Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Time We Had a Baby in the Bathtub

Sixteen years ago today my first son was born and three days after that I sat down to write the requisite email announcement to friends and family (this was the pre-Facebook era). The circumstances surrounding the birth had been unique and, by the time I finished explaining them, I had composed a four page timeline that would ultimately be published in the November 2001 issue of Baltimore Magazine. With a few minor exceptions, I didn't do any writing for the next ten years until I decided to turn the weekly updates I did for my fantasy golf league into whatever this website has become. It's kind of a Roy Hobbs tale minus the gunshot wound (not that I haven't begged the world to "shoot me now" a few times since then).

"People don't start writing at
your age mister. They retire."
I revise and re-post this periodically because (a) it makes me happy, (b) every time I re-read it I cringe at something that I have to fix and (c) it's a lot easier than coming-up with something new to write about. Also, my self-aggrandizing writing style demands that I reference it repeatedly so I want to keep it fresh. Without further ado, here are the events that led-up to and occurred on the most bizarre and surreal day of my life.

Friday, April 20th

4:00 p.m. - The Fantasy Golf Wife (the "FGW") calls me at work and tells me, "I think my water just broke." She apparently is not sure, however, and tells me she'll call back in an hour to give me an update. This message is delivered in a tone similar to one she might use if she were calling to tell me that we may need a new faucet for the kitchen sink. I spend the next hour feigning composure by reading and re-reading the same sentence 73 times.

5:00 p.m. - Still no verdict on whether the water has officially broken.

5:45 p.m. - I arrive home and begin frantically preparing for the trip to the hospital. It is officially 13 days before the due date and the sudden urgency of the situation has made me think of a few things that need to be done, like maybe buying at least one diaper.

6:20 - The FGW saunters in having evidently decided that the gravity of the situation should in no way prevent her from doing some last minute shopping.

6:45 p.m. - We spend the next few hours preparing for the hospital: packing food for the extended labor, picking-out CD's (14 of them) for the stereo in the labor room, choosing the coming home outfit for the baby . . . I won't give away the ending but I this was all a colossal waste of time.

Saturday, April 21st

10:30 a.m. - We pay a visit to the midwife, Kelly. (Yes we used a midwife. We're country club crunchy). Kelly tells us that the water is not fully broken but there is a "high leak" which I know was not covered in the birthing class. Apparently under these circumstances, labor could start today or it could be two weeks. I comment that it's just like waiting for the cable company. No one laughs. We are told that one way to kick-start labor would be to take some castor oil. Sounds like witchcraft to me but as long as I don't have to do it, why not?

"We're teeing off
at noon bro."
1:00 p.m. - I take the car to have the baby seat installed by a fireman (these are the odd things you do when you're having your first baby). If nothing else, I figure that by driving 30 minutes from home, I will definitely induce labor.

4:00 p.m. - The FGW starts feeling mild irregular contractions but nothing worth noting. I start to wonder whether she even knows what a contraction feels like. I joke that "we're going to wake up with the baby in bed with us."* (These are the first of a series of famous last words which will be denoted with an *).

11:00 p.m. - We go to bed still in limbo.

Sunday, April 22nd

11:00 - 1:00 - More witchcraft as we spend two hours walking around the harbor in the hopes of inducing labor. I should have taken more time to appreciate this day because it was the last time I didn't have to do anything before 11:00 a.m.

1:30 p.m. - Another dose of caster oil.

3:30 p.m. - The FGW decides to go shopping for a couple of hours. I have a scary premonition and tell her to be back in 45 minutes. It was one of the few smart moves we made that day.

4:45 p.m. - The water officially breaks but at this point we think little of it. I for one am not going to be duped into a panic by the old "my water just broke" trick. Besides, I've settled into watching a fairly compelling Lakers-Blazers playoff game.

5:00 p.m. - The FGW takes a dose of primrose oil, another natural elixir to induce labor. I voice my skepticism over these natural methods.*

6:00 p.m. - The FGW starts to feel regular contractions.

6:46 p.m. - We start timing the transactions but the FGW is "not sure I'm in labor."*

7:45 p.m. - An hour of contractions four minutes apart and we call the midwife. She tells us we've got several hours* and she'll call back in thirty minutes to check in on us.

8:00 p.m. - I start loading up the car. The FGW attempts to blow dry her hair and put on make-up between contractions which are getting closer together and more intense making this an increasingly difficult task as she periodically has to turn off the hairdryer and double over in pain. Neither one of us take this as a sign that we should probably be in the car. This is not the blind leading the blind. This is the stubborn leading the stupid.

"Turn off the damn TV
and get that woman
to a hospital!"
8:15 p.m. - The FGW gets into the bathtub to ease the pain of the contractions which are getting even more intense. I am told in no uncertain terms to stop asking, "are you having one now?"

8:32 p.m. - I start timing contractions again which are now anywhere from one and half and two minutes apart. At this point I am wondering why no one has told me that it is time to go to the hospital. Instead of doing something proactive, I put on my bathing suit because I assume at some point I'm going to have to help the FGW out of the tub when we finally decide it's time to go.

8:40 p.m. - The FGW informs me that I am wearing the "loudest" bathing suit she has ever heard. I change into shorts.

8:52 p.m. - The intensity of the labor pains increases and I'm thinking that no one could endure several more hours of this.*

9:00 p.m. - Suddenly, the moans that accompany the labor pains turn into an otherworldly howl followed by these words, "I can feel him coming. Call Kelly and tell her I can't make it to the hospital and that I'm having him here." I am in denial because this is not happening.

9:04 p.m. - I call Kelly who advises me to tell the FGW that she can make it to the hospital and that I need to get her in the car.

