Dear Joelle: The Final Feast

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be posting the story of your birth. This is part 1. Part 2 is here. Part 3 is here. And part 4 is here.

It was our Last Supper. Mommy and I tore into our final feast: plastic bags stuffed with seasoned crab meat, corn on the cob, and roasted potatoes. We had an appointment at Virginia Hospital Center at 7:00 AM the next morning for your induction, so we wanted to live it up on our last night. For your parents, living it up meant a 5:00 PM dinner at Chasin’ Tails, more ice cream than was probably necessary, and a blissful evening spent on the couch.

Your mother and I were as ready as we could have been. We talked about the same things we had been talking about for the last two weeks. How would Lola Bear react to you? Would it be possible to keep some sense of routine after the delivery? Would your mother’s feet remain comically large? The bigger your mother had gotten over the year, the more you dominated our mental and conversational space.

Perhaps it was the false security promised by an official hospital appointment, but neither of us expected you to get the ball rolling before the morning. I had even managed to turn down the frequency of my incessant questions about whether or not your mother felt any contractions to at least once every twenty minutes.

(The delivery nurses would later inform us that labor had already started by the time we arrived at the restaurant that night. Maybe you crept up slower and more methodically than we were expecting.)

We went to bed around 8:30 PM, confident that we were settling into our last evening of stress-free sleep. I passed out on the couch and your mother took the upstairs bedroom. Earlier in the pregnancy Andrea learned that she slept better when she had the entire bed to herself. The results of Andrea’s trademark meticulous planning waited patiently by the door. Two pieces of luggage, a gym bag, a backpack, and an overstuffed purse contained everything we might need.

I didn’t necessarily feel any more nervous than I normally do. This is something you’ll come to know about your father before you even have the words to name it. I’m preternaturally anxious.

Around 10:00 PM I woke up to gentle shaking. “I think I’ve gone into labor,” your mom said standing over me. Never being one to deal in nuance, I asked if we needed to go to the hospital. “Not yet,” she said, but she did ask me to head upstairs with her and sleep next to her. As I slept, she sat up and timed her contractions. She woke me again when they had reached the 5-1-1 mark. “I think it’s time to go to the hospital,” she told me. With that my brain shifted into a state of hyper awareness that has yet to turn off. As soon as she got out of bed her water broke.

I galloped down the stairs, adrenaline shocking my system. I slung a bag over every appendage and yoked myself with the Boppy. We pressed our clammy hands together and teetered to the car, our path illuminated by the colored glow of the decorative globes your mom had recently stuck into the front yard. The contractions were getting stronger and more painful, causing her to wince every few feet. The only thing I remember about the five minute hospital drive is the chorus to Dua Lipa’s “One Kiss,” a song that will be forever linked in our minds to your birth.

A cadre of nurses greeted us at the Labor and Delivery floor of the hospital. They peppered us with questions before showing us to a room where they strapped a fetal heart monitor belt onto your mother’s belly. It was now midnight and labor had begun. The contractions had become strong enough to cause nausea. Before long the room was littered with small plastic receptacles filled with undigested seafood. We were told we couldn’t move to a delivery room yet because they had to make sure that Andrea was in labor, and this required the green-light from a Kaiser physician. Around 3:00 AM we were wheeled into Labor and Delivery Room #3, the room where you would enter the world.



  1. Patricia L Barry

    What a beautiful way to catalogue Joelle’s entry into the world. She will treasure this. Such a priceless gift for her and a blessing for the rest of us who get to share in it with you both! Thank you.


  2. Pingback: Dear Joelle: Your Entrance into the World | Mr. Anderson Reads & Writes
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