May 1, 2013
53 of 65
A Happy Birthday, As It Is Meant To Be
There are people who were absolutely meant to be born into this world. Our son Michael is certainly one of them.
He came into the world on October 12, 1983. My wife Cathy had suffered a miscarriage in the summer of 1982. The pregnancy had been progressing well, but then there had been the bleeding and cramping and contractions; the drive to the hospital late at night. There was nothing the doctor could do. I felt like crying when I saw the lifeless fetus. I didn’t, though. My anguish was emotional, but Cathy was going through physical and mental hell. I tried to put up a good front and support her the best I could.
She slept through most of the next day. The day after that, we needed to get out of town, get away for a few hours. We started driving West on Interstate 70 toward the mountains. We passed Idaho Springs. When we reached Fall River Road, I turned off the highway, suggesting we drive up to St. Mary’s Glacier. It had been years since we had been that way, and I don’t know why I chose that route on that day. About 5 ½ miles from the Interstate, we passed the driveway to the house we would buy several years later – the house where our children would grow to be adults. It meant nothing to us then.
We were sad for what seemed a long time. I thought losing the baby was a terrible thing. It was, but I see now that it was meant to be. If that pregnancy had continued, Michael would not have been born when and where he was.
Cathy was very careful in all she did and ate and drank during the months just before his birth. Everything was going well and we did not want anything to happen to endanger this baby. However, only a couple of weeks before the due date, Cathy was diagnosed with a viral infection that could affect the birth canal and be life-threatening to the newborn. The alternative was delivery by Caesarean Section. We had been practicing Lamaze breathing, looking forward to as natural a birth as possible, but were glad to change our plans and welcomed the surgery since it could well save our baby’s life. The procedure was scheduled for October 14.
Michael, though, did not want to wait. Cathy went into labor in the early morning hours of October 12. Our house was designed so you could walk in a circle from the living room to the hall to the kitchen and back to the living room. Cathy awoke about 1:00 am and walked that circle with our dogs for some four hours. She didn’t wake me until about 5:00 when she knew it was time to go to the hospital.
My advice to new fathers-to-be at a time like this is DO NOT stop at your office on the way to the hospital. I did that just for a minute. Since the birth had been scheduled for two days later, I had a court appearance that morning and was supposed to meet with a client later. I stopped long enough to grab those files so I could call the necessary parties from the hospital to re-schedule. Cathy was neither amused nor impressed by my sense of professional responsibility.
When we reached the hospital, we learned that Cathy was right – of course she was; she was a nurse with years of experience in mother-baby, neonatal matters. It was time for the delivery. The C-Section was performed, Michael was born, he was healthy; I was happy and relieved.
Cathy had been cut open and was under epidural sedation. I believed she was doing ok, but I couldn’t tell for sure. A nurse took Michael to the nursery as Cathy was taken back to her room. I went with her, but only stayed for a few minutes. The nurse assured me that she would be well taken care of, so I went to the nursery to make sure everything was going well with Michael. For the next hour or so it was back and forth. I would tell Cathy how our baby was doing and then tell Michael about his mother. She quickly recovered sufficiently that the baby could be brought to her. After that, they were both happy, God was in his heaven and all was right with the world. It was just as it is supposed to be when someone is meant to be born.
The months leading up to our daughter Suzanne’s birth, nearly 2 ½ years later, were more sedate. Although there was no infection to threaten her well-being at birth, the delivery was again to be by C-Section because that is the safest procedure when there has been a prior C-Section that could have scarred the birth canal. The surgery was scheduled for February 14, 1986 – Valentine’s Day. Suzanne seemed to like that date, so she waited until the scheduled time to show her face, exactly as I believe she was meant to do.
That morning I took Michael to my parents’ house and told him it was time for him to have the baby sister we had told him about. Cathy and I then drove to the hospital on a beautiful late winter day. The temperature had been in the teens that morning, but it was warming into the 50s for the afternoon.
The surgery itself would have gone smoothly, if there had been a different anesthesiologist. One of the things I do not like about the medical system is that a patient’s life is regularly put into the hands of a physician the patient has never met, and about whose qualifications the patient knows nothing. It is simply, “Hi, Stranger. I am going to administer your epidural anesthesia.”
The anesthesiologist on duty initially gave too low a dose of the anesthetic, so Cathy experienced a lot of pain when the obstetrician began to cut her. The dosage was increased, but more than necessary, so that her blood pressure plummeted and her breathing nearly ceased as her body became numb all the way into her upper thoracic region and chest.
I was worried. As soon as Suzanne was born, she was taken away and the medical team worked to restore Cathy’s vital signs. I asked her if she wanted me to stay with her or go with the nurse and the baby. She said, “Go! They’ve already tried to kill me. Make sure they don’t do anything to my baby!”
I caught up with the nurse as she was recording Suzanne’s Apgar Score, which was a 9. Ten is perfect, but due to the altitude, no baby ever gets higher than a 9 in Colorado. It was counted as perfect. Suzanne was then taken to the nursery, where she was the cutest baby – and certainly had more hair on her head than all the other babies combined. All of that should be expected when someone is meant to be born.
I then went back to stay with Cathy until she was out of danger. Whew!
Cathy and Suzanne stayed for three more nights at the hospital, and I brought Michael to see them each evening. He seemed to adapt very well to the whole situation.
Cathy’s employer only allowed her to take 8 weeks’ leave after Suzanne’s birth. The first day she went back to work, my parents watched both Michael and Suzanne. I picked them up that afternoon, getting them home before Cathy returned from work. Michael asked, “Where’s Mommy?” I said, “She had to go to work. She’s still at the hospital.”
Michael began crying and said, “No, I don’t want Mommy to go to the hospitable any more!” He had adapted to that once, and that was enough for him.