Monday August 19, 2013 started just like any other Monday for Matthew and I. It was business as usual and we were still anxiously counting down the days until the arrival of Baby T-Rex. Travel plans were being finalized, and the last days of work were being scheduled. Only 23 days until the due date. Everything completely changed with four text messages.
Reading those four text messages and then reading them again created feelings of anxiety, excitement and stress. The baby is coming tonight? Seriously? We are over 1,150 miles away. My first phone call was to Matthew while he was at work. He answers and I can only muster up a three-word phrase. “Leave work now!”
The next hour included packing clothes, stacking up bags and crates that would go into the car, checking on available flights to Texas, calling our parents and waiting for Matthew to make the 30 minute drive home from work. We had already experienced what we referred to as our practice drill, so we were prepared to leave as quickly as possible. From the time we received the phone call until we were pulling out of the driveway, took 90 minutes. As the garage door was closing, I thought to myself the next time it opens we would have our daughter with us and be a family of three.
We had barely driven 50 miles before the reality of how long it was actually going to take us to get to Texas set in. The GPS said we still had over 17 hours to go. I quickly started calculating a more accurate time using an average speed of 75 mph. With Matthew driving, I calculated an average speed of 80 mph. Is this an admission of guilt? We could make it in 15 hours.
The discussion began of how to pass the time as quick as possible. Matthew and I have talked about listening to an audiobook several times, and what better time than now to try one? A quick stop to the audiobook aisle at a Barnes and Noble in Knoxville, Tennessee and I was already over the idea. What book do you choose? I haven’t heard of half the books that were available. One of the few books we recognized was The Help. $49 later and we were back on the road to Texas. Disc 1 Track 3 and I was already lost and had no idea what was happening in the story. Who is Skeeter? We went to see the movie while it was still in theaters and I couldn’t even keep up with someone reading the story to me. This was going to be a long trip.
The miles seemed to pass slowly and the chapters of the book even slower. We both constantly checked our phones for an update from the labor and delivery floor at Abilene Regional Medical Center. The current plan was to induce the expecting mother at 8 o’clock the next morning. Our GPS said if we continued to drive through the night we would arrive at 9:15am. Everything appeared to be happening in our favor. Then we get a text message saying that they had “broken her water”. What? No way. We had just driven through Nashville, Tennessee, and we still had hundreds of miles to go.
Less than two hours later we were speeding toward the Tennessee state line, and we didn’t even realize that we had received these two text messages.
The baby is here? Really? We are dads? OMG! We needed to stop driving and pulled off I-40 in Jackson, Tennessee. Matthew and I decided to fill the car up with gas and get something to eat at the McDonald’s gas station combo. The television in the McDonald’s was on The Weather Channel, and they were airing a documentary of “The Miracle on the Hudson”. Being a pilot, I normally would be thrilled and excited to watch something about aviation, but this time I was so sick to my stomach and trying to process the magnitude of what just happened.
The phone vibrates and it was a small image. This had to be a picture of our daughter. I hold off looking at the picture until Matthew sits next to me in the booth. We click the image and it gets bigger. There she is! The very first picture of our daughter!
After discarding the half eaten fast food, we hopped in the car and began trying to process everything that was happening. Matthew drove around to the back of the building and the tears began to flow. Our world had just changed forever. Letting the reality of what happened to sink in was difficult. There was definitely some sadness for missing her birth, but we were happy and very excited. It was hard to believe baby Harper was finally here. We both really wanted to be at the hospital with her mother Mercy and her father Dylan but were elated that both mother and baby were fine. Dylan survived the birth as well.
Matthew and I want to share that special first picture with you. World meet Harper Wade Darnell
Born August 19, 2013 at 8:24 pm CDT
5lb 9.6 oz
18.5 inches long
We are now dads and we still have 10 hours to go! Exhaustion has set in.
To be continued…