Part One: Pre-Lucas - this part has some semi-gooey description towards the end, fair warning
So Thursday morning, come 5am, we went down to the hospital and things got underway. Yeah, 5am. Apparently the idea there is that you start early, you deliver before the late hours of the night when humans are a bit slower and less energetic in general. Getting up at 4am on delivery day was a trip, lemme tell ya. They hooked Amy up to various devices - some took multiple tries, as her veins are apparently a bit instrument-shy - but eventually she was set. Amy wasn't too happy a camper, as it didn't take much potocin (guys: this is a drug they use to induce chicks, make 'em go into labor faster. Downside is it makes 'em go into labor HARD..hurts extramuch.) for things to get going. There is some real possibility that Lucas would've shown up Thursday regardless, but it really took VERY little medical help for her to start delivery.
In fact, Amy's contractions got so close together, so soon, that poor Lucas was having a bad time of it - they had to back off the stuff. Apparently getting your body squeezed REALLY FRIGGIN HARD every minute or so is hard on a lil' guy. Go figure. So they ended up backing down her potocin until she was practically only getting a spitter's trickle.
Long about halfway through the process (guys: Short version; until the opening for kiddo gets large enough, women can't actually push the kid out. Longest part of the delivery process is actually waiting for that opening to expand, not the "PUUUUSH!!!!" part you see on TV) the pain for Amy is getting pretty friggin religious, and she calls for the epidural. I won't lie; I wasn't happy, though I had the wits not to show it. At that point I was vigorously anti-epidural. I knew the pain was very real and I didn't envy Amy that, but I have always had a deep dislike of modern medicine and "We'll give you a medicine to fix that, and give you some medicine to fix what the medicine does, and some medicine to fix what THAT does, and..." until Mom's got enough meds in her system that her body goes bananas. I will come flat out and say it:
I was wrong.
I understand why people are hostile to epidurals; completely and entirely. I even agree, in principle, with the thinking I said above - but I no longer agree with the no-epidural crowd. As soon as "no pain below the waist" action got started, my wife came back. It was no longer the quietly whimpering, grimacing, red-and-pale-faced woman. She actually smiled again; giggled at a joke, and wanted to take a short nap. Fellas, lemme tell you - having your wife be the calm, enjoyable woman you married at this point in the process does a CRAP TON for lowering the chance you will beat the screaming jesus out of the doctor in a moment of terrified, protective-dad angst. It lowered the "OMG! DRAMA!" aspect of things considerably. Amy was rational again, I became more rational (hadn't lost it yet) and the next few hours passed. They actually had a DVD player in the delivery room since we'd be there so long, and we watched our favorite TV series and generally were an amused and happy couple again. (Surreal? Yeah. Go with it, though.)
(Yes, hours, guys. We got there at 5am. Amy was hooked up by 5:45, the potocin running by 6:30-ish... and Lucas showed up at 3:39 PM that day. Bring a book, or get lots of sleep and make sure you have a food/drink runner.) The actual "push push" delivery only takes about an hour... but I get ahead of myself.
So about 1:30, Amy's a 6 (a "10" means the opening is ready for biz) and we both bed down for a quick nap, her on the bed-o'-fun, me on the cot-o'-crap. Doc has predicted she won't be ready for pushing until 4-ish/5-ish, and we won't see Lucas for about an hour thereafter. Nurse comes in to check on her at 2:30 and looks visibly surprised. She checks something again. (And fellas, abandon pride/sensibilities - in order to check, they're putting their hand somewhere you'd beat someone six kinds of bloody for the day before, k? Yeah. THERE. Eh, that's only half the fun by the end of the day, believe me.)
So anyhow - nurse is surprised. It's 2:30 and uh, "Amy, how would you feel about pushing?" Cue the room transformation. Bed gets chopped in half, gets elevated about two feet, stirrups get added, spotlights go on (yes, a friggin spotlight, right on your wife's biz) and people start coming in and setting up tools, blades, devices, and everything you'd expect to see in a Saw movie. Fellas, tell you in advance: the place to be during all this is about three inches to the left or right of wife's head. It keeps you out of the way of the whirling maelstrom of STUFF going on. It also keeps you from unduly staring at anything now on display like a museum (Amy wasn't self-conscious, but I could see a wife getting weird if her hubby started staring in train-wreck- fascination at her biz, go figure) and best of all, it keeps you close and not feeling like you're now outside everything. If you're like me and like to feel in-control or at least significant in all actions, be prepared for a shift during delivery day. I was absolutely fifth-wheel cheerleader all day. That stupid birthing class can kiss my ass; I didn't do ANYTHING from there, nor was I invited to - scared the crap out of me for nothing.
So Amy starts the pushing bit. Fellas, best analogy here is "they look like they're taking a REALLY, REALLY monster crap." Even get red-faced, tongue-out, veins-bulgy. Because Amy was on the epidural, though, she felt very little/no pain from it. After each push, she's friggin chatting with the delivery nurse. "Oh, yeah, our nursery is green and white, and we're so proud of it, and when are you due again".... more than a little surreal, but honestly, it kept me shockingly calm. I was totally not in freak-out mode, and that surprised me. Amy chatting and giggling (and yes, she did, even then) kept me at ease, and so it made the whole thing easier on the big dude.
