Sunday, January 1, 2012

Party for Three

I had the camera zoomed on Nathan's face, he's two months and a couple of weeks old now.  My wife Aba and I were counting down...5, 4, 3, 2, 1...HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Nathan's eyes went from me then to his mom, unsure what all the excitement was all about.  But that's alright! I'm sure next year and the one after that he'll have a better understanding what all the celebration is all about!

2011 had been a great year for us! It had seen the birth of Nathan, but although now we get to enjoy and love him, but I remember not too long ago, how his birth had taken certain turns we had not expected... 


     October 26, 2011.  It was a big day! My wife was forty-one weeks into her pregnancy when we received a call from the hospital with clear instructions for us to come in to start the induced labor.  My wife and I had gone over our ‘birthing plan’ very thoroughly, not once but multiple times in the past several weeks, so we were as ready as any respectable rookie parents could hope to be. 
     We reached the hospital safely, parked in the parking deck and made our way to the third floor.  We went through the usual procedures of checking in, and before long my wife was dressed in a hospital gown, lying on her back on a bed inside one of the rooms and we were ready to go! We had a very nice nurse who engaged us in friendly conversation as she got the procedure started with my wife.  My parents were also in the room with us as well as my mother-in-law.  There was a sense of excitement in the room, and everyone’s face displayed an eager smile of anticipation! It was then that my wife asked me if I could go to our car and get our bags.  My reply to her was a quick ‘yes’ and then I jokingly added for her to wait for me to at least get back before she gave birth to our baby.  She laughed at my joke and promised me that she wouldn’t. 
     My father had joined me and walked with me to the parking lot.  On our way there, we spoke only about the pregnancy, it was the only thing occupying our minds.  The bags weren’t too much of a hassle.  We got them out of the back of the car very quickly and so we were back to our hospital room in no time. 
     Once I stepped back into the room, I was surprised to find several nurses buzzing around my wife.  They had placed an oxygen mask on her face as well.  I glanced at my mother-in-law and my mom, and I wasn’t too thrilled at the look of deep concern on either of their faces.  Why were all of these nurses in here? Was there something wrong with my wife and our child? So many questions gnawed at my mind, but before I could gather them all and ask any of them, the doctor approached me and told me that my wife had to do a C-section immediately.  You could imagine my surprise when I heard those words.  This wasn’t at all part of the ‘birthing plan’ we had written down.  As he brought me over to the monitor, he explained to me that every time my wife had a contraction that our baby’s heartbeat dropped.
On the monitor, the doctor showed me the horizontal line, which represented my son’s heartbeat, and then he showed me clearly where it had dropped drastically; it didn’t look good at all.  “If the C-section isn’t performed right now,” explained the doctor to me, “I’m certain your baby will not make it through a natural delivery.”    
     Understanding what was at risk, I discussed the situation with my wife very quickly, we said a short prayer together, and then we told the doctor we were ready for the C-section.  Although it wasn’t part of our birthing plan, we knew it was the way to go.  I was then given the proper garments as well as shoe coverings to wear for the procedure.  Once I was ready, they wheeled my wife out and I followed. 
     The walk wasn’t too far to our destination, and once we arrived, I was told to wait outside while they took my wife inside and got her ready for the C-section.  As I sat there waiting for someone to call me into the operating room, my hands began to shake uncontrollably.  It’s funny, when I was a young single bachelor, I was fearless; nothing could shake my steel nerves.  But that night, I knew real fear, not for myself but for the life of my wife and our unborn child whose heartbeat was dropping whenever my wife had a contraction.  At that time, an elderly nurse was passing by and saw me.  Maybe my face showed my trepidation, I don’t know, but she started a conversation with me and somehow managed to drive away my fear.  Perhaps it had been simply empathy that had drawn her to reach out and help me with her words, or she could have been an angel in human form.  Whatever the truth behind that moment, I’ll never really know.  But her words had a positive effect on me and helped my hands to stop shaking. 
     A few minutes later the doctor came and sat right across for me.  He explained to me that if there was another way to have avoided the C-section he would have, but unfortunately there was no way around it, because the baby would not make it through a natural birth.  After that, he stood up and told me to follow him inside.  I went in and saw my wife lying on her back.  I was instructed to sit on a very small chair next to her head.  There was a screen across her upper chest, which prevented us from seeing the procedure, but I was told that as soon as they gave me the word I could look over the screen and take the picture.
     As the C-section began, my wife told me to hold her hand for support and I did, fervently praying in my heart that the procedure would be successful.  I prepared my camera and waited.  Then, just like a clap of thunder, I was told I could take my first picture.  I shot up with camera at the ready and took my first shot.  I froze for a moment as my eyes beheld for the first time the most beautiful baby I had ever seen. 
     They asked me what name I would give to the baby, and I told them without any hesitation Nathan Ernst Dabel.  My firstborn son had come into the world and as I watched him, tears of joy began to flow down my cheeks.  But with all the activity within the operating room no one noticed.  He weighed six pounds and one inch and I was so very proud!
     After the operation, my wife and Nathan were brought back into our delivering room.  More family members had come and we all were very excited about Nathan.  Those who were there took cell phone pictures and began to text them over to other family members and friends.  I was right there with Nathan, taking his pictures when one of the nurses turned to the other nurse after taking a blood sugar test and told her that the blood sugar level is too low.  My heart dropped with those words.  The other nurse replied that she should try to take it again.  So it was retaken and the number for Nathan’s blood sugar was 18.  The two nurses looked concerned and one of them quickly said they would take him to the NICU.  I told my wife and family I was going to accompany the nurse to the NICU as well. 
     As the nurse pushed Nathan in his cart, she began to walk very fast and I could tell there was a sense of urgency to get him to the NICU unit right away.  Just what was going on? Why was my son’s blood sugar so low? What was the NICU? Why did the nurse have to get him there in such a hurry? These questions bombarded my mind one after another as we finally got to the NICU.  Nurses rushed to Nathan as they took good care of him and set him up properly with his IV and everything else he needed.  It was very painful for me to watch my own son have to go through it, hooked up to all of those wires.  None of this was part of the ‘Birthing Plan’ my wife and I had come up with.  That was the thought in my head when the NICU nurse finally approached me.  I sensed that the news would not be a good one…


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