9:05 p.m. - The howls continue. The FGW tells me that she can't stop pushing. The gravity of the situation is beginning to dawn on me. The FGW tells me to call Kelly back and tell her she needs to come to our house and that I need to be "forthright" with her. I find myself impressed by her mastery of the vocabulary at this point. I call Kelly and she tells me her location. My brain is working fast enough to compute that she is at least 30 minutes away . . . and the baby isn't.

9:08 p.m. - I run to the house of the labor-delivery nurse who lives next door. She had told us earlier in the day, "if you need anything I'll be home all night."* I pound on the door but of course there is no answer.

9:09 p.m. - I run back into the bathroom and the FGW says she can feel the head coming out. She then tells me that everything is going to be okay and that we can do this. I marvel at her calmness at this point. Unfortunately, I share none of it.

9:11 p.m.. - Kelly calls back and asks me if "the perineum is bulging." I actually know what this means and I also know that we are way past that point. In the most "forthright" way I know how, I tell her we can't make it to the hospital and the baby is on his way. (I think I actually said "No hospital . . . baby . . . head. . . bathtub.")

9:13 p.m. - The FGW tells me she can feel the head coming. Kelly tells me to grab some "old towels." I grab every towel we own and throw them indiscriminately on the bathroom floor.

9:14 p.m. - Kelly tells me to get the FGW out of the tub which is still full of water. (
Apparently 1 second old babies can't swim). Not in possession of her normal agility at the moment, my wife cannot get out of the tub. Kelly tells me to pull the plug and drain out the water. I curse myself for not thinking of that.

9:15 p.m. - The FGW stands-up, and between screams, announces that the head is out and tells me that I should be ready to catch the rest of him. At this point, I am well aware that the head is out because it is resting in the palm of my hand. Kelly asks me if the cord is wrapped around his neck. It is, of course, and Kelly tells me to flip it over his head, which I do. The word "DISASTER" begins flashing in my head.

"This is a goddamn waste of
time.There's no way he can
deliver that baby."
9:17 p.m. - As the FGW is struggling to stand-up out of the water, the rest of the baby is delivered. I catch him above the water that is still in the tub. The FGW actually utters the words "what a relief" and steps out of the tub. The baby is quiet and blue (not exactly the combination I was hoping for) and for several of the longest seconds of my life I experience a level of fright that I had never approached as I stand in my bathroom holding my motionless and silent son.

9:18 p.m. - Finally the baby (the "FGB") lets out a cry and some color starts to appear. I am experiencing a very mild sense of relief. Kelly tells me to get the baby to my wife's chest and wrap them in towels. In what is the first moment of the experience during which I can remember being mildly amused, I realize that I am standing behind the FGW and that she and the baby are still attached to each other. I do a reverse football snap and hand the baby to her through her legs. At this point my wife is calm but a little unstable and she drops him so that I get to catch him for the second time. (Note my line for the night: 2 catches, 1 yard, no touchdowns). I pass him back to the FGW who hangs on this time and pulls him up to her chest. Aside from the fact that it was taking place in our bathroom, the scene of mother and baby together looks completely natural.

9:19 p.m. - At this point the FGW appears eerily calm to me but is in fact glowing with joy and has the presence of mind to tell me to put towels down in the hallway so we won't stain the carpet on the way to the bedroom. I am in no condition to argue. For the first time, however, I notice that the bathroom looks like a crime scene and the amount of blood on the floor instantly takes me right out of my comfort zone.

9:20 p.m. - Mother and baby slowly make their way down the hall to the bedroom as I race to put towels down in front of them. The amazing thing is that, after what we have just been through, the vision of my wife and 3 minute old child coming down the hall has almost no shock value whatsoever. At this point I am infinitely more concerned with getting someone, anyone, to my house who is qualified to look at this situation and tell me everything is okay.

9:23 p.m. - The FGW and the FGB climb into bed and I cover them with beach towels because my wife doesn't want to ruin the new sheets and blankets we had just bought for our well orchestrated return from the hospital.

"Oh the stork was here
alright. . . and he left a
very messy note." 
9:24 p.m.- I hang-up with Kelly who says she will be there soon. I then run across the street to get our friend Jen who is a nurse. When her husband answers the door I say, "Andy is Jen here, because we just had this baby in our bathtub." Jen comes out of nowhere and sprints past me through the door.

9:25 p.m. - Jen checks out the baby while repeating the phrase "you guys are freaks" (like we did this on purpose). Andy calls another neighbor who is more of an infant specialist. Apparently we live in a good spot for our current predicament but I had run to the wrong house. I make a mental note to collect beeper numbers before we do this again.

9:27 p.m. - Jen informs us that it's a boy, a fact that had gotten completely lost in the shuffle.

9:30 p.m. - The FGW calls her mother (the "FGMIL?") who has an understandably difficult wrapping her mind around the circumstances of the birth.

9:35 p.m. - The infant specialist arrives and she and Jen call the hospital for some guidance. They tie off the cord with some dental floss (nice to finally find a use for that).

9:50 p.m. - Kelly finally arrives and tends to the FGW. For the first time all night I feel a mild sense of relief.

10:05 p.m. - I ceremonially cut the cord and climb into bed with my new family.

10:10 p.m. - Still wired from the evening's events, I jump back out of the bed and start cleaning the house. (On the video I look like I just shot-gunned seven Red Bulls).

10:20 p.m. - Family members arrive and set-up in the living/waiting room.

Monday, April 23rd

1:00 a.m. - Everyone goes home and the three of us go to bed.

5:00 a.m. - I stop shaking.

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