Tia Mariana

It was a warm day in June at the Segal Visitors Center at Northwestern University.

I had just settled down to tackle my lunch: homemade taco chili, when I saw Andrea poke her head into my office doorway. We were constantly visiting each other throughout the work day but her expression that day was different.

Andrea and I had started working at NU in the summer of 2013 and had quickly developed a strong friendship. We bonded over our love of sarcasm, laughing and Taco Bell "cheese."

We sat there staring at each other for several seconds before she finally said, “I think my water just broke.”

After a few quiet minutes, she asked me tentatively, “do you think we should go to the hospital?” I swallowed and slowly responded, “I think…that’s a question…only you can answer...”

Andrea turned on her heel and hurried to get her phone, moving as fast as her pregnant waddle allowed. She dialed the number to her doctor’s office and within minutes was back in my doorway telling me it was go time.

We packed up and hopped in her car for the 25-minute drive from Evanston to Prentice Women’s Hospital. I was nervous driving down Lake Shore Drive, afraid that each bump in the road would cause something to come loose!

As we made our way down LSD, Andrea called her husband, Tim, at work. "Yep, we're on our way to the hospital! No, it's okay! Take your time. Go home, let the dog out, take him to your mom's. Mariana will stay with me!"

I tried to reassure her with the most convincing smile I could muster, but I knew Tim worked at least an hour away, without the doggie pit stops! I was a wreck! I would never leave her but could I manage to support a pregnant woman through labor?

After parking and walking into the hospital, Andrea was taken back to be checked. I kept a brave face until the doors closed behind her. I slumped into a seat in the waiting area and shakily dialed my mom to ask her what the heck I was going to do if Andrea’s husband didn’t make it on time. My mom's tone was sympathetic but her message was clear, "you stay with her no matter what!"

Andrea and I were sent from her doctor's office down the block to intake in Labor and Delivery. We were a sight, shuffling along like partners in a three-legged race; Andrea using my arm to steady herself and squeezing tight when the contractions hit.

Upon arrival, Andrea filled out the necessary forms and my head was on a constant swivel, praying for Tim to walk through the door. I love my friend dearly but I was not 100% sure I could be helpful and supportive or even upright and conscious during all the action...

We waited for a couple of minutes and, finally, the intake nurse called Andrea's name. I took up my post as Andrea's crutch and slowly started to lead her back, my blood pressure rising with every step.

And then...

Tim breezed through the sliding doors with suitcases and baby bags and a terrified look that matched mine. I gave them both a tight squeeze and then it was my turn to panic waddle, as fast as I could, to the exit.

Just a few days later, I was finally able to meet the lady of the hour! Andrea put Gabby in my arms for the first time, cooing to her, “meet your Tia Mariana.”


Created with images by TerryJohnston - "Northwestern Arch" • Hans - "little green man traffic lights footbridge" • romanboed - "Lake Michigan at Chicago"

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