Giving Birth: A Male Perspective – Part 2: Even More Perspective

Hello Everyone!

In my last post I discussed the birth of my son.  In short, it took a long time and was really gross, but both my wife and I were happy with the end result.  Now I am going to discuss what happened when I officially became a parent.  Like last time, I will start off by saying that 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.

Once the little guy came out I was suddenly very aware of how many other people in the room.  There was me and my wife (obviously), the doctor who delivered our baby, another doctor watching our baby be delivered, two nurses (one encouraging Sarah to push, another… doing something I can’t remember), and four people from the critical care unit… or was it intensive care?  My memory is already failing me.  Anyway, when my son was born he was immediately carried over to the critical (or intensive) care people so they could suck the poop out of his mouth and nose before he took a big breath (that’s a thing, apparently).  While they cleaned him up, Sarah and I just looked at him.  I was already enthralled, and I’m sure my wife was too. That, and exhausted.  After a few moments they offered him to me.  I was incredibly nervous.  I walked around my wife and the doctors that were tending to her, and made my way over to him (careful not to look at what the doctors were doing… I know there are some things you can’t unsee).  As I held him for the first time, I was amazed by how alert he was.  His eyes were open and clear, and he seemed to be giving me the “shifty eyes”.  My first thought was that my son was evil, but then he peed on me, which made me realize he’s just a practical joker. 

I walked him back around the doctors who were tending to my wife (still careful not to look at what they were doing) and took extra care not to slip on any of the fluids that were all over the floor (yup… that’s a thing you have to worry about).  I held him for a few moments and then passed him over to his mom, which was awkward because she was still lying on her back.  Even so, she still managed to hold him for a few minutes. 

When they were done with Sarah and baby, we got a chance to relax by ourselves (with the exception of the nurse assigned to us) in the birthing room before heading to the “Mother-Baby Unit”.  After moving to the new unit, I realized we were spoiled in the birthing room.  The birthing room was private and I had a place to sleep.  No such luck in our new room.  The recovery room was semi-private and there was nowhere for yours truly to sleep.  For the first night, we shared the room with another couple with a newborn (who will forever have parents who don’t seem to get along and a father with a face tattoo… poor kid).  Luckily on the first night we had a nurse who didn’t mind bending the rules as I got to sleep on a gurney mat on the floor next to Sarah.  What amazed us was how quiet our son was.  Even with another baby in the room screaming (which was all the time), our guy barely made a peep.  It was actually a bit of a relief on the second night when our son woke up screaming.  It was nice to know that if he was hungry, he’d let us know.

What wasn’t nice was that on the second day our little bundle of joy wasn’t eating enough, which resulted in him having low blood sugar.  This meant the pediatrician and the nurses wanted him to stay in the hospital for another day.  This sucked because it meant we’d have to stay an extra day in the hospital, and, more importantly, I believed I had already failed as a parent.  How could I have done so poorly that my son already had a medical problem?  As it turned out the solution was as simple as supplementing his meals with formula, but for a moment I really thought I was the worst parent ever.  What I learned from this experience is that breast feeding doesn’t exactly come naturally to babies.  I mean, they know that they are hungry and they know that they need to suck to eat, but they don’t necessary know that they need to keep sucking in order to get food from their mom who isn’t producing a ton of milk (or as I also learned, milk-like substance… because women don’t automatically start producing what the average joe would consider milk).  In fact, there were two different “lactation consultants” who gave Sarah advice on how to feed our baby and how to produce more milk.  Who knew such a position existed?

Our stay was pretty uneventful after that. Our poor little guy had to undergo regular tests to check his blood sugar levels, but in the end he was fine.  I didn’t get the gurney mat the second night, so I tried to sleep in a chair.  When that failed, Sarah and I tried to share her bed, which was moderately more successful than the chair, but still terrible.  The next day I went home to grab a camping mat to sleep on the third night.  It wasn’t as good as the gurney mat, but way better than the chair. 

We were finally able to bring our son home on a Wednesday.  For those of you keeping track, we checked into the hospital on a Friday, which means we spent a total of 5 nights in the hospital.  It was a long time, but totally worth it.  I was thrilled to give our little guy a tour of his home.  He is a big fan of my Funko Pop Vinyl Figures.  I know this because it was the only part of the tour he didn’t sleep through.

So that’s how it all went down.  It was a long process (especially for my wife), but I don’t think we would change anything.  Except for the fact that our son likes to sleep during the day and be awake all night.  I really wish we could change that.



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.