Tuesday, January 18, 2011

“That guy looks terrified!”

This is my fifteen year old son speaking. We were in the waiting room of his mother’s OB watching as a very young couple stopped to make an appointment with the receptionist.

I couldn’t have agreed more. The man/boy did look terrified and I wondered if I had that same deer in the headlights look when we were having our first baby, almost seventeen years earlier. I don’t think I did, I was odd that way. Looking back, I see that I was more serious and more adult (also read as “stuffy”) when I was twenty than I am now. But, I can say that as I sat there, waiting for my pregnant wife to finish up her appointment for our eighth baby, I had never felt more relaxed at the prospect of another addition to our family.

Now that baby number eight, and son number seven, has arrived, that feeling of comfort has only increased. I’m much older now and my perspective has changed considerably. I know that waking up five times each night only lasts for a few months, and that there really is nothing better than laying around with a sleeping baby on your chest. Not only is there nothing better, there’s nothing more worthwhile. If you can throw reading a good book into that mix, you are about as close to heaven on earth as you can get.

My new son arrived just before Thanksgiving. As someone who loves the fall and winter, I was already into my favorite time of year. The pregnancy had been difficult compared to the previous seven, and the prospect of a post-natal wife seemed pretty exciting. I knew the discomfort she was feeling, referring to herself as a “trailer”, and we were both getting sick of eating Café Yumm, the one meal that did not impact her gestational diabetes negatively. It didn’t seem that our baby would ever come. But, of course, he did, and on his schedule, not ours.

This was the first time we’d had a baby at the new hospital, a giant brick pile that tries to look like a resort hotel in the Disney Grand Californian style, and the surroundings were unfamiliar. We arrived in the late afternoon and were escorted to the labor and delivery suite. It sounds quite luxurious, but all the tubes, cords and machines tend to dampen any spa-like atmosphere. Have you ever read the labels on the many drawers of supplies around a hospital room? The images of torturous pain that come from doing so is hardly comforting – catheters, swabs, lubricants… and those are the nicer things.

My wife is not one to act the role of victim under any circumstance. I can’t think of a single labor that occurred without lipstick and powder perfectly in place, and there’s little to no sound of pain emanating from her. She’s also always doing something until the last minute. She’s read, played handheld Yahtzee or, in this case, worked on some complex needlework until she absolutely has to give in to the fact that she’s really in labor and does, in fact, have to pause to have the baby.

Not for the first time, her stoicism resulted in the lack of proper pain relief. Her doctor, a diminutive man who really does think he knows everything (judging by some of his questions, I am not sure that he even knows that much about pregnancy and childbirth), had been with her through four pregnancies. Yet, in spite of countless office visits and four labors, he still had no idea how to approach my wife. “So, you let me know when you are REALLY in labor, O.K.? You know, there’s the part of labor where you’re kind of like, “I think I’m in labor”, and then there’s the REAL labor.” Yes, she knows, she’s done it before. Despite her assurances that she REALLY was in REAL labor, he didn’t seem to take it too seriously. After a lot of coming in and out of the room and doing nothing of much use, he was finally convinced that it might be time for an epidural. Understand that throughout this whole time, he bopped around the room and the halls in his annoying, peppy, “Isn’t it so fun to have a baby!” way. I’ve always thought he might be better suited to a role in one of those parades at Disneyland, dancing away, waving a colorful flag to the tunes of “High School Musical” or “The Lion King”.

Of course, it was far too late for an epidural. You see, my wife’s lack of screaming, grunting and thrashing often lead people to believe that she’s not really in pain. My own intervention is usually seen as that of an annoying and meddlesome husband.

Moments after the doctor and nurse informed us that we’d be having a baby in about twenty minutes, our little boy exited his mother and entered the world. The doctor was occupied elsewhere and the nurse looking at one of the many monitors around the room. Looking over at the bed, the nurse called, “We have a baby!” It was that fast.

As usual, I followed my routine – unable to speak for about fifteen minutes because I am so choked up. Walking around in a bit of a daze, I followed our little fellow through his check up under the heat lamp and back to my wife, over to the bath and back to my wife again. The usual questions were asked – “So, is this your last one, or are you trying for a baseball team? Ha ha ha…” I am really not prepared to answer either part of this question because, first of all, I am kind of focused on this baby and, secondly, I have no idea how many people comprise a baseball, football or basketball team.

The rest of the hospital stay is a bit of a daze. The night seemed to last forever. I can’t think of a less comfortable place to try to sleep, and I hadn’t just been through labor and delivery. Our night nurse had the personality of a piece of Wonder Bread, but this didn’t stop her from trying to engage in conversation, usually consisting of remarks that had absolutely no response followed by awkward silences. She also let us know that while my wife could have all the narcotics she needed to numb any pain, she wasn’t authorized to give her any kind of non-narcotic pain relievers. I had to sneak in some regular strength, Western Family acetaminophen – what a rebel.

The baby was another matter entirely. Perfectly healthy, perfectly content, he wouldn’t make a peep. I don’t just mean that he was quiet, I mean that no matter what happened, he would not respond. Poke his feet twenty times? Sleeping peacefully. Change him, take his temperature, toss him up in the air – nothing. I should note that he has since made up for this serenity by crying lustily each time I hold him, but that’s for another time.

1 comment:

  1. LOL OH my gosh this was the funniest baby story I ever read. Really, Jake, you should write a book. A biography of the things that happen to you in your life. Or SOMETHING!! A collection of writings or... heck I don't know but wow this was funny!! Congrats on the new little one! :-)