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  • I have lived a fascinating life, to be sure, and I have experienced many life changing events. My childhood was full of hopes and dreams and adventures. I had been places, done and and seen many things, had experiences that few get to enjoy. My life had been so full that by the time I was twenty I felt I had lived a pretty long life. But the world had not yet begun.
    It was in November of 97 when I got the news and I believed at the time that the impact on my life would be great, and yet, wondrous. I was going to be a father. Over the next several months my fiance and I planned and prepared, talked and dreamed, wondered and feared. She was sick a few times, quite seriously so. This made me fear for the two most important people who were in my life at that time one of which would be the most important ever in my life.
    We were living in Nova Scotia at the time. Winters are tough enough in a small town on the Northumberland shore without adding pregnancy to the list of troubles. My fiance could hardly go out for fear of falling. It was impossible to remove or avoid ice and the snow banks were up to my chest - I being six feet tall this was quite high to my five foot two inch fiance. And then there was the cold. Minus twelve degrees Celsius on a good day and minus twenty-eight on a bad. Yes, that was a cold winter. It was a small town too so it's not like there were a lot of places to go anyway and quite often in the winter Pictou can get cut off due to ice and blowing snow on the causeway leaving a long drive around the harbour on snowy icy roads to go anywhere.
    Funny how I remember my earlier years on Pictou Harbour, the years before that winter. When we were kids it was a common event for people to drive their cars out on the ice and go swirling around in the snow and ice doing donuts and such. Sometimes we'd make a day of it, a big event. Lots of people would be out there driving their cars with the whole family along. Some people would bring hot chocolate and maybe some sandwiches and snacks. We kids used to walk across the harbour to go to the Pictou Landing First Nations Reserve to play with the kids there often. It was easy to get there in winter with the water frozen. Or we'd go out to the golf course and sled down the hill. It was fun cause you could go from the top all the way out on the ice and it was a really long ride... but a longer walk back up.
    In those later years you didn't see a lot of people on the ice anymore. The harbour didn't quite freeze like it used to. I remember when I was 16 me and a few friends walked across to the Reserve. That was the last time we tried that. We almost fell through a couple of times and Steven, the smallest and lightest of us, did fall through on the way back near the shore - it was all pretty much slush there. I think that was my introduction to the changing environment we live in.
    No, when I was younger the winters were a time of fun and freedom. Not that we weren't having fun and being free in the summer. Living in such a small town we had all kinds of things we could do. And there were some wonderful beaches only five miles from town. But everything for us was still in a small local area, except in the winter. That was when you could feel like you really went somewhere. The ice freed you.
    But that winter, when I was twenty years old, the winter was my jailer. Not really mine, but my fiance's. But I wasn't going far without her. Not while she was pregnant.
    Then came the spring. It was a nasty spring to follow a nasty winter. Things got warm a little too fast and all the snow turned to slush and then to water. There was flooding everywhere. I remember I had to put off an appointment of my own three times because it was in Halifax and there was no way to drive there from Pictou with everything flooded in between. It seemed like the world was going to drown. Still no going anywhere.
    Then late spring came and the sun was shinning and the flowers were blooming. New life abounded. It was the most beautiful start to summer that I remember ever seeing. And my child was due to be born in late June or early July. So, of course, at this point my fiance really wasn't getting out too much. She wasn't feel that up to it really. Winter had taken its toll and she had had at least three false starts to her labour. Two of those nights were actually spent at the hospital while she was kept under observation and the third we left a little past midnight. But it promised to be a beautiful summer still and I knew I was going to have the best summer ever.
    Then late June came. Her water broke late at night while she was at her parents' place in River John. That's thirty kilometers up the shore. Thirty kilometers down the shore to Pictou then another twenty or so across the causeway and up the highway to New Glasgow. I was at home in Pictou so she had only her father to drive her. Oh no, was all I could think, that guy's top driving speed was in the ranger of ten kph. And about 50 kilometers to go. Ok, so i exaggerate... but just a little. He actually usually drove about thirty kilometers per hour. Seriously, I'm not joking here.
    When Janet called me I told her I'd meet her at the Haliburton Road over pass on the highway just before going on to the causeway. I'd go on foot to be in the car with her. It was about a twenty minute walk normally. I thought, at the speed her father drives, that I would have an hour. I made it, from getting dressed to getting there, in about fifteen minutes which was pretty good having been naked and in the shower before bed to start to making it to a place a twenty minute walk away. They had been waiting for me there for about two minutes.
