Sunday, June 26, 2011

Spoiling Our Dinner

There are certain things you don't do in the days leading up to a scheduled c-section.  Using a slow cooker is one of them.  In the evening of June 16th, I had to prematurely kill what would have been a delicious rump roast meal, with just two hours of cooking left to go.  The smell of marinated meat, accompanied by peppers, onions and other savory ingredients, had already permeated the apartment.  For much of the day, we welcomed the aroma, and became increasingly excited about our gourmet dinner.  But as I stood there, with my hand clicking the knob to "off," the smells became a tease for a meal that wasn't meant to be, mocking us for even attempting to cook anything that requires hours when we were living minute-to-minute, waiting for a sign that the baby was to arrive.  The meal had to end.  Jennifer was having contractions.

I will never forgive Adam for killing my rump roast.  His brother had the decency to arrive after the due date.  The least Adam could do was wait 'til the c-section appointment, which was scheduled five days before he was due.  Or maybe wait 'til taco night.  But no, our son had to go ahead and launch contractions before our meal was finished.  The nerve.

At first, we weren't even sure that Jennifer was going through actual labor, which made killing our meal all the more painful.  After dropping Kyle off at our emergency sitter, we rushed to the hospital, grabbed a couple chairs outside the delivery room... and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Then a nurse gave us a room, put Jennifer on a bed, hooked her up to monitors, and made us wait some more.  It was a very busy night at the maternity ward, exactly nine months after iTunes released Barry White's "Ultimate Love" Collection.  A doctor introduced herself, asked why we were there, checked Jennifer's pulse and the baby's heartbeat, and then disappeared for hours.  From time to time, nurses came in, again asking why we were there before checking Jennifer's pulse and the baby's heartbeat.  They downplayed the contractions, saying they probably weren't signs of actual labor, and were likely triggered by dehydration or the aroma of a very, very good meal.  Still, Jennifer was not to eat or drink anything, just in case we really were on the baby train.  For long stretches we were left alone in the small room with no TV, shielded from others by a thin curtain.  We had no music, just beeps from the monitors and Adam's heartbeat, which would fade in and out depending on where he positioned himself.  I sat in a chair by Jennifer's bed, next to what appeared to be the only working bathroom in the entire ward, so we had more visitors than medics checking up on us.  We waited some more as Jennifer's contractions intensified.  Then the doctor we had met earlier walked back into our room.  She introduced herself and asked us why we were there.  It was a long night.

At about 1 a.m., nearly seven hours after we had checked in and long after our rump roast began to decay on our kitchen counter, the doctor and nurses finally determined that labor was indeed happening.  Jennifer and I gave each other a high-five.  It's Baby Time!  The doctors said they'd be right back, and about an hour later they returned and prepped Jennifer for the operation.  I went downstairs to the admitting office and signed about 400 papers to appease the hospital's lawyers. I also ate the snack I had packed in my emergency bag.  Maternity doctors suggest that the husband should eat, since it's pointless to have two hungry parents, and they don't want the dads thinking about chicken wings when they receive their babies for the first time. 

A doctor then guided me to the operating room, and I sat there by Jennifer's side, waiting for our little one to arrive.  Adam joined our family at 2:58 a.m. on the 17th.  The surgeons cleaned him up and then handed our beautiful little boy to me.  I was overwhelmed with pride and joy, and I smiled widely as I talked to our son for the first time.  He cried and nearly passed out as he smelled my rancid breath.  That night I learned another thing about preparing for a child's birth: when putting together your hospital bag, don't pack a "barbecue and cheese" snack mix as your emergency food.  I don't think Adam received a good first impression of his dad.

A little more than a week has passed.  We're now at home, surviving life with two kids.  It's going well so far, and our family and friends have been there to lend support and offer their congratulations.  Life is great.  My mom is here as well to help us along during the first couple of weeks.  She's also doing much of the cooking.  I think I will make a special request.  Let's hope Adam doesn't ruin it again.

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