Twelve years ago, on this very day, I was standing in an operating room, looking vaguely like the Hulk in torn scrub pants.
Activity in the room swirled around me: Jenni was on the delivery table, there were a couple of nurses, moving around giving orders and letting me know where to be so I was out-of-the-way but still next to Jenni’s head, an anesthesiologist monitoring Jenni’s vital signs, and a late-arriving doctor. The pale green tile of the entire room lent an air of sterility, along with the stainless steel and glass cabinets on the wall in front of me, and the rather plain wall clock on the wall to my left.
In a glassed-in room to my right, heated, I was told, to 98 degrees, was a pair of NICU nurses and a NICU doctor, waiting for things to happen.
Oh, but what about the pants, you ask? For the answer to that, we go back to May 19th, 2000.
Jenni’s body was giving several signs of being done with the pregnancy. After all, these were twins, and after seven months or so, things in her body were starting to shut down. So she’d been checked into the hospital on that Friday, spent a long, lonely couple of days there as I tried to run some interference for Patrick. Grandparents stepped in and helped both to spend some time with Patrick and with Jenni, so I had plenty of help, but it still wasn’t fun.
But by Sunday, Jenni wasn’t getting any better, so the decision was made that they were going to induce labor.
Now one thing I’ve learned about doctors is that they don’t believe a lot of things that their patients tell them. So when we warned everyone that labor and delivery with Patrick went pretty quickly for a first kid, they didn’t seem to hold that thought in mind with the girls.
So late morning, Jenni got the shot to induce labor. She got the epidural, and things started up. By 3:30 or so, though, after a couple of hours of things moving slowly, everything sped up, and there was a mad rush to get her into the OR, get the doctor on call called, and then, as an after thought, a nurse came rushing into the labor room with a pair of scrubs.
Scrubs, size large. I haven’t been a large since freshman year of high school.
I put the pants on over my jeans. And ripped them along every seam there was in the paper-based, disposable scrubs.
Oh, they grabbed the wrong one, I was told. One voice said things were going too quickly, and they wanted me in the OR with Jenni. Another voice said wait and we’ll get you some other pants. A couple of minutes went by without replacement pants, and I made the decision to just go with what I had. I strode into the OR, got a slightly quizzical look from one of the nurses, but took my place next to Jenni’s head. And things went on in spite of me.
So it was that I, in my Hulk-like garb, was there to witness the birth of my twin daughters. Hannah was first, taken and given quickly to the NICU nurse who took her into the warmed room, and then Zoe, given to the other. I managed to do my only job as assigned by Jenni–to assure her that they looked healthy and had two of everything they were supposed to have.
Twelve years later, that day–in fact, that weekend–sticks with me. There have been so many events, milestones, and odd stories since, but I can always come back to that one as the first…Ripped scrubs. My lasting contribution to the girls birthday.
Happy birthday, Hannah and Zoe.
See you tomorrow.