Waiting for your baby to be born can be the most anxiety filled time in your life. As an expectant father I found myself dealing with new stresses, and I was fighting a constant battle to stay calm for Melanie, who of course had the baby inside of her and was dealing with her own stresses; both physical and mental. It was a lot of work, and after the due date came and went I was taking things day to day.
Finally, on Tuesday, May 31, we arrived at the Southlake Regional Health Centre at 7:30am so that Melanie could be induced. It is very unsafe for a baby to be left in the womb for too much longer than the expected date...the placenta can dry up causing a stillbirth. I do not have to mention how scary and unacceptable this idea can be...we loved the idea of our baby from the moment we found out that Melanie was pregnant and were so excited about raising (her?) (him?). We still had no idea at the time what sex the baby was.
Inducement was difficult for Melanie. It involves breaking her water, and as a man I could only imagine the discomfort this would cause. It took three tries on Dr. Newton's part to get this done and then Melanie could finally relax. Then they hooked her up to an IV and started slowly pumping fluids into her which would cause contractions. Less than an hour later, they started - at only a couple minutes apart. It was time for the epidural.
There are people out there who don't believe in having epidurals done. The stigma around it is that it's dangerous for the baby and the mother...though our own research told us this was not true. Sure, there is a small percentage of people who are paralized by it, since it involves a needle being implanted next to your spinal column. If you convulse at the wrong moment it could have dire consequences. The statistics for this were so small though that we were not concerned. Melanie's pain threshold is not very high, so taking the edge off of the contractions was paramount in my mind. Besides, we could actually hear a couple women giving birth without it, and the screams coming from them were like those of someone slowly being fed into a trashing machine. Not pleasant at all. We were not allowed to actually watch the procedure (perhaps it's magic and watching it destroys the illusion). I did get a small chance to see Melanie's back when they were finished and I think I truly understand why. I won't share it since I know she reads my blog and doesn't want to know.
Even with the contractions starting late in the morning, we were in for a bit of a wait. Our child just was in no hurry at all to enter this world. Fortunately, Melanie's mother Doris joined us for the day, so I was able to go outside to clear my head whenever I needed to and she stayed with Melanie to keep her company. My mother joined us much later in the day to help out too. Good thing too...It wasn't until 11:00pm when contractions got the point and it was time to begin pushing..and I didn't have to pass out from exhaustion and hunger.
And still we waited. And waited. Soon enough, our child no longer could be considered a May baby and officially became a June baby. Dr. Newton joined us around 12:15am and the real work started. Also, I believe the epidural wore off around that time as Melanie began to experience a tremendous amount of pain and pressure and struggled to keep focus on getting the baby out. But with help from us and the nurses the little head began to be apparent. First thing said was "It's got a lot of hair!", to which Melanie replied, "It had better, I didn't suffer all that heartburn for nothing!!!" (It has said that the hairgrowth of a child in the womb causes heartburn in the mother).
I looked forward to cutting the cord and holding my baby right away. But there was a complication. When the head finally appeared, I was horrified to see the cord wrapped around the throat. Dr. Newton acted fast, cut the cord and pulled the little tyke out (with a gasp of protest from the mother). It was then that I could see that the baby was white as a sheet, and it had a penis. A boy?? A boy. A BOY!!! HE was A BOY!!!!
But he wasn't out of the woods yet. The nurses yanked him away and began to use suction to clear his lungs and stomach of any foreign articles that may have entered his lungs during the trauma of the cord wrapping. Doris and my mother joined the nurses at the table. I stayed with Melanie while Dr. Newton got Melanie fixed up (I'll leave out the details...let's just say it hurt her a bit). I was so intense on keeping her calm during this that it didn't enter my mind right away that we hadn't heard our baby cry yet. Melanie actually yelled this fact out and asked if he was ok. Thankfully, the answer was a positive...though they'd want to keep their eyes on him a bit...he had ingested Meconium (baby poop)...and they needed to sure it didn't cause any problems. We were allowed to bring him to our room, and our time as a family began. Nathaniel David Stefan Norton, our son, had arrived. A bit late perhaps...but that makes me think he's going to take after me and go by "Artist Time".
It feels good to be able to blog about this. I'll have many more stories to tell. We're over week in, and my mind is racing still.