She had her father’s eyes from the first moment she was born. We were a younger couple, living about 30 miles outside of Fort Riley in mid-Kansas. I was about to be a second time mother, but my husband was new to the experience of delivering a child; new to the sights and sounds of anything to do with having a baby. He was a rough and tough sergeant in the Army. Our wedding was a quick no family affair, but the birth of our first child together was going to be anything less than routine.
I was nine months pregnant on our first Christmas together. Before putting our son to bed, we all sat down to watch a movie, a Christmas present for our two year old. It had been a wonderful Christmas as we spent the duration of the time laughing at the movie “Cars” then at our energetic boy who raced around the room with excitement. In between laughs my husband and I would steal glances at each other; we were in utter joy that we were able to have this Christmas together, a recent deployment fresh in our minds. Everything was perfect, sitting on the couch as a family, a little life kicking inside of me, waiting to get out. Out little baby wasn't due until January.
It was shortly after midnight that I began to feel the pangs of contractions. I nudged my husband who rolled over and asked me how intense the pain was. It was pretty intense, I remember telling him. All he knew, at this point, was that he had to begin counting, calculating how far apart the contractions were. The difficult part about all of this was that my husband was able to roll over and resume his sleep. It didn’t matter if ten, twenty, or thirty minutes had passed. Each time I nudged him, he sounded as if I had aroused him from a deep sleep. Truth was, it never really took much for my husband to fall asleep, not when he was tired. Overseas, he was known for sleeping through mortars outside his room or famously falling asleep in his mashed potatoes down in the chow hall. So naturally, the precursor to childbirth wouldn’t be any different. I was in pain and he was blissfully asleep.
Nothing about this pain seemed normal, it didn’t have normal intervals. When our son was born, it was all “textbook”, meaning the pain increased at steady intervals and I had plenty of time to make it to the hospital. This pain was alarming and I should have known that something was unique about this. Still, our baby wasn’t due for another three weeks, so I had no plans for this baby coming so soon.
Roughly two hours had passed by the time I finally decided to get up. I figured attempting to use the restroom would aid in relieving some of the pressure and I was sorta right. My husband, actually roused slightly from his sleep, didn’t even follow. It was only when I yelled from the bathroom that I believed my water broke that he appeared in the doorway. I saw my husband snap into action, and he roused our son from bed, started the car, and grabbed our hospital bag. But as he stopped in the doorway to hand me a pair of pants, I felt the pressure increase. I knew that something beyond our control was about to happen. I pleaded for my husband to understand that we were not going to make it to the hospital, not before our baby’s grand entrance. Once he understood this, he asked what I needed him to do. I instructed him to gather clean towels and bring them to me. Before doing this he laid me down on the bathroom floor. To this day I remember the look of surprise on his face, seeing his baby’s head coming from his wife caused him to utter a simple, “whoa.”
Down on the bathroom floor, I fought the urge to push until I saw my husband again. He knelt in front of me readying to catch a little bundle of joy as he or she may their way into the world. It didn’t take long. I didn’t see what my husband saw that evening after the baby was out. Here was his baby, a purplish tiny creature, no sound. I remember my husband’s look of dread as he wondered what the consequences of not being at the hospital were. Then there it was, the tiny black orbs looked up at him, blinked once or twice then closed again. This was their moment. The first person to see the baby was my husband, who looked up at me, his messy child in his hands as he informed me sweetly that it was a girl.
The 911 dispatch worker timed the birth at 2:35 am December 26th. What rounded out this evening was the fact that her umbilical cord was tied off with 550 parachute cord, and then cut by her father. My husband was a branded joker, so as I laid there, our daughter wrapped in his arms, I remember mentioning to him, “your mother is never going to believe this.” In fact, we couldn’t believe what had all just transpired.
After returning home with our baby girl, the Captain of my husband’s company called to congratulate us. He offered my husband a few extra days off then informed me that my husband had been aptly titled, “the doctor” around the motor pool.
Eight months after she was born, her father was deployed for 15 months. I saw how this separation changed a little baby and a man, yet to this day, their relationship has never been stronger. Four children in total now, and this little girl was the only one to be born while my husband served in the military. There is something that words cannot describe when it comes to that moment because I know it is the moment that created an amazingly true, father-daughter relationships. Nearly ten years later and her eyes are still fixated on her father and his on her.