November 16, 2009

Pain and Relief

Decisions have been made, dates have been set.

During the past week or so, Sara has been getting mild dizzy spells.  Today, she called her doctor and was told to come in and take a stress test.  Everything was alright and she wasn't any more dilated, but he told her that if she wasn't in labor by Friday, that he wanted to induce sometime next week.

For those of you who are fans of this program, you may recall that we are closing on a house sometime soon.  That sometime soon is next Tuesday.  As a direct result of that, we didn't want to worry about inducing when we're supposed to be buying a house, or when the hospital staff is angry at us for interrupting their turkey dinners.  Therefore, the doctor will be inducing Sara on Wednesday morning at 7:30.  If all goes well, we'll be parents by 7:31!  If all goes real, it should be later in the day.

In two days, I will be a father.  We've been trying to coax the baby out for almost 3 solid weeks, timing every contraction, eating pineapple, spicy food, going for walks and the other recommended activities to bring on labor, all to no avail.  Now that it's a scheduled procedure, I'm not really sure how I feel about it.  It fits into our other obligations very nicely but it does take out some of the mystery.  I'm also very worried about Sara.

Some time last week, she had a contraction that very strong.  She was clearly in pain, more so than I have ever seen in our 6 years of being together.  I was suddenly terrified for my wife, this woman whom I love with all of my heart and soul, someone for whom I would gladly take the agony if it meant she could avoid it.  There was nothing I could do to help her.  My helplessness was overwhelming.  I've been told that inducing labor makes it more painful.  Sara talks about the pain with a sense of nervousness, but not fear.  In her mind, she has clearly weighed the balance of pain versus gain and comes out very strongly in favor of this baby.  Last week, when she had the contraction, I wavered.  I can think of nothing I want less than to see her in pain.

I know that my job will be to sit by and tell her how wonderful she is and what a great job she's doing and how proud I am of her, but it's not cutting it for me.  I've been having a growing feeling, starting when we saw the birthing video at the Lamaze class, that I'm having trouble putting into words.

The video followed several mothers as they went through the stages of labor, through the birth and then interviews afterwards.  I was struck by something during a particular segment that began with the woman screaming in intense agony, thrashing on the table, throwing things and generally being in labor.  It ended with the phrase "I gave a final push and there was Carl Jr."

My first thought was "Holy shit!  She gave birth to a hamburger??"  Followed very quickly by the idea that naming a child after it's father is arrogant.  To this point, his job was to be a sperm donor and try to be supportive.  She was the one who carried the child, reorganized her life for the past several months, and went through the agony of birth to use this life as a tribute to him?  It made me very uncomfortable.  It seemed like a great reversal of Bill Cosby's routine about raising a son, spending time with him, teaching him to play football, taking him to practice, encouraging him, watching him play, cheering him on the whole way, then when he runs into the end zone to score a touchdown, he looks at the camera and says "Hi mom!"

I've been thinking about this frequently and I've slightly gotten over my initial upset, justifying it that the mother could be so grateful to her husband for allowing her to have this child...

I am so grateful to Sara for carrying this child.  I am beside myself with gratitude and will forever be in her debt.  I am in awe of her ability to face this coming week with such courage as I know I could never muster.  Up to this point, it has been a bit of an abstraction, recognizing that, yes, women give birth all the time and, yes, it is painful and amazing.  It's suddenly becoming real in a way that it wasn't before.

After the miscarriage last year, I was scared for this child all through the pregnancy.  I was worried about the heartbeat, and whether it would make it to be born and what I would do if it didn't.  With the impending birth on Wednesday, I am fairly confident that the child will be fine (barring the horror story I heard when I was teaching in Jersey).

I am now terrified for my wife.  I don't worry that she won't make it through, I have no fears about that.  I am terrified about the pain that she will be going through and my inability to do anything other than help her breathe, let her squeeze my hand and tell her how beautiful and wonderful she is.

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