Camden’s Birth

Yesterday @ANNELAMOTT tweeted:

Okay everybody, it’s almost time to start writing. Main thing: put on some pants. Finish up your cup of coffee–no one here thinks you need more. You’re good. Now: butt in chair; deep breath; write something, badly.

Write something, badly. Too often I think I can’t write until I can sit down and write something, goodly. I have about four days a year, maybe, when I think that is a possibility. Thus, I don’t write that often. So, thank you, Anne, for tweeting this out like a punch to my gut. Here is something I will finish writing, badly. But I will not abandon the coffee. Not yet.

After a couple minutes of vigorous massage, Camden’s first cry pierced the atmosphere of the operating room. Life, new and loud, dirty and fragile, and a sweet, sweet noise, but what tugged at my heart was another noise I heard from elsewhere in the OR.

At 7am, that Saturday morning, we arrived at the hospital. Kate had gone into labor a couple of days before her scheduled C-section. Camden was breach, so as they would have done two days later, the doctors moved ahead with the operation, prepping Kate and handing me the biggest set of scrubs in the hospital.

Within an hour I was sitting outside the OR by myself as the anesthesiologist gave Kate a spinal block. The last time I was in this chair outside the OR, Kate was 26 weeks pregnant and we were having an emergency C-section. That time around I sat for two minutes as Kate’s spinal tap was administered, as doctors frantically scrubbed in, and as person after person filed past me through the double doors and into the OR. But this time I sat for 20 minutes as people casually prepared for another C-section, as I heard small talk and even laughter on the other side of those doors. The laid back, quiet atmosphere was surreal. The only thing familiar to me that Saturday morning was the chair, the door, and the closet-like feel to the space where spouses are made to wait until they are cleared to enter the OR. The expediency, the mood, the number of people in the OR, and the conversation were all different. All normal, I suppose. This is how C-sections at full-term proceed, we learned.

As I was allowed in, I started to take pictures. First of Kate on the operating table with a curtain rising up from her chest to shield our view and maintain a sterile environment. Then, a selfie of the two of us, five minutes before Camden arrived. From there, things moved quickly. The anesthesiologist and nurse anesthetist stood by Kate, telling her when she might feel tugging or pressure. I readied myself to stand up and look over the curtains to glimpse my son for the first time.

By the time I was told to stand, Camden had already been placed on a warming bed, out of Kate’s sight. I leaned over and kissed Kate and then walked over to meet my son.

As I stood and watched a small team handle Camden during his first minutes of life, I knew something was not entirely okay. He was not making noise. His color was a little off, not pink yet. There were six hands on him, firmly massaging his whole body. One doctor was sucking a tremendous amount of fluid out of his mouth and nose.

I tried to keep things in perspective while I stood there. I had seen much worse. I had seen these docs with a much different demeanor. They were not there yet. They kept busily working on Camden, but did not appear worried. I kept reminding myself that this is a full-term baby. He will come around. He will come around.

First picture of Camden. 7 minutes old. 8:55am. 10/14/2017.

And then, he took a deep breath, and let out his long, first cry, which was answered by the sweet sound of Kate’s cry, the sweetest sound I heard that morning. For Kate, Camden had been out of sight since the doctors pulled him from her womb. She knew nothing of what was happening for that minute or two. The noise that came from her is truly a noise replicated at no other time than when a mother hears her baby for the first time. I could hear in it the anxiety washed away, the instantaneous connection of mother to son. Hearing it, I knew she loved him so much already, in a way only mothers can. To bear witness to that love is one of the single greatest blessings of fatherhood.

2 thoughts on “Camden’s Birth

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