On September 17, 2015, Becca and I welcomed to this world Charlee Sophia Goldberg. Weighing in at a whopping 7 pounds 14 ounces, she is nearly 20 inches long. Later, I was advised that she is LGA, or large for gestational age, as she technically was delivered at 38 weeks, 6 days. We’re thinking if she went full term, Charlee would have easily topped out around 9 pounds or so – pretty huge for a couple of five and half foot tall parents!
As I type this, Becca and Charlee are both fast asleep.
I am beyond grateful to have them both in my life, and Charlee’s recent arrival has truly been a gift. I have felt emotions that I’ve never knew existed, and she has fundamentally changed who I am.
The following is the story of Charlee’s birth, written for me, for Becca, for Charlee herself, and for all the dad’s out there waiting on their own child’s birth story.
My underlying message is that things change. Accept the change. Embrace the change. Don’t get frustrated beyond control. Don’t lose your cool. Remember that it’s like John Lennon said, “everything will be okay in the end. if it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”
I encourage you to share your stories here and with the world, cause as a new dad, I would have loved to know other’s stories and how they handled all aspects of it.
So to all the new dads, old dads, and dads to be – Enjoy!
Labour’s Eve was Wednesday the 16th, and Becca and I thought we would tie up all loose ends. We dropped the dog off at doggy daycare, grabbed some last minute groceries, and quadruple checked our packing for the hospital.
It was all very surreal and yet strangely appropriate.
Becca and I are very organized people – how proper was it that our baby would not leave things to chance, but rather cause a situation where we would need to schedule a C-section.
That night we chatted extensively about what to expect. It was all just a combination of what we’d heard from others, and probably what we’d seen on TV.
I barely slept.
I watched the clock tick towards five and stopped my alarm clock before it could begin.
We showered, changed, and packed everything into the car.
The hospital is a short drive from the house, so we arrive in a matter of minutes, found parking, and went to the Maternity Ward triage.
Another couple was there, in the early stages of labour. The wife was having some serious pain, and the triage nurse was getting frustrated with the woman’s refusal to listen to her. I don’t know what the issue was specifically, but the husband was trying to ease the wife’s concerns as well, while the grandmother (to be) was also assisting. At a certain point the nurse stated that the woman needed to open her legs so she could see how dilated she was, yet the woman refused. Bit of an odd choice if you ask me, but I never knew what else the issue was with her or the baby. We bumped into the couple in the Special Care Nursery later, but more on that in a bit.
Through all the commotion, we were there in a very cool, calm, and mostly controlled state. Becca was not going into labour, and for all intense and purposes, with the exception of our nerves being on edge, we were otherwise doing just fine.
Becca was given a hospital gown and laid down in a bed while they checked her and baby’s vitals. We had around 30 minutes to kill before the scheduled section, so we waited up front and finally met with the midwives as they arrived.
Becca and I were brought down a long corridor and before I knew it, she was being directed through the operating doors, while my midwife escorted me to the recovery room where we could leave our belongings and I could get suited up to be in the operating room.
She brought me back to just outside the OR and asked that I sit on one of the benches until they call me.
I eyed that door for what seemed like a lifetime, with the midwives popping out every so often, and then our obstetrician doing the same. I was told that it wouldn’t be much longer, and that they were just waiting on the anesthesiologist to finish with Becca.
Finally, our midwife waved me in.
I donned my mesh hair cover and surgical mask and walked through the double doors of the OR and into one of the two operating rooms.
Never in my life have I been in an OR (thank God), but I must say it was all very hollywood. Nurses running around doing a million things, the doctor standing over Becca lying slightly tilted back with her arms out and the curtain right at her chin. A chair was pulled up for me to sit right by Becca’s face.
My boss told me on my last day of work, “whatever you do, don’t look over the curtain. What you see, cannot be unseen”. Of course, there was also the fact that I too was a C-section, and my father passed out at my birth… but that wouldn’t happen to me… right?
As the doctor began, I stroked Becca’s hair and had her try and keep eye contact with me.
The doctor was quite rough, much more physical than either of us had expected, and Becca bounced a little, side to side, as the doctor proceeded.
She was not in pain, but the sensations were overwhelming and she started to tear up.
I wiped away Becca’s tears, reassuring her that she was doing a fantastic job, and we were almost there.
Another doctor close to us was watching the procedure while checking Becca’s vitals. She suddenly announced, “hey, there’s a foot! Daddy, did you want to see?”
