Tuesday, January 07, 2003
Long time no blog.
[update: minor edits inline - feedback from LBS ;-) ]
Like Gary, Fiona, Tom, and Wendy – we’ve been kind of busy.
Some catching up to do here. At the risk of boring anyone still following this blogsaga (and the ancillary risk of frightening off prospective parents) I want to document some of Ruairi’s arrival and the first few weeks through the next couple of posts.
Short version: this has been a tough, worrying, occasionally stonecold scary 20 days. We’re all great now, thank God. But it’s been hard. Really hard.
First – the labour and delivery.
I have never in my life seen any two human beings work so damned hard.
Leona blows my mind. This was our third trip to the maternity ward, but in many ways the hardest. She has bottomless reserves of strength and determination that are impossible to capture in words; or any other form of communication, for that matter. You had to be there. (Well, no. Actually you didn’t – that would have been just weird. You’re all lovely people, and everything, but...)
We had our last OB appt. on the Tuesday, Dec 17. We were more than a little surprised to find out he’d already scheduled Sausage in to be induced at 7 am the next day, but we trust this guy and had discussed this enough to be ready for it. So off we go...
Charlie & Lily were packed off to our saint-like friends Claudine & Doug’s house for their first ever sleepover – high excitement all round.
Up early on the Wednesday – getting ready to go, catching the radio news we learn that Toronto East General Hospital has been closed to visitors as an outbreak of the nasty Norwalk Virus sweeps through the wards. Head off anyway, and we’re checked in to the birthing suite by 6:40am.
By around 9:00, Sausage is sitting up in one of the hospital’s terrific new delivery rooms; IV steadily dripping Oxytocin in through her hand.
When Charlie was being born Leona had opted for an epidural, which turned out to be a major nightmare – took them over an hour to get the damn thing in (an hour in which I had to wait outside at the end of the longest corridor I’ve ever walked - sometimes an active imagination is a tough thing to live with). Scared both of us shitless. Charlie arrived after 15 hours in the hospital and 3 ½ hours of solid pushing. Streuth.
For Lily: Sausage did the frontier woman thing. About an hour and ten minutes in total – seven minutes of pushing at the end to pop her out like a cork.
This time round – with nothing to prove, and the prospect of stronger than normal contractions brought on by the extra dose of IV hormones, Leona called the epidural in around 10am. This time, the anesthetist actually seemed to have a clue (imagine!) – all done in 15 mins.
Skating over most of the subsequent scary endurance test ... let’s just say we both think, in hindsight, Ruairi just wasn’t really ready to come out.
The last two hours before he finally emerged was the most harrowing, intense, emotionally dislocating (then relocating), and brutally painful experience Sausage and I have undergone together.
Mostly her, of course. Ever want to feel useless as a man? Watch the woman you love scream in anguish and be unable to help beyond words, looks and holds.
I should pause to note that the end product of all this still makes everything – EVERYTHING – Leona had to go through more than worthwhile. I’m sure she won’t mind me stating her part here; I know she shares this view. But the journey was a grim one, nonetheless.
A lot of stuff went down in that delivery room that I’ve neither space, time, nor will to get into here.
Our obstetrician, Dr. G, is terrific, but I’m not sure this was exactly his finest hour. I don’t want to paint him in an ill light: without his relentless aid and expertise we might well have ended up somewhere I don’t even want to think about. He’s a great, great man – but he let the Nurse-From-Hell into our delivery room, and that was a mistake.
Picture a five foot nuttin, Jamaican Rosie Perez-a-like drill instructor on speed. That’s the Nurse-From-Hell.
Barking, yelling commands to “Push harder!”, “No! Push down!”, “You’re NOT pushing!”, “YOU HAVE TO PUSH PROPERLY!”
At one point we had Nurse-From-Hell, Dr. G, and two other nurses in a small arc around my wife’s business end, screaming conflicting advice at my desperate, labouring Sausage – then NFH has the gall to lean back and roll her eyes in a “you ain’t gonna make it” look.
That’s the point at which I kind of lost it.
Things were a lot quieter after I did a little of my own order barking. I forget exactly what I said, but something in the vein of: “All of you, JUST SHUT UP and Leave. Us. Alone! for a minute.”
[N.B. in the previous cut of this post, I'd indicated the use of an expletive in my moment of rage. According to Sausage (and she would know) I managed not to colour my command with anything remotely Anglo Saxon. Remarkable, for me, as anyone who knows me would attest. Normally have the Profanisaurus close at hand at all times.]
Sausage and I held each other, locked eyes.
Something happened there – a bit flipped inside her to give her that extra Power Up she needed for the home stretch.
8 minutes later, Ruairi, beautiful, perfect, wonderbean, was “born screaming small into this world”.
He was a big kid, broad shoulders, and in at kind of an angle. That, plus the curious experience Sausage described of feeling the pressure in completely the wrong place - not where she'd expect to feel it in childbirth, but across her hips and front instead. Made it much more difficult to push back against the pressure, when that pressure wasn't were it's supposed to be.
Hard, hard graft. For both of them. I’m awed.
She won’t ever have to do it again. Ever. But somewhere at the core of my love for Sausage is the certain knowledge that if she did have to, she would. With a smile.
We got home the next evening, very much in love with our big baby boy. Things have been a little rough since then, but more on that later.
For now – one last vivid moment from those final harrowing minutes before he arrived. I’m holding fast to one of Sausage’s legs, acting as human stirrup on one side, while Nurse-From-Hell mirrors my position to the right, Leona’s leg bent right back, foot hard against NFH’s shoulder.
She gets right up in my darling’s face and snaps: “NO! DON’T PUSH WITH YOUR LEGS – PUSH DOWN!!”
Clearly the right advice, but Sausage was still justified in giving one last mighty “push” with her legs. And such a push.
She kicked the mat ward tyrant clear across the frigging room.
I could have cheered.
Love you Sausage. And again, it was all worth it, for this: