Asher’s birthday according to Dad
I woke up Tuesday (July 5) morning to Candice getting back into bed from the bathroom. Since we were at 40 weeks + 11 days, I had already asked like a thousand times, “What?! What is it?!” whenever Candice would gasp, groan, roll over quickly, breathe deeply, or breathe shallowly. Nonetheless, even though I had asked before and knew it was probably nothing, this time I asked and the answer wasn’t ‘nothing’. Something cramp-like was happening inside and it was joined by something called ‘the show’ on the outside. At this point, though, she was sure to dismiss it quickly because it doesn’t necessarily mean anything.
It was a really nice day outside, so we got out and about to walk and distract ourselves a little… watched some ‘Lost’, ate ice cream, etc. Around mid-afternoon, Candice was still having pain, so I started making some mental preparations for things that needed to be done… first things first, I put two baked potatoes in the oven… we would need to eat and I didn’t want us to have to cook anything.
I was super psyched at dinner because I got to use my “Contractions” iPhone app for the first time to start timing Candice’s contractions! Exciting! (The contractions were exciting; the iPhone app was a bonus.) They were 10 mins apart. I suggested a bath and a paracetamol (Tylenol)… relaxation is supposed to help the labor progress a little more quickly, although I’m skeptical that there’s really anything you can do to help, hinder, or bring about the labor stuff… we’d tried everything already to try and get things started and nothing worked.
Candice wasn’t really aware that her labor was progressing as quickly as it was. I was staring at the numbers on my phone, and it was pretty clear… just a couple of hours later, we settled in for some sleep and my phone was telling me that the contractions were coming on more frequently, about 7-8 mins apart and getting measurably closer with every hour.
I slept like a baby, and felt a little guilty when I woke up to Candice, in pain, having more serious contractions and saying she’d given up on sleep because they kept coming. I reached for my phone and started timing again as I drew another bath and lit some candles to try and help Candice relax. While she was in the tub, I realized that it was nearly go time… they tell you when you have 3 contractions in 10 minutes, come to the hospital. Well, the contractions were 4-5 minutes apart, which is really close. So we called the hospital and I talked to the midwife… I don’t think the midwife was very happy about talking to me, and maybe it’s unusual for the husband to be doing the talking, but Candice was bent over with pain every 4 minutes and wasn’t really into chatting it up… besides, I think the midwife wanted to know things like frequency and strength, which I readily gave and tried to explain how my phone was helping me keep track (just kidding). She asked what we’d done about pain relief and I gave her the schpeal about trying paracetamol and a bath.
Just about 30 minutes later, Candice was like, “Let’s go.” And I was like, “Dude!” This was my moment! Bill Cosby talks about running out to the garage to get in his Ferrari, doing 110 in the driveway to the door, ready to zoom to the hospital. This was my chance to run out of the house with bags flying and engines roaring, but it was a little less dramatic in the Happy Honda. It was 2:30 something in the morning and we were headed to the hospital to have a baby; my adrenaline was pumping, but at the same time I was praying to myself, “Please, Lord, don’t let them tell us to come back home.” We’ve had friends go to the hospital here and be turned back repeatedly because they’re not in ‘active’ labor or weren’t far enough along. The midwife gave Candice a warning on the phone… she told me, “That midwife just told me I might not be in ‘active’ labor…” and her face was like, “Shut up, you crazy bi*%$!”
I kept timing the contractions all the way to the hospital: 3 minutes apart… that’s the golden number, surely they wouldn’t turn us away. Candice could barely walk at this point, so I drove up to the door before driving to the car park and running back to meet Candice at the front. We rang the buzzer to get in the hospital and I was like, “Let us in! My wife’s having a baby!” (Seriously, how many times do you get to say that!) He was the lamest security guy ever, he lectured me for a minute about driving in the wrong way on a one way loop to drop Candice off at the door… I was like, “Forget you dude! I have no idea what you’re talking about, just let us in!”
We got into the delivery unit; the midwife came to check us out. I felt like we were taking a test and had to perform well otherwise they wouldn’t let us stay. They checked Candice: 4 cm dilated! Yippee! They put the monitors on her: super intense contractions every 3 minutes! Yowza, they were really hurting her, but at least we weren’t going to be turned away. We passed the ‘active’ labor test with flying colors and we were well on our way to having the little guy that night!
At this point, I was so excited to see the numbers on my phone getting closer and closer together, I didn’t notice Candice telling me, very kindly, that I didn’t need to time the contractions anymore. I sent some text messages out to tell people we were in the hospital, then we waited. They were cleaning a delivery room for us, which took about 45 minutes, and in the meantime, the midwife wanted to talk about pain relief. Before she even finished her sentence, Candice was like, “Epidural! I want an epidural now!” The midwife got the picture, and while we were waiting gave Candice the ‘gas and air’. It was good stuff, and Candice started feeling the effects pretty quickly. The midwife’s name was Annette, and Candice says, “Annette, will you be here all night?” She replies, “My shift ends at 8am, so someone else will be with you then.” And Candice turns to me and says, “Will you tell Annette that I want her to stay? Tell her she can’t leave.” I did, and Annette was very kind, but said she wouldn’t be staying.
