A few weeks ago I experienced what all expectant fathers dread.
My wife Uki had woken me up before dawn to inform me that it was time. She was in the initial stages of labor with our fifth child and her contractions were intensifying, so we quickly set out for the short ride to the hospital. I felt the familiar rush of excitement and anticipation, knowing that soon we would be welcoming another precious child into the world. But as my wife’s contractions become stronger and more frequent, I also began to feel a nagging fear: What if we don’t make it in time?
I turned on my hazard lights and ran every red light as carefully as I could. Fortunately, it was 5:30 in the morning and commuter traffic was still very light when we got on the highway. I zoomed along, all the while reassuring my wife that we would make it, that everything would be fine. She, in turn, assured me that I was kidding myself.
We were still a few minutes from the hospital; what was once inconceivable was now quite probable. What was I going to do? I prayed for Our Lady’s intercession and the protection of our guardian angels.
After several more rapid contractions, my wife finally ordered me to pull over, “The baby won’t wait, she’s coming now!” I pulled the minivan over to the side of the highway and dialed 911 on my cell phone. As I spoke with the emergency operator I quickly discovered that the baby’s head had already crowned!
I took hold of her head and my wife braced herself for another contraction. As she pushed, I gently pulled on the head and within seconds I was holding my baby girl in my hands. I wrapped her in the towels that we had providentially brought with us and presented her to her to mother. Never before in my life have I ever felt as vulnerable as I did in the moments preceeding her first cry, and words cannot begin to describe the sheer joy and relief that flooded my soul as I heard that wonderful sound. I looked into the eyes of my amazing wife and felt profound gratitude to the Lord for seeing us through this blessed ordeal.
Following the promptings of our emergency operator, I pumped up the heat in the minivan and removed one of my wife's shoelaces to tie off the unbilical cord. Twenty minutes and many prayers later, the ambulance arrived. The EMT handed me a small scalpel and asked me to do the honors. I cut the cord and helped them load my ladies into the ambulance.
As I followed them to the hospital, trembling from both the emotion and the adrenaline, I reflected on the magnitude of the miracle that my wife and I were privileged to experience, and the tale that we would tell our daughter one day about the funny thing that happened on the way to the hospital.
Welcome to the world, little Isabella.