Here’s an almost brief rundown of March 8, 2004 from this new dad’s perspective.
midnight – 7:00am
The last few days Lynn had been having trouble sleeping at night. We both assumed it was caused by her new diet (she’d recently been diagnosed with gestational diabetes). Namely, the lack of fiber in the new diet and the subsequent side effects on certain regularities of the body.
As guilty as I am about it now, in all honesty, I was getting rather annoyed with my wife that morning. Every ten minutes, more or less, the sound of the flushing toilet and her pacing/reposition herself in the recliner/etc. would wake me back up, and my lack of sleep was starting to grate on me. While I felt bad for the discomfort my wife was in, my exhaustion was getting the better of me, and I just wished she’d settle in and sleep so that I could do the same. So, let me just say right now, ‘Sorry Dear!’
7:00am – 8:00am
‘OK, enough, I’ll get up. Can’t get any sleep anyway. Going to be a long damn day.’ If I only had a clue…
So I get up and try to console my suffering wife. At first, she seemed fine, just sleep deprived like myself. Ten or fifteen minutes later, severe back pain and another run to the bathroom. A brief time later, she seemed fine again. And ten or fifteen minutes later and more severe back pain (severe enough that I can see a tear in the corner of the eye of my otherwise very tough wife).
And this is when the new dad-to-be starts to worry. Because as clueless as I can be, regularly spaced pain to me sound like contractions. But it’s only the 30th week; that can’t be right. Nonetheless, it’s time to make a trip to the local hospital in my opinion. So off to the hospital we go.
8:00am – 12:00pm
One of the advantages of living in a smaller community is that everything is close. So it is with our hospital – we are probably within a mile of the hospital, so it is a quick ride over there.
Check in at the emergency desk, and very quickly they take us back to one of their very clean, very comfortable birthing rooms (I believe that’s what they were called anyway). And testing away they go.
Hook up mom-to-be to a contraction monitor (which reads nothing the whole time we’re there), a fetal heartbeat monitor around her belly, and a blood pressure cuff. Draw some blood. Hook up an IV or two to pump mom full of hydrating liquids and other drugs. Get a long ultrasound done. Dad has nothing to do but watch helplessly and try to listen in on conversations between our doctor and the various nurses. I make a quick call to the office, let them know that I’m not going to be in at 9:00 (there’s an understatement).
Apparently, there is a slow leak in the amniotic sac (for who knows how long) and it is fairly empty. They attempt to compensate with several IVs and a drug, whose name I forget, that is supposed to help close off the leaking. And despite the fact that the contraction monitor is essentially reading nothing, she is indeed having contractions, but they are not as regular or as severe as earlier this morning. So, being the eternal optimist, I’m thinking that the labor will likely be stopped and the baby won’t be making his debut for at least a couple weeks yet.
In the meantime, the doctor has called a specialist at the hospital in Omaha that we are now at daily to see our little guy. Since we’re fairly early in the pregnancy, and the small hospital in town isn’t set up to deal with the complications that may arise should he be born, they decide it’s best that Lynn be sent to Omaha for her & baby’s care.
So, into the ambulance she goes for the 65 mile trip to Omaha at just about noon on the dot, and Dad’s left to catch up when he can (and told ‘Do not try to follow us!’ by the ambulance driver). Lynn sends me home to grab a couple things, having no idea how long she was going to be there – An afternoon? Overnite? A week? No idea. And she tells me to grab a little something to eat and make myself some coffee – I must have looked pretty frazzled by that point!
12:00pm – 1:45pm
So I head back to the apartment, grab a few items, make a quick sandwich, brew myself a pot of coffee, fill a thermos with said coffee, grab a couple packs of cigarettes, and make sure kitty is taken care of since I don’t know how long it’ll be until I’d return. I wasn’t rushing _that_ much, being pretty confident in the miracles of modern medicine and knowing she was in good hands; nevertheless, I was on the road shortly after 12:30pm.
And proceeded to chain smoke many cigarettes in the hour and a quarter ride to Omaha. And finished my thermos of coffee. I’m fairly calm at this point, probably because I’m borderline exhausted. Finally arrive at the hospital, navigate the maze that is the parking lot construction (why is everything in Omaha always under construction – do they _ever_ finish anything?), and head into the hospital.
1:45pm – 2:25pm
First stop – Information. I ask the nice elderly lady behind the counter for information about my wife. She types away at her computer, and tells me she can’t find her. She speculates that she’s not in the system yet since she came in via ambulance, and to stop by the Access area as they’ll have more up to the minute information.
So, off to Access I go. Why is it called ‘Access’? Your guess is as good as mine. I ask the trainee Access worker if she can find my wife. But no, no record of her. And being a trainee, she just gives me the deer-caught-in-headlights look, unsure of what she should do since this hasn’t come up so far in her training. The lady training her finally steps in, tries again, but no luck. Again, I get more speculation that since she came via ambulance, her info just hasn’t been entered. ‘Well, now, that’s almost useful – how about you figure out some way to find my wife now please’ I think to myself. A minute or two later and, finally, she tries a misspelling of our last name, and what do you know, we’ve found my wife!
She also notices that several pieces of the minutiae hospitals need for their avalanche of forms are missing, and asks if it’s all right if she get them from me since I’m right there. So, sure, why not, I’m going to have to provide this info eventually anyway. Cell phone rings, unlisted number, damn telemarketers, hit ignore. Insurance card, here ya’ go… wife’s work number, here ya’ go… twice removed third cousin’s maiden name, here ya’ go… etc etc.
