I sit here next to my son 9 days after his birth. He’s in his Mamaroo swing and currently milk drunk. We’re listening to classical music to both soothe him and get my creative juices flowing.
Now that the mood is set, I want to memorialize in this journal some things I wish I could have told myself along with amusing anecdotes from our first adventures together.
Let’s start with the labor. My wonderful wife, Sarah, and I took baby classes, read books, watched videos and we felt prepared to spot the signs of labor well in advance (That’s called foreshadowing). Two days before our son’s due date we had a typical evening. Dinner, Jeopardy, YouTube videos, you know, the usual. Around 8pm she tells me she’s going to take a bath. Her sister Megan was in town and she and I stayed downstairs and continued watching TV. About an hour later Sarah came back down and told us that she was having some pretty severe cramps and thought she may be having Braxton-Hicks contractions. Megan looked at me and gave me a huge grin. I returned it and told Sarah to drink some water and lay down. She was getting herself water as I said this and I can only assume she gave me a dirty look. She headed back upstairs and I began to pack it in for the night. I grabbed my toiletries out of my ‘go-bag’ in the truck and headed upstairs to brush my teeth. I could hear Sarah breathing when I got to the top of the stairs and as I rounded the corner to our room I saw her doubled over on the bed in pain. I rushed over to her and started rubbing her back like they showed us in the birth partner class and she told me that she had been tracking her contractions with an app. I’ll never forget how I felt when I saw her phone. Her contractions were averaging one minute and forty-five seconds and they were three minutes and twenty-two seconds apart. I felt a rush of adrenaline. She was in labor! Our son was coming!… I…I have to poop!
Yes. The sudden call of nature could not have been timed worse. I called Megan into the room and showed her how to press on Sarah’s hips to relieve the pressure on her nerve and I ran to the guest bathroom (so as not to offend the nostrils of the soon-to-be mother of my child). The cat’s litter box is in that bathroom and as I sat down to do my business I remembered Sarah had asked me to clean it out and put fresh litter in it. A honey-do list was forming in my mind. Things I knew I needed to do before we went to the hospital. I needed to finish up my bathroom visit, change out the litter, call the doctor, throw my stuff that I so recently retrieved from my truck back from whence it came, let the dog out, pack up the dog’s food and treats for her stay at The Bed and Biscuit which would obviously be occurring soon, and then get Sarah to the hospital.
Tasks one through four went smoothly. In the meantime, Megan got Sarah downstairs and was still rubbing her back as Sarah was knelt in front of the couch. I let the dog out and went into the kitchen to start portioning out our 12-year-old Beagle’s kibble. I grabbed the sandwich bags and started to count out three day’s worth of meals. It had been about an hour since Sarah had first come downstairs for more water. As I counted the bags I heard my beautiful, elegant, caring wife yell from the living room “What the [expletive deleted] are you DOING!?” Apparently I count out loud. She told me later she heard “Wednesday morning, Wednesday night, Thursday morning, Thursday night…”. The dog scratched at the door to be let back in and I rushed her to her kennel and out the door we went. I got Sarah into the truck and Megan hopped into her car so she could leave the hospital after the birth and take the dog to the boarder.
The hospital isn’t terribly far away from our house but I was speeding down the road. The stop lights are timed so that if you hit them at the right time, you’ll have a smooth trip all the way downtown. Well we hit the first one as it turned yellow. I ran it. Megan, however, got the red. She ran it. We ran every light on the way to the hospital. Thankfully we made it to the hospital in good time and Megan didn’t get T-boned.
We arrived at the emergency admissions entrance around 11pm, two hours after Sarah had begun to feel contractions and she was NOT having a good Tuesday evening. She went to the admissions counter and after what felt like an eternity a woman came around the corner and asked if she could help. Quickly (Sarah was racing contractions at this point) my wife told her that she was in labor and needed to be admitted. This lady handed Sarah a clip board and asked her to fill it out. She took it to a seat and got as far as writing down the S of her first name when the next contraction hit her. As she was doubled over the chair the lady asked her how far apart her contractions were. Sarah squeaked out that they were occurring every three minutes. By the time I got back in from moving my truck to the parking lot they had Sarah at a desk in a private alcove and they were rapid firing questions at her. She was valiantly trying to answer through labor pain. When I showed up they began to ask me the questions and we got her paperwork signed. About the time that the admissions print out finished in the printer a nurse grabbed it and called Sarah’s name. It was go time.
They took us to a triage room to evaluate Sarah. They hooked her up to the monitors and tried to get an IV started. While one nurse was hitting a valve in Sarah’s vein, the other was checking her cervix. The nurse checking on things downstairs looked at me and said “Well, you’re about to have a baby”. No joke said the look I gave her. She then said “Sarah, you’re between 8 and 9cm dilated and 100% effaced”. The no joke look was still on my face but not sarcastically the second time around.
They wheeled Sarah out of triage and into the L&D room where our new nurse asked us what our birth plan was. Sarah yelled politely told her that she wanted an epidural. Sarah then asked her how quickly the lab worked since she needed a platelet count. She offered her arm and showed the nurse where her good veins were. It was about that time that the nurse looked at me and asked me what kind of nurse Sarah is. I laughed as I told her that she is a Nurse Anesthetist.
The epidural went smoothly and once the Fentanyl came on board around 11:45pm, sweet Sarah was back. Megan helped her sister do her hair in an attractive yet practical ponytail/bun combo (I honestly have no idea what to call it) for the impending delivery. I pulled a chair over to the side of her bed as she drifted off to sleep and quietly tried to get the feeling back into my fingers that had borne the brunt of Sarah’s pre-narcotic rampage.
Robert arrived at 9:15am the next morning and our world was forever changed.