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Archive for November, 2010

A week ago today I was wearing scrubs. I was in Operating Room #3, leaning over Leigh Ann, holding both of her hands, telling her that everything was going to be all right.

On the outside, I probably seemed cool and collected. A dozen surgeons about to slice open my laboring wife? No sweat. But on the inside, what I was thinking was this: “Am I going to pass out?” Something was going wrong in my chest. My heart was skipping beats. Palpitating. Fluttering. And I was starting to get light-headed. The two thoughts that kept me on my feet were (1) your wife really needs you right now, and (2) if you *do* have a heart attack, at least you’re already in a hospital.

Considering a Caesarian section was about 110% against our birth plan, it’s worth talking about how we ended up in that operating room. Actually, it’s worth talking about “birth plans” in general, a term I now rank up there with other notable oxymorons like jumbo shrimp, airline food, and compassionate conservative.

In no particular order, three things we wanted to avoid were:

an epidural
fetal scalp monitors
a Caesarian section

And, in no particular order, here are the things we ended up doing:

an epidural
fetal scalp monitors
a Caesarian section

So were we spineless labor sissies? Not exactly. We were up against a host of medical issues and held out as long as we could.

For starters, Nathan was sunny-side up and wouldn’t budge. This meant that the back of his skull was pressing against Leigh Ann’s spinal cord, and every time she had a contraction, it felt as if someone were “sticking a god-damned knife in [her] back!” Or so a reliable source informed me. Add that to the extra large size of Nathan’s noggin — sunnyside up babies come out face first and often require episiotomies — and we knew were in for a long delivery.

But there was Leigh Ann’s cervix to worry about as well. It stalled out at 8 cm. We have no idea why, although a reader (thanks, Connie!) left an interesting comment here about how prior cervical procedures can leave scar tissue and prevent full dilation. As it so happens, once upon a time Leigh Ann did have a polyp removed. So that might have been a factor. But massaging her cervix didn’t show much improvement, and there was also this . . .

. . . Nathan began showing signs of fetal distress. I don’t blame him; he had been in labor for almost 21 hours, was a week past due, and was still in the wrong position. If there’s a more terrifying feeling that watching your son’s heart rate “decelerate rapidly” on a fetal monitor, I don’t know what that feeling is. Honestly, I would have rather watched my own castration. It would at least have had a few laughs.

So to recap, Thursday afternoon, we knew the following: Nate was sunny-side up, Leigh Ann’s cervix was stuck at 8 cm, and there were some ominous clouds appearing on Nate’s heart rate horizon.

We asked the doctors if we could wait a couple hours to see if anything turned around.

Unfortunately, it did not.

So a compromise was in the cards. I don’t care how principled a dude you think you are. Do Caesarians suck? Yes, they do. They’re unnatural and just a wee bit invasive. But at the end of the day, the only principle you end up caring about is that the doctors deliver your kid alive.

And as long as they do that . . . then that epidural you promised yourself you wouldn’t have . . . and those fetal scalp monitors you swore you wouldn’t use . . . and that Caesarian section you vowed to avoid?

Small change.

Little Man Nate

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I never thought our oft-flooded, 1 bedroom apartment would seem so comforting. But after 4 nights in the hospital, it seems like the Beverly Hilton.

Later this week, I’ll get into everything that happened (rhymes with: Caesarian section). You want the details, of course, and I need to construct some sort of narrative to make sense of what the hell just happened.

In the meantime, here’s me doing what a proud papa does – posting more photos.

Nate the Great.

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