It’s 6:33pm, December 9th. At this exact time last year, I was racing home from the hospital to grab our suitcases and my camera!
Buddy was two weeks overdue. A routine visit to the Doctor that morning revealed that his amniotic fluid was approaching a dangerously low level. Wifey and I still insisted that Buddy would pop out when he was good and ready. We agreed to go to the hospital for another test to verify the last ultrasound’s results. Before we knew it, Wifey had an external monitor strapped to her belly to trend Buddy’s vital signs.
I must admit, my asshole was starting to quiver. There was a HUGE snowstorm bearing down on the Chicago area. It was decision time. I knew we weren’t leaving that hospital. Either Wifey went into labor SOON, or the Doctor’s were going to see to it that she did.
Our entire plan of a smooth, natural childbirth was slowly starting to fade. Wifey was so disappointed. I assured her that everything would be OK, and then busted a move! The snow was starting to fall. It took me almost two hours to get home and back to the birthing suite.
When I arrived, Wifey was starting to have contractions, but still hadn’t dilated. Doctors and nurses were practically cheering, “INDUCE! INDUCE! INDUCE!” Our attitude was more like “get the f**k out of our way, we’ll call you if we need you.”
Later that evening, the Doctor saw that we were not giving up, and agreed to give us a few more hours since Buddy’s vitals were strong like bull. (We later learned that he was snowed in, and slept at the hospital.) Finally, Wifey and I were alone. We walked laps through the hallways and even slow danced in the room, toting that cumbersome monitor around everywhere we went. Eventually the contractions started get stronger and faster!
Before I knew it, Wifey couldn’t get out of bed anymore by herself. We fell into a tedious routine of: stagger to the bathroom, pee, stagger back to bed, contraction, repeat. Our “friendly” nurse had the bedside manner of a prison guard. She offered us absolutely no reassuring information throughout the night. When I asked her about Buddy’s decelerating heartbeat after the contractions, she actually winced and shrugged her shoulders! Her response was “everyone’s different.” I wanted to punch her in the face!
As the hours passed, I became quite the expert at reading the machines monitoring baby and mama. As Wifey moaned through the ever-strengthening contractions, I kept on assuring her that everything looked GREAT! The truth was, Buddy’s heartbeat was trending downward after each contraction. For the first time, I started mentioning the words epidural and induction. Wifey was too busy clutching my arm and moaning to say anything else but “NO!”
You have to understand, I was getting REALLY scared at this point. No Doctor present. A beyatch of a nurse. A near-screaming wife that made me PROMISE her I would fend off the Doctors and let her give birth naturally. Finally, a baby with a decelerating heartbeat that didn’t want to come out!
Regardless of those factors, my priorities had never changed. They were: Protect Wifey and Buddy at all costs. We had a birth plan. We had agreed to minimal medical intervention. But there was no way I would ever jeopardize the health of my wife or the baby over a plan. This situation was snowballing. Things were not progressing. I was honestly thinking we were headed for a C-section soon. I just prayed that it wasn’t an emergency C-section.
Wifey was starting to resemble Linda Blair from the Exorcist at this point. I wish I had pictures of the claw marks on my forearms. Our Doctor returned. He didn’t look much better. As he raised the graph paper spilling out of the monitor, I braced for bad news. I seriously almost shit my pants when he said…”Looks good. Total improvement!”
I breathed a total sigh of relief as Wifey trudged through nearly unbearable contractions. She was exhausted now. Once again I plead with her that maybe now was the time to get an epidural. She was spent and in pain. Maybe the epidural would help her (and me!) relax and get some rest if we really were in for the long haul. And after another agonizing contraction, she finally agreed…
Months before this night, we took a Bradley Natural Childbirth class, taught by my wonderful cousin. It was an eye-opening course that really trained us on the stages of the birthing experience. As the epidural was being ordered, I was RACKING my brain, trying to remember anything else that could be done before they jammed this needle into my wife. As Wifey is digging her fingernails into my right arm, I was texting my cousin with my free hand, asking for advice. Wifey sees this and screams “PUT THAT F$%KING PHONE DOWN!” Just then it clicked in my head, Check to see if she dilated any more!
Just then, a miracle occurred as if God himself had intervened. Our favorite Doctor, just arriving on day shift, walked into the room at that exact moment and said “I’ll check her myself!” In the last hour, she had dilated from a 2 to a 10! We were close! Scratch the epidural! My phone buzzed. Text from my cousin: “It’s transition phase. Don’t do it.” (Transition is the point most women scream “Get this thing outta me NOW!!!” It also means that the worst pain should be over and it’s push time!) She was exactly right. This baby was moving in the right direction all by himself!
Moments later, BOOM, her water breaks! The Doctor checks her again and declares, “It’s PUSH TIME!” I can not describe the feeling of relief. Everything started moving in double time. I can’t even remember it all…Pushing, Gwamma arrives, I can see the head now, more pushing…I’m cutting the cord…Buddy is being rushed to a table…What is going on!? My wife’s arguing with the Doctor over her placenta! The baby’s not crying yet! What the F$%K is going on!?
And then…..WAAAHHHHH!!!! I hear my son cry for the first time! My wife is OK! The nurse hands me the baby. I’m the first one to really hold Buddy. And all I can do is….CRY! I was so relieved! Now Buddy is crying again. My lip stopped quivering long enough for me to whisper, “We did it Little Buddy.”
I immediately understood the term “love at first sight”. And here we are, one year later on the eve of his birthday. And I still remember as if it happened yesterday…