Let’s get this over with already. That was the thought going through my head after an agonizing 16 hours of watching my wife in labor. All of that excitement we felt for nine months turned to frustration after the epidural didn’t work and Emily felt extreme pain with every contraction.
After four more hours of waiting and still stuck at 8-centimeters dilated, the look in my wife’s eyes said it all. I had never seen her look this tired. We decided we would have a C-section.
I finally started feeling some of the anxiety melting away. After all, all I’d ever been told were that C-sections were routine surgeries. We were in the clear.
Watching your wife in extreme pain for hours while there isn’t jack you can do isn’t something I’d wish upon my worst enemy.
Finally, the doctors and nurses arrive. They wheel her out and I walk to a small room and start getting ready. I head to a small changing room where they have a couch. I’m beyond excited at this point, as I get ready to meet my son. I change into my scrubs and put a country music playlist on while I felt like a kid on Christmas morning. Finally, Emily would be out of pain and we would be holding our son.
Thirty minutes later, a nurse knocks on the door with a smile. I head into the operating room. It is eerie being in a room with so many doctors and nurses and my wife lying on the operating table. I keep waiting for them to pull my son up so I could look at him. Five minutes goes by. Then, 25 minutes have gone by and still no baby. This was supposed to be a quick surgery. All I saw when I looked across the table were doctors who appeared to be struggling. Emily seemed really out of it and I could hear her softly grunt.
I thought something was wrong at this point but little did I know.
The anxiety went away when I heard the sound of my son crying. They pulled him out and held him up. My first thought was, “Holy crap, I’m a Dad. He’s actually here.” Somehow, the thought of being a dad in those nine months leading up to the birth hadn’t actually set in yet. I was beaming with joy and looked at Emily to see her reaction. She looked very dazed and I was very confused about her lack of excitement.
A couple of alarms went off on the monitors behind me. The nurses started whispering to each other and I could see her blood pressure dropping rapidly.
I asked, “Is she OK?” I got an unsure look and an “I think so” from the nurse who instantly started giving Emily medication. They hand me my son, Wyatt. All I wanted was for Emily to take a look and see our son and I wanted to see her smile. A minute later, she seemed to stabilize and the doctor asked me if I wanted to put Wyatt on Emily’s chest.
Things declined rapidly. The beeps continued and the blood pressure was dropping into the 60s. Emily faintly said, “Take him off me I don’t feel good.” All of a sudden, her blood pressure dropped to 45. The nurses rushed Wyatt into my arms and a nurse rushed us into a side room. All I remember hearing was the doctor yelling, “Get dad and baby out of here right now.”
The thoughts racing through my head were, “You have to be kidding me. I can’t do this alone.”
They weighed Wyatt and everything checked out. The doctor kept asking if I was a proud dad and telling me how excited I should be that he is perfectly healthy. I am ashamed to say I hardly even looked at Wyatt. I kept trying to sneak peeks into the operating room. I saw a team of doctors run in and saw a surgeon sprinting down the hallway with a bag of medicine. My heart is racing a million miles a minute.
I ask the nurse in there with me, “Is she going to be OK?” She said, “They are doing all they can. Take care of your son.”
I thought to myself that this would be my last memory of Emily and my first memory of my son’s life. What an awful and beautiful moment.
They then brought my son and me to the nursery and asked if I needed anything. I said that I needed to know if my wife was OK. The nurse I was with looked at me with tears in her eyes and ignored my comment. She then brought me three packs of crackers and two Cokes. I stress ate and drank everything in front of me. I looked at my son’s fresh face and cried my eyes out for almost a half hour. Every time the loudspeaker went off, I feared the worst. Attention: cardiac code in the ER. Attention: code blue in the NICU. I kept waiting to hear a code called in labor and delivery.
An hour passed and I had come to terms with the inevitable. I was going to have to raise Wyatt alone. I was going through a mental checklist to help me feel some sense of control. I would sell the house, quit my job, and either move back to Wilmington or move in with Emily’s parents for a few months because there was no way in hell I could do this on my own. I wondered where I could get a high paying bartending job to work nights. I would sell my golf clubs and my sports memorabilia. Crap, what kind of formula do we need? What do I do when he doesn’t sleep? How will growing up without a mother’s love affect my son?
After two hours of mental agony, the doctor walked into the room. My stomach leaped into my chest as we locked eyes. I threw up a brief Hail Mary and got ready to hear the news. He said, “Your wife had a very tough time but she is OK. She is up in PACU now while they try to stabilize her blood pressure.” Tears streamed down my face and I gave the doctor a bear hug. It was now 6:30. The surgery was supposed to be done by 4.
I finally got the OK to go to the lobby to tell our parents what had happened and that she was OK. I now had to wait for PACU to call me and tell me she was stable enough for me to see her.
I went and held my son again in the nursery. I heard a nurse talking to another nurse across the room, “. . . and Mrs. Stone almost didn’t make it. She lost four liters of blood and they couldn’t stop her bleeding.”
My ears instantly perked up. I cut in, “That’s my wife, she’s OK isn’t she?” She replied, “Yes but she cut it very close and is lucky to be alive. I’ve never seen someone lose that much blood and be alive.”
I came to learn Emily had lost four liters of blood and that is why her blood pressure dropped so rapidly. A half-liter lost is considered a serious hemorrhage, she lost eight times that.
An hour and a half goes by and we finally get the OK to see Emily. As we are walking down the hallway to get ready to enter her room, we see a team of four or five nurses rush in and the door closes behind them. What? Just when I feel I can start relaxing and thinking about the start of our family, my wife is bleeding out on a table across the hallway and I can’t do a damn thing.
Thank God, the nurses stop the bleeding and 20 minutes later the family enters the room. I was so glad to see my wife. Her normally pale skin looked extremely yellowed and she looked like she had stared death in the face. The memory of her first holding Wyatt for the first time is a memory I will never forget as long as I live.
February 5th, 2019 is the day my son was born and my wife almost died. That day is a lesson to never take a second with either of them for granted.