Thursday, June 27, 2013

How Does It Feel?

Our well-executed travel plan got us to the hospital, thanks to ME - and from there it got progressively more exciting. 

After soaking up nine months of flak from other parents ("TEN!!!" shouts Tylertoes in the background) on life “ending” and “changing” and labor being “scary” and this being a “very special time” but “hard” and “kiss your sleep goodbye” I was starting to wonder if I hadn't made a terrible mistake. 

As it turns out; you have nothing to worry about - the whole process is highly entertaining. 

Many of you who don't have a baby have asked "what does it feel like to have a baby?" That's an interesting question and I've carefully considered it. I have had a number of feelings to think through on that topic, but I have finally developed an answer for you:

Recall, for a moment how it felt to believe, deep in your spirit, that THIS VERY NIGHT, a fat foreigner is going to squeeze his big butt down your chimney to leave you great stuff.  Labor and delivery feels like that mixed with the feeling you had when your Mom said “the nice lady IS going to give you a shot, but it won’t hurt a bit.”  Earlier, you saw the nurse with the huge, clammy, sausage fingers; you know it’s going to hurt like abject hell and, for the first time, you realize an adult has betrayed you. Add that feeling in to the mix. 

So all that, PLUS, the feeling you felt the first time you boarded an airplane PLUS, the feeling you get right before you puke all over someone who does not see it coming. That’s what becoming a parent feels like.

Get excited.

Many others of you (Ernee The Attornee, for instance) are more interested in the gory details of childbirth than the "feelings" aspect. That's all you want to talk about - the indelicate details. I suspect its so you finally have license to use the word "vaginal" in conversation, but either way - I get it. It is, after all, a pretty gory process. 

The whole thing has a kind of barnyard-esque quality, but once you grow accustomed to the sheer volume and variety of fluids skeeting hither and yon – it’s no big deal. At several key, explosive, points during childbirth, I clearly recall thinking “In all my years of being a person - I've never seen that fluid before."

There really is nothing like it, but the best parallel I can draw for you is simply this: being an expectant father in the Labor and Delivery room gave me a brief glimpse into the life of a garbage man: you’re right there in the midst of something weird and smelly that you don’t want to be in the midst of, but you know eventually - you get to go home.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

You'll Need a Travel Plan

I don’t love the hospital.

I think it’s the smells that put me off the most, but it may also be the rabbit warren-ness of it and the fluorescent lighting. Also, I don’t like sick people or nurses or doctors or parking decks or food on trays or smelly elevators or vinyl or paperwork touched by people who may have touched sick people. So, there’s that.

In spite of my long and well-established aversion to the hospital: I am very pleased to announce that Saturday, June 1 at 2:25 PM - with absolutely nothing at all wrong with me and completely of my own accord - I went to the hospital.  It was a hurdle moment for me, personally, and also for Tyler who was mid-way through labor and clawed the handle out of the doorframe the whole ride over.

The fact that we made it before the baby came is purely a testament to the Travel portion of our Birth Plan. That’s the part of the Birth Plan I was responsible for, and I am sure you will find that I executed it with precision and aplomb.

To that end: I’d like to talk to you, briefly, regarding the importance of The Travel Plan.

Our Travel Plan involved a few key elements that were taught us by some quack Youtube video series I was made to watch against my will in exchange for getting to go fishing. The key elements are as follows:

      Don’t deviate from The Travel Plan
      Have your car selected and ready to go in advance
      Have your bag packed and ready to go in advance  
      Don’t speed or run traffic signs

I sat in front of the television that fateful night in March, drinking a cocktail, and thinking “this is stupid”.

I was wrong about that.

We planned to take Tyler’s car which already had a carseat and whatnot installed in it. That was a good plan, but at the last minute, I deviated.  I panicked at the thought of not being near my truck in case I needed a chainsaw or rubber gloves or a toolkit or mouthwash or tow straps or bullets or a 6-ton bottle jack or fuses or a tarp or a bayonet. So, I called an “audible” and we took my truck which contained no carseat, stroller, or hospital paperwork; but had all that other stuff.  Tyler tried to object, but was in no condition to put up a fight and I won my first argument.

I did not pack a bag. On Bag Packing Day I went fishing instead, but I pulled my bag out, zipped it shut and put it by the back door so it would LOOK like I packed a bag. That bag was a lie and it sat by the door, heaping burning coals of guilt on my head for several months. It contained my lucky pair of boxers and a fishing magazine that I’d been saving for an emergency - and that is all.

Fortunately, because I had my truck at the hospital - and all my emergency supplies in it – I didn’t need a bag. Problem solved. Nothing bad comes from being prepared for nearly everything and, in case you were wondering about the little red kit in my truck box: that’s an emergency kit to fix an emergency kit.

On the way to the interstate I made a last minute adjustment to our route and we went through neighborhoods instead of I-75.  I find that interstates make me feel confined in an emergency. My initial Travel Plan failed to contemplate that. My Adjusted Travel Plan failed to contemplate Tyler’s propensity for carsickness which kicked in halfway down a very curvaceous Northside Drive. Fortunately for her, the nausea took her mind off the contractions.

Regardless, we reached Piedmont Hospital from Sandy Springs in about 4 minutes because I ran most of the red lights and all of the stop signs at high speed. I did that, in clear violation of the law, because the only thought in my head was “find someone to get this woman out of my car.” 

Riding in a car with a woman in labor is like riding in the car with a demon holding a live grenade. You really can’t think about anything except getting out of the car. That’s all you can focus on - one of us is going to have to get out of this car right away, this minute or something terrible may happen. If Piedmont were much further away I’d have jumped out on Peachtree and shouted “go on ahead – I’ll meet you there”.

That, in short, is why you need a Travel Plan.