So we had another kid. It was a scary experience and an overwhelming experience, but it was a worthwhile experience. Up until birth, our regular doc appointments had been showing a good follow set of news, with every bump generally coming with good news; i.e. the genetic testing or getting over the 12 week window, and then the 25 week window. Final bump was figuring out the position of the baby’s head. Originally planning for a birth a few weeks laterish, we went in early, and the baby doc manipulated the baby to the right direction. That was a wild night. We got the call that the doc was available the next day, much earlier than I had planned and so immediately that night, we got to getting the room ready for the baby. Assembled the bassinet, cleaned out the nursing room. I think so many things have been happening this year that I didn’t really process that a child was incoming, much different than H’s incoming. The morning of the delivery, I went to bed quite late trying to get everything ready; so I had maybe 3 hours of sleep when I woke up. Usually on big stressful days, I like to do some of my fave exercises to help calm my nerves, usually by way of bench press, which coincidentally is the exercise I’m going to do after this blog entry. However, bench press day needs sleep. Its probably the most sleep limited exercise of all my exercises like deadlifts or squats. The least sleep limited exercise? Running. So I went for a run at 430am that morning. It was AMAZING. So calming. As soon as I stepped outside, it felt surreal having nobody on the roads except a headlamp off in the distant horizon. The sound of my shoes or my running watch announcing stats echoed in the morning dark. So quiet. A thick fog had also filled the air so it was crazy difficult to see far- like a street lamp next street over would be missing in the fog. It was just a really calm start to an insane day. Get back to home, and hit the ground running getting H up with grandparents and zipping off to the manipulation.
At the hospital, we were def worried hearing other patients screaming in their manipulation as the doc made his rounds through all the mothers waiting their turn. And hearing, sorry it did not work. Fortunately for us, it did. What did not work was finding a needle spot. And waiting forever in the morning. However, the primary goal was manipulating the baby to the right spot and it worked so there’s that. Also while we dozed and waited …I found the Nike ACG mountain Fly Gore Text on sale. And I got it. And its been amazing. More on that later. It was kind of surreal to be doing all of this at 6am in the morning- finding parking, doing COVID screening tests, finding the right elevator door. I’m sure this sounds relatively uninteresting but the anticipation that a new chapter in life was about to unfold was certainly interesting. Put on my visitor sticker badge. But also not sure if that was the only time I would be putting on the sticker because we don’t know for sure if its happening today even if manipulation is successful.
We ended up picking up food from Chinatown because it was on our way to the delivery room and we had given some thought on not wanting to wait to see if baby would come out naturally. This was not particularly exciting, but I did get my salted fish/chicken fried rice. The drive to out baby delivery hospital was exciting. It reminded me of H’s delivery. Just really unique special memories that do not happen all that often and that bring paradigm shifts in life. This also happened when I bought my first computer, an iBook G4 14 inch. I can’t believe I compared my child’s birth to a Mac but I’m part of the Kool Aid sheeple congregation and I had never had any computer on my own (except a used Windows XP designed for Windows 2000 Toshiba with 128mb RAM), so getting that was a mind blowing deal esp since it came with a iPod 3rd gen, also new to me experience wise. Anyways I digress. This was amazing driving out knowing big changes were happening. Also because I had been worried and paranoid the majority of the pregnancy about viability and health of baby.
We arrive at the hospital and its more waiting and assessing. Not being sure if we are going to be attempting delivery that day or not. Staff is wonderful and helpful and our baby doc comes in as well to check on us and say were going for it. That was kind of neat. Lots of anticipation of whether it was happening or not that day coming to a point of hey this is happening. And its happening here at the hospital we are at, so no more running around. Now its about finding a room. With COVID isolation beds in demand, we can’t have an isolated post partum room which is a bit of a bummer, but at least we have a bit of a private room for delivery. We then start the day off much earlier than H’s birth, so I’m hoping we are actually going to be done and done before the wee hours hit. I’m totally wrong.
We end up going into the wee hours. And have a lot of ups and downs. There’s snags everywhere- position of baby, heart rate of baby, pain in mom. What is stellar though is the hospital team. There’s super nice warmer nurses. There are firm and somewhat colder nurses. There’s laughing anesthesiologists. There is the ob/gyn doc from H’s birth and our family doc. And what matters to me is that they all care. You could tell that they are all here to ensure the safety and success of the delivery. And regardless of the different personalities and characters in the room, they all give a sense of being here for us and making sure we make it out ok.
I think a lot back to H’s delivery and what I did at the time. A bit of a smug attitude and a bit of a self assured attitude. I don’t think I felt cocky but I also feel that I felt a bit too sure of how I would handle things. This time, I focus on being quiet and listening to W and what she needs.
