Monday, November 19, 2012

The Captain - A Birth Story

We have a baby boy!

Picture of The Captain.

His name is Captain Wedontsharehisnameontheinternetforsafetyreasons, and he is perfect. Stevie and I went into the hospital on Tuesday, waited a few hours for the operating room to open up, and then went to meet our little man. This is that story.

Note: I’m running on a level of fatigue and sleeplessness I’d forgotten was possible. If this post ends up reading more like Kerouac’s “Desolation Angels” and less like a dad blog, please forgive me. 

All the scary stuff was up front this time

I was scared shitless, and I was pretending not to be. Stevie was scared too, and she was pretending not to be. We both knew the other person was pretending, and we both appreciated it. That’s how we work. We’re both strong for each other, and we’re both incredibly bad at deceiving the other. So when Stevie stepped outside our “tough couple charade,” tearfully smiled at me over her shoulder and mouthed “Everything will be OK,” I wasn't surprised. I already knew that she knew that I was trembling in every non-visible way possible.

This one was supposed to be easy. We had a rough go of it with the Duchess. Twenty-four hours of labor, a few hours of pushing and a round of vacuum extraction had segued into lowered heart rates for mom and baby, an emergency c-section, infection of the uterus and a week in the hospital. I am not a praying man, but when it was over and I tiredly stumbled into the bathroom to vomit my fear into the hospital toilet, I found myself on my knees all the same. Like I said, we had a rough go of it with the Duchess, but this time it was going to be better. Planned c-section, in-out, easy peasy. And then Liz died.

Suddenly the far out possibilities of losing Stevie during surgery weren't so far out. People die. People you know. People I know - and no amount of consultation with Dr. Google, no amount of statistic gathering or studying could push that reality any further away. Liz’s death hit close to home, and it wasn't going anywhere. In my mind’s geography, worry had moved in next door. So when Stevie cried a little, smiled and mouthed “Everything will be ok,” and I smiled back and said “I know,” both of us knew that the other one was lying… just a little bit.

And then I was alone – staring at my little blue sterile booties and waiting for the nurse to come in and tell me it was time.

Picture of my feet in scrub booties.

Smooth, quick and a little messy

She came and retrieved me about twenty minutes later. Stevie had been prepped, anesthetized and they were waiting on me to move forward with the surgery.  

 “Hi dear!” Stevie said when she saw me walk into the O.R.

“Yo, dude,” I replied “You ready to have a baby?”

“Let’s do this shit.”

Yes, that is really how we actually talk to each other.

From then on, all of the worry and all of the stress from before was somehow left in the waiting room. Adrenaline is a hell of a drug. I peaked around the curtain a couple times and watched fascinated as the surgeons delicately cut each layer of my wife’s abdomen.  

With the Duchess, Stevie had been exhausted and the Duchess was in need of immediate attention. Stevie had not been able to see her right away, or have the skin-to-skin contact that we had planned for in our “birth plan.” This time, Stevie had made two requests of the doctor. She wanted to see the Captain right away, and she wanted skin-to-skin as soon as possible.

Our doctor let us know it was time, and before she reached in to pull him out we heard him start to cry. Then Stevie started to cry. Then I started to cry. Our doctor quickly lifted the Captain up above the surgical screen between Stevie’s head and her stomach.

“Here’s your baby!” said the Doctor.

“Hi little..” and Stevie didn't finish the sentence because Captain Wedontsharehisnameon-theinternetforsafetyreasons decided that this would be the perfect time to purge his lungs of any remaining amniotic fluid – all over Stevie’s face.

We all laughed. The anesthesiologist freaked out a little, and Captain went over to the warming table to get checked out by the team of nurses and doctors waiting to roughly welcome him into the world. I knew he was fine just from looking at him.

I talked to Stevie through my surgical mask. “He is perfect.”

“I know.” She said smiling.

“I’m smiling behind my mask by the way.”

“I know. I can see your eyes.”

And then I cried again. (If you didn't know already, I cry a lot.)

Operating Room

Hospital Room and Going Home

K, I’m going to bitch for a second.

