Grayson, the Boy Wonder

Hello!

Welcome to yet another triumphant return of Chris Lackie – The Blog!

You’re probably saying “Chris, where did you go?”

Well, I didn’t go anywhere. I’ve just been busy with other little things that I hope one day I’ll be able to share with you, but… only time will tell.

Anyway, how about I tell you what I’ve been up to in the meantime? Here goes…

Just before 3 AM on February 22, my uber-pregnant wife, Sarah, reached across our bed and gently touched my shoulder, waking me from sleep.

“Hun,” she said. “I think my contractions have started.”

We had been waiting for this moment for what seemed like a long time. I leapt out of bed and pulled my pants on, almost falling in the process. Sarah laughed at me. “I don’t think we’re in that big a rush.”

“How far apart are your contractions?” I asked, continuing to put on my clothes.

“A few minutes, I think,” replied my wife, as if it was no big deal.

I, on the other hand, thought it was a very big deal. “‘A few minutes?” I parroted just before rumbling down the stairs to get my watch. I returned to our bedroom and handed it to Sarah. Every second she looked at it seemed to take an eternity.

“So? How far apart are they?” I asked, hoping they were more than five minutes apart so I could eat some breakfast before heading to the hospital.

“About three minutes,” Sarah replied, again, like it was no big deal.

My thoughts? Shitshitshitshitshitshitshitshitshitshit!

“I guess we should head to the hospital,” I said, trying not to sound as though my nerves were climbing up out of my stomach and out of my mouth.

“Yeah, probably,” said my wife, as if she wasn’t about to have a human being pop out of her.

So off we went.

We arrived at the hospital a little before 4 AM. The place seemed empty, except for the birthing unit where it seemed like every pregnant woman in Ottawa decided that morning was the time to push out a baby. Luckily, we beat the rush and were admitted promptly.

Once admitted, one of the nurses checked Sarah to see how far along she was. When the nurse found that my wife was eight centimetres dilated, the expression on her face was priceless. She couldn’t believe that someone that far along had just walked in and could carry a conversation. Word got around, and everyone was impressed with how well Sarah was handling her labour.

Shortly after the initial exam, we were moved to a birthing room. It was quickly decided that the best course of action would be to break Sarah’s water, the sound of which was… gross. It was like listening to a giant juice box being squeezed without a straw. At this point Sarah started feeling a fair bit of pain, but she handled it like the champion she is.

A few minutes later, our baby’s heart rate began to slow, so it was decided that the delivery should happen as soon as possible.

Listening to nurses and doctors encourage a mother-to-be to push is fascinating. The first time we went through this with our son, Fox, the room was full of women, all of them aggressively telling Sarah push the baby out. This time, there was a male doctor who took a different approach.

Male Doctor: “Okay Sarah, on the next contraction I want you to push as hard as you can.”

Female Doctors/Nurses: “PUUUUUUSH! GET MADDDD!!!!!”

Male Doctor: “Doing great, Sarah, keep doing your best.”

Female Doctors/Nurses: “DIG DEEEEEP! PUSH OUT THE PAINNNNN!”

Male Doctor: “Keep breathing, keep pushing.”

Female Doctors/Nurses: “PUUUUUUSH! GET THAT PARASITE OUT OF YOU!”

It went something like that. I can’t remember exactly.

Once our little guy’s head was out, they found his umbilical cord tied around his neck three times, which they expected to be the reason for the drop in heart rate.

With that bit of drama aside, at 5:36 AM, our son Grayson was born.

I’m not going to lie. When I saw my son for the first time, resting on my wife’s chest (in all his slimy glory), I cried. A lot. I’ve thought about why that is. I was glassy-eyed when my first son was born, but I didn’t actually cry, so why would I completely sob this time around? I was definitely happy to see my son, but I think my excessive tears were due to the fact that I was just so relieved that it was over, and that my wife wasn’t going to have to go through the 36 hour labour (and everything that accompanied it) as she did with our first child.

