So Michelle shared her version of Noah’s story and I decided to share my version.
August 25! We had a date!! Noah was to come on the 25th. It was a day after he was suppose to be here but at least we knew and weren’t playing the labor guessing game. Though, yes he could still come before, we at least had a potential date. I really wasn’t thinking he could come earlier. In my head he would be here on the 26th.
On the 24th, I went to bed at my normal time, around 11 p.m. and then around 11:30 p.m. Michelle woke me up saying she thought she had some gas pain in her stomach. As I tried to comfort her, I noticed the pain seemed to come and go. As the time passed I began to think…maybe Noah is ready! So we began to time them and as they became closer and closer things started to get real. When they reached 5 minutes apart we grabbed our stuff and loaded up the car. It was a surreal moment when I placed the car seat in the back, knowing that when we would return it would be full.
The drive to the hospital took way longer than it probably should have. I’ve never driven so cautiously in my life. I was terrified of deer jumping out, hitting potholes and the occasional werewolf (because you know, it’s Shipshewana). When we finally got there, I dropped Michelle off and parked the car. When we got to the OB floor, they got us check in quickly and put in a room. By this time her contractions had increased in intensity. They were coming every 3-5 minutes now. I have heard stories of how helpless guys feel during labor, and it wasn’t until we were there that I understood. I couldn’t do anything. There was nothing I could do to make the pain go away. All I could do was to sit there and hold her hand and squeeze it back. In between contractions I tried to make her as comfortable as possible, whether that meant getting her water, fluffing her pillows, just anything I could do. This helped me, too, to feel like I was at least contributing.
This went on for a few hours (but it felt like days) and then the anesthesiologist came in for the epidural. He went over the procedure and the risks and had Michelle sign some consent forms. I think we were both ready at that point to get some decent pain meds pumping. He got the meds going with out any real problems, but then…as he was cleaning up Michelle’s blood pressure decided to drop. It dropped a lot! As I stared at the monitor and watched as Michelle’s blood pressure dropped, I went over and held her hand and tried to stay calm. I just keep smiling at her (though in my head I was freaking out!!!!) and telling her everything will be ok. I am not sure what made me “snap” out of my trance but I looked around and there were more nurses and the OB in the room now. They were pushing epinephrine, hanging more bags of saline and had an ultra sound going to check on Noah. As Michelle’s blood pressure went down, Noah wasn’t getting the blood he needed so his heart rate went down too. At one point the OB said “guys if we don’t get his heart rate up we are going to have to get him out!” I don’t know how long this orchestrated chaos went on for but finally everything settled back down. Whew!!!
A few more hours passed, Noah’s heart rate wasn’t having the variability they would like to see so the OB came in to have the “talk.” We went over the pros and cons of a c-section and we signed the consent forms. As we were talking, Noah’s heart rate began to have the variability that they needed to see so we decided to hold off on the c-section. They gave her some Pitocin to help speed along her labor. After a few more hours her labor really wasn’t progressing much and so they decided to re-evaluate. That’s when the OB came back in and said that she was concerned about Noah’s heart rate. It was going down after Michelle’s contractions. It should normally go down at the same time as her contractions. The OB suggested we get him out now. So we said OK and the OB called to prep the OR. It was a whirlwind of nurses coming in and unhooking her IVs and her monitors. I went over and held her hand again and just tried to stay calm again. Before the nurses wheeled her away we took a moment to ourselves. After a few minutes the nurse came in and wheeled her out. At that moment I had never felt so helpless. My wife was being whisked away for surgery, and I was left in the room.
Another nurse came in and we moved our stuff into another room and I got on my scrubs. I waited in the room for 10 minutes. When they called me back, she was on the table and the separator was up. They had a seat for me already right next to her head. I sat down and just started talking. I tried to think of anything I could have to help distract her. About 7 minutes later the anesthesiologist said “well dad if you want to look, now is the time.” So I looked at Michelle for permission and she just laughed and said yes, look!! As I looked over the divider they were pulling Noah out.
It was literally the single most incredible moment of my life. To watch the exact moment I became a father is priceless. The seconds it took him to start to cry seemed to last forever but we did eventually hear a little whimper. Then they took him to clean him up, and I got to cut the cord. He was blue until he took his first real breath and his color changed to red, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief!
I cut the cord and watched them check him over. We brought him over to Michelle and placed him on her chest. It was our first family moment. The nurses were great as they took our pictures and talked to us to reassure us that everything was OK.
There are simply no words in the English language that can explain the feeling of being a parent, the feeling I get as I watch Michelle’s face brighten up when she holds him, when he looks up at me when I’m feeding him and the feeling I get when I see how he brings such joy to our family and friends. Our lives are forever changed. We are officially a family.