Tag Archives: hospital

Who’s that girl?

Growing up, there were a few things I knew a lot about: “Star Wars,” comic books and really bad haircuts. Consequently, there was one thing that I knew next to nothing about: girls.

So, just over a month ago, fate decided to give me a crash course on the subject of girls when my wife Jen and I welcomed our daughter Kate into the world.

I'm starting to suspect that Jen began buying baby headbands quite a while ago.

I’m starting to suspect that Jen began buying baby headbands quite a while ago.

As with our son Matthew, Jen and I decided to be surprised by the sex of the baby, even though Jen spent the length of the pregnancy obsessed with figuring out the mystery. She remains convinced that if we had an ultrasound machine at the house that she could not only determine the sex, but also diagnose the maladies of others. As she reminds me frequently, she is practically a doctor.

While everyone in our families was pulling for a little girl, the odds seemed to be stacked against it as my side of the family has, to this point, produced enough boys to field a hockey team. (I had to look that up, as I know nothing about sports in general and hockey in particular. Please refer to the first paragraph.) But somebody up there really wanted me to paint my old bedroom pink.

While the lead-up to Matthew’s arrival two years earlier was filled with preparations, list-making and general fears of being unprepared, we both took a somewhat more lackadaisical approach the second time around. Like me working on a grade school science project and spending two hours watching “Night Court” re-runs and 10 minutes spray painting some Styrofoam globes, I felt that I could get everything I needed done in the two weeks leading up to the due date.

In our defense, it was a whole lot easier to build cribs and read baby books when a two-year old wasn’t asking you a hundred times a day to open the garage door.

How many 10 minutes conversations about not having the ability to open other people's garage doors can you have in a week?  The answer may surprise you.

How many 10 minutes conversations about not having the ability to open other people’s garage doors can you have in a week? The answer may surprise you.

With no emergency bag packed for the hospital, and no newborn laundry or bottles washed, we arrived at the night before our final ultrasound. After a full night with Matthew, capped off by a particularly excellent reading of “My Nose, My Toes and Me,” Jen informed me that the only thing she wanted for dinner was White Castle. And as a loving husband, and a lover of terrible food, I was more than happy to oblige. What better way to end the evening than by patronizing a restaurant whose customers and employees all look like they are on their way home from a parole hearing?

The next morning, Jen and I went to the hospital for the ultrasound, both thinking that afterwards we would then be free to go about our day. Jen was having some cramping which, like any sane person, we both assumed was due to the White Castle. We were moved to another room to monitor the cramping and as more and more doctors and nurses came through, it became apparent that we would not be free to go about our day.

Jen’s plan to have a scheduled c-section, allowing her to have her hair and make-up done and to generally not smell like little square hamburgers, was quickly dashed as we were informed at 11 a.m. that she would be going in to have the baby at 12. If you are going to have a baby and you can’t quite remember all of the things you need to get ready around the house, a good way to jog your memory is to be told that the baby is coming in an hour.

In one of the few moments Jen and I had to ourselves before being wheeled upstairs, she confided in me that she was terrified because she was passing gas every time she had a contraction. I asked her how far apart the farts were coming, at which point Jen probably had some second thoughts about bringing me along.

With Matthew, Jen had labored for two nights before he was born, and we had even been evacuated from the room due to a tornado, but this was a tornado of a different kind. Amid the frenzy, we called our families and I called work to let them know that not only would I not be making it in that afternoon but that they would not see me again for two weeks.

Jen was wonderful, and hardly missed a beat as she was poked and prodded and even had the epidural knocked out of her back as they moved her onto the operating table. For those first few minutes, the Dad’s job is just to stay out of the way and to not look over the curtain. (Never look over the curtain.) It is almost like being in slow motion while everyone else is moving at double speed, but everything slows down when you first lay eyes on your beautiful baby.

A girl. A beautiful baby girl.

Visions of tea parties, frilly clothes and me punching boys in the face flashed before my eyes. I could almost hear the whispers of the women at Target who would say “Did her Dad even try to comb her hair before he brought her out?”

I’m not sure what to expect on this journey, but I am excited find out. Maybe I will finally figure out something about girls, or at least figure out that I’ll never figure them out.

But right now, all I know is that Kate is coming in to a family that loves her very much, and is lucky to have a big brother who thinks that “Baby Tate” is the bees knees….at least until she starts touching his stuff.

kate and dad



Filed under Baby, Fatherhood, Humor(?), Parenting

I Won’t Will Back Down

In a year that brought me the joyous experience of being a first-time Dad, I finished out the year with a new, extremely unwanted “first.”  I got to ride in an ambulance to the hospital.

That’s right.  Mere days after writing about my fear of being an old Dad and making a joke about hurting my back…..I hurt my back.   The Comedy Gods punished me for my hubris, and yet Larry the Cable Guy goes free.

