May 4, 2011. That date had seemed light years away for so long, but it was finally here. My wife had been on bed rest and in and out of the hospital for the past three months. I couldn’t be more ready for the arrival of our son. Since William was our third child and a scheduled C-section, I was pretty relaxed as we drove into the hospital.
We arrived ridiculously early for the requisite amniocentesis, but at least we didn’t “hit traffic.” After the morning’s testing, we waited patiently to be admitted for the delivery. It seemed like time stood still as we moved through the hospital’s bureaucracy and protocol. Finally, the anesthesiologist took my wife away to start the epidural and the nurse gave me a flattering pair of scrubs to put on. It was go time.
I was brought into the operating room after my wife was prepped and laid out on the operating table. Unlike the first two C-sections I had witnessed, they hadn’t draped her yet and I was a little nervous that I would see more of the procedure than I cared to. As soon as that thought crossed my mind, the nurse pulled out the drape. Whew! I was safe … or so I thought. The doctors made quick work of getting down to the baby, and as the nurse announced that they had “hit the uterus,” the anesthesiologist grabbed my arm and said “stand up, you’ve got to see this” despite my protest.
I have a weak stomach when it comes to blood and guts. I was all for witnessing my son’s emergence from the womb, but I had no desire to see my wife’s insides. The assurances from the delivery team that I would not see anything were way off base. Apparently, my wife was quite “juicy” and fluid was sloshing all over the table and the floor as they tried to pull out little William. William was very slippery and the doctors struggled mightily to get him out. The pulling and pushing on the other side of the drape had me worried that they were going to crack a rib and made me wonder why they didn’t make a larger incision. Those fears and curiosities left as soon as the doctors successfully removed William and handed him to me.
The advantages of being the father of a C-section baby are numerous, but the biggest is the ability to hold your child for the first 30-45 minutes of their life while mom is being sewn back up. I knew that soon it would be time for William to nurse and visitors would be stopping by, but this was my time and I loved it. As the flurry of work was going on around me I held William tightly, memorizing his face and falling in love. I tried to think about who he looked like, and I compared him to his sisters. He looked like a cross between the two, but his face was distinctly his own. He was perfect, and worth every bit of the sacrifice and struggle to have him.
As the doctors rolled my wife from the operating table to a hospital bed, I reluctantly handed William to the nurse. We would be reunited a few seconds later in the recovery room, but then I would have to share. William nursed perfectly while in the recovery room and even managed a poopy diaper. The nurse told me this is rather rare and I was proud of my son’s bowels and boasted about it. After a few hours in recovery, my daughters arrived to see their new brother for the first time. At 6 and 2 1/2, they were very amusing and they gushed over how cute he was. Our 2-year-old immediately stretched out her arms and said, “I’ll hold him now.” I smiled and thought about how fun life was about to become.