Sweet 17

The summer of ’88 was a summer of heat and drought, which my pregnant wife and I weathered in an unairconditioned garden level apartment. Wednesday night August 17 was as steamy as the rest, made even more unpleasant for my wife because she was more than a week overdue with our first child. We went to Wednesday night service at our church that evening and our pastor had me, and the rest of the congregation, pray that the baby would come soon but not before service was over.

About midnight that night the heat wave broke and the temperature dropped by about 20 degrees in two hours time. My wife, and apparently nearly every other full-term pregnant woman in St. Paul, went into labor. When we arrived at our hospital early on the morning of August 18th every bed in the Labor and Delivery area was already full. It turned out to be a day of complications that kept our prayer chain busy as we waited for space in L&D to open up, waited for an anesthesiologist to show up and administer an epidural (which didn’t take), waited an hour and a half for another anesthesiologist to come and try again while I tried to be as calm and comforting as I could be while my wife went through contraction after contraction. When she rested in between I would step out of her line of sight and lift whatever piece of furniture or heavy equipment I could get my hands on to vent my own frustration. I think the nurses were ready to call another anesthesiologist to bring a tranquilizer dart. At 4:33 p.m. it was all worth it.

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