I've finally had a few minutes to collect myself after the past week of Babygeddon 2016, so I thought I'd write my thoughts down (mainly for my own records, but still fun to share.) Here's how everything went down:
Wendy and I went in for a non-stress-test on Friday 7/1 at 1pm. After the test, we had to have a further ultra-sound, which showed that Wendy's amniotic fluid was low, so they admitted us immediately. The doctors wanted to immediately induce labor using an epidural and pitocin, which we didn't want to do, as our intention was to have a completely natural birth, without the use of pain medication. Wendy has negative reactions to most pain meds, so we elected to go with a balloon catheter, which I leave to the reader to look up for details if desired. It was setup at roughly 4:15pm and was removed at 11:20pm.
After a full night and morning with no particular signs of labor, other than very manageable contractions, the docs insisted that we started a pitocin drip. That began on 7/2 at 8am and was slowly increased over the course of the day until 4pm, when the OB's decided it was time to get things going further.
I'm not a particularly superstitious kind of person, and I have very little faith in things that aren't provable in scientific fashion, but I fell asleep around 11am on for a 15 minute power nap and had the strangest dream. I was holding the baby and looked over at the clock, which said 5:30. After I woke up, I told a few folks about the dream, but then noted that clock was set to military time (24 hour clock), so obviously I was just having a case of wishful dreaming. Anyway...
Wendy's water was broken by the doctors at 4pm, and that's when things really started to pick up. Full on contractions started at 5pm, and things moved along until about 95% ready for birth at about midnight. Wendy is truly the most pain tolerant person I know - she rocked through the entire thing without any pain relief. While I have no way to personally gauge the pain that she was coping with, I can say with some amount of certainty that it's at the very top of the scale of things that happen to humans before they pass out.
Nurses came and went between midnight and 3am, continually saying things like "almost there" and "just a bit longer." The baby started suffering from heart rate deceleration during contractions around 2am, which is a sign of distress. They put an oxygen mask on Wendy, which fit very poorly (as in, the rim of it pressed into her eyes, so she couldn't really look around and the hose was too short for her to move around to different positions. That helped matters a bit more, but still, didn't solve the "almost there" issue that we were having.
At 4am, the deceleration began to flare up again. At this point, we talked to 3 OBs about options, which essentially were epidural to see if the relaxation would allow for completion of the standard birth and c-section. After talking about some of the statistics (and Wendy enduring more contractions), we elected to do the c-section. The facts as presented to me were that often times decelerations are present in situations like cord wraps in addition to other types of traumatic labor, which end up resulting in emergency c-sections anyway. We let the doctors know our decision and one of them went to prep the OR while the other started going through the description of the procedure with us.
And that's when the family next door to us had their baby go code - meaning that they had to be rushed into the OR for a c-section,. The nurse stopped the pitocin drip on Wendy, but that didn't stop the incredibly strong contractions. We never found out if our neighbors baby made it, but I suspect they did, as the staff at the hospital seemed to be top notch.
At 5am, they finished prepping Wendy for surgery and wheeled her out. I then had 15 minutes to get ready to go into the OR and watch my baby be scooped out. When I entered the OR, the first thing I noticed was the HUGE grin on Wendy's face. No more pain - the c-section surgery requires the use of a spinal block, a type of anesthesia that turns off all feeling from the neck down. So Wendy was full of endorphins, but had none of the pain, and was quite happy with that result.
As a particularly curious kind of person, and one that is not squeamish about blood, guts, and bile, I was fascinated by the operation and watched the procedure in awe. I've officially seen the inside of my wife's body, and wow, it's incredible. And it's a good thing that she was completely numb - when the OR surgeon says "you may feel a little pressure now" what they mean is, we're going to try to tear you in half. It's not a gentle and precise type of thing.
As the OB and OR surgeon continued, I suddenly heard a noise that sounded like removing a suction cup off a shower wall - a kind of splurch noise. And then, out came a tiny human being. And he was covered in poo. I mean.. meconium, which is the technical term for "baby's first poo." It's very common for late term babies to have meconium present. The other thing I overheard was the OB saying that the cord was in fact wrapped around his neck - the c-section was definitely the correct decision.
