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On The Occasion of a Birth
by Sid Harrison ETCM(SS) USN(Ret)

We had a venison roast, rice and gravy for dinner and everyone had gone home except for our two house guests. My wife had cooked all that day, marinating the venison the previous night, and we joked in the kitchen about her impending delivery date. And wouldn't it be funny if ... and maybe in a couple of days... or, maybe next week. Having no twinges or pains she "knew" it couldn't be for a few days at least. Confident in that projection I looked forward to a sound sleep after much good talk, food and drink as we turned in at 3AM. 

Thirty minutes later I switched off the car engine in the hospital parking lot.

"It's going to be no sweat", I told myself as we settled into the labor room. After all I had read all the stuff and was prepared. With no predictions of any complications I knew all I had to do was remain cool, relaxed and objective about the event. Our gin rummy game was abruptly interrupted by the doctor when he said it was time to get down to business.

Early that afternoon, with the star performer wheeled into delivery, the doctor helped me don the surgical green cap, gown and mask. I was ready I thought, as whispers of anticipation bumped softly against my mental barricades. I bolstered my confidence with thoughts that I would observe this delivery with the same objectivity and detachment as watching a mechanic pull a wheel bearing. I went in.

Watching the confident nurses and doctor I had that strange out-of-body experience. I was watching this from somewhere out there and could see all of us in the bottom of this bright tile room. The doctor on his stool poised like a catcher, softly giving his instructions.

Then small and far away the distant sound like the cry of a sea bird as my wife squeezed my hand. Increasing in volume and fullness I heard the sounds of my healthy red haired girlchild and the full realization hit me.

Through the background of congratulations by the staff I heard my mumbled thank you and hastily left the delivery room. Steadied by the quiet coolness of the corridor. The late afternoon November sunlight making long shadows on waxed floors I pressed my forehead against the smooth firmness of the hospital walls and cried.