Before I wrote Abbie’s birth story, I had asked Chris to help me with the details, but he ended up writing his own version of her birth story – and I’m so glad he did! Here’s Abbie’s arrival – from Chris’ point of view.
As any husband knows, pregnancy is different for men rather than women. We obsess over our wives. We worry about them because they are worrying about the baby. While Jess was pregnant, I was constantly living in the moment. Her being pregnant was just a fact and that was what I was dealing with at the time. We talked about the baby and what we were going to do, but it was nowhere near as real for me yet. What was real for me was my wife could no longer put her sneakers on, pick up laundry if it dropped on the floor, and was constantly so tired we were ordering way too much Domino’s pizza. This just became my reality and I didn’t give much thought as to how things would change. I knew they would change, I was excited for the change, but I didn’t think about it much. That was Jess’s job. My job was in the here and now. All the while, it was never really real to me yet. I wasn’t naive or scared, far from it. But I was living in the now because Jess wasn’t, and shouldn’t have been.
Until December 12th came and went. December 12th was Abbie’s due date, and I spent it at work checking my phone over and over. Suddenly, I was thinking about what was ahead, I was anxious, and I was no longer thinking about the now.
Jess always felt that she would come late. I was convinced she would come early. I had no scientific data to back up my assertion. It was simply a gut feeling. As the 12th melted into the 13th, then the 14th, then the 15th, and so on; I because nervous and jumpy. I wanted this to happen, I wanted her out. Jess had a doctors appointment and they said she hadn't even started to dilate. It appeared nothing was happened as we got further and further into overtime. We would lay in bed and I was say, “I can’t wait to meet you baby, come out!.” I would pretend to be pushing on Jess’s stomach to get her out. It became incredibly frustrating.
Her doctors decided that Friday the 21st would be the day we induced. It’s weird knowing your child’s birthday, knowing that no matter what she would be here by Friday the 21st. It calmed me down some, though I was anxious to get her out and meet her. Additional pressure was put on when one of Jess’s doctors hinted that the baby was big enough that we needed to really make sure we had the c-section conversation. The rest of that week went by very slowly. Everyone at work stopped me and said, “is the baby here yet?” “No baby yet?” “Hey Chris, you a daddy yet?” Excuse my French, but it drove me batshit.
Finally, the day came. I took a half day of work and went checked into the hospital Thursday night. Jess has already outlined the technical and medical details about what happened. My perspective was not from a woman or anyone with knowledge, it is from the perspective from a man sitting in a chair next to the bed most of the night. To be honest, what worried me most was Jess’s Mom coming for the night as well. My mother-in-law and I get along wonderfully, always have, and I love her dearly. I was just worried how we would work together, how we wouldn’t get in each others way, and how would we not smother Jess.
Jess spent a very uncomfortable Thursday night trying to get to sleep. Mom took the couch and I sprawled out on a very uncomfortable recliner. She finally got us all up around 6:30 AM saying that something was happening. The doctor began to worry about her blood pressure, she had a catheter, and put on a magnesium drip. It made her feel like crap, and the catheter meant she could get up off the bed. She would end up being chained to this bed for nearly 36 hours.
Luckily for me, Mom and I seamlessly worked together. Looking back, I find it uncanny how good we were. We trusted each other, gave the other space when we were comforting Jess, and looked after each other. Mom insisted I go eat in the cafeteria, so I did. And vice versa. By around 12 noon, the doctor rather nonchalantly suggested we should start pushing. “Just to try,” she said. Up until this moment, I had been trying to prepare myself. Jess was so miserable and uncomfortable, yet holding up surprisingly well. She wasn’t complaining, she wasn’t nasty, or anything that the movies joke about. Initially, she said she didn’t want me “down there,” but became increasingly clear that no matter where I was standing, I would see “down there.” So I said to myself, “do not be weak.” That meant no fainting, puking, or any other mention of something being “gross.” Keep your mouth shut, I said, and support her.
As the delivery began, Jess was clearly exhausted. She was told to push three times every time her contraction hit. Between pushes, she just laid there. It took about an hour and half and I got to watch by baby daughter born. It was, without out a doubt, the most exhilarating moment of my life. I literally lost my breath, hugged Mom, and started to cry. For how slow the 10 days before Abbie’s birth took, it has been made up by the break-neck pace of the days since. Parents, brothers, sisters, and friends all reaching out and visiting. Sleepless nights, learning what to do, trying not to get frustrated, it has started to move so fast.
All I know is that I was never more proud of my wife the the day Abbie was born, and it was by far the most important accomplishment of my life.