Thursday, November 13, 2008

It Changed Everything

Time to tell another story. I still haven't settled upon a name for these weekly stories about things that have happened in my life, so if any of y'all have suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

Today's story is going to be long. I may have to break it down into multiple parts, we'll see how it goes. As always, I am typing this as I recall things and there will be very little editing for content, grammatical mistakes, or typos. This story is not of the funny variety, but it has shaped and changed my life like no other. There are many detail in this story that I've never shared with anyone outside of my wife and only with her encouragement, am I now feeling capable of sharing them.

Parenthood

The time was late October 2000. Jennifer and I had just celebrated our third anniversary and we were expecting our first child in a few weeks. We already knew we were having a boy and his due date was November 7th, but her doctor was a little concerned that the baby was growing too large so he sent us for another sonogram. Sure enough the technician took measurements and said we had a big one on our hands.

In response the doctor decided to induce Jennifer the very next day -- Halloween.

At the time my grandfather was in the VA hospital here in Amarillo and though I meant to go see him after Jennifer's appointment, I didn't make it that day because we know had a ton of things to get done before we became parents and now we had less than one day to get them all done.

That night I lay in bed -- tired from the hectic preparation, excited that the day was finally upon us, and extremely scared at the prospect of being responsible for another human being. Lying in bed, I made myself promises. I pledged to be there for my son. To guide him, to teach him, to be a part of his life on every level. My own father's involvement in my life had been sporadic at best and no way would I expose my own child to a lifetime of the same broken promises and absentee parenting.

My grandfather was the most influential male in my life and as I lay in bed that night before the big event, I not only thought about my unborn child whose life was just beginning, but also of my grandpa, whose time I knew was short.

Jennifer and I arrived at the hospital at O'dark-thirty the next morning and within half an hour the nurses had an IV started in her arm. Through it they injected the labor inducing medication and we were off.

Or so we thought.

Minutes ticked by. Hours slipped behind us and not much happened. Morning became afternoon. Afternoon gave way to evening and still we waited for our reluctant child to get properly motivated. Outside the weather turned nasty as a fog and drizzle set in ruining the night for trick or treaters. Inside, the hospital it was mostly trick and very little treat.

By far the most nerve wracking experiences of my life have been the times Jennifer was in labor, and that first time was the worst.

By seven P.M. things had progressed to the point where Jennifer was supposed to push, and push she did -- for two solid hours. But turns out our son had a head the size of a hot air balloon and that sucker wedged in her pelvis and refused to pass through. Jennifer pushed hard, but to no avail.

Then things started to go wrong. The babies heart beat grew weak and Jennifer's blood pressure dropped to dangerous level and the doctor said a C-section was in order.

Within seconds Jennifer, the doctor, a slew of nurse and myself headed at breakneck speed for the surgical delivery room. When we got there it was discovered that Jennifer's epidural had stopped working.

The doctor turned to me. "We can't do the surgery when she can feel her entire right side. Do you want us to try and redo the epidural or knock her out?"

By this time Jennifer was in lots of pain and her vitals were still crazy. As were the babies. So I asked, "Which is faster?"

"Knocking her out, but she won't be awake to see the baby right after he's born."

As the machines beeped and chimed and nurses scurried about, and Jennifer lay hurting on the table, I made the decision to do the fastest thing possible, even though I knew how bad she wanted to hold our son the minute he was born.

I was surprised how quick it took. The anesthesia knocked her out. The doctor made his slice, and within minutes he reached into the bloody goo and pulled out my son.

Some will say that witnessing the birth of their child is the most beautiful thing they've ever witnessed. I'm not one of them. The way he lifted my son up an out reminded me of the way a bass fisherman hoists his catch over the side of the boat. Only bass are not covered in nastiness. And this is coming from a guy who has gutted and cleaned hundred of animals. I have caught or shot critters cleaned them, cooked them, and sat down to dine on their flesh all within a half hours time, yet seeing the innards of the woman I love affected me in ways I never imagined.

