Chapter Twenty-Six: Finally
Yesenia was visiting at the Johnsons’ apartment. It was 16:43 Eastern Daylight Savings Time when she said, “Steve, I need to get to the hospital.”
Steve’s eyes opened wider. “Is it time?” he asked.
“Yes, finally. It’s like I’ve been walking around with a ball and chain on me for all these months. Tomorrow’s my birthday, the fourth of October. If she’s born after midnight, she’s born on my sixteenth birthday.”
Rob and Sandra drove Steve and Yesenia to the hospital and waited in the family waiting room in the maternity ward. Yesenia’s mother and father arrived an hour later.
It was almost midnight when Steve was walking down the hall.
“Any news yet?” Carlos asked.
Steve replied, “Not yet. The contractions are closer. She needs a pitcher of water. That’s what I’m getting for her. Don't worry, though. Tía Miguelina says she's doing excellent.”
Yesenia’s mother, Ileana Martínez, hugged Carlos. “Es buen muchacho. Va a ser buen padre para nuestra nieta.” she said, approving of Steve as a good father for their granddaughter.
Pitcher of water in hand, Steve returned to the delivery room.
It was 2:37 in the morning by the clock on the wall when a baby’s head popped out. Yesenia’s aunt Miguelina helped the child emerge. It was now 2:38. Another nurse-midwife looked at the clock and announced, “Thirty-eight!” to document the minute, for the record, and then asked Steve, “Would you like to cut the cord, sir?”
Steve accepted the scissors and cut the umbilical cord. Then he asked, “When can I sign the birth certificate?”
A nurse-midwife explained, “That won’t be for a few days. You sign the hospital form. In the mail, you’ll get what’s called a parents’ notification of a vital record.”
Steve wondered, “Why do they notify my parents?”
The nurse-midwife said, “They don’t notify your parents. You and Yesenia are parents.”
Steve gasped. “We’re …parents? Like, I knew I was a father and Yesenia was a mother, but I never thought of us as …parents!”
A nurse-midwife was completing a record. “If you want, we can get a Social Security number for the baby.”
Yesenia agreed, but then hesitated when Steve shook his head in opposition. “Why not?” she asked.
“The kid would get a New Hampshire number, probably starting with zero zero one. For the rest of her life, anybody who sees her Social Security number will know she’s from New Hampshire, which is none of their business. Filing out of State doesn’t help, either, since it goes by the mailing address on the original application. You should just pick some State, and a post office there, out of the ZIP Code directory. Use ‘General Delivery’ at that post office as the mailing address. She’ll get a Social Security number in that State’s sequence, to mislead anybody who would invade her privacy. Send a forwarding order to that town, but even if the envelope never arrives, her number is still fixed. Pretty soon, though, they’ll be phasing out Social Security.”
Minerva Ileana Martínez tipped the scale at 3.21 kilograms. Steve addressed the crying infant. “Hi there! It’s okay. You don’t have to cry. I can understand your concern, because this is your first day on the job, and you haven’t had a chance to learn the ropes yet. You’re on Planet Earth. I’m your daddy, and that girl over there is your mommy, and we’ll be your primary nurture providers. ¿Qué hablas, inglés o español? What do you speak, English or Spanish?”
The staff laughed at the question.
Steve asked, “Yesenia, may I invite everybody in?”
“Yes, I guess so.” Yesenia replied.
Then Steve asked, “Can I get you some food, now that you can eat again?”
“Oh, yes! Thanks!” Yesenia said.
Ileana and Carlos entered first, and could not conceal their joy.
After a few minutes, Rob and Sandra entered. “We just felt it would be kind of crowded, and we wanted to give your mother and father some space.” Sandra explained. She took photos with the Martínez family’s camera. Carlos took pictures with Sandra’s camera.
At 3:00, hospital staff moved Yesenia and the baby to another room, so they could clean the delivery room.
At 6:30, Steve noticed Yesenia waking up again. “Here’s a telephone card. Would you like to phone your grandparents in the Dominican Republic?” he asked.
Yesenia replied, “I think it’s still too early. Maybe in another hour.”
Steve said, “But in your country, they’re an hour ahead, so it’s 7:30 there.”
“Not really,” Yesenia said, “because the clocks here are an hour fast for daylight savings time, and they don’t change the clocks in the Dominican Republic, so we’re on the same time now.”
At 8:00, Yesenia accepted the telephone card and dialed. “¡Hola, abuelita! Soy Yesenia que te habla. Ya dé luz a la niña. Sí, ella está bien.”
At 8:30, Jennifer arrived. She held her new niece in her arms.
Steve observed, “Because of the Freedom Fighters, Minerva has a brighter future ahead of her.”
Jennifer replied, “That’s only part of the story, Steve. Because of the Freedom Fighters, you are no longer prevented from taking good care of your daughter. Because you are a decent person, you are motivated to do your best. That’s the other part.”
Copyright © 2004 Tom Alciere