Friday, March 2, 2007

Mandy's Birthday

Ok... so.  I'm back at work today and I just finished digging out from under a giant pile of email and such.  Perfect time to blog, right?

I'll try to give a recap of the labor and delivery of Logan.

In short, it didn't go as planned.

Mandy started having "interesting" contractions around 10:30 Sunday evening.  We started timing them and things were looking pretty promising.  However, with Tyler in the house and asleep, we didn't want to be the couple that cried baby.  So, we kept timing the suckers for quite some time.  We even tried to go to bed.  By 1:00, I still wasn't asleep cause my wife might be in labor.  Mandy still wasn't asleep cause they were hurting her pretty good.  So, finally we decide to call our baby sitter and initiate Operation Baby Havin'.

We dropped Tyler off and headed to the hospital.  Now, they don't just automatically throw you in a labor and delivery room and get you all hooked up.  First, you go the the testing area where they monitor you for a while to make sure you really are in labor and aren't just being a wimp.  So, that's what we did.  They told Mandy to go for a walk to see if that would make the labor progress anymore.  So, for an hour, we did laps around the 3rd floor of the hospital.  Once we were done, there wasn't a LOT of change, but there was some.  After a phone call w/ our doctor, they decided to admit us at around 4:15 am.


So, we're officially in labor.  We're in the room and contracting and all that.  Mandy is actually far enough along that she can go ahead and get an epidural (super duper pain medication that numbs (and paralyzes) her from about the breastbone down).  So we get that set up and things are going well.

They have a fetal heart rate monitor that keeps tabs on Logan.  At around 6am, his heart rate dips for a minute or so.  Normally it should be in the 120-140 range and his dipped to 60-70. The nurse comes in tells Mandy that she needs to move her around (remember, paralyzed) to see if maybe laying on her other side helps Logan's heart rate stabilize.  It seems to help and the next nurse comes on shift at around 7:30.

Logan's heart rate continues to be a little screwy.  Every time she has a contraction, his heartrate dips.  The nurses suspect that it might have something to do with his umbilical cord being pinched somewhere.  But, they keep adjusting Mandy's position and it seems to help some.  Things seem to stabilize some and I decide to run back to the house to take Emma to doggie daycare. 

By the time I got back (10:30 or so), Mandy was feeling pretty rough.  She was very nauseous.  Before long, she was throwing up.  Logan's heart rate REALLY didn't like that.  The nurse came in (and brought about 6 more) and they all had a big pow wow there in our room trying to figure out what was going on.  They moved Mandy around some more.  Our head nurse told us she was going to call our doctor and let him know what was going on.  The nurses left and Mandy felt better for a bit.  Unfortunately, she started getting sick again and again Logan's heart rate plunged.

We were getting pretty scared.  The nurses were obviously worried because they had all of the older, more experienced nurses in there trying to figure out what was going on.  You could clearly see the concern on their faces, which made us even more afraid.  Our nurse told us our doctor was on his way and that he would probably talk to us about a C section, if it came to that.

Right on cue, or doctor walks in.  He's a great doctor.  Personable when possible, but very focused and intense when it is called for.  When he walked in the door, he was very focused.  He examined the history of Mandy's contractions and Logan's heart rate.  He waited a few minutes for another contraction and watched Logan's heart rate drop again.  Then he said "Okay, that's enough.  Lets get this baby out....  now!"

At that point, out room took on the character of an anthill that has been kicked.  There must have been 10 nurses in this hospital room running around doing things.  They were unplugging Mandy's drugs and instrumentation.  One of them threw a set of scrubs at me in a plastic bag.  Another was grabbing medicines and IV bags.  Another was checking Mandy for any jewelry.

Mandy was a wreck and I wasn't much better.  The thought of a C section scared her.  We had talked about it some whenever Logan first started having trouble.  We had expected to get the chance to talk to our doctor about it some and think about it and come to grips with the situation.  Instead, I found myself wearing scrubs that were 2 sizes to small and chasing after Mandy's hospital bed as they wheeled her down the hall.

We passed through 2 double doors that had a huge 'STERILE AREA' sign above them.  Our nurse, who was guiding Mandy's bed, turned to me and barked "Dad...  you go in there!  We'll come get you when we're ready." and pointed to a room.

I did as I was told.

