November 26, 2003


Ok, if you’ve read the first couple of these, then you know what its all about. This is the personal stuff, the things I need to vent about or get off my chest in an attempt to de-stress myself. I do a little of that inside the extended entry, along with the story of the birth of my son. Read it or not, it’s up to you.

Believe it or not, I’ve been steering towards a point with all these stories so far. The first bit about my mom was basically to provide some context for my attitude about things, and the second bit was to explain some of the crap that my wife has gone through. I thought both of those were needed in order for you to understand why I’m so stressed out about my wife’s upcoming surgery.

It all comes down to this: nothing medical is ever plain and simple for my wife. Her last visit to the dentist sent her to the hospital overnight when she reacted badly to the Novocain. She spent a week in the hospital earlier this year, after what was supposed to be a simple ‘scope and biopsy. That week and the results of the biopsy were the final impetus for this upcoming procedure. Everything is an adventure medically for my wife.

And, to put it delicately, she’s not young anymore. Middle age has snuck up on us, and we don’t rebound like the kids we used to be. Truth be told, she never did.

So that’s why I’m so stressed, because when my wife goes in for surgery, I really have no freakin’ idea about what’s going to happen – during or after.

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Ok, whining over. Now I’m going to talk about one of my favorite memories, the birth of my son. Our first child. Fruit of my Looms, as Archie Bunker once put it.

It was nearly ‘time’. Everything was going just swimmingly, we’d gone to the classes and read the pamphlets, the overnight bag was packed and the only thing left to do was to actually have the baby. For some reason, I wasn’t nervous. There was none of this ‘new daddy’ anxiety at all.

So we’re lying in bed, and I’ve already fallen asleep when I get an elbow in the ribs.

“Ted, wake up. It’s time.”

“How far apart are the contractions?”

“Five minutes, I’ve been timing them for a half hour.”

“Ok, what time is it?”

“Just after midnight.”

I took a few seconds to mull it over and made a command decision. It had been a long day and we’d just gotten to bed. Hey, the first labor takes longer, right?

“Wake me in a half hour, unless the contractions start coming faster.” And I went back to sleep.

All too soon, I’m being shaken awake.

“Ted, get up. It’s been a half hour.”

“Ok,” and I sat up in bed. Liz is already dressed.

“Let me grab a quick shower.” Yep, that’s me, Mr. Calm. Wife in labor and I need a shower. It wasn’t entirely selfish though, I wanted to wake up a little before driving across town to the military hospital.

After an uneventful trip and check in, Liz is laying in the hospital bed, and her doctor is doing an internal on her while I stood outside the drawn curtain wall. The doctor left and I went back in to be with my wife. We both beamed at each other, and she quietly cursed me every five minutes while she tried to break my fingers.

The doctor came back with another doctor and after a few minutes left again. Liz said they did another internal. Soon other people dressed in scrubs arrived and this time I was kicked out of the room entirely. I stood in the hallway and mildly wondered at this, because I had no idea if this was normal or not.

After about fifteen minutes and ten people who came popping in and out, I finally grabbed our doctor and asked him what was going on. I wasn’t real happy because by now it was obvious that something wasn’t right, and I was tired of watching every stranger in the hospital take turns feeling up my wife.

He asked for about five more minutes, and told me to go back inside. When he got back, we found out that the baby was breach, and they recommended a caesarian delivery. Within a half hour we’d been briefed and counseled and signed waivers saying everything possible wasn’t anybody’s fault. Two things came to light; first, this caught everybody by surprise. The baby was very active, but no one thought this might happen. Second, thanks to ‘modern’ military medicine, this c-section meant that my wife would have to go through the same procedure in subsequent deliveries. That’s right, the military is tried-and-true when it comes to surgery, there’s no cutting-edge (no pun intended) procedure allowed.

Oops, one more thing. If I still wanted to go in to see the delivery, then I could. But that meant that my wife wouldn’t get general anesthesia, they’d just do a spinal block and she’d be awake for the whole thing. If I didn’t go in, they’d send her to la-la land.

I wanted to see my baby born. I didn’t want to watch a reenactment of Alien. Knock her out, doc.

So now we were all ready to go, right? Yeah, right. After another half hour, we finally track down a nurse to find out what the delay is about. She sends the doctor back and he explains that there’s another lady in labor that we’re waiting for.

This poor woman had been in labor for something like twenty hours. She was a tiny little Philippina and was exhausted, and no closer to delivery than six hours ago. The doctors had finally given her something to relax her, and were monitoring mom and baby closely. Obviously, anything you give the mother in this situation directly affects the baby, so they were concerned.

Meanwhile, Liz was squeezing the hell out of my hand every five minutes like clockwork, and getting more and more vocal about being ready to do this.