While our little boy rested on Sarah, someone (a doctor, I believe) asked if I wanted to cut his cord. It is a completely legitimate question. Father’s cut their children’s umbilical cord all the time. My response however, was completely unreasonable.

“I DIDN’T CUT MY FIRST SON’S CORD SO I’M NOT GOING TO CUT THIS ONE!” I screamed for absolutely no reason.

The people in the room must of thought I was crazy, and they were probably right. I have no idea why I reacted the way I did, but I would like to chalk it up to being overwhelmed by the joy of seeing my son for the first time. Or, you know… lack of sleep.

After about a minute of mother/baby cuddle time, our son was taken to a nearby table to clear the gunk out of his lungs and whatnot. This was expected, as they did the same thing to our first son. Unfortunately, they found that Grayson was working too hard to breath, so he was taken away to the intensive care unit.

This, of course, was a little scary. And upsetting. In part because my little guy had a tube shoved down his throat and a breathing mask stuck to his face, but also because the nurses who were there when Grayson was born started asking me if they had done certain things in the delivery room:

“Did he have a delayed cord clamping?”

My response: “I don’t even know what you just said to me, man.”

“Has he had his vitamin K shot yet?”

Another nurse’s response: “Yyyyyyyyyyes?”

Yipes. Just yipes.

After a few minutes of holding the breathing mask on Grayson’s face, they decided to move him to a machine that does the same thing, but doesn’t require anyone to hold anything. This also involved moving him to an incubator. After a few minutes of Grayson’s breathing improving, one of the nurses looked at him quizzically.

“Oh,” she said.

“Oh?” I asked.

“See the tube on your son’s nose?”

“Yes.”

“It’s not actually in his nose.”

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“It means the improvements your son is making has nothing to do with the machine. It’s all him.”

Oy vay. I know these folks work hard and are very busy, but… c’mon.

Even though he was taken off the machine (which he was never really on), he still had to spend some time in the ICU, which meant it was a while before he could be with us in the mother-baby unit.

But it was totally worth the wait.

Look at how adorable this kid is.

grayson1

Now, I would like to tell you that everything was hunky-dory from this point on… but… unfortunately… I can’t.

Right after he was born, Grayson had an x-ray of his lungs taken, and before the pediatrician would sign off on our son’s release from the hospital he wanted another lung x-ray taken to see if things had improved. Because it was so late in the day that it was done, that meant we had to spend another night in the hospital. That night, one of the nurses performed a routine check on Grayson’s vitals and found he had an irregular heartbeat, so he was sent back to the ICU.

This was very upsetting. We thought were going to be able to bring our little guy home, but now he was going to have to spend more time in the hospital. Away from us.

This is about the time I cried again. All Sarah and I wanted was for our little guy to be healthy and to bring him home, but things kept popping up that kept this from happening. In my sleep-deprived state, it all seemed really unfair.

I went to feed Grayson in the ICU while Sarah slept in her room (she was even more tired than I was). While I was there the doctors were doing their rounds, going over the other patients in the same room as my little guy, and I couldn’t help overhear while they talked about one baby in particular. It went something like this:

“This is <insert baby’s name here>. They were born at 28 weeks and is currently 2 weeks old. Today we increased baby’s morphine and caffeine, and the social worker tried to get a hold of baby’s parents, but was unable to.”

My heart sank. I thought Grayson was having a rough start, but THAT poor child was having a ROUGH start.

The next time Grayson was due to be fed, both Sarah and I went to the ICU to spend some time with the little guy.

And we were greeted with wonderful news.

“Oh, that was fast,” said the nurse.

“Huh?” I replied in my typical elegant fashion.

The nurse smiled. “You didn’t hear? You guys get to go home today.”

A couple hours later, we did just that.

IMG_4413

And now we’re all very happy… and exhausted.

