Harvey Lennox Stocking was born December 24, 2014 at 1:53 p.m. This is our first child, so my wife’s and my lives have essentially flipped sideways and upside down to some degree. Some aspects remain somewhat similar, but the birth of my son is an experience I’ll never forget, and it’s something no one could have ever fully prepared me for.
We knew for some time that he was going to be big. The ultrasounds eventually confirmed that there was potential for him to be over 11 pounds, so a cesarean delivery would be safest for both my wife as well as the baby.
Everything leading up to it was full of excitement and anticipation as time grew slower with each passing day. We had everything prepared, things purchased, gifts received, family and friends as anxious as we were for him to arrive.
Christmas Eve arrived and we checked in at the hospital two hours before the scheduled surgery. I was sent to bring our bags into my wife’s room, and she went off to triage to be prepped. When I returned to her, she was gowned up, they gave me a set of scrubs to change in to, and we now just had to wait. After some poking and prodding, some theft of blood, and a few “significant contractions” that my wife couldn’t feel, my wife and I were escorted to the OR room where I gave her a kiss and she went in without me so they could do the spinal.
As I waited, nurses came in and out with an occasional update, mostly because the first spinal didn’t numb her all the way, so they had to do another. After just over half an hour of waiting, I was finally allowed to enter. It was then that, even though I’d been told stories about experiences with c-sections, those stories did little to prepare me.
I’d never been in an operating room before, and this was my wife’s first surgery, so we were both filled with a mix of nervous anticipation and excitement. The operating room was awash with white light. My wife lay on a gleaming metal table, a blue divider just above her stomach to separate her view from the surgery. Monitors beeped and a group of nurses and the doctor, probably six in total, waited around her, prepped and ready to get started. As I rounded the curtain, I sat in a chair next to my wife, and it was then that everything hit me. My wife lay with her arms stretched out to either side, shivering and teeth chattering. The room itself was filled with a certain nervous, exciting energy, which I’m certain was mostly from my wife and I. This obviously wasn’t the hospital staff’s first surgery, and I was confident in their abilities, but it was still a strange, scary moment.
I sat next to my wife and took her hand, and she told me how cold she was. I then noticed I could see a bit of her hip as the surgery began, and I saw two lines of blood running down onto the table. The thoughts emerged without my control, and, while that confidence in the medical staff was still present, I couldn’t hold back from thinking: This was it. My wife was cut open on an operating table, clearly bleeding. I heard the slurping suction as the doctor and nurses worked to cut deeper to get Harvey. It was at that moment I realized that, despite what an immensely happy event was occurring, this could be the last time I see my wife. The last time I hold her hand, the last time I talk to her. The thoughts lingered in the back of my mind as time ticked by at half speed, and I waited to hear the first cry from my son. The first evidence that he had been brought into the world, marking the absolute change in both of our lives.
But time kept ticking. I watched as my wife winced and grunted at the pushing and the pressure as the medical staff worked to remove the baby. And work they did. My wife said it felt like they were giving her chest compressions as they pushed the baby down toward the incision. Then, after all the waiting and appointments and ultrasounds, after my first experience in an operating room, the fear, the anticipation, we heard his first cry, saw him as they set him on a table, and watched as they cleaned him up and did all their checks and tests.
After all that, he came out perfect. 10 pounds, 12 ounces, 22 inches long.
The whole experience in the operating room as well as receiving our baby was unlike anything I had ever been through, and I don’t know that I’ll ever experience anything like it again. All in all, even through the thoughts of potentially losing my wife, I’m glad I was able to be there for all of it, because it made the end result even better.