July 7, 2011
by Disjointed Dad
After nine months of waiting, stress, worries and hopes, I was introduced to my son. He’s amazing. He turned out to be pretty big, at 9lbs 5oz. I was so awestruck in the moment, I didn’t know what to say, what to do, how to act… I was just… taking it all in. The morning started out at about 1am, with my wife returning from the bathroom and announcing that her water broke. That was not the plan! Only 10% of women have their water break outside the hospital! My plans for a leisurely first phase of my wife’s labor were dashed. I went immediately from sleep-deprived to acting like the male lead in a sitcom, bumbling around, rushing to get things in order. So when my wife said she was going to take a shower, I was a little stunned, and realized we still had some time.
We spent some time in triage while they tried to determine if my wife actually did have her water break. In the end, their magic test was inconclusive, but in their words “you know your water broke, and we know your water broke. So we’re sending you on back.” Good enough for me.
We then began walking laps around the floor to try and get things to progress naturally. An hour and a half of “there’s the nursery!” and “There’s the nurses station” resulted in little progress. They had her sit on a big red birthing ball. That didn’t do much to help either. Her cervix was being “stubborn” in the words of one nurse. Some pitocin got the ball rolling. In less than two hours she went from 2cm to 7cm. Then an epidural for the pain, and a nap so my wife could regain some strength.
Then… nothing. Things seemed to stall out. Turns out the kid’s head was pretty big, and my wife well… isn’t. The anatomy just wasn’t lining up, and things were getting stressful. The baby’s heart rate was falling with each contraction. Skip ahead a bit, and the O.B. decides to use a vacum to help get this kid out. Everyone in the room was levelheaded, but you could feel the stress building, even among the nurses in the room. What started with a single nurse, myself and my wife was now at least a dozen people, all donning gowns, gloves and hairnets. I asked the nurse nearest me where I could stand, so I was not in the way… she directed me up near the top of the bed… out of the way (and my wife’s vision). The next thing I know, the O.B. is using the vacum to hold the baby in place between contractions and a nurse is literally on top of my wife’s belly, pushing the child down. It was beginning to become clear to everyone in the room that if this kid didn’t arrive in the next few rounds of pushes, this was going to become a c-section delivery. My wife had been pushing her heart out and began to lose her strength. But with the specter of a c-section, she found a whole new reserve. She worked harder than I’ve ever seen her work. This was a whole new level of pushing.
Then the head was delivered… Then the body. A perfect little cry. The NICU team quietly left the room once they were satisfied they weren’t needed. Numbers dwindled in the room. I cut the cord. The nurse who was handing my son to my wife asked if they could weigh him “We don’t normally do it now, but this little guy is HEAVY!” They weighed him and called out “9lbs, 5oz!” Another nurse asked “did it say ’9lbs, 5oz or 9lbs, 15oz?” They weighed him again, confirming the 5oz figure. And then my wife held him. Within an hour he was nursing. He came out knowing what he wanted, and how to get it. Family came to gaze at our newest member. We were transferred to a new room. My wife, who had an odd reaction to one of the drugs, passed out twice during the transition between rooms (the next few days were filled with apprehension about standing up). More family visited. Photos were taken. Gifts were dropped off. I was struck by how “right” it felt to hold my son. None of that awkwardness I felt when holding someone else’s newborn. And through all of this, my wife never complained. She never complained when the contractions started to hurt. She never complained when she had no strength left to push. She never complained when she realized how much healing she would need to do beyond a “normal” delivery. She never complained when our room was filled with family and all she really wanted to do was sleep. She never complained at all.
Fast forward six weeks and my life is settling into a new “normal.” Nights are still pretty sleepless, and I spend my days in a big of a haze. But I love this. I’m taking n each moment I spend with my new son, and doing my best to appreciate and cherish every aspect of it.
I’m a dad now.