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.
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