Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Delivery Room Gauntlet

I've heard lots of fathers talk about the first time they held their newborn. 

Some talk about how "amazing" it was or how "it was surreal" but pry a little and most speak of the stupefying, crippling fear that nearly overwhelms them    and their ability to stand.  

This is not what we were led to believe about holding our kids for the first time. Movies and TV often portray the new dad with his wide-eyed newborn in one arm while he uses his free hand to happily toss out cigars to a crowd of adoring family and friends. 

I had the weak knees, knotted stomach and general sense of angst about BOOM!, being a parent, but I also had very real, less ethereal concerns.

Soon to be renamed: "A Walk Through the Delivery Room."
First and foremost, was the gauntlet of medical equipment and contraptions scattered around the delivery room. There were trays with all manner of medical gear on display. There were towers fixed with machines beeping loudly and radiant with flashing lights. 

Naturally, each of these machines had wires running out of it and naturally, each of these wires ran in the general direction of my wife. So naturally, they decide to put my tiny, three-legged, tin stool smack dab in the middle of this mine field.

And, just to spice things up a bit, there was the team of nurses and doctors shuffling purposefully amidst this unholy mess. They talked as they did but, since the topic was medicine and I didn't go to medical school, I was lost. Sure the occasional word rang a bell (thank you Daddy Bootcamp) but trying to recall words heard but once or twice while sitting in this setting was futile at best.

So, like anyone who finds himself in a foreign world I stayed in my little corner, right next to my wife and just tried to stay out of the way. 

 "Shelve those fears, everything is alllllright."
With the aid of a surgical mask, I was able to partly conceal my fear from my wife. After a minute or two of staying in my little area, I even managed to spout off what I deemed were some funny quips to ease her tension.

The doctors and nurses continued to move around, the machines beeped and the equipment from the trays disappeared behind a curtain as it was used. As this happened, I stayed put and achieved a pretty high comfort level. 

"You're doing great baby," I said confidently to my wife, though I might as well have been talking to myself. Yessir, I was going to be just fine.

And then the baby arrived and this was all shot to hell.

"Mr. Thomas, would you like to hold your son?" the doctor asked.

Believing that "No, I'm comfortable here, thanks" was an inappropriate reply, I said "Yes." Slowly, gingerly, hesitantly, I made my way through the towers with the machines, the wires leading to my wife, the trays with the equipment and the team of nurses and doctors.

Looking at my son for the first time was, indeed, amazing and surreal. Being handed my son and carrying him back 20 feet to my wife through the aforementioned disaster zone was indeed petrifying. 

He's coming home soon and, now that I've got some practice, I'm confident that "petrified" will be reduced to a far more manageable "pleasantly terrified."

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