Grayson’s two weeks old at this point, and this is what I’ve learned about him:

  1. He is hungry all the time.
  1. If you change his diaper, he will pee on you.
  1. Have you ever watched a movie where someone lets out a comically loud fart? THAT’S the sound Grayson makes when he poops.
  1. He may have my wife’s eyes, but he has my shoulder hair.

And what about big brother? People have asked how Fox gets along with his little brother.

The truth is Fox didn’t pay much mind to Grayson until we brought out the baby toys. This made his little brother much more interesting.

Also, Grayson’s crying is, according to Fox, “very noisy”. The irony is completely lost on him.

Well, that’s it for now. Now that I’m on parental leave I’d like to think I have more time for writing, but based on the first couple weeks, I’m not sure that’s going to happen. Regardless, I hope to write again soon.

In the meantime, I will leave you with this:

BABY-BAMPF!

 

 

Giving Birth: A Male Perspective

Hello Everyone!

As most of you who know me know, my wife Sarah recently gave birth to our first child.  It’s amazing how once you have a child you can suddenly and unconditionally love a tiny ball of fury that screams when you try to wipe the poop off his bum.

In this post, I thought I would document and comment on my experience with the birth of my son, which of course was mostly as an observer (thank Christ).

I will start off by saying that in the end everything worked out perfectly.  Our son is happy and healthy.  Everyone who helped us at the hospital was great, and by no means should anything I say be taken as a slight against the hospital or its staff.

Okay, so here we go…

The whole thing started on a Thursday.  My wife was four days past due and she went to the doctor’s office for her weekly checkup.  While there, the doctor informed her that, for a couple reasons, she would need to go directly to the hospital to either be induced immediately or within the next 24 hours.  This was, of course, a little shocking given the pregnancy had gone great over the previous 40 weeks.  Once at the hospital they gave her a blood test that would determine whether she needed to be induced that night or the next day.  They told her it would take about an hour to get the results.  After waiting about 3 hours or so, I asked my friend to take me to the hospital so I could wait with her.  Also, if they were going to induce her, I wanted to be there.

In total, my wife waited about 5 hours before she got the results.  They told her she could go home, but they would call in the next 24 hours to have her come back to be induced.  So Sarah and I went home and watched the Lady Gaga Muppets Holiday Special.  We both agree that there wasn’t enough Sweetums.  And far too much Lady Gaga.

Anyway, we spent Friday waiting by the phone.  To pass the time, we watched The Other Guys and 21 Jump Street (the Channing Tatum movie).  Those movies are still awesome, even after a dozen views each.  Eventually the hospital called and told my wife to come in at 5 PM to be induced.  Dutifully, we both showed up when we were told and Sarah was then hooked up to a machine that monitored her contractions, the baby’s heartbeat and her own heartbeat.  After (a long) 4 hours of waiting (due to the doctor’s being stuck down in the emergency room), we were told that my wife would be induced and that she was going to be admitted (as opposed to being induced and being sent home, which was apparently an option).

We made our way to the birthing room and waited for them to… do whatever you need to do to essentially force someone to go into labour.  We had some time to kill so we decided to play cards.  After losing 6 games of crazy eights in a row, I finally beat Sarah and then immediately retired as champion.  It was a proud moment.

Ultimately, we had to wait another 3 hours for the induction process to start, which was upsetting, because (as I learned) it takes a really long time for the process to actually induce labour.  It’s upsetting that we had to wait 7 hours before anything really happened, butI guess that’s how the system works.

So once the process began (I won’t get into the dirty details since they can be… unpleasant) we tried to get some rest, but it was hard with someone coming in every few minutes to either give us an update on what was going on or, in many cases, just to introduce themselves.  It’s nice that all the nurses, residents, junior residents, and medical students take the time to introduce themselves, but when it’s 2 o’clock in the morning, it’s probably unnecessary.

