I worry. A lot. When we left for the hospital at 4:30 am, the scene playing through my mind was the same one from Star Wars Episode III where Padamé passes away during labor. With all the modern technology and expertly trained physicians at our side it felt like the weight of everything I’ve ever known was on my shoulders. It’s hard to feel this way, but also keep it to myself and be supportive. I am certain I fail at that often.
The whole thing started out rather mundane. We walked into the hospital and Sadie got all hooked up. We knew that since we were inducing labor we had a long haul ahead of us. By 5 am, things were rolling along. Sadie was receiving her medications and the induction had begun. Everything was going really well, in fact I have rather nice memories of waiting there, just the two of us, to meet our new family member. At the same time, it was also incredibly boring. Sadie was drawing on her iPad, and I was playing a game or something.
In what seemed like the blink of an eye, over 10 hours had passed. It was 3:30pm. During that time, Sadie had changed course on her goal to give brith without painkillers. They had given her a sedative which had made her fall asleep for the last portion of our wait. I still can’t figure out where all that time went, but it ended very suddenly and with a bit of shock. A couple nurses came in, followed by a couple more. Within minutes, there had to have been 5-7 nurses surrounding Sadie, checking charts and saying things. I overheard one nurse whisper to another nurse something about contacting our Dr. She was asking if he’d been reached and what his thoughts were. I began to worry.
Sadie was pretty out of it, but a nurse informed us that they’d gotten in touch with our Dr and that they were pretty sure he’d made the decision to preform a cesarian section. It wasn’t our plan, but we were told the baby’s heart rate had dropped and they were concerned about his position. It’s amazing how the mind works in moments like these. What is a normal, daily procedure suddenly seemed like open heart surgery. I was afraid, and when they wheeled my wife and unborn child out of the room, I was more alone than I ever had been in my entire life. They prepped her for surgery, and I worried some more.
Both of our sets of parents came in, offered words of encouragement and seemed not worried at all. Of course they didn’t, it was a completely normal and almost expected thing. An emergency c-section barely qualifies as an “emergency” in most cases. But for me, it was absolutely that. An emergency.
Once I reunited with Sadie in the operating room, everything was better. She was awake, she was alert. The doctors and nurses had already began their work. Within a few minutes, I heard the greatest sound of my entire life. I heard my son take in hist first breath and begin crying. With all he had, he wailed, it was the very first thing he had ever succeeded at – being alive. When I saw him, it was everything I’d expected and so much more I couldn’t have. He was perfect. Sadie was perfect. We were a perfect family.
The following few days were full of adjusting to life as a father. I was up that entire first night changing his diaper and watching Sadie feed him. It was fascinating. To meet my child and see all he could already do was more than I can type. He met most of his immediate family, his grandparents, aunt and uncle. I wasn’t so worried anymore. Everything seemed perfect.
Then… it wasn’t. As Sadie was discharged, one of the nurses became worried about Conor’s breathing. It seemed too fast. She had seen this before during her work in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. She took him down to NICU and before long, they admitted him. We were devastated. We were told we could stay that night, but then we would have to go home – without our child. After some deliberation, I determined we would be better at home that night and we went to sleep in our own bed.
Though only a few miles away, it felt like we were on an entirely different continent. Leaving Conor in the NICU was, hands down, the hardest thing I’ve ever done. We cried. We held each other, and we grew closer as a couple. We both felt it. Being parents had already changed us more than any other life event could have. Struggling through his highs and lows as he recovered from an unknown ailment was a powerful experience. Over the course of 7 days, we visited the hospital dozens of times.
After what felt like a lifetime, the doctors deemed Conor healthy enough to come home. It was Thanksgiving day. We actually did have a Thanksgiving baby! We were finally a complete family again, and I finally learned my purpose. I’m happy I documented his journey, though it was hard, we’re all home, happy and safe. I now look forward to the many years to come; the joys and scares, bounties and hardships we will all face together, as a family.