Watching your birth was one of the most profound experiences of my life. To be privileged enough to sit, two feet away, as you came into the world was incredibly moving. Though I would have understood if she'd chosen differently, I will be forever grateful that your mother picked me to sit by her side. When I first laid eyes on your face, before the doctor wrangled the rest of your body from her abdomen, I knew that it was a face I would love forever, a face I would plaster on my mind's eye for the rest of my life.
You were supposed to be induced on February 27 but, despite the fact that your birth mom had an appointment with the doctor at 3:30, she wasn't seen until 7:15. She was dilated to two and her doctor scheduled induction for 6:00 am on February 28. He didn't figure the hospital staff would be thrilled to start an induction in the late evening. We took her and your biological aunt and uncle to dinner at California Pizza Kitchen and then put your aunt and uncle up at the local Holiday Inn because they had intended to spend the night in the hospital and had no where to go. Your birth mother ate Jambalaya pasta in the hopes that throwing some serious spice around her stomach might pique your interest and get you the heck out of her womb. You kicked her so hard during that meal that I actually thought she was having contractions.
After dinner we dropped your aunt and uncle off at the hotel and then stayed at a friend's house in a nearby city where we tried to get some sleep. By 4:30 we were up. By 5:00 we were headed back to the hospital. They took your mother back at 6:00 and the four of us hung out in the waiting room while they admitted her and got the IV started. By 7:00 they still hadn't called us back but we were having a good time talking and laughing in the waiting room. I think we were all pretty jittery because we found the early morning infomercials to be utterly hysterical. Remind me sometime to tell you about the PX90 and how your uncle exclaimed that, "X is for extreme!" and we all died laughing. It doesn't sound so funny now but maybe one day you'll meet your uncle and he can try to explain just why it made us all crack up. Or maybe we'll just chalk it up to the looming excitement of the day.
Your aunt and I were finally called back to be with your mom who, without Pitocin, was having regular contractions. They were still about seven minutes apart but it seems like you were attempting to start making your way into the world. Maybe it had something to do with the jambalaya. As the minutes passed by, we talked and laughed and told stories and in the middle of it all a nurse rushed in and put your mother on oxygen. (Your birth mother, that is, I was totally breathing fine and not freaking out about how I was about to add another bouncing bundle of dirty boy to my arsenal--in case you were wondering.) It seems that your heart rate decided to decelerate. Silly boy, trying to be just like your brother who gave us all a little scare when I was in labor two and a half years ago. At 9:24 the nurse examined your mom and she was still dilated to two. That, too, is a common denominator between yours and your brother's labor story. I was dilated to two f.o.r.e.v.e.r.
Your heart rate stabilized and remained between 130-150 for quite awhile. Your aunt and I timed the contractions and talked your mom through them. The nurse decided she could probably start the Pitocin and went to confirm with the doctor. He came in, spoke with your mother, and told the nurse to go ahead and start the drip. And then your heart rate fell again. The doctor thought that your umbilical cord was wrapped around your neck so he ordered a C-section. Your mother was really worried about you--and worried about getting cut open. I told her that everything would be fine and together we all prayed. I knew, in the deepest recesses of my soul, that you would be perfect. Everything about the whole situation seemed covered with the fingerprints of God. I didn't feel nervous or anxious at all--which is awfully strange because I am a worrier.
Your mom thought your aunt and I could both accompany her but I explained that only one of us could. I assured her that I would see you at first opportunity, because I was sure she would choose your aunt. I wanted to be there but I wanted her to be as comfortable as possible. She seemed slightly saddened that her sister couldn't come but was positive she wanted me there. She told me, "You have to be there for him." I couldn't have agreed more.
I was dressed in enormous scrubs. Seriously, those things are not one size fits all. I was practically distributing my bra for the commentary of medical personnel. I followed as they wheeled you two into an O.R. As they got your mother started on the epidural I sat outside the operating room and chit-chatted with your doctor, who has a house in Park City and wanted to shoot the breeze about Utah's snow. When they called me into the operating room I quickly tied my mask around my face and tried to act my age and not imagine that I was on a medical drama. Outwardly I succeeded. Inwardly I was shouting that I needed 50 cc's of something or other stat!
I sat by your mom's head and watched over the screen. Holding her arm and her head--as instructed--I heard the anesthesiologist explaining everything to her as it happened. And I watched as a thin line of blood trickled from her side. Then there was general medical jargon spouted between the two doctors and, finally, a flood of amniotic fluid pouring from her side. Her abdomen was jostled and yanked and suddenly, your head was pulled from her body. It seemed like an eternity before your body was born and I locked in on your precious face, informed your mom that you had a head of hair, and fought tears of epic proportions. Then, at 12:42 pm, the doctor pulled hard on your head and removed the rest of your body from hers.
I followed you over to where they were suctioning your mouth and using a tube through your nose to get the fluid out. They asked if I wanted to cut the cord. Something felt so monumental about your dad cutting Garrett's cord and me cutting yours. Of course, the important part had been cut by the doctor just seconds after you were born but it still seemed so symbolic. With Garrett, the cutting of his cord essentially separated him from me for the first time and forever. But with you, a simple snip of the umbilical cord seemed to join you to our family, to me.
Not long after, a plastic hospital band was wrapped around my wrist and your ankle and you were whisked away to the nursery. I followed you and, eventually, was able to get your dad into the nursery for a quick peak before the nurses instructed us to leave your side for a couple of hours while they examined you and bathed you and generally made sure that you were healthy. We left the hospital in search of lunch but I quickly realized that I couldn't be away from you. I'd spent your entire existence away from you and I had no plans to stay away for a moment longer. I took myself back up to the third floor and stared at you through the window. For an hour and a half. I tried to memorize all 7 pounds 13 ounces of you. I examined each of your 19 and a half inches. I felt fiercely proud and wholly in love.
You are nine days old. The drama that has surrounded these past nine days is incredible and tumultuous. But those first two hours, watching your birth and watching you through the window, were the definition of peace. Regardless of what happens in our lives and what the Lord chooses to lead us through, I will always find blessed comfort in the memory of those moments.