Eventually my wife was put on an intravenous drip of oxytocin (which helps the labour process along), and around 1:30 PM on Saturday, one of the many doctors who introduced themselves checked to see how my wife was progressing.  He determined she was 3-centimetres dilated and they could manually break her water.

Up until this point my wife was having contractions, but the only reason we knew this was because the monitor she was on said so.  She couldn’t actually feel them.  But that completely changed when they broke her water.  Once that happened, she could feel every contraction.  And from what I could tell, they hurt like a bitch.  We had actually taken a course that taught us some ways to deal with contractions, but with the monitors and the IV that my wife was attached to it wasn’t possible to use the coping mechanisms we had learned.  This was unfortunate because it wasn’t long before her contractions were 1-minute apart.  When she got to this point, we figured that my wife had been progressing nicely and that it wouldn’t be too long before she had reached the all important 10-centimetre dilation.

Boy, were we wrong.

We (but mostly my wife) were disappointed to learn that she hadn’t made any progress and was still at 3-centimetres.  Going into childbirth, the plan (which I did not contribute to at all) was to try to go through labour without getting an epidural.  After feeling the pain of contractions 1-minute apart and knowing that there was still a long way to go, the plan was thrown out the window and an epidural was requested.  This was probably the only part of the process that went quickly, with an anesthesiologist showing up only minutes after the request was made.  The guy who performed the procedure was very nice, and both he and the nurse who happened to be responsible for us at that time did a very good job of explaining everything as it happened.

With the epidural in place, my wife felt much less pain and things started to move forward… very slowly.

We were optimistic when she dilated another centimetre right away, but it was pretty slow going after that.  She was 3-centimetres around 7:30 PM Saturday and moved to 4-centimetres soon after.  She continued to make progress throughout the night, albeit at a tortoise’s pace.  Every hour or so, someone (often not the same someone) would come in to check Sarah’s progress and ask her to shift to her other side (apparently my son had a favourite side in the womb).  When things would stall (which happened a few times), there would be the obligatory statements:  “We’ll keep monitoring you, but if things don’t progress we’ll need to discuss a C-section.  We’re not there yet, but I just want to give you a heads up that it’s a possibility.  Now try to get some rest.”  Sure.  She’ll get right on that.

But ultimately a C-section wasn’t necessary, because at 12:22 PM on Sunday our little guy agreed to come out the old-fashioned way.  Which, by the way, is nothing like it is on television.  I mean, I knew it wouldn’t be, but I had no idea how different.  I think two or three different nurses encouraged my wife to push at different times, and the doctor who ultimately delivered our son was there at the start, then disappeared, then reappeared again at the end.  At one point, I’m pretty sure my wife and I were alone in the room in the middle of the pushing.  And when the time finally came for our son to come out, I made the conscious effort to not look down.  And then I did.  I will never forget what it looked like.  I don’t want to get into it, but let’s say it reminded me of a scene in Total Recall where an important character is introduced.  I’ll let you figure out what I’m talking about.

So, how did I feel about the entire process of bringing my son into the world?  It was both wonderful and awful.  I love the fact that I got to see a human being breathe his first breath, but at the same time, I have never felt so useless.  From sitting in Triage chatting with Sarah, to watching her struggle with the pain of contractions, and then to the final stage where my wife actually delivered our son, I have never felt so useless and helpless at any point in my life.  My wife felt so awful, and even with the class we took to manage the pain, there wasn’t a thing I could do about it.  I know my wife had the worst of it, but I really struggled watching her.  It was hard to watch someone I love so much be in so much agony.

And the actual delivery part?  Forget about it.  Pain meds or no, I don’t know how anyone can do it.

What I do know, however, is that my wife is the strongest person I’ve ever met.  She carried a little bundle of joy for more than 9 months and then managed to push him out after I don’t know how many hours of labour (when do you start counting when you’re induced?).  I am so proud of her.

That’s it for this post.  Next time I’ll talk a little bit about our little guy’s first few days of life.  Spoilers:  He poops a lot.

BABY-BAMPF!