Greg Rickaby

Greg Rickaby

Full-Stack Engineer / Photographer / Author

Hello Chloe Grace

Posted on | 11 minute read

It happened so fast. One minute we’re watching contractions on the monitor, the next we’re prepping for a c-section. In just 40 weeks and 31 minutes, Tara and I went from expecting to holding our precious little girl.

When all the pieces fit together

In May of 2013, I resigned as Chief Engineer from Bluewater Broadcasting ending a nearly 15-year career in radio. I had an opportunity to work for a web design agency named WebDevStudios. One of the perks of the new job was the ability to work from home. So a decision was made to move closer to my 8-year-old son, Chase.

We moved from Montgomery to back to the Wiregrass area in the small town of Enterprise, Alabama. With the help of my ex-wife Erin, we moved into a house (literally) next door to Chase.

For the first time in a decade, “life” felt right.

All the pieces were in place to start a family:

  • Proximity to my son? Check.
  • Dream job? Check.
  • Enough income for Tara to be a stay-at-home mom? Check.

With these conditions met, Tara and I decided it was time to start our own family. It didn’t take long, two weeks after the decision… we were pregnant.

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Is it supposed to be this easy?

Pregnancy problems come in all shapes and sizes: constant morning sickness, diabetes, high blood pressure, hospital stays, etc. Tara carried Chloe full-term. Exactly 40 weeks to the day. Not once did she throw up. Nor did she gain 100lbs and get diabetes. Her blood pressure? It didn’t change. The doctor, nurses, friends, and family all shook their heads and said, “I wish my pregnancy was that easy.”

Why Enterprise?

Many people questioned our decision to have Chloe in Enterprise – instead of at one of the big hospitals in Dothan.

The answer is simple. We live about 3 miles from Medical Center Enterprise. Why would we drive 90 minutes round-trip to S.E.A.M.C. for every doctor’s appointment? That’s just nuts.

Overall, the doctors, nursing staff (especially Deborah and Cindy), and facilities at M.C.E. were excellent. The care we received was absolutely top-notch.

I would recommend Medical Center Enterprise to anyone having a child in the area.

It’s go time!

At 39 weeks, my folks made the drive from Green Bay, WI. They planned to stay all week and help with things around the house so Tara and I could worry about having a baby. They stayed in our camper, which was parked next to our house. We knew it would be a “stressful” week, so everyone wanted their own space.

Two days before my parents arrived, Tara asked Dr. Griffin if she could be induced. Doc said, “Sure, no problem. We’ll get this baby out so she can meet her grandparents.” Just like that, we had an appointment, for induction, on Tuesday, March 11 at 5 am.

Tuesday morning, we arrived a little early, around 4:45 am. Tara was more anxious than nervous. “I just want her out”, she said. So did I. Not only was I eager to meet Chloe, I wanted my wife back!

Check-in was easy and in no time, we were settled into a birthing suite.

Around 6 am, Tara had an Oxytocin drip going and was hooked up to a heart rate and contraction monitor. Meanwhile, I was hammering away on a keyboard trying to get some work done. In fact, I hadn’t taken the day off. (I was saving for Wednesday-Friday). Both of us were prepared for a long day of pushing.

For the first time in 9 months, we were scared

Around 6:30 am the nurse came in, stared at the heart-rate monitor, and left without saying a word. Moments later she returned and said, “I don’t like Chloe’s heart rate. 200 bpm is too high, so I’m stopping the Oxytocin drip…” she explained, “I want to see if her heart-rate returns to normal”.

15 minutes later, it had. “It would seem that Chloe doesn’t want to be induced.” said the nurse. “I want to speak with Dr. Griffin”.

For a little while, we weren’t sure what was going to happen next. Tara and I joked that Chloe had her legs stretched out around the birth canal (like Fred Flintstone stopping his car), saying “I’m ain’t comin’ out without a fight!”.

An alternate plan

By 7 am, Dr. Griffin made his entrance. We shook hands and he went right up to Tara and said, “The baby doesn’t want to be induced. We can sit here all day and wait, but, I have an operating room open now – so we’re going to prep you for a c-section.”

Tara looked at me, and I looked at her. I half expected her to start crying because I knew she didn’t want to have her that way. She wanted to experience childbirth, naturally, and without pain medication. (My wife is tough as nails and I truly believed she could have given birth without an epidural.) But the look Tara gave me was neither fear nor excitement. It was of concern for Chloe.

“Okay”. she said.

Dr. Griffin explained she would be given anesthesia that would numb her from the waist down and that having a c-section didn’t mean she couldn’t give birth vaginally in the future. That was an old myth – and technology and medicine had both come a long way since that was a hard truth.

“I’ll see you in the O.R. okay?”

“Okay,” said Tara.

Speed dial

As fast as I could, I was calling people. Neither of our folks were supposed to visit until after breakfast. We had all planned to hang out and wait that day.

“What!?” said Tara’s mom. “I’m not even halfway there!”

“Wow, okay. We’ll be up there just as soon as we can” said my dad.

