This is a comment by Tamen on the post “Open Thread: When Did You First Feel Like a Dad?“
“Both our kids’ births were kind of traumatic for both of us, the first born the most so. About 12 days after her due date my wife woke me up in the night and told me she had had 4 or 5 contractions. They were spaced 15-20 minutes apart. Later that morning they were spaced 10 minutes apart and we left to the hospital, but were sent back home after a few hours with orders to come back when the contractions were 5 minutes apart. After yet another 12 or so hours the contractions were still 10 minutes apart, but we left for the hospital as my wife were pretty exhausted and we were both a bit worried.
“After the midwife had checked the heartbeats of the baby and monitored the contractions we were sent home again. When the contractions were down to 7 minutes we left for the hospital again (we didn’t dare wait any longer). My wife were connected to a cardiotocograph (or electronic fetal monitor). The midwife popped in every so often to check the dilation and the printout from the cardiotocograph.
“After a few more hours the midwife told us that the delivery phase was pretty close. It wasn’t. The dilation widened, but very slowly and there was some discussion between the midwife and the obstetrician on what course of action to take. My wife got some I.V. labor inducing medication. My valiant wife was exhausted and said yes when asked if she wanted epidural anesthesia. It took an hour or so before the anesthetist came and put in place the lumbar epidural catheter. The labor inducing seemed to help, but the dilation still wasn’t wide enough for delivery.
“The water hadn’t broken yet and they decided to puncture the amniotic sac with what looked like a large crochet pin. After a few tries they punctured it and what came out was green/blackish in color and quite thick. They then put an internal heart rate monitor on the baby by attaching a wire electrode to the baby’s scalp (that also took a few tries as he slid up the birth canal when they tried).
“The midwife had just left the room to get the obstetrician again when I noticed that the heartbeat on the cardiotocograph weakened. I called out of the door for the midwife and within a few seconds the hospital room was filled with people: two midwives, the obstetrician and a couple of nurses. I just held my wife’s hand. After a few seconds (it felt quite a bit longer) the obstetrician told my wife that they had to perform a C-section immediately—he asked her to nod if she understood and she did.
“The called for the anesthetist and hastily rolled my wife’s bed out of the room and down the corridor. I was told to follow. We took an elevator down a few floors. We didn’t speak to each other but just held hands. The anesthetist were waiting for us when the elevator doors opened and he began to administer general anesthesia to my wife’s IV while the bed were quickly rolled down yet another corridor. Before long she was unconscious.
“We arrived at the operating room and I was told to wait outside. I had no watch on me, my cell phone was left in the delivery room and I sat there alone in a darkened and abandoned corridor (it was late evening) and waited for what felt like an eternity, but for which I later was told was just a few minutes—it was a crash C-section and it apparently took about 4-5 minutes from the decision was made until the baby was out. I was worried sick about my wife and about the baby while waiting–imagining losing the baby, imagining losing her, imagining losing both. Finally the door opened and the midwife came out and said “Congratulations, you have a healthy son.”
“After she said that I looked at her for a few seconds waiting for her to say something about my wife and when she said nothing further I asked about my wife. She was okay, but still asleep and would be asleep for another 6-8 hours. It was about 40 hours after my wife’s first contraction. Then I was given a cart with this little amazing boy wrapped in a blanket. I rolled him up to the delivery room. There he was weighed and got his first little diaper. I was given some milk and fed him some with a spoon. That quieted him a bit. With one hand (he was sucking on my pinkie on the other hand) I called my wife’s parents and updated them on the situation and I texted other family and friends with the news of our baby boy’s arrival.
“After a few hours in the corridor there I was told I couldn’t be in the delivery ward any longer and was told to go to the maternity ward. When I got to the maternity ward they told me that the child would be there, but I wasn’t allowed to be in the maternity ward; no men after 10 p.m. I was told I could go home and come back the next morning. I got a bit upset at that and said I wouldn’t leave the hospital without my wife and son. Finally a nurse got me a blanket and I tried to get some sleep on a sofa in the hallway outside the maternity ward. Early the next morning I took our baby boy and visited my wife at the post-operative care unit where she had just woken from the general anesthetic. She was pretty groggy, but very happy to see our beautiful son.
“Recovery from that crash c-section was very hard for my wife with a lot of pains and diminished mobility. In addition our boy got a high fever after a day and was committed to the neonatal intensive care unit where he underwent two broad spectrum antibiotic treatments over the next two weeks. He had sepsis, possibly from the poor amniotic fluids. We were worried of losing him, the doctors didn’t say much, and it was very tough on my wife who in addition had a very hard time recovering from the surgery (was wheel-chair bound for many days) while also experiencing a lot of pressure from the nurses at the maternity ward to get the breast milk production going by pumping every two or three hour.
“My wife and I spent all the next 14 days at the NICU, weighing our boy, feeding him, usually with a syringe through a tube that went down his nose to his stomach, bathing him and changing diapers. I went home to sleep at nights as there was no room for me at the hospital. He recovered and is now 4 years old and healthy, except a hearing loss in his right ear (perhaps from ototoxicity from the antibiotics he was administered at NICU).
“I was ready to be a dad before the birth, I first felt the reality of it when I first was handed the cart he was in and saw him for the first time, I felt like a real dad when I fed him and let him suck on my pinkie in the darkened corridor in the delivery ward, I felt the first real bout of parental protection instinct when I was pretty close to telling that maternity ward nurse to f*** off when she told me they would take care of my son and that I could leave him and my wife and go home until the next day
“My daughter arrived 18 months later (it took us over 1 year to conceive the boy and only one time without birth control to conceive the girl) with an emergency C-section after yet another bout of almost 48 hours with contractions and a lot of apprehension from my wife and I. A more controlled C-section under local anesthetics left my wife with a much shorter recovery time (she was up and walking the next day) and I could be present during the C-section. Unfortunately our little girl was also immediately committed to the neonatal intensive care unit with signs of infection/sepsis and spent two weeks there undergoing a 10 days antibiotic treatment. Our boy was with his grand-parents while we tended to our little girl in the hospital. She’s now 2.5 years old and suffered no side effects we know of.
“By god I love them all.”
Photo credit: Flickr / hudsonthego