I arrived home at 1130pm on the 21st of August from a trip to Afghanistan. Jessica woke up at 6am to go to the bathroom and woke me by yelling… “uh John, I think my water broke” and I responded “are you sure you didn’t pee your pants” with her responding “uh, pretty sure I didn’t.”
In my jet lagged and freaked out state I remembered to put on clothes and get the dogs fed and kicked out the back door. Jessica didn’t have a bag packed because the boy was a few weeks early. He was nearly four weeks early and we thought that we had plenty of time remaining; we didn’t. As I drove to the hospital both of us were laughing and talking as the stress hit us. Jessica started sending text messages and engaging the army of support that was vital to our sanity and survival. Cassy and Alice headed to our house to do some laundry and pack a baby bag for us – we simply hadn’t had a chance to get to it and we didn’t think that we would need it for a number of weeks. I made a quick call to Jessica’s parents and talked to Joe and said “so Jessica’s water broke and we’re on the way to Madigan” and that was about it.
We found some decent parking (surprising for the destination) and headed upstairs to Labor and Delivery triage. As we walked down the hallway we crossed paths with a few doctors. They took one look at Jessica’s wet pants and said “I think she is going to have a baby today” and we responded with a nervous and excited laugh.
We went to triage and they confirmed that yes, Jessica was going to have a baby soon. They soon shuffled us over to the birthing unit and one of the birthing suites. About an hour after arrival the first of the contractions started and Jessica’s day started to get a little worse with each one. They put her on a drug to help speed up the contractions along with magnesium and penicillin because we were waiting on results from a test that hadn’t yet come back. Adding to the “fun” was the fact that she had preeclampsia. Soon after the family began to arrival and we all did what is to be expected – we laughed and talked loudly. Soon after the TV came on (at the approval of Jessica) so we could watch some game shows and sports center. The nurse was quite frustrated with us as he thought that our presence and noise would upset Jessica. Telling Jessica what to do upsets Jessica – she’s quite used to the noise.
As our day progressed the docs came in and out and continued to check on her progress. They took her off the drug to speed up contractions and let her body do the work for a while. When we approached 9 hours of contractions and they spacing wasn’t regular enough to satisfy them they put her back on the drug and Jessica started to suffer. If you ask her, the word suffer hardly describes what she was going through.
Soon after the drugs started to kick it came the time for the epidural. Jessica was in quite a bit of pain and most of it was centered in her lower back. An epidural is passed through a catheter that is slid through a small gap in her spine. She has mild scoliosis and has a little twist in her lower spine which complicated things immensely. I don’t do well with needles so Becky stayed in the room with her while I nervously paced the hallway. Outside the room I could hear her screaming at the top of her lungs. At one point, a few nurses stuck their heads out from around the corner to figure out what was wrong. “Epidural” I said and they gave me a supportive smile.
Inside the room the resident anesthesiologist was attempting to find the correct spot to put the catheter while the attending looked on. After a few unsuccessful attempts the attending took over and got it in the right spot. When I returned to the room Jessica looked spent. Shortly after the drugs hit her and she was feeling much better about well, everything. We were watching the external contraction monitor and watched as she slept through contractions that would have previously had her crying out loud.
We returned to the waiting game while she rested. At about 8pm they came in and determined that her body was ready to deliver but they wanted gravity to help assist things along. They sat her up in the bed and told her that they’d be back in an hour for some pushing. At 930pm the whole team arrived in the room and we started the most difficult part of the whole process. I was at her right side and helped hold the oxygen (which she felt was suffocating her), assisted her in holding her head forward, and gave her words of encouragement. At only one point did I choose the wrong words. I told her to “breath through the pain” – I thought she was going to kill me. I meant to use the stuff she learned in yoga. It didn’t come across like that. Later I told her “that she could easily do this because putting up with me was far worse.” The nurse nearly fell over laughing – she hadn’t heard that one before.
Jessica would push through each contraction and then would pass out in between them (something that still amazes me). After about an hour of pushing she had finally done enough and the boy was finally freed from his prison. Not knowing exactly what to expect, what I saw scared the crap out of me. He was blue, his head was really misshapen, and the cord was wrapped around his neck. I cut the cord and then they stuck him on Jessica for a second at which point she uttered “he looks really weird”. As we hadn’t heard a noise from him the nurse took him to try to get him to breath. I left Jessica with Becky and headed over to the boy. Soon after he had a cough and a cry and his color rapidly started changing from blue to bright pink. I thought for sure he wasn’t going to make it through the whole thing. I turned around and they were still working on Jessica and all I saw was a lot of blood. I was worried on two fronts.
Soon after everyone came into the room to check on Sawyer and to see how Jessica was doing. We did all right. My brother in law, Jeff, asked me how I felt. The only word I could utter was “overwhelming”. Now he’s almost two weeks old and aside from a little bilirubin issue he’s been a healthy baby boy.
We’ve got pictures but I’ll deal with that at a later date – getting this done has taken long enough.