I was out on business in Chicago, leaving my lover behind in CA for two weeks. I was working insane hours trying to get our software installed in the time allowed, anywhere from 12 to 20 hours a day. After doing this for a few days, my love mentioned she was a little late, gynecologically speaking. Well, this was nothing new for her, she has a horrible case of endometriosis which has prevented her from ever being "normal". In fact, it appeared pregnancy was likely out of the question for her. She was planning on going out to the bar that night, and feeling lonely. I asked her to get a test, just in case... I left my hotel room and worked for about four more hours before coming back. The phone rang, "Guess what, Daddy?"
wow "Really???"
"Really!"
The remainder of my time in Chicago was spent in a combination of elation and absolute frustration at not being able to be at home with my love.

Four week checkup happened a while ago... Took a sonogram and found the baby. It was a little pixel on the monitor, fluctuating between black and white... Cool, I'm going to be the father of a pixel. Ok.....

Starting at about six weeks, my love began getting terrible morning sickness at night. She'd already been suffering from massive head-aches, so our time has been spent trying to keep her from just collapsing from the overload. All of this combined with the pressures we've both been suffering at work have strained things. But, when I look at her sleeping face in the moonlight and let my mind leap ahead eight months, my frustrations fade away.

I'm not the writer I wish I could be, so bear with this next update, please.

Ten week checkup happened yesterday. The doctor pulled out an industrial size medical microphone and began moving it around over my beautiful loves stomach, but couldn't find the heartbeat...
worry
So they wheel in the sonogram machine, and begin using that. This large black oval starts to appear in the monitor, with something white in the middle. Something takes on definition in the whiteness... I see a head, a very small arm, and a very small leg...
Awe
i hear nothing but my heart and the hum of the sonogram resonating
afraid
shock
love
paradigm irrevocably shifts
study the fluctuating display
breathe
center

numina

love
change
tears

The doctor shifted the sonogram and lost the image, snapping me back. I can't express in words those first moments....
The doctor continued, "the heart rate's just normal. Here's some literature..."
can't stop shaking
Ended up having to take an extra long lunch with my love to recover, after the appointment. Dealing with the daily stresses has obscured the wonder of the fact that my love is going to be having my child. Now that child has reached out through the sonogram monitor and yelled "wake up! Get ready! I'm gonna be there REAL SOON NOW!"
Last night I slept very little, thinking about this child I've now been brought face to face with. I spent most of the night in bed, with my hand over my love's womb.
We've now made it past the danger zone, where most miscarriages occur. In general, my love has been feeling better lately. The headaches haven't been so bad. However, morning sickness has been hitting with a vengeance, and at any odd time. I've been helping her out of the shower to the toilet, stumbling out of bed after her to hold her hand at two in the morning, and trying to keep her hydrated through all of this. Hopefully the sickness should start tapering off soon, but there are no guarantees. We had another checkup, this one just at the beginning of the fourth month. We heard the baby's heart beat again, and the doctor says everything seems good so far. Knock on wood!
Another routine checkup happened yesterday. This one marked 18 weeks into the pregnancy. The doctor used the microphone and speaker to listen to the heartbeat. This time he found the heartbeat immediately, whereas last month it took a minute or two of moving the microphone around to find it. There were occasional bursts of static, which the doctor told us was the baby moving around. The kid must have been feeling frisky! Next week we do the 20 week sonogram and find out the sex of the baby.
Almost 19 weeks in, and I felt the baby move for the first time last night, when I was falling asleep with my hand around my love's belly. I got used to her breathing pattern, and then suddenly felt an uncharacteristic bump. "Did you feel that?" Wow! I sure did!
Twenty weeks, halfway there. We went in for the big sonogram today. She was nervous and excited the whole drive. Once we got there, and into the examination room, she calmed down, and I started to get nervous and excited. "She's definitely showing now," was one of the thoughts I had waiting with her for the doctor. The doctor came in, quickly poured some gel on her stomach, and started the machine. The baby was visible right away. Sort of. I remember as a child never being able to understand what was on my mother's sonogram screen, it was always a big blur to me. This wasn't very different, although there were a few times I was able to make out a finger, leg, or head here or there. The doctor quickly went through a checklist of things, checking the heart and blood flow, making sure the stomach was swallowing fluid, examined the brain, looked over the limbs, and then went looking for the gender...

It's a boy!

This was a completely different feeling from the last sonogram. This time I was ready for it. This time was just a rush, like a loop on a rollercoaster that you see coming. It was over so fast, much faster than I'd imagined. We have it recorded on VHS, and I'm going to have to watch it again and see if I can't pick out what the doctor was describing to us earlier. What a rush!
We're seven months along now, and into the third trimester. We've been collecting various baby things, such as a crib, changing table, clothes, toys, etc. If we didn't have good friends to help us out, this would be really hard to pull off. I've been feeling the baby move a lot, quick little bumps at night, when I have my arm around my love's waist. Last night, though, was different. She was reading, and I had my hand on her belly, waiting for the baby to move. There was a hard push, the strongest I've felt. I pushed back gently and could feel something! I moved my hand along her belly and felt the boundaries of of a limb, probably an arm or leg, or maybe even the head. This lasted for a full two seconds, before he pulled back in. Wow! Wow! I felt him! Not just a quick bump, but I felt something resist! That surprised me so much I was left in awe for the rest of the night.

