An Ode to Childbirth by Michael Durr

Logan James Durr

Logan James Durr

Up until recently my idea of childbirth was watching Parts One and Two of The One Where Rachel has the Baby.

In our situation the "miracle of childbirth" was far from the norm.

It began 8 days past our due date. My wife, Lindsay, was less then comfortable. We enjoyed some dinner with family and I went upstairs to watch a movie with Lindsay's mom and uncle. When I came downstairs, Lindsay was pacing the hallway and timing contractions. It had begun.

It was about 11:30pm on Friday when we hopped in our car and left for Prentice Women's Hospital in Chicago. This was one day before Lindsay was scheduled to be induced. We were admitted into Prentice about midnight on Saturday morning - a place we would soon call home.

Lindsay's progression started off well. She was in a lot of pain and opted for the epidural early. She was about 3cm when we arrived and dilated to 6cm over the course of the next few hours. At this rate we'd be snuggling baby by noon. Right?

Wrong!

Lindsay's blood pressure spiked to the 180s about 5 hours into labor - very unusual for her and a very concerning sign of pre-eclampsia.  A few more tests confirmed the suspicion - severe, acute pre-eclampsia.  Doctors insisted on putting her on a drug called Magnesium Sulfate.  It's a nasty drug that makes you loopy, hot and not fully coherent.  On top of that, labor stalled out at 6cm for 13 hours. Doctor's were starting to discuss a c-section, something we were hoping to avoid. With pitocin being administered and after another couple of hours of no progress, the decision was made.

Prepping began for the c-section and I was handed scrubs and told someone would come back for me. I was escorted down to a recovery room. As I sat there alone, I began to grow much more anxious. Next thing I know, I was brought into the operating room. There was a flurry of activity behind a large curtain. I looked down and saw Lindsay on the operating table; her head extended just past the curtain. Next to her was a small black stool.

I sat down and entered my roll of the supportive husband and soon-to-be father. About 45 minutes later, at 5:49pm on Septmber 9, 2017 I heard the doctor say, "dad stand up!" Confused, I stood up to see the doctor with his arms extended holding out our baby boy. He looked enormous and I wasn't sure if what I was seeing was real. The doctor then said, "You have a toddler!" I'll exclude the part of me looking down to see Lindsay's disemboweled body.

They rushed him into the neighboring room and I sat back down. We were almost out of the woods, so I thought. I could hear that the flury of action behind the curtain had only grown more intense. Lindsay was shaking uncontrollably, with half of her insides sitting on adjacent tables, and all she could ask was if our son was okay. I rested my forehead on hers and it wasn't long after that we heard him cry. Finally, we breathed a sigh of relief. A few minutes later, we heard a nurse yell out, he's 10lbs 5ozs and 22in! We couldn't believe it.

As the doctor was piecing Lindsay back together, they called me into the other room to see our baby boy. He was huge and perfect. Not knowing which way to turn or what to do next, I knew that Lindsay was scared and I went back to be by her side. Moments later they brought the little guy to me. As I held my son in my left arm and had my right hand on my wife's forehead, I was overwhelmed beyond rational thought. It was a waterfall of emotions.

Almost an hour and a half later Lindsay was sealed back up. Turns out she had been hemorrhaging blood, almost lost a fallopian tube, had a dangerously high heart rate and her blood pressure was through the roof. We learned later that what happened during the procedure was very rare and and extremely difficult to fix. The doctor had to ask the resident to leave and he continued operating with the determination that Lindsay would leave the room with all of her parts in full working order.

After the procedure, I was brought back into the recovery room and I was physically shaking. I ate a donut that had been brought down to the room earlier just to ease my pain.

When Lindsay was brought back into the room, she looked physically and emotionally drained. Because of all of the blood loss, she needed a blood transfusion. We were lucky to be able to inform our families that everything was okay and eventually were able to bring Lindsay's parents and my sister and brother-in-law one at a time to meet their grandson and nephew, Logan James Durr. They too were emotionally drained from what was supposed to be a routine 50 minute procedure that turned into a complicated 2.5 medical marathon. It may have  been more stressful on them being left in the dark with no understanding of what was happening.

