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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Husband, anchor...daddy - Part I

At 12:54 PM on February 10th, 2011, Elin Hannah Gordon was born.  Until about 5 minutes before this time the pregnancy and labor was normal if not routine (I will not go so far as to say that labor is easy - given the amount of pain my wife was in during some of her contractions).  The next 3.5 days were anything but.

At around 11:30 AM, my wife was fully dilated and ready to push.  She pushed for around an hour with the baby not moving.  The baby was face out and LOC, essentially at ~10 o'clock facing my wife.  The ideal position is face in toward the spine, however no amount of rotating got her to rotate correctly.  at 12:30, we were told that the baby had not come down any and that it didn't really make a whole lot of sense to push for another several hours only to have to have a Caesarean anyway so we made the decision to go ahead and have one.  I went ahead and texted various family members thus.  What I can only imagine as hell for them, the next time I spoke to most of them was over 3 hours later with my phone going crazy during that time.

Around 12:48 or so the anesthesiologist came in and administered a Caesarean dose into my wife's epidural and an antibiotic for the operation to prevent infection.  Not long after that my wife complained of having trouble breathing and our OB said that this was perfectly normal.  The epidural medicine numbs everything downward from the insertion point which includes the diaphragm - the muscles that control breathing.  During the approximately 40 seconds it took to walk from our labor and delivery room (my wife on the labor and delivery bed) to the OR my wife continuously complained of it being very difficult to breathe to which our nurse replied that this was completely normal.  By the time we got to the doors of the OR, my wife was in a bit of a panic and this was the last thing she remembered until 2 AM on Friday.

What happened next is something I can only hope no one ever has to experience.  Ever.

They wheeled my wife's bed into the OR and I sat on a stool by the doors watching as my wife passed out and stopped breathing - her lips turning blue.  The people in the OR were busy prepping the table to transfer my wife over and didn't notice for several seconds.  Then they noticed and all hell broke lose.  Those next 60 seconds were quite a blur as several ran to the wall and there was some confusion for several seconds as to the alarm to pull and what to say.  Seconds later, the lever pulled an announcement was made (and I'm paraphrasing because I don't remember the exact words) "Code yellow, labor and delivery OR.  Code yellow, labor and deliver OR."  Within seconds there were probably 40 people in the OR.  I remember them talking, but not about what.  I was just sitting there watching.  Finally, I was kicked out by one of the anesthesiologists to go next door to what was the recovery room for women who have "routine" Caesareans performed - my wife never made it into that room and instead went straight to the ICU.

I was in that room for maybe a minute or two before someone came in and said "Congratulations, time of birth 12:54."  They then asked if I wanted to go in and [re]cut the umbilical cord (as the baby station is about 15 feet away from the operating table, the OB cuts the cord leaving enough for dad to cut it again).  Seeing the clock on the baby station, I realized (and this was confirmed later by my OB) that the baby was removed within seconds of my leaving.  Typical Caesarians take around five minutes to get the baby out.  My wife's was done in under one.  After cutting my daughter's cord and inquiring about her 2nd Apgar score I carried her next door to watch her get her vitamin K shot, the eye gook they put in to prevent infection, and some blood draw on her heel (I think for sugar?).

After that they took the baby away to do more things and I must have had ten different doctors and staff members come in to talk to me.  I don't remember anything they said.  At some point I left to go up to the  well-baby nursery (which is part of the NICU, but for healthy babies) to feed Elin for the first time.  I fed and burped her and then was taken back downstairs to wait for my wife to be rolled out of the OR.  We followed her and her entourage of doctors to the elevator where six or eight of them got on the elevator with them and myself and 4 others took the stairs one floor down.  We met them at the elevator and walked to the ICU where I was promptly not allowed in.  I suspect it was around 2 PM at this point.

I was escorted back upstairs and I realized my Dad and stepmom had been there for an hour and I'd not spoken to them since the aforementioned text I sent just prior to the Caesarean decision.  They'd heard the code yellow and managed to get some nurses to tell them that it was Rachel so they knew what to expect.  I found them in the waiting room and hugging and sobs ensued.  I had (and still do) have a lot of pent up emotion about everything that had transpired.  I went to get Elin from the nursery and by this time she'd had a bath and was fed, clean, swaddled, and content.  With my parents, I wheeled her back to the room in which they were letting me stay.  At some point someone came to say that I could finally go into the ICU to see Rachel so I dropped Elin back off at the nursery and went down with my parents. At some point during all of this, my parents forced me to eat a sandwich as I'd not eaten since around seven or eight that morning.

I had them wait outside as I went into her ICU room and words cannot describe that sight.  Rachel was hooked up to every possible machine imaginable, including a respirator, with a tube down her throat.  That's not a sight I would wish for anyone to see.  She was completely unconscious and unresponsive to my voice.

I don't remember how long I was there but eventually went back upstairs and said goodbye to my parents insisting that I didn't need anything.  Next to arrive was my friend Ashley and then her fiancé, Dov.  They helped me get my clothes and stuff from the car to bring to the room.  I don't remember if they saw Elin then or not but at some point they, too left.  My sister came down last and met her boyfriend Matt there.  By that time I had gotten Elin from the nursery and needed to do some bonding as I'd really only seen her twice since the ordeal began.  My sister held her for a while and after they left I removed my shirt and lay on the bed for some skin-to-skin contact with my daughter, which is über important for the bonding.  We lay there for 30-45 minutes and when I started to realize that I was dozing off, I brought her back to the nursery.  I returned to my room, got ready for bed and passed out.


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