We had another doctors appointment yesterday. They're starting to become routine now. We visit a new doctor every two weeks, they're rotating us so we're familiar with all of them. That way we'll not be meeting a stranger in the delivery room, as the doctor on call when we deliver will be practically random. Every appointment they pull out the microphone and listen for the baby, and usually the baby moves around, making it hard for them to find him. Yesterday, the poor doctor couldn't get a count on his heartrate because the baby kept moving around. She finally got it, after three failed attempts. The headaches have eased for my love now, but the baby's putting pressure on her siatic nerve, so her lower back and leg are constantly in pain. Apparently this is pretty normal, and should go away after the delivery. Unfortunately it's making her desk job an incredible burden. In six weeks she goes on short term disability, and I can tell that she's counting down the days. I don't blame her. I have to help her up, sometimes, but she hates that. She's so independent. I love her so much.
Wow, how time flies! We're down to the final four weeks! Starting this week, we now visit the doctor every week, and they're going to begin checking her dilation. Unfortunately, a recent change in job is going to prevent me from going with her every visit now... The baby is moving constantly, to the point where it is causing great pain to my love. Repetitive jabs and kicks to the rib would probably do that... Everything is becoming full of stress and difficulty for both of us now, partially from outside factors. I'm frustrated deeply by my inability to continue to help my love at the level I have in the past. Everything is disorder right now, when I feel we should be getting everything stable and prepared. Thank the spirits that she's now on short term disability. She was only barely able to continue working up until the state required four weeks prior to labor. It was very difficult for her. I married her today, on November 14th, in a small ceremony. I love her deeply. It's times like these that make me understand the need for God. I have no God, but I have her. And now is when I must be most devout in my worship.
The day is December 28th, a Tuesday, and I'm working late. I get a phone call from my wife, advising me not to stay much later, she's been having contractions since that afternoon. WOW! I race home, making the 65 mile commute in record time. Only to get home to a fairly boring situation. The contractions are pretty far apart, and the baby doesn't look to be coming too soon. So, we try to go to bed.
2:00 AM "Honey, I think we need to go!"
My groggy, half awake response, "Are you sure?"
"My water just broke."
!!!
I'm zipping around getting our bags together, and she's telling me to calm down and slow down. Sheesh. We head out to the hospital, which fortunately is only a five minute drive away, and pull up to the emergency room entrance, where my love is driven by wheelchair to the delivery area. We are taken to a small recovery room, where she is given a gurney to lie down on, and they perform tests to make sure her water was broken. After verification comes the IV and observation. I make the mistake of watching them put the IV in her arm, and start to feel my pulse pounding as the injection goes in. Pop! A spurt of blood shoots out of the needle. Everything starts going dark... "Honey? SIT DOWN!" Whew, nice save, love. I forgot, I really hate needles. Then, we wait.
And wait.
And wait...
At about 9:00 AM, they finally have a delivery room available for us. The gurney had been absolutely killing my love, so we were quite relieved to be in the spacious and comfortable (relatively, at any rate) delivery room. Her contractions had ended once we arrived at the hospital. Of course they did. ::sigh:: However, since her water is broken, they can't let her go, so they begin to induce labor with a Pitocin drip. Wow! That gets the contractions going! She's having contractions every five minutes, now. Every four minutes. Every three... This is starting to get really painful for my love, and we get started on a narcotic through the IV. Ahhh, bliss. Heck, we can do this without the epidural, no problem. That lasts for about an hour, and then we're back to the wracking pain. Her cries of pain are hard to listen to, because I'm helpless to relieve the pain at all. Ok, another dose of the narcotic. Uh uh, doesn't help. The nurse tells us that sometimes this happens, the second dose just doesn't take effect. So, she calls in the anesthesiologist.
Ok, an epidural is like an IV, in that drugs are continually pumped into the body. However, this IV goes straight into the spine, from behind. With my past failure on the needle end, the nurse tells me to leave the room. Doesn't ask me if I want to, she tells me! "No, I'll be ok, I just won't watch!" I'm not about to leave my wife to this torture alone! She's crying out in pain from the contractions... I hold her hand and look her right in the eyes. She closes her eyes, wincing from the pain. Oh well, so much for focusing on each others eyes to get through it, I guess that only works in the movies. I lower the angle of my head so that my field of vision stops at her face, so I can't see the needle inserted. Next thing I know, it's done. She's still in terrible pain, though... The epidural apparently settles into the body and is pulled by gravity, so they need to rotate her after a while. She's lying on her left side, so most of the drugs are going straight to her left side. Only thing is, that's where the pain is the worst. In fact, she's feeling numb now everywhere but the left side. The nurse has us roll her over. No effect, or only a marginal one. They call back the anesthesiologist who fiddles with the thin tube a little, pulling it out of her back slightly. We start getting a slight improvement... The contractions are bearable, at least. But they still hurt on the left side...
The nurse asks her if she's ready to start pushing. "Yes". So we get her legs up in the air, and as the wave of the contraction begins to swell, she begins to push. "1..2..3..4..5..6..7.. doing great!..8..9..10 and breath out. Now breath back in quick and push again! 1..2.." Three repetitions. Ok, this isn't too bad. The last push coincides with the end of the contraction. My wife is feeling a pressure on her left side, though, it's starting to hurt, a lot. We get through about four or five contractions, when the nurse asks me to look. I look over and can see a tuft of hair, an inch or two inside my wife. My universe rotates 90 degrees. Dizzy... "Wow, HONEY, there's a baby down there!!" My only response is an annoyed look from my wife... Right, ok... "PUSH! 2.. 3.. 4.. 5.. 6...."
Our nurse leaves, says she'll send in another nurse to help us push, but she's needed somewhere else. An intern comes in. My wife had initially told the doctor that she hadn't wanted any students or interns in the room. I'm slightly irritated. But there are too many pushing, err, pressing matters at hand to do anything about it. Her telling us to push, though, now THAT gets annoying. "good job! good job! good job! good job!" I'm tempted to smack her head to get past the skip in her mental record player. But everyone's so caught up in what's happening, and I'm so busy trying to coach my wife to keep breathing, slow the breathing down, push, keep pushing, keep going... that I am only peripherally annoyed.
We get our original nurse back, and then a different nurse, and back to our original nurse. Time is a blur here. At the time, it seemed to take forever. In retrospect, it hardly seems long at all. The reality was about four hours. We continue to push, and the baby gets further. I can see the tip of the heading breaking out. There's black hair, loosely covering the top of the head. The doctor comes out and joins us... My love doesn't think he'll fit, the doctor tells us that an episiotomy may be necessary. It quickly becomes obvious that she'll tear, if he doesn't cut her. He starts explaining all of this to her slowly, and she's so frustrated and shaking her head and saying "YES, do it!" over and over. He tells us to stop pushing when he says, on the next contraction... We push once, twice, STOP. We stop, he cuts...
Final minutes of labor...
"I can't!"
"Yes you can! PUSH!"
the crest of a head pushing out further this time...
but I'm needed elsewhere, this is the last time I catch a glimpse of the baby coming out...
my wife's sister is doing the counting now, for the pushing. She's strong, helps tremendously. But it's not enough...
"It hurts! I can't!"
"You're doing great! PUSH!"
I feel myself drawing in the breaths with her... We become linked... She doesn't start pushing until I force her to with a "PUSH!" and gasp for air myself...
She's screaming, her eyes are closed so tightly in a grimace of pain I'll never forget.
all teeth bared..
. squeezing my hand, but I don't even notice
"..3..4..5.."
"We need a fourth push this time!"
"NO!"
"PUSH!"
it's so bright, the lights are on...
"PUSH!"
gasps of pain, grunts of concentration...
this repeats...
again..

