Sunday, April 24, 2011

Day [-144] - The Day My Earth Stood Still

I've been asked to recount my first day of fatherhood. And although it doesn't exactly fit with the concept--or at least the trend--of this blog, I thought, if nothing else, it might be a nice record to keep here. I actually wrote about the day, November 30th, 2010, as it happened. Somehow, somewhere that text may exist. But the whirlwind of the day's events has sent it to live with the socks. So, here's my attempt to recount what was a nearly impossibly blurry day:

On the morning of November 30th, 2010, Wifey's doctor called personally to say that we needed to head to the hospital and that we may well be delivering that day. Results from a blood test the day before revealed that she had a rare, potentially life-threatening complication that could require immediate delivery.

The car had been packed with car seats and such for a couple of weeks--so off we went. After a brief consult at the hospital (with what seemed like half of the doctors in the building) we were told that today was in fact the day. Now comes the blurry part. She was prepped for an emergency c-section (under general anesthesia) and I was shuffled off into the recovery room to wait. I had my computer and a little rolling table on which to type. I was dressed in scrubs, booties, and a mask. And I was out of my mind. I had never thought of facebook as a therapeutic device, but writing updates and messaging friends & family felt....sane.

20 minutes or so into my exile, a nurse came in to the room and delivered the most understated question I've ever been asked, "Hi, Dad. Do you want to meet your babies?"

I was lead into one of the warmest rooms ever--the incubator room, I suppose. On the way, a doc told me that Wifey had done just fine and was recovering. She lay unconscious in the adjacent room--all I could see was her bent knee sticking out through the blue linens. Then, there they were. So incredibly small, fragile looking, and pink. My children. They were 5½ weeks early--and ultra skinny. (A little frightening.)

I had my hands clasped behind my back and was leaning over to look at them as they lay face-up on their warming tables. Were they alright? Was I allowed to touch them?

"They're doing just fine," The nurse said. "[Boy] is grunting and needed some oxygen at first, but he's just fine. You can touch them."  I was hyperventilating a bit. (As evidenced in the video below.)

They were so warm. So absolutely helpless. So utterly terrifying.

I remember thinking that when I first saw my children, I would be overcome with an enormous sense of love--a nurturing, natural fatherhood instinct. That wasn't quite it for me. I could hardly believe they were mine. There was no immediate spark or connection. I was just overwhelmed. Just another example of how things aren't always as you'd expect. I wonder what other fathers feel in similar situations.

Mom was wheeled in a half-an-hour later, or so. She was groggy and painful--which only added to the surrealism of my day. She was conscious enough, though, to worry about the delivery and how successful it had been. My reassurance seemed to have little effect. But they had all done wonderfully. The babes were taken to the NICU on a different floor; Wifey wouldn't see them for another couple of hours. (Before she was initially taken to surgery, she had made me promise not to name them. So much for Ozzie and Harriet.) She doesn't really recall meeting them for the first time--so I'm entrusted with that memory. I'll forever remember the tear in her eye.

It was only later that I learned that Wifey's condition was associated with a 20% mortality rate--for her. The number was twice that for the babes. The nurse that had ordered the blood test the day before did so essentially on a whim. Had it not been for her, this blog may have been much different--if present.

And here I am, Girlie sleeping on my chest as I write this. Has my life ever been different? Now that's the blurry part.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Day 83 - Baby Gifts - From Babies, that is

My longest stretch yet between posts has been, well, rough. The babes have been frustrating, beautiful, demanding, cute, and aggravating. (In no particular order.) I've not been inspired to write about these trials as nothing terribly noteworthy has happened with respect to developmental milestones. Docs say that they're on target and even ahead of the curve in many regards--growth, coordination, awareness, etc. But it sure has felt a bit stagnant when it comes to those gifts I've mentioned in blogs past. As a reminder, I've considered smiles to be the only real gifts the babes have, at this point, to give willingly. Cuteness doesn't count--and love is arguably not yet present. (Or if it is, it's not yet overtly distinguishable.) Those smiles have sustained me through many a challenge and frustration that at-home-fatherhood has brought. More recently there have been the first hints of some giggling and even some apparent face-recognition. More gifts.

They've both been especially fussy over the past couple of weeks--generally preceding feeding time. Sometimes it seems that, during my days, feeding is all I'm working towards. The crying begins in earnest a half-an-hour or so before [our desired, scheduled] feedings. That's fine, I mean I'm not so delusional that I expect feeding times to be adhered to rigidly --but that's been the trend. And they've seemed relatively comfortable with it. But the fussiness sometimes begins an hour or more prior. And that's....hard.

And then came today's 3:30pm feeding....
We returned from some errands at 3:35--the stress of a five minute discrepancy is manageable--oh, don't you worry about me! I got the bottles ready, set up my work area with burp cloths, bottle holders and the laptop-on-a-tray. (The latter being my "down time" sanity-maintenance-device.) To this mixture I add two whole babies and 16 fl oz. or formula. To my absolute surprise, Boy rejected the bottle, looked up into my eyes, and delivered the biggest, most directly connected smile I've ever seen from him. It completely warmed my occasionally complacent heart. Sometimes I get into the feeding routine and it becomes admittedly a bit methodical; he snapped me right back with those baby blues. Girlie was in good spirits as well, which in and of itself can be a blessing. It was a great, and greatly needed afternoon.