Tag Archives: Pregnant

My Hospital Birthing Experience

On a Monday in early May of 2011 we got the call in the early afternoon that it was time to come to the hospital to have labour induced. Everything seemed so civilized and orderly. We would arrive at the hospital in the early afternoon, induce labour and then after a few days, go home with our new family. Driving to the hospital was like going to the airport for some kind of trip, bags packed and feeling excited. Oh, it was a “trip” alright.

Induction Hormone Injected, Catcher’s Mitt On

Partly because everything seemed so “civil and orderly” as a result of having labour induced and planned out, and partly because of our fast food culture, after the induction hormone had been injected I think I expected a pretty quick delivery to unfold. Don’t get me wrong, we were parents by 9:06 am the next morning which, now I understand, is still actually quite quick, but I didn’t know that when the hormone was first given. So, long story short (and entirely skipping the drama that my wife experienced), we played the waiting game overnight.

We had an amazing nurse with us all night long, and Jenn’s OB/GYN was working overnight. That was great for us, since we had a good relationship with the Dr. and overnight we had grown quite comfortable with the nurse. It was the opinion of our OB/GYN that we could plan for a natural birth because both the twins were head down as we went into this whole process, so things were looking good.

For a little context for those who have never had multiples, if both fetuses are head down when the first child is born, then there is a risk that subsequent fetuses may shift their position and end up becoming breeched births (feet first and not the way they should ideally come out). If this happened, it was the opinion of our OB that it would be safest to deliver the second baby via C-section, as breech births are more of a risk to the fetus. Understandably, this was my wife’s least favourite option because it meant that after delivering, she would be recovering from a natural birth and a C-section.

Back to the story, at 7:00 am, still pregnant, it was shift change at the hospital. Good-bye nice nurse and cool OB/GYN, hello nurse Ratched and unknown OB/GYN. Jenn had been working hard for a while already by this point, but there was no significant change in the progress of the birth, and by 8:30ish, the new Dr. is telling us that it is decision time. Will it be a C-section or an assisted birth using forceps? Without going into the details of the conversation, it was obvious that the new Dr. thought that a C-section was the wrong choice and the assisted birth was the right choice. We were feeling exhausted and had never discussed the details of an assisted birth with our OB. After asking some questions as to why the Dr. thought the assisted birth was the better option, it became apparent that we were annoying her, and so we decided to go with the assisted birth. There was, however, no discussion as to what would happen if the second baby shifted and it came out breech.

The Assisted Birth

A-birth While the hospital staff were prepping themselves and Jenn, I was all dressed up with nowhere to go for the 15 minutes that I was in the “holding tank”. Finally I was let in and things got underway fairly quickly. My son came first, and although they used forceps, the process seemed fairly quick and routine. I was overwhelmed at the sight of my son, who was now an actual little person, not just an idea. Seeing him make his first uncoordinated jerky movements and then hearing his first cry took me on a mental roller coaster ride into the future, imagining some of the life events that were ahead of him and us. It was a truly emotional and eye-opening experience. I had a comfortable intellectualized notion of how I was becoming a father, and seeing my son in front of me forced a new and daunting reality upon me. I was both excited and making the realization that I wasn’t aware how real all of this was.

After my son was born, and before my wife could really even see him, he was taken to another part of the room and they started the work of delivering my daughter. Nothing was said by the medical staff to us about what was happening, but after a minute or so it became apparent to me that my daughter was now in a breech position. The mood had gotten more tense and to make things worse my wife had started throwing up again. Not being able to roll over, Jenn was concerned with choking, and at the same time the OB, in a very urgent tone, started saying that Jenn really had to push now. I remember looking at Jenn and saying with a tone that, from me, meant this was now very serious “you have to push now!” Jenn fully understood how serious I was, but she was in a bout of nausea and she replied “I’m trying!” I felt horrible for Jenn and very powerless and frantic about the situation.