I had to make a decision then - do I stay with my wife, with her guts exposed and surgeons finishing the job and closing her up, or follow this tiny human that apparently belonged to me around? I elected to follow the tiny human, as the pediatrician and swarms of other docs started to clean him up. I followed the boy, as there wasn't much I could do with Wendy at that point. The pediatrician's assistant started suctioning out baby's mouth and nose, which didn't make the boy happy at all. He has a very strong cry, as I got to know early on, as he vocalized his dismay at the work being done. After roughly 10 minutes of cleanup and first check, they said "You can pick him up now, dad, and take him to mom."
Um, hell yah I'm taking him to mom. Wendy got to have a bit of face-to-face skin-to-skin time before the boy and I got ushered out of the OR. I got to roll the boy down several corridors to the nursery, where they continued to check him out.
And that's when the pediatrician said "something doesn't sound quite right with his breathing. I want to get an x-ray in here immediately." After several hours of dreading the worst (which turned out to actually be roughly 3 minutes), An x-ray machine and technician coalesced into existence and shot my brand new baby with radiation. The radioactive photo revealed a pneumothorax, a pocket of air between his right lung and rib cage. After mentally strangling everyone in sight, the pediatrician said "This is pretty common - we'll get him over to the NICU and this will get resolved in no-time flat. Go hangout for a bit and we'll let you know how everyone is doing."
Wendy was patched up and brought back to the Labor and Delivery ward. Looking at her, she didn't seem to have just been through 12 hours of labor and an incredibly rough surgery. She was all smiles and really happy to see me. I updated her on the boy's status, made sure she was comfortable (which, with that kind of serious anesthesia, anyone would be comfortable), and then made my way to the NICU.
The NICU is a sad place. Tubes, wires, and what looks like high school science experiments attached to tiny humans. My tiny human lay in one of the beds, under a heat lamp, attached to a bubbling vat of something or other. If I had any emotional fuel left, I may have been worried, but instead I just grinned like an idiot and chatted up the nurse while I poked at my boy. They said it'd be a few hours and we'd have him back. So I floated off back to the room with Wendy and started packing stuff up for the move to the maternity ward.
It was roughly noon when we made our move from Labor and Delivery to the Maternity ward. At this point, we still had no baby in our possession. After water boarding several staffers (actually, maybe that was just something I imagined doing), we found out that the baby was in the nursery. The NICU staff had solved the pnemothorax issue, with great success.
Unfortunately, our tiny human had very low blood sugar levels and had to attached to an IV drip of glucose. Apparently, again, this is very common with babies that undergo riskier deliveries. They would slowly ween him off over the next day or so, meanwhile we'd be visiting him for every feeding. Meaning, we'd have to make the trek from our room to the nursery, which was roughly 30 feet away. That's a long way away considering Wendy had an incision the size of a baby through her abdomen... but we gladly made the trek over the next day and night.
And here I must pause to make my one and only gripe about the U of U hospital. The level of care for Wendy was top notch - the staff is amazing and we wanted for nothing. But they hate husbands. HATE. HUSBANDS. They include a torture rack, that they label as a fold out couch, in the room for the spouse to "sleep" on. Imagine sleeping on something that slowly sucks your soul out of you through your pain receptors. Yah, that's nearly what it was. You'd think at this point I'd be too tired to care, but seriously, it was horrible.
Anyway, after weening off the glucose (twice - we had him delivered to the room once, only to have him removed and re-IV'd and transferred back into the nursery,) we were finally united with our boy. We spent the final couple days interrogating him for his name, and he finally spilled the beans before we left the hospital on Thursday, 7/7 at 3pm.
And so I present to you, Jack Eugene Loyning-Harkins born at 5:35am on 7/3, weighing in at 8 lbs and measuring just shy of 2 ft long.