From the fathers view:
Allie and I knew for weeks that she would be having a C-section. Hayden was stuck so high in her ribs that we often thought he might be trying to start breastfeeding from the inside. :). A planned C-section has it’s benefits from a scheduling standpoint but having a definite date also increases the anticipation and anxious excitement. We arrived to the hospital with bags packed ready for our little man to arrive. We had a nice room and were trying to do our best to relax before Allie’s surgery. I remember propping my feet up watching the Tour De France thinking “Man, could this get any better?” C-sections are pretty standard these days so you have nothing to worry about right? Just a simple procedure. When the time came for Allie to be taken back, we kissed, said our “I love you’s” and I prepared to welcome our son into this world in just a few minutes. I scrubbed in, put my scrubs on and sat down. 10 minutes passed. 20 minutes passed. 30 minutes passed. I knew something was not right. Finally our nurse came back to get me with a very worried look on her face. I honestly anticipated walking in to the OR and our doctor saying “Alright, Dad is here, lets begin.” Instead what followed would be the most frightening and stressful hours of my entire life.
When I finally walked into the OR, they were almost 75% done with the C-section. Hayden was 1/2 way out. I noticed a few more nurses than I anticipated but did not thing much of it. I sat down next to Allie and tried to whisper words of encouragement. Drugged and basically blindfolded from everything, you could not help but feel her vulnerability. She could not really feel, or see what was going on. She literally had zero control over one of the most important moments in her entire life. That is bravery and courage right there. Due to an allergic reaction to the anesthesia Allie’s blood pressure had dropped to something like 60/40 and wasn’t breathing well at all -Scary territory. Moments later Hayden was dislodged and finally came out. Silence. That all to familiar “first cry” was absent. I bent my head down and in my right ear, I was listening to the love of my life scared to death. “Why is he not breathing, why is he not crying.” Mind you she still cannot see him or herself from the neck down. Out of my right eye I saw nurse after nurse gather around our son in silence. Still no sound. Still no crying. In one ear I could hear my wife literally dying inside, and out of one eye feared we might be losing our first child. Every class we took meant nothing. Every book, article, blog, etc went out the window.
The only pre-birth plan Allie and I had was that no matter what “I was to always go with Hayden.” Of course!!! Simple to agree to when you do not expect anything bad to happen. I finally got permission to walk over and see Hayden. He was not able to clear the fluid out of his lungs on his own and was struggling to breathe. I remember bending my head down, praying, kissing him, and just trying to will him to breathe and let out the loudest cry you have ever heard. For 5 harrowing minutes it was silent. The next thing I knew I was in the NICU talking with his doctor. I honestly think I totally forgot at a certain point I was even a husband. I was in 100% father mode. Hayden’s doctor asked me a million questions and I just hoped I was answering correctly. They put tubes in him, stuck him with an IV and just like that, he was in his little plastic egg. I could not even hold him.
Allie? I remember hurrying back to see her. When I got in her room she was shaking so violently-Uncontrollable shakes that they couldn’t get to stop. The 2 most important people in the world to you. Different rooms. Both suffering. Both hurting. You really do not have answers for either. As a husband and father you just want to help but at this moment you could not feel more helpless. This was supposed to be over. Mom, Dad, and baby in the same room. Bright lights, Flowers. Balloons. All the picturesque stuff they tell you is going to happen when you have a baby. You have to have a strength inside of you that you never imagined. You have to think for both you and your wife. You have to love all 3 of them and you have to remember you are 1 family. Prepare to be strong. Prepare to be scared. Prepare to love so deeply that it truly hurts you.
Allie and I had no back up plan. We both have family who live 8 hours or more away. We envisioned spending the first 48 hours as a family and bonding. Instead I found myself walking back and forth between Allie and Hayden. One in a recovery room barely conscious and shaking violently and one in the NICU struggling to breath on his own. You can love all you want but you cannot be two places at once. You don’t want either of them to be alone and you wish you could take both of their places. Conventional guy wisdom is “I don’t need any help. I got this. I am a strong and tough guy!” Forget it. Meanwhile everyone and their brother is texting or calling you for an update, but I didn’t know how to tell them that things had not gone well. Two people asked if I needed help; I jumped at the chance to come and help. One to sit with Allie so she does not feel alone when she finally started to wake up hours later; The other to at least sit with me. I was a scared and sad mess. They do not have a manual for this so you need a plan. Hopefully you never need it but you need to have one. You cant do it by yourself if you want to hold it together.
Since the day we found out we were pregnant my wife read article, after blog, after crazy preggo mom forum. Then we attended pretty much every class you could attend for expecting parents in hopes we would be fully prepared for the day our beautiful son would arrive. We saw all these videos of natural birth’s, soft and soothing background music, with almost a halo effect given to Mom and baby. It all goes so perfect. Who would not be super excited! The Dad just gets to sit back with the camera and root fro the sidelines. A C-section is a physical trauma and a NICU visit is an emotional trauma. These traumas will effect us all different. Even now that we are home I find myself constantly worried that I am not doing enough. Recovering from a C-section is hard. Recovering from such a traumatic event is even harder. It is ok to grieve. It is ok to feel helpless. It is also ok to feel like even though you can’t do much more, you want too.
So that’s our birth story 🙂 Hayden Lee is now just over a month old and doing wonderfully! We are thankful for the staff at St. Luke’s Hospital & NICU in Kansas City Missouri for taking such great care of us.
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