Part VI: Getting ready to be a father
I get a text from Iesha’s mother at like midnight telling me to get down to Mercy City Hospital, and all I could think of were Iesha and the baby. Are they aight? Are they okay? I was tearing up so badly; I had to take a roll of tissue with me to the car. I put the key in the ignition and turned right. The car purred — started up with no trouble, and the sheer sound of it, for some reason, made me believe — all would be well.
I guess I don’t have to tell you; the car is mine. I love it! My homie Amar’s Uncle Khalil was true to his word. When I’m not hustling to take Iesha to her rec classes or to the ice cream shop to work, I am running errands for us and driving myself to and from work. These last few weeks have been so busy, I barely had time to breathe. Iesha’s been rippin’ and runnin’ too, doing far too much. I’ve told her on more than one occasion, “Babe, you’re getting too close to your due date to be doing all this. Let someone else lighten the load for you.”
But Iesha is stubborn, and she thought she could work here, study there, and hustle here without any of this catching up with her. My phone dings and there’s another text message coming in from Iesha’s mother, and I pull over to the edge of the road, away from traffic to read what it says.
“She’s five centimeters dilated — contractions every ten minutes, lasting about 45 seconds. This baby is probably coming tonight, Deidrick. Where are you!?”
Tonight?! What am I reading?! TONIGHT!!! Not tonight. We still have so much to do. She hadn’t even had the baby shower — that’s next weekend. The apartment won’t be ready until Thursday — it’s Monday. She’s only seven months now. Will the baby be okay? Why is she coming so early?! What are we going to do?
Man, listen . . . I hustled so fast those last four blocks to the hospital, it’s a miracle I didn’t get pulled over by the cops. I kept seeing Iesha’s smile flash before my eyes — like the happiest memories of her were loading up in my brain, and I felt like I was in the matrix or some shit, ya know?
I pull up to the parking deck, grab the entry ticket, find the closest parking spot on the first floor, and hustle to the side entrance of the parking deck to get to the main entrance of the hospital. At Mercy City, you sign in with the receptionist, give the party’s name you’re there to see, and then after scanning your driver’s license, you’re given the room number and if available, a hospital volunteer to usher you to their room.
I told the receptionist I didn’t need an usher — I knew exactly where I was going. I spent so much time in this hospital as a kid, I could map it with my eyes closed. Guess I didn’t tell you this, huh? I have sickle cell anemia. Iesha, as far as we know, is not a carrier and doesn’t have the trait. So, we should be in the clear with our little one. I think she’s just ready to enter this world — ready to give her Mommy and Daddy some work to do.
The last time I had been hospitalized was about four years ago. I don’t miss this place — not one bit.
When I step into the room, I notice Iesha strapped to some sort of device, wailing and screaming. I guess the damn contractions were getting the best of her. My girl has been telling us since day one . . . “I don’t want any drugs.” And I’ll be damned if she wasn’t keeping her word. She handled each contraction like a trooper.
I had to slide some hospital gear over my clothes, and some shoe covers, too. The cover on my head looked funky and out of place. I settled in next to the hospital bed and held Iesha’s hand. Her mom was talking to her, telling her to breathe through each contraction just like she had learned. She was squeezing the hell outta my hand, man. I can laugh about it now because it’s all said and done, but I was scared as shit that night. Scared as shit.
Two hours later, we had a screaming baby, who was letting the world know she was alive. She was 4lbs, 11oz, amazingly so. Iesha’s mom said, “Lord child, had you carried this baby to term, she would have been at least seven pounds.” Iesha was a week shy of being eight months pregnant. We’d made it close enough to a “safe place” for the baby to survive on her own outside of the womb, but you know . . . all precautions had to be taken. Her breathing was a little labored, but she was calm otherwise.
No real causes for alarm, they said.
She spent nine days in the NICU, her weight fluctuating, but she was eating and sleeping normally. On her last day in the hospital, me and Iesha walked up to the NICU and sat and took turns holding her — loving her — letting her know who Daddy and Mommy were.
We both decided she would be Aida Miracle Miles because here she was — our little miracle.
I’d known this day would come, so I was ready, but I wasn’t ready too. If you dig what I’m sayin’. But man . . . I take one look at Aida and another at Iesha and I can’t stop smiling. My two girls — my world in one room. I love them so much my heart explodes at the thought of losing either of them. I am a father. A father . . . I am someone’s father. I don’t think I’ve ever known this kind of happiness before.