This is the story of the birth of my son and the events that followed. I understand that not everyone really cares or assumes that all birth stories are the same. Well, to some degree that is true. Birth stories are important to the individual family, but they really follow the same pattern: labor then birth then baby. Sometimes births don't go according to plan, sometimes there are complications, sometimes the baby isn't healthy. I guess that maybe those are the more interesting stories, but in a society where birth is less and less natural and more and more medicalized the interesting parts become less and less. Imagine, back in the 1920s having a C-section. That would be a big freaking deal! In 2018, not so much.
Anyways, the point is that I am going to tell our birth stories. Not because I think they are overly interesting, but rather because they are a key step in my Dad journey. I mean, without a birth story I wouldn't be a dad.
I have to say, as first pregnancies go my partner's pregnancy with our son was fairly easy. We had been trying for approximately 6 months before finding out we were pregnant. Before trying to have a kid, you couldn't have paid me to say that there was such a thing as sex being too exhausting, but it was grueling. Anyways, after 6 months with no luck we started to feel discouraged. I know that 6 months is nothing compared to people who really struggle, but it was the first moment of realization about parenting. Things they tell you in childhood is a lie. I remember going through sex ed, and the basic message was "if you have unprotected sex, you WILL get pregnant." Well, if that was the case it should have happened the first month of trying, right? Anyways, we had a huge argument, and decided that we were going to have a kid no matter what and submitted an adoption application. We knew we wanted a big family and adoption was always part of that plan. So the next day, after a hellish day at work and traffic that made my day pale in comparison, I come home to find not one but two positive pregnancy tests on our bed. We were thrilled.
So like I said, the pregnancy was not a really difficult one. We had 2 scary bleeding incidents, but it wasn't that big of a deal in the long run. At the time, those were the scariest days of my life. On one of the two occasions I called the local police department to see if they would give me an escort so I could get to the hospital faster. Looking back, that might have been a smidge of an over-reaction. So that happened. Anyways, my partner was very committed to having a natural childbirth with no interventions. Growing up in a medical family, I insisted on a hospital birth. We educated ourselves on birth, and took a Bradley Method class. We were all prepared and decided to go at it alone, with no Doula (HUGE MISTAKE!). We had a friend who was going to be our support person instead. Anyways, we get to the end of her pregnancy, and BAM her water breaks and it isn't clear. Meconium Stained. Well balls. We we went to the hospital way early because of the stained water (2nd HUGE MISTAKE!). We get admitted by a horrible doctor, let's call her Dr. Shouldn'tPractice. Dr. Shouldn'tPractice never came to see us at all. We wanted intermittent monitoring as part of our birth plan so this way my partner could walk. Well, Dr. Shouldn'tPractice sent a nurse in to tell us that we would need to sign that we were going against medical advice in order to do that. We did. They also offered antibiotics, and we indicated that we wanted to revisit it. Well, my partner is in labor now, and the nurses are barely showing up. Dr. Shouldn'tPractice never came in, not once. Coming up on 24 hours after her water broke, no one ever came to discuss the antibiotics again. This will be very important later. Our designated support person showed up for a good amount of time during that first day while we were at the hospital, but left to go back to her life. We were there just the two of us until family arrived. Sometime in the middle of the night, we ask the nurses to check on my partner's progress, and her contractions were coming hard. She was something like 4 cm dilated, I honestly don't really remember. At one point, I was was sent home for a 2 hour nap. By the following morning, we had my partner checked again, and she was at 6 cm. Not much progress. At least our OBGYN was on and came to see us. He fully expected there to be a baby by that evening. Well, when the evening rolled around, and there wasn't a baby our Doctor suggested a C-Section. To my surprise, my partner said yes! I was floored, we hadn't discussed that at all. In the end, it's her body her choice right? So we opted for the C-Section. From the time her water broke to the time that the baby was born equaled 44 hours. That 44 hours included 36 hours of unmedicated natural labor. Holy Shit! She deserves a freaking medal! Unfortunately, this is when things got really fun.
