The Birth & Aftermath


Hand ComparisonDebbie start­ed hav­ing fre­quent con­trac­tions on Saturday morn­ing at 5am. We went to the hos­pi­tal lat­er that af­ter­noon to see what was up, the con­trac­tions were about 5 min­utes apart. We get to the hos­pi­tal and, of course, they slow down. After ex­am­i­na­tion, Debbie was still on­ly about 2cm, so they sent us home. She was still hav­ing con­trac­tions, and we’d told the con­trac­tor work­ing on our house that we wouldn’t be back for a few days, so we stayed at her par­ents house. We didn’t get much sleep though, as con­trac­tions con­tin­ued through­out the night, in­creas­ing grad­u­al­ly in pain. Sunday morn­ing we went back to the hos­pi­tal and found out that Debbie was at 4cm. Go time. 13 hours lat­er: Abraham.

Calculating la­bor time is not ex­act. Technically we could count it from when she start­ed hav­ing her con­trac­tions ear­ly Saturday morn­ing, a 44 hour la­bor, but I was told that hos­pi­tals usu­al­ly count la­bor from 4cm, which would make the la­bor the afore­said 13 hours. I’m in­clined to go with la­bor last­ing from the first signs of preg­nan­cy through the birth, be­cause it ap­pears to be work the en­tire time. Debbie was cer­tain­ly do­ing quite a bit of work start­ing Saturday morn­ing. Labor, in gen­er­al, burns about 1000 calo­ries an hour. Debbie’s la­bor plan was to keep her op­tions open. The in­ten­tion was a nat­ur­al child­birth if at all pos­si­ble. Since she likes be­ing in the tub, we aimed for a wa­ter­birth at first. The on­ly prob­lem was that Abraham’s head had en­tered the pelvis a bit crooked. This stuck things for a few long [ex­haust­ing] hours. The pain was in­creas­ing and her en­er­gy lev­el was wan­ing, so she took a lit­tle Nubain to take the edge off. Being in the tub was help­ing, but af­ter awhile it slows la­bor down. Eventually we got out of the tub al­to­geth­er, be­cause Debbie had no en­er­gy left and asked for an epidur­al.

After the epidur­al, we both took a brief nap be­fore things got go­ing again. She was al­ready at 10cm so it was push­ing time, for al­most three hours. Debbie got the head very close, but it seemed to get stuck again, so Colleen, the most ex­cel­lent mid­wife sug­gest­ed us­ing a bit of suc­tion to get him crowned. She left, and Debbie de­cid­ed she want­ed to do it on her own, and with the roar­ing en­cour­age­ment of the nurs­ing staff, man­aged to get the ba­by crown­ing by the time Colleen came back with the doc­tor.

I stopped hold­ing Debbie’s legs, stopped keep­ing her fo­cused, stopped feed­ing her pop­si­cles, and put on my catcher’s mitt. It was time to catch the ba­by. What looked like a ten­nis ball was al­ready crowned, I thought, “Oh, he’s al­most here”, and then af­ter an­oth­er push, a HUGE, blue-pur­ple, soft­ball-sized head popped out. My thoughts were now noth­ing more than inar­tic­u­late gib­ber­ings of shock and joy. The cord wasn’t wrapped com­plete­ly around his neck, but it was against it, and there was quite a bit of meco­ni­um, so Colleen cleaned his nose and mouth be­fore I pulled him the rest of the way out.

My son was then tak­en from me. Taken. From me. But they gave him to Debbie, which is okay, I guess. I cut the cord with one snip. It is tough like a fleshy elec­tri­cal cord. They whisked him away to the warmer while I heard him start to scream lusti­ly. I don’t re­al­ly re­mem­ber what I told Debbie, but I went over to “check out” the ba­by. What I was re­al­ly do­ing was guard­ing him. Guarding my son. He was bright red and squalling. A beau­ti­ful, healthy boy. I looked over just in time to see the pla­cen­ta plop out of Debbie. I wasn’t much in­ter­est­ed in the pla­cen­ta, so I hung out with my son for a bit be­fore go­ing back to Debbie and get­ting a few pic­tures. I want­ed a good shot of me de­liv­er­ing the ba­by, but with all of the ex­cite­ment, it didn’t turn out that way.

