A Baby Story: Charlotte Lynn English

At 4:02pm yesterday, after 21 hours of labor and with a full moon on the rise, Charlotte Lynn English entered the world.

She seemed a bit skeptical of us. This was her “Seriously, I’ve been here for 30 seconds. Put down the camera” look.

I hadn’t held a baby nearly this young since my cousin Samantha was a month old. She’s now a junior at the University of Delaware.

Ellen’s due date was Monday, July 21. (Though we were never clear whether they’d factored in the Leap Year.) On Thursday morning, we arrived at the OB GYN for a routine appointment. Ellen’s blood pressure, which had been high for weeks, had reached the go-directly-to-the-hospital, do-not-collect- your-belongings level.

Her doctor decided it was time to call it a pregnancy and began the induction that evening. We were starting from “completely closed.” But things progressed overnight, as we were watching classic sitcoms. The episode of The Golden Girls where Dorothy takes a young Mario (“A.C. Slater”) Lopez under her wing. The episode of Saved by the Bell: The College Years where A.C. Slater admits his name was originally A.C. Sanchez, but his father—ashamed of his Chicano heritage—had it changed. And episodes of Wings, Roseanne, Frasier and Seinfeld that did not involve Mr. Lopez at all.

Progress stalled Friday morning, so we played the waiting game. This game is not a fun one. Around 1:30, the doctor decided the baby needed to come out now. We know some couples are crushed by this development, but not us. Not at all. We just wanted to meet our son or daughter—and put Ellen out of her misery. When I heard “C-section,” I thought “scary but painless.” I was mistaken.

Now I know what it feels like to play a doctor on TV. Had I gone to med school, I would have asked patients to call me Dr. Jay. This fantasy was derailed when I used Geology 41 and Biological Anthropology 93 to satisfy my science requirements at Duke.

During a C-section, the mother is awake. My role was mostly ceremonial. I scrubbed in (well, I washed my hands) and sat beside Ellen’s head, waiting for someone to hand me our first born.

There was a quirk with the anesthesia—an “epidural window”—and in one region, Ellen absolutely felt pain. This was rare and obviously unexpected. If I had to rank the most frightening moments of my life, these few minutes would top the chart. But the doctors were incredibly calm and, like everyone else we’ve dealt with during our stay here at St. Barnabas, just wonderful. They eventually pulled out a healthy baby girl—7 pounds, 9 ounces, and 20-inches long. Ellen was stitched up, and I followed Baby Charlotte to the nursery.

Grandma Lynn and Grandpa Chuck were thrilled to meet her:

(Charlotte broke out the anti-paparazzi look again.)

“Is there a history of deafness in your family?” was the first question the nurse asked me. I was stumped and horrified. When I realized this was part of a routine questionnaire, I was able to mumble a “Nope.”

Later that evening, Grandma Helen met Baby Charlie.

…as did Grandpa John.

Also born on July 18: Joe Torre, Nelson Mandela, Hunter S. Thompson, Richard Branson, Steve Forbes, Kristen Bell, Vin Diesel and Anfernee Hardaway.

Charlotte has been with us all day, greeting visitors with minimal tears. Mom is resting comfortably—or at least as comfortably as someone who just had invasive abdominal surgery and hasn’t eaten since Thursday morning can be.

I’d bet this won’t be our last photo update.

Leave a Comment