After spending 5 hours in the recovery room (normal time is 2), we were moved to our postpartum room.  By the time we got there, it was past 11pm and we were roughed up. Fortunately, the nurses took Logan to the nursery for the night. Then the recovery began.

The next two days we had a steady stream of visitors, took a lot of photos and both Lindsay and Logan were poked, pricked and checked often. Logan progressed quickly. He ate, pooped, slept and repeated. A perfect, big, healthy boy.

Lindsay, on the other hand, had a healing c-section scar, an abnormally large hematoma (a giant bruise underneath the muscle - stems from the pre-eclampsia), abnormally high blood pressure and a fluctuating heart rate. After a few days of not getting better, not eating and a couple of big vomit sessions, the doctors began to grow suspicious of what was causing these problems.

They put her under tighter servalence and ran some tests, including an EKG and a CT scan. That's when they discovered a block in her intestine that was preventing anything from being processed normally.  The big cause for concern was that her intestine may have been kinked or twisted. This could be extremely dangerous and require surgeons to go back in to fix it. Not something either of us were prepared for.

To avoid another surgery, the doctors recommended an NG tube - a tube that went up through her nose, down her throat and into her stomach. The tube would then suck out the fluid and air in her stomach, intestines and bowels to provide relief to the intestine so that it could begin to open up and repair itself. After a late night debacle of installing the NG tube, it was finally attached. It wasn't until about 12 hours later that it was determined that it was not properly connected. Par for the course at this point.

The tube needed to be in for 24 to 48 hours to provide the intestine with enough time to heal. Much longer then I was expecting, and during this time Lindsay couldn't eat or drink anything.

During this period Logan was discharged from the hospital. Lindsay and I were up all night again the night before while the tube was being installed so waking up to the nurses saying, "Logan is discharged, so we can't take care of him anymore." was less then an ideal situation. Luckily the hospital was understanding of our terrible circumstances and offered a dedicated family room where Lindsay's mom could stay. The room was located on our same floor so it actually worked out great. Lindsay's mom was able to help care for Logan while I took care of Lindsay. It was a full-time job for both of us.

After a couple of days, the tube seemed to be providing her with the relief she needed and her body began to heal. Let's just say we about threw a party at the first sign things were moving in the right direction.

On top of all this, she had to also had to begin nursing. Logan had been supplemented with  formula for the first few days because Lindsay wasn't making enough milk for the big boy. Luckily, the flood gates opened and she was able to pump enough milk to get him through the days and nights. It was a struggle for both of them to learn the ins and outs of how to feed - n added stress to an already difficult situation given that she couldn't eat or drink and still managed to produce enough to feed her child.

With Lindsay unable to move much for the first few days, it was on me to learn quickly. I was swaddling, changing diapers, feeding bottles, cleaning and entertaining guests. I'm not complaining. I had a lot of help from Lindsay's mom, my sister and, of course, the nurses. It was a crash course in fatherhood and I couldn't have done it without the help of the experts around me.

On the one week mark of our arrival at the hospital, the tube was removed and Lindsay was looking and feeling much better. She was moving around more freely and began a liquid diet, but was still attached to an IV.

The worst seemed to be behind us. Lindsay was feeling better with each step, sip and pump. Of course, around 9pm on the one week anniversary of our admission Lindsay's IV connection began leaking. Unfortunately, the nurse had to try and poke her on the other arm but she failed twice. At this point, Lindsay hit a wall and had a major meltdown.  Her mom and I had to insist they call the doctor to see if they could take her off the IV fluids. Meanwhile, another nurse came in and was able to salvage the current IV.

Through all of this, Lindsay never once complained or put herself first. She was worried about her son and her husband. It's safe to say if I was in this situation, I'd be laying lifeless on the operating table. It was truly amazing to see her strength and determination to get better and provide for her son. She certainly was dealt a rough hand but she handled the situation with grace, courage and positivity.  She was a marvel to the doctors and nurses that were caring for her and inspiration to me.

With Love,

Your husband

To all mothers, you should be revered for your abilities and your strength. Not all men will witness what I did, but I can assure you if they did we would all bow down and kiss your feet.

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