Where we are: the home stretch and almost with a baby in hand.
Warning: this is the graphic one, the final piece of the parental puzzle, the blood, guts, and gore of the story. Prepare yourself.
Resuming in 3…2…1…
So there we were, sitting stunned at the words that the doctor had just muttered. C-section? Why? How? I wanted to ask if we maybe hadn’t tried something, had forgotten a special way to get a baby out when they seem to be being stubborn. I knew the answer, though. I knew that it shouldn’t take two-and-a-half hours of pushing to get a baby out; I knew that the baby was probably stuck and I couldn’t help but be scared half out of my mind for her and for Kayleigh. That wasn’t how things were supposed to go, yet there we were.
Kayleigh cried. I tried my best not to cry myself but I believe that I probably betrayed a few tears at the time. I was scared to death and I couldn’t help but show it just a little. At the moment you’re told your girlfriend needs a c-section to get your baby out, a lot of things flash through your head: Is the baby going to be okay? Is Kayleigh going to be okay? What would I do if something were to happen to either of them? I know, I know, a little paranoid, right? Not really, though, not if you’ve ever read one of those terrible, depressing stories about the semi-rare accident or the unforeseen complications that have happened to couples just like you…
Anyways, we had a period of somewhere between two and five minutes before it was time to hit the halls and head down to the O.R. (operating room) at the front of the Birthing Center. The doc was telling the nurses what to do, I was trying to help Kayleigh not be scared, and she was puking on and off into her barf bag—shit was hectic.
Suddenly, I was handed a bundle of clothes, all of the pieces wrapped separately in their own plastic bag. When I looked at them, I realized that what I held were a bunch of medical-looking clothes, and in the heat of the moment, I had no idea what I was supposed to do with them. I glanced at the doctor with what I can only imagine was a dumb, questioning, Forest-Gump-not-understanding-something look on my face. She told me to put them on, that I would need to wear them when I went with Kayleigh into the operating room. Duh. As soon as understanding dawned on me I began to suit up in what looked like a Breaking Bad hazmat suit. I also kind of felt like Marty McFly when he first travels back in time and he’s confused for a spaceman, an alien of some kind, and gets shot at in the barn. Or when he visits his father, George, and tells him that he’s Darth Vader and will melt his brain if he doesn’t do what Marty says.
When it was time to move, one of the nurses explained to me that they’d be going into the O.R. to get set up, that they’d be taking Kayleigh with them, and that they’d let me in when the surgery was about to start. I said okay and it was off to the races. Down the hall we went; Kayleigh ahead of me with our doctor, a few nurses, and the tall spine-punisher. It felt like I was walking the plank, except I wasn’t the one who would have to jump.
We reached the doors where the nurses signaled for me to stay behind, wait a minute, take a second. I’ll tell you what, when those doors close and you’re left alone in the hallway outside of that torture room, in a weird spacesuit, wondering if the loves of your life are going to be alright, time slows down, way down, and the next few minutes of your existence become the longest you ever live through.
So there I was with my heart racing out of my chest, my legs and arms working frantically to do something, anything, just to shake off my anxiety. I feel like I paced the same fifteen feet worth of carpet seventy-five to one-hundred times in the few minutes I was made to wait. I would swear that twenty minutes passed as I waited, yet I know it couldn’t have been any more than five. You see, when adrenaline hits you as hard as it was hitting me in that hallway, time takes on a new, slower pace; a painful, frightening, laggy pace.
Finally, after repeated attempts to see something through the window in the door that led into the room where Kayleigh was being prepped to be opened up like presents on Christmas, a nurse came to get me and led me inside. Through two sets of doors I went, nearly tripping over my own feet I was so worked up, and there she was. Kayleigh was slightly to the right of the door, about eight paces in, which explains why I couldn’t see her through the door’s window. A sheet had been erected so I could only see her head and neck. I was then led to her side, where I could talk to her, lay my face against hers, and give her kisses when she needed them. It was time.
I could hear the doctors and nurses chatting with each other, throwing out medical terms that I could never know even if I went to medical school, but I couldn’t hear them, I could only hear Kayleigh whispering, softly, sweetly, firmly, “Get me my barf bag.” So I did, and quickly at that. She told the—I totally just remembered the name—anesthesiologist that she could feel something, so he turned up the medicine being pumped into her spine. “I can feel that stuff running into me,” she said, “It’s cold.” That part sticks out a little bit for me because I just imagined some weird, cold, substance being injected into your veins, one that just keeps cycling through your blood-vessels, alternately chilling different parts of your body, forever. Ew.
It was then that I heard a nurse say something about “her” being “out.” My heart skipped. She’s out? The baby is out? We heard a cry; a tiny, beautiful little thing that immediately captured our hearts. “She even cries cute,” Kayleigh said. I slowly, slowly, slowly peeked my head around the sheet. I froze. Nearly instantaneously I was hit by a wave of emotion that I can’t even describe. I was rocked like I’d never been rocked before. I wouldn’t be surprised if I was physically jerked back by the force of that emotional freight-train. I began to bawl my eyes out, my heart was in my stomach, my stomach in my throat. What I saw was the most beautiful, magical, precious little being I’d ever seen in my life, and the second I laid eyes on her, I was addicted and in love.
