Saturday, January 7, 2012

January 2nd 2012

The day Baby Aaron was born and what was to be the end of our "adventure" as I've been calling it. As so many things in life, this end is not quite as finite as ends are defined to be. The post period, we're realizing, is just a continuation of the adventure. And maybe this adventure doesn't ever really come to an end. Maybe it's meant to continue indefinitely as does life, with ups, downs, turns and twists. Maybe it extends itself throughout our lives and Baby Aarons' and his new parents' lives. Like the passing of the baton. It's in their hands now as we recover from the first leg. But we shall stand hand in hand together in victory on the podium of life. We said from the beginning that we'd play it as it comes in regards to a future relationship with J&R and Baby Aaron. That playing as it comes has already cemented a bond and friendship long before this day. That future is now here and our future from here is assuredly intertwined.

So yes, Baby Aaron arrived in this world at a healthy 8lbs 9oz and 20"L at 2am four days after his original due day. He took his time growing and making sure he was to be a 2012 baby. We all expected him to be early, prolonging the anxiousness of awaiting his arrival.    Orit was so beyond ready to get him out (and I mean that in a more sensitive give birth way) that we resorted to all the old wives tales about inducing. The first piece of advice EVERYONE seems to want to offer is "they say if you have sex..." That comes out of the mouths of a large cross-section of people, including all the ones you don't want to hear it from. Yes, yes, I know, I know. And we did. And did... But he didn't arrive (notice here how I didn't use the alternative verb). Finally after speaking to a doula who recommended a particular recipe that would guarantee baby results, we set out to give it a shot at 9:30pm on January 1st. After a quick trip to the drug store, 2 tablespoons of Castor Oil were blended into a milkshake and consumed. Not me. Followed with a hot shower and topped off with 15 minutes of stimulating/massaging one breast at a time and alternating for an hour. Again here, not me. There was nothing romantic about this recipe. We joked along the way about the awkwardness of it all. Hoping skeptically it would do something. Boy, did it. Shortly before midnight the labor contractions came on strong. No need for a stopwatch or timing anything. It was obviously time to get the plan in motion. Calls to J&R, hospital, midwife, doula and Aimee, Orit's Assistant. By 12:20am, Aimee was at the house ready to stay the night and/or how ever long it takes with Little Man. By 12:30 we were on the way, driving fast on the wide open freeway.

The first scene from a movie we encounter was pulling into the valet underground parking lot of the hospital. We get out, I give one of the two guys the keys as I explain that my wife is in labor. They look at me absolutely freaked out and tell me to get myself and my in-labor wife back in the car and drive around to Emergency. As if I'm asking them to delivery the baby. Along comes a helpful employee who grabs a wheel chair from the entrance and tells us it would be faster this way. Come. Thanks lady! I get my valet ticket as I say to the guys "it's not an emergency, it's a labor." And we roll on up to Labor and Delivery. We'd been to this exact department during an orientation at this hospital and still the place seemed like a maze.

We get into the delivery room and the show wastes no time in beginning. Right away a contraction and undressing and gown and bed. Orit does not let them get her laying down on her back as they'd like her but rather opts for the all fours position. I explained that this was her birthing position with Little Man. This is her birth, she chooses the position. We raise the front of the bed to give her something to lean on and prop it up with some pillows. They try to strap her to a fetal monitor and she swats the nurses hands away several times until it's understood that she's not having it. Who'd want a big synthetic Velcro strap all around your bare stomach as you're pushing a baby out? Sounds uncomfortable, but it's hospital norm. So instead, one of the many nurses walking in and out of the room ended up holding the monitor every so often to hear the heartbeat. A small victory - no strap. A nurse mispronounced Orit's name while trying to comfort her, and she turned around and corrected her - "it's O R I T. Like do you want to go to a movie or eat?" and went right back into a contraction. Movie moment #2. And on we went. She came in fully dilated and ready to start pushing. But the water hadn't broken yet. To speed it along and let her start pushing they gave it a poke. And she started pushing. Everything gets a little foggy here so forgive me if I'm not exact, but my guess is about 7 or 8 good pushes. The midwife, resident, doula and I all doing our part in encouraging as Orit seemed to know exactly what to do. And she did her thing. And did it right. And did it loud. And finally pushed the plump little guy out and it was amazing. And his mom and dad and all of us were there to share the moment. And he was beautiful. And J&R were in shock and awe. And J cut the cord. And we were relieved. And Happy. And Orit nursed him and he took to the nipple like a champ and then he was handed to his mom. And it was to be that. Then the placenta came out. After that, the shit hit the fan.

