On Tuesday, April 14th at 3:54pm, Nola Mercy En-Ai Fisher was born. She was 6 lbs 2 oz and 21 inches. I have participated in the creation of another human being. Holy Crap.
I've heard numerous new fathers talking about how life-changing an experience, how unutterably wonderful it is, and I never understood it. I'm still getting there. When huge, monstrous events happen that have such intense amounts of emotion tied to them, I tend to process the information for many days (or weeks). I'm still processing, I think. Only just today have I been able to hold her and think of her in any way beyond just intellectual acknowledgement that she is actually my daughter. But I'm still chugging through the huge emotional impact. Over the past few days I noticed that when I'm not there, I couldn't wait to hear her plaintive little whiny cry/whimper again. Now (and I doubt this is going to last), crying is not an annoyance to me, but rather a signal of life. For the first time in my life, I've started singing little spontaneous songs as I'm holding her. I've also noticed that I'm much more open and accepting of other people, as if the world is a better place.
Let me tell you how everything happened:
WARNING: FROM HERE, THERE IS TOO MUCH INFORMATION. IF YOU'RE UNINTERESTED IN THE SOMEWHAT GRUESOME DETAILS, STOP READING NOW.
I had been up too late, playing a free trial of Age of Conan (which I recommend, by the way), so I got up a bit late that morning. As such, I was rushing around to get myself ready in time for work. Heidi had gone to the bathroom and taken a shower after I got done, and when she came out, she told me she thought her water might have broken. She lay down on the bed for a bit and nothing seemed out of the ordinary, so I decided to head to work. As I was walking to the bus stop, I saw the far-too-familiar sight of the bus driving by as I was two blocks away. I've gotten used to that, so I wasn't a huge deal to me. However, just before I got to the bus stop, Heidi calls me and said, "Yep, my water broke." I turned right around and headed back home as she called her doctor.
What followed next was a pretty quick labor. I should state right now that Prentice Women's Hospital is a very nice hospital in which there is one patient per delivery room and one patient per room in recovery. It's one of the few hospitals I've been in that wasn't depressing and scary. In any case, the hospital staff kept a pretty close eye on Heidi's blood pressure and the baby's heart rate during the labor. At each contraction, the baby's heart rate dipped a little bit, which is fairly common. However, at one point, the baby's heart rate dropped from it's usual 140 to the mid 50's, and didn't come back up. Immediately, there were a dozen people in the room and Heidi was rushed out to an operating room. They left me in the normal delivery room, alone and clueless. This was a pretty rough time for me. It was as if I walked off a cliff and fell into the sea, and didn't know when or if I would rise back to the surface. I called people to pray, and then sat there alone, praying on my own. After about 10 minutes, someone came in and told me that the baby's heart rate came back up and both mother and baby looked like they were doing OK. Then she left, asking me to stay where I was, and I was sitting there alone for another 20 minutes. Eventually, our nurse came into the delivery room and took me back to the OR. This wasn't something that any of the medical professionals thought of, but Heidi had asked them to go get me, as she knew I'd be panicked. I married a good woman.
When I got in the OR, Heidi was on a table, surrounded by a few doctors and nurses, who were discussing whether or not she should go back to the delivery room to finish up delivering normally. Heidi had dilated from 5 cm to 9 cm (10 cm is fully dilated) in the space of an hour, and the kid had had a hard time tolerating that. Evidently the motion of rushing her to the OR had worked it's magic, and the kid was in much better shape. They waited for two hours to see if she should go back to the delivery room and finish up. After that, the doctors realized that Heidi was not dilating any more despite some pretty intense contractions, and determined that the baby should come out via Caesarian. Since this wasn't an emergency C-Section, I was able to stay in the room with Heidi; they put a sheet up between us and the operation, so we could avoid the nastiness. Before I knew it (but what seemed like 30 years), the baby was out and shrieking her tiny little lungs out.
She tested almost perfectly on the Apgar test (a scale that measures the health of a newborn), but since she was still considered a preemie (she was 36 weeks, 6 days; 37 weeks is acceptably "full term"), they wanted to run some tests on her, and the test that measures her ability to regulate the glucose level in her blood came back a little weak. So they took her to the NICU, where she still is.
For a NICU, Prentice's is very nice. We're able to have an alcove to ourselves, and we have 24/7 visiting. They have a solid once-every-three-hours feeding schedule, which is convenient, because we know when to go down and be with her, and then at night we actually can get an adequate night's sleep. Still, Nola had to have a Dextrose IV for the first couple days of her life. she soon established her ability to maintain a good glucose level, but then the staff doctor noticed she was a little jaundiced. Jaundice is really common for Asian kids (Heidi had it much worse when she was freshly out of the oven), so this was nothing unusual, but still a bit annoying. Tomorrow, if all goes well (which the doctor is confident it will), she will be here in the room with us, as Heidi finishes up her recuperation.
So yeah, I am responisble for creating another human being. That human being is partially me. Blows my mind.