Tuesday, June 9, 2009

My Little Brother

My little brother, Elliott, was born at eight and a half months with a clubfoot. That was an outstanding outcome given the complicated nature of the pregnancy. Under doctor’s orders, my Mom had been bed-bound for the last three months of her pregnancy after her amniotic sac prematurely broke, induced labor but then miraculously resealed itself. Bottom line: today Elliott is healthy and my hero. He's 22 now and going to nursing school.
Elliott’s actual birth followed the pregnancy’s theme of dramatic and unexpected events. Already on edge due to the previous complications, when my Mom’s water broke for the second time at 5:30 am on November 19, 1986, my Dad drove us to Kaiser Sacramento at over 100 miles per hour. I was nine years old. When we arrived, all the doors of the hospital were locked due to an ongoing nursing strike. We pounded on the doors for what seem like hours. My Dad had me run up and down the hospital looking for open doors. As I ran, I can distinctly remember watching nurses picketing while my Mom lie panicked on the sidewalk. I did not understand why they wouldn’t help us. I still don’t. My Mom suddenly screamed in panic because she knew Elliott was well on his way. This was her third child. My Dad, always heeding the call of an emergency, grabbed the locked steal and glass sliding door, and with the superhuman strength that you read about, unhinged the door and moved it to the side. An alarm went off that triggered the attention of an irritated, all too casual nurse to walk down an extremely long hallway and yell at us, “What the hell is your problem?” My Dad ignored her, carried my Mom passed her and to the nursing station of the birthing center, and got the help of a more interested staff member. Almost fully dialated, she went straight to the birthing room. While on the gurney, my Mom howled just like a wolf and could be heard throughout the hospital.
In the shuffle, I was left with the nurse we had first met. She put me in a little square room and said, “That your Mom?” I nodded, she snorted, told me to stay put, and closed the door. I REALLY didn’t like her. Following my Dad’s example, I ignored her and left the little square room and followed the still audible howls. In my mind, the hospital staff was suspect and I wanted to make sure my Mom was okay.
I followed my Mom’s howls through a labyrinth of hallways and doors. I found her. The birthing room had a large window and I had arrived just in time to see my Dad cutting Elliott’s umbilical cord. Elliott was born at 7:00 am. Another nurse came up to me and told me I wasn’t supposed to be there. I just looked up at her and pointed through the glass and said, “That’s my brother.”