This is a different type of story for me. It is loosely, very loosely, based on my first son's birth. However, it is told with tongue planted firmly in cheek. This may be to right time to tell all of you our family motto: "Never let the truth get in the way of a good story." Large parts of this story are true, though a lot has been embellished and a lot more has been made up.
Additionally, I want to state for the record that while I seem to be picking on the nurses in this story, I have the utmost respect for all nurses. I think they do a phenomenal job with the patience of Job. They are dedicated professionals who deserve our thanks and admiration.
I hope you enjoy this as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Children's stories begin with the words "Once upon a time..." Adult stories begin with the words "No shit! This really happened".
This is what really happened:
We had just found out that we were pregnant with our second child. I say we although women will tell you that there is no "we" about it, that they do all the work. All we men do is have a ball getting the ball rolling - so to speak. But I am here to tell you we men are just as involved as our ladies with the pregnancy. We're the ones who make the late night runs for weird food to satisfy cravings. We're the ones who decorate and redecorate the nursery to meet our expectant mother's changing desires. We're the ones who rub bellies, massage backs and legs, and attend natural childbirth classes. And we're the ones, when faced with the probability of a caesarian section, prepare to accompany our wife into surgery so we can savor the birth of our new child as a family. So I say WE had this baby.
Our first child was delivered by emergency C-Section after my wife failed to dilate over the 24 hours she was in labor. Sharon was devastated because she so much wanted a natural childbirth.
When she found out she was pregnant again, she told our doctor that she wanted to try again to have a natural childbirth. The doctor said we could try but we should prepare for the probability that we were again going to have a C-Section.
This is when my wife got the big idea that if we did have to have surgery that it would be cool if I could accompany her into the surgical theater to observe and be a part of our child's birth. Sharon reasoned that in this way I would be in a better position to bond with our new child. Bond, oh how I would grow to rue that term.
This was 1980 and having a father in the operating room was unheard of at the time, at least in the great state of Arkansas. I still don't know how she pulled it off but she got the administrator of the hospital to agree to my being present in the operating room if we could get all the hospital departments, and all the doctors and technicians and nurses to agree in writing.
This, of course, became my job. I was the one who had to gather all the necessary releases right down to the janitor's dept. (I guess that was in case I threw up and they had to clean up after me). Well, I finally got all the signed permissions and then the hard part started.
One condition of my going into the O.R. was that I had to attend a series of classes to prepare me for the stark reality of cutting into a human body. I sat through hours upon hours of graphic films so that I would know what was happening and would be able to handle (read that - stomach) a Cesarean Section and all the possibilities of what could happen.
Finally the big day came, Sharon went into labor. We arrived at the hospital hoping for a natural childbirth but were prepared (we hoped) for an emergency C-Section.
10 hours later our doctor came in and told us what we already suspected, it was time for surgery. Despite having all the pain that comes with labor, Sharon again failed to dilate. With the doctor's declaration, I swallowed and mentally prepared myself for what was to come.
Sharon was wheeled away for preparation for surgery. I accompanied our doctor to scrub up and get into my own set of surgical scrubs. Boy did I feel important!
All was good until I went into the operating room. There, in the middle of the room, lay my wife on a stainless-steel operating table. She had a sheet covering her whole body and a drape was erected across her chest. I was led to a stool at the left side of Sharon's head. The anesthetist, anesthesiologist or whatever he was sat on the right side of my wife's head playing with his equipment. He was humming a song to himself and didn't seem to have a care in the world. When I contrasted this to my near panic, I decided that irreguardless of what his title really was, to me he would always be known as the GAS-PASSER.
There were two nurses located on either side of Sharon. They looked and sounded nice and professional though, as I was soon to learn, they were wicked and sadistic – at least to me. As I said, there was a drape across Sharon's chest. It was situated just high enough that if I sat up I would be able to see everything that was happening during the surgery. Likewise, if I were to slouch, my head would be low enough that I would not have to watch my wife get cut into. I decided slouching was the way to go for me. Yeah, I'm a coward.
Here I was slouching, trying to keep to myself and waiting for it all to be over, when I noticed that the drape seemed to be dropping lower and lower. It seems those diabolical nurses were teasing me by slowly lowering the drape. As the drape lowered I slouched down more and more. Soon my head was next to my wife's in my attempt to remain below that damn drape.
Suddenly, Sharon turned her head and whispered in my ear "What are you doing down here?"
