This was supposed to be our “easy” delivery day. It didn’t exactly turn out that way.
Our alarm went off at six a.m. so we could get ready, fight through L.A. traffic, and arrive at the hospital by nine a.m. The c-section was scheduled for eleven, and we mice and men had the whole day planned out: Annie and Heather’s family would arrive a few minutes before eleven so they could be there during the surgery, I would come out when it was over to share the good news and show-off some photos, and then Annie and the family would go to lunch while Heather and the baby were in recovery. We estimated we’d be moved into a room in postpartum around three-thirty or four in the afternoon and be able to spend the rest of the day introducing James to his family. Sounded good, right?
Everything appeared to be on-track ten minutes before eleven when we were suddenly told things would be delayed 45 minutes to an hour. It turns out that it’s typical for women in labor to be given a heads-up that the anesthesiologist would be busy in surgery for the next hour or so, and that if they needed an epidural sooner than that they should request one immediately. A couple women did just that, so things were delayed.
Not the end of the world. Heather and I did worry about how Annie would hold up as she was absolutely desperate to meet her baby brother, but we figured it would be fine. I took off my scrubs (they were hot) and Heather and I watched an episode of the new Arrested Development on her phone to pass the time. An hour later we were told it was game on, and I stepped back into my scrubs. We were ready! Excited! Nervous!
But then we heard machines beeping and hurried footsteps outside our door. Our nurse soon came in to tell us that another mom-to-be’s baby was in distress and an emergency c-section needed to be performed immediately.
Well, almost immediately. Ten minutes later our nurse clarified that the doctors weren’t certain the emergency c-section would be necessary, and wanted to monitor the mom in the O.R. for half an hour before deciding whether she should go back to her room or have the surgery. Half an hour later they decided they were indeed going to go through with the emergency c-section, and our c-section was pushed back another ninety minutes at the very least.
Having had a pair of emergency c-sections ourselves in the past, Heather and I were fine with this as we only wanted the mom and baby to be okay. We were, however, worried about Annie – not to mention our family who by this time had been entertaining her for a couple hours (and would have to do so four more, we guessed).
Rather than texting them about such a long delay, we decided to explain the situation to them ourselves. We probably looked a little strange strolling into the waiting with me in scrubs and Heather dragging an IV pole. Thankfully, everyone was very understanding, and we got the chance to give Annie one more hug and kiss before she became a big sister.
Heather and I went back to triage to wait while her family took Annie to grab some lunch to kill time. Finally, around 2:15, the emergency c-section mom and her baby were wheeled into the room with us, both having made it through safely.
It was now our turn!
(Our turn, that is, after the operating room was cleaned and prepped for us for another half hour.)
Finally, at 2:45, it was time for Heather to go to the operating room. She was initially confused they wanted her to walk there until our nurse explained that moms were only wheeled to the O.R. for emergency c-sections. Heather, having only had emergency c-sections, figured it was the norm!
I kissed Heather goodbye, then was told to wait in a chair in the hallway. “We’ll bring you back in just a few minutes,” I was told.
Twenty minutes later I was still in the chair and getting pretty worried. When a nurse hustled a doctor passed me into the O.R., my nerves frayed even more. Thankfully, I was only left in the hall to worry a few more minutes before I was brought back.
When I sat next to Heather’s head as she laid on the operating table, she looked out of it and uneasy. I took her hand as the anesthesiologist explained that after Heather laid down on the table her heart rate spiked alarmingly high, then plummeted (as did James’). There were several frantic minutes as they stabilized things (and I’m pretty glad I was blissfully unaware of what was going on).
Things seemed to proceeded normally from there (we found out after the surgery that Heather’s heart rate had been all over the place the entire time, keeping the doctors busy), and soon someone announced, “It’s a boy!” I stood up and laid eyes upon my little buddy for the first time. He had the same dark hair that his sisters had on their first day (a hair color both girls eventually lost), and when he wailed Heather started to cry. After Maddie’s issues with her lungs, and James’ recent test results showing that his lungs weren’t yet mature, it was such a relief to her (and me) to hear our little guy cry.
After cutting James’ umbilical cord and taking some photos of the nurses cleaning him up, I was able to introduce Heather to her son for the first time.
It was love at first sight. I soon made my way to the lobby to tell everyone the good news.
Heather and I hadn’t told anyone James’ name yet (having only recently decided upon it), so I’d told Annie the night before that she would be able to make the big announcement. Excited to see me, she ran into my arms and I whispered what to say into her ear.
“My baby brother is here,” Annie proudly announced. “His name is James Asher!”
Everyone clapped and it was a cool, special moment. I then pulled out my camera and everyone crowded around to get a glimpse at their newest family member.
Things may have been way behind schedule at that point, but we still were looking forward to being transferred to a room in postpartum so we could celebrate with our families. We soon learned, though, that we weren’t going to be getting out of Recovery for several hours as the doctors wanted to give Heather an EKG and monitor her heart to make sure nothing was seriously the matter. Thankfully, it wasn’t, but we still weren’t going to our own room because… all of the rooms in postpartum were filled.
We were stuck in a shared, cramped room in recovery, and Annie and the rest of our family had been waiting for almost ten hours at that point to see the baby. Though it wasn’t how we wanted to do it, we brought back family members two at a time to quietly meet James. The last person we brought back was Annie, and she was pretty much jumping out of her skin with excitement. I put her in bed with her mommy and brother, and it was a beautiful, beautiful scene.
Our “easy” delivery day may not have been easy or gone as we’d hoped, but in the end all that matters is that our little guy made it safely into our arms.
Welcome, James. We love you already.