and again...

until it seems we can't go on any more...
her pushes are becoming more frantic, more desperate, I'm getting scared...


The doctor says "Open your eyes! Open your eyes and see your baby boy!"
We both look up and over, and there is a baby my son beautiful a small baby boy,covered in white... my son he's so small!
Her cries of pain immediately quiet, and his cries replace them and she's coo-ing to him... it's the most beautiful sound... they cut the umbilical cord, take him over to a table where they wrap him in a small blanket. he hears her voice, and his head turns TURNS! to face her. He gets turned around in the process, and he once again turns his head to face her! they place him on her shoulder, and I rest my head on the other one, and we're both just staring at him. She's smiling, and I'm crying, and our son is laying against her, silent now, his eyes open and exploring the room, never focusing on anything... my chest is imploding. i love him so much, and i've never met him before. i've seen pictures. he's my pixel, my image on the monitor. now he's my son, and he's resting on his mother's breast. how do i love him so much, so instantly? the moment is too fleeting, and they take the child away from me...
The afterbirth and placenta follow, more pain for my wife. Only a shadow of the pain she'd just experienced, though. They place identifying tags on either ankle of our new son, which match the ones my wife and I wear. Then, they give me the baby... my son! and lead me to the nursery. I'm holding him close and having a hard time watching where I'm going. He's so beautiful! So amazing!
Once there, once again, he is taken from me. Quickly bathed, cleaned, and given a blood test. He's crying now. I know that cry now. I will always recognize that cry. That's the sound of my son in distress. Then they lay him in a heating table, where I stay with him, and just stare at him... touching his little arms... His eyes are so bright! Darting around, absorbing everything around them! So bright! And now, I'm a dad.

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