I'm not much of a morning person. Which is to say, I'm grumpy.
At least, I would be most days at 4:45 in the morning. But when Kathy woke me up before dawn on August 28, 2010, I knew this wasn't just any morning. It was my daughter's birthday.
Kathy had spent the previous night attempting to convince herself she wasn't really in labor, and attempting to sleep through the pain. This proved futile by about 2:00 am. At 4:45 she asked me to time her contractions. I downloaded the Contraction Timer app to my iPhone (ah, technology), and we quickly discovered that Kathy's contractions were 3 minutes apart. Of course, this meant we should have already been at the hospital.
Thankfully, God's providence was the single thread that ran throughout the trial of Penny's early arrival. We were staying in the same hotel as my whole extended family, and while we were unsure what we would do with Jonas if we had the baby in SF (it was a whole month away still and this was the one thing we had left to plan), all I had to do now was run down to my parents' hotel room and ask my mom to stay with Jonas while we went to the hospital.
Before ushering my laboring wife into the car, I grabbed our suitcase to take with us to the hospital. My lovely wife, still convinced that she was not having this baby in San Diego, wanted me to leave the suitcase. "They're just going to send us back home," she kept saying. On this point, I put my foot down. Three days later, when we finally left the hospital, we were both glad I'd stayed firm.
Once in the car, I did a lot of speeding (which I knew the police wouldn't mind, given that my wife was in labor) and then slowing down (because the road we were on was unfamiliar, though I still had a picture of the Google Map in my head). Straight, empty road: 65mph in a 45. Sudden curve in the road to the right: 15mph in a 35 (wait, is this the same road? should I turn? keep going?). Once we got to the 8 freeway, we had a straight shot to the hospital. While en route, the trip felt hours long; in memory, it was a 30 second blur; in reality, it took about 15 minutes.
We arrived at the hospital a little after 5:30 am. The hospital – Scripps Mercy – was under construction, and everything was very confusing. I pulled up to the emergency room entrance, but it didn't look like the place to park. I pulled out and parked on the street, but it was a 20 minute parking zone. I ended up parking in the emergency lot after a few minutes' consternation and figured they'd forgive me if I wasn't meant to park there.
In the emergency room we heard for the first time what we would hear over and over again in the following days: San Francisco? You're far from home....
They admitted Kathy and gave her a hospital wristband. For the moment, my wrists remained band-less.