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Baby Stuff

The best five days I’ve ever spent without Internet access…

August 19th, 2006 by Jeff | 7 Core Dumps

I apologize for not updating in so long, folks. But I swear it’s for a good reason. You see, I’ve had to do a lot of crash-course reading in the past few days….

jeff_and_ben.jpg

(For those who can’t read the cover, that’s a copy of The Baby Owner’s Manual, which is pretty darn hilarious and informative at the same time. It comes highly recommended from this new end user.)

Well, it was a little bit unexpected, but the time has finally come. For those who have been keeping tabs on the baby updates ever since our initial announcement, this is the big payoff. I’m extremely proud to announce that Benjamin Thomas Darlington was born Sunday, August 13 at 6:52 pm Eastern Daylight Time (10:52 pm GMT). He weighed 6 pounds 11.6 ounces (3.05 kg) and was 19 and 3/4 inches long (50.165 cm). Needless to say, this has kept me incredibly busy over the past week; I was offline for a good five and a half days, and even after that I’ve been so busy that this post has been written in a very piecemeal fashion. But I wanted to make sure I chronicled everything (or at least enough to satiate those of you who really want to know and for posterity because of my own occasionally faulty memory).

On Friday, August 11, my wife (“kmd” from the GPF forum) went in for her routine 37-week doctor’s appointment and ultrasound. Something big was going on at my day job that day (a number of dignitaries were coming to the building’s dedication, including the state governor and our senator), but I had already arranged my schedule to get off early so kmd and I could go to the Division of Motor Vehicles and start working on transferring our drivers licenses and vehicle registrations to our new home state. I happened to get into town just in time for the ultrasound, so I thought it would be nice to swing by there, pick her up, and proceed to the DMV afterwards. Boy, were we in for a change of plans.

At the ultrasound, the technician seemed concerned that her amniotic fluid was getting low. I can’t remember the exact numbers, but it was about half of what it was supposed to be. As far as we knew (or had evidence to support), her water hadn’t broken yet, so this was a major surprise. kmd asked what would likely happen, and the tech said she would probably be admitted to the hospital overnight for observation. Of course, that’s really the doctor’s call, and since the ultrasound was to precede the doctor’s appointment, we immediately made our way down the street to the next office.

“Observation” was not what the doctor seemed to have in mind. When he saw the ultrasound results, his words were something to the effect of “let’s get that baby out of there.” The decision was made for the baby’s and mother’s safety to induce labor. At 37 weeks, he may be a bit early, but definitely strong enough to make it outside the womb. We left the doctor’s office sometime between noon and 1 pm with instructions to be at the hospital by 6 pm and be ready to bring a newborn home with us.

This, of course, was not what we expected. We were definitely not ready for this course of events. While the nursery was pretty much put together, we didn’t know where anything in there was, as it was put together by various family members while we were busy doing other things. The rest of the house, of course, was a shambles, as we had only been in the house for about a week and were still struggling to put things away. Undoubtedly, the local laws require infant car seats to be installed by trained civil service personnel like police officers or firefighters, so we were planning to make an appointment later that day to get the cars in to have the car seats installed. Needless to say, an emergency trip to the fire station was imminent. We hadn’t even packed her hospital bag yet… another thing we were planning to do in the next week.

We got to the hospital right on time and were (relatively) quickly escorted to our room. Within a few hours, the doctors and nurses were buzzing about, getting things ready. Since her body was not ready, the doctors administered some drugs to dilate her cervix, a process which can take 12 hours per dose. Needless to say, we were in for a long wait.

Saturday came and went with little progress. While the drugs were working, her cervix was not dilating nearly as quickly as they had hoped. Additional doses were applied, as well a drug to induce contractions. An epidural soon followed. We spent two long, sleepless nights there in the birthing room, with other mothers coming and going in the surrounding rooms, undoubtedly with a lot more success than we were having.

By Sunday afternoon, things were still not promising. Her cervix had only dilated to seven centimeters (or eight, depending on which doctor/midwife you asked) and only became 90% effaced. In his oh-so-elegant and technical assessment, one doctor said that her contractions weren’t “strong enough to take a poop.” By early afternoon, the decision was made to perform a c-section. I was handed a set of disposable scrubs and informed to suit up while kmd was given a number of additional IVs in preparation. At around 6 pm she was wheeled into the operating room and I was instructed to wait outside until they were ready for me.

Of course, with so many other things going wrong, we couldn’t get through the rest of the process that easily. My poor little sweetie had been so thoroughly pumped full of IV fluids that all her limbs were terribly swollen. They needed to put in additional IVs for the c-section, but they couldn’t find any usable veins in her arms or legs. Eventually, they had to settle for inserting a pipeline directly into her jugular vein… which still required several attempts. During this agonizing 45 minute ordeal, I was forced to wait outside the operating room, listening to my wife screaming and moaning as nurses and anesthesiologists poked and prodded her repeatedly. Finally, I was ushered inside, where the procedure was underway.

I can’t say I remember every single detail of the actual c-section. There was so much going on that I felt overwhelmed, bombarded with so many events happening in rapid succession. I was ushered onto a stool next to my wife’s head, where I could hold her outstretched hand and place another hand on her forehead. The struggle of the IVs was enough to make her extremely uncomfortable, and it wasn’t long before they had to effectively knock her out (or at least make her semi-coherent) to help her deal with the discomfort and pain. I distinctly remember getting some sort of IV spilled all over my scrubs. I dared to peek over the drape only twice, the first and most important time being when they announced that they were pulling out my son. I saw this squirming, bloody, blue mass (with an astonishing amount of black hair) pulled from the incision. They quickly suctioned the fluids from his throat and nose and I heard my son’s distinctive cry for the first time. I was asked if I wanted to cut the umbilical cord (symbolically, at least, as they had already cut the cord to move him from the operating table). I did, and I think I remember telling him to be a good boy and not to play with the scissors, which they set right next to him. I sat back down next to my wife to comfort her. When they asked me if I wanted to stay with her or follow the nurses and the baby to the nursery, I was plagued with crushing indecision. I’ve never wanted to be in two places at the same time so badly. I finally decided that my son had been declared perfectly healthy, so I would stay with my sweetie until they wheeled her out.

ben_at_birth.jpg

The next few days were a blur. We spent a great deal of time just trying to rest in between bombardments of family members and well-wishers. We were awakened every so many hours by nurses bringing Ben in from the nursery so we could attempt to breastfeed him (a task that took days for us to get the hang of, and we’re still working diligently at with mixed success). I think I only got three showers in six days; kmd got far less. I didn’t get a shave until the following Friday, a week since my last shave, the scruffiest I’ve been since I started the new job.

Everyone is home and resting now. We’ve started to get into a routine (which unfortunately still means at least one or more middle-of-the-night feedings and/or diaper changes), and Ben is about to celebrate his first full week of life outside the womb. Between the move and the birth, I haven’t had any time to work on comics, which in an odd sort of way has been refreshing, like an unplanned vacation.

One final note: During our childbirthing class the previous Thursday, kmd joked about us missing the final class because the baby wouldn’t wait until his due date. Needless to say, the irony of her statement came back to haunt her the following Monday or Tuesday. When the next Thursday rolled around, we obviously didn’t make it to class (as we needed to take care of the new addition). However, the instructor called us at home during the class, as everyone there was dying to find out how we were doing. (I think most of the first-time mothers were wanting to know how things went, and were probably scared to death once they heard the results.)

Now excuse me. I just got him fed, so I’ve got three or four hours of sleep until it’s time to feed him again….

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