(A quick note, I’ve skipped over Volume #7 which chronicles the four days of waiting which explains how this post begins)
I wake on Saturday morning and instead of springing from the bed I hit snooze…a couple of times, I have coffee and I walk the dog. What’s the real hurry anyway it’s been three days so far with nothing happening why would I believe yet again this is the day. This is something I’d never read or seen in any video the fact that once the membranes rupture and release the flood they are containing that it can be days before a baby is born. I was always under the impression as false as it may have been that once the water breaks your having a baby, oh how little I know.
I catch the train like I’m going to work and already knowing what they have on the menu I buy some breakfast for JoAnn and I at the hospital coffee shop and report to the third floor room 3338 where I find her resting after a bad night of cramps. They give her the anti biotic drip and their idea of breakfast then they load her into a wheelchair to take the familiar trip downstairs to labor and delivery. We’ve made this trip so often now with so many nurses it’s not daunting at all it’s more routine and our potential excitement is dampened by the disappointment this trip has brought us the past three days. We get bed two which is the first time we’ve had this cubicle in all our trips to the examination room and we set up playing cards and like the past couple days I can’t buy a winning hand. When Dr. Wong finally does come in to examine her there is no surprise till he announces she’s two and a half centimetres dilated and we are all smiles like we just won a free ice cream. We figure another dose of prostin gel and we’ll carry on playing cards upstairs when the doctor tells the nurse to put JoAnn in delivery room 7 and ready the oxytocin drip we’re going to have a baby today.
It’s taken four days to get here but finally we made it into a delivery room and today at some point were going to have a baby…or at least that’s what they’re telling us, I’ll believe it when I can hold it in my arms. They hook up all the baby monitors and pulse monitors to JoAnn and ready the oxytocin drip all the while we’re having fun playing cards (me losing) not really very nervous at all. The first three days of waiting have loosened us up to a point we may actually enjoy this at least neither of us is stressing about it anymore.
Our nurse starts the drip about eleven AM and in no time at all JoAnn is experiencing labor pains. We keep playing cards for a while till she can’t concentrate any longer then she just rocks back and forth in the rocker she’s in like a maniac. They give her nitrogen gas to suck on to help ease the pain but as it turns out it’s really just something to do to focus on because apparently it did nothing for the pain. Me I’ve got my foot on the rocker trying to keep her from flipping the chair she’s pushing back and forth so hard, she doesn’t really want me to hold her hand or touch her for that matter and the happy look she brought into this room is fast being replaced by one of real panic. The contractions can be seen as a spike on the monitor but I can tell when she’s having one by just how hard she’s pushing off in the chair.
Were only an hour and a half into this when she decides she’d like to have the blood work done to have her prepped for an epidural. Not long after that our nurse Maryanne helps get JoAnn onto the delivery bed and the marathon of sweat has begun we’re almost there, the finish line is in site. In all the years we’ve been together and all the activities we’ve done I’ve never seen JoAnn work up such a sweat she was burning up and I took it upon myself to keep getting cool wet washcloths to put on her forehead or the back of her neck. Down the hall from one of the other delivery rooms we can hear a blood-curdling scream and thou we just look at each other I know she’s thinking the same thing I am, is that where we’re headed? She wants that epidural when they check and see she’s over eight centimetres it’s too late she’s told; we’re going to do this commando style now.
There’s little for me to do now and no one has really prepped me for what to do, JoAnn bites down so hard on the nitrogen mask I think she’s going to chew through it and the only thing she thinks to say to me is that she stinks, in this situation her own body odour is what’s worrying her. The smells in the delivery room are very unusual to my nose between her and the fluid that’s pouring out of her with great regularity, I feel the humidity of the room rising and the coldness we noticed when we first got here seems to have been replaced by a humid sweet odour.
Just over three hours after the oxytocin was started we’re ready to start pushing and it strikes me as odd as I always thought there would be a doctor present during the delivery, it’s still just Maryanne and us. Soon enough Dr. Wong does join us but we keep pushing through the contractions taking two new breaths and holding till the contraction passes whether the doctor and nurse are paying attention or not. I know this is all real routine to them but we’re new at this and a little help would be welcomed, at least show a little interest in what’s going on at the bed and not at her chart. They position JoAnn on her side facing me and now it becomes my job to hold her one leg in the air out of the way while she pushes, she’s huffing on the nitrogen like a junkie when they tell her to stop using it as it won’t help now…no kidding.
It doesn’t seem like very long before Ziggy is crowning and I see my boy has a full head of dark hair like his dad, she pushes and pushing each time gaining ground but we seem to have hit a wall when Dr. Wong makes a decision…episiotomy. The E word is something JoAnn feared from the start she even asked about it in the class we took and she held out hope it would never happen to her but here we are and it was the only way, push and tear or the doctor makes a nice clean cut. I could tell she was worried and I reassured her as best I could but at this point she just wanted him out do it, do it now. There was an awful lot of blood, more than I ever imagined and even with the cut made he wouldn’t come out he was stuck, “Houston we have a problem”.
Everything happened so fast but after the last contraction when the baby didn’t come I knew something was happening and they weren’t telling us. The next contraction hits and she’s pushing like never before but he’s still stuck, I hear the nurse make a call on the phone “Code blue” or something like that as Dr. Wong’s face turns white and I think he’s trying to pull the babies head off. The baby’s heart rate is dropping while he’s pulling when the head doctor on duty and a couple more nurses run into the room and pull JoAnn’s legs dam near behind her ears while other nurses push on her stomach it’s an all out effort to get this kid out now and I just watch in awe not really sure what’s happening at all. Finally is a last gush that hits me in the face he’s out and the Pediatrician cuts the cord and steals him away to look over this premature kid who if I’m not mistaken did not come equipped with little boy hardware.
From where they’re working on him I hear nothing, no cries no screaming, nothing at all, it’s the longest ten seconds of my life till I finally hear those lungs fill with air and cry a welcome to the world. To my astonishment and amazement I was correct in noticing my little boy was in fact a little girl Ziggy and with that Kathleen Annika was born weighing in at seven pounds and nineteen inches long with blue eyes and a full head of dark hair. I had a daughter and I was so thrilled and happy I couldn’t help but cry when telling JoAnn, I never really thought it was possible as I was always hoping for a girl and now my wish had come true. I did the ceremonial cutting of the cord or what was left of it, in the emergency of the moment they cut all but the last four inches already; no matter it was a thrill just the same.
The after math of birth they never show you in the video’s and I think the reason why is no one would ever procreate. I was already reeling from the birth and the fact my little boy was actually a girl and now there is the aftermath to contend with, the birth of the placenta went much easier than Kathleen’s entry. I was shocked at the amount of blood and fluid flowing out of JoAnn but a lot of that was a result of the episiotomies.
I brought the now neatly wrapped little Kathleen over to meet her mommy and we all shared a quite moment staring at one another, I was basically speechless as I always wanted a daughter but never ever felt it was in the cards with my families history of boys the past century so I never really verbalized it for fear of jinxing our chances. I’d read that a lot of men have a new found respect for their wives after seeing them give birth and I’d count myself in that group as at this point in my life I’ve never been more impressed with what she’s just gone through for us all. The overwhelming love I feel for her at this moment and for this new little girl cannot be described as I am humbled and in awe. I know there will be no arguments as to who’s doing the cooking or cleaning in the near future. Welcome to the world my new little girl you may now commence to steal my heart…second thought you already have. It’s finally happened, I’m a father.