Welcome to the world outside

Posted by GT on October 11th, 2008 — Posted in Newspaper columns

Originally published in September 2006, The Daily Sentinel, Grand Junction, Colo.

Standing in the delivery room, with a neat bunch of people sewing my wife back together behind me, I watched another neat person checking out my baby girl. Quietly, I did the same thing I’d done with my previous two girls when they were newborns: Counted fingers and toes.

Hands are more important to me, so I started with them. Right – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Left – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Good so far, on to the feet. Right – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Left – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

All there, I reported to Lisa a couple minutes later. Our baby has all her parts, and judging by the crying, her lungs are healthy as well.

That, I figure, is as good a way to start things with a new family member as you’re going to get.

In fact, the whole day went about as well as it could, particularly considering how nervous Lisa and I were when we started it a few hours earlier.

Our baby had to be delivered by Caesarean section. We’d known for eight months this would be the case; for different reasons, our first two girls were C-section babies, so the third one would have to be as well. Naturally, even though she’d been through it before, the prospect of being opened up and having the baby pulled out didn’t appeal to Lisa, and I didn’t care for it either.

So, we got out of bed early and made brave faces while we traveled to St. Mary’s Hospital. The day I saw in front of me was one in which I figured the best I could do was not make a jerk of myself.

Lisa would spend the morning getting through surgery, then she’d spend the afternoon in pain, stuck in a strange bed with all kinds of tapes and tubes attached to her, and she’d have to do the most important beginning steps of parenting – feeding the baby.

My biggest problems would be getting a couple hours’ less sleep than I wanted and dealing with that disgusting first No. 2 diaper.

I hope that at 7:30 a.m. I was prepared to put on a reassuring face while at the same time standing up for my wife if she needed me … but I never had to find out. Things went well, and there are so many people to thank that I can’t possibly do it here. I won’t bring up names here, either, partially because I didn’t catch them all (disgraceful, I know), but more because I didn’t actually tell any of them I might write about them later.

First, the nurse who got Lisa ready for surgery threw me off guard by telling me she’d met my parents. I assumed she was wrong because my folks live 300 miles away … but she wasn’t. They’d stopped at her house when they were visiting about a year ago and bought peaches from her. Amazing.

The aforementioned neat group of people who did the surgery were the ones we feared most, and I can’t describe how many ways they made it go well. I half suspect the midwife, who has been Lisa’s primary caregiver through all three pregnancies, warned everyone about us.

The high point of the C-section was when the anesthesiologist helped Lisa hold up a mirror so she could watch our baby being delivered. Despite all she was going through, Lisa was thrilled. I wanted to look myself, but feared the blood would inspire me to make a spectacle of myself, so I stayed where I was.

During the rest of our hospital stay, we encountered many more people who humbled me by doing their jobs so well. Not only did they keep an eye on my wife and baby, but also on me, the least important person in the room.

One generous woman even put together a gift pack of hospital doodads for my older girls and made their day even better.

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