The walk to the operating room was extraordinarily difficult. Dwelling on a worst-case scenario was unavoidable at times. Kate occasionally cried while she was being pushed toward the OR. The doctor told us that they would do their best to use local anesthesia so Kate could stay awake and so that they wouldn’t have to intubate her. I was told that I couldn’t come into the OR until the team had determined what type of anesthesia Kate would need.
At the huge double doors to the OR I had to say goodbye to Kate. No other goodbye I’ve had in my life had been that hard. How long was I saying goodbye for? I didn’t know for sure. Five minutes? I hope so. Five hours? I hope not. Five days because they had to intubate her and then there were complications? I don’t know how I would have gotten through it. But there was also the question in the back of my mind, for forever? The team pushed her through the doors and I was alone in this barren anteroom with two chairs and a couple of carts with masks, gloves, and other sterile clothing.
I did not expect to be alone at this point. I thought someone might stay with me. I sat down on one of the two chairs. At this point I continued praying, which I had not stopped doing for a while. It felt more like begging at this point or, more accurately, making demands of God. I sat with my head in my hands.
In a few minutes the doctors were attempting to place the epidural. Kate was screaming like she was being cut open. The trauma of having an emergency C-Section at 26 weeks coupled with the pain of the needle is enough to make any woman scream. I didn’t know what sounds to expect from the OR at this point, but that was as much as I could handle. Still seated, I think I may have been rocking back and forth at this point, still with my head in my hands.
The doors to the OR were to my right. A few doctors went through them once they got gowned up. Some of them wore clear shields that covered their whole face. One knows exactly what these are for. They’ll protect the doctors’ faces from splatters from cutting my wife open, moving aside some organs, and pulling a little human being out.
A doctor came through a different set of doors to my left. As she gowned up and scrubbed in she spoke with a healthy dose of authority, giving me a one-minute crash course on 26-weekers. “They have an 85% survival rate,” she said. That is higher than I thought it would be, I thought. “A common complication is with the eyes. It’s called ROP. It can be fixed with laser surgery,” she continued. And with that she walked through the doors. She was just very matter of fact and did not give me a parting “goodbye” or “see you in there.” But I completely understood. She was going into the OR to save the two most precious people in my life. If I could have sped her up somehow I would have. Godspeed, Lady.
A few more minutes passed and a different doctor came out of the OR with good news. “Kate is on a local anesthetic and doing great. You can come in now.”