Next thing I know, the nurse is handing me scrubs and a hairnet. I frantically changed and followed her down the hallway. She made me stand and wait outside the operating room doors. “Wait until they’re done prepping her. They will call you in when they’re ready to start”, she said.

So there I waited. For two minutes my adrenalin was pumping and my mind was racing. We were supposed to be in labor all day, yet it had only been 25 minutes since Chloe’s heart rate had returned to normal!

It’s time to meet Chloe

The double doors to the O.R. swung open and a nurse grabbed my hand. We took a left and there was Tara strapped to a gurney and surrounded by six nurses. Dr. Griffin was standing over her belly with blood-covered hands.

Tara was laying there with a tube in her mouth. The anesthesia had made her sick and they were helping her throw up. She was strapped to that gurney, much like Jesus was nailed to the cross. She kept saying over and over, “Oh my God this feels weird!” I was terrified. I looked at her belly, wide open and covered in blood. Dr. Griffin was cutting and then a nurse said, “Get your camera ready dad, here she comes!”

The scrubs were tied in such a way that I had to do a dance to get into my front left pocket. When I finally reach for my phone I heard Chloe start to cry. I swung around and snapped a photo just as Dr. Griffin held her up.

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I looked down at Tara, she still looked drugged and uncomfortable. “You did great honey bear! She’s finally here!”

Tara smiled and a nurse yelled, “Time of birth, 7:31 AM!”

Another nurse grabbed my arm and took me over to the table to cut the cord. Now, at this point, I’m a mess. I’m bawling my eyes out at the sight of my beautiful daughter. All while being so very proud of my wife, all while being caught up in the whirlwind that was the last 31 minutes. I cut the cord while Nurse Deborah snapped some photos.

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Nurse Deborah let me help wipe her down while another nurse quickly checked her vitals. “She’s beautiful!” exclaimed Deborah. “Here, take her over to momma, I’m sure they’d like to meet”.

Leaning over, I whispered, “Hey honey bear, Chloe wants to say hello.”

They were stitching Tara back together when they embraced for the first. She was still pretty dazed but managed a smile and a few tears of joy. It was quite a moment.

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After about 30 seconds, Deborah asked me to carry Chloe and accompany her to the nursery for measurements and a bath. It was going to take several minutes for Dr. Griffin to finish with Tara. She assured me, that by the time we were finished, Tara would be back in her room.

6lbs 13oz

When Chase was born, I wasn’t allowed this much “interaction” so soon after delivery. I could only watch through a large window as they gave him his bath and necessary measurements. Not this time, this time I was the one who got to do it.

When arrived at the nursery, Deborah placed Chloe in a crib with a heat lamp and we took her weight and length. Chloe was crying pretty well, but not screaming. Nor was she very loud. She weighed 6lbs 13oz and was 20 inches long and it was time for her bath!

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Deborah asked if I wanted to give her the bath, I declined and said “I want to videotape it if you don’t mind.” She didn’t, and I got the whole thing on tape. (Which, I’m sure, will delight Chloe later in life)

When she was all cleaned up, I got to put on her first diaper and shirt.

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Time to meet the family

As I wheeled Chloe down the hallway, I couldn’t have been happier or more proud. The tears had dried up and had given way to a crazy big smile. As I rounded the corner out of the nursery, Tara’s mother was walking toward the birthing suite.

“Is that my granddaughter!?” she said.

Now, the sarcastic ass in me wanted to reply with, “No, this is someone else’s baby”. BUT I REFRAINED and said, “Yes mom, come and say hi!”

As we rolled into the room I could hear Dr. Griffin and the nurse talking to Tara. They were explaining what would happen next. I don’t think Tara heard a word of it because I was carrying Chloe toward her.

“Hi honey bear, would you like to meet our daughter?”

Tara immediately started to cry and said, “Yes!”.

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Next, it was my parent’s turn.

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And eventually, we got a nice group shot.

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By this time, I had already called Erin (my ex-wife) and she was getting Chase out of school. Chase was very excited to be a big brother, and couldn’t wait to hold his baby sister.

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Naturally, when all the excitement had died down and everyone had gone home for the night. It was my turn.

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Tara is crazy strong, and after only 36 hours in the hospital; she was commanding her ship which is our home. A few days later the pediatrician said, “she is perfectly healthy and so is mom”. So far, Chloe is quiet, calm, and collected. She didn’t cry when she got her shots. There is no doubt she is her mother’s daughter – and thank God for that.

A big thanks to everyone involved, especially our immediate family, and Erin. We couldn’t have done it without you!

To wrap up, what more could a man ask for? A trouble-free pregnancy. An excellent living and life arrangement with the ex. A perfect marriage, career, and now an amazing little family in this small southern town.

Your daddy loves you, Chloe Grace. Welcome home.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and He will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5


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Terry Barber

Terry Barber

Wonderful story and photos… she’s lucky to have you as a Dad.. and Tara to have you as a husband. Enjoy your daughter.

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