Mild gross warning from this point forward, but in the spirit of keeping this blog very guy-friendly, I'm going to stick with trying to keep it only mildly gross.
Amy wanted a mirror in front of her so she could see what was going on down there. I'm told a lot of chicks do - I wasn't too keen, because I most assuredly DID NOT want to see WHAT WAS GOING ON DOWN THERE. I've gotta poke ol' willy in there again someday, y'know? Scar me for life.
Eh. So. About halfway through the pushing, Amy and nurse (still chatting cheerily away - wtf is that about?) both comment on the fact that you can see the baby's head while she's pushing. Whatever. I am NOT looking at the mirror and down there while my wife is straining on the world's ultimate poo. After awhile, though, they then comment on the fact that you can now see the head - still IN THERE - even when she's not pushing. Eh. So I kinda take the quick glance, and I can't see anything. Just looks like a lot of black swirly crap inside a place I don't usually inspect this closely anyhow, y'know? Makes the foreplay a bit awkward if you go gyno on yer lady. Then they mention how much hair the kid's got...and holy crap... you mean that black swirly crap IS THE TOP OF MY KID'S HEAD AND THAT"S HAIR? Whoa!
Mind you, bear in mind where he was living for the last nine months. The hair ain't clean and it ain't dry, but yep. There cometh the lil' dude. Now here's the thing. Lil' dude doesn't particularly WANT to come out, and the body's kinda protective of the lil' dude anyhow. So when lil' dude's getting pushed out, after every push, they actually slide back IN a bit. Not so much as the push got them out, but you have something of a tug-o'-war going. Five inches out, three inches in, kinda thing. So lil' dude's head - top of it - actually COMES OUT and I can see a noggin and black swirly wet-gookish hair...and then the push ends, and it actually goes away. In my head I'm thinking "Dude!? WTF? GET BACK HERE" but I manage to keep that to myself. Doc reaches back and grabs some scissors at one point - I knew what that was for, but I avoided watching. Sometimes, fellas, the lady's biz isn't quite large enough to pass the munchkin out, and so the exit has to be widened a bit. Here's the thing: IT WILL BE WIDENED a bit - either by the doctor, or by the kid, y'know? Doctor will do it all neat and straight. Kid will just go all "Hulk" action and tear their way out. You figure out which you prefer. ;)
Break time for a tip: Guys, we all have different stomach levels. I considered myself a man of weak "gore" stomach until two days ago, and you may or may not be the same. Here's a tip - when things are going fast and furious, if you even start to think you're going to have an issue, look away immediately. Check out the wife's face, or if that's still too intense, look at one of the million random machines in the room. Stare at the buttons, and try to figure out what they all do. Give yourself a minute or so and then come back to watching, if you wish. Far better to take a short break than to do a concrete swan dive or a technicolor yawn, y'know?
So after the second such advance-and-retreat, doc gets enough head out there to keep a grip, and it's all over with another push or two. The cord, fellas, is not really so bad. It's kinda this grayish rope that has a clear cover and some other colors mixed in. It's not clean, but it's not horrid, either. They cut that (actually, they offer you the chance to do so, but I declined - I'm a confident guy, but I am not screwing with ANYTHING regarding my dear and precious wife's delivery; that's the job of a pro, not a guy who can barely serve up a turkey) and then voila, you've got a lil' munchkin. Munchkin goes straight to mom's chest, and this is a tactical move as well, I think. I never actually saw the placenta (aka afterbirth) come out, because I was too busy staring at my son and his mom.
(Placenta, eh, kinda like a "bag" version of the cord, fellas. Gray, some red veiny bits lacing through it, wet-looking. Moderately eugh, but I was surprised to discover it didn't bother me much.)
So son will start hollering pretty promptly after arrival, and ours decided that once he was right on top of mom again, all was right with the world and he quieted right down. He got quite noisy again when pulled away for some of the initial testing, but I guess that's fair. As my mother put it when I told her: "If someone put your naked bare ass on a freezing cold metal bin, you'd probably holler about it a bit, too." Fair enough indeed.
That's when you get to hear the kid's weight and length: in Lucas's case, a pretty friggin big 9lb 3oz, 21 inches. That's not chart-busting, but that's definitely on the high end of the spectrum by a fair measure. It's a good thing the doctor did widen the opening a bit - and as it turns out, Lucas did some widening of his own on the way out anyhow. I didn't notice the doctor stitching down there (nor did Amy; hurray epidural) because we were both too fixed on the very small person in front of us.
And now, dear reader, I must confess that while there is a part two and a part three to this tale, I am going to cut it off for the time being. Last night was our first night home and I'm more than a bit weary, heh. I imagine there's more than enough here to chew over anyhow.
Fellas, a few points in summary:
- Scheduled inductions are a little odd ("Time to have a baby, kids!") but it helps decrease the drama and makes preparing a bit easier... though you may see Mom a little more freaked out at the last, since she KNOWS when the pain will come now.
- Epidurals decrease the drama to the point where everyone's calm and clear-headed. This is good.
- Don't try to be superhuman about your ability to tolerate "the gross."
- The dramatic part you see on TV is like the last five percent of a very long and surprisingly dull show. Bring a book or some DVDs and be prepared to make conversation.
- Don't overdrama. It's not nearly as cool a deal if you're wild-eyed.
More later: next section, "Your life changes forever and other badly explained cliches that make guys nuts, discussed in guy terms."