The pediatrician took my son and went to work checking him out, while the OB/Gyn sewed my wife back up. With my concern and worry now split I rushed back and forth between the two trying to make certain both were going to be okay.

An hour later, Jennifer was awake though groggy. As she sat holding our fair-haired little boy I tried to relax, but I felt as though I'd been dragged down ten miles of cobblestone road.

But it was all over. Or so I thought. Little did I know that neither myself or Jennifer had any idea of what true worry felt like. In fact, we wouldn't know for several more days.

Two days later, on the morning we were scheduled to go home our pediatrician came in and said the words that all parent's fear the most, "Something is wrong." Those words destroyed nine months of our utopian dreams.

Our baby had a problem with his heart. Suddenly, we had a fight on our hands.

TO BE CONTINUED ...

Part 2 can be read here

37 comments:

David said...

Wow! That's gripping and moving. I'm looking forward to the next installment.

Kristen Painter said...

Okay, I'm hooked. Bring on the ending!

Cloudia said...

Travis: Your fearless honesty, coupled with you almost "automatic" story-telling (typing) makes this a very immediate and moving post. You never build things up - rather you uncover the beauty in the grain of life. Bless you & your wife and your kids. something tells me that the rest of the story is incredible, and that I DON'T want to miss it. Glad I'm subscribed!
You GO, boy! aloha-

Mystery Robin said...

Oh Travis, I really have been there with you. I was both the woman on the guerney with baby number one, and the woman hearing her baby had a heart problem the second time around. Having children is truly a scary and humbling thing.

debra said...

it is so true that having children changes your life forever...

Phats said...

I can't even imagine how scary this had to be for you guys! If I am in the delivery room i'll probably pass out so I am right there with ya on that. Looking forward to the next part.

How about Travis Tales haha

Ashley said...

You're the second father I've heard say that the birth of their children inspired more fear than awe; the other guy saw his wife through a c-section after hours of unproductive (and premature) labor as well, so this may be a common factor. More power to you; children are delightful. Making and getting them out... not so much.

I do not envy you the tough call there, so I'm glad at least the first part of the story went fairly well. Now to wait for the second...

Cheryl Wray said...

So dramatic and moving. I can't wait to read more!

Mr. Shife said...

Well you had me hooked with the title of Parenthood as I am about to begin that journey. I worry about hearing the doctor saying something like this to me and I don't know what I will do. Just hoping for a healthy baby, and looking forward to the rest of your story.

Aaron said...

"Tumultuous times with your host, Travis."

I'll be back for more...

DrillerAA said...

I am ever so thankful that our only child came with no complications.
Great story and I can't wait for the rest of it.

Crystal Phares said...

Wonderful writing Travis. I can't wait for the end

Carleen Brice said...

OK, NOT FAIR! But way to make me check out your blog!

Robin said...

Wow Trav~that's absolutely your voice. That's it! Nick Sparks, John Grogan, Peter, Paul and Mary better watch out...there's a new, TRUE story teller with a deep voice emerging from the mists.

And to think I was going to just log on and beg you to read my writers' post because of my stupid anxiety.

I thought birthing a manuscript was like birthing a baby but you shot that theory to hell.

You're amazing...and I just begged for you on my blog! I have writers stigmata and my anxiety level about that was off the charts.

Thanks for putting things back into perspective!

Monnik said...

To be continued?!!! What? You can't do that to us!

This is great storytelling. Robin is right - this is the perfect voice.

Melanie Avila said...

Oh my gosh! You have such a way with words. I can't wait to hear the next installment.

Poetry Sue said...

WOW... I rarely comment on your blogs, I read them mostly as a way to help inspire me or get ideas (shameless I know) But I wanted to tell you that blogs like this one.. are the reason I see you as an unwitting mentor. You have an amazing writen voice! I aspire to that one day. To write something so beautiful and emotionally gripping is a true gift. Thank You for sharing that gift with us.

lyzzydee said...

