This is Kamel. He sometimes writes on Saturdays.
On the two appointments prior to Gabriel being born, we were late. The first time was because I ended up almost going all the way to Palo Alto since I was laughing and chatting away with Lauren. The second time, I started out by turning right instead of left out of our garage. In my head, we were going to Target, not the hospital. We semi-joked that what if when Lauren went into labor, we ended up at Target. hahaha. (Lauren didn’t find that as funny.)
At that last appointment we … well Lauren … was already 1 day past due. Funny how people say “we” when talking about their pregnancy. I used to say we, until I experienced it all. I did nothing. This was all her. If I would’ve had a single symptom or had to go through just one of the things my wife went through, right now Lauren would be writing the sad Kamel obituary post. Anyways, at our last appointment I worried the baby would come 1-2 weeks late, but the nurse gave Lauren some magic internal touch and potentially triggered her body into starting the big show.
The next morning Lauren woke me up a little before 4:00am to let me know she was having cramps. I got a little excited, since I knew this could mean we would have a baby that day! A few moments later we were timing them. Once I saw they were somewhat regular, we called the giant phone number we put up on our fridge that said, “IF YOU’RE IN LABOR, CALL THIS NUMBER”. As Lauren was explaining her situation to the person over the phone, I of course, was downloading a contraction timing app on my iPhone.
They told us to wait about an hour to see how she progressed. In the meantime Lauren took a shower and blow dried her hair (really?), then I took a quick shower and gathered our stuff. Lauren called again and reported her pain wasn’t so bad. They told her to hang out at home for as long as she could. But! 30 minutes later the pain looked like it was so bad, she couldn’t wait any longer.
The entire drive I was trying not to make the car bounce too much and I was trying to not go to Target or Palo Alto. Once we got to the hospital, I was super excited to finally be able to park in the Expectant Mothers in Labor spots! Win.
I grabbed all our bags, and very slowly started walking towards our final destination because Lauren refused to be dropped off at the front. Every 3-6 minutes Lauren would have to pause to be in pain for about 1 minute and 14 seconds. During that time, I snapped a few pictures here and there without her even noticing. I couldn’t talk to her or touch her because it made it all worse, so I just documented.
We made it to the labor and delivery area where a bunch of super nice and amazing ladies greeted us. The hospital had the nicest, most helpful staff I’ve ever experienced. This made things much easier later on. While Lauren waddled her way into the bathroom to change into her snazzy gown, I took some more pictures of the room, the bed and what seemed to be a baby bed/oven that was set to “preheat”. Once out, she laid down on her bed and the nurses started attaching her to the first set of tubes.
Lauren asked them to keep the medical details to an absolute need-to-know minimum. And even then, just to tell me instead. This was really hard for me, because I love knowing all the details! I wanted to know what the tubes were, how they worked, what the machine was, what the numbers meant, etc… Instead, I just sort of guessed what the number meant and Lauren and I used those to measure out her contractions. When one would come, I would see the value go up, then back down afterwards. So that had to be the contraction measurer thingy.
Now all I could do was watch and keep everyone informed. I have never sent so many texts in my entire life. On a super busy holiday month, for example, I send and receive about 30-40 texts tops, vs Lauren’s 1500-2000. I also kept trying to make Lauren feel good. On many occasions making her laugh, which is not a good idea since it hurts her, but I can’t help it sometimes things are just funny for us. I got her juices and toast with butter and jam. I kept her people in the loop (hi ladies!). I watched her go through what looked like the most painful contractions ever – The really bad ones shot up to 70-75 in the contraction counting thingy! Normal range was low 20s, and mild contractions when we arrived were in the 40s.
She quickly got the the point were she needed the legendary Epidural. Oh boy, this would be the first time she would have to face the big scary needle thing they always showed in movies. We waited for what felt like 26 days for the anesthesiologist to swing by. Finally he arrived and had with him a small packet. He started out by introducing himself and then started going into the details. Before he got a sentence in, Lauren stopped him because she didn’t want to know (I did though! but it was okay). We knew it would make pain go away, and that is all that mattered at that point.
Three things about this shocked me. One, he said the process would take about 10-15 minutes! Two, he had to do this while she was sitting up, hunched over and could not stop for contractions. Great! Third, the actual Epidural process is not what they show in movies.
The anesthesiologist (I can only spell that word with the magic of spell check) started to pose us like he was going to take an artsy photograph. Lauren sitting on her bed, hunched over with loose shoulders. I was to stand right in front of her, with her forehead resting below my chin and my head over her left shoulder. The perfect view for me to see the whole thing! The good doctor man was ready to make magic and we were ready to see if she could actually go though this.
(Lauren Warning: If you don’t want to know about this – skip this paragraph and move on to the next one.)
He opens his packet and to my surprise, there was not GIANT syringe! Just a kit of needles, wires, tubes, valves and thingies. After preparing the spot in her back, he said the biggest lie all doctors say right before they are going to puncture you with a needle: “Okay, Lauren, this will feel like a quick mosquito bite”. In what planet, do doctors live on, where mosquito bites feel like that!? The needle, while not that exaggerated 12 incher I’ve seen in movies, was still longer than average. He put it in her back, and started wiring and tubing her up. He installed a little latch, with a tube and wire. Taped it all over her back and up her shoulder. He then assembled a little plastic thingy at the tips and hooked her up to a machine. My poor cyborg wife meanwhile was still feeling the very real and very painful contractions as this set up was taking place. I was still holding her, and being super proud and impressed that she had not passed out or given up on this.
