Today Julianna turned 10.

In previous years, I’ve written a summary of Julianna’s year; about her achievements. If you’re interested in her progress, you can read about it here, here, here, or here. This year, I thought I might do something a little bit different. To celebrate the single greatest achievement a 9 year old can make, reaching double digits, I thought I might share the story of Julianna’s birth.

[cue the flashback music]

March 22nd, 2008 – approximately 1:30pm.

“Either I just had an accident in my pants or my water just broke.”

That’s what my wife said to me, while we were standing in the produce section of the grocery store. This was to be our first child and the next short while played out like it does in the movies. She was just about a week beyond the due date so we knew it could happen at any time.

It took me 5 seconds but I became frantic and said something like:

“Are you serious?”

It was a nice Saturday afternoon and we had nothing better to do aside from waiting for the arrival so we had gone out to lunch at a BBQ restaurant near where we had lived at the time. After, we decided to go grocery shopping. My wife had gone to the bathroom (a common occurrence at this point in the pregnancy).

She said:

“Well, I don’t know if it broke but I just peed and as soon as I pulled my pants  up, I either peed again or my water broke.”

I said:

“Does it hurt? Are you in any pain? We should go!”

So I dropped the food I was vetting and guided her quickly out of the store, knocking over one of those apple displays and not looking back. I had no time to worry about the mess. My assumption, like in the movies, is that there is a cab racing by that I can jump in front of and then say something manly like, “GET US TO THE HOSPITAL!” Of course, there was no cab so we settled for my car. The bags had already been packed and stored in the back of the car, just in case this type of emergency call-to-action happened.

The race was on.

We live in the suburbs, about 15 miles west of the hospital where the delivery was scheduled to be at in Boston. For some odd reason there was a ton of traffic at this time of day (an accident up ahead I had assumed). My wife started in with that heavy lamas breathing technique. You know the one: hoo hoo hee, hoo hoo hee.  I’m breathing along with her: hoo hoo hee, hoo hoo hee.

“How far apart are the contractions?”

“I don’t know, 4 minutes maybEEEEE!”

I swerved around other cars, speeding (as safely as possible) and zig-zagging like I’m Mario Andretti. I’m somewhat of a nerd so in the recesses of my mind, I’d probably look back at this and feel like I was starring in my own Fast and the Furious. People are giving me dirty looks as I go past them and I’m thinking of what the newscasters will be saying about me on live TV while they show the view from the helicopter with the police cars chasing me down the highway.

“How far apart now? Do you need to squeeze my hand?”

“I don’t know, 3 minuARRRRRGGGG.”

Well, we eventually arrive at the hospital. I pull up to the curb, possibly 1 or 2 of the wheels literally up on the curb and I jump out, leaving my door open, run around the front of the car to my wife’s side. Along the way, I contemplated doing the famous “hood slide-across” maneuver and tossing my car keys to some random person standing nearby and saying, “keep it!”

I get my wife into the hospital, she’s holding her belly, telling me she needs to start pushing.

I say:

“No, don’t push. This floor isn’t sterilized and comfortable.”

See, I think a little joke here and there can only easy the stress of the situation. At that moment, I was alone in this thinking. Miracle upon miracle, we, with the help of a hospital attendant get up to the right place and setup for go-time. My wife asks for “the pain drugs” and we get the typical, “There’s no time honey, that baby is coming out either way, right now,” from a doctor.

The grunting and groaning and yelling and screaming and name calling and swearing and punching me in the face and the accusations of how could I could I do this to her began. The doctor is doing her best quarterback pose, ready to catch the baby. I refer to it as the baby because at this point, we didn’t know if we were having a boy or a girl.

The only thing missing in all of this was the dramatic music and the shot of our respective families running into the hospital anxiously waiting to hear the results: my mother still with curlers in her hair and my father wearing his over-50 softball uniform, then realizing they went to the wrong hospital. They would then find the correct hospital, run in, and get stuck in the revolving door because my in-laws showed up at the exact same time and tried to jam in to the door as well.

Finally, after a few more minutes of pushing and a handful of farts (culprit unknown), the baby is born.

We have a daughter.

That’s how it all went down, in my head, in those first 5 seconds.

Here is what really happened:

“Either I just had an accident in my pants or my water just broke.”

It took me 5 seconds but I became frantic and said something like:

“Are you serious?”

This was followed by asking if she felt like she was in labor, any pain, etc. She told me she wasn’t so then I asked:

“Should we continue our grocery shopping?”

She said sure so that’s what we did. My wife (leaking coolant) and I went on our way shopping. The doctor had told us that if the water breaks, as long as there aren’t any contractions, that we should just sit tight after we call. Apparently, for risk of infection, they don’t want you to go too long with broken water.

We finished our shopping, sort of quietly, as we both tried to fully grasp what was actually happening, and headed home. She called the doctor to let them know that the eagle was landing. The doctor told her to just relax (always a winning bit of advice) and as long as she didn’t feel any pain or contractions, stay home. If nothing had changed by the morning, we should come in. Swell. We’ll just sit here, all day, wondering. We’re a bit superstitious so we didn’t tell anyone. We also didn’t know the sex of the baby so the excitement and nerves kept building.

We stared at walls for a while at home, tried to stay calm, checked, double checked, and triple checked that everything was ready. I tightened the car seat base a few dozen times.


We are getting into the early evening now. My sister calls me to tell me that she and my brother-in-law were out for the night and thought they would stop by and say hello. This is literally in the bottom 3 things that my wife and I want. My sister is excited because she suspects, rightfully, that the baby is coming soon and she just can’t get enough of it (her daughter was 1 at the time). We haven’t told them that the train was departing the station and aren’t particularly in the mood to hang out.

I say:

“Sure. Come on over!”

My wife and I decide that she will stay in bed and I will say that she isn’t feeling well. Surely, the visit will blow over quickly. 3 hours later, my sister, her husband, and I are down in our basement playing Wii Sports while my wife is watching “The Golden Girls” re-runs two levels up waiting to go into active labor. Eventually, the leave.

Still no change. We call the hospital to check-in and they tell us to just come first thing in the morning unless something changes overnight. Nothing changes except my wife goes to sleep. I decide I’d prefer to stair at the ceiling all night.

First thing in the morning arrives and we get our stuff together and hit the road. Unlike the version that played out in my head, there was literally no traffic because it was Easter Sunday. We took a casual, non-Fast-or-Furious drive to the hospital. We parked, ourselves, and checked in. On the way in, we did start to make phone calls. My wife hales from New York so her parents had a good drive ahead of them and we wanted them to get here in time. We thought they might be cutting it close because the drive for them was probably 3 or 4 hours.

17 hours later, and about 20 gallons of pitosin (the drug that gets contractions moving) later, the fun begins. The nurse tells me that I’m going to hold one of my wife’s legs and a hand and whisper sweet nothings into her ear, offering encouragement and an occasional joke. 3 hours of that and my material has dwindled to “Why did the chicken cross the road?” They decide that its time for one brave last push before they have to do a C-Section. They ask if we want them to use the vacuum (to suck the baby out apparently). I imagine its a Hoover-looking device but its not. It turns out that the “vacuum” is a suction cup that they put on the top of the baby’s head to help guide the baby out.

1 seemingly hour-long push later, with a vacuum suction-cupped to the baby’s head, lots of hand-squeezing, and a handful of farts (culprit unknown), our DAUGHTER popped out.

I didn’t even faint…more than once.

Julianna was born at 2:38am, on Monday, March 24th, 2008.

[cue the flashforward music]

10 years. When they tell you how fast it goes by, they aren’t kidding.

Happy Birthday Julianna.