Friday, August 15, 2008

"The World is Changed."

Jack is upon us! We had quite the time getting him here. I'll try to make this brief, but the last week has been one of the fullest I've ever lived. Sharing its twists and turns is like trying to do a book report on the Bible. I told someone that I've never gone that quickly from complete terror to just plain fun. We're talking Russian Roulette ups and downs, here.

My caveat is that I'm certainly not going to report every event precisely, so cut me some slack. Melanie had been laboring for a few days at home with extreme amounts of pain, especially back pain. I've never seen the woman in that degree of anguish. Days of it. Her contractions were almost never ending (5-6 minutes each) with not much rest between. For the uninitiated out there, your garden variety contraction is something like 45 to 90 seconds long. But she wasn't progressing in labor (i.e. dilating) at all, and was almost exhausted from the long contractions, extreme back pain, nausea and 48+ hours without sleep.

Trip #1 to the hospital yielded some Demerol and Phenergan (anti-nausea) to get her some rest and perhaps get normal contractions started. No such luck, and we were back at the hospital at 8am sharp on Sunday August 10th. In the meantime, Melanie's extremities had swollen to ridiculous sizes (your correspondent attempted to document this phenomenon in digital glory, but was expressly forbidden by Her Majesty; so much for the First Amendment). Swelling isn't of course uncommon during labor, but it was a sinister piece of the puzzle, as we found out later.

The plot thickens when we sit essentially all day in triage waiting for a room with a bed that's not designed for coercing information from prisoners. We slowly begin to get test results back, and nothing's really conclusive until about 5pm or so. The doctor (not our doctor, who's on vacation - I had to laugh at the Knocked Up script playing out, here) then very politely but seriously uses the following phrases in rapid succession, Ich kiddeth ye nat: elevated uric acid, dangerous creatinine levels, renal failure, possible placental abruption, bleed out, dead baby in 2 minutes, emergency C-section, toxemia.

So that's a little tough to swallow. I think my hands went cold. But the decision was pretty clear, although the situation is almost exactly what we preferred not to do in childbirth. But then again, the decision’s not really up to us.

I make the calls to the parents which were far more difficult than I had expected. If you haven't tried dropping the phrases above on a mom regarding her daughter, uh, keep it that way. I also call Debbie, our doula, (that's a birth coach/helper/right hand woman) who gives me a very calm explanation of what's going to go down in the next hour.

Meanwhile, Melanie's getting some excruciating things done to her which I won't elaborate on (you're welcome). Debbie arrived about that time to give us some idea of what we were up against. And we then wheel on down to the OR and get Melanie a spinal (a procedure that still gives me the jim-jams). Thankfully they don't let me in there. I put all these blue paper scrubs on, and am sitting in a mostly empty hallway making smalltalk with the nurses (to plug Memorial Hermann, these people have a racket on exceptionally nice people). The surreal just overtakes me and I make sure to profusely apologize to the nurses if I pass out on them. We’re sitting right next to the big stainless scrub sinks. It's downright unnerving watching people wash their hands before they cut your wife open.

We have a wonderful generic European anesthesiologist (my guess is French or Italian - think every Bond villain from the 60s) with the most outrageous accent. He welcomes me with a flourish to the OR, saying, "Sir, here is your chair, make yourself comfortable, relax! In 5 minutes you'll be a father." I'm not relaxing, thank you very much. He congratulated me no less than 4 times in his very affable Euro way.

And before I know it, I see little hands in a touchdown pose sticking out of Melanie's tummy, as the doctors pull and grab a bit too violently. And we're off to get cleaned up and then back to mom, and then to the warming table, really a glorified hot dog lamp sans the greasy rollers. Official stats on Jack came in at 6 lbs. 15 oz., 20 1/4 inches long, born at 6:10PM August 10th, 2008.

And I'm a dad.


Hannah said...

May I just say, your writing style is hilarious.

El Comodoro said...

You certainly MAY say. And welcome! Tell your friends. All of them. Even the ones you secretly don't like. We won't tell.