B-O2Four minutes after my son, my daughter was born but the sight was very different. Instead of a healthy bright red crying infant, my daughter was bluish/purple, silent and motionless. Time slowed, it felt like my breath was sucked from my lungs, and for a second time I made the realization that I wasn’t aware how real all of this was. Again, they whisked my second child away to another part of the room and my attention went back to Jenn, who wasn’t aware of everything that I had just seen. I tried to help her through her nausea and simultaneously figure out what was happening with my daughter, and then Jenn asked “how are they?” I put on my best game face and told her they were both fine, then nurse Ratched and I caught one another’s eyes and I could tell that she wasn’t sure either. I told Jenn that I was going to go and take a look at them and that I’d be right back. When I arrived they had just covered my daughter’s mouth with an oxygen mask and she was starting to breath. It was truly amazing to see her colour change from purple to red after only a few breaths. As stressful as it was, it seems this is not uncommon and it was not a big deal for the hospital staff. Our new daughter was evaluated and found to be totally healthy and normal despite her awkward entrance into the world!

Who’s Really Pregnant, She or We?

She-or-We
Photo credit: Melissa Baker

Adjusting to life with a pregnant wife was a big change for me, and it really didn’t come easy. One of the most significant changes to my life was that when we were out socializing with friends, I found that I had to drink my beverages a lot quicker than the pre-pregnancy days because the designated driver got tired a lot earlier in the evening while pregnant. In a roundabout way, this brings me to the topic of this post. Of course being pregnant is going to impact the biological host’s life, but how does this impact the partner of said host? More specifically, when one person in a relationship is pregnant, are both of you pregnant?

At a certain point in the pregnancy I noticed that Jenn, perhaps inadvertently, started occasionally talking about our pregnancy instead of her pregnancy. I’m not a very good biologist, but I am quite a good literalist (at times) and I was dead sure that I wasn’t pregnant. I’m also no idiot, and I knew it was a way of including and sharing the experience of pregnancy with me and also a way for Jenn to feel part of a team. Even though I fully understood where Jenn was coming from with the new terminology, I have to admit that I was never really fully comfortable with the language, and these are my reasons three.

The Biological Component

Since (literally) I wasn’t pregnant, there were things that I just didn’t understand. The actual biological changes that were happening to my wife were noticeably lacking within my body, and because of this I think that, although intellectually I wanted to share the experience, I wasn’t faced with the reality of the situation to the same extent that Jenn was. My body was still my body, I didn’t have a rotation of novel cravings or aversions and my hormones weren’t on the same roller coaster ride that Jenn’s were on. There were a lot of physical and emotional realities that I did not and could not share and, therefore, only partially understood.

This lack of understanding left me in a situation where mentally I was not at the same level of preparedness for the impending parenthood as my wife was. Ironically the new terminology that Jenn was using was intended, at least in part, to help me get my head to that point, but I think it ended up making me a little defiant towards the situation rather than understanding of the situation. Essentially I think I was probably having some of the same feelings that Jenn was likely having about losing my “self” and my former life. The difference was that for Jenn, with all of the changes happening to her body, this realization was an ever increasing blatant reality, but without those physical changes happening to me, this was still more of an abstract concept for me. So, like a defiant child, I resisted the new terminology to try to retain my “self” and my former life.

“Self” and My Former Life

So what was so great about my “self” and my former life? Well, they both had no kids! I had a lot more freedom and much less responsibility. On the freedom front, I was able to pursue my personal and professional interests without having to consider the impact that it would have on my children. With respect to the responsibility side of the equation, being out until 3:00 am is never quite the same when you realize that your kids will give a wake-up call around 6:30 am and expect you to be “on” for the rest of the day no matter how you feel. Pregnancy is the nine month reminder that all of these things are around the corner for you and your partner.

Macho Macho Man: The Social Component

The macho macho man factor can be described in the following way. Your friends offer a sense of comfort and familiarity for a few reasons, but partly because they are a reminder of your “self” and your former life. When your pregnant partner mentions that “we” (you and her) are pregnant in front of your friends, then you are immediately thrust into that role that threatens your “self” and your former life. In an attempt to maintain the social status quo in front of your friends, you have the urge to resist the new terminology that is the symbol of your changing life.

So I’m an Idiot, Okay

Earlier in this very post I made a statement that I’m going to quote:

I’m also no idiot, and I knew it was a way of including and sharing the experience of pregnancy with me and also a way for Jenn to feel part of a team.