The nurses quickly wrapped her in a blanket and brought her across the room, motioning for me to go on over, to go meet our baby. I could barely walk the five paces across the floor I felt so weak. My knees nearly buckled as I stumbled my way across the room, eyes blurry from all of the tears. At this point the waterworks were still on, I was crying like a baby and I didn’t give two shits about who was watching.
When I finally reached her it felt like minutes had passed since she’d come out, yet it had only been seconds. She was so cute, so tiny, so… red. She was the reddest newborn baby I’d ever seen as a matter of fact (as if I’ve seen many). She was also the most precious thing I’d ever seen and I feel like I wasn’t even fully aware yet that she was mine, that I got to keep her, that I had to take her home and change her ass and put up with her shit—pun intended— for the next, um, forever. I wouldn’t have minded it even if I did realize it though, not then, and I most definitely don’t mind now. The girl has my heart, completely and forever.
After performing a couple little tests and taking measurements, the nurses asked if I wanted to hold her. Um, duh, why wouldn’t I want to hold my newborn daughter? She was handed to me and I immediately felt like I was going to break her. She was so, so little, so fragile-feeling, so absolutely perfect.
I turned around with her in my arms and that’s when I saw it: Kayleigh’s splayed-open stomach and what I’d swear were her intestines on the outside of her body. Oh, and not to mention blood. A lot of blood. It looked like something you’d see in a war movie like Saving Private Ryan or Blackhawk Down, and I’m now closer to Kayleigh than anyone else will ever get to her, in terms of what I’ve seen or experienced with her at least. I’ve not only seen all of her outsides, but I’ve seen her insides too! Sounds kind of creepy, doesn’t it? Hey, I didn’t ask for that view, okay? I was just in a rush to show my girlfriend her daughter and I turned around to head back over to her at the wrong time.
Anyways, it was pretty much the shock of my life, yet it was hard to look away. It was a strange feeling and I won’t ever forget it. I got back to Kayleigh and tried to show her the thing we had created together, the warm, itty-bitty, soft little ball that I was in possession of. “I can’t,” she said, and at first I didn’t get it. After a second I realized she was talking about how messed up on the drugs she was. She couldn’t see her daughter, not then at least, under the bright lights while she was all hopped up on God knows what being pumped through her spine. She also told the anesthesiologist that she could feel herself being stitched up, so he turned up her meds even more. I felt really bad as we’d been waiting so many months for that moment, but I decided to make the best of things and whipped out my phone to take selfies.
I took a few pictures of myself with our newborn daughter, a few with Kayleigh in the background appearing in pain, and a few of the computer across the room displaying her measurements. Let me just say that the first time I saw what was going on below that sheet wasn’t the last time I saw it. I glimpsed the whole mess again and had to hurry back to Kayleigh so that I could love on her.
Finally, the operation was over. Kayleigh was sewn up and as close as she’d ever get to whole again, if not mentally, physically. The doctor and nurses began to wheel her out, while I was left behind holding a newborn child. One of the nurses said, “come on, you can carry her.” Now, at that point, I recalled the very first few minutes of our stay in the Birthing Center, where I was told that parents DO NOT get to carry their babies down the hallway. I asked, “Are you sure? I won’t be breaking the—” “Yes, you’re fine, now come on!”
I walked slowly, was almost hit by a door but wasn’t because of my ninja-like reflexes, and shuffled my way down the hallway at the end of the parade of scrubs. When I first entered the room, my mother nor Kayleigh’s noticed me walk in with the baby. The two moms were very concentrated on Kayleigh and I’m sure they were wondering just how things went and wanted answers. They were both looking at the new mama as she was wheeled back into the room and totally missed the baby and I walk in.
Suddenly, the moms slow-motion turned and that was the first time they ever saw their Granddaughter. Both of them looked a bit worried and a bit excited at the same time. I bet they felt nearly as I did when I started bawling uncontrollably in the O.R. I was done crying at this point, by the way. The moms immediately wanted to hold her and they did. They took turns holding the first grandbaby for both of them, passing her back and forth and took a few pictures.
It was then time for everyone to clear out. We had specified on our birth plan that we wanted an hour after the birth all-together, as a family. All-together as in Kayleigh, the baby, and I, which we did end up getting. A lactation specialist entered the room just as our moms were making their own way out. We had sent them off into the cold, cruel world so that we could have alone time with our brand new baby.
When they were gone, it was just the lactation specialist, a nurse, and us left. Then, the lactation lady got the baby to suckle from Kayleigh’s swollen, new-mama booby, and she left us alone. Suddenly, Kayleigh and I were by ourselves with this perfect, new, little bundle of joy. She was the most breathtaking thing either of us had seen at the time, and she still is today.
We had whittled things down to three names prior to going in for the messy show and now Kayleigh asked me a most important question, “What name are you thinking?” I thought about it for a second; I knew that I had the name that fit the new addition to our little family perfectly, but I didn’t want to show my hand before she showed hers. “What name are you? I definitely think she looks more like one of them than the others.” “Okay, I’m thinking—”
I’ll let you know that the name that she said was the name I had been thinking, the name I had felt so strongly about, the name that I knew fit our baby and would be hers for all-time:
Emerson Lennon was born on November 16, 2016. She was 7 lbs 1 oz of complete, beautiful, pure elation.
I love her more than anything, as I do her mother. This is the story of our lives together. Welcome to my blog.
This is Doin’ it Daddy Style.