(Like all other postcards in the non virtual world – this one arrives well after the fact and serves more to the purpose of ‘rubbing it in’ to all those who weren’t there to experience the trip first hand!)
…Boy, did I have the right to be freaked out.
Where to start… well, by 11pm, the contractions progressed quickly and family turned into geese at winter and began migrating south. We had to deny our denial, load up the car and make way to the hospital, truly believing we would be back home embarrassed and still pregnant 1 hour later.
The nasty weather we were having earlier decided to get even worse, and the trip which should have taken 4 minutes, lasted songs 7 through 11 on the Beatles White Album – “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, and “Blackbird” will never sound the same – something about the irony of Paul narrating “you were only waiting for this moment to arise”...eternal goose bumps.
Quick note: pre-registration is available for a reason, and I’m quite happy we decided to take advantage of it several weeks prior.
Fate: Episode 1 – Dr. Schaefer, who would have taken 30-50 minutes to arrive at the hospital if called in the middle of the night, finished delivering another baby down the hall moments earlier.
We were escorted to a triage room, where Doc Schaef did her exam and ruled it was the real deal. By then, we didn’t need the exam to tell us that, as the contractions were ‘unbearable’ and the time between them was non-existent. Kim’s only relief was our labour waltz, and before we knew it we were brought to our ‘birthing room’.
Quick note 2: Kim was absolutely amazing in her coping with the pain and discomfort that most women are only too anxious to relieve through the use of epidurals and other drugs. Note 2b – this is not to offend those who I appear to be offending – but to score some extra points with the wifey, and be clear in my utter admiration for her courage and incessant strength.
Now at 8 cm (from 3 cm only 1 hour earlier), Kim in excruciating pain, and the water only moments away from being broke, I was oblivious to the subsequent events which will forever haunt me – at the risk of sounding dramatic.
Fate: Episode 2 – Kim’s gestational sac, which was ‘sweeped’ hours earlier, and on the verge of breaking at any moment, held off for the Doctor and Nurse to manually get things officially started.
I was busy distracting Kim with talk of the imminent first time meeting with our baby when we (or more so Kim) were told to prepare for the experience of the water breaking. What ‘I’ wasn’t prepared for was the look of absolute fear that fell upon the Doctor’s face immediately following…And this is the part that will perpetually replay itself in my mind…Dr. Schaefer interrupted my pep talk with “Listen Kim, the baby is BREECH and we need to do a section…”
Authors Note: Following my documenting the last line, I needed to take a break, breather, and a look at my perfect and sleeping son to get back to reality after the wave of emotions that arise every time I hear those fretful words in my mind.
With what I like to believe was the most unselfish act of my lifetime, I immediately moved into ‘support Kim’ mode, and made sure she understood exactly what was about to take place, and that she began dealing with the fact that this baby was not coming as expected.
To make my support-job more difficult (and self-traumatizing), Dr. Schaefer informed us that Kim was going to be put under, AND there was a cord present.
On one hand, the last thing you want to see is health practitioner’s move into panic mode when informed of the status of your wife and unborn child – but on the other hand, that’s exactly what you want to see and expect nothing less when the situation calls for it.
I continued my attempts at calming Kim while nurse after nurse was informed of the ‘breech with cord’ status and I watched them scurry about. Dr. Schaefer was quick and to the point when informing us that our child’s bottom was hanging out, and needed to be manually blocked from falling out. She later described the experience as a first, as she watched Kim’s cervix dilate the last 2 inches before her eyes (and with her hand palm deep holding back a very aggressive baby arrival).
Kim, not entirely sure herself, reminded the room that her dad’s side of the family has a resistance/reaction to anaesthesia – which only added to the panic, as now more Doctors and specialists were called onto the scene.
Being in a birthing room, they were not equipped to handle a ‘triple threat’ delivery, and Kim needed to be rushed to an operating room. Meanwhile, Dr. Schaefer’s hand was going nowhere, and needed to move entirely on the bed as they wheeled her, my wife and child urgently through the hospital halls, while I became an apparition and never felt so helpless in my life.
Authors Note 2: Another breather needed…
As we neared the operating room, I was informed I would have to wait outside while they prepped Kim. What I remember clear as day and will never forget (though I try), was the door closing behind Kim, and not having the opportunity to say “I love you” for what I felt could be the last opportunity I ever had.
