A Babies Story - Part 3

Sorry for the delay in the conclusion of this thrilling and suspenseful tale, but everyone already knows how it ended so I don't feel too bad. If you're new here, see part 1 and part 2.

The whole experience was a surreal mixture of worry and comfort for me. They were ready to operate, but waiting to get her blood pressure down a little. So as I worried a little more every time the resident gave her a bigger dose of something because the last one wasn't working, but on the other hand I was also comforted that at least things weren't dire enough for an emergency operation just yet. That comfort level bottomed out when they moved her out of a regular labor room and into another where they could install a central arterial line to monitor her BP better and get drugs into her bloodstream more quickly. The resident anesthesiologist didn't handle it well when I asked her just how serious the situation was. (Mostly she just stuttered until she was saved by the attending showing up.)

By this time I was a basket case, at least on the inside. The Mrs. was awake, but very out of it from all the drugs. The anti-seizure medication was causing one really long her hot flash, and she was hooked up to so much monitoring equipment she could barely move. She hates confinement and was fidgeting like a toddler at a pet store. When she doesn't feel well she hates to be touched, and that was doubly true by this point. So I'm just standing in the corner out of the way of the doctors, but staying in her sight line so she knew I was there for emotional support or to fetch ice chips.

Now I have to take time out to thank the labor and delivery nursing staff at Vanderbilt. The OB (the on-call one, not her usual doctor) dropped in occasionally oozing a 'Pfft. Die or have babies, whatever.' vibe, but the nurses were very understanding of our situation and worked hard to comfort my wife. They had read our birth plan so they were aware of her strong feelings about a natural birth. Several came to talk to her and help her deal with the fact that this probably couldn't happen. One who wasn't even assigned to us but remembered us from a previous visit took the time to come by and give The Mrs. a pep talk. It was a small thing, but it made us both feel a lot better. And nearly two months later The Mrs. says she has no regrets about a Casarean instead of vaginal birth because she knows every option was exhausted.

Finally the tide turned, her pressure went down, and they whisked her off to the operating room. They left me with some semi-sterile robes and booties and said they'd send somebody for me. I was doing marginally better since I'd seen her pressure go down before she left, but as the promised 20 minutes stretched into 30 my imagination started to work on all sorts of vicious scenarios. By now it had graduated from everyone dieing and moved on to The Mrs dieing and the babies being okay.

Eventually my imagination got distracted by a nurse fetching me to head into the OR. First impression..... very small and very crowded. There was the OB and anesthestiologist attendings with their residents, the surgery nurses, and a team of nurses and pediatrican for each baby. Plus me. The Mrs. was laid out on a table with both arms strapped down and a curtain across her neck so I couldn't see what the surgical team was up to. (Thankfully.) And she was constantly shivering because she was the only person in the room not wearing multiple layers of clothing.

They pulled Leia out and she was very quiet. The Mrs. kept asking 'Why isn't she crying?' and I was occupied trying to actually see her. The warmer they had put her in was in plain view 5 ft away, but I could barely see her because of all the people around her. Apparently they had to tug on Luke pretty hard to get him out because I could see the OB from the shoulders up and The Mrs.' shaking got worse. I remember having a tight focus on the pile of bloody cloths that were next to the gurney. I have no idea why I was studying them, I guess it was some sort of mental thing that kept me from worrying about the things out of my control too much. Then they pulled Luke out and everything came back into my head. (Mentally it was a lot like the flashbacks in Lost, a giant whooshing sound and then WHAM a new situation.)

Luke was being a lot more noisy. We could hear him snuffling and grunting, but Leia was quiet. After the longest silence of my life we finally heard her cry. The nurses brought them over for me to hold and show The Mrs. after they were cleaned up. We did find out that Leia's Apgar score at birth was 0. Which means no breathing, no heart beat, no movement, but they managed to get her started. For the first few hours she sounded like she had some fluid in her lungs (the nurse called it 'crunchy') but two months later her lungs are in great shape if volume of crying is a good indicator.

Lots of the pregnancy books say that mothering hormones help women forget the more painful parts of pregnancy and childbirth, and I can believe it considering how many women have at least two kids. (I'd love to see some statistics on how many couples only have one child.) One good friend of mine recently told me his wife was ready to green light child number 2 now that their first born is 5 months old. Apparently she's counting on it taking a lot of trying before it takes. That's what I thought when I got married, but Murphy's Law caught up with me. With two months to look back on it, The Mrs. says that she's not purposely getting knocked up ever again. I'm not sure what she'd say if she had been through all that and only got one baby, but this way we have the two she wanted and we're done.

So there you have the birth story for my twins. The main point I wanted to make is that any father to be better prepare himself for feeling totally helpless while watching the love of his life go through some trying times.


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