Sunday, August 28, 2005

Happy Birthday Alexander!

Happy 3rd birthday, Alexander! Your actual birthday is tomorrow, of course, but as that's a workday, your Mom and Dad gave you a party today. How well I remember the day you were born; I was there for your birth, and I sent a letter to friends and family telling them about it afterward. Here's what I wrote, 3 years ago tomorrow:

A note to everyone on this wonderful day...

Katharine and Brenden arrived at Denton Regional Hospital last night so Katharine could be induced. It was the day after her due date, and her induction was because of her complication of kidney stones. Mike and Chris and I drove up at about 9:00 PM. Kelly (Brenden's Dad) got there at about 10:30 and at about midnight Anthony arrived, having driven straight there after leaving Denver at noon yesterday. We had a very festive atmosphere in the birthing suite, calling Alex in Chicago, so all of us were there for Kath and Brenden.

At a little after 11:00 we all briefly left the room so that a nurse could give Kath some medication that resulted in mild contractions all night. Anthony went back to Dallas to sleep, Kelly went to Brenden & Kath's house to try (unsuccessfully, I think) to sleep, and the boys went out to their car, in the hospital parking lot, to sleep.

I slept in my car in the hospital parking lot for a couple of hours (quite comfortably) but went back upstairs at about 5 AM Thursday morning. Katharine and Brenden had gotten a little sleep, but both were awake then and Kath asked me to rub her back. Brenden stretched out on the fold-up bed in the room to get a little sleep. Eventually Kath asked if I'd mind just snuggling up with her and trying to get a little sleep. Would I mind? :)

I was curled up in bed with her and we were all sound asleep at about 8:00 AM when her doctor came in to check on her. He quipped "I know we have a bed shortage, but this is ridiculous!" :) He examined her and then broke her bag of waters to move labor along, before leaving for his office.

In a very short time, labor began in earnest. Katharine had a little period of time then where it was pretty hard, and she sent everyone out of the room except me. For much of it I just held her, forehead to forehead, talking her through the contractions. They were strong and hard and close together, and she got sick, but we got through that, and then, right after that, everything began to happen pretty quickly.

I was sitting with her and Brenden had just come back into the room when she became very irritable. I recognize transition when I see it, although I couldn't quite believe it had happened so quickly. I left Brenden with her and hurried to the nurse's station and asked for someone to come examine her. I said she was in transition, but I don't think anyone believed me. A nurse we hadn't met examined her, because Kath's nurse had gone downstairs to eat breakfast. The unknown nurse announced Kath was at 8 centimeters, and left the room. Within a few minutes Katharine said she had to push. I told her not to push until she'd been examined once more, and I ran back out to the front desk to ask where her nurse and the doctor were. There was no time for an epidural, although at 4 cm the nurse had given her a little demerol-like stuff in her iv that she hated because it did nothing for the pain, just made her loopy. The front desk phoned her doctor and asked him to come over stat, and her nurse hurried into the room, examined her, and gave her the go-ahead to start pushing. She had gone from 4 cm to 10 cm in about 45 minutes.

I went to the foot of the bed then and held her feet, putting all of my weight into it, so she could push against my hands. With each push, I could see Alexander's head bulging her perineum until his head began to crown, and after that, with each push, I was able to see the top of his head. What an incredible thrill! She had about 20 minutes of pushing altogether, and then her doctor arrived and I moved out of the way so he could catch. At the very last minute he did an episiotomy.

Alexander burst into the world at exactly 11:00 AM on August 29, 2002. The cord was wrapped 3 times around his neck but clearly not causing a problem as he began to cry, loudly and lustily, almost immediately. Brenden cut the cord and Alexander was measured: birthweight 8 lbs. 9oz, length 20", head circumference 14 1/2", chest circumference 13 1/2", Apgars 9/9.

To see a child born is a beautiful, joyous, humbling experience, but to see one's grandchild come into this world...AMAZING!!! I was quite overcome, and wept (very happily!). Mike, Chris & Kelly had been pacing in the hallway. They came into the room within about 5 minutes of Alexander's being born. Kelly held Alexander and wept. We called Alex in Chicago, and I held the phone next to Alexander as he cried so Alex could hear him. We all talked to Alex, and the boys were amazed by the whole thing, but spent a lot of time turning to the wall as Kath began the business of establishing breastfeeding.

At about 12:30, Anthony came into the room. He kissed Kath, hugged Brenden, held Alexander, and wept. All in all, a pretty emotional experience! :) We got Katharine and Brenden and Alexander settled in, and then we left. Kelly drove back to his place to take care of his chocolate lab, Jane Doe. Anthony and the boys and I had lunch together, and then we all drove back to Dallas, where all of us went to bed and slept soundly.

This evening, I picked up Anthony and we went up and saw them again. Everyone is well, and Anthony and I took turns holding Alexanderand then I rocked him to sleep while Katharine and Brenden ate their dinner. He snuggled up under my chin and made little throaty, snuffly baby sounds (heaven!). They get released tomorrow. I'll be up there tomorrow night and whenever she needs me for the next several days. More later, but wow, am I happy. And he smells WONDERFUL!


Brenden said...

I'm so glad you had the wherewithal to record all these details. I certainly didn't. Somewhere is a video tape of certain parts of the very early morning, or just regular morning perhaps. As I remember it, Mike and Chris were doing one of their strange, twin mind-link comedy routines. I was queasy with exhaustion and nerves. Katharine was going back and forth between stages of stunning beauty and astonishing, swift anger. I have no idea what anyone else was doing. I think my Dad may have gone for doughnuts.

During the actual delivery, I do remember that I was the only person in the room who wasn't cursed at. And I was right in the fray. When Dr. Wilson handed me the scissors to cut the cord, I had no idea what to do. In the nine months leading up to this birth, all the planning and discussion, the books on labor and delivery, the books on parenting; water birth, home birth, anti-gravity birth, and whatever else you can think of...No one ever mentioned that I might have to cut the cord! I was without sleep, and totally stunned, and I only remember thinking to myself, "It's like cutting a damn garden hose." It's one thing I'm comforted to know wasn't built by the lowest bidder.

That, of course, was my experience as the father.

When I think of Alexander as a three-year-old, I think "How the hell did that happen?". But when I think of the events you described here, you could tell me it was 10 years ago, and I'd absolutely believe you.

The point of all of this is simple...Happy Birthday, Alexander!!!!!

Today, I watched him taking a nap with Katharine. The party had ended, everyone had gone home, and the toys were everywhere. He was sprawled out on our bed, totally naked, with his mouth wide open in a sugar-induced coma. I'm pretty sure I love him even more today than I did the day he was born.

Happy Birthday, Alexander!!!!!

(Thanks, Judi. I promise to never take up this much space on your blog again.)

emmapeeldallas said...

Thank you,'re welcome to take up as much space as you like on my blog, anytime you like. First, I couldn't ask for a better son-in-law, and as if that weren't enough, you and Kath have given us Alexander...and yes, we all love him more each day...he is one terrific boy, there's no question about it.


E said...

I see a future "heartbreaker"... ;) E

Mrs. L said...

Wow -- what a wonderful birthday for Alesander and all of us!!! Thanks for sharing all this. And thanks to Brenden for his account. Mrs. L