born at 9:40 a.m. on Wednesday, April
14. He weighed 7
pounds and 14.8 ounces and was 19.75 inches long. (I’m not
sure why you’d need to know that unless you were trying to
determine the cooking time accurately, but apparently people want to
know.) He was delivered by c-section, and arrived with a full head of
dark hair; he appeared normal and healthy. As I write this (twenty-six
hours later), he has finished his breakfast and gone to sleep on his
Birth was a
very different experience this time
around. For one thing,
we knew in advance that we’d be having a c-section, so we had
a specific date to plan around. For the same reason, we were nowhere
near so sleep-deprived by the time we actually went into surgery.
Theron had to spend some time in the N.I.C.U., whereas Roland is
already able to stay in the room with us.
We arrived at the hospital at six-thirty in the morning. The c-section
was scheduled for eight fifteen, so this gave us time to settle in and
get ready. Since we knew we were going into surgery, my wife had been
fasting since about seven the previous evening, and avoiding liquids
since about nine-thirty. I had managed to grab a handful of Pringles -
always a healthy and filling breakfast - on the way out the
essentially non-existent; there were
plenty of cars on the
road, but at that hour they were all moving along with pep and
alacrity. The hospital was expecting us, so when we arrived on the
maternity ward, they pointed us at a room and notified the doctor. Then
they gave us a few extra forms to fill out, and tagged us with
bracelets and other identifying items. Nurses came in, asked a few
questions, and went away again. Finally, the Anesthesiologist came in,
and started an epidural.
out to be the one big stumbling block
of the day. My wife
is not tall, and she’d been carrying about fifty pounds worth
of baby-maintenance apparatus in her belly for the last few months, so
her spine was a bit compressed. The epidural went in well enough, but
it only numbed the left half of her body. So they pulled it out a bit
(which was supposed to maybe straighten it), added
a little more anesthetic, and waited; it was better, but it was still
numbing one side a lot more than the other. So, they decided to go for
a spinal block, and wheeled the Beautiful Woman away. As they left,
they told me someone would call when they were ready for the delivery.
I put on the
medical equivalent of a ninja
costume: white coveralls,
blue hair net, white mask, blue shoe-covers, latex gloves. Everything
was covered except my eyes. I was ready to go do my part.
My part, if
you remember, is to tell silly
stories to the Beautiful
Woman, and keep her distracted from what the nice doctor was doing to
her belly. Unfortunately, I’d already used up my prepared
story (detailing the exploits of the alligator who had learned to love
music and not try to eat people, and his attempts to break into the
music business) in distracting her while people were sticking needles
into her spine. I was not at my best, and new story ideas
weren’t exactly leaping into my brain.
But I had
time. In fact, I had lots of time. I
waited, and waited, and
waited some more - until I was starting to wonder if they’d
forgotten me. I’m honestly not sure when the operation
finally got started.
hadn’t forgotten me. The spinal block
gone in; or rather, it had gone in, but they hadn’t found any
spinal fluid. So they tried another
epidural, and finally got this one
to work. The whole time I was sitting in our room, my wife was hunched
over, doing her best to “hang like an angry cat” -
and let me tell you, if you’ve got nine months worth of baby
in front of you, Yoga is the last
want to try.
So by the
time I got in there, the Beautiful
want to hear any stories about the musical aspirations of furry
woodland critters. She just wanted me to be there and look encouraging
while the obstetrician got the baby out of her. So I sat on a stool and
said encouraging things. The doctors were busy on the other side of a
cloth divider, and I could see right over it; it’s fortunate
that I’m not at all squeamish.
though, I saw the top of
Roland’s head emerge. A
moment later there was a whole baby. He did a little bit of squawking
and crying, sounding a little bit like a duck. This was encouraging
mainly because it sounded absolutely nothing like the little gasping
wheezes that Theron had made. The nurses wiped him down and tagged him,
and showed him to his mother. This time, she got to give him a smooch
on the cheek before we wheeled him off to the nursery. The doctors were
still busy working on her, because getting the baby out is only part of
So I pushed
the cart with baby Roland, pausing
briefly to wave him at
the rest of the family, who were gathered in our room. My father
emerged, carrying Theron, and I pointed out his baby brother. Theron,
however, was busy looking at me. I pointed out his baby brother again,
and Theron glanced down
briefly before he went back to staring at me.