I nearly spoiled the sterile environment by crapping in my pants! When I finally got my heart back in my chest where it belonged, I whispered "What are you doing awake?"
"They haven't started yet." She replied.
Thank God I can think fast. I replied "Oh."
My loving wife looked at me and asked again "What are you doing down here?"
"I think my shoelace is loose." Yep, I'm quick on my feet!
"You're wearing loafers."
Again, thinking quickly, I replied "Oh."
After I completed my conversation with my wife I sat back up. Those sadistic nurses had raised the drape back up to where it was supposed to be. They stood there with identical smirks on their faces. I decided then and there that I didn't like nurses and would do everything in my power to insure that my daughter wouldn't become one.
I glanced over at the gas-passer and he was humming the song "Having My Baby", I thought 'Are all these people crazy? That's my baby we're having.' I wondered, not for the first time if he was sampling his product.
Finally the doctor appeared. I wondered where he had been because we had dressed and scrubbed up at the same time. The thought did run through my mind that with everything else that was going on in this crazy operating room, he had probably been reading an instruction manual on how to perform the operation! Naa, surely not!
One of the nurses grabbed a bucket of red barn stain and proceeded to paint a bulls-eye on Sharon's belly. I guess this was so the good doctor had something to aim at. Coupled with my previous thought, my confidence level was dropping.
So there I sat, slouched down so I wouldn't have to see what was going on. About this time the gas-passer put a mask on Sharon's head and told her to begin counting backward from 100. Sharon began "100, 99, 98..."
When she stopped I thought she was nervous and confused and had lost her place. So I attempted to help her. I continued "97, 96..."
The gas-passer said that it was alright that Sharon was now asleep.
I replied "Oh." I really don't know where I come up with up with some of my clever repartee.
With the announcement that Sharon was now out of it, the doctor said "Ok, let's begin. Scalpel."
The nurse to his left handed him a scalpel and he began cutting into my wife. Even though I was slouched down I could still see the cutting motion of the doctor's arm as he started making his incisions. I knew from watching my instructional videos that he needed to make multiple cuts slowly through the different tissues to get down to the womb. So I was not surprised to see the sawing motion of the doctor's arm.
All was going well until he asked for the salad-spoons. Yeah, I know that's not what their called, but that's what they look like. Anyway, the doctor asked for the salad-spoons and reached in and then it happened. Sharon was not a small woman but that doctor had her sliding all over that operating table! I just had to know what he was doing, so I sat up and looked.
It was at just that moment that this, this thing popped up out of my wife's belly. It looked like the Creature from the Black Lagoon and at that moment it seemed to turn its head and look right at me!
It was grey all over and it seemed as if its skin was sliding off its face and body. What in the world was it? Well like I said, Zorba the Goop looked right at me and I froze. Suddenly there was a collective gasp from the doctor and nurses, and then I saw it. Wrapped around Zorba's neck was a big snake. It was difficult to see at first because it too was grey and it seemed that its skin was also sliding off.
The doctor immediately attacked this snake with a couple of vice-grips. When this didn't work, he took a pair of garden shears and cut the snake in two. He then quickly snatched Zorba the Goop up and handed it to the nurse across from him. She held it away from herself like she was afraid the snake would attack her. I couldn't blame her.
She then turned around and handed Zorba off to another nurse who had magically appeared. This new nurse was something to see! She was dressed all in black and wore a conical nurse's cap. She took the bundle and with a wink at me turned around and went to work. I swear I heard the song "Witchy Women" playing in the background.
With nothing better to do, I turned back to see what was going on with my wife. The doctor was busy getting ready to sew up Sharon's womb and it was then I saw all her organs piled haphazardly all over her body. I remember thinking 'I hope he knows where they all go and doesn't have any extra parts.'
I was worried for nothing. The good Doctor simply started shoving parts in where ever they would fit, sewing up as he went. I breathed a sigh of relief when he was done and there were no extra parts. He was definitely better at this than I was at assembling the new crib – I had had several extra parts. To this day I don't know where those parts were supposed to go!
The witchy nurse finished cleaning up my new son and brought him to me. She had wrapped a blanket around him and placed him in my arms. I looked at him and my first thought was that he looked like a basset hound. His whole forehead wanted to slide down onto his face. I wanted to check to be sure that she had him right side up, but I didn't want to upset that witchy nurse. She smiled at me and, taking me by the arm, led me out the door telling me to take my son to the nursery. She went back into the surgical room and shut the door behind her.