10:15 AM She's just gone to anesthesia, walking down the hall with Nurse Lisa and the anesthesiologist. She's already had one bag of fluids and is about to start another.
In my other life I am a mild-mannered veterinary technician, and right now I feel like all the slightly lost human doctors and nurses who come into our office with sick kittens. There are a thousand questions on the tip of my tongue, things that I feel like I need to know even though I might not fully understand them
And can't do a thing about them anyway. It's hard to accept that this is not my operating room and there is nothing I can do but hold my wife's hand. I wonder if it's okay for the IV to be flowing so fast, but of course my wife weighs more than my average patient. I wonder what they are using for the epidural, but I'm sure if won't be anything I'm familiar with. Animals don't get epidurals - we just knock them out and intubate them.
I don't even know what normal human vitals are. The feeling of almost knowing important things is extremely frustrating. I'm trying to go with the flow and let the pros do their work without me being a nuisance.
10:32 it's time for me to join her in the OR. I feel ridiculous in the baggy paper scrubs they gave me, and wish I'd just worn my own scrubs. I would have, but I didn't want to be one of Those Clients, the ones who think they can second-guess the doctor because they Googled their pet's symptoms and watched that episode of House or fucking Grey's Anatomy. Did you know that there's a Grey's Anatomy line of scrubs now? There is. Because TV is our god, and the people on TV are its prophets, so universally adored that even people whose job it is to save lives every day feel unfulfilled if they don't emulate the sexy people who play doctors on TV, I guess.
There are seven or eight people in the OR. There's a surgeon, a surgeon assistant, a surgical tech, a pediatrician, a couple of nurses, and the anesthesiologist. None of them are wearing the Grey's Anatomy scrubs, as far as I can tell.
To give you an idea of how different things are on the veterinary side of things, when we do surgery, there are exactly two people in the OR: the doctor, and me.
They've already started by the time I get there, which feels vaguely insulting but I know why they didn't wait. It's okay. My wife is, somewhat freakishly, wide awake while three men are opening a six-inch hole in her abdomen and stretching its edges as wide as they can. And this is just the overture. When they really get going, she starts groaning, but between the anesthesiologist being on the ball and me holding her hand we make the sensation bearable. Just joking, anesthesiologist. You rock!
10:49 Out she comes, all long legs, long toes, curly red-gold-brown hair, eyes clenched angrily shut. Two of the staff, whose functions I have already forgotten, whirl her over to the baby unit, and now I don't know where to look. My wife is on my left, with several doctors still busy working on her, and the baby we've been awaiting the last nine months is on my right. Is she healthy? Is she normal? Is she a horrible mutant with gills and webbed fingers?
Okay, since none of the doctors are wearing Grey's Anatomy I think I can trust that they know what they're doing and stop watching them for five seconds. I look to the right.
SHE'S SO UNBELIEVABLY CUTE.
She looks exactly like our first daughter, from her hair down to the long, skinny toes which curl under each other. She will be able to do weird things with those toes. They will be useful if she ever takes up residence in zero gravity or decides to work in the circus. They will not look good in sandals. I know all this, just as I know she will be able to curl all her fingers on top of each other in either direction like her big sister, because they are my toes, and my fingers. She has my toes, fingers and hair. Everything in between is her mother's. Now I have three beautiful girls.
The doctors get busy tying things up, cauterizing, suturing and doing other neat-looking doctor things that my wife doesn't feel because the anesthesiologist is still doing his thing. Blessed are the anesthesiologists. Meanwhile, the pediatrics are working on Cinco de Mayo Girl. A few minutes later, they let me hold her and show my wife what a beautiful baby she's made.
12:30 Back in the birthing room, Nurse Lisa starts my wife on a pain management drip on a fairly low flow with a Jesus button. She's not feeling any pain yet, but I'm sure she'll need the button eventually. I have the most important job in the world -- feeding my wife ice chips. Go on, laugh, I double dare you. CdM Girl is nearby under a warming lamp, quiet and calm most of the time, letting out occasional squawls for attention which the nurse explains don't actually mean anything.
2:30 PM I leave Savta to watch the new mother and go down the street to fetch Spawn #1 from her school. The look on Spawn's face when she actually gets to hold the baby is pure rapture. Savta is proud as a peacock. Mummy looks about like you'd expect, like a very tired and very happy mother on some really good drugs.
It's been a long, rough war for independence. The French Army are no pushovers. The pregnancy was a nightmare for all of us. We've buried a father and a brother in the last year. Bills keep piling up, the neighbourhood is going to hell, and the house needs more work every year. Tomorrow the revolution will go on.
But today is Cinco de Mayo.