I’m the ugliest person you’ve never met.
It wasn’t supposed to be that way. No one had any idea what was coming. My parents had four children before me, and I should have been born, plain and simple. On a Friday. But July 21, 1972, came—and almost went—without much to show for it.
As midnight neared, however, my mother, Mary Hoge, went into labor. My parents didn’t own a telephone, so Mom rushed next door and asked the neighbors to call my father, Vince, home from work. Dad raced back from his job at a factory that made food for chickens. They had no time to spare. It would take them about half an hour to reach the hospital from our suburban Brisbane home.
My father arrived, jumped out of the car into the dark night and ran upstairs. He packed my mother into the car as fast as he could, and they left for the hospital.
When Mom was admitted, her contractions that signaled the baby was coming were two minutes apart. Her baby should be there very soon. But at 2 a.m. on Saturday morning the contractions stopped dead. The doctors were worried and told my parents they might have to induce labor if the contractions didn’t restart. Mom was sent to the hospital ward to wait. At 5:30 a.m. on Sunday, July 23, her contractions resumed. It was a long, difficult labor for a fifth baby, and I was born at 12:35 p.m.
Back then, a mother’s usual first question would have been: “Is it a boy or a girl?” But something didn’t seem quite right, so my mother had a different question for the doctors.
“Is my baby okay?” she asked.
“No, Mrs. Hoge,” the doctor said, looking up in shock. “He is not okay. He has a lump on his head, and something wrong with his legs.”
Copyright © 2016 by Robert Hoge. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.