So after all of that my son was born. 8 lbs 9 Oz. Awesome. Well, the doctors said he was having difficulty breathing and he was grunting. They rushed him to the NICU, and I followed my son leaving my partner behind. The whole next hour or so was a huge blur. Basically, they rushed my son to the NICU and the doctors were going to do all sorts of procedures. They were just going to do what they were going to do and leave me standing there as if I had absolutely no say over the care of my newborn son. I was not having it. I found my dad-voice. I promise there will be a whole blog post dedicated to that topic. I made those doctors stop and explain what they were planning on doing and get my consent. They were not pleased, but realistically my child was not in any imminent danger and consent matters. They put him on a CPAP (like they use for sleep apnea) and ran some tests. Meanwhile, my partner was out of surgery and in her recovery room. She sparked a fever. Double balls. They started pumping her full of antibiotics because she tested positive for Strep Bovis. Now, I can tell you that every medical professional I have spoken to since has never heard of anyone getting Strep Bovis. What made this worse was my son tested positive on a gastric culture of Strep Bovis. So, remember when I said earlier not being offered antibiotics after the 24 hour post water-break was important? Now you can see why. Here is what all this meant. My wife never got to nurse for almost a full week, and she was told to pump and dump. She was prohibited from coming to the NICU for almost a full week. The neonatologist made an exception on the day they were doing grand rounds and allowed her in, but only in full isolation wear and she was not allowed to hold him. More so, they wouldn't let her pump and give him the breastmilk she pumped. They forced her to pump and dump. So here I am, in full time dad mode. I am in the NICU almost 24 hours a day, only taking breaks to eat and go home to sleep and feed our dogs. I was giving him skin to skin almost the entire time I was there. So if all of this wasn't bad enough, they decided that they needed to give my son a bottle of formula. Ok, I get that he needs to eat but they did not handle it well. I was giving my son skin-to-skin and the nurse decided it was time for his bottle. The lactation consultant was saying that I should be the one to give him the bottle, but she insisted that he was out of the isolette for too long. She scooped him up, sat him up in the isolette and jammed the bottle violently in his mouth. I was shocked, horrified, and silent. I lost my dad voice. So here's what this caused. My partner had really low supply, but she was determined to breastfeed. She got up with him every two hours, sometimes more often, in order to avoid supplementing. My son did not take to the breast easily. She had to use a nipple shield to get him latched, not because the latch was bad but because he didn't know that a real nipple produced food. We had to give him breast milk using SNS (supplemental nutritional system). I would fill a syringe with pumped breast milk, and that was hooked up to a NG tube that we held against my partner's breast. We would get him to try to latch, and I would let the milk flow. Those early days of breastfeeding was a 3 person job every time.
My partner was discharged from the hospital 5 days after my son was born. Unfortunately, our son did not come home with us, and he stayed in the hospital for a total of 7 days. Dr. Shouldn'tPractice discharged my partner, but my that time she was allowed into the NICU and she was spending all of her time there. Dr. Shouldn'tPractice literally stuck her head in the doorway of our NICU room and said that she was being discharged. No exam, no discussion, no discharge information. I found my dad voice again after my partner was discharged from the hospital. She was supposed to get a hospital grade breast pump to support her feeding while my son was in NICU. Well the pump which was guaranteed to be delivered the night of her discharge. Despite multiple calls to the company, it never showed up. The next morning she was engorged and in pain. I called the company again in the morning and informed them that they had utterly failed in their duty and that they were responsible for the fact that my partner was in pain and my so did not have breast milk. I made it clear that if they did not have a pump delivered to me within a few hours, I would sue the company and I planned on owning it by the end of the week. Let me tell you, that pump showed up hours in advance of my deadline.
So here is how this all ended. My son and I were very attached from the beginning. It was great for me, but made it really hard for my partner. Her newborn son wanted me more than her, their relationship was really hard for those first few months. I was thrust into Attachment Parenting in a way that I never expected, but I am so glad that I did it the way I did. One of the saddest things I ever witnessed was being in the NICU, seeing all of those babies alone and unattended. I have serious regrets from my son's birth. I regret not filing for malpractice against Dr. Shouldn'tPracticem and the nurse who took my son from me and forced that bottle in his mouth. That caused so much nipple confusion. Breastfeeding didn't click for three months, but he is 2.5 years old now, and still nursing. I am happy to report that Dr. Shouldn'tPractice is no longer working at our OBGYN practice.
In the end, I have a happy and healthy (until he started preschool) kid.
I'm Matt a.k.a. The Attached Abba (Abba = Hebrew for Dad). This blog is detailing my journey in parenthood, and will hopefully provide a space for other dads to find support and insight.