I'm not going to relive the rest of what happened in great detail. The serious bottom line was she was hemorrhaging and they didn't understand from where and why. At this point the midwife took a second seat to the medical team and what started as a natural birth turned into a most unnatural after birth. It came in three stages. Stage 1. Where it was just discovered and it was being dealt with manually, invasively and painfully to the point of unbearable. Feeling around deep within, trying to find something to feel. The drugs began. Prodding and poking. But they did not help. And she did not deserve this and they had to stop and move on to an OR where an anesthesiologist can make the pain go away.

Stage 2. The 45 minute wait where they wouldn't let me go in and be with her. A miserable wait and recognizable as another movie moment. Seen so many of these scenes, with varying actors and results. Inside, Orit was under general anesthesia. Her uterus had not clamped back up and shut the exposed blood vessels. A few placenta membranes remained behind not allowing nature to take its course. So they scraped out the remains and cleaned up and inserted a ballon to keep pressure on the wound. And though she had to have 2 units of blood transfused, at least it wasn't an operation. No cutting. No stitching. A small relief in an otherwise bad moment. At least she's asleep and there's no more pain. Yet.

Stage 3. Recovery. The slowest and most difficult stage beginning with coming to consciousness and to terms with what happened and it's consequences. For about a day and a half she was unrecognizable. Swollen. She had so much fluid pumped into her it had settled throughout. She was hooked up to so many tubes and was receiving another 2 units of blood. It was rough. She made the mistake of looking at herself by taking an iphone self portrait. Little Man came in to see his mama. And he was so caring and concerned and nurturing. I took him to meet Aaron and hang out with J&R in the room next door.  He's been waiting to meet him for a long time. There will be more to write about those two I'm sure. By day 2 we were  having moments of making fun of the swelling, calling her a Jewish Asian Margaret Cho. Her cheeks and forehead bounced the few moments she chuckled. And despite the uncomfortable and difficult situation every half day got better and better. The balloon was partially deflated and soon thereafter came out. The bleeding had stopped. All the vitals and blood numbers where normal. No more poking and prodding. The medications, blood transfusions and fluids ceased. She was no longer on bed rest and hooked up to anything. She could walk and go to the bathroom. That was big. Immediately she was better and back to looking like herself.

On day 3 they said go. Home with the boys is a more peaceful prospect. And in coming home she was looking forward to showering and brushing her hair and being in her own bed. And having a good long cry. Cause it was scary. 

We're home now and it's past.

There is active work in any healing. And if you know Orit, you know she's gonna be an active participant in her healing and spearheading the path. Now nature is back on course and her body is producing milk. We had earlier decided Orit would pump breast milk for them for one month. During recovery we reassessed that her body had gone through quite enough unexpected trauma and it would be best if she doesn't. There is a back-up alternative source of milk so it only made sense. Let her heal and not have the burden to provide any more. And that was consensus among all parties. The milk is coming in nonetheless and the breasts get engorged. It's painful. So old wives tales come back and currently we are working with cabbage. Covering them in cabbage under a tight bra. Little Man particularly likes this idea. Thinks its funny. And funny enough its working. And what the hell, there's nothing to lose but pain. And so every new day is better than the one before. And that's a good direction to go in life.

What happens now? Orit gets better and back to normal within two weeks. And we shall discover our roles in the life of Baby Aaron as well as move on to whatever adventures lay ahead. So don't dwell on what was out of our hands and move forward. You'll be hearing from us...