    We got to the hospital after one in the morning and the staff went right to work examining her. Indeed her water had broke but she hadn't gone into labour. They checked her all over and she seemed in good condition, it was just a matter of waiting now. So they gave us a room in the maternity wing on the maternity and pediatrics floor and we rested and talked. Just a couple of rooms down and up the ramp was the local T.V. room. We spent some time in there. It was three in the morning. The only thing on was Springer. After a couple of hours of "you (beep)" and "you (beeping) (beep)" followed by lots of "how could you" and "I can't believe you" but no labour pains we went to rest in the room they had assigned her. After a shower, which we were told helps, Janet crawled into bed and eventually fell asleep for a few hours.
    Later in the morning the doctors came to check on her. They were a bit concerned that she hadn't went into labour at all. She was a few days early. She was due around the last day of the month or July first, according to the doctors and it was Monday the 22 of June. She of course kept joking, ever since she was told her due date, that she was going to give birth on my birthday, June 27. In the end the doctors told her that if she didn't start labour they would have to give her an anti-biotic drip and induce labour the following day. We spent that day watching more T.V. which alternated between soap operas and Springer - so soap operas and more of the same - and her taking showers with me helping her, and resting in the room. We talked, we walked as much as she could, we spent time with those who stopped by to see us, and we sat in silence which was rare for us since we always had something to say to each other. But for some reason neither of us were worried. Somehow we knew it was all going to be just great.
    That night was more of the same. Late night Springer marathon. Why, I kept asking, did this have to happen during what seemed a three day Springer marathon. Maybe it was some foreshadowing, but that has nothing at all to do with this story. And then we slept. And still no labour.
    The following day a nurse came to put an I.V. into Janet's hand for some anti-biotics. It was bad that her labour hadn't started. Since her water broke our child was sitting in there unprotected now with all the protective fluid gone. When are they going to induce her, I had asked, which had been responded to by I don't know. During that day they had two emergency inductions and an emergency C-section come in. This is on a Tuesday following a rather quite Monday. No, wrong, a very quite Monday. There had been one birth the day before and there was nothing emergency about it. Why then on this day. On the day they said they were going to induce her. I even knew one of the people who was in for an emergency. Her boyfriend was a long time friend of mine and a few of our New Glasgow friends were around. Looked like a gang convention in the hallway because of how we all dressed and acted. Either that or a basketball convention since to break up the tension we were all trying to make hoops off of what ever we could with what ever we could. Turned out that my friends girl had toxemia, a condition where the mother's and babies blood are incompatible and could be fatal. His girl, both of them, turned out alright though. But still no labour for Janet.
    That night was pretty much the same as the last two. More Springer, showers, and walks when we could though we now had to tote Janet's I.V. pole where ever we went. It was now over night on Tuesday and neither of us had been outside the hospital doors since we entered them over night on Sunday. We had been there a long time it seemed. But still we weren't worried. Well, not entirely true. From what I had seen and heard from the inductions the previous day I was worried for Janet. Damn but this was going to hurt. She was a country girl and all but, damn.
    The next day came and we were told that emergencies or not they were going to induce Janet at eleven that morning. This was the third day after her water breaking, they couldn't wait longer. So at eleven that day they induced her. For pain she chose the gas over the epidural. I remember the look on her face most of the day. It was like she was going to kill or destroy everyone and everything she looked at. The mouth peice came off of the gas a couple of times and by the way she smashed it back on I though she was going to take everything out on it. But she remained in good spirits really. Talking and joking with the doctors and nurses and with me and my cousins Carey and Mary who were friends with Janet and Mary's boyfriend Jason, a friend mine. Carey had given birth to a boy only a couple of months before and Janet, the two of them having went through their pregnancies together, asked her to be in the room with us which she agreed to do. Other than Carey and I everyone else was asked to leave when the labour really got started. Well, aside from Janet, of course.
    Most of the next hours really were a blur. I remember taking turns wiping Janet's forehead with Carey, holding Janet's hand and talking to her, and going out to keep those waiting informed of the progress as well as to get some air. I have one distinct memory of the whole process. One thing that stands out above all others - aside from the end that is. At one point, while holding my hand, and she never did squeeze too tightly, not like in the movies, she leaned over and said, "Can you take over for me, dear." I will never forget that. In the midst of all that she still had humor. Unless she was being serious.
    It was that evening when it was done, and my little girl was out. Some say, when speaking of such things, that the child was introduced to the world. I say the world was introduced to her as she really is the more important part and to me, the world didn't exist till that moment. It came into being at eight oh two p.m. on June 24 of 1997 because it was not till that moment that I knew what the world was, what life was, or what living was.
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