When I was in my early 20s, I had a problem that I mentioned to my grandmother. In turn, she told me if I thought that problem was tough, to keep on living. Of course at that age you don’t get it, but I have seen so much since then. I realized that just because people smile doesn’t mean everything is ok in their lives. The person you work with may be going through things your wildest dreams couldn’t imagine. Folks always look at your situation like it is peachy, but the flip side of this coin is something else.
My wife and I were expecting our 5th child…dubbed ‘The Finale.’ With this last pregnancy, I have had a lot of time to reflect on life. Not so much the in-between, but the before and after; birth and death. I don’t share much about my past, but safe to say I have spent a fair share of time in the hospital. Aside from child birth, my mother worked in a hospital, so bring your kid to work day was exciting and I felt like part of her work family. When I was in my teenage years, she had a stroke and was hospitalized in this same hospital, so I spent a good time within the walls of medical establishments growing up.
Whenever I enter a hospital, I subconsciously associate things from my earlier years there. Granted it was a scheduled induction (wife) versus ICU (mom), but these memories resurfaced because of a call I received yesterday notifying me my cousins wife (late 30s) had a stroke and temporary memory loss. It immediately took me back to that era in my life, and during this visit I couldn’t help but parallel my current experience with my past.
For those who don’t have children, there is a lot that goes on in your head. A lot of self-reflection. You also are consumed with selfish thoughts. What would happen worst case scenario, how would you maintain. From there your drifts into a silent prayer for the mother’s health, and the child. That there is no tearing, minimal pain, quick delivery, no cords wrapped, no abnormalities, all the toes, fingers…you get the point. With my mother I thought some of the same selfish thoughts – what about my kids not having a grandmother, or her making me my favorite dish, or me making her laugh. You say a prayer begging God in the same manner that healing takes place.
When my mother was admitted, I remember her saying, “Jay, help me” in an attempt to turn on her side. She was seeking comfort after her stroke in route to a coma…while one breath closer to death. I assist my wife with her comfort as she is experiencing extreme labor pains. They say this is the closest experience a women comes to death…but unlike my mother’s situation this was to bring about life. As a husband you feel anxiety and concern, however with this being our 5th time I had a calm demeanor and faith everything would be ok. A level of faith I didn’t have at that young age. A level of faith that comes about with time and experience and life. A level of faith I wish I had with my mother.
They come in and ask you a series of questions that seems to get longer each time. Everything from your history of hypertension and cancer in your family, to bi-polar disorder. She went through the list and there was no HIV, STD, HPV, OPP (yea you know me). The questioning is extremely intrusive and annoying, but I understand why they ask.
The next part is the plucking. Stick you here, stick you there. As long as we have been together, I have NEVER seen a nurse find my wife’s vein on the first try. We have told each nurse this over the past decade, but each one is so arrogant/confident they ignore our warning. This one particular nurse bothered me because she acted like her years of experience trumped the Carmen Sandiego vein. She was talking to us like we were some dumb plum plum picker or something – pokey wokey, stickey wickey. What the?? I just shook my head in disbelief as she kept trying (failing) and made comments like “be still” to mask her incompetence and inability to perform her job. She finally got it to stick, then we were introduced to a new nurse. She was nice, but had that Palin, Fargo, Life with Louie, northwestern (or wherever that is from) type accent. At least it made me laugh inside and she seemed to be a ginuine person.
At this point there is an IV running, pitocin, heck something else…then time for the epidural. Now this is the one area that makes me uneasy. I silently pray the entire time because I don’t really trust anyone messing with your spine, but it is a must-have for her pain. I stand between her legs as they dangle off the side of the bed. She buries her head in my chest placing her sweet smelling hair under my nose while arching her back out so the anesthesiologist can prepare the catheter. I am trying to comfort her by kissing her on the top of the head, and gently stroking her IV taped hand with my thumb. This airhead nurse asked me if I would be ok and if I needed a chair. I told her I did not need a chair, and I would be fine. She puts this chair behind me regardless. The guy does the procedure. It is a prick, followed by an intense burning sensation. A pain (situation) that seems like it will last forever, but when it passes there is that stillness after the storm. After that, the wife usually releases her grip from her husband’s broken hand and can relax. So the procedure is done and I go to back up, and this chair is right under my heel. She apologizes, but says she has seen men faint. Like look you dumb heifer, I have 4 kids. If I haven’t fainted before…I swear people need to start listening. I almost busted my t-bone tripping back over that chair. I should have kicked it back into her shin.
While standing there you look at your wife…who at this point doesn’t care if the entire world sees her rear end because she is ready to push the baby out. You fight between being jealous, yet understanding. The aromas of hospitals I wish I could erase from memory. From the pungent tincture of iodine odor to the smell of tape. I find it weird that smell spark nostalgic feelings with a range from joy & excitement…to despair and heartache. I have also become overly sensitive to the sounds of machines. From the thump of the baby’s heartbeat monitor and buzz of the automatic blood pressure cuff, to the whishing sound of the mechanical ventilator, every sound is intense. When you have a loved one in ICU every beep makes your blood pressure rise. You wish for the best, but always expect the worst. So whenever I hear a beep, or it fades or slows down…I immediately start praying.