Look, I get that I personally did not have the baby. I understand that I am not the patient. But seriously, hospitals really need to institute some form of Dad program in the Maternal Recovery wings. How about a pull out bed that doesn't seem like it was deliberately made to put me in as much pain as your post-op patients? How about some sort of meal plan that allows dads to eat with their wives without walking down to the cafeteria alone three times a day? How about in room, or group classes for dads on how to do that awesome baby bundle thing the nurses do that turns your baby into a calm little burrito?

I may write a whole post about this someday, but I can't help but feel that I and the rest of the zombie-fied, unshaven, pajama pants wearing dads traipsing the tenth of a mile lap around the recovery floor were being incredibly underutilized. Anyway… bitching done.

We stayed until Friday. The hospital room was its usual combination of boredom, fatigue, frustration and excitement accented with sporadic visits from family and friends. Thanks to my awesome mother-in-law, the Duchess was even able to stop by and meet her new nemesis. It was fun to watch it dawn on her that we hadn’t just named mom’s stomach “brother” for the past nine months. She took to him immediately and has been obsessed with holding him and kissing him ever since.

Friday morning the doctors gave Stevie and the Captain the all clear and we headed home to start our lives with our kids. Plural. Kids. We have kids.

The Duchess meets The Captain
The Duchess meets The Captain

Anyway, thanks for all of your support, kind notes and congratulations. All the love on the Ask Your Dad Facebook Page was amazing! I promise to ramble less in upcoming posts, once I've had some sleep. 

I leave you with one more special treat, posted with express permission from my wife. Ask Your Dad readers, here is the first time that my wife got to hold our son. Thank you for sharing this journey with us.


Mom meets baby


  1. Awwww lovely guys......I knew you would have had Liz in the back of your minds.....and I like to think she watched over you all for a safe delivery : )....
    Welcome to what the "advertising world" class as the perfect family...."Serves 4", "family pass to theme park=2 adults, 2 kids" .......

    Must say, that last photo brought a tear to my eye......So wish I had of done that....... captured an unforgettable moment!!!

    Congrats DUDES!

  2. What an good picture of you, the duchess, and the captain. Just perfect. Congrats and good luck with the sleepless nights!

  3. Congrats you two! He is so beautiful and I am so happy that everything turned out great! :)

  4. Brought tears to my eyes! Congratulations again!

  5. Congratulations on your beautiful family! One piece of advice,which you have most likely already received: Raising a Duchess is MUCH different than raising a Captain! :)

  6. Ill donate $5 to your "yes I fathered the child and I still love my wife" grief support group. I felt like I was not welcome for all 3 of my sons births. In Vegas it was double bad because every nurse and aide asked me "if" I was the father. It doesn't have to be extensive but maybe a bib that says "new daddy" and a discount at the cafeteria. Is that too much to ask?

    Anyway, love reading your poetry in motion.

  7. Ill donate $5 to your "yes I fathered the child and I still love my wife" grief support group. I felt like I was not welcome for all 3 of my sons births. In Vegas it was double bad because every nurse and aide asked me "if" I was the father. It doesn't have to be extensive but maybe a bib that says "new daddy" and a discount at the cafeteria. Is that too much to ask?

    Anyway, love reading your poetry in motion.

  8. Congratulations! I'm glad everything turned out okay. And Captain looks very wise. I think you may have a run for your money with that one.

  9. John,
    Having been at the same place (with the exception of your loss of Liz), I know exactly what you have been through. Both my kids were c-section, with the same exact pattern you have had.
    I also agree with Anonymous above, raising a captain is MUCH different that raising a duchess.
    When the difficulties arise, do as my loving wife did, and post Desiderata on your wall, and read it often, it helps.

  10. Congratulations! Captain looks so precious! I am so glad everything went so smoothly. I know Liz's death weighed heavily on your minds in the past few weeks, so I am glad both of you were able to somehow leave that in the waiting room and not let that take over Captain's birth.

    I wholeheartedly agree that hospitals need to do more for the Dad's. As a hospital chaplain I have seen dad's be treated anywhere from being ignored to as if they are an inconvenient annoyance. Most hospitals I think are open to making changes, the powers that be just have to be made aware of the issue.

    Congratulations! Don't worry about rambling - even your rambling makes sense and is entertaining. Blessings to you, Stevie, the Duchess, and the Captain.

  11. He is so perfect. Congratulations! Thank you for sharing your beautiful story!