Two minutes (Lauren Edit: It was NOT two minutes, but nice try Kamel.) after he started, he told us he was all done! Lauren really liked him when after the first few drops came in, she had a contraction that she “could feel a little bit still” but in the machine I saw numbers in the mid 70s! Lauren 2.0 was now online. The guy gave her a little button she cold press when she felt too much pain and the machine would give her the juice. He told us not to worry, we could press it once, or 1,000 times, the machine would never give us more than what was needed.
At this point she had tons of tubes, wires, IVs, catheters all over her. And the machines were spitting out all sorts of numbers and beeps. So, her parents and I took a break to go get food.
They say you can start pushing at 10cm, when we left for lunch, we figured she still at 5cm to go, so we had time…. Nope. She texted me right before we ordered and she was at 8cm! We still ate our food, and made our way back up. Her parents came just in time to wait in the waiting room, and me just in time to get the show on the road.
Baby Gabe was almost here. Lauren was at 10cm, the machines were saying all sorts of things, and the staff said it was go time. I thought I was going to be slightly over my wife’s shoulder, holding her hand and breathing with her just how we learned in our classes. BUT, we never actually took classes, and that’s not what the nurse had in mind. Instead, the nurse asked me to help her get this baby delivered! How exciting! I finally, had something to contribute!
I was tasked with holding up my wife’s left leg up at the same height as the nurse would hold up the right leg. We would both help Lauren push her legs back, and then I would have to encourage her to push. This was accomplished by me just counting up and making it somewhat of a game to see if Lauren could make it to 10 with each push.
“1! 2! 3! 4! 5! 6! 7! 8! 9! 10!” I said that a lot. Each time, looking down and seeing some amazing things happen. I saw our son slowly poke out. I saw Lauren do an amazing job. I saw her heart monitor freak out after every push, beeping and making the nurse and later the doctor nervous. Which made me nervous. But in hindsight, come on, it’s not like she was resting here. Of course her heart rate would go up. It would also go back to normal after each push, which made the doctor feel better (and me too). Lauren was fine the whole time – minus when she was literally busting her ass to make this baby happen.
Oh yeah, at this point Lauren’s amazing doctor, who had been with us since we first found out we were pregnant was now with us. She was also pregnant with her first child and she kept telling Lauren that she hoped her own labor would go like this – easy and quick. This made me feel even better that everything was going great.
So now more pushing. Gabriel’s head was almost all out. The Doctor was sitting in front of Lauren with a big laundry bag between them. I wondered what this bag was for. Surely not for the baby… I later saw what it was for. Yikes.
Anyway, Lauren gave her final pushes and suddenly, pop, baby head. Hello! Baby head facing down. Lauren squealed a bit when it popped out. She then asked the doctor if she had to push again, and the doctor said nope, she had it from here. I saw the doctor twist and yank our son out. The moment he slid out, Lauren again let out a quick yelp! I bet it felt like pulling out a booger… one of the long ones that feels like it comes from your brain, something Lauren later confirmed. haha.
They turned the baby around, and wow, it was so incredible! At this point I lost my shit, and remember being super excited and going all over the place. I saw him open his eyes, look in my direction and reach his arms out. I heard him cry, I heard Lauren cry, I heard all the nurses get super excited but also never skipping a beat. They cut his cord and set him in the baby oven they had preheated just for him. From here I looked over at Lauren, and then down at the doctor, who seemed to still be working on my wife.
(Lauren Edit: I just deleted an incredibly graphic paragraph about the doctor removing the placenta. YOU CAN THANK ME LATER! …. eesh Kamel.)
At this point I looked up at Lauren and didn’t bother telling her about what I had just seen. Instead I was super excited about baby! But even more excited… and don’t laugh… that my wife didn’t die! Yay!!
The nurses all told me I did a great job. They told me they loved that I was a part of it. They said they often have husbands who don’t even want to be inside the delivery room and instead opt to wait outside in the waiting room. What? Who are these lame husbands? Why would they not want to be in the same room at least?
Baby Gabe was born at 1:35pm. Within a few hours Lauren was breast feeding for the first time and we were both excited. I remember thinking, as I took a picture of Lauren holding our baby, how amazing her hair looked! In all post delivery mom pictures I’ve seen, messy hair was a common theme. But not Lauren, she blow dried it while in labor. Hahaha… I love that lady.
I texted everyone and their mothers a picture of Gabriel and then went to get Lauren’s parents who were waiting and waiting outside. After some hardcore baby-cuddling, her parents left, and it was just the three of us. Our little family.
Every now and then a nurse or doctor would come in to congratulate us, and unplug Lauren from one of her machines. Eventually she was almost all cleared up. She even handled the reverse epidural like a champ. I could never do an epidural.
Eventually we were all moved up to recovery and from there, we began the first two training days of life with Gabriel. But that is another post all together as those days were pretty epic.