Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Baby Story Part 9 (The Birth)

After much waiting and anticipation, the time had finally arrived for the birth of our son. Around eight o’clock one evening, my wife began having fairly regular contractions so the doctor advised that we come in to the hospital to be checked. Once there, a semi-enthusiastic orderly brandishing a wheelchair was assigned to take us to the Labor and Delivery department. As the nursing staff was connecting my wife’s abdomen to the fetal seismograph, we were asked who the last person to check her cervix was. I immediately replied that I had asked my mechanic to look at it but I would welcome a second opinion. This drew the first of many “now is not the time” looks from my laboring spouse.

After several hours, it was ascertained that while my wife was in labor and somewhat dilated she was not in “active labor.” We were advised to return home, take a few Tylenol PM, and reassess her pain level in the morning. On the way home, we stopped by Wendy’s for a late-night Frosty and jovially recalled the details of our “trial-run.”

Around 2:30 AM, I was awoken by the sound of my wife’s unnervingly-deepened voice informing me that things were progressing rather quickly. Weary of being sent home again, she requested that I page the on-call doctor to make sure she was in active labor. While I was on the phone with him she emitted a guttural moan so piercing that he stopped mid-sentence and asked “Was that her!?” When I replied in the affirmative he omitted the remainder of the checklist and told me to get her back to the hospital.

The labor progressed rather quickly and after her Frosty had made its reappearance it was time for the epidural to be administered. Even with the epidural, her contractions came so quickly that she was administered a drug to reduce them. This worked so well that she had to be given a drug to intensify them. During the entire process I held one of her legs and assisted the nurse in checking for our son’s progress through the birth canal. While the blood, fluids, and regurgitated ice-cream did not bother me, there was an incident during labor that caused me a great deal of nausea: my wife asked me to hold her gum.

This may seem strange, but the idea of holding someone’s pre-chewed gum in my bare hand is absolutely repulsive. Even the nurse felt the urge to chide me on the incongruity of my queasiness reflex since most men tend to check-out around the time they affix the placenta-pouch. Even as a child, inadvertently touching someone else’s discarded gum under a school desk was enough to initiate a round of dry-heaves. Say what you will, but I will take projectile vomit over Big Red any day of the week.

At any rate, despite my wife’s courageous effort our little guy’s head just could not seem to find its way clear of the exit door. It was at this time the doctor announced that it was time to break out the birthing assistance apparatus (colloquially known as the “coochie vac”). This mechanism attaches to the child’s cranium and allows the physician to guide (or redirect) the infant’s progress. When my wife asked what was happening, I replied that she was about to be Hoovered. I requested that the staff use a Dyson model if available and when the doctor asked why I was so brand specific, I replied that active labor was no time to lose suction. It was at this point I believe she contemplated having me wait in the hall.

Finally, after eight hours of labor, our son emerged into a world fraught with peril and reality television. He was cleaned and placed into what appeared to be an industrial food warmer for evaluation while the doctor stitched my wife’s newly traumatized nether-regions. All was deemed well and after a few hours we were moved to the post-partum floor.

It was here that I committed one of the greatest faux pas in hospital etiquette: I walked into someone else’s room. In my defense, we had just been visited by the “birth certificate specialist” whose limited mobility necessitates that she travels from door to door on a red Jazzy scooter. Once at your room she distributes pointlessly complicated forms that transform the question, “What is the mother’s maiden name” to “Please print the mother’s full name as it would have appeared before and after her first marriage.”

Her scooter was still parked outside our room when I was sent for towels and upon my return the uniformity of the hallways got me confused. So when I saw the red Jazzy parked outside a room in the same relative location as our room I naturally assumed she hadn’t left yet (after all, if she moved that fast why would she need the scooter). I even noticed a friend heading toward the door directly across the hall which also made sense because I knew that her grandchild was assigned the room direct opposite ours. Even the “Breastfeeding Mom – Please Knock” sign on the door was reassuring so you can imagine my surprise when I swung open the door and discovered a total stranger in a hospital bed holding her infant wondering why some weirdo just busted up in her hospital room while declaring that “Your baby daddy got some towels!”

I would like to think that I uttered an apology of some kind but it was likely just a string of incoherent nonsense followed by the door slamming. I turned to see my friend who I came to realize was also lost and had been following me under the assumption that I knew which room my wife and newborn had been assigned to. About the time I returned to the correct room, we heard an alarm that my wife quickly offered was probably a “code pervert” since word had likely spread that a creeper was roaming the halls looking for a sneak peek of a breastfeeding mother. It was so bad that when the birth certificate specialist returned she referred to me as, “that guy who walked in the wrong room.” I was tempted to reply that this still was not my room but that this woman was simply more open minded than the last girl I propositioned. For once, I made the right call and decided that my wife had already been through enough.

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