The medicine starts to work and the mrs tries to get some rest. As you sit there, you assess the room and see what has changed. With most things…some things change, some remain the same. Some things are new that didn’t exist with our other child such as flat screens and wi-fi. At almost every hospital I have ever been to, I have encountered 3 personality types: extremely nice/helpful, condescending, incompetent (made it through med school with a C average).
I look over at my wife, and feel bad because I am strangely turned on. She looks so good to me, and sexy. Nothing sexier than a strong, smart woman. I am looking at her, and think…boy she must really love me. Either that, or my mushroom vest (Boomerang). I immediately make a mental note to email my friend for his vasectomy doctor before we end up back here. I had already been kissing her on her neck earlier 😉
I started watching CNN and there are a plethora of depressing stories. Starts with the swine flu paranoia, then flips to a story about a gator under a car at some dealership in Florida. Straight from the wtf department there was a guy in the Nasty Nati dressed as a super hero trying to make citizens arrest, and a story about a plane flying low over NY. I see some other news blip about Obama’s 100th day in office…which to me seems like they might as well say “Countdown – 1286 days till we can get this negro out of office.” Did we ever do this with other presidents? Heck maybe we did (Reagan) and I just didn’t care before. In any case, my mind is all over the place and I sit and wonder if anyone on this earth thinks Nancy Grace is attractive, and why is Kim Kardashian trying to do a fitness video when she doesn’t know what in the hell she is talking about? In the words Office Space, she is an A-Clown.
I am looking at all this nonsense on television wondering what type of world my son will have to deal with, versus being at the hospital with my mom looking at the news but not hearing one solitary word…wondering why God is doing this to our family. At this point, I started to become thankful. Thankful for the life my mother had, thankful for the life that was on the way. Thankful for each moment I take for granted. I refuse to keep whining and crying and sulking because things are picture perfect or the way I thought they would be at this age in my life. Yes, life doesn’t seem fair at times, but it comes to a point where you are either going to make a change or not. You are either going to focus on the good and move forward, or keep looking back trying and not go anywhere. I have learned nobody on the earth really cares about you more than yourself, so throwing tantrums and pity parties doesn’t help anything.
I won’t be too graphic with delivery, but it went pretty fast. One push and baby was out. They clip, snip, pass the baby off. One cleans, other doctor works on pulling the embryonic sac out. No tearing this time, so easy work for the doc. Baby gets wiped down (yuck) and they put him under the french fry warmer. They place the little cap on his head, and I hold him and pray over him intensely. Over his life, decisions, the path he takes. That his borders be expanded and he exceeds what I could have ever imagined. I speak power into his life, and despite the current circumstances I pray God grants us favor in cultivating him to fulfill his destiny.
I often joke about strength of a man. My wife says guys are cry babies when they get sick, and I know this is true but my ego forces me to rebut claiming if we had babies, we wouldn’t cry. We have a higher threshold for pain, and would just suck it up. Lol. Truth is we are on two different playing fields. A woman’s strength is unparallel. I have the utmost respect for women and what they go through.
The birth of my son and this last visit to the hospital caused me to reflect on life. It is such a beautiful, miraculous thing that truly fascinates me. How something is concealed, yet protected and nourished for 9 months inside before it comes to fruition to begins life. When I think about the frustrations many people have in life, it seems it leads back to visions they are trying to birth. The problem is we all want the baby without going through labor & delivery. And in some cases, we are trying to deliver too soon when we need to incubate our vision a little longer.
After my wife delivered the baby and they cleaned the room, one of the nurses joked about the excessive use of tape. From the IV, to the epidural. I thought about how there are (seasonal) things in life like tape that helps us in a bad situation (e.g friendships, circumstances). It doesn’t bind us, but it is there to temporarily hold/assist us. Not meant for a permanent fix, but may be meant to guide you back on the right path. Problem is most people are reluctant to any outside evaluation, or to the idea this actually may be the path God wants you to be on.
Looking at my wife in the hospital, I realized that I am thankful for the tape, tears & fears in my life. Even though it is natural to not want to go through things, faith makes fear non-existent. Look back over your life at some of the things you thought you’d never make it through. It hurt, it made you cry, but it made you stronger. I have been through a lot of pain in life, but I’d be foolish to say I haven’t experienced an equal amount of good. I have met wonderful people, seen wonderful things and ushered wonderful people into this earth. I have been blessed where people would die to be in my shoes, and I chose to continue my walk being thankful versus angry and frustrated.
Each one of us has our own trials, and I am not saying these issues don’t hurt. Some of us have seen dreams fail, visions deferred. I understand the frustration, but what I am saying is some things are trivial in comparison. Sulking and looking backwards doesn’t help you to move forward. Learn from your mistakes, use that incubation period wisely, fight through the labor pains because they don’t last forever, and strive to have a thankful spirit so you can enjoy life.