I wrote this about a year after after my son was born:
I must have been sound asleep. I mean, it felt as though I woke up immediately but apparently it took a little while. When I was told it was time I felt as though I was pretty calm. We had been waiting almost 9 months at this point and I thought that I was ready. Andrea just sort of woke me up and said, "I think that it is time."
Looking back 16 months later I reflect on how my life has changed. I'm a Dad. I still don't feel as though I am an adult. I want to be a good Dad and good husband and I feel as though it is always going to be a learning experience for both. I know that I can be incredibly selfish and I am trying to curb that and understand that I am not the most important thing in the world and that there are others who depend on me now. The funny things is that I can state something like that but still have the conceit to believe that maybe someone will want an insight into my life.
Going to the hospital was useless at first because the contractions were almost non-existent. Instead we decided to both grab a shower and just relax for a little while before we called the hospital to advise them that we were on the way. Once our showers were done we called our parents to let them know that it was time and that we were headed to the hospital. Grabbing our pre-packed bags we took the 5 minute trip to McMaster with the firm belief that our lives were about to change forever.
Not quite yet. Before our lives could change it had to be confirmed that Andrea had not just peed the bed. In all honesty we both knew that this was not the case but the interns have to feel as though they have done their jobs to the best of their ability and they need the opportunity to learn (or at least that is what we told ourselves). Once they had performed the correct tests it was determined that even though Andrea was indeed in labour, it was not yet time to deliver. It was suggested that we take a walk for a couple of hours to see if we could speed the process along. By this time Shirley, my mother-in-law had joined us so it was decided that it was a nice enough morning for a walk around the University grounds.
After what must have been the most torturous two hours of walking we returned to the labour and delivery area of the hospital. As we were waiting for Andrea to be seen the power for the whole hospital went out. It was only out for maybe a few seconds and then the emergency power went on. Little did we know that this was about to throw a slight wrench in our plans for the day. A nurse informed us that since Andrea was in no danger of delivering any time soon we may as well return home for a while as the hospital was now on its emergency plan due to the power failure. Andrea and I decided to return home and try and get a little shut eye.
I was able to sleep for around 3 hours without much of a problem and once I woke up I decided to go to the store to grab some essentials for lunch. By the time I had returned home Andrea was awake and the contractions were getting more severe. By 3:00pm we were getting ready to return to the hospital. The phone rang and it was the labour and delivery nurse asking us to come back to the hospital. We bundled ourselves back in the car and returned.
This time there was no problem getting into a room. We were ushered into the delivery room without any problem and set ourselves up in anticipation. We called our parents again and let them know what was happening. My parents arrived with my sisters relatively soon for a visit before the pain became too much for Andrea. Every few minutes we would excuse ourselves form the conversation and move aside because Andrea was bearing down in pain. At this point it was decided that Andrea would receive the epidural. Luckily for us the earlier pawer failure had cancelled all elective surgeries for the day so we had access to an epidural immediately.
To be honest sitting in the living room thinking back on that night is not very easy. I should have tried to document a little better at the time. The time line for the whole day was very difficult to follow as we were incredibly busy.
Andrea began to push around 9:00pm and it seemed that it would not take too long for the baby to come as she was receiving wonderful encouragement from the nurse and very positive feedback about her pushing. Unfortunately for us Declan had other plans. Unbeknownst to us, or the staff for some reason, the baby was turned funny and Andrea was continually trying to pass his shoulders under her pelvis. This we found out was not possible without some help. (As an aside, I should say that Andrea was inspected 3 times before this problem was found and something drastic was done about it.)
I have to take a moment to explain how incredibly proud I was of Andrea during the whole labour. Her strength and poise was inspiring and she should always be proud of how she handled herself and her situation. It took 2 hours for someone to realize that the baby was turned funny and by then Andrea was absolutely exhausted. She was drained both emotionally and physically. There had been so much encouragement and excitement at the beginning and that made way for frustration and concern over the well-being of both Andrea and the baby. There was no warning when the team came in, and no discussion as to what they were about to do. The episiotomy was entirely unexpected and it terrified me. Andrea did not know what was happening to her body or the baby and the terror in her face was heartbreaking. It devastated me to hear her apologize and feel as though she was failing. I tried to explain that this was not the case and that it was out of our control at this point.
At 11:30pm on June 24, 2007 after 2 and a half hours of labour Declan James Carroll was born. I am not entirely sure who actually brought him into this world but I think that it was Dr. Sibley. I have no idea who cut the cord as Declan was spirited away immediately. When the newly swaddled boy was brought to me I almost considered returning him to the nurse as Andrea was still in pain and I felt as though I needed to be with her. My son was fine but my wife needed me. Andrea was absolutely exhausted from the physical effort that she put into the labour; so much so that she could barely speak above a whisper.
Once the staff had stitched her up Andrea was able to hold her newborn son for the first time. It was one of the most remarkable moments I have ever experienced. She was a natural from the get go. We called our parents and gave them the wonderful news and asked Shirley if she would like to come to the hospital to see Andrea and the baby. Both Shirley and Mike came down to hospital to visit.
Once they had a room ready for Andrea we were asked if we would like to go bathe Declan. Andrea declined as she could barely keep her eyes open. I went with the nurse and got a crash course in how to give an infant a bath. To be honest I don't really remember much of what the nurse told me at that moment as I was enrapt with my son.
Once the bath was finished I had the opportunity to take Declan back to see Andrea. She was absolutely exhausted. I have never seen someone work so hard in my life and the crazy part about it, she would never agree with me on this, was that she looked amazing. She took the baby and then for the first time ever began to try and feed him. It took some time but he eventually began the journey to learning how to eat. It was decided that I would go home as Andrea was placed in a room with someone else so I was unable to sleep with them that night. It was hard to say goodnight but in reality I was pretty tired as well.
Monday, October 27, 2008
I am not alone. This is what I keep telling myself. I am young, married, educated and now a Father and I know that I am not alone. I have friends all over the place who are in my shoes and we spend a ridiculous amount of time talking about the predicaments, the pratfalls and the victories that we experience every day but there does not seem to be much of an outlet for those discussions except in the ether.
My goal is to get those topics out there. Originally I wanted to speak specifically on what it is to be a Dad but I think that I will concentrate more on the everyday. This will definitely include being a Dad but it will also include being a husband, homeowner, taxpayer, lead singer of a Rock Band and any other hat that I may be wearing that day. I have a goal to share these experiences twice a week on Sundays and Wednesdays as those are the least busy days on my Calendar.
I am going to start by relaying the experience of becoming a Dad and will go from there.
I welcome comments, shared experiences, questions whatever! If I can answer I will, if not then I won't. Wish me luck!