Part 11

The Silver Lining In the Storm Cloud

Michele Larche holds new arrival Todd Michael Larche Jr. for husband Todd, right, and physician Oscar Mims Jr.
Michele Larche holds new arrival Todd Michael Larche Jr. for husband Todd, right, and physician Oscar Mims Jr. (By Lonnae O'neal Parker -- The Washington Post)

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By Lonnae O'Neal Parker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Eleventh in a series chronicling the Larches of New Orleans as they rebuild their lives in the Washington area.

At 6:15 yesterday morning, Michele Larche calls for the epidural.

She's four centimeters dilated, her stomach is hard, and pain radiates through her stomach and lower back.

At 7:30, Todd Larche, who has been alternately dozing or thumbing through a magazine, decides to capture a moment: He picks up the camera and goes under the covers to video.

" We're not going to be able to show this to anyone," Michele fusses at her husband.

"This will be our first New Orleans evacuee baby," says cheery nurse Barbara Berman. That's the "Louisiana Special" Michele got, she says, good, strong medicine for pain.

Oscar Mims Jr., director of maternal fetal medicine, arrives here at Washington Hospital Center shortly after 8. More than 30 years ago, his mother and Michele's older sister taught school together in Washington. So shortly after Todd and Michele evacuated and landed at her sister's Silver Spring home, Mims called Michele, also a doctor, to say he'd deliver her baby. It didn't matter whether they could pay. With Todd out of his teacher's job in New Orleans and Michele's solo practice washed away, the family ended up on Medicaid.

Now Mims leans in close to ask if she's comfortable.

When her cervix is five centimeters dilated, he breaks her water. It splashes the front of Berman's scrubs.

"This is Lake Ponchartrain right here!" the doctor jokes. The Larches laugh easily.

"Will you stay or will you go back to New Orleans?" he asks, passing time as he situates her for the next stage of her labor.

Michele rolls her eyes and shifts her weight in her bed. "That's the big question," she says.


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© 2005 The Washington Post Company

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