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A Baby Story: Part Two

Part Two:  The Recovery Room

I think I was in recovery for about 10 minutes clutching my swaddled newborn with a grip that must be unique to someone who just became a father mere minutes ago.  I couldn’t help but stare at the tiny little features of the creature that was sleeping in my arms – she was just like a miniature human.  Actually, I guess she IS a miniature human.  Weird.

I did occasionally break the staring contest with Justine to quickly glance over my shoulder in anticipation of my wife being wheeled into recovery.  I was anxious for her to actually hold what they had so gingerly ripped from her insides, and more importantly, for me to relieve the intense burning that comes with the aforementioned “newborn vise grip.”  My diligent watch was interrupted only once, when our OBGYN, still in scrubs, wandered in to take a quick look at the baby and to tell me that everything went great.  She certainly had cleaned up somewhat – the last I had seen her she was covered in baby/Kim goo.  After a brief chat, she left for another procedure and I returned to my silent reverie.

Mom with Justine in RecoveryFinally, the nurses wheeled Kim into the room.  Ostensibly the point of recovery was to monitor Mom and baby, and so they immediately hooked her up to all sorts of gadgetry that monitored everything from her heart rate and breathing to her favorite color on a second by second basis.  (“Blood pressure is 120 over 80, color is currently fluctuating between ochre and mauve…”)  Once she was in and settled, I quickly dispensed of our newborn child into her mother’s waiting arms, and reached for my fancy new camera to snap a few photos of this momentous occasion.

The first few moments of a mother and her child are beautiful and heartwarming. I watched intently as they bonded in a way that only they could, specifically because it was her first attempt at breastfeeding, and, as previously mentioned, I do not possess the parts for that particular operation.  Apparently at this point in development, baby has the impulse to suck but Mom doesn’t have a ton to offer.  In a short time, Mom starts producing colustrum, which is a runny goo that contains a lot of antibodies and just a wee bit of chocolate ganache that’s a great start for baby.  Eventually, and we’re talking days here, Mom’s “milk” comes in and baby starts to gain weight.

Figuring out the process of breastfeeding is a learning curve both for Mom and baby, and in our case the road would be a bit steep.  In just an hour, we went from watching the Price is Right to trying to finagle this little human into the right position to feed.  Position is the key, we found out, and initial attempts at getting Justine in the right spot was tough considering a) the baby was minutes old b) the baby was swaddled tight because, left to her own devices, she’d suck on her toes c) I had no idea what to do and perhaps most importantly d) Kim had no feeling from her chest down.  I tried as best I could to help getting everything situated. At one point Kim asked me to move ‘this pillow’ – after a quick feel I replied that said lump was actually Kim’s right leg.

Justine Tuckered OutOur comical attempts at breastfeeding complete for a few minutes, I was sent down in stereotypical fashion to the waiting room to inform the waiting parents of the glorious news. I called my mother to tell her the standard info (gender, name, weight, political affiliation, etc.)  Then I proceeded to the waiting room to tell everyone else to much congratulations and high fives.  In retrospect I should’ve planned this out a bit more – walking in and passing out cigars for example, or running in with a swaddled bag of flour and then tripping and launching it across the room to the horror of everyone, and then whipping out my camera to take hilarious pictures of their powder covered faces.  And THEN passing out cigars.

Wow.  That’s messed up.  Even for me.

I showed the assembled folks the pictures I took during the birth, relayed the requisite digits, and told harrowing tales about how I had to step in to relieve the OBGYN while Kim lay open on the table at one point and how I later disarmed a madman who held our anesthesiologist at knifepoint.  They were captivated, if a bit skeptical.  Soon I felt compelled to return to recovery and back to my new, squirming child, and newly wounded wife.

HappinessWe spent our last few minutes in recovery peacefully holding a tightly swaddled Justine, snapping pictures, and watching as Kim slowly began to wiggle her toes, her feet and finally her ankles.  And then our short time in recovery quickly came to an end as the nurse wheeled us out and toward our home for the next few days on the postpartum floor.  As we rolled out I left the newspaper that another new father had given me on his way out – there would undoubtedly be more new fathers today.

But for us, the road to recovery lay ahead.  Oh, and parenthood too.

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