“He’s a boy!” I exclaimed excitedly. “He’s Asher!!” I then moved to the side of my wife to receive our son, and bring him to mom’s arms for the first time.
But stop. You can’t just watch the game winning shot by Michael Jordan over Byron Russell in the 1998 NBA Finals without knowing the history that preceded that shot. A lot of people hit game winning shots, but that one was special. It was Jordan’s last shot and last game before retiring the 2nd time. So let me tell a little back-story:
Let me just say this to start: I’m no more a proponent of the natural birth movement than I am a proponent of the NBA’s New Jersey Nets becoming the Brooklyn Nets. I’m cool with whatever, and sure, Brooklyn is a little cooler of a place than New Jersey, or so I hear.
My wife, she’s the birthing expert, well, a doula to be exact. If you do not know what a doula is, it’s a birth coach, which is what Wikipedia told me the first time I looked it up.
During Alissa’s first pregnancy, We went to Bradley classes and she had a beautiful natural birth for our daughter, which directed her to a new career, Doula.
We always knew we would have a second child, and once we decided the time was right, it was time to work out the logistics, which I feared.
This is because I knew my wife wanted to have a birth at home. Hey, I don’t like hospitals either, but I was really happy to have all the untapped potential available at the hospital, if needed. The original thought of having a baby then going to the next room to eat waffles was a bit icky to me.
But, I braved through a few birth videos and I was on board. I was sold on the idea that we could do things our way. Well, we could do things Alissa’s way, and I trusted her judgment. And well, the more I thought about waffles in the next room, the more I liked it.
So things were going great, we had a wonderful midwife who made home visits to check on her status. Alissa’s dad paid for the birth, and I was really on autopilot, as it all seemed to be going so well.
Then, the complications: the bleeding, the worry, the sonogram, and need I say more? The next thing I know, Alissa calls me from school in tears saying she has something called placenta previa and would be forced to have a surgical birth.
Had to get on Wikipedia while on the phone, let’s see, placenta previa, the placenta blocks the cervix, making a birth very dangerous for mother and child.
Back to the call: This was way beyond my scope. I responded, “Does you mean a C-section? Did the doctor say you’d have to have a C-section?” Then the tears really started. And I mean REALLY started. There was finally a break and a long pause, then: “Well. She was tactful enough to at least call it a cesarean.”
So, I made a mental note, we do not say ‘the section word,’ I came home and calmed my wife. Secretly, I was absolutely scared. While still at school, I tried to calmly explain my situation to my assistant principal, next thing I knew, I had tears streaming down my face. If you think it is unmanly to cry, then you do not know the feeling of having you family in jeopardy. They, afterall, are my life. But I knew I have no place to be scared in front of my scared wife, so I put on my game face.
The rest of the pregnancy was full of help and encouragement from friends. The help came immediately. My coworkers provided so many meals for us, Mrs. Molleda even made us a tasty meal per week. Mrs. Maederer and Mrs. Campos told us stories of obstacles they had in their births, and how they overcame them. My principal relayed our situation to her church group, the impact was immediate. We were uplifted by their prayer and support. I had never experienced the feeling before. Unexpectedly, we became stronger, more determined, more focused. It was truly eye opening, and I will never forget the power, the true power of these gestures of kindness and love.
So fast-forward to the day before my son’s birthday. I went to work, I was to ready everything to be gone for 10 days, but my mind was really elsewhere. I came home and actually proposed to Alissa that maybe we should just stay awake over night to get to the hospital at our check in time of 5:30. This was some sort of impulse from college, but this was no World History exam first thing in the morning. This was the birth of our child, and no amount of cramming would help in the process.
Alissa’s dad also came into town, we went shopping to fill up the fridge with all of Alissa’s cravings.
By the end of the night, it was no problem for either of us to sleep. I woke up at 3:30 and just held my wife and thought and focused on my family and what I could do to help her through this. Turns out she was awake during this time too, and I think our thoughts were very similar. Then, 4:30, it was time to get ready.
I was so impressed with the focus and resolve of my wife as we traveled, we reminisced about the last time we traveled to the same hospital with this purpose and came back with the daughter we loved so much.
The whole early morning was filled with prep, IV’s and gowns, scrubs, etc.
Our doula, and friend Rachel came in and it was kinda like three friends talking and hanging out, not like we were at a hospital, awaiting surgery. We all seemed really focused on the event at hand, but we didn’t have to talk about it.
The anesthesiologist came in and I knew this is what Alissa had been dreading. We had talked about me going in with her to get her spinal shot. He advised against that, and I agreed, wholeheartedly. Rachel would go in and she did such an amazing job of comforting her and helping her through this difficulty. This was not in Wikipedia when they defined the duties of a doula. I determined then that Rachel was much more than just a doula.
During the time they left me in the hallway, with all my scrubs, pacing, pacing and pacing. I thought I would wait for 5 minutes and would be reunited with my people. 15 minutes later, someone walked by me and smiled and said I looked like the Michelin Man. I didn’t smile back.
I started to worry that the nurses forgot where they left me and I was going to miss the birth. I paced around and peered at any door that opened, then 10 minutes after that, I was watching 2 different doors eagerly. Then, our doctor walked by, Dr. Schwope. I was relieved! AHA! “They couldn’t have done it without her!” I thought to myself smartly.
She asked if I was nervous, I pointed out to her that my footprints could now be seen in the narrow hallway. Then she smiled and walked through the double doors … AND STOPPED.
Then she turned back and told me, when the baby comes out, “I will give you the baby to take to Alissa.”
She said it as if she was John Elway calling an audible against the Cleveland Browns (Yeah, Alissa, now it’s your turn to look up some stuff on Wikipedia). It sounded good to me, and she seemed like she knew what she was doing!
I went into the room and saw my wife. Immediately my glasses fogged with emotion. Those surgical masks were not helping the situation. I stood next to Rachel, grabbed Alissa’s hand and they turned on our playlist.
My thoughts were of the whole experience, from the beginning. How we thought we could plan everything. How things changed and how strong my wife had to be to get our child (still wasn’t sure boy or girl) into our world.
I thought of how this was the situation that Alissa spoke about when she talked about her ideal birth.
Surrounded by people that we know and love and friends, closeness. I also felt all the people thinking of us. The only real noticeable difference with her ideal situation was that we were in a hospital, oh and no waffles could be made in the next room.
I tightly held Alissa’s hand. I was more emotional than I planned, just like I was when Adelaide was born. I looked up as Dr. Schwope said it was time for the baby to come. I saw his head pointed straight at me. I was in love with what I saw. They pulled the baby out, the baby looked like a baby, I looked past the umbilical chord to see if we had a son or a second daughter … and then … Jordan finds just enough separation to throw up a shot in the final second and.. .. NOTHING BUT NET! Or, the other part of the first paragraph. However it works best for you.
The link to Asher’s first week of life:
The link to Michael Jordan’s shot: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGm8Kr5kWr8