DUNEDIN, Florida – Every time Jonathan Davis & # 39; phone buzzed, he thought it was the call. His wife, Hannah Montgomery Davis, was due to give birth to their first child on February 10, and as the days bled into the 11th, 12th, 13th, Davis became more and more anxious. The Toronto Blue Jays outfielder, who spends the off-season in Mississippi, should report to spring training in Florida on February 16. It wouldn't be a big problem if he was late for it. The organization understood. But what did this baby take so long?
See, the Davises had a very clear idea of how to do it. They wanted to have a natural birth at home and prepared a long, careful plan detailing everything that would happen from first contractions to childbirth. It was extremely thorough, including specific positions Hannah would take during labor. The baby would arrive home on February 10th and Davis would be at the Blue Jays at the start of the camp.
But more than 12 hours after Hannah's water was finally broken on the night of February 15th, her work stopped. Her cervix did not expand. She became dehydrated and struggled to keep the fluid low. At this point, the Davises called on them to abandon their tortuous plan and go to an emergency room.
There, at Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg, Miss., Kapri Dove Davis was born at 10:37 pm via a caesarean section. on February 16, more than 24 hours after Hannah's water was broken. It weighed six pounds, seven ounces.
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But they weren't out of the woods yet. Kapri meconium inhaled during childbirth – stool passed in the womb – which caused her right lung to collapse and her left lung to be on the verge of collapse.
Meconium aspiration syndrome only occurs in a few births, but is more common in babies born after their birth and in long, stressful deliveries – both were the case with Kapri. An estimated five to 12 percent of cases result in death. Kapri has survived and is now healthy. But that doesn't make the experience any less scary.
"If we had given birth in the house – man, our baby might not be here," says Davis. “We were the few chosen ones. It is one percent of everything. You don't worry about the one percent – until the one percent you are.
“I was really grateful that we went to the hospital and grateful that the doctors who invested time and work can help my child in this time of need. When I go through this whole process, I get a new respect for what they're doing. And my wife is a warrior, man. She is a warrior. She is stronger than me. When you see this process and everything she has had to go through, you get a new perspective on women and what they are doing. I only adore my wife. I love her to death. "
Kapri spent the first week of her life in Forrest General's newborn intensive care unit, breathing with the help of a CPAP device that provided a continuous flow of air to her lungs that were recovering and helped remove fluid. She started breathing independently for four days. At this point, she was weaned from the CPAP while she remained in the intensive care unit for three days, was monitored closely, and was given antibiotics.
"When she came out and was immediately taken to the intensive care unit, it was initially like this:" Oh man, what's going on? "Says Davis." But when I talked to the doctor and saw how comfortable he was and how sure he was that my baby would be fine, it gave me a certain amount of certainty. And then I just prayed and saw, how things changed. "
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Davis spent the whole week in the hospital and slept on a small couch in Kapri's unit. His luggage, packed for spring training, lay on the floor next to him. He can't remember sleeping more than three hours continuously while he was there, alternating between spending time in the intensive care unit with Kapri and Hannah in her own room, recovering from her procedure. When Hannah was released three days after the birth, she joined her husband in Kapri's NICU room and took turns sleeping on the couch.
While Davis was living in a hospital, spring training started in Dunedin without him. He stayed in touch with Blue Jay's President Mark Shapiro, the club's GM, Ross Atkins, and his manager Charlie Montoyo to keep them updated on Kapris and his own status. He couldn't tell them exactly when he could take Kapri home, only that he couldn't leave their side. They told Davis that he could take as much time as he needed. His locker would be ready for him if everyone was stable and healthy.
Kapri was finally released from hospital on Sunday, February 23. Davis drove his family home that night, took the time to calm and catch everyone's breath on Monday, and then jumped back into his car on Tuesday to complete the 10-hour drive from Mississippi to Dunedin, Florida.
A week later, he was in the Blue Jays lineup and struck the Tampa Bay Rays. While hardly sleeping and never training is not an ideal starting point for a sport at the highest level, there is still a baseball season to prepare for.
"I don't think going back to baseball mode and getting ready to play will be a problem for me. It's just one of those things. We're built for it. You just have to learn what you do." Davis says. "It's part of it. I think anyone who has a child can be asked and they will say, "Hey, you find the strength. You find the energy to do what needs to be done." I think that's the nice thing to have a child. "
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Still, the next week will be difficult because Davis is in the Blue Jays camp trying to catch up with his colleagues while Hannah and Kapri are at home in Mississippi. They are supposed to come to Davis in Dunedin this weekend. And then later that month in whatever city he plays his baseball.
This is probably Buffalo with Toronto's Triple-A partner, the bison. But baseball is a crazy business, and certainty is the last thing players like Davis – optional and on the verge of an organization's 40-man squad – can enjoy.
There is a possible timeline in which he lands on the depth map in Toronto on the opening day due to injuries above him. He could ride up and down between Toronto and Buffalo, as he had done several times last season. Or, in an unlikely but always possible scenario, he could get involved in a 40-man squad crisis that brings him to waivers and is available to 29 other MLB organizations.
This uncertainty is a reality of business – a Davis knows it well. And if Kapri's birth confirmed something for him, it is this old saying about the best plans.
"It's like every baseball season – you can't really plan it in my position. There are some people who know where they will be and what it will look like to them. But most people don't "Says Davis." But it's all good, man. I am here and do what I do. I have a healthy baby, a healthy mom in the house.
“I spoke to my mother-in-law and she said it could have been a job that one of them might not have done before. That is a blessing in itself – that I have my wife here with me and that we are going to have a baby. Now it's just a regular season. We just have another person with us for the ride. Another person to take care of. I am just so happy that my family is healthy. It's a blessing, man. It is a blessing. "