Travis, That is a situation that I think a lot of people can identify with. I had a text book pregnancy with number one, text book delivery, all my excitement came with 2 and three. I'll wait and see your next installment!

Merry Monteleone said...

Parenthood - it's a full contact sport, aint it?

I have to say, I got to the end and thought, "Hey!!! Dammit, Travis, no fair! Finish the story!!!" So I'm going to say you're pretty good at hooking your reader - can't wait for the next installment.

Travis Erwin said...

Thanks to all of you for the kind words and compliments. This first half of the story is the actual the easy part. The part that is going to be hard for me to write and still be honest on all accounts is yet to come.

Charles Gramlich said...

Geeze, I was alternatly cringing away and then leaning close to read faster. Powerful. I'm looking forward to, but somewhat dreading the next installment. Powerful writing.

Hi! I'm Grace said...

Hi, you got a very nice post. The one that really touched me was the thought of the new life for your unborn child and the short life for your grandfather. Oh, how very true!

Mary said...

Wow... That was gripping and moving. Great writing, Travis! Looking forward to part two.

Clare2e said...

It's good of Jennifer to encourage you to tell a story that you obviously want to-- even if it's still scary now as you remeber. My sleeves are rolled up for the next installment, and I'm taking my anesthesia on ice with an olive. Onward!

Barrie said...

Ack! What a place to stop!

SUV Mama said...

T, I am sure you are far from perfect, but I hope that your lovely wife knows what a gem she has. To know that you care so deeply, and your honesty is so revealing- well, that's something to be envied in any relationship. And oh, yeah, you can write too!
:) V.cool.

Travis' wife said...

I am very lucky to have Travis as my best friend. For him to be my husband as well I am blessed. Our life to say the least is eventful.

Barbara Martin said...

Your story was exceptionally moving, and you've hooked this reader and many more. Often true life situations bring the real inner character of a person out. This is so true of you, Travis.

Your wife is blessed to have such a man as you.

I'll be waiting for the next installment.

Scott Lessard said...

Thanks for sharing, Travis. Your story has me enthralled while returning me to the delivery room for the birth of mine.

I fear for the ending and look forward to it as soon as you are ready.

We'll all wait patiently till then.

BTW - With her permission, you should share some about "Travis' Wife". I love her comments to you of support, friendship and love.

Robin said...

Okay, I wasn't nervous until now...I know the TravFam has two beautiful boys so I just assumed a happy ending! Okay, now I'm, I dunno, waiting I suppose.

I think you should name this true stuff (which, as you know, I think is your true, amazing voice) TRAvels! Trite, but apropos? Que no?

Junosmom said...

Great writing, Travis. I love your "voice".

Anndi said...

It takes a great deal of courage to put those words down.

When the birth of a child doesn't follow the "natural" course, it can be very scary indeed.

I totally understand what Charles means by "dreading" the next part.

Storytelling is an art, and is best done in a "speaking voice"... you've achieved it beautifully.

spyscribbler said...

Travis! Oh my god, Travis, how can you? You have me in tears, and then you... stop! I understand the power of cliffhanger yikes, my heart is in my throat.

I'm glad I got to this post a day late. I shoulda waited until next week to read it!

*whimper*

Eric S. said...

I'm sorry I missed this when you first posted it. I can only imagine what was going through your head. I have no children of my own, but have a step daughter, son, and a niece I raised for the better part of her life. I know that they mean everything to me, and would not know what to do if something were "wrong".

I'll be waiting on part 2. I know you can write it, because I was the same way about certain personal parts of my life. That has since changed, with the help of my family, and for some strange reason, my blog.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Oh. Lord. Having been through a horror story myself with this, I can hardly bear to read it, but must.

ChrisEldin said...

Because I know the ending is a good one, I really want to know more.
These stories are hard to read, though, nonetheless. But the way you're telling your story is balanced and gentle. Thanks for sharing this part of your life.

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