Chapter 15: Running with the Devil

I got a call at work that I’d both been anticipating and dreading. Nalani had gone into labor and was on her way to the hospital. I vaguely remember Nalani sounding calm and telling me not to worry, but I’d sped past worry about the same time the phone rang, and by the time she started assuring me everything would be OK, I was already in full-blown panic.

Le Freak

I was completely freaked out. My heart was racing incredibly fast, I’m sure I was hyperventilating, and it probably would have been a good idea to stop at the front desk to get myself admitted before I passed out in the hospital parking lot. It can’t be good for a hospital’s business when you’ve got people collapsing just outside the front doors.

It hadn’t taken long to get to the hospital from the Sahara Social offices, which are fortunately pretty close, but I had no idea whether this was going to be one of those all-night childbirth ordeals, or if Nalani might have already just spit that baby out like a watermelon seed. I hadn’t heard from her since I left the office, so all I knew was that whatever was happening at this point, it was probably something that was keeping Nalani away from her phone.

I don’t even remember launching the drone

A man in any kind of control over his mental faculties would have walked into the hospital, asked where Nalani was, and then proceeded at a safe speed toward that location. I, however, was definitely not that man, and chose to dash madly through the halls looking for anything that might be a place a woman could give birth, yelling “Nalani!” loud enough to earn some of the dirtiest looks I’ve ever seen from any nearby hospital staff.

I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to navigate a hospital in a blind panic, but in hindsight, I can see where I might have done things more efficiently. Now that I know they have signs posted at practically every corner with helpful tips like the word “Maternity” next to a little arrow pointing in the direction I should have been going, I can see how following those signs might have been preferable to storming through every random door I came across to see if Nalani might be behind it. Looking back at it now, it’s a bit of a wonder I didn’t have a team of white-coated staffers chasing me through the halls with a fistful of syringes and a straightjacket.

A maze of twisty passages, all alike

This adrenaline-fueled race through the hospital corridors went on for some time, until eventually a nurse stopped me. It was someone who looked like a nurse at first glance, anyway. She may have been something else, like a doctor or a janitor, since I was really in no condition to check name badges and hospital uniforms all look the same to me.

She implored me to stop for a moment, take a few deep breaths, and let her know how she could help me. I got the distinct impression that this wasn’t the first time she’d done this kind of thing.

She walked my over to a desk, tapped a few keys on a computer, and then asked me to follow her. We walked together down a few more corridors, her calm, soothing voice encouraging me the whole time to try to stay rational, and before long we were at a set of doors that marked the entrance into the part of the hospital I’d been trying to find since I arrived.

You Have Reached Your Destination

I wasn’t too late. What happened from there is a bit of a blur in my mind now, but it involved several more people in interchangeable hospital garb guiding me through more hallways until I found myself at Nalani’s bedside.

I was going to post pictures of what it was like helping Nalani through the birthing process, but the first time I raised my phone and pointed it at her there on the birthing table, she swatted my hand so hard my phone flew across the room. I was going to run over there and retrieve it, but I glanced at Nalani’s face first, and I’ve seen enough movies to recognize demonic possession when I see it. Rather than risk her telepathically flinging me down a flight of stairs or vomiting split pea soup at me, I decided to leave the phone where it was and do anything she asked until the demon now inhabiting her body returned to the fiery pits of hell from which it came.

So, I have no photos of the delivery, but you’ll just have to take my word for it that what followed was a lot of yelling, some hand-holding and measured breathing, and a few times that I’m pretty sure her head swung around 180 degrees to berate me for doing this to her. I think I heard a smattering of Aramaic and ancient Hebrew in there too, and a bit about my what my mom was doing in the afterlife that I won’t repeat here. Then, thankfully, it was all over. I never saw a priest arrive, but surely one must have been there somewhere, because I heard a baby cry, followed by a small, exhausted smile appearing on Nalani’s face. Then, for the first time all night, quiet.

This Byrd Has Flown

I’d like you to meet Byrd Rex, our new baby girl. She looks a lot like a chubby little bald Nalani, which is a very good thing.

Also, Nalani looks great, right? Her body snapped back, like, instantly. Must be a mermaid thing.

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