Saturday, June 9, 2012

Your Birth: Another (More Disgusting) Perspective

Dear Maddie,

I know your mom already told this story, but her version of events is...well, both better and worse than what actually happened. It glosses over some of the more disgusting elements and skips straight ahead to the 'yay, we have a beautiful daughter'. And while that last part is certainly the most important, I think leaving that account as the only story of what happened is tragic. The true story is way grosser.

The story all starts on a Thursday. Well, that's not true, the story all starts back in September. Well, that's not true, either. The story really starts with a big bang, or not, depending on what the government is allowing them to teach in schools by the time you learn this stuff. But for our purposes, this story starts on a Thursday.

So, it was a Thursday. I had just been laid off from my job. Literally hours before. Oh, also our health insurance ran out at midnight. But we didn't really have time to worry about any of that, because your mom was in labor. Well, she thought she was. She would later (with more perspective) describe the contractions she was having that Thursday as 'lame'. But at the time, she was pretty sure she was in labor, and so we were off to the hospital. After waiting around forever in the triage, they finally saw us, and basically laughed us out of the place. Your mom was less than 2cm dilated, which is more than you probably ever wanted to know about your mom's cervix. They sent us home and told us to come back when we were ACTUALLY in labor. How would we know? "Well, you won't be talking and laughing through your contractions," they said. Wise words.

So, fast forward to the following Sunday (May 27th, a date you probably recognize, because you often get cake on that day, and I know I remember days like that). I had slept in a bit, because I was unemployed and nobody really gets on your back about sleeping in when they already know you're a lazy bum for other reasons. When I woke up, your mom said something along the lines of, "I think we're going to have a baby today!" She and I went back and forth when writing these blog posts about what she *actually* said, but that was the gist of it. Her prescience shouldn't be given too much credence, however, as she had said roughly that same thing on several previous days. She likes to forget that part when she's recounting this story.

I didn't want us to get sent home from the hospital again, so I basically spent the morning killing time and pretending we had lots of important things to do before we left. I cleaned the living room and the kitchen. I moved some boxes down the basement. I did the dishes. Basically anything I could think of. In retrospect, I think I just wanted you to come home to a clean house. Finally, around noon, your mom was getting pretty surly about the whole 'contraction' thing, so off to the hospital we went. We waited forever in the triage again, and then forever once we got an exam room, but finally they came in to check and lo and behold, there was a 4cm hole in your mom's cervix, so we were admitted and sent up to labor room.

Note that this 'labor' room was not actually one of the labor rooms we'd been shown on our tour of the hospital, because apparently there was a 'mysterious smell' in the labor and delivery ward that was 'causing people to get sick' and they were 'investigating' so the wing was 'closed'. Maybe too many quotes there. Anyway, instead we got to go to a pretty nice room in another ward. Sadly, this room wasn't really set up for birthing babies, so there was a lot of rearranging furniture in the time we spent there. I called your Memere so she could get on the road from New Hampshire, and we settled in for an afternoon of contracting and dilating.

When your mom's OB, Dr. Perry, showed up, things got kicked into high gear. Suddenly there were epidurals and pitocins and catheters all kinds of crazy things running into and out of your mom. I can tell you that never before have I seen such a complete transformation in a person's demeanor as I did from the moment before they put that thing in your mom's spine to the moment after. I am willing to put forth that mankind has created no greater medical marvel than the epidural.

Your Memere showed up right after that, and we basically hung around chatting and joking for awhile. Dr. Perry came in and broke your mom's water, which was when we discovered that your 'membranes had ruptured'. This is the medical way of saying you pooped all up in your mom. They told us not to worry, that this was very common, but that it meant they'd have to take you away and work on you right after you were born, and so this was all very scary for us. Around 6:15pm, Dr. Perry came back, stuck her hand in your mom and pronounced her fully dilated. "We'll start pushing in 45 minutes," she said casually as she left the room. Now, my dear daughter, what happened next was what I now think of as 'the opposite of the epidural'.

