“It’s a girl,” my father said.

“Damn,” Dave said. “Guess you can’t name her after me, then?”

They laughed and strolled over to where the nurses were setting me up in the baby ward with about a dozen other fresh faces. I was the only girl.

“There she is,” my father said.

“Little slip of a thing,” Dave said. He patted my father on the back. “I’m going home. Tell her she owes me a beer when she gets old enough.”

Dave, I figure I owe you about twenty-two of them. Hope you’re still out there waiting for my call.

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3 Responses to “Protocol”

  1. All I really know about my birth is that I was born at home. Nice piece here. Like the narration.

  2. Valerie says:

    Being born at home is almost a story in itself, in this modern age. You should try to get more info and see if it sparks a story for you!

  3. Amalia T says:

    This is a great story! The emotion is all there, the pain of childbirth a muted backdrop to the rest–serving its purpose without overwhelming. Well written! And also, even better because it is based off true events!

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