So it’s official- I am now a father. Baby Lucas came into this world on Saturday November 11th, 2017 at 8:13am. He weighed a healthy 7lbs 13oz and is still going strong a good eight days after birth. His due date was November 7th so he was four days late. We had an appointment to induce labor on November 13th, however it seems that he had plans of his own and decided to come out on 11/11.
On Friday night (the 10th) Asumi went to bed around 8pm and I did my normal “stay up and mess around on the computer” until about 10pm when I decided it was time to go to sleep. When I went into the bedroom Asumi was awake and told me she was experiencing contractions. We got out the cell phone and started timing them. The rule of thumb that we had learned from the childbirth classes was the “511” rule- that is wait until the contractions are five minutes apart, lasting for one minute each, for at least an hour before going to the ER.
After about 45 minutes we decided to make a game time call and go to the ER. Our logic was that worst case scenario we would just be sent back home, but it was always good to lean on the side of caution. Anyways at this point it was about 11pm on Friday and we drove to the ER at Richardson Methodist Health Center. The ER experience was pretty boilerplate- I dropped Asumi and her mother off, parked the car, and then ran inside to check-in. I remember at the ER I had to fill out a form and wrote down something like “I think my wife is in labor”. The ER nurse initially thought I was the one that needed care, but quickly laughed it off.
After about five minutes of waiting in the ER waiting room a nurse came out with a wheelchair and escorted us back into our ER room. Asumi was hooked up with a big sensor around her belly to monitor the baby and had an IV put in her (she hates needles). The OBGYN on-call doctor came in and measured her dilation to be 1cm (supposedly you need to be 8cm before being considered to be in full labor).
Since the contractions were so debilitating (and matched the 511 rule), after about an hour they decided to check us into Labor in Delivery. A nurse came with a wheel chair and and escorted us up to the labor and delivery floor on the fourth floor to our private room.
If you plan on having a baby at Methodist Richardson (which I highly recommend) the maternity floor (the fourth floor) is setup into two different partitions: one for delivery and one for postpartum care. The two areas are separated off by a waiting room with elevator access. Supposedly when the baby is born an RFID sensor is placed on his cord. If the baby tries to leave the hospital before he is allowed, the hospital will go on lockdown. After we were in our room in the delivery section we made it very clear that we wanted an epidural ASAP to alleviate the pain Asumi was having.
Within about ten minutes the anesthesiologist came in with the epidural kit. At this point Asumi’s mom had to leave (they only allow one visitor in the room for the epidural) and the doctor proceeded to insert the epidural catheter into Asumi’s back. From what it looked like the numbing shot was the most painful part. I stood in front of Asumi while they did it and she dug her nails into my hand to the point where it broke my skin. They had to try two different entry points before they got a clean line into the spine and were able to administer the medicine.
With the epidural in place the pain went down exponentially and they inserted a Foley catheter in order to help induce the labor and increase dilation. After we were settled in, I dropped her mom back off at our house and went back to spend the night at the hospital with Asumi. The one distinct thing that I remember about that night was that the lady in the room next to us clearly opted out of the epidural. We went to sleep with the excruciating loud screams of labor pains from the room next to us. Supposedly (according to the nurses) this was louder than normal and assured us that since we got the epidural the chances of Asumi having such extreme pain were relatively low. Still, I am sure that the lady freaked out anyone spending the night in the labor section that night.
When morning came around they checked dilation again only to find that it remained at 1cm. It was nothing extremely serious, but they also noted that his heart rate was somewhat fluctuating from high to low. For these reasons they decided the easiest and safest course of action was to have a Cesarean section. From here things happened very quickly- within about thirty minutes they carted off Asumi to the operating room. For C-sections, the spouse is also allowed to join the mother-to-be in the OR. After putting on the OR scrubs/bunny suit I accompanied Asumi to just outside the entrance to surgery.
I had to wait alone for about ten minutes while they prepped the surgery room and made sure everything was good to go. During these ten minutes I was coming up with conversation topics in my head to talk with Asumi during the procedure to distract her from the fact that there was major surgery happening.
In the OR there was a big curtain that separated Asumi’s face/head and the more “gory” part of the surgery. I sat down in the chair next to her and we talked about everything that we could to distract away from the surgery. We talked about which Disney Land Lucas would go to first, when our next trip to Hawaii would be, and all of our travel experiences in the past. After about five minutes- at 8:13am on Saturday November 11th, we heard Lucas’s first gasp of air and crying screams that marked his entrance into this world.
Immediately they rushed him over to the heater and started to wipe him off and clean him up. I walked over to the heater (which was located opposite the operating table) to take pictures and say hello to Lucas. He was hooked up to a pulse oximeter and the doctors started listening to his hear to make sure everything was OK. He had a ton of hair when he came out (which is consistent with the rumor that the more heart burn the mom has during pregnancy, the more hair the baby has).
Initially his pulse was very high (close to 200) and his oxygen was a bit low (close to 86), but after about 10 minutes he stabilized. He was screaming a lot (which is normal given the trauma he just went through) but otherwise seemed very healthy. I remember turning around to tell Asumi something and accidentally catching a glimpse of the “other side” of the curtain while it was mid-procedure. I looked away as soon as possible, but it was definitely a sobering experience to see mid-procedure abdominal surgery. Gives me a renewed admiration for surgeons.
After Lucas was stabilized they wrapped him up and I took him over to Asumi’s head so that she could say hello to our new son. After a couple of minutes, I left the OR with Lucas and a nurse to go back to our delivery room. After a normal birth the baby is supposed to do skin-to-skin contact to “bond” with the parent and alleviate some of the shock of childbirth. Since Asumi was in the OR being patched up, it was suggested that Lucas go skin-to-skin with me (so called “kangaroo care”).
