It’s all fun and games until it’s time for the delivery…

-and they dont call it “Labor” for nothin’!

by Lee Cherry (aka Dad)

Scarlett had been having what many would call a flawless pregnancy. All good. No problems. Good times. We even had the last vocal session of the record the day before we went to the hospital.

Towards the end of term she had experienced some issues with pregnancy hypertension, but nothing to be worried about. On 1/28, we went to her regular Friday checkup. Her blood pressure was a little high. When the doctor came in, we made a little joke. Everyone was wondering if our Baby would be born on the same day as our friend Adam, so we jokingly said to our Doctor, “Do you think he’ll be born this weekend?” and she responded in a very matter of fact way, “Oh, he’s definitely going to be born this weekend because I’m inducing you today.”

Woah! We were kind of shocked but kind of not. I dont remember whether it was me or Scarlett, but one of us said, “Do we have to go right now or can we mosey?” She said we could mosey, go get something to eat, grab our things, and be at the hospital by 5pm.

We went home very excited! We were so ready and sort of loved having knowledge of how it was going down. We mosey’d. Got some lunch, packed our things, grabbed Scarlett’s Mom, squeezed in Chin Chin’s chinese chicken salad (scarlett’s big preggo craving along with cupcakes) and got to Providence St. Joseph’s Hospital in Burbank at 4:55pm.

We checked in like it was a hotel. We set up the speakers, battery operated candles, leopard blanket… you would think we were moving in.

They began inducing her around 7pm. By 9pm it was getting real. Contractions were happening. She was in Labor. It was getting painful. My wife was a champ. None of that “Look what you did to me, I hate you” stuff. Just breathing like crazy and going through it.  An Epidural was on the menu but she hadn’t ordered it yet. She was still on her Pitocin appetizer.

The nurse came in the room periodically and asked her how her pain was on a scale from 1 to 10.

Nurse: How’s your pain?
Scarlett: About a 5″
Nurse: You want your epidural now?
Scarlett: (Breathing like crazy, but totally focused) No, not yet.
Nurse: Whattaya want a medal?
Scarlett: Good point… OK, I’LL TAKE MY EPIDURAL NOW.

Cut to: The Epidural. It’s about 10pmish. I had to leave for liability reasons, so I ordered pizza for me and all the staff on the floor.

The evening was uneventful. The epidural worked like a charm and Scarlett basically slept for the night, while periodically checking her facebook. It was kind of funny. I was tweeting the play-by-play and also falling in and out of sleep.
Now it’s about 6am.

Our very good friend and Scarlett’s Doula, Ruthy, was checking in w/ me via text. she showed up about 7am with crystal bowls, lotions, potions and so much love and support. It was beyond. Ruthy is a Shaman and beyond description. A magical being on this earth. Scarlett’s Mom also came back to the hospital for support.

They basically said to expect hard labor to kick in around 9-ish. I swear these people have done this before. They really knew their stuff, as sure as the sun is shiny.

Cut to: Hard Labor!

My wife is my hero. Remember in Rocky 4 when Rocky kept getting pummeled by that Russian dude and no matter how hard he got hit, he just kept coming back? Well My wife was Rocky only The Russian dude was 100 times bigger and hit a million times harder from the inside out.

Problem was, the baby’s heart rate was slowing down with each contraction. So although Scarlett was taking the ride, the baby wasn’t playing along.

Meanwhile, The nurses were switching shifts.

Right before the 1st nurse left she called in the doctor to evaluate the situation.

Then the new nurse started. She saw the baby’s stats on the machine and wasn’t quite as casual. She was alarmed and told the Doctor to double time it to the hospital. She was playing it cool but it quickly went from, “We need the doctor” to “We need a gurney!’

The gurney came. It wasn’t about how the baby was delivered any more. It was about everyone making it through this okay. One of the nurses told me to put on scrubs and grab my camera if I wanted. 

