When I was born, they called me cone-head.
My mom’s water broke early. Or, depending on your perspective, I was born late. However you look at it, I went a long time without water, and the doctors had to put a needle in my head to hydrate me. They taped a styrofoam cup over the needle, so I wouldn’t roll over and injure myself. Thus, I was a cone-head.
Obviously I was present at my birth, but I don’t remember much of what transpired. I only remember the stories that were told to me about the whole event. The stories, I think, make it seem like a pretty interesting day. It was probably one of the more interesting events in my life, so I like to hear–and tell–it.
As tends to happen after nine months of pregnancy, my mom’s water broke, and she and my dad went to the hospital. I don’t recall the exact number of hours that transpired between the water breaking and my birth, but it was a lot. Poor baby Jennifer was dehydrating.
Yes, baby Jennifer. Up until I was born, my parents had decided to name me Jennifer. They told friends, family, everyone that I was going to be Jennifer. We still have a few random cards that were sent wishing my parents and baby Jennifer good health.
Apparently my mom wasn’t dilating enough to start pushing for a while. I guess they weren’t too concerned because the stories I’ve heard make no mention of emergency procedures leading up to my eventual evacuation from the womb. At one point, the doctor went to check how dilated my mom was, after hours of labor, and probably agony.
I was crowning.
This is where the story gets really dramatic and fun, especially when my dad tells it.
The doctor, in shock, said I was coming. Nobody was expecting it. Labor had lasted so long, my mom wasn’t dilated enough to start pushing, but there was my head.
The doctor only had one glove on. He announced my imminent arrival, put his gloved hand under my head, and threw his other naked hand behind him. The nurse struggled to put a glove on his waving hand in time to catch me as I forced my way into the world.
They made it just in time.
As the nurse slipped the latex glove onto the doctor’s hand, he reached down and pulled my gooey, naked body out.
My dad looked at the clock. 12:01 a.m. July 7, 1986. “Oh shit, it’s a girl.”
He was half in shock that I was, in fact, a baby girl, and that he had dreamed my entire birth. His “Oh shit” was complete deja vu. Or so he says. He said he immediately looked at the clock when I was born to validate that it was reality, and not a dream. His baby girl was alive, covered in goo, screaming and kicking and breathing and slightly dehydrated. And she wasn’t a Jennifer. She didn’t look like a Jennifer. She looked like Danielle.
I was Danielle.
An interesting twist to the story of my birth, since I was there and don’t remember much, was how I was attracted to the doctor that birthed me.
Well, I wasn’t attracted to him, exactly.
There was this old Lenscrafters commercial with various people in different styles of glasses. Toward the end of the commercial was a man, probably in his 40s or so, with a short-shaved hair cut, getting in the back of a limo. Whenever I saw the commercial, I was drawn to this guy. It wasn’t a sexual attraction or anything. He was handsome enough, with a friendly smile, but it wasn’t about that. He just… caught my eye. I pointed it out to my dad one day, and he stopped what he was doing.
“That man looks exactly like the doctor that delivered you.”
Maybe part of me remembers the man who, in a moment’s notice, brought me into the world one gloved hand at a time.