Don’t look over the curtain.
“No, I’m ok”, I replied with a jovial, somewhat facetious tone.
She said, “oh, it’s not that bad. Come on, you need to see what you’re having.”
I thought to myself, you know what? This isn’t something I want to regret NOT doing, so I stood up and looked.
The scene was astounding.
The Dr. was just then pulling our baby out from Becca’s abdomen. Yes I saw some things that I would rather have avoided, but the image of my child rising up above it all was incredible.
The Dr. said, “see what you’ve got?” Unfortunately, I could not, because his arm was in the way, so I asked, “is it a boy?” to which he responded “try again!”
I started to cry.
Becca started to cry.
Our daughter was here and we were overjoyed.
The Dr. cut the umbilical chord (sadly I wasn’t offered) and passed the baby over to the midwives, who called me over to watch and help, while the doctor and nurses closed up Becca.
I moved back and forth between the baby and Becca constantly checking both to see how they were doing. Finally Becca was stitched up and stable and we were given the all clear to move into the recovery room.
It was about 9:30 at that point and we were having a wonderful opportunity to bond with our newborn. Becca tried out breastfeeding and Charlee latched immediately. We were able to have tons of skin to skin time, with only the odd interruption from the nurses or the midwives checking on Becca and Charlee’s well being.
We opted to wait for a private room as I didn’t want to share this experience with strangers and their families. Oddly enough there was an influx of births from the night before, and we were queued up. Considering there are close to 40 spots available for families, that is a busy maternity ward indeed!
My understanding was that we couldn’t see guests in the recovery room, so unfortunately when my mum and dad showed up, I had to visit with them in the waiting room for a few minutes before heading back to be with Becca and Charlee. I sent them home but told them that a room booking wasn’t far away, so stay tuned.
Little did I know that throughout the course of the next 7 hours, Becca, Charlee and I would wait, sometimes impatiently, for a room – private or even semi-private – we weren’t picky at this point.
Finally they moved us to the deluxe suite, which they said was a real treat as the price was the same but the square footage was nearly a third more than those other private rooms.
Sweet! Maybe it was actually worth the wait.
When we got there, the nurses told us to lay Charlee in the baby warmer until they came back to do vitals and bathe the baby. At this point, she was nearing 8 hours old which is the window they wanted to use. The problem was that they did not turn on the baby warmer, or in fact heat for the room whatsoever, and it was sitting at approximately 21 degrees (or just shy of 70 fahrenheit).
It wasn’t until 90 minutes later they finally came in.
There excuse was that it was time for a nursing shift change (one of many we were going to be privy to) and they needed to report in to the on-call paediatrician. The new nurses came and started taking Charlee’s vitals. They were immediately concerned about her temperature which was quite far from the 36.6 degrees that they were looking for.
They advised immediately to do more skin to skin and brought us blankets to cover Charlee with at the same time.
An hour later they came back and tested again, this time with two of the on-call resident paediatricians who again flagged Charlee’s temperature. They proposed that we have her blood sugar levels tested too. This involves pricking our baby’s heal and then measuring through the blood before putting a bandaid on to stop the bleeding. These heal pricks would increase in frequency as our hospital stay continued.
I came to learn that the cold in the room caused Charlee’s little body to exert more energy to try and bring her core temperature up. This means burning up her blood sugars, and therefore registering a low number (this information was all in hindsight).
The concern heightened, and the nurses were requested to provide supplemental feedings in lieu of Becca’s breast milk fully coming in. They cup fed Charlee 10 cc’s of formula to help boost her blood sugar and give it a valiant effort before advising the inevitable.
After another hours wait, her blood sugars were taken again, and sadly again, they were low.
The on-call paediatrician was signalled to come in and she discussed with us that at this point we had only one option. She said they had prolonged the unavoidable through attempting the formula supplement, but Charlee was going to need to go to the Specialty Care Nursery.
Becca knew what that was.
It ends up that it is a Level 2 neonatal intensive care unit and it’s scary as hell.
They carried Charlee over there and advised that we could come visit in an hour and get signed up for an access pass and discuss the next steps with a nurse.
This was how we found Charlee
We were told that Charlee had an IV providing her with the much needed levels of glucose to help support her body.
Over the next 3 days, Becca, Charlee and I went through some of the toughest times I’ve ever experienced. Times that Charlee will never remember, but Becca and I will never forget.
Stay tuned for Part II – The SCN