Monday, March 21, 2011

It didn’t happen like this in the movies!

First things first. I’m a dad! Baby Elliot Stephen Echols arrived on 3/3/11 at 2:06 p.m. He weighed 7 pounds 8 ounces and measured 20.75” long. Mom and baby are doing awesome. Even though it has only been a couple of weeks, I can’t explain what an amazing feeling it is to be a parent.

But enough of all that sentimental stuff. I want to focus on how we got to that delivery room and how that experience was nothing like what I was expecting. It all started on the evening of March 1.

The closer Lauren got to her due date, we finally decided, “OK, it’s party time.”Party time to us means take-out food and mass quantities of TV. We’d done so good eating healthy during pregnancy that when we got to the home stretch, we decided it was time to kick back and enjoy it.

After work on March 1st we pigged out on wings and French fries and watched a movie at home. All day on the 2nd I was really paying for that greasy food and enjoyed a, dull but omnipresent stomach ache. On my way home from work I got the familiar “what do you want to pick up for dinner” phone call from my sweet wife. I informed her of my stomach ache and said that I planned to go easy and stick with cereal for dinner. I figured that was best path to me not having to down the other half of the Maalox bottle I’d opened the night before. She said she had a taste for Chinese food and called in an order to our favorite place. Like the great husband I can be, I stopped in and picked up her dinner.

Once home, I changed clothes and went to pour myself a nice bowl of Captain Crunch. I noticed that Lauren’s bag of take-out Chinese was still sitting exactly where I’d set it on the counter. I poured my cereal and sat down by her on the couch. “You haven’t eaten your food yet?” I said. “No. For some reason I just lost my appetite,” she responded. What followed was not my finest hour, but I went on to point out that if she wasn’t hungry, why did she ask me to get her food? Would she prefer that I just torch the $12.57 next time and save the wasted plastic containers, etc.? To her credit, she didn’t let me draw her offsides and calmly reiterated that her stomach felt a little “off” and she just didn’t want to eat.

As the night wore on, she came up with an interesting theory: “What if I am going into labor?” I quickly dismissed it, pointing out the stomach pain I’d experienced all day and attributing hers to the previous night’s dinner. I advised her to go to bed and said that she’d feel great tomorrow. She agreed, but did ask that I at least open the car seat from its original box “just in case.” I told her this was the dumbest thing I had ever heard, but if it would make her feel better, I would pry myself away from the “very important” computer game I was playing and do that for her. At this point I was 100% convinced she was being dramatic and I knew we’d wake up tomorrow and go to work, just like any other day.

As we settled in to bed about 10:30, she told me, “I’m not sure I should go to work tomorrow.” Now I was really getting aggravated. In my “master plan” for this whole birth thing, she has to, at minimum, finish out this week. I pointed out that her pay period closes Friday, and I don’t want her wasting a valuable PTO day on a tummy ache. We’ll need all that PTO once that baby is here. Hey, I can be a jerk— no defense for it!

I drifted off to sleep, but was keenly aware of an excessive amount of tossing and turning on her side of the bed. About 3:30 a.m. I was finally in a peaceful deep sleep when I feel her shaking my arm. “I think my water just broke.” “Wait. You think? Either it did or it didn’t. Which is it?” She replied, “Well, I’m not 100% sure; I think it did.” Now I was really frustrated. It was the middle of the night, I had a full day ahead of me tomorrow, so I gave her the best advice all my years of movie watching could prepare me for. “Your water didn’t break. If it did, you’d know it, and we’d be rushing to the hospital.”

You see, in every movie I’ve watched, the water breaking is a dramatic scene necessitating a mad dash through the city, only to barely arrive at the hospital in time for the baby to be delivered. The woman is roaring with intense labor pains, and the whole scene is quite traumatic. What I have here is a wife with a vague stomachache who “thinks” that maybe, just maybe, her water may have broken. I wasn’t about to let this ruin my last few hours of sleep.

She persisted, and finally I told her that if it made her feel better, she could call the after-hours number of her OB’s office, just to be sure. I was just drifting back to sleep when I heard her say, “OK, well, then we’ll head that way in just a bit.” Now I was wide awake. We were going to the hospital. This was happening. Luckily, since she wasn’t experiencing any acute symptoms, we had time to shower and get dressed. I installed the new car seat in the pitch dark at 4:00 a.m., and we were off.

They were ready for us when we got to the hospital and quickly took us to a delivery room. I was working out the details in my head…“If a nurse can examine her real quick, I’ll still have time to take her home, grab some breakfast and make it back in to work on schedule.” As my mind was plotting the rest of the day, I was vaguely aware of the nurse telling Lauren some details: “You’re 4 cm dilated; the baby still needs to move down a little. …” I interrupted, “Wait a minute. Are you saying this is happening?” The nurse responded, “Oh, this is happening. It’s happening before lunch!”

After that it was a blur, but not too long after lunch time we had a beautiful baby boy. I got my game face on, and Lauren told me that even after the rough start at home, I was a great coach and support person in the room. Even though in my mind the birth was going to be an epic event with lots of drama and screaming, the whole thing couldn’t have been more tranquil and “uneventful.”

Now that we’ve been home two weeks, Lauren has mentioned to me a couple of times that her stomach hurts a little. My response: “Please don’t say that. Last time you did, a baby popped out!”

Jordan Echols is a Sr. Marketing Specialist at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas and a first-time dad to newborn Elliot. 

No comments:

Post a Comment