Several of the hardest minutes of my life followed next.  My wife was nearby, scared out of her mind and about to undergo the most significant surgery she'd ever faced.  Our baby was in trouble and nobody knew what was going on.  I stood there in the quiet dark room and just prayed.  I decided to go stand in the doorway so that I would know the moment I could go be with Mandy.

Suddenly, one of the nurse interns came bolting out of the room where Mandy was and sprinted past me.  A moment later, another nurse came running out of the room and flew past without even glancing at me.   When your wife is on the operating table  for an unexpected surgery and people that are on the surgery team run past you without acknowledging your existence, your worst case scenario generator kicks in.  I was convinced that the first nurse had been dispatched to retrieve some life saving piece of equipment that was needed that wasn't present in the operating room.  Then, when the equipment didn't arrive on time, the second nurse was dispatched to go get a specialist doctor to help our doctor deal with some unforseen and exotic complication.  Someone probably uttered "He's the only one who can save them, now."

I stood there in the doorway and pondered all this.  Life comes into stark focus in moments like these and the things that truly do and do not matter become glaringly apparent.  I can't imagine life without Mandy, but, standing there alone in that room without any knowledge of what was going on, I was forced to confront that very idea.  It remained just that.  It was a concept that was so alien, so foreign, that I couldn't take the idea further.  I couldn't say to myself  "Well, if I lose Mandy, I'll..."  There is no end to that sentence.  My mind cannot fathom a reality that doesn't include her and I couldn't come up with anything concrete.

Whirling in the middle of all that, I managed to look down the hallway and saw a man that I didn't recognize, but he was clearly waving at me.  He called out and said they were ready for me.

I ran into the room.  Mandy was already on the operating table with tears in her eyes.  They put up a barrier so that she (and thankfully me as well) can't see what is going on.  I sat down next to her and stroked her head and tried to sooth her.  The anesthesiologist (who was the guy who had waved me in) told us that everything was going fine and it would be over with soon.  We could hear metal surgical tools clicking and the soft chatter of our doctor directing the team.  The anesthesiologist tapped me on the shoulder and told me he'd let me know when Logan was out so I could look over the curtain barrier. 

I talked to Mandy.  I don't remember what we talked about.  Suddenly, the tap came at my shoulder.  Before I could stand up, we heard a tiny cry that slowly built in intensity.  Looking over the curtain, I saw Logan for the first time in the stark light of the surgical room.  He screamed for all his worth.  I laughed and said "Me too, buddy!"  I looked back down at Mandy and told her he looked fine and certainly sounded fine.  I always thought it was a wives tale, but the folks in that OR told me that crying when you're born is a good sign of a healthy baby, and Logan was wasting no time announcing his arrival to the world.  I followed him to the little table that they had set up to clean him up and check his vital signs and such.  I held his hand and counted his fingers and toes.  It is a silly thing to do.. so cliche, but I'm not too proud to admit that I did it. 

I went back to Mandy.  She couldn't really see him very well.  I told her he was doing well.  I asked her how she was feeling and she said she was very sleepy.  The anesthesiologist said that was a natural side effect of the giant does of painkiller he'd just put into her epidural.  Before long, the nurses had finished checking him out and given him his APGAR scores, which are these scores new babies get based on coloration and body temperature and such.  They range from 1-10, with 1 being almost dead (I'd assume) and 10 being so unattainable that only the babies that belong to doctor's who work at the hospital with the nurses that assign the scores have a chance of getting them.  Tyler scored 8's and 9's when he was born.  Logan matched his feat, setting off what I'm certain will be a lifetime of competition.

The nurses swaddled him in a few blankets and handed him over to me.  Everyone in the room congratulated me on the new arrival.  I was too busy being thankful that everyone was okay to say much more than a weak "Thanks."  I sat down next to Mandy and held logan up so she could see him.  We got to sit like that for quite a while.  Mandy lapsed in and out of consciousness as the painkillers did their job.  Our doctor was busy putting my wife back together, something that I will never be able to thank him enough for.  I sat there and held my son and basked in the glow of being so fortunate. 

Modern medicine is capable of many miracles, some of which I've had personal experience with in the past few days.  100 years ago, I'm not sure exactly what would've happened to my son or my wife on Monday.  The fact that my wife was up and walking around within 24 hours of being cut open is amazing to me.  That miracle will never compare to that of holding your child for the first time, though.  In fact, I don't think there's anything that can come close.

Thanks for reading.

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