Thursday, May 31, 2007

6 years ago today

At 5 am, I woke up in a hospital room. I believe they called it a birthing suite. A doctor came in to root around in my wife's vagina. She administered some drugs and caused her water to break. After she left, I made some comment about how that should have been really titillating...but disappointingly, was not.

Throughout the day, as nurses came in to test Polly's blood pressure. Sometimes to
draw blood. And to do some relatively unpleasant things to her. I remember one of the nurses was particularly bad, and could do nothing right. I checked and re-checked my cameras while this was going on. I was pretty much useless.

Time was marked by the beeping of the various machines, and the occasional visits from the doctors and nurses. And the occasional contraction. The kid wasn't coming out. The phrase "c-section" was mentioned. Polly was no longer allowed food or drink of any sort to prepare for what seemed to be the inevitable operation.

Around 4 or 5 pm, it was decided that I wouldn't miss much if I drove home to feed the dog and take a shower. When I returned to the hospital, Polly told me that my sister-in-law had called to let me know that my mother had died. She was looking forward to seeing my son. We just missed her.

Sometime around 8pm, they finally took Polly into surgery. I put on an ill-fitting outfit of disposable scrubs, some paper booties and a cap that looked like a jellyfish sitting atop my head. I vainly tried to adjust the angle of the cap to make it more flattering.

When the nurses thought I had had plenty of time to change, they came in to take me to another room. More waiting. More thinking.

Finally, I was allowed into the operating room. The anesthesiologist was there, ensuring that she wasn't in too much pain. He seemed nice. He and I established a good rapport, and together we mocked Polly a little bit. She was convinced she couldn't breath, and I gently
reminded her that if she was talking, she was probably breathing. I could see him smiling behind his mask.

It's possible that he was also smiling because he knew what we would eventually have to pay for his services.

At one point, I peaked over the screen to check on the doctors' progress. (I was shy subsequent childbirths, I have spent more time observing the operation. I've always said that you aren't close to someone until you've seen her uterus pulled from her abdomen and stitched back up.) As this was my first experience with childbirth, and a c-section in particular, I was astonished by how difficult it was to pry this baby from my wife's body. It's rather violent, really. One little nurse was up on a stool pushing into her belly like it was a big pillow. I didn't know you could treat somebody like that and have them survive. I guess I can understand why you hurt for a few days later...

They finally freed the child (we hadn't decided on a name yet) from his prison of flesh, cleaned him up and brought him over. They handed him to me. I had no idea what to do with this thing. I had never handled a baby that small. I was terrified. Terrified, too, because I was responsible for it for the next 18+ years. Fortunately, I didn't have too much time to dwell on this. Some comedy ensued as I tried to hold the child close to Polly, who couldn't move her arms to hold or touch the child. And then a nurse, probably sensing my discomfort, whisked the child away for more of whatever it is that they do.

We all went back to recovery, just in time for the nurse's shift to change. The outgoing shift thought the incoming shift would take care of us, and the incoming shift thought the outgoing shift had done it.

So...we waited. We talked about names.

Polly wanted to call him Roscoe James, after her great-grandfather and her father, and since I'd
already lost the battle to call him "Johnny Cash" and we couldn't get buy-in from all interested parties on "Declan", we agreed.

Once the nursing staff had figured out that we'd be better of in a room, we were able to leave recovery. My mother in law and brother in law were waiting..and worrying. It had been hours, and they were convinced that something had gone horribly awry.

They took a quick look at Ross. Satisfied that he seemed healthy and had no obvious defects, they went home.

At this point, I think I went back home, too. But I don't remember. Maybe I spent that night at the hospital. I'll have to ask Polly.

I do remember that it was one of the weirdest days of my life.


Chris said...

Love the name Roscoe.

Your memories of the birthing process are hilarious and I'm sure very different from your wife's perspective.

basest said...

funny you should mention that...she was quick to remind me that they didn't go into surgery until 9 or 10 and that she was in pain from 5am until then.

perspective is s funny thing.

Minx said...

A friend refused to let her partner in the room while she was birthing. "He'll never look at me again after seeing all that mess" she said.

I didn't have the same perspective. My partner helped deliver both our children, I just issued him with some dark glasses afterwards!

Anna MR said...

Basest, you'd better look in here every now and then, because I have tagged you. Details at mine (post of July 20th). Sorry.