When we finally got into the delivery room, the midwife started setting up to do Candice’s IV. This is where things started getting really intense. Candice is sucking on this gas and air, and every few minutes these really brutal contractions are just making her crawl all over the place trying to cope with the pain. I’m trying to encourage her, telling her, “Good job. Almost done with that one. You’re doing great.” It’s all we can do to maintain… and now the midwife is saying, “okay, this is going to hurt a bit,” and we try to keep Candice’s arm still while she puts a HUGE IV needle into her vein… Candice was saying, “No, wait, don’t do it while I’m having a contraction!” I’m saying, “You can do this honey, you’re doing great.” And the midwife is like, “Nope, I’m doing it now, the contraction will distract you from what I’m doing.” Then Candice just looked at me with pleading eyes and the big gas tube thing pressed tightly in her lips. She would breathe through it and then wail a little through the tube… it was so intense!
After the IV, we got a little break before the anesthetist came in to give the epidural, and Candice started getting a little more loopy on the gas. She would pucker up her lips a little bit every time she took the gas thing out of her mouth… I think the gas was making her extremities tingle a little bit. She would smack her lips like she had just drunk a fine wine and had her lips pursed out trying to taste it repeatedly… I had to turn away to laugh when she made the face, because it’s not cool to laugh in the face of a woman in labor, no.matter.what.
The intensity picked back up when the anesthetist arrived… Candice is writhing on the bed and the lady is telling us all these things that can go wrong with an epidural… I’m pretty sure paralysis and other crazy stuff was in there, but Candice was like, “Where do I sign! Give me the gravy!” Then the anesthetist, Anna, said, “Okay, let’s do it.” And she and the midwife and I sprung into action… they were turning Candice to sit on the side of the bed… I was trying to hold her gas contraption and keep my hands on her shoulders at all times so that she stayed perfectly still while Anna inserted a giant needle in between two vertebrae in Candice’s back… Candice was arching her back out like a cat and trying to remain stone still through these really brutal contractions… and just when a really bad contraction set in… Anna says, “Okay, whatever you do, don’t move, I’ve got a huge needle in your back.” We both froze, even though I didn’t even have to be still; I stopped breathing.
Half an hour later… Candice was pretty much pain free, chatting it up with Annette and Anna about their kids and how they both thought epidurals were the only way to do this birthing business.
About an hour after that they gave Candice the hormone that made her contractions even more full on so that it pushes the baby down into the go position. The only thing was, after a little while, Candice slowly started to recover feeling and now was having these even more brutal contractions without the help of the epidural. Quickly, another anesthetist came in and fixed the problem, and then the midwife came back in and examined her… to our surprise… 10 cm! The midwife was like, “Alright then, that’s it. You’re about to have a baby.”
Everything up to that point had been a little bit surreal… mostly because everything you do for 9 months is basically just an exercise in preparation… even the going to the hospital and getting the epidural, you’re just preparing… it’s like you’re waiting at the starting line to run a race for 9 months and then someone just says, “Okay, go!”
Sure enough, it was go time. Suddenly, the action was palpable and the intensity knob was cranked up to 11. Two doctors, the midwife, me and Candice, and a pediatrician all waiting to see the little guy. The doctor said Asher’s heart rate was low and that they were going to use the vacuum pump… Candice turned to me and said, “What is that doctor’s name?” I said, “Deepa.” With a little bit of a droopy eye, she gave me this incredulous look and said, “Nuh-uh!” As if I were making that name up and trying to fool her. It was funny.
One doctor was getting the pump ready; the midwife was watching the monitor and telling Candice to push; I was telling her, “Go, go, go!”; the other doctor was checking where Asher’s head was and giving us a play by play on the progress. Candice was holding her breath to push, I was yelling and pressing my head up against hers so she didn’t have to watch the doctors pulling on this vacuum thing that was connected to Asher’s head. There was a loud, “POP!” and Candice cried out. The doctor had pulled so hard on the vacuum that it had popped off… it startled all of us… but they just reattached it and kept going. Candice pushing, the doctor pulling, all of us yelling… and the doctor says, “Look down here dad! The head!” This was the first time I got a full view of the brutality… so much blood, Asher’s head was coming out, things looked crazy and terrifying… the cord was wrapped around his neck and his head was just… there. There he was, just waiting for the next contraction and push and he would be out. He looked fine, unphased, just waiting. I told Candice I saw him and she kept asking how he looked and if he was okay… I told her was perfect and fine… then the final push, I looked… all of a sudden he was coming out quickly, shoulders, back, bottom (teeny tiny bottom), and legs… then a huge amount of blood, tissue, and gunk followed and splattered all over the floor…
There we were, in the middle of what seemed like a bloodbath in this room that just a moment ago was terrifying and chaotic… holding our son. He was alert and responsive… eyes open, looking right back at us like, “Who are you guys and why is it so cold and bright out here?” And we were like, “Look at you! You’re here. We made you! You’re so perfect and wonderful. We love you.” It was amazing to finally meet him; absolutely terrifying and beautiful. It was probably the most intense experience of my life; every different emotion you could possibly imagine all happening at once. Life just isn’t the same afterwards… and never will be.