About an hour later, the other lady is taken into one delivery room, and an hour after that Liz goes into the other. I sat, paced, and fussed in the expectant father’s room, right outside the double doors leading to the delivery rooms. This was the good ol’ days, where you could actually smoke there, and I was smoking like a chimney. Nerves had arrived big time, because our nice simple let’s-have-a-baby adventure got complicated, and I was completely and unexpectedly out of the loop.

Some while later, the double doors opened and two nurses walk out. I trailed down the hall after them and hear them talking about the delivery, which hadn’t gone well. From the snatches of conversation I heard, the baby had been born not breathing and they had had to resuscitate, and there had been other problems as well. What I couldn’t tell was which baby they were talking about!

“Excuse me! Which baby?”

“Oh, I’m sorry, if you wait in that room, the doctor will be out shortly to talk to you.”

“Which baby?!?!?!?!” I was freaking out.

“We can’t tell you that. The doctor will be right out.”

So I head back to the expectant father’s room, pissed off and so hyped that I can’t stand still, let alone sit down.

A while later, the doors open and the doctor comes out. That bastard didn’t even look into the expectant father's room where I was, he just headed down the hall. Once again I hustled after, and corralled him.

“Is my wife ok?”

Some people have told me that this was a strange question to ask first, because I should have been more worried about the baby. I honestly don’t understand that, because the new baby was a brand new person that I hadn’t even met yet. Also, cold as it may sound, if my wife was ok but the baby wasn’t, then we could try again. At that point, my wife was definitely first on my list of worries.

Yes, my wife was fine. They’d be taking her to recovery in a few minutes. There had been a couple of minor problems with the delivery, but the baby was doing fine as well. Nothing really bad, but a pediatric specialist was going to be talking to us in a while. Turns out that the baby managed to dislocate a hip somewhere along the line and there would be some special things that needed doing. Not to worry, because everything was good. When I asked about the ‘not breathing’ part, he told me that it was the other mom and baby, and they were going to be ok too.

I thanked the doctor and he started to walk away. Then I remembered something else.

“Hey doctor, is it a boy or a girl?”

I was proud papa to a bouncing baby boy.

Kind of an epilogue to this: when they brought my wife to the recovery room, I was waiting. They wheeled her in and got her into the bed, she was completely out of it. I picked up this big baggie of… stuff… and realized that I was holding the placenta. Interesting, and a lot more of it than I thought there would be. The aides got snippy with me for messing with it, like the uninitiated weren’t allowed to interfere. When they started to wheel the gurney back out, I saw that they hadn’t unhooked the catheter bag from the gurney and it was almost out of slack. I hollered and they took care of that, and then stood there looking sheepish while I gave them hell for being idiots.

I was a Dad, and no one messed with my family, dammit.

When Liz was coherent enough, she reminded me to call all the new grandparents. On the phone with my mother-in-law, I passed along the good news (realizing that I still didn’t know the weight or length of my son). Yes, Liz was doing ok. Yes, the baby was fine, ten little fingers, ten little toes. Six on the left, four on the right. My mother-in-law knew me well enough to be pretty sure that I was kidding her about that.

One last weird little thing. My wife had three children and went into labor with all three, despite having three c-sections, and her labor pains were never more nor less than five minutes apart.

Posted by Ted at November 26, 2003 08:45 AM
Category: Seriously

I remain constantly impressed with how deeply bloggers will share their memories and feelings. Thank you, Ted.

Posted by: LeeAnn at November 26, 2003 09:07 AM

What LeeAnn said. Excellent post!

Posted by: Dawn at November 26, 2003 01:15 PM

It's amazing how the labor pains were spread five minutes apart like that. Lucky her. I swear with my last one the pains were two seconds apart. I don't really discuss the birth of my oldes one much but let's just say by the time my drunken ex husband decided to take me to the hospital, the baby's head was pretty much out.

Posted by: Tasberry at November 26, 2003 05:50 PM

It's amazing how the labor pains were spread five minutes apart like that. Lucky her. I swear with my last one the pains were two seconds apart. I don't really discuss the birth of my oldes one much but let's just say by the time my drunken ex husband decided to take me to the hospital, the baby's head was pretty much out.

Posted by: Tasberry at November 26, 2003 05:51 PM

I was an odd Mom for a first-timer: I had NO labor pains at all--not even Braxton-Hicks twitches, then my water broke ten ways to Sunday (As I like to put it, "zero to sopping in two seconds!") as I lay in bed half-asleep. I came into the hospital on my own two feet, laid down on the LDR bed I was assigned to, and THEN the first pain hit! Then my labor pains didn't progress--but when they put me on Pitocin they just went into that five-minutes-apart thing, until the last 20 minutes. And then Zane practically squirted out like a melon seed. You could have clocked him on radar and given him a speeding ticket, I swear! I don't think I even needed the epidural I got, as quikly as everything went.

Elapsed time from soggy bed surprise to motherhood? A little over 9 hours, with 20 minutes of hard pushing. Must have been these wide hips... ;-)


Posted by: TwoDragons at November 27, 2003 12:27 AM
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