I literally moved heaven and earth for my daughter

Lew K. Cohn is the managing editor for The Highlander and the Burnet Bulletin, the newspapers of record for the Burnet County area. Lew covers Burnet County Commissioners, the cities of Horseshoe Bay and Meadowlakes and political news. Send him a note at lew@highlandernews.com.

 

 

 

 

 

By Lew K. Cohn

“Honey, my water broke. I'm in labor! I'm driving myself to Texarkana!”

That was the first thing my then-wife Selina said to me when I answered the phone at my parents' house in Austin on Sunday, Aug. 22, 1993, and if I panicked at the time, it could be excused. My first biological child was due any minute and I might as well have been on another planet because of how far away she was right then.

Selina was staying with her sister in Mount Pleasant with Sarah and Josh (her two children from her first marriage) while I was in Austin, not because I wanted to be away from her while we counted down the days until our daughter Madeline would be born, but because circumstances had dictated that was where we should be.

At the time Selina's pregnancy was first discovered, we were living in Atlanta, Texas, just a hop and a skip from Texarkana. She had found a fantastic doctor, Dr. Salter, who would deliver Madeline at Texarkana's Wadley Regional Medical Center, located just yards away from the Texas-Arkansas state line, so our daughter would still be born in the Lone Star State. Together they had a birth plan drawn up which included what medications Selina would receive and how care would be administered.

Two moves later, we were living with my parents because I had been laid off from my editoral job in Hearne after just five months employment. I was working part-time jobs through employment agencies just to have a little gas money.

The week before Madeline was due to arrive, Selina went to stay with her sister so she could be within driving distance of Texarkana, while I stayed behind because I was going to do some job interviews that Monday and Tuesday and drive up Wednesday, the night before Madeline was to be born by Caesarean section on Thursday.

The only problem is someone forgot to tell Madeline the plan, because she decided to make her entrance into the world four days early with us some 312 miles and more than five hours driving distance apart.

We wouldn't even have the benefit of that great doctor as Dr. Salter's wife had sadly passed away from a cerebral hemorrhage. Selina would have to rely on whoever was the doctor on duty to deliver Madeline and that person did not have access to her birth plan with Dr. Salter.

On top of that, my parents had left for a day trip to explore Lockhart, a jaunt which I had excused myself from so I could enjoy a little relaxation before the busy week ahead. This was before everyone had cell phones, so I had no choice but to wait until they got home before I could take off for Northeast Texas.

When they came home, I told them the good news — their firstborn grandchild was on the way! My mother sprung into action, realizing it would have been difficult to drive six hours straight from Austin to Texarkana without any rest, and formulated a new plan. I would fly to Love Field in Dallas, where my brother would meet me and get me a rental car. From there, I would drive the rest of the way to Texarkana.

By the time my plane had touched down in Dallas and I was about to disembark at the terminal, Madeline had been born at 6:37 p.m., weighing in at seven pounds, 10 ounces, at nearly 21 inches long — information I did not have at the time. All I knew was Selina had delayed having the delivery for as long as she could so I could try to make it there, but it ended up being all for naught.

Now that it has been 26 years since that fateful day and the statute of limitations has made prosecution impossible, I will admit to having broken several land-speed records as I drove on Interstate 30. I didn't leave Dallas until well after 7 p.m. due to the time it took to get the rental car, but made it to the hospital around 9:15 p.m. Do the math and you will see I was practically flying to get to my wife and child.

When I got to the hospital, I ran to the nursery and told them who I was. I got to see my daughter for the first time, peacefully sleeping in her crib, and then found my wife's room, where my mother-in-law and sister-in-law were sitting by her bedside.

Selina was out, a combination of exhaustion and pain medication contributing to her lethargy. She had barely even seen Madeline in the labor suite before they wheeled Madeline away to the nursery and sewed up my wife's C-section scar.

Right then, they brought Madeline into the room and put her in my arms and I realized, all of the hassle, the last-minute plan changes, the worry, the travel fatigue — all of it was worth it for this precious little blanket-swaddled angel.

Looking at her sweet face, I knew I would have done anything in my power — heck, anything outside my power as well — just to make sure this child felt happy, safe, welcome and loved.

Today, that bundle of joy who made me a Dad is entering her final year of medical school at Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (TCOM) in Fort Worth, where she is studying to be an OB/GYN, so she can help parents bring their healthy, beautiful babies into the world and she celebrated her 26th birthday on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019.

Happy birthday, Madeline Elaine Cohn! You will always be my little golden-haired girl.

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