Suddenly your mom was shaking. Her teeth were chattering. She thought she was going to pass out...or maybe throw up. She couldn't decide. It was a very scary 15 minutes or so involving oxygen masks and very tight hand holding. I don't know if it was the adrenaline or nerves or what, but things were INTENSE for awhile. Eventually, your mom calmed down, and though her teeth continued to chatter a bit, I think we were all ready for the (disgusting) miracle that was to follow.

Prior to all of this, through the whole pregnancy, your mom had been making me swear that I would say 'on the north side' of her body during the delivery. She didn't want me seeing what was happening down there. When it came time to push, however, there suddenly wasn't really a 'north side'. It was a small room, and I was helping to hold her leg...and, well, I saw everything from start to finish. It was awesome. And so gross.

Just after 7:00pm, the nurse came into the room, asked me to hold your mom's leg, and the pushing began.  I saw a little piece of your hairy little head on like the third push. It was crazy. Not long after, the nurse called for Dr. Perry, and they made the bed transform through some sort of sorcery into a completely different device. Seriously, if there was a THIRD miracle in that room today, after your birth and the magic of the epidural, it was the trick that bed performed.

A few pushes later, and your head was pretty visible now. Dr. Perry was having a tough time getting her fingers around it, though, so she asked for some lube. It was then, for the first time, I watched somebody lube up a baby's head. My baby's head. Maddie, I'm telling you, the miracle of life is WEIRD. So they lubed you up good, and on the next push, out popped your head. It was huge. Like, I honestly have no idea how it fit through there.

After that, everything happened REALLY fast. There was another push, and they pulled you all the way out. I saw your umbilical cord, which looked like little pulsing intestines. And then, after your feet, came the largest gush of fluid I have ever witnessed. It was sort of like your mom exploded. I couldn't begin to tell you what was in there, but it could have been ANYTHING. It sprayed all over the doctor and the bed and the floors and you and man, there just isn't any way for me to drive home what watching the mother of your child explode looks like. This was quickly followed by a strange gurgling sound, which I realized was you...attempting to cry. It only took you a couple of tries, and then you were wailing like a banshee. It was incredible.

I didn't have time to consider what had just happened, because suddenly the doctor was asking me to cut the cord. Now, Maddie, you've probably seen this happen on all manner of TV and movies, and people had warned me that it's not really like that. But for real, it's not really like that. You think, "I'm just going to cut through this little tube." But really you're using some weird scissors to hack your way through human flesh. It feels weird, and it took me a couple of tries before I managed to actually cut all the way through. But I did, and then you were handed off to the pediatrics people, who took you over to the panda warmer.

After a quick check to make sure that your mom was okay, I did some fairly acrobatic dodging around the doctors, nurses, and horrifying fluids to make my way over to you, where I watched them clean you up. It was incredible to watch as you went from a sort of scary pale blue color to a warm, rosy pink. Oh, also, you were peeing everywhere.

I was so wrapped up in what was happening to you, that I was only able to half pay attention to what was happening to your mom. Apparently they were helping her expel the placenta, and then there was stitching and who knows what else. Have I mentioned that birth is WEIRD? Your mom was looking at me for some sort of response, since she couldn't see you, and all I could think to do was give her a thumbs up and smile. I think that made her feel a little bit better. Or like she married a total moron.

While they continued to work on you, one of the doctors told me it was okay to touch you. Before that I'd just been standing there trying to stay out of the way, but that was all the permission I needed, and soon you were holding my finger. Maddie, I love your mom madly, but never before that moment had I felt anything like the love I felt for you. You stopped crying, and you had goop in your eyes, so I'm sure you couldn't even see me, but you looked right at me, and I said, "Hi, I'm your dad."

Soon you were pronounced hale and hearty, and they took you over to your mom so she could hold you, and I could see then that she loved you as much as I did. It was the start of a whole new crazy life full of crazy adventure. Suddenly, it was as though nothing else even mattered. This is the kind of thing people tell you you'll feel, but you don't really believe it until it happens to you.

We spent a couple of days in the hospital trying to come to grips with the fact that we were suddenly responsible for a whole extra person, and on Tuesday they sent us home with a pack of diapers to fend for ourselves.

I think we've done okay so far.



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