To be clear, throughout the entire pregnancy I was on board with being supportive and part of a parenting team. Even though intellectually I understood Jenn’s reasons for implementing the “team pregnancy” terminology, there were some parts of me that just were determined to go out of the pre-parenthood world fighting to prevent (or at least postpone) my loss of “self”. The dramatic conclusion to this post is that I understood the purpose behind the turn of phrase, and am no idiot in that way. In another way, however, by not being fully comfortable with the change of terminology I tested the team spirit of my relationship, and if not idiotic, that was at least a challenge. There were plenty of difficulties during our pregnancy, and the loss of “self” is a difficult thing for both parents to experience, but in hindsight, I think the change in terminology was good because it helped me to get my head in the parenthood game earlier than later.

Surprise, We’re Having Twins! Part 1

The Story of Getting the News

10-week-ultrasound
10 Week Ultrasound

In November of 2010 Jenn, my wife, had her first ultrasound planned. It was at about ten weeks in to her pregnancy, which is earlier than normal, but we were going to a clinic that we’d never been to and they wanted to date the fetus. Because Jenn would be getting another ultrasound done at 20 weeks, and since it was a tricky day for me to get off work, we agreed that Jenn would go alone to the first ultrasound and I’d join her for the 20 week ultrasound.

After I was finished at work, I went to pick Jenn up from her work. When she got in the car, I saw the large manila envelope in her hand. I remember asking “Are those the ultrasound pictures?” and commenting about how exciting it was to have the pictures. The first thing out of Jenn’s mouth was “Oh, you don’t know the half of it”. -Pause- click, click, click. “What do you mean?” I asked. “Is it twins?” Jenn tries to distract me, I ask two more times, and again she tries to distract me. The Third time finally Jenn says “Yes, we are having twins.”

Before I go on, let me set the stage a little. It was getting dark, and it was raining, I had been at work all day and was fairly tired and just found out that my wife and I were having twins. My first thought when I got the news was “I really should not be driving right now”. I found a place to pull over and park, and my memory is a little fuzzy on the details at this point. I don’t remember when I first looked at the ultrasound pictures, but it was either in the car or in the restaurant that we decided to eat at.

My mind was racing with thoughts, but paralyzed by the magnitude of the news. The pregnancy was planned, but twins were obviously not. This presented a lot of questions that now needed to be addressed. How are we going to afford the added expense? What will happen with childcare? How can both of us maintain our career path with twins coming? The questions went on, but there was also the realization that we were going to have two kids that would almost always be around for each other while they are growing up. They had a built in teammate in life and that was a pretty special thing. Jenn and I had planned on having two children eventually, so this was quite an efficient way of getting things done, but the news still added a fair bit of stress to the situation.

Some Thoughts

People had told me that so much happens once your child is born and you are so short on sleep that you don’t really remember a lot about the experience. The point to be taken from this was to enjoy and remember as much as you can of the early stage of your kids lives. I took this to heart, but thought that I had an ace up my sleeve because I knew that we were always planning on having two kids, so by the second time around I’d have a better understanding of what to expect, so I might be able to get more out of the experience.

Twins didn’t afford me the opportunity to have my second crack at the whole experience of watching my newborn come into the world. At the time this felt like an opportunity lost, but I’m two years along the fatherhood path and now I feel like I have a few thoughts on the topic. 1) I found out that infants really didn’t interest me in the way that they seem to interest others, so honestly I think I would have been worried about having to go through that phase again rather than relishing the idea of getting to do it again. 2) This point ties in with the first point, but l really enjoy my sleep, and generally speaking my kids sleep pretty well now, and I am happy not having to give that up. 3) Even if I did have one child at a time, by the time the second one came along I think the added difficulty of having a toddler running around at the same time would have prevented me from getting any more out of the infant experience than I did the first time around.

The upshot of all this is that I worried about this too much. People were right, the first 3 to 6 months were a haze, but I do remember some great moments with my little ones. Roll with it, you will remember what you remember. Over thinking it may just ruin some of the experience.

Happy Father’s Day!