Son, This is How You Came Into This World
The events leading up to the birth of my son, Oliver happened very quickly. There are aspects of it that I remember and Monica does not and vice versa. Between the two of us, we were able to piece together the 36 hours it took to bring him into this world.
First off, we received three different due dates during the course of Monica’s pregnancy. They were March 4th, March 6th, and March 8th. The 6th was the most recent one so that’s what we were going by. That day came and went without incident. Then, at about 8:30 PM on Thursday, March 7th, Monica’s water broke. After consulting with her doctor, she was instructed to come into the hospital when her contractions were four minutes apart or 7 AM the next morning, whichever came first. At this point, we waited. I emailed work to let them know I wouldn’t be in the next day, then I played some Lego Batman 2. I went to sleep around midnight.
Monica woke me up at around 5 AM. She had been up since 2 AM with contractions, walking around the house. It was time to go to the hospital. We arrived at around 5:30 and got checked in to the Labor and Delivery wing. They were in the midst of a shift change so the doctor and nurse that got us set up left within an hour. This was disappointing as the doctor that was on duty was a friendly one that Monica liked. The next one coming up was the one that everyone hated. The other women in our Lamaze class all hated this lady too. This was not looking optimistic as we would have to deal with this lady for 24 hours.
After walking around the maternity ward for a little while in an effort to move the labor along, Monica was put on Pitocin, a drug that would get things moving a bit. Unfortunately this meant that she would be confined to the bed until the baby was born. We watched some stuff on my tablet and basically hung out for awhile. When the contractions got to be more intense, she was put on some pain medicine that made her drowsy. She slept for about two hours and I attempted to do the same in the strange pull out chair that was in the room.
Here’s the thing about sleeping in the Labor and Delivery wing: It’s very difficult. I was encouraged to sleep and be as well rested as I could be as I needed to be there for my wife. There was a weird chair in the room that extended out into a pseudo-bed after pulling a variety of straps and handles. If I managed to get comfortable enough to fall asleep for a few minutes, it would inevitably be interrupted by a loud page over the intercom, a screaming woman next door giving birth, or the IV machine beeping for what felt like forever. This combined with the fact that I only had a couple Pop Tarts and Famous Amos cookies to eat for about 6 hours, was making me feel woozy.
Fortunately, the nurse staff ordered me breakfast. This arrived about four hours later. I inhaled two cold pieces of French toast and went back to helping Monica. As a man, there’s not much else you can do in this situation. You hold her hand and help her breath through the contractions. You keep her company and comfort her when necessary. You really just have to be there and support the hell out of her because she’s doing something amazing and it cannot compare to anything you will ever do in your life.
OK. Time passed. This part is a little hazy. I don’t think much was going on really. Monica wasn’t progressing all that much but the contractions were increasing in intensity and pain. She got to the point where she couldn’t take it anymore and was put on an epidural. Whoever invented this procedure is a saint. Basically, pain medication is injected right near her spine and a catheter is put in to keep it a continuous flow of the drug. The effect is that she can’t feel the pain going on in the lower half of her body. This was a pretty immediate change and it was very helpful. Up until this point, it was difficult to watch, not because it was unpleasant but because I was basically sitting there powerless as my wife was in near constant pain. This helped her a great deal and I’m thankful for it.
Monica rested for a bit and I tried to get some sleep. It’s at around this time that I came down with a horrendous headache. This is one that can completely knock me out. I felt nauseous. Usually these headaches are cured with a quick nap but as I mentioned before, sleep is difficult when you’re a guest in the hospital. Somehow, I managed to get a few winks of slumber before the fun began.
At around 1 AM, Monica was dilated enough to start pushing. She did not feel the urge to push, but the nurse (the 4th one that we had seen) said that the baby was low enough and she should start trying to push him out. She started and kept trying in a variety of positions for about 1.5 hours. Nothing happened. Also, this is the part of the delivery that you see in the movies, but there’s not a team of people rushing around to do stuff just yet. Instead, it’s just the one nurse that’s helping and encouraging Monica and there’s me. No one else comes in until the baby is really ready to come out.
This nurse was the nicest of the bunch. She was Phillipino and she talked with a bit of an accent. Between pushes, she told us about her life and family and asked us questions about hours. At one point, she was telling us about her cat. I heard the name as “Whizzle” which I thought was weird, but sounded kind of cool. She said that the cat got that name because he would follow her son around when he would whistle. Ohhhhh!! Whistle! The cat’s name is “Whistle” not “Whizzle.” I guess that makes more sense. (NOTE: Monica claims that she heard the woman right and I’m crazy for thinking this. She was also on pain medication at the time.)
After pushing for some time with no real progress, Monica took a break and got some more rest. I tried to get some rest and ended up reading some comics. It wasn’t until around 7 AM on Saturday (now over 24 hours in the hospital), that she began to push again. This time we were ushered along by an Eastern European nurse. She came in during the shift change and proceeded to decrease Monica’s epidural drip and started moving her around like a rag doll. This was an abrupt change from the pleasant woman that we dealt with overnight. This lady would grab Monica’s leg and whip it around or move her over before she was ready to scoot along the bed. It was crazy. The best part was what she would say when Monica was pushing. She’d alternate between says “Stronger! Stronger! Stronger!” which sounded like “Stronga! Stronga! Stronga!” and saying “Push-Push-Push-Push-Push.” It’s now almost two months after this happened and I’m still giggling whenever anyone says either of those words because this woman is what immediately comes to mind.
After a few more hours of pushing, the doctor came in and figured out what the hold up was. It seemed that the baby didn’t turn all the way like he was supposed to. When the baby comes down the birth canal, he rotates 90 degrees to fit through the pelvic bones and then turns back. This is because the kid’s head is too big to fit through normally. Oliver was basically stuck. No one was worried because his heart beat was steady throughout the entire labor. To help get him out, the doctor used a small vacuum that attached to the top of his head and basically sucked him out. This part of the process lasted just a few minutes and before we even realized it, he was plopped right on Monica’s chest.
I was holding Monica’s hand throughout this part and I stayed with her as they cleaned up the baby. I did cut the cord and it is a really weird feeling to do so. It’s not like cutting string or anything. It’s flesh and sinew and it’s icky, but it’s my kid. After they cleaned off the muck, I sat and held my son for the first time. He grabbed onto my finger and it was the most amazing feeling in the world. Here was a little person that was half me and half Monica and he was only 20.5 inches long.
So that’s how Oliver came into this world. There’s more to this story but this post is already long enough. Next up we have the move to the maternity ward, bringing Oliver home, and learning how to keep him from crying.