It started out innocuously enough, as a nagging pain in my hip which I attributed to a spill that I took in college after tripping on a beer bottle and walking 10 miles when the Datsun which my brother and I were driving decided to call it quits.  Back at a time when having a car phone was reserved for the super-wealthy or perhaps Crockett and Tubbs.  (Nothing brings in a young blog  audience like references to “Miami Vice,” car phones and an automobile brand which hasn’t been sold in 30 years.)

With sexy lines like that, it is easy to see why Japan had The Big Three on the ropes in the 1980's.

As with most responsible adults, I chose to respond to this return of hip pain the way I handle most medical issues.  I ignored it.  In a little over two years of marriage, I have discovered that you get little sympathy from your wife when you wave off her numerous requests to call the doctor and instead adopt a “wait and see” approach to your hobbling around like a retired rodeo clown.

After putting up Christmas lights outside and moving several pieces of furniture into the basement in a manner which I am sure would appear in the “Don’t” section of some OSHA pamphlet, I received quite a surprise the next day when I tried standing up from our recliner while holding my son and felt like I had shattered my hip. 

After several hours of sitting in the recliner and trying to think of a way to get to my bed without walking, Jen’s calmer head prevailed and she called 911.  Just a heads up to anyone who finds themself in a situation where they need to call an ambulance, it doesn’t matter if you tell them to keep it quiet, there will be flashing lights in your driveway within 5 minutes.

I later found out that all of my neighbors were very worried that something had happened to Matthew or Jen, but gave a “Yeah, that seems about right” shrug when I was wheeled out to the ambulance.  Luckily, my mother-in-law Diane was there to fill them in on all of the details.

The awkward silence of the ambulance ride had one bright spot, when the paramedic replied with “I wouldn’t have guessed that much” when I told him my weight.  Coming from someone who had just yanked my fat ass out of a recliner fifteen minutes prior, it meant a lot.  And  it helped take my mind off of the searing pain in my hip for about 5 seconds.

After several hours in the Emergency Room, a CT Scan, and an awkward attempt to pee into a plastic jug while laying flat on my back, the ER doctor attempted to send me home by saying that I had arthritis and that they would give me some ibuprofen and load me into a wheelchair.  Several tear-filled attempts to get out of bed later, Jen and I asked that I be admitted.

To determine what was wrong with me, I was sent to get an MRI, which I quickly figured out was like being trapped inside a water slide while listening to extremely loud German Techno music for about an hour.  I am convinced that if my shoulders had been a centimeter wider that they would have had to ram me out with one of those long poles they used to load a Civil War cannon. 

It was determined that I had a bulged disc in my back which was pressing against a nerve that ran down my right leg.   I guess years of picking things up in a jerking, lock-kneed fashion and carrying all of the grocery bags inside in one trip had finally caught up with me.  All I knew was that any hopes I had of becoming a professional strongman were officially over.

Is a world where you can't race 50 meters while carrying a sub-compact car worth living in?

Due to surgical scheduling and an ill-timed blood thinner shot, my hospital stay would end up being stretched out to three days.  Since becoming a father nearly eight months ago, I have sometimes fantasized about having some quiet moments to myself, but those three days which I spent in the hospital were not exactly what I had hoped for.  It is hard to get some rest when a different set of doctors comes in every fifteen minutes to ask “Does it hurt when I do this?” while twisting your leg.

With a shot in my back to relieve the swelling on the horizon, all I had to do was lay back, endure occasional poking and prodding, watch several basic cable shows about people rooting through other people’s trash and deal with Jen’s seething  jealousy of a student nurse who reeeeaaalllly wanted to give me a sponge bath for some reason.

After having my first hospital experience, I can safely say that once was more than enough.  I need to make some changes in my life, but until that time, at least I have an excuse for why I can’t help anyone move.

Since it seemed to work so well last time, it would be foolish for me to not end this with “Oh my God, I just won the lottery.”


Filed under Humor(?)

Awake is the new sleep

“You better get all of the sleep you can now before the baby comes.”

If there is one piece of advice that you will get over and over again before having a baby, it is that you need to get as much sleep as you can. Of course, this advice is ridiculous, since you can’t store up sleep like a squirrel hoarding nuts. It is like telling a drowning man that he should have breathed a lot more last week.

Little did we realize that the roughly three hours of sleep we had over our first two nights in the hospital, waiting for Jen to give birth, would be just the beginning of our sleepless journey. Our little bundle of joy would add a new wrinkle to sleep deprivation that would make me long for a solid three hours of sleep on the vinyl love seat that would be my bed for the next four nights in the hospital.

Matthew flaunting his ability to sleep.

Following the actual birth, there was a flurry of activity. Doctors, nurses, family and friends all passing each other in the revolving door to our room. But as the day drew on and our families headed home for the night, we were eventually left with just the three of us.  I can’t be sure, but I think Matthew may have suspected that we didn’t know what we were doing.

