It’s 5 a.m. when my wife nudges me to turn off my obnoxiously loud, quacking duck alarm. I hit off the alarm and try to rub the blind out of my eyes as I do every morning (it didn’t work). My wife and I get up and start getting ready so that we can be at the hospital by 6 a.m.
At some point today, I will become a daddy to a baby girl. It’s an odd feeling leaving the house knowing a HUMAN will be returning with you. It’s also an odd feeling having an appointment to have a baby. You grow up hearing chaotic stories about women being rushed to the hospital to give birth. For a blind husband, not being able to drive your wife to the hospital as she goes into labor is an awful feeling, so finding out that wasn’t a necessary component in the birth equation was a load off my chest. I pack our bags, hop into the passenger seat, and off we go to bring a life into the world.
I really thought my wife might be early given the magnitude of this 6 a.m. appointment, but we walk into the hospital revolving door (a torture device for blind people) around 6:05. I just hope my daughter doesn’t have the late gene like her momma. Baby Evelyn is being born a week early so maybe I’ll get my wish… We check in and wait in our room for the itinerary. My parents live in Tulsa so I give them a call to see where they are at. “Hey mom, we are checked in. How close are y’all?” “WE ARE IN A MAJOR STORM! TORNADOS! CALL YOU BACK!” I then turn to my wife, and in my most calm voice ever, I say, “They’re about an hour out.” It wasn’t until my parents showed up safe and sound that my wife knew about the tornados.
I feel like I did a respectable amount of research and preparation for this day, so how I missed the boat on the dilation chart is beyond me. The nurses come into the room to check Alyssa’s dilation and it was at 3 cm. The nurses leave, and I ask what that means. My wife looks at me with annoyance and disbelief. (I should have asked Siri first; Siri never judges my dumb questions.) So, my wife then informs me that 10cm is the magic number for the pushing to start and that each centimeter takes about an hour. So now reality sets in that we will be sitting here for 7-8 hours before we get to have this baby! Luckily, family and friends make their way to the hospital and help pass the time.
We also have a videographer that needs to be updated on Alyssa’s dilation. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt more against something than the idea of a stranger filming our birth – it’s weird and costs a fortune. (Fast forward to present time, and I’ve now watched the video at least 20 times and I couldn’t be happier we did it. Every time we watch the video, it allows us to relive the miracle that took place that day.)
As my wife starts to near 10cm, friends and family filter out of the room. I can’t help but worry about my eyes. I start wondering if the dimly lit room will prevent me seeing the birth of my daughter, if I will be allowed/able to cut the cord, if I’ll be a good birth coach for my wife, etc., but that wasn’t the case. For the next 90 minutes, my wife is in labor and all I know is that Retinitis Pigmentosa is nowhere to be found. Everything I look at seems sharper and brighter. I clearly see my daughter being born right in front of me. I can’t see when someone tries to shake my hand 5 feet in front of me, but somehow, I see the doctor hand me the scissors to cut the cord. I’m not even nervous when I do it. And in this perfect moment, I realize this experience is just what I wanted it to be – normal.
It wasn’t too long after my daughter was born that my eye disease decided to settle back in. The room dimmed and my daughter’s face wasn’t as sharp or clear. For a brief second, I was upset. Then I started to think about some of the other people I know who have RP that can’t see anything. I started thinking about the people I know who have been blind since birth and would give anything to see what I see. I realize I experienced more than one miracle the day my daughter was born. It was in that moment I decided to take advantage of every second of every day that I get see my precious little girl because I know someday, I’ll only be able to hear her; but at least I’ll be able to put a face to a voice.