Another thought, probably less critical in nature, is that I also think about documenting the journey. I’ve long relegated video needs to my iPhone 12 Pro Max- the video on this is good enough and easy enough to use that I stop using dedicated video camera equipment a while back. This is probably because I don’t really care about video as much- particularly the editing aspect. Its a bit too arduous for me, and the shooting process is not really interesting. I laugh at the two huge Sony VG10 ASPC camcorders I have with interchangeable lens mounts and the 1 inch CX900 camcorder and…so on. They are sitting on the side these days. The AS300 action cam is a bit more interesting, but its really more for travel than anything and well…pandemic. So it and the AS15 action cam also get dust. But for stills photography, I’m all up in that and I decide for this scenario I am going to go for the a99ii for its reliable and fast AF and IQ, on top of the solid handling. I also choose the 16-35 SAL Zeiss f2.8 for the ultra wide and relatively fast aperture for lighting conditions that are likely to be dim and close quarters as opposed to my a7 I which has pretty poor AF and the 12-24 F4 G with a slower aperture. I choose ultra wide because I think of the super close quarters in the delivery room as opposed to a standard 24-70 zoom. I ask the doc permission to shoot always- I don’t want to run into hospital regulation issues and it feels rude to shoot when under the care of the hospital team. They’re good about it. And they ensure we get mask free shots of the moment of delivery as a family, which helps me forget about the pandemic at least for a little bit during this magical time.
Delivery ends up going into the wee hours and we are successful. And we decided to not find out about the gender until delivery and I am so glad we did. I think when the doc goes look at this! and shows me the baby’s gender I break a little bit inside. I am on the verge of tears with joy. I think its a combination of fear during all the low moments leading up to delivery and all the low moments of conception and worries of miscarriage/still birth/horrible things, the late hours and lack of sleep and exhaustion, and the surprise of gender, and the happiness of success finally that bring a sense of overwhelming emotions to me. Joy is the biggest feel. I make sure to document and take pictures but also to keep my face away from my viewfinder and take in the moment and experience the moment. I know this is special.
The moments after are interesting. We have a wild day of checking in with the neonatologist team about concerns with baby that turn out to be fine, running back to grandparents to check in on H and the fam jam; running back to the hospital and then moving into post partum. I can hear the other family in the room experiencing their first baby and their emotions. I can also hear a lot of profanity and loud daytime TV. Its something that I think is a bit off putting in a post partum ward, but I run into the guy in the hall and he’s cool. I wish him and his new fam well.
We end up going on a tour of local hospitals days later. The early beginnings nurse flags a concern that sets us up going to the local clinic center that has the least ER wait time to minimize exposure risk to the baby, but ends up directing us to the children’s hospital because they are not equipped to take care of little ones. And then we end up back in the ER ward with tubes and machines and a quiet fear of what’s to come. And it goes back to H in the ER and a little bit of heartbreak. The support is great. D ends up coming in and having a family doc/bro for help is just great. The ER team is also amazing and so considerate to not just the care that is needed for baby but also for us as a family. We end up having to go to wee hours again and an ambulance ride with an oxygen chamber for baby (which I have never seen before). Waiting for the ambulance was a surprise. I was expecting to stay in the children’s hospital first- and then we found out there were no beds so we need to transfer- and then we find out that its concerning enough that a simple ride in our car is not ok- we need to get an ambulance with an oxygen chamber for babies. But also there are no ambulances available. Seeing baby inside the chamber broke me a little. A lot. W and baby ride out with the ICU mobile team while I go home to pack overnight bags.
I go home and I do what I do when I am stressed. I work out. I hit the gym at 3am and squat. I squat heavy. In the dark. I think about the ambulance. I drive out. Its a quiet 30 minute drive in the dark at 430am. Nobody on the road. And sad songs on the CD player. I cry. And then I stop crying. I feel a need to not do that. Am I trying to block my feelings? Sad? Fear?
We get our private room in the hospital in the end. Because we are coming in and awaiting COVID results, they just put us in the isolation room anyways. Its actually really peaceful in here. The lighted forest mural brings a calming ambience. There is still a lot of uncertainty. We watch and listen to the baby heart rate monitor and drift in and out of sleep. The wonderful NICU nurses end up having one of the nurses at our delivery team and thats a welcome and reassuring familiarity. The hospital staff is incredible. At the end of the day, the NICU team does their rounds and its the same neonatologist that checked out baby at delivery. Again, welcome familiarity. We don’t get a lot of solid answers, but we also get reassurances. And then we finally get to go home again.
What a ride.