Words are so shallow and coarse to describe the wellspring of emotion that I'm feeling tonight. The past 48 hours have been an emotional roller-coaster that went through some incredible twists, turns, and loop-the-loops, with the climax scaling heights I never imagined my emotions could go when I watched the hands of several doctors reaching into my wife's abdomen and pulling out the second most beautiful thing I've ever witnessed in my entire life... the first being my brave wife as she struggled to push out a 10 pound, three ounce bundle of joy out a birth canal that was maybe made for 8. I'm so entirely humbled by her poise as she labored in "hard" labor for three hours before the epidural was available to her.
It wasn't supposed to be like that, but we've found that "best laid plans" are nothing short of mere hopes when it comes to giving birth. Our plan was to endure the contractions until they started to "really" hurt, so that she wasn't bed ridden the entire time. But just as that started to happen, and we put in our call for relief, we found the medicine man was being called from one emergency to the next, leaving poor Erin to labor in quiet, moaning dignity. We discovered a reservoir in her that we both secretly knew was there, but didn't acknowledge until we saw it in action. I am so grateful that I have her.
Grace finally came in the form of a six-inch needle and magical clear liquid in a drip bag. Watching my wife's mood elevate from a woman being tested to the ends of her pain tolerance, to her chipper, chatty self was relief that I can't describe. While my role of stroking her head and talking her through the pain was appreciated, it still feels like a helpless role.
Once the epidural kicked in, contraction peaks that would have brought my wife to agony and tears turned into minor pressure distractions to be chatted through. We both got an opportunity for a brief nap, and took it. Waking two hours later, at 4pm, I received the news that my wife had almost fully dilated and the baby was at the -1 station (meaning that he was a little over an inch in). At 5pm, we started pushing. After an hour of pushing, the doctor came in to check on our progress. We we're disappointed to learn that our work had been for naught. He remained stuck in that station, and the doctor said she feared that we could be stuck in labor for hours at the cost of a lot of trauma to both of them. Her recommendation was cesarean birth.
The blur that time became after the second we agreed that we felt it would be best to cut my wife open and deliver the baby through her abdomen can hardly be described adequately. The room kicked into life as support people poured in to address our needs, present us forms, and prepare us for this major, though routine surgery. I was quickly dressed down in Tyvek scrubs and put on a hair net and we were whisked helplessly down the hall to the operating room at 6:00pm. Before entering the OR, they handed me a face mask, and asked me to wait in a small waiting room. Floods of emotions hit me as I thought of my poor, helpless wife, strapped to the table, quivering uncontrollably from her body's reactions to the intense strain being thrust on her body. I turned to prayer and meditation and found my own well of strength replenishing. A knowing washed over me that assured me that everything was going to be alright, and that I needed to simply just experience it fearless and alert.
When they called me into the room, I felt resolve that this would all be happily over with soon. Little did I know just how right I was, and just how soon "soon" was. I was called into the operating room at 6:25pm, and seated by the head of my wife, behind a blue curtain. The feelings of helplessness started to wash over me once again, as I stared into the doe eyes of my frightened wife and muttered hollow words of reassurance. It then dawned on me that I could stand and see over the blue curtain, and as I rose the feeling of helplessness dissipated, and the hollow words turned into the right words at the right time as I narrated reassuringly for my wife.
At 6:37pm of September 2nd, 2006, uncontrollable tears of joy swept over me as my son, Zachary James Lopez was pulled from his mother's cozy womb, and into the harsh light of the operating room. Piercing my soul as though it was the only sound in the room, his heart melting cry sent my spirit soaring to heights that fundamentally changed me forever. I am now "Daddy." The implications still stagger me, but I know that I have this in me. I was born for this.
Momma was sewn up and is doing fine. Her temperature spiked to 103, but once the trauma passed, she started to cool back down. Zachary was overheated too, and was born with a temperature of 99.5. Because they found meconium stool in the womb, they were concerned with infection for both mother and baby. As a precaution, they've taken his blood samples, and will run a culture, but because his temperature has dropped to normal levels, they feel that there's little to worry about. Likewise for the fact that momma's temperature is falling to normal levels, though slower than his did. At 3am, she was still running 99.5, though she's had no nausea and is in good spirits.
Now I'm left with a conundrum as I write this detailed recount as I re-live the experience through my thoughts and these collected words: do I stay awake at my wife's bedside as she sleeps with our pride and joy on her chest, and prolong the best day of my life? Or do I get the much needed rest that I deserve, racing to a new day to spend with my son and my precious wife?
God bless you all with experiences that test your soul, and provide such satisfying rewards.
Tomorrow comes in two hours. I can't wait!
/ps. Thank God for wireless access at hospitals...