She told me to sit in a chair right outside the Operating room and wait until I was called. I think I was there for about 12 minutes. All I could do was coach myself. “Breathe and stay in the moment. It’s all you can do for right now. Right. Now. Breathe. Dumbo. Dumbo? Yes, Dumbo. There were Disney pictures everywhere. Across from me was a picture of Dumbo flying with his friend Timothy riding on him. It somehow kept me calm. I had never seen Dumbo and had no relationship with the character but at this moment, Dumbo and I were very intimate. He was my touchstone and kept me cool.

MEANWHILE: Scarlett’s in the operating room. She later told me how it went down… It went a little something like this..

She got rolled into the OR. They gave her the Anesthetic for a c-section. They said to her,”You shouldn’t be able to move your legs,” and she says, “Oh yeah?” and lifts her legs 1 at a time. They tried this twice and it wasn’t working. She said there was a lot of commotion and someone actually said, “What do we do?” Imagine being in full blown labor and someone saying that? Not okay! The Doctor rolled in in the nick of time. She assessed the situation. The Doctor said, “We don’t have time for this! Knock her out. We need to get this baby out!”

As it turns out, they got him out just in time. It was a very, very close call but everyone came out okay.

Riff Maxwell Cherry was born at 11:15am on 1/29/11. 6.2 pounds. 19″. And he does in fact share a birthday with our friend Adam… And Oprah. Not too shabby.

When I first met him, he was breathing funny and his hands and feet were white. Something inside me said that everything was going to be fine. I just knew it. They took him to the nursery and I went with him.  He was slowly breathing a little better. His hands and feet slowly started pinking up. It was a little crazy, but I just knew everything was going to be okay.

Our friends and family were outside the window of the nursery. It was so exciting… Laughter, tears, everything.

But poor Scarlett was still knocked out in a recovery room. When she finally came around she was very groggy. I showed her the back of my camera and said, “This is Riff!’ she says “We had him?” She was so out of it. It wasn’t real yet.

Meanwhile: The day passes. Riff was improving but His breathing was still fast. So much so that they wanted to keep him in NICU overnight to monitor him, which also meant Scarlett couldn’t meet her baby yet. Scarlett’s room was on the 4th floor and NICU was on the 3rd floor. She couldn’t move and he couldn’t leave.

I was running between floors all day and night.  During this time, Scarlett was being so cool. Just being in the moment and healing. But there was definitely the unspoken tension of a Mother who longs to meet her baby. Around 4pm the day after Riff was born, they finally said he was normal enough to go up to Mom.

We had been in survival/emergency mode during this whole period. Keeping our cool and focusing on the task at hand. But when the nurse brought Riff into the room, it was like all the tension melted away. It was suddenly okay to feel again. We all starting weeping tears of Joy. It was the most amazing thing… Ever… In life.

A few days later we left the hospital to go home. One happy and healthy family.

The End… Of this ditty.


  1. imaGINAtivelyme
    December 2, 2011

    Scarlett’s pregnancy and birth experience was so similar to mine. I, too, craved Chinese Chicken Salad! Ate it several times a week. The last time I went to the restaurant – right before my due date – they’d taken it off the menu. I told the waitress that I HAD to have that salad, otherwise I was going to go into labor right then and there. It was the fastest service I think I’ve ever had!

    Like Riff, my baby went into fetal distress (right as labor was about to be inducted) and I, too, had to have an emergency C-section. The last thing I remember is the doctor saying, “We’re taking the baby RIGHT NOW!”. Scary stuff. Ten minutes later, I had a beautiful baby girl – Rachel – who’s 20 years old now and the light of my life.

    Thank you for sharing your heartfelt account of your and Scarlett’s experience. It’s so much fun to follow your journey, watching your bright eyed little Riffy grow and thrive. He’s a lucky boy to have two such loving, talented parents. You are all such a precious family!<3

  2. Sharon
    December 4, 2011

    Lee Thank you so much for sharing this story . Sounds like Scarlett’s labor went crazy at that last possible minute. I’m so glad things turned out well & now I can’t believe Riff is gonna be 1 years old soon. Riff is so blessed to have the most amazing parents . I know that you surely got blessed with a happy & healthy baby boy.

    Much much love always to you Scarlett & Riff

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