So to continue my story about Collin’s birth: My grandfather had passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on February 13, 2004. My grandparents and I had had a falling out, and he and I hadn’t really spoken in a couple of years. To this day it bothers me that I never got to tell him goodbye. That’s a different story, however, and I don’t want to spend too much time on it here. Still, it is an important part of my emotional state at the time, so it needed to at least be mentioned.
On February 20 at about 9:30 PM, Crystal told me she had been having regular contractions for a couple of hours and that she thought this was it. We grabbed our stuff and made the five minute drive to the hospital. I remember it so vividly, how excited and scared we both were, how we both knew that this was our last drive as just a couple. The next time there would be three of us.
The nurses did the preliminary check to make sure it wasn’t a false alarm and admitted us. I carried our stuff to the birthing room, and we walked around the labor and delivery wing for at least an hour, trying to speed up the process. She was dilated to about 4 or 5, and the contractions were pretty regular and getting stronger, so we were both certain he would be with us in no time. By about 4:00 AM, she hadn’t dilated anymore and the contractions had remained the same, so we both laid down to get some sleep.
The doctor came in an hour or so later to check on her and was pleased by all of her signs and Collin’s vitals. He told us to relax and enjoy it because we would be parents very soon. Crystal had wanted to have natural childbirth, and up to this point, she had been okay with the pain, but around 11:00 AM she was dilated to 6 or 7 and the contractions were coming so fast and so hard that she couldn’t stand it anymore. The doctor convinced her to have an epidural before it was too late for it to work and then broke her water to speed up the process.
The doctor who gave her the epidural did a good job, but the anesthesia itself stalled out the labor and dropped her blood pressure considerably, which make her begin puking. At first, we thought she was having some kind of a reaction to the epidural, but later on, the doctor explained that it was the drop in blood pressure. She had gone from intense pain to virtually no pain and the subsequent relaxation was too abrupt of a change, which caused the vomiting.
From about 1:00 PM to 11:00 PM, there was virtually no change. She remained at 6 or 7, and the contractions remained strong but not delivery strong, so we waited. After the doctor had broken her water, he had mentioned offhand that we had twelve hours before we needed to worry about anything. He had meant to say twenty four hours, but at 11:00 PM that night, I was scared for her and the baby because nothing was happening.
Then, suddenly, the labor picked back up. She dilated to 9 and the contractions became very active. During the final pushing, Collin got stuck in the birth canal, and there were some tense moments as the doctor worked to help him through her pelvis. When he finally came out, he wasn’t breathing. While stuck, he had aspirated some of the thick amniotic fluid that was left in the placenta, and the doctor who had done the epidural worked steadily to suction his nose, mouth, and lungs while our doctor tended to Crystal.
Depending on the situation, five minutes is either no time at all or an eternity. When your newborn baby is not breathing and is laying gray and lifeless on a small table with a tube down his throat to suction out sludge from his lungs, every second becomes an eternity. At 11:31 PM on Saturday, February 21, 2004, Collin finally took his first breaths on his own and began to cry. I cannot describe what I felt.
The nurses rushed him to their station to monitor him, and from the 26 hours of labor and vomiting, Crystal passed out. It was half an hour before the nurses let me in to see him. He was screaming and crying, and his oxygen levels were down around 90%, which had the nurses worried. As I neared the warmer, I spoke his name, and all the hours of singing and talking to him in the womb paid off because he immediately recognized my voice and stopped crying. Within seconds, his oxygen levels came up to 96-97%, and the nurses were amazed at the change.
When I first spoke his name, he shifted in my direction. I know enough to know that he couldn’t really see me, but our eyes locked, and standing there in that nurses station, looking down at my firstborn son, and seeing my mouth, chin, and nose staring back at me, I became a different person. All of my fears of not being an adequate parent melted away, and I knew in my heart that I would give my life to protect and serve him. Those moments in the nurses’ station beside his warmer were nothing short of magical, and I will carry them with me until the day I leave this earth.
That’s all for now.