Finally, I realized what the problem was:
pulled the mask down and pointed out that
I really was Daddy, he
grinned. Later, I went out to the waiting room (where the family had
retired after Roland was deposited in the nursery), and Theron helped
me take off the doctor-ninja suit. By then, he thought it was funny. He
was mostly occupied with a pair of Transformers that his Nana and
Poppy* had gotten him, anyway.
another wait, but this time I was able to find out how long
it would be. The Beautiful Woman was wheeled back to the room in her
bed, and the family came in to join us. One of the nurses brought
Roland in around noon (I think), pronouncing him clean and healthy and
ready to feed. Theron had brought a present for his new brother (a
little Dr. Seuss outfit, which my parents bought but Theron helped
wrap), and Roland had arrived with some more Transformers for his big
brother. My brother had to work, but his wife was there and helped by
sending out announcements on her cell phone.
They took the
opportunity to look over the new arrival, reached a
consensus that he was a fine and handsome baby, and finally went off to
do other things. All in all, this was a much better experience than
Theron’s birth. (No reflection on Theron, of course.)
I know I’m forgetting things, here; it’s amazing
how fast the details slip away. Part of that is just that
we’ve been busy, and part of that is that I’ve been
(weirdly, extremely, unexpectedly) tired. A lot of what I’m
leaving out isn’t important; you don’t need to
know, for example, that our camera ran out of battery right after the
first round of pictures, or that I drove home later in the day and
picked up the wrong charger for it. You might want to know that I
stopped to post a picture and announcement that people could look at
online, or possibly even that the cats had thrown up and I stopped to
clean that before I went back to the hospital; but none of that really
matters in terms of the birth.
Newborn babies are tiny.
Theron was too, and I’m finally
starting to remember that; but Theron is my unit of measure, and his
current size makes Roland seem tiny and unbelievably light weight.
I’m not sure what effect having a second child will have on
my tendency to judge all other children by Theron.
in to feed on my wife every two hours or so. This is
having entirely predictable effects on our sleep schedules, except that
shortly after midnight I collapsed and could not be roused. The
Beautiful Woman’s position was exacerbated by the fact that
she was itchy all over, which seems to be mostly a lingering effect of
the anesthesia; by the fact that nurses kept popping in to examine her;
and by a bizarre little auto-massaging sleeve that they had put on her
calves to keep blood clots from forming**. Also, apparently I
slept through someone giving birth in the room beside us; this explains
the somewhat bizarre character of my dreams.
morning, the Beautiful Woman was back to eating solid food; she
has been up and walking - or at least shuffling - around. Late in the
afternoon, we both managed to shower. Even without soap or shampoo
(there doesn’t seem to be any, and I didn’t think
to pack either one), this was a blessed relief. So we’re
making good progress on the Beautiful Woman Recovery front, too.
Nana brought Theron by around noon. He arrived with some
flowers for his mother, which we added to the bouquet of roses
I’d brought in yesterday. He was very happy to see us, and -
later - very insistent that I wanted to go back to Nana’s
house with him. He had a great day at school; Nana had provided
pictures for him to take in, and he returned with a lovely note from
his class. He agreed to hold baby Roland for a little bit, with
tentatively, dubbed Roland “The Goblin
Prince”. This is partly because gobblin’ is his
main activity right now, but it’s mostly because of his hat.
He has a little knit cap - what my brother calls a “homeless
person hat” - which conspires with his pudgy cheeks to make
him look like one of the goblins from Labyrinth. (“Bah!
Where’d she learn that rubbish? It doesn’t even
start with ‘I wish’.”) The impression is
further reinforced by the fact that small-baby movements look weirdly
that’s pretty much the news for the moment. I’m
not sure precisely when my wife will be released, but I’m
scheduled to go home tomorrow (Friday) and have Theron with me tomorrow
night. He’s having a good time with his Nana, but
I’m sure he’ll be happy to come back home.
Late Addendum: The
Beautiful Woman was released on Saturday afternoon, and we are now
home. This gives me sufficient Internet access to actually post this.
It also means that our goal for the next few days is to make my wife
stay still and recover as if she were
still in the hospital. As a result of the hospital's wireless Internet
connection being entirely unreliable, I posted a much shorter
announcement of Roland's birth over on the Blog O' Doom; it didn't say
anything that wasn't covered in the first two paragraphs of this entry.
Theron did spend Friday night in his own home; I
transformed the couch in our living room into a bed, and we fell asleep
watching Maggie and the Ferocious Beast (an absolutely charming little
show). On Saturday, he went with his aunt and uncle (my brother and his
wife) to see the horses at the stables, and then went to spend the
night with my parents. As a result, my wife's first night back at home
featured only a single child.
Man. Where did the week go?
* Nana and
Poppy are my wife’s parents; my parents are
Grandmommy and Grand-daddy.
** They had
one on each leg, and every so often they would start a
pattern of tightening and loosening. I can’t imagine actually
sleeping with something doing that to your legs; when they finally took
them off on the morning of the 16th, the Beautiful Woman’s
legs looked like the back of a camel with three distinct humps. That,
by the way, is her description - not mine.