October 25th, 2006
"Honey. Honey! I think my water just broke?!?!"
I responded with a resounding, "what?" Not the kind of "what" like you didn't hear someone, or a "what"where you don't understand. It was kind of like somebody saying "Happy New Year" on Thanksgiving. It's a holiday you knew was coming, but didn't know could be celebrated so early.
We weren't quite sure what to make of it. The baby had a tendency to push on the bladder a bit, so we both assumed it was just an unexpected bathroom break. Rachel ran off to the loo, only to find out on the way that this, was in fact, real. "What?"
The doctor's office was called. We knew what we had to do from the birthing classes and I'm not really sure why we made the call, but I think it was just to confirm in both of our minds that this was real. I was still waiting for Abraham Lincoln to pop out from behind the door and offer me a beer (a wonderful dream I have encountered many times before. He's an angry drunk, though). The operator came on and confirmed what we knew. "Sir, you need to get to the hospital." OK, I'm awake now.
Thanks to Rachel's coworker Harriet, we had been persuaded a week earlier to get our butts in motion and get a hospital bag together. Rachel had gathered some things in the days prior, but we didn't quite get it to the place it should be. Some onesies, some jammies, a couple of books, and so on.
I set into motion by gathering the necessary things a husband thinks he will need at the hospital (when confronted with such a daunting task at 1:30 in the morning). I had some jumper cables, a bottle of Clorox, and a monkey wrench. Ready to go.
After taking a bunch (three) deep breaths, I finally came to my senses a grabbed the necessary items needed for our stay. Rachel and I paused in the bedroom, hugged, and told each other "We're not ready for this," then assured each other "You're going to do great." No confidence in our own abilities as parents, but all the confidence in the world in each other. I guess that's what marriage is all about.
We arrived at the hospital at 1:30 am. It's easy to drive carefully when you only live six blocks away. We valeted the car (a wonderful free service at the hospital for expectant parents) and walked up the to the entrance with our bags. We couldn't remember any of the directions given to us during our hospital tour two months ago, but arrived at the maternity level on instinct alone. We checked in and Rachel changed into her hospital gown (only confirming my opinion that she can look gorgeous in absolutely anything she wears). The nurse checked her undercarriage (sans monkey wrench), then confirmed that we were, indeed, having a baby. A few minor (joyous) tears were shed, and we were hustled off to our labor room to start the adventure.
I know "badass" is not the most eloquent word I could use to describe Rachel during this time, but that's all I can think of. This girl was truly amazing. A badass. I had anticipated thrown punches, swear words, screaming accusations of, "YOU DID THIS TO ME!!!" None of that. She handled the initial contractions like a pro.
About an hour into labor she moved from the bed to the workout ball and the contractions began to intensify. I was told during birthing classes that you needed to encourage your partner and tell them what a good job they were doing. I feel so sorry for the husbands that have to lie to their spouses. This was my little badass in all her badass glory. I sat there in complete awe at the job she was doing. Rachel was already at five centimeters, no epidural, and still going strong. The encouragement was not only easy, it was natural. I can only liken it to the way I'll probably feel when I see Tenzin take his first steps. It's the woman you love preparing to welcome your child into the world. Sheer wonder.
Approaching six centimeters, she decided it was time for the epidural. The anesthesiologist came in and prepped his supplies. I am now sorry that we didn't send this man an invitation to the wedding. He was a miracle worker, and our new best friend. The drugs kicked in and Rachel's pain subsided. I could still read her printouts on the computer and watched as the contractions ebbed and flowed, raising and intensifying, but fortunately, she was now able to handle them much easier.
After another hour, the nurse checked her out and informed us that it was time to push. Ladies and gentlemen, the Captain has turned on the seatbelt sign. Please put your tray tables up as we prepare to land. It was time.
Rachel pushed. And pushed. And pushed. I had jokingly said to friends and family before now that I was a "keep-north-of-the-curtain" kind of guy, but this was truly amazing. The nurse let me be a part of every aspect of the labor. I had always known what my role was going to be in the ice chip department, but had no idea that I would be right there in the thick of things. We twisted, turned, held legs, rubbed backs, moistened foreheads, and crushed hands, and she pushed with everything she had for the next three and a half hours. My little badass.
The doctor came in to check up on the progress and had some bad news. Try as she might, the baby just wasn't turning. We knew what came next, but needed a moment to collect ourselves. We had always anticipated any and all possible outcomes, but I could see the disappointment on Rachel's face. She had tried so hard. A brief kiss, and she was off to the O.R. for a C-section. Before leaving, Rachel quickly noted that if the surgery was done in time, we could still catch the six o'clock Simpson's. I love this girl.
There is no greater feeling of helplessness than seeing your wife on an operating table. I knew that the procedure is fairly routine, but your mind still gets the best of you. When you walk in, the lighting is surreal. Almost foggy. Everyone is shrouded behind green and blue masks and scrubs. The eyes all look familiar, but you still wonder who everyone is and how long they went to school. I remember seeing our OBGYN and wondering what her postgraduate grades looked like. Completely random thoughts you never pondered until now. Everyone slacks off a little bit in school...just please God, don't let it be any of these people. The procedure began and we were a couple of moments away from seeing our child.
I realized then, as the surgeons were doing their work just feet away, that the whole experience had come full circle. We were behind the sterile curtain, hand in hand, giving each other the exact same nervous look we had given each other in the bedroom. Neither of us were certain about ourselves, but both had so much faith in the other person. I watched most of the surgery, but only remember looking into her eyes as she laid on the table. We just stared at one another, pressing our foreheads together. She has no idea how brave she was.
What felt like hours was in reality 30 minutes. The doctors were shuffling a bit more and I felt her body move forward and back. I looked over the curtain and there he was. Our boy. South to North: 10 toes, 1 penis, 10 fingers, and a beautiful face. He was finally here. As he made his first sound, we lost it. 15 hours was definitely worth it.
So here we are. It's now day two at the hospital and everything is going great. Rachel is recovering like the true badass she is, and baby is exploring his brand new world. Both are healthy and well. He's finally taken to breastfeeding (contrary to popular belief, they don't know how to do it when they pop out), and has officially peed on his dad for the first time. I apparently need to learn how to tighten my diapers. He loves to lay on his mama's chest and nap for hours on end. The two of them together are too much to handle. And he looks up at his mom with most amazing eyes. They can't stop staring at each other.
I'll try to give more updates whenever I can. I'm sorry that I kind of rambled a bit, but it's not easy to summarize the last two days. Everything has been so crazy, but I'm sure it gets easier from here. Right?
More to come...