It was December 31st, 1995, and although Sue and I were spending the evening at home like we did most every New Year’s Eve, this one was different: Sue was nine months pregnant. The due date was January 2nd and we were patiently awaiting the arrival of our little bundle of joy, which we knew would be coming very soon. I had prepared a meal of chicken with noodles and cheese, and we sat down to eat while our two dogs, Jedda and Lucy, sat by Sue’s feet.
We were lingering at the table after the food was gone, enjoying some pleasant conversation, when Sue began looking a little pale. Suddenly she stood up, shooed the dogs out of her way, and rushed to the bathroom, where I heard her throwing the meal back up. The dogs and I watched with concern as Sue made her way back past the table and announced that she wanted to go upstairs and lie down.
After washing the dishes, I went upstairs with the dogs to see how she was doing. I asked if she wanted me to rub her neck. I knew Sue wasn’t feeling normal when she asked me to just hold her instead. I crawled under the covers and curled my arms around her from behind. Jedda and Lucy soon jumped up to join us, and the four of us dozed off and on for a few hours.
At 10 PM, Sue said she was pretty sure she was in labor and wanted to go to the hospital. It was 20 below outside, so I started the car and carried out the bags we had prepared for a stay. We quietly made our way to United Hospital: Either Sue wasn’t having contractions, or she was keeping quiet about them, because our trip was nothing like the chaotic screaming scenes that Hollywood has made popular. It wasn’t until we were at the desk that Sue finally grimaced, giving me the first visible indication that she was in any pain.
We were told to take a seat in the waiting room, and when I turned around I noticed that there were four other couples scattered around. I noticed how similar we all looked: Five very pregnant women, all apparently quite uncomfortable, while five men hovered around, not knowing what to do. Someone made a joke about a race being on to see which of us would have the first born baby of 1996 in Grand Forks, but the mothers seemed to neither hear nor care.
When we eventually made our way in, the doctor on duty confirmed that Sue was in labor and was going to be admitted. Sue was pushed to her room while I went to the car to retrieve our bags. I got Sue snuggled into her bed as well as possible and once again asked if she wanted a neck rub. She informed me that she didn’t want to be touched, so I gave her some space, and ate some of the cookies I had brought along in my “coaches bag.” The nurses came in periodically to check on her, but mostly we were left alone all night. During one of the visits, the nurse told us that all of the other moms had been sent home, so it looked like our son would end up being the “New Year Baby.”
Things began to intensify around 5AM. Sue’s dilation was remaining at 6cm, but she was becoming extremely anxious to begin pushing. Time and time again, a nurse or doctor would come in, examine her, announce she was still at 6cm, then leave, causing Sue to groan in frustration. Then, after a few more contractions, Sue would tell me once again to go find someone to check to see if she was at 10cm yet. To this day, I believe “6cm” is the term all health care providers use to communicate “it’s not time yet!”
At 6AM, we heard “Brahms’s Lullaby” over the intercom, indicating a child had been born at United Hospital. A nurse told us that a mother had arrived from Crookston after 5AM, and had just given birth to her 5th child. Sue looked at me and whispered “And she’s done already?” I suspected the tear that formed in her eye wasn’t because we had lost the “New Year Baby” contest…
At 7AM, Sue finally got the OK to start pushing. Dr. Patrick Moore, Sue’s General Practitioner, was scheduled to be the attending physician, and we were told he would be arriving soon. United Hospital was moving away from GP’s delivering babies, so this would be the last one in Dr. Moore’s long distinguished career. Sue was visibly comforted when Dr. Moore finally arrived, providing her with a familiar face in addition to his calm, in-control demeanor. Things were going to be OK!
By 9AM, nothing had really changed, so Dr. Moore sought a second opinion regarding a possible cesarean section. The two agreed the surgical procedure wasn’t required, so Sue continued pushing with each contraction.
By 10:30, Dr. Moore was certain the end was near, so he instructed the assembled team to make all final preparations. I won’t include the gory details, but just note that the next 30 minutes were extremely traumatic for Sue. Carl James Lindlauf entered this world at 11:00AM, weighing 9 pounds 4 ounces, and measuring 23 ½ inches in length.
Dr. Moore handed me a huge pair of surgical scissors, instructed me to cut the umbilical cord between the two clamps, and with one huge snip, I officially became a father. Dr. Moore placed Carl on the surgical drape over Sue’s stomach so we could see our healthy new son together. His eyes were open and he was staring directly at me and I began crying. A powerful feeling of love entered my soul at that moment and I instantly knew that the father-son bond which had just formed would be with me until my dying day!
I’ve been called son, grandson, nephew, brother, husband and uncle during my time on this earth, but I’m pretty sure that the name I’m proudest of is “Dad!” Happy Birthday Carl!