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  • This morning I woke up at 6:05 am. Here's what happened twelve years ago today at that exact time.

    Katherine and I were standing along Judith’s right side in a birthing room at the Hilo Hospital. The Doctor was in the ‘catch’ position urging Judy to push, push, push, but she was hitting the wall. Her contractions started late Sunday afternoon, and it was now dawn on a Tuesday morning. The long labor had exhausted her. She had nothing left in the tank. The baby was in the birth canal, but Judy was failing fast.

    Judy looked over at her sister, Katherine, and pleaded, “I can’t do it anymore. I want to go home.”

    Judith was delirious with pain and exhaustion. Me, I was just confused. The miracle of childbirth was scaring the hell out of me.

    Katherine laughed at her little sister and said, “You can’t go home now, Judy, you’re having a baby!”

    The Doctor asked her to push again, and she made a brief attempt before collapsing. Something wasn’t right. Across from me, the delivery nurse whipped off the stopwatch from around her neck and started it.

    “The clock is running, Doctor.”

    My dull mind whispered, 'The clock is running. It's a countdown. Why is there a countdown?'

    The Doctor kept urging Judy to push then quickly said to the nurse, “We're OK. The baby is coming. We’re fine.”

    But I could feel a twinge of nerves in his voice. We weren't fine, and he knew it.

    The Nurse didn't even look up from the stopwatch. Her tone was direct and not without a little weight behind it, “The clock is running, Doctor.”

    This Nurse was all business now, and she was dictating to the Doctor. That stopwatch was everything. The ticking seconds were crucial, and I was starting to panic. Something had gone wrong. The Doctor kept asking Judith to rally for one final big push, but Judy was fading away.

    “DOCTOR. THAT BABY HAS TO COME OUT NOW!”

    The stopwatch. The ticking, ticking, ticking. Time was passing, or was it slipping away? The nurse was definitely freaking me out with her eyes glued to that stopwatch. Not good, not good. Dammit, what the hell was going on?

    The Doctor turned to me.

    “Mr. Roberts. The baby is stuck in the birth canal, and it’s imperative that we help him along his way. This will require an extraction procedure. I can do this either with forceps or a suction device. I need you to make a decision as to your preference.”

    MY PREFERENCE? Are you kidding me?

    Now, let's be clear, I hadn’t been in labor for 48 hours like Judith, but I wasn't in my right mind either. I was sleep deprived, and now I'm seriously rattled by this last-minute escalation into whatever ring of hell this was rapidly becoming. Was this man really asking me for a medical opinion?

    “Doctor, I don't know anything about this. Why are you asking me?”

    “The procedure has an element of risk, and I need your approval-”

    It hit me like an avalanche. The baby is in trouble. Big, big trouble. That stopwatch is counting down to his death, and this man is asking me for a decision on how to save our son.

    “Mr. Roberts. The procedure-“

    “What are you better at? The forceps or the suction? What's YOUR preference?”

    “I prefer the suction device, but some people shy away from it because-“

    “Just do it. Whatever you’re best at, just do it, and do it now.”

    The Nurse handed over a cross between a ray gun and a toilet plunger. The plunger end went inside Judith; the Doctor made adjustments and started to pull. I could see his arm trembling from the exertion and sweat broke out across his brow. He was pulling with all his might, but the baby wasn’t coming out.

    The Nurse was back on her stopwatch. Her voice was hard and stern.

    “DOCTOR! THIS BABY HAS TO-“

    And then Jackson Dylan Roberts slid out like a star ballplayer who'd just stolen home from third base - ten fingers and ten toes - sliding in to win the game. Our baby boy. The greatest joy of our lives had arrived, and just in time.
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