Today "little" Noah is three years old. We started the day off with our little family tradition. On the morning of a family member's birthday we ditch the cereal, toast, oatmeal, etc., in favor of cake and ice cream! I'm sure publicizing this will further delay my "Parent of the Year" nomination...but I gotta be me!
As I was waking Noah up this morning I reflected on the day of his birth...January 17, 2003...the day that proved to be the longest day of my life.
Robin and I awoke at 4:00AM in order to be at Wilson N. Jones hospital in Sherman by 6:00. Robin's C-section was scheduled for 8:00...but all that pre-op stuff takes forever. This was to be Robin's second C-section. Robin labored for twelve hours with Elijah before a drastic drop in heart rate (the cord managed to wrap itself around his neck) called for an emergency C-section.
Many of Robin's friends had talked about what a breeze their planned C-sections had been. So while she was still a little nervous about the procedure, there was little apprehension about what was to come.
It was a typical January morning. Cold, but not unbearable. The hospital was eerily quiet, but at least we got to walk right in and get settled. Everything in the pre-op went smoothly, the doctor came by to calm any last-minute fears, we said a prayer together with our family that had gathered, I put on my scrubs and my shower cap, and we were off!
I came into the operating room to the sounds of Elton John (Dr Bost has seen him in concert several times). I'm not a big Elton John fan...but if that's what it takes to get the job done right then I'm on board. I've got the video camera rolling in one hand, and the 35mm ready in the other to help document history. I interviewed Robin, the anesthesiologist, all of the nurses, and even Dr Bost. The mood in the room was jovial...just the way it should be on such an exciting day. The anesthesiologist kept peeking over the curtain (cuz I wasn't about to do that!) to give us a running play-by-play of what was going on...and all the while we were having a good time.
But all of a sudden the room went quiet. The anesthesiologist looked over the curtain again and said, "Okay, you'll feel a little pressure." He then looked at Dr. Bost and the other doctor that was assisting him. They both had a look in their eyes that I didn't like. It's the same kind of panicked look that parents get when their child comes home from school and asks, "What does *$&%& mean?"
I looked at Dr Bost and the other doctor. Both of them had begun to sweat. I looked at the anesthesiologist, and he looked at me...and he knew that I knew something wasn't right. "A little more pressure here," he said, patting me on the back. I looked back over the curtain, and the second doctor has climbed up on the operating table to work on Robin and the baby. Robin senses that something is wrong and asks, "What's going on?"
"Oh, you've got a big baby here," came the reply from the anesthesiologist. "A lot of pressure...but the baby is almost here."
Now I'm not a "the-glass-is-half-empty" kind of guy...I am a "the glass-is-half-empty-and-it's-because-it-has-a-crack-in-it" kind of guy! But for once in my life I try to look at things in a positive light...though there are visions running through my head of what is happening on the other side of that curtain...and none of them are good.
I'm jolted back to reality by the words "it's a boy." But it's not the proud declaration that you see in the movies...where the baby is held up screaming at the top of its lungs. It's more of a matter-of-fact statement as the baby is quickly passed to a nurse and taken to the a table.
I followed the baby and the nurse, keeping the video camera going and snapping a couple of still shots. The nurse has an oxygen mask over my new son's face while she's cleaning him off. "Great, he's got my nose," I remember calling to Robin. I turn to look, and I can see the panic in Robin's eyes...because she doesn't hear any crying. "He's good looking. He's a little bit on the blue side, but at least he's tanner than I am," I joked...hoping it would help brighten the mood.
"I need some help over here!" Those are words you never want to hear a doctor or nurse say...especially when they're working on YOUR wife or YOUR baby. Noah wasn't breathing. A second nurse joins in the effort to get things going. After what seems like an eternity (in reality, it was about 60 seconds), Noah lets out a squeaky whimper. It's not exactly what the nurses are wanting, but it makes Mommy and Daddy feel better.
They rush him off to the nursery, and I turn to check on my wife. They're still working on her...but she appears to be okay. She tells me to got watch the baby.
By the time I get to the nursery they have two I.V.'s in baby Noah's arm, an oxygen helmet around his head, and he's resting inside an incubator. Great -- I can't even hold my son. The family starts gathering outside the room wanting to see the baby...but no one is allowed in. The doctor stops in to share with me everything that has happened. I'll spare you the gorey details, but it has to do with scar tissue and umbilical cords. As he leave he tells me how lucky we are -- a generation ago, both Mother and Baby would have died.
So I sit by Baby Noah's bedside...praying and singing. I ran through every worship song I could think of...so I began to sing the entire U2, REM, and Ramones catalog as well. In between songs and prayers, I would go out and visit with the family and give them updates on how things were going and play with Elijah. Then go back inside the nursery and hang out with my new little buddy
Finally...about 7:30 that evening Noah's vital signs were at the point that they felt comfortable taking him out of his little incubator and helmet. So I got to hold him and love on him. I introduced him to his mother...but she was enjoying her "Dimorol Cocktail" and wasn't able to carry on much of a conversation. Family hung out until 10:00 or so, and then everyone went home. I managed to send out a couple of emails to friends and co-workers letting them know how things were going...and when I looked up it was past midnite. I hadn't eaten all day, and I needed to get out of the hospital. So the nurse came and got the baby.
I drove down the main strip in Sherman and found the only thing opened 12:30 was a Taco Bueno. I went up to the counter and ordered. The lady looked at me (I had forgotten to take off my scrubs) and said, "Wow, you look tired. Must have been a long day at the hospital." It was at that moment that the day's events came at me in full force...and I broke down and sobbed at the counter in Taco Bueno. Poor girl -- I don't think she knew what to think.
Although day one was stressful to say the least, the rest of the days have been a tremendous blessing. And I thank God for my healthy family.