As I Saw It | May 17, 2010

The nurse came in early, perhaps just after six.  I wasn’t quite awake yet, but from what I could tell, she was going through her routine checks at the start of her shift.  Heart rate…check.  Blood pressure…check.  Baby heart rates…well, that took a little longer.  As she started up the Doppler fetal monitor and strapped four paddles to Missy’s abdomen, I slowly withdrew from under the covers of my squeaky hospital cot beside Missy’s bed.

+ + + + +

We had been in the hospital since the previous Wednesday.  Despite her preeclampsia, Missy still had her smile and maintained her upbeat demeanor.  With friends and family visiting us all weekend, we had finally begun to truly accept the fact that we wouldn’t be leaving this place until Missy had delivered the babies.  Having been in contact with our doctor throughout our stay so far, the general consensus was that rather than waiting until Wednesday the 26th to deliver, we would go ahead and schedule the operation for Wednesday the 19th.  It was a frightening, yet comforting thought, knowing that the end of this long pregnancy was in sight.

The comfort of friends and family.

Yet by Sunday night, things had taken a turn for the worse.  Missy’s BP spiked, she was retaining water at twice the rate she was before, and even though she was not running a fever, there was an overwhelming sense of “icky-ness” that she couldn’t shake.  The more time passed, the worse she felt, and by 10PM, we made the call.  Over the next hour, nurses, assistants, and the Florer’s filled our room.

Trying my best to remain strong…I finally couldn’t hold back the tears.  I couldn’t bear to see Missy in pain and hooked up to countless machines, tubes, and IV’s.  The nurses tried not to look panicked, but they could tell, and I could tell, that something was different this time.  For the first time, I was scared.

+ + + + +

Missy was still feeling yucky, but an erie calm had returned to the room (in hindsight, the calm before the storm) as the nurse finished up her checks the next morning.  So I did what I would do any other Monday morning: got ready for work.  It had been a restless night for the both of us, but I showered and changed as we waited for our doctor to make his morning rounds.  I think we were first on his list…he showed up right after eight.

Ready for these babies to be out!

A few pokes here, a few pokes there…a few questions about the previous night…a few flips through the clipboard…

“So, I think we should deliver you today.  Are you ready to have some babies?”

Wait…what?  The most important decision of our lives together so far was made in less than ten minutes.

“Looks like I won’t be going into work today,” I jokingly said to Missy as the doctor left.  She failed to see my sense of humor.  The nurses were alerted and Missy was started on a Magnesium Sulfate drip to help delay labor and treat her preeclamptic symptoms (although if you ask Missy, I think she would have preferred the later).  Phone calls were made…

…the first to Missy’s family…

…the second to my family…

…and the third to my co-worker, telling him to a) spread the news, and then b) asking him to bring by a phone charger; my cell phone battery was dying and I was going to be making a lot more calls on this day!

Took this with Photo Booth as we were waiting to be transported.

Delivery had been set for 2:00PM, so we spent the next four hours blogging, packing, and trying to relax.  Yet before long we were being transported to delivery prep.  Missy changed into her operation gown, and I threw on my pretend scrubs…I spilled Missy’s ice water all over her bed…we signed some forms…I tried to listen to some hurried instructions…I felt dizzy.

Scrubbed up and waiting to be called in...

They soon wheeled Missy’s bed out of the room and told us (Cindy was now with us at this point; she would be with us in the O.R.) that they would be back to get us shortly, once Missy was prepped.  Five minutes passed…ten minutes passed…fifteen minutes felt like an eternity…until that knock came.  Cindy and I walked quickly to the Operating Room, and walked in on Missy, our doctor, six nurses, two assistants, and one operation already in progress {yeah, I think they almost forgot to get us…I wasn’t supposed to walk in to that, was I??}.

I sat beside Missy’s head with the still camera, while Cindy shot video over my shoulder.  I tried my best to stay strong and comfort her, but honestly, I think she ended up doing most of the comforting.

Missy Hardinge: Hero.

We made small talk trying to take our minds off the ongoing operation, but the doctor soon gave the word…go time!  Over the next five minutes, and after 33 weeks and six days in utero, our three children were born. I called them by name as our doctor removed them from Missy.  Baby A: Sienna Elaine, first born.  Baby B: Rowan Anna, the middle child.  Baby C:  Jovie Jane, the youngest.  For each baby, there was a pair of nurses were standing by to wrap them up and whisk them across the hall.

As soon as Jovie was out of the room, I sat down and looked at Missy.  She did it.  But now what?  Do I stay and tend to her, or do I leave her to be with our girls?  She made the decision for me in about 2.4 seconds: go.  So I swapped cameras with Cindy, and went.  The scene in post delivery room was nothing short of organized chaos.  Alarms…voices…and lots of crying (and not just the girls).  I met the doctor in charge of the NICU who was supervising his staff as they made the babies ready for transport:  first across the hall to meet their mother, and then up two floors to the NICU.

Once prepped, they were quickly wheeled back into the O.R. so that Missy could see them, and then promptly taken upstairs to their room.  Talk about heartbreak: after carrying them for so long, Missy didn’t even get to hold them.

Three babies in transit to the NICU.

Into the elevator we went, and after a brief ride, into their room.  More organized chaos.  Each nurse had their job to do, and they were doing it, quickly and efficiently.  I stood frozen in a corner snapping some pictures, watching the commotion, and listening to my babies fuss.  Wanting to hold them, but knowing that I couldn’t, sucked. Feeling small and out of place among the racket, I left.  I needed to get out, gather myself, and check on my wife in post-op.

The view from my corner. This room soon filled up with support staff.

I found her with Cindy back in our room with the lights dimmed.  We did it.  I showed her the pictures on the camera, and tried to comfort her as she was coming down off all her meds.  I ran back up to the NICU, but at that point it was still full of doctors and nurses, so I figured that it was best to lay low with Missy for a while…so back downstairs I went.  While Missy slept, I loaded pictures on the computer and blogged, showing the world that our babies had arrived.

Two happy (and very sleepy) parents.

The remainder of the day is a blur.  I reached the NICU again after 5:00PM, and all was calm.  The girls were sleeping in their Isolettes, so I chatted up the only remaining nurse for a few short minutes.  I walked around and stared at each one of them in awe.  I later made phone calls and chatted with a few visitors, as well as took family members back to see the new born babies.  {At this point there was a strict “one in, one out” limitation on visitors, and I always had to accompany them while in the girl’s room}.  So as I shuttled guests back and forth, Missy was transported from her recovery room to a more permanent post-delivery room, but not before stopping to see her girls.  Unfortunately, we were two different places at this point, so a great photo opportunity was missed.  Perhaps it was for the best.

Grabbing a late dinner, I spent some time alone with Missy (who was waaaaay out of it at this point) before finally passing out on the cramped fold-out half-couch in our hospital room, knowing that at last, I was a father.

{This is the first of a two-part post recounting the birth of our baby girls.  A “his & her” perspective of May 17, 2010…the day our lives changed forever.  Click here for Part 2.}

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About Tom Hardinge

Loving husband to my wife Missy, loving father to my four daughters Sienna, Rowan, Jovie, and Lola. I'm a chronic over-packer who loves good coffee, good music, running, waffle tee's, fleece pants, and Jesus Christ!

2 thoughts on “As I Saw It | May 17, 2010

  1. So glad you two are sharing the birth story! I’ve heard it, but it’s so crazy/fun to relive the excitement…can’t believe it’s been a year! Enjoy your day off with your girls! I’ll be back tomorrow. 🙂

  2. Pingback: May 17th, 2010 – How I lived the time up to it and the 364 days after. | living in pursuit

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