Finally get that all taken care of, and they let me at my wife – Room 935. Find an elevator, hit the 9th floor button, and up I go. Step off the elevator, walk up to the reception desk, and overhear them talking of 935. Instantly the most alert I’ve probably been all day, I identify myself and ask what’s going on…
2:25pm – 3:00pm
‘Come with me now, your wife is about to have a c-section, you need to get in some scrubs.’
Well, needless to say, I’m a little bowled over. But I don’t have time to think about it too long, as I’m quickly following a nurse into what was my wife’s room for the week, handed a set of scrubs, told to _hurry_, full tilt auto pilot at this point. Strip down, throw on scrubs, realize the booties don’t go over my shoes (and wonder how I managed to get my pants off over my shoes in two seconds), take off my shoes, walk out the door, and wonder ‘OK, where the hell am I supposed to go now?’
Aha, friendly nurse lady appears around the corner, grabs me, and away we go. Could’ve been three doors down, could’ve been three floors down, I honestly can’t recall. Walk through a set of doors into the most brightly lit room I’ve ever been in, and notice the fifteen other gowned people in the room, along with the naked back of my wife into which was being inserted a small metal something-or-other (later discovered it was a spinal block). Unsure what to do, I basically stand in the way of several people doing whatever it is they do. A handful of doctors make seperate introductions, and I miss everyone’s name of course, because I’m staring at my poor wife and am essentially in shock at this point.
Finally, I’m escorted over to my wife. Or, I should say, her head and arms, since the rest of her is behind a short curtain that I’d occassionally look over and then wish I hadn’t. We talked a bit, about what I can’t really say at this point, but fairly certain it wasn’t about the weather or the upcoming election. When they turned her onto her back, ‘Hey, um, I can still feel my right leg!’ – they reassured us that she wouldn’t very shortly, and of course, she didn’t.
And then the c-section started. I did what I could – console my wife as best I could, hand on her arm, hand on her head, talk with her a bit, remind myself to breath, glance occasionally over the curtain (and be reminded why a doctor I could never be), wish I hadn’t, repeat.
And before we knew what happened, a tiny Tobias makes his triumphant arrival known with a strong but still small cry. And I hear ‘Looks like we have boy parts.’ Aha, a son! I’d convinced myself he was a she over the last few weeks, so yet another surprise for the day. One of the doctor brings him over, and the new mom gives him a quick kiss while the new dad gives him a quick once over (yep, everything’s in place, ten toes, ten fingers, appendages where they belong), and then he’s whisked away to an area off to the side where a gaggle of the gowned do what they do. I continue my husbandly vigil while they work to finish what needs finishing with my wife before being told it was OK to go see my son where they were working with him. He’s quieter, but not silent, squirming away under many busy hands, not quite pink but not quite blue either. So small, but not nearly as small as I expected, quite honestly.
And before too many minutes pass, away goes my new son to parts unknown, and I rejoin my wife while they continue finishing that which needs finishing.
3:00pm – 4:00pm
Lynn and I are taken to another room, escorted by two nurses who’s job it is to ensure that she isn’t having any immediate problems following the surgery, chart what has happened over the last 35 minutes, and occasionally ask us questions.
Finally I get a bit more of this story from Lynn’s perspective. Apparently, upon arrival in Omaha she had yet another ultrasound, whereupon it was decided that she was going to have Tobias within the next two days. Followed by a manual check of her cervix, which was found to be dilated five centimeters. Followed by a ‘Hey, I can feel a foot. You’re having this baby now.’
At which point in the conversation, I felt terrible, knowing that not only did she know in advance that he was very rapidly on his way and had time to ponder the implications, but that I was nowhere to be found. Somewhere during that time, someone had called my cellphone in an attempt to find me (remember that call at the access desk in the middle of answering questions? _that_ was the unlisted number that popped up), only to find no answer. I can only imagine the thoughts going through her head at that point.
Lynn gets through her immediate post-surgery followup, and off we go to the room in which she’ll be spending the majority of the week.
4:00pm – 11:00pm
At this point, the chronology of the day is lost. We’ve had probably two or three hours of sleep in the last two days and a good supersized dose of stress, so I suppose that isn’t exactly a surprise.
Lynn and I spend some time acclimating to reality. Exactly how, I can’t say. She’s harassed by nursing fairly regularly, blood pressure checks, temperature checks, belly checks, etc. We chat awhile. Again, about what exactly, I don’t know, but again, fairly certain the weather or politics didn’t come up.
Around 6:00, we decide we should make a few calls to the new grandparents. Everybody seems a bit shocked, a bit concerned, and a bit happy all at once. Seems a common feeling all around!
At some time during this time period, the new dad makes a couple trips to the NICU to see Toby (it’s all a blur; could’ve been 4:30, could’ve been 7:30, could’ve been 10:30, just can’t recall). Unnerving to see such a little body attached to so many things. Very happy to see him; very happy to see that he was doing OK so far; very scared at what the next few days could potentially bring.
11:00pm – midnight
Although the nurses offered a cot for me for Lynn’s room if I wanted it, we both agreed that the hospital wasn’t a place to get any sleep for either of us – I thought I’d keep her awake if I was around; she just wanted me to get some sleep and knew I wouldn’t get any in the room.
So off to find a hotel I went (after making a stop at the NICU once again to make sure all was still well). Sleep was calling loudly. And a couple hours of worry later, it finally came.
And so the adventure began…