Wow, where to start.
I guess I should set the context. I’m writing this on Sunday, July 8th, as Leanne approaches the end of her third day outside of the confines of Meg’s womb. After a whirlwind of visitors over the past three days, we have some downtime on our last night here in the hospital, so I figured I’d try to make a dent in all of the stories I have to tell.
Last we left our heroes, it was 1pm on Thursday. I apparently spoke too soon. Shortly after finishing up the last entry, the contractions started to hurt. A lot. And not just Meg, my hand was killing me from all the squeezing she was doing.
I’ll skip all the lovely details: we decided it was time for an epidural. Within seconds of the epidural being applied, Meg turned from Godzilla into a purring kitten. I, on the other hand, didn’t get such a euphoric effect. In other words, I got woozy, and all I had to do was stand there. I stayed in front of her supporting her shoulders the entire time and I didn’t watch it getting inserted, but I still knew what was going on. And conceptually, the entire process is just plain fucked up. I don’t know who first thought to jam a needle into a person’s spine, but I’m willing to bet it wasn’t in the name of medicine but rather the act of a psychotic madman. Meg went right to sleep after the epidural kicked in, and I went for a walk; I needed to clear my head after seeing that.
Hours passed. We watched movies. We played Uno. She slept. I paced. By 8pm, she was still only about 5cm dilated. Two hours later, no progress. Meg wasn’t in any pain, but I was starting to lose my freaking mind. Apparently, 24 hours in the hospital is my limit before I lose my nerve.
I started to pace the halls and soon ran into the doctor and our nurse. I’m sure they were used to dealing with much more panicked dads, and were pretty good in talking me down from my growing insanity. I managed to be a first for him, as I described that our issues weren’t with picking a name so much as deciding on how to spell Leanne (I originally liked LeAnn). Barely any more relaxed, I returned to Meg’s side.
Shortly after, the doctor said what both of us wanted to hear: it was time to abandon the natural child birth and go with a C-section. Without even needing to discuss it, Meg and I both readily agreed.
45 minutes later, I’m in full scrubs, with a shampoo cap, booties on my shoes, and a surgical mask. I gotta admit, I looked damn good. Too bad everyone knew I was with Meg, I totally could have scored.
I then spent the longest 10 minutes of my life in isolation. I was told to wait in the recovery room while they prepared Meg for the surgery. Here I found myself, minutes away from becoming a dad after they cut open my wife to extract my child. I can’t even begin to describe the feelings. I ran the gauntlet from terrified to excited to anxious to relieved to sad to happy. I thought of when Meg first told me she was pregnant. I thought of when Meg and I first met, and how I had no idea at the time that it would lead us to that very moment. I missed my grandmother, who died earlier this year, and thought of how happy she would have been to meet the baby. I thought of everyone who was anxiously waiting to hear news of the baby being born and how lucky he or she would be to have so many people in his/her life. I realized that after 9 months, I’d finally know the gender of the one we called Monkey.
As long as it took to get to that moment in time, it was over in a heartbeat. I was seated by Meg’s head, behind the three foot high curtain extending upward from her chest. Meg was awake and very aware of the situation, but was also completely relaxed. We talked about things that will stay between her and me. Well, and the 3 doctors who didn’t do shit but were still positioned near her head. I’m still not sure why half of those people were in there.
I’ll never forget the sound of the baby’s first cry. One of the many people positioned around Meg’s body asked what the gender was. I heard the doctor say that he couldn’t see yet. Another cry later, and all of the noise in the room went silent.
“I hope you two figured out how you are going to spell Leanne.”
It took Meg a minute to realize what just happened. She wasn’t around for my conversation with the doctor earlier, so her first reaction was to wonder just how the hell the doctor knew the names we were considering.
We didn’t get to cry for long. All of a sudden, a baby’s head appeared above the curtain I mentioned earlier. It was adorable. I was stunned at the full head of hair, but happy to see she wasn’t white/blue/gray/purple as I heard is possible in all of the classes we took. I half expected the doctor to treat her like a puppet and put on a show; you probably had to be there to fully appreciate it, but the baby’s head floating over the curtain just struck me as really funny.
How did I commemorate what is probably the most beautiful moment in my life?
“Look Meg, she’s not funny looking or nuthin’.”
If you believe nothing else I write, believe that this is exactly what I said. Good thing I wasn’t the first man to walk on the moon, I’d probably have been immortalized in history as saying “It’s all squishy.” To all future fathers out there, prepare ahead of time what you are going to say; you won’t be thinking straight at the time. Thankfully, the doctors had a good sense of humor and many laughed.
I was told to go back to where they were cleaning the baby. I made sure Meg was ok with me leaving; it was a huge conflict of interest between leaving Meg alone on the operating table and getting to see the first minutes of my daughter’s life. Meg was totally in favor of the baby option, and I was able to take a few billion pictures as they cleaned her off and took the baby footprints.
I brought Leanne back near Meg’s head while they patched her up. Soon after, we were in the recovery room, deciding who wouldn’t be too pissed at a 12:30am baby announcement call. Once the nurse was convinced Meg was on the road to recovery (it didn’t take long at all, Meg was an amazing trooper), we found our way to our Mother Baby room, where we’d spend the next few days. The nurses moved Meg in her bed, while I followed behind pushing Leanne in her rolling tupperware crib. She sneezed. I felt all fuzzy inside.
Once we got settled into the room, they took Leanne for various shots and a bath. You can imagine how much of Meg’s innards were stuck in all that hair. Leanne didn’t sleep much when she got back to the room, but she didn’t cry either. I fell asleep to the sound of her sucking on her fingers.
The feeling of relief I had that night was one of the most intense emotional experiences I’ve ever felt. It had an almost narcotic effect. In the middle of the night, Meg asked me to get Leanne for her so she could feed her (she couldn’t get out of bed). I wanted more than anything to pick her up again, but I physically couldn’t pick myself up out of bed. I’m serious about that, Meg had to call a nurse. Months of anticipation and worrying were over and I was relieved. The real journey would begin the next day, complete with its own anticipations and worrying, but for that night, I was able to relax.