I don’t claim to be any kind of expert on child delivery experiences, having only experienced one prior to now, but I’m pretty sure my second was weird.
I was at home with Byrd when Nalani called. It was go time. She left work and headed home, where I joined her and then went with her to the hospital.
The hospital parking lot is where the weirdness started. I was, of course, completely freaked out and panicked, because that’s apparently what I do when a child of mine is being born. That’s not unusual at all. The weirdness started when we ran into Dr. Okamoto on the way into the hospital. Dr. Isao Okamoto happens to be the doctor who delivered Byrd, and I remembered him very well. He had been a very calming influence on me in Byrd’s delivery room, constantly reassuring me that Nalani was fine, and the baby was fine, and everything was going to be fine. I waved at him and smiled, and he started to wave back when he realized I was there with Nalani. A second or two later he seemed to comprehend why I was there with Nalani, and the weirdness commenced. He totally flipped out.
The man went into what appeared to be an instant panic. He suddenly looked like he had no idea where he was or what he was supposed to do, which I found really odd considering he delivered babies for a living. I was also perplexed at how a man who was so steady and calm the last time we’d been through this was so distressed. In confusion, I actually forgot my own panic for a few moments. Flipping the script from our last meeting, this time I was the guy telling him that everything was good, and there was nothing to worry about. Then I remembered what was happening and who was directly involved and I lost it again, but I did have a good minute or two of rationality, which was more than I had during the entirety of Byrd’s birth.
So, there we were, the two of us acting like total idiots at the hospital entrance, when Nalani decided she’d had enough of both of us and entered the hospital to get herself checked in.
The weirdness continued inside. Nalani had gone to the front desk. I recognized the orderly working the desk: his name was Rachid and he’d been to a party at out house once. I can’t remember which party exactly, and I vaguely remember him having some connection to Nalani, but I can’t recall what it was. Anyway, when he saw Nalani approaching, clearly in labor at this point, his demeanor changed to one very familiar to me by now. He dashed out from behind the desk, arms waving wildly, knocking folders full of paperwork all over the lobby floor. He instantly became completely useless and clearly had no idea what his role in all this was supposed to be, except maybe to increase tension and behave like a madman. Rachid had just completely lost his mind, like this was his baby and it was his job to be completely irrational. No, sir, that job is mine, and I prefer to work alone.
Rachid continued to flail and hyperventilate, and it became clear we were going to need to look elsewhere if we were going to find someone capable of helping Nalani.
Nalani rested on a nearby bench, exhausted after a long night at work and quite a few contractions since, and she was clearly becoming annoyed with how all these men were reacting to her current condition. Reassuring her that I’d handle things, I went in search of someone with at least a minor amount of composure who could help make sure Nalani was taken care of.
It was at about this time that one of the nurses came into the lobby. He was reading something on a clipboard and not really paying attention to what was going on around him. His name was Ishaan, which I knew because, coincidentally, he’d also been to our house before. I waved and called him over in the hopes he could help us more than the couple of dimwits we’d encountered previously. He looked up from his clipboard and his reaction should have been completely predictable by this point, but somehow I was still surprised. He stood frozen, in very obvious distress, mumbling “Oh my God” over and over.
I briefly wondered where the hospital was finding these people. I mean, what are the odds of finding three people in a row who work for a hospital, and not one of them being able to help out a pregnant woman without completely losing their minds?
Around this time, another acquaintance of Nalani’s and mine, Dominic Fyres, strolled into the lobby. Apparently this hospital had two requirements for patients and staff: they had to know the Rex family, and they had to be at least a little mentally unstable. We’d originally met Dominic when he showed up with a group of people who were on some kind of Del Sol Valley star tour. He had clearly paid far too much for his tour if they were stopping to get a look at the half-built homes of third-rate internet personalities like myself, but I suppose it’s flattering I was on the map. We came outside to greet and pity his group and I signed a few autographs, but I couldn’t recall ever seeing him again since then.
I never did ask him why he was at the hospital, and never really got the chance, because as soon as he set eyes on Nalani, his demeanor changed completely. I wish I could say I didn’t anticipate his reaction, but by now I was working under the assumption that Nalani was sending out some kind of weird mermaid pheromones that were robbing any men who came within smell range of their mental faculties. Right on cue, he completely lost his shit. He began breathing heavily, and was looking at Nalani like she might explode at any moment, taking all of us with her.
In a desperate attempt to get rid of yet another wacko, and sent him looking for a towel. I’m not sure why towels are important in the birthing process, but I know they always ask for them in the movies. I think it might just be to give the husband something to do. If he came back with one, and there was something useful to be done with it, I’d figure it out then.
There are very few situations where the word “flabbergasted” really works, but that’s how I felt by this point. The last time I’d been there, everyone at the hospital had been so calm, in contrast to my own blind panic. On this visit, every time we ran into anyone, staff or patient, he was freaking out just as badly as I had when Byrd was being born. It was like we had crossed through a dimensional barrier when we came through the doors and were now trapped in some Bizarro World version of the hospital, where everyone who was rational in the real world was completely insane.
Thankfully, when I passed beyond the doors of the lobby, I started finding people who still seemed in possession of their faculties. I explained the situation and why checking in at the front desk wasn’t an option for us, since Rachid had devolved into a drooling moron, and we eventually got Nalani ushered into a room where she could be attended to by functional human beings.
Some time later, and I really couldn’t tell you how long it was because time was the least of my worries that night, a baby boy was born, who we are calling Boone.
He seems healthy and happy, so if everyone could just stop freaking out now, and the world could return to normal, I’d really appreciate it.