Authors Note 3: I’ll take advantage of this time to not only take another breather, but to make note that my need for ‘breather’s etc’ is not a result of my recounting the ‘what if’s’ that could have happened. But, what I have come to realize as the root of these emotional/mental breakdowns is that in the moment, I was unwilling to fully undergo the emotional response deemed necessary for the situation – In short, I repressed EVERYTHING in an effort to protect Kim (which I again will note as my most unselfish act). Even shorter – I was in shock!
I was asked to put on a set of scrubs, hair net contraption and surgery mask. I proceeded to pace the hallways which of course felt like eternity – At which point I went over all the ‘what if’s’ and worse case scenario’s, and realized I was beginning to experience the horrible and eerie premonition I had only 3 weeks prior. And I’m not talking about your typical pre-father jitters – I had a ‘premonition’.
I asked every nurse/doctor that came out of the room for an update, but got little relief – only that the babies vitals were stable – which I guess provided the relief to refrain from passing out entirely.
In an effort to show that I am not trying to be overdramatic, I’ll share a conversation I witnessed, helplessly between 2 nurses who anxiously arrived – Nurse 1: “Do you know what the patient situation is?” Nurse 2: “No, I was just paged and told to hurry up and scrub in…”. Ok, maybe I am being dramatic, but can you blame me?
Fate: Episode 3 – As a result of Kim not knowing for certain if her fathers affliction was passed along to her, called for an alternative to being ‘put under’. She was administered a spinal/epidural, and thus given the opportunity to be awake for the birth of our child – and hear the “I love you”, I so longed to tell her.
Note of Irony – Prior to the unexpected situation, I was very apprehensive and silently opposed to Kim receiving an epidural. Too many ‘what if’s’ I suppose…
I was finally asked to enter the room. The ‘blinder’ sheet was up, Dr. Schaefer still in place, and I sat down beside Kim. I was told that I would be informed of the baby’s extraction, and that I could peek over the sheet. I talked with Kim about the situation, and was relieved to hear that she was not at all concerned with the process, only the outcome – as was I.
At 12:56am, Saturday December 3 I heard “Ok, Steve, Steve Ok Steve hurry…” And to my absolute delight saw what looked to be a baby hanging out to dry. Hung by the ankles, covered in the white slimy vernix, was my child, genderly identifiable by his massively swollen testicles staring back at me. His testicles, swollen and dark purple where pressed up against Dr. Schaefer’s hand the entire time, and warranted the bruises which are still present days later.
I brought my attention back to Kim and asked her if she wanted to know ‘what’ we had…then permissibly informed her she had a son. We wept like schoolgirls – ok, well, that part is an exaggeration. We still had yet to hear any cries, but were assured that he was fine. They brought him in a side room, where they did their thing. I was informed I could not follow him, and we waited patiently to meet him. Still no cries, but I was happy to see that the nurses in the back room were laughing – which I interpreted as ‘everything’s all right’. I caught sight of one of the nurses doing an impression – flailing and stating “his leg’s all like bwaaa…”
The moment finally arrived, we were introduced to our son, who was presented to Kim and I by Dr. Schaefer (who btw looked genuinely and entirely ecstatic to be doing so). He lay between us, dividing his attention equally between us both. All the while, the Doctors had begun stitching up the hole they made in my wife. I couldn’t resist the temptation to sneak a peek – I saw Kim’s guts!!!
Kim had no choice but to stay put, while I was able to follow Dr. Schaefer and the yet to be named child. We proceeded to the recovery room where he weighed in at 6 lbs, 13.6 ounces. She put some gunk in his eyes (to prevent infection) and poked him in the thigh with his first needle. After some quality father son time, ‘Mom’ was wheeled in and broke up the party.
Shortly after, in a scene straight out of The Lion King, I stepped forward, held him high, presented him to the world and announced “From this day forward, he will be known as… ‘The Gordon!’” Ok, another exaggeration – and, there’s no ‘definitive article’. The reality of it was we had a hard time nailing it down. I think we were afraid of making such a permanent and un-revocable decision. We tried a few names on for size, but nothing stuck like Gordo.
So, to make a long story short, Kim got knocked up, gave up alcohol and coffee, we painted a room green, and we had a beautiful and healthy baby boy, who at this very moment is sucking on my wife’s boob.