After about five minutes, Asumi came back in the room and I brought Lucas up to be with mom. We spent the next hour or so in the delivery room before we were carted across the hall to the post-partum care area. The private room here was a bit smaller than the delivery room, but still nice none-the-less.
The next few days were a bit of a blur. There are so many different doctors/nurses coming in at all hours of day/night to check up on both Lucas and Mom. After the surgery was over, they said that they found out that there was a “20% abruption” on the placenta and that it was a good call we did a C-section when we did. Recovery from the surgery (for mom) definitely looked hard- for the first couple of nights she was completely bed-ridden.
Methodist Richardson does not actually have a nursery (besides the NICU) and the baby sleeps in room with mom/dad. For the first couple of nights (since Asumi could not get out of bed) I woke up every two hours to change Lucas’s diaper and help him over to Asumi to nurse. I also had to swaddle him. Swaddling a baby (tightly) is harder than it looks. It seems that whenever I thought I did a good job, his hands would pop out of the swaddle within seconds. The nurses made it look really easy, but it definitely too me a few times each time to get it done correctly.
The doctors/nurses gave Asumi pretty powerful painkillers (everything from Tylenol with Codeine to Hydrocodone), however it was still a painful recovery. After about two days Asumi was able to walk (albeit slowly) to the bathroom.
On one of the check ups the day after delivery the doctor noticed that Lucas’s heartbeat sounded stronger on the right side of the chest. To rule out anything serious, they did a chest x-ray of Lucas and found that he had a pneumothorax that was causing the heartbeat to sound muffled on the left side (this also explained why it took so long for his oxygen to get to 100% right after birth). They said it did not look extremely serious and it would likely go away on its own. Because of this, however, they did come into the room every four hours to check his pulse/oxygen level. After a couple of days they redid the chest x-ray and found that everything had resolved itself.
Weight loss was another concern with Lucas. Right at birth he was 7lbs 13 oz. A day after birth (they check right around midnight) he had gone down to 7lbs 3oz. The day after he was 7lbs 1oz and at discharge he was 7lbs flat. Supposedly it is normal for babies to lose up to 10% of their body weight (and even more for a c-section), but since Lucas was breast feeding so well and eating a lot the hospital pediatrician did not seem to think it was an issue. Two days later when we went to the pediatrician for the first time (Dr. Daniel) we found that he was 7lbs 3oz.
There were a handful of other people that came into the room following the birth. The doctor came and took Lucas off to do a circumcision, someone came to test his hearing, and a photographer (from Mom365) came. Someone came in to take care of the application for the birth certificate as well as someone to give Lucas his HepB vaccine. Someone also came in to test his blood sugar to make sure everything was OK there since I had mentioned he looked a bit jittery. A couple of religious people came in as well to offer prayers (which we politely declined).
The photographer caught Lucas at a bit of a bad time as it was right before a feeding, however they managed to get a couple of good pictures. As expected they price gouged for the pictures ($180 for eight digital copies). I’d recommend not using Mom365 and instead just going to a cheaper and more reasonable photographer after discharge.
We stayed at the hospital for a total of three nights (including the ER trip). My Blue Cross Blue Shield TX plan from Texas Instruments would have covered “96 hours after c-section birth”, however after three days Asumi was feeling well enough to get back home. Surprisingly even after the hospital stay and surgery we did not hit our out-of-pocket limit for the insurance. We had already hit our deductible, but did not reach the cap on our insurance plan. Since we hit our deductible- I made sure that I scheduled various medical appointments for myself (such as removing moles).
Food at Richardson Methodist- no complaints . Three times a day Asumi could call room service. The food was pretty good and there was also a cafeteria on the second floor of the building that had Starbucks coffee. They gave guests two free meal vouchers (which I used quickly) and would charge $7 a meal (for guests, not patient) after that. Highlights were the pizza, the french toast, and the turkey flatbread. Lowlights were the pasta, the burgers, and the carne verde. Everything was edible though and there was nothing terrible. There was also a “nourishment” station with free tea/water/coffee for all and free pudding/soft drinks for patients.
The staff/doctors/nurses at Richardson Methodist are top notch. Everyone was super friendly, helpful, and I’d highly recommend going there for delivery. Asumi had a lactation consultant to give her some pointers for breast feeding and the nurses made sure that we were completely comfortable and that all of our needs were handled.
Discharge day was pretty uneventful. The nurse came in with all of the paperwork and explained to us everything that we needed to do the following few days. We already had our pediatrician visit scheduled. They gave us a nice gift bag with a very nice Velcro swaddle. After strapping Lucas into our car seat the nurse escorted us down to the front of the hospital where I drove around. If you could dog Richardson Methodist on anything- it’s the fact that their valet management is completely clueless. The valet had parked cars all in the front of the hospital making it impossible for me to pull up right next to Asumi. I would expect the ability to pick up patients would trump the need for parking. Putting Lucas into the car was pretty easy- we had gone through the NHTSA a month or so earlier to make sure everything was installed correctly.
Lucas has been at home now for about five days and things are going pretty well. He does everything that a newborn normally does- eat, poop, and sleep. Asumi is doing better with her recovery (although it is still hard). Our pediatrician visit with Dr. Daniel went pretty well and Lucas seems to be very healthy. The weather in Richardson was great on Saturday so I actually took him out for 10 minutes in the stroller.
I’m sure I’ll learn a lot about fatherhood and life in general. Definitely looking forward to the challenge of being a parent and am excited for the good memories to be made!