Monday, November 23, 2015

So, We Had a Baby (Yes, There's Pictures)

After months of waiting and waiting and waiting some more, our little guy has finally arrived.

At 1:31 p.m. on November 9, 2015, we welcomed our second son into the world. As the date and time of his arrival approached, my memories become evermore compressed and, thus, increasingly blurry.

Fortunately, as we sat in the hospital, I took notes and some pictures to jog my tired, old mind. So, here now, a chronicle of the events of the day.

First, you should know that Mrs. Blackwell set out to have this baby the old-fashioned way but, as she often does, Mother Nature had other ideas. So, we knew when the little guy would be making his debut on planet Earth.

Delivery was initially set for 11:45 a.m.

This schedule meant no frantic race to the hospital complete with automotive hi jinks on the belt line. Nope it was just a predictable march followed by what most often happens when one gets to the hospital — waiting.

At 9:15 a.m. we checked in and in short order Mrs. Blackwell's nurse led us to a standard hospital room with a bed, TV and other medical accoutrement. This was called the triage room.

Shortly after settling in, the nurse began her care for Mrs. Blackwell the way most care begins — with scores upon scores of questions that the staff already has the answer to.

Nurse: "Do you have a history of depression?"

Mrs. Blackwell: "No."
He's about 20 hours old in this picture. 

Nurse: "Do you have a history of suicidal thoughts?" (An interesting choice of followup given Mrs. Blackwell's answer to the previous query.)

Mrs. Blackwell: "No."

Nurse: "Do you smoke?"

Mrs. Blackwell: "No."

Nurse: "Did you drink during your pregnancy?"

Mrs. Blackwell: "Does vodka count?" (Kidding, she didn't say that. She said, "No," — and I'm pretty sure that was true.

Nurse: "Use drugs?"

Mrs. Blackwell: "Only when I wasn't too smashed from all that vodka." Ok. Ok. She said, "No."

Then there were questions about medications, family history, allergies, vaccinations, dietary restrictions, eating disorders, any aches, pains or recent health issues.

Mrs. Blackwell answered the questions with good humor and, once the nurse was done, her patience was rewarded in the form of a belt equipped with a monitor detecting the baby's heartbeat.

For the remainder of our time in the triage room, the sound of the baby's heartbeat served as our background noise.

It soothed, hypnotized and, ultimately, helped move Mrs. Blackwell to do something she'd done little of for weeks — sleep soundly.

So, as the beat-beat-beat-beat of my unborn son's heart filled the room and my wife slept, I did what any other useless dad does in that situation, I paced the hallway outside the door.

While pacing I learned something about myself.

In serious situations my brain goes into self-preservation mode. What happens is that the immediate worry (like for instance, my wife set to have surgery and give birth) recedes into the background in lieu of less important thoughts. On this day I was wondering just how in the hell I was going to store my patio furniture. Winter is coming after all.

And, while I'm thinking these useless thoughts, I bear all the signs of a man stressing right the hell out which, of course, I am. But, in my mind, I'm just a calm, cool dude pondering his patio furniture. It's a strange state of affairs but, as mentioned, it does distract from the intensity of the moment.

So my wife slept and I paced. Later, my thoughts wandered toward whether we needed a sixth bag of water-softening salts. Before I knew it, 11:30 had rolled around.

T-minus 15 minutes. But, we know better than that, don't we? As it turned out, there was another woman ahead of us in line to give birth. We were trapped on the runway, second in line for take off.

No matter, Mrs. Blackwell had more sleep to catch up on and I was now fixated on making sure my phone was at 100% battery because 91% just wasn't sufficient. Whatever it takes, to distract from the bigger worry right?

At 11:41 I wrote: "I'm doing what any of us do now. I play on my phone. Focus on staying in touch with family and, in general try to distract myself. The environment is not intense. It's peaceful. The silence only broken occasionally by doctors and nurses walking past. Mrs. Blackwell sleeps."

At 12:10, I wrote: "Voices draw close. You never know if this is the voice that will push open the door and say, 'It's time to go.' Mrs. Blackwell is snoring. Just a little bit. But she is."

I'm not sure what time it was when our nurse returned with a few more questions for Mrs. Blackwell. She also asked me if I wanted to "watch the procedure." My answer was a resounding, emphatic, "No. Not at all. Thanks very much!"

I was (I am and I always will be) happy to sit with Mrs. Blackwell while the medical team did its thing on the other side of the curtain.

A few minutes later, Mrs. Blackwell's doctor stopped in. She was a calm, cool, almost zen-like woman, in complete control.

Not long after that, our nurse returned and told us we were on our way to another room, our last stop before Mrs. Blackwell would be taken to the operating room.

From here, things moved faster and faster. At 12:30, we were pit stopped in this other room for barely a couple minutes before Mrs. Blackwell was being carted away from me.

Then reality set in. I was alone, sitting in a rocking chair, my phone was at 100% and I no longer cared about the patio furniture or the softening salts. There were no distractions, only the matter at hand.

As I sat, I alternated between fear, excitement and overt giddiness, before finally settling upon worry.

No sooner had I made this determination than was I swept into the operating room, joining a team of about ten doctors, nurses, techs and maybe an IT guy or two, I don't know.

I was seated next to Mrs. Blackwell and her anesthetist, a chatty young guy who told us he's a father of four. As Mrs. Blackwell and I talked, the anesthetist lightened the mood with some funny quips and a story about how his family is loathed by many restaurants in town because they take advantage of the "Kids-eat-free" nights.
Commemorating the new Blackwell's sixth day on Earth
with a trip to the park. 

As we talked, chatter from the gaggle of doctors and nurses behind the curtain filled in the gaps in our conversation.

Maybe 20 minutes passed when, with little warning from behind the curtain, one of the doctors exclaimed, "He's huge."

Moments later the sound of my son's cries filled the room. Instantaneously, tears filled Mrs. Blackwell's eyes — mine too.

They lowered the curtain just a bit, and there he was. He looked like newborn babies do which is to say, beautiful, though covered in lots of stuff.

I counted quick. Ten fingers. Ten toes. And my ears rang with that huge cry of his. My ears! Wow, was this kid loud.

In no time, the nurses called me over to the weigh table where they delivered the numbers: nine pounds even and 21 inches long. They prodded me to "Take pictures!" and "Get out the camera, dad!" I held off for a bit. Letting my eyes capture the moment as I wanted it to be remembered.

And boy, were they were right, he is huge. In the traditional sense, sure. But he's also hugely cute. Hugely loud. And hugely loved.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Sorry for the long delay here. I'll squeeze in two more posts this week. I've got a lot of people to thank and the timing couldn't be better for that right? See you Wednesday.

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