Debbie’s par­ents came over that night to meet lit­tle Abraham. We end­ed up go­ing to sleep around 3, on­ly to be wok­en for pok­ing and prod­ding around 7. The first day in the hos­pi­tal went quite well. The staff, in­clud­ing the stu­dents, were help­ful and com­pas­sion­ate. The sec­ond day, though, was hell. Debbie had been up un­til 5 try­ing to feed the ba­by and was com­plete­ly out of en­er­gy. Our morn­ing start­ed with a bar­rage of loud knocks on our door, and a male stu­dent who was any­thing but qui­et for 7 in the morn­ing. People were pok­ing and prod­ding Debbie for most of the morn­ing and af­ter­noon. She was ex­haust­ed and all she need­ed was peo­ple to lis­ten to her when she ex­pressed her needs. Instead, when she said she was dizzy, they start­ed ask­ing too many ques­tions and just made things worse. All she need­ed was food. Which took about 2 hours to ar­rive. We’d been men­tion­ing to peo­ple all day that she wasn’t get­ting any rest be­cause of all the check­ups. At one point she was lec­tured by a nurse that she should be sleep­ing when the ba­by sleeps; which she can’t very well do with peo­ple wak­ing her up every half hour. Eventually she was so tired that she start­ed cry­ing when a nurse asked, for about the mil­lionth time that day, how her bot­tom felt on a scale of 1 to 10. The nurse im­me­di­ate­ly asked Debbie if she had a his­to­ry of de­pres­sion in her fam­i­ly. That set Debbie off. “I’m just TIRED!” she yelled. Evidently af­ter the nurse left, she fi­nal­ly spread the word [ap­par­ent­ly the Do Not Disturb sign on our door wasn’t a clue to them] and we stopped get­ting in­ces­sant vis­i­tors. It on­ly took about 12 hours. Pretty much the on­ly up­side to the day was a vis­it from my mom. She came up for a cou­ple of hours to meet her grand­son and it was great to see her.

We let the ba­by go to the nurs­ery for most of the night so that we could catch some shut eye. He got bot­tle-fed once through the night so the up­shot was that we got to sleep for about 6 hours, straight. I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of the hos­pi­tal by this point, they had a hide-a-bed that was lumpi­er than a toad’s back and was too short and an­gled to sleep on com­fort­ably. My neck and back are killing, but it was nice to be al­lowed to stay in the room with Debbie and Abraham. I’d been out mak­ing er­rand end runs to home and the gro­cery, since Debbie is now hun­gri­er than when she was preg­nant. We made it out of the hos­pi­tal a bit af­ter noon, and the day was much more re­laxed af­ter that.


Baby!We didn’t get Abraham cir­cum­cised. Apparently on­ly 50% of boys get cir­cum­cised any­more, it is more tra­di­tion­al than med­ical. No one has ve­he­ment­ly dis­agreed with our de­ci­sion apart from a few of my cowork­ers.

Letting Abraham sleep on and next to me makes me re­al­ize just how much I am an an­i­mal. To him I must seem this great, fur­ry breath­ing source of com­fort and pro­tec­tion, when I nuz­zle him I re­mind my­self of all of those na­ture doc­u­men­taries where crit­ters care for their young. I’ve got one for my­self now, and the chal­lenge of fa­ther­hood suits me well. I’d been want­i­ng a new dif­fi­cult and mean­ing­ful chal­lenge in my life. I love him.

Sleepdep is al­ready in full ef­fect. Abraham on­ly needs fed about twice dur­ing the night, but it isn’t that easy. If he does eat right away, that takes about half an hour, fol­lowed by burp­ing, pos­si­ble di­a­per chang­ing and get­ting the lit­tle feller asleep. Then we have a chance to use the re­stroom and grab a bite to eat our­selves. By the time all that is tak­en care of, it is pret­ty much time to feed him again. And that’s on­ly if things run smooth­ly. Sometimes he won’t latch, will fuss be­cause he’s too hun­gry to sleep and too tired to eat, or just be­cause 10pm and 3am were his fa­vorite times to par­ty in the womb. I’m get­ting the idea that I’ll nev­er catch up on sack time.

5 thoughts on “The Birth & Aftermath

  1. Congrats! When we come to town next, we’ll have to have a Subliminal Self re­union. Greyson has a ba­by as well (his is 2 months old girl). I’m sor­ry your hos­pi­tal ex­pe­ri­ence was so shit­ty, but the end re­sult is what’s re­al­ly im­por­tant and he’s a beau­ti­ful boy. 

  2. A Subliminal Self re­union would be awe­some. Y’all can come to my place, I’ll fire up the grill and we can hang on the porch or back­yard.

  3. Welcome to Fatherhood.…sleep de­pri­va­tion and lots of wor­ry and the great­est joys imag­in­able.

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