We arrived at our now weekly obstetrician appointment to collect yet more urine from Anna. It followed the same routine, but being a day before week 39 of the pregnancy, there was a definite seriousness to the visit. The day was near.
The doctor who knocked on the door was a new face to us, which didn’t phase us at all as the clinic has a list of rotating doctors. Kim, the doctor, laid Anna down as expected, measured her stomach, and followed the expected script for these weekly visits.
Then, she asked if we’d like her to do a membrane sweep “to kick-start the process.” I heard kick-start, but the rest was blurred by my excitement. We’d been anxious to get this party started since our baby had been kicking out Anna’s stomach walls around week 35. A kick-start of any kind was a welcome idea. With a warning of the labor that may soon follow, Kim performed the sweep and we went home.
Thursday morning, 11/16, 5:00am
Anna stirs me awake. “My water broke.” I could have sworn I heard her say her water broke, so I asked what she wanted. She repeated, “I’ve been up since 2am, and I think my water burst around 4:30.” I was right. Naturally, the first reaction that came to mind was jubilation at missing another day of work.
Mind you, this wasn’t necessarily red-alert oh-sh*t time or anything; we’d gone through two false labor trips to the hospital already, so we knew this process could easily take a while. The first order of business would have to be food, since once you’re admitted to the hospital, your only food is a sucrose intravenous drip. Anna calmly cooked up some cream of wheat, and I slowly made my way out of bed. Almost everything we needed was safely packed inside the car, and a car seat was fastened securely in the backseat. I had time to meander.
Anna just got done cooking her cream of wheat when the pain really kicked in. These contractions weren’t like the other contractions – these were serious f-ing contractions. Anna was already beginning to question her objection to an epidural.
I was really hoping to run into traffic along the way to the hospital, just so I could finally have a legitimate excuse to drive like a madman. We got on the highway, and there wasn’t any room for a Hollywood movie mad-dash to the hospital with the moaning passenger in labor. Anna was quiet, and we made it to the hospital in good time. Damnit.
We settled into a room suited for a Raddison Hotel – but with a cache of beeping medical instruments. Nurses hook Anna up to an IV for hydration with some mild anesthetic, and another IV that induces painful contractions. While the two battled each other in Anna, our main doctor came in to greet us and explain the pros and cons of an epidural block. He begins a laundry list of benefits, but Anna’s tremendous spats of pain forces a quick vote for the spinal anesthetic. Shortly after, another doctors enters to administer a 4 inch needle into the base of Anna’s back. I’m told to sit down, but the curiosity was maddening and I had to watch the tail end of the process. Grotesquely interesting, I suppose.
Before the pain blockers were introduced, Anna was wincing in evident agony every two to five minutes. Now, the monitors followed her contractions while Anna played with her numb legs in amusement. If it were any other time, we may have tried jabbing forks and objects into her leg to test the pain blockers, but the situation made the idea seem a scoatch inappropriate.
Anna’s parents had arrived an hour earlier in time for some photos before the “main event”, and around four o’clock, the band was warming up. Now began the pushing.
First, the nurses show me the top of our babies head which is slightly revealed. I was ecstatic, but still I wondered how the hell this hairy patch of skin could be my daughter’s head. Anna continued pushing, and more of the crown was revealed, but still I was anxiously wondering how this could be a head. I saw hair, but where’s the face?! More pushing and now it was beginning to disturb me. Was my daughter cousin It from the Addams Family? All I saw was hair – I need more to go on! Finally, the nurse began grabbing this dome and started wrenching it out, finally revealing a complete dome covered with damp hair. But where’s the FACE?!!
Then, I watched as the midwife rotated the head to reveal a pale, chubby, scrunched up baby’s face, perfect with lips, eyes, two ears and everything. Wow. She was inside Anna all along. She was the little person kicking my wife’s bladder over the last two months. Finally, with a quick jerk, our child’s entire body was plucked into the world.
Happy Birthday Elena. You’re officially 0 today.
Elena Mary Kovats was born at 5:03pm on 11/16/2006, weighing in at 8 lbs, 11 oz.
For the next four hours, we watched the nurses run a gambit of pricks, pokes and prods at Elena, all the necessary medical routines take with a newborn child. In the end, I was handed a healthy, crying pink baby girl. I could have melted right there and then.
Now grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Jakubowski were glowing as they each held their new granddaughter Elena, taking turns feeling her delicate features and watching all of her wild facial expressions. As for Anna and I, we spent the next day and a half feeding, burping and changing diapers for our newborn daughter as proud new parents.
When it came time for us to finally take our baby home, we were both anxious to finally be alone with our brand new daughter. Contrary to everything we were told, there wasn’t a single moment where I personally felt anxiety over caring for Elena; we were eager to hold her and bring her home from the moment she entered the world. When the time finally came, we couldn’t get her in the car fast enough.
The takeaway from all of this
I know, every parent feels like his or her own child is the center of the universe. As it turns out, they’re all wrong.
Elena is in fact the center of the Universe, as shown using a diagram from the Polish astronomer Copernicus (nice try, Nicolaus). Clearly, Elena is the pivot to all the Universe, debunking everything we’ve been taught until now. Don’t worry – most Astronomy textbook publishers will refund your purchase once they release updates for this new discovery.
In the meantime, I am now officially whipped by two women. And it’s wonderful.