Experts will tell you that getting a baby to sleep is all about the 5 “S’s”, one of which I can now assure you is not Sitting. The first “S,” swaddling, is the practice of making a baby feel as confined as they were in the womb by wrapping them up like a burrito. If the ingredients of that burrito had wildly flailing arms. I found that my swaddling skills were roughly equal to my gift wrapping skills. Which is not a good thing. With swaddling, unfortunately, it is generally frowned upon to use scissors to cut off the foot-long section of blanket that I would have left over when I was done. Matthew has yet to face one of my swaddles from which he could not escape.

What the baby books and TV shows fail to teach you, is that a newborn eats every three hours from the time they started eating, not when they finished. So after they eat, and you try to get them back to sleep, you are left with about an hour to get things done or, hopefully, sleep. This doesn’t seem like as big of a deal at three in the afternoon, but at three in the morning it will fry your brain.   I think this is how the Navy Seals train, only with a diapered bag of flour to teach them about parental responsibility.

You know that you aren’t getting enough sleep when, not only do you watch a Discovery channel show about a toothless redneck assembling a Dream Team of fellow noodlers to catch giant European catfish with their bare hands, but you get upset when you doze off before seeing how things turned out.  At least I think all of that really happened.

After several days at the hospital, with little sleep and irregular showers, I stopped caring about what I looked like on my daily jaunts to the cafeteria. T-shirt complete with spit-up? Check. Hair that looked like I had combed it with a Filet ‘o Fish sandwich? Double check. I’m sure my fellow cafeteria patrons were just happy that the glassy-eyed man at the Nacho Bar was finally at the hospital, getting the help that he so desperately needed.

Can the little boy who sleeps all night and doesn't drive his parents nuts please raise his hand? Not so fast Matthew.

In those first few nights in the hospital, I was left with one burning question: Why would anyone ever have a second child? I can only assume that going for round 2 is like my annual trip to White Castle, when I finish my meal by declaring, “I will never eat here again.” Then about a year later, my memory foggy from the passage of time (and possibly beer), I look down at the empty boxes and think, “Oh yeah, that’s why I never eat here.” But it is too late, the damage has already been done.

After four nights with Matthew in the hospital, the training wheels finally came off.  We were free to go home to not get any sleep in our own bed.  Our whole time at the hospital seems like a blur now.  I guess the lack of sleep and free Graham crackers will do that to you.  But we had our beautiful baby boy, and about 10 tubes of A&D ointment that I took from his bassinet daily, so it was all worth it.

We were parents now, and the real adventure was about to begin.


Filed under Baby, Humor(?)

Hello Baby

After months of waiting and wondering, my life changed forever on May 26th, as my wife Jen gave birth to a beautiful baby boy named Matthew.

We went to the doctor on Monday and were told that we would be going into the hospital the next day so that Jen could be induced 10 days before her original due date.  To say that the immediacy scared the hell out of me would be an understatement.  It was like telling a kid that he had to be back at school ten days early from summer break.  I had so much left to do in those last days:  finish reading the baby books, look at the car seat instructions and learn to play a lullaby on the guitar (after learning to play the guitar).  But now there was no time.

Waiting for the call from the hospital to tell us when to come in was more nerve-racking than waiting for the original pregnancy test results.  When the call finally came in that afternoon, we gathered up our bags and headed into the great unknown.

After two hours of being poked , prodded and asked about her medical history, Jen and I were checked in to what is essentially the least comfortable all-inclusive resort in the world.  Where the inconvenience of having the staff come in at all hours of the night to either insert something or ask you to rate your pain is outweighed by the sheer decadence of a never-ending bowl of beef broth.  I imagine that there is nothing more filling than a bowl of the stuff in which I would usually dip my sandwich.

So as we sat waiting, we began sweating over all of things that were to come.  Until we realized that we were mostly sweating because the air conditioner was broken.  After nine months of being asked “Its burning up in here, are you hot?,” I could finally answer in the affirmative.  

Fleeing the oppressive heat, and the low-rise pants of the hospital maintenance man, we moved into the room that would be our home for the next two nights.   While Jen was propped up in what is essentially a cross between a futon mattress and a dentist chair, I got to spend the night in La-Z Boy’s stern, disapproving father.  I’m not sure if hospital’s pick furniture that makes people want to leave early or not, but I think we would have had better luck sleeping in a booth at  Arby’s.

After an exhausting night, we headed into day two.  Hoping to move things along, the doctor’s cranked up the Pitocin and broke Jen’s water with what appeared to be a chop stick.  But I could be wrong about that.  To add a cherry on top of the increasingly intense contractions later that day, Jen slipped on some fluid while a nurse tried to get her up from a chair.  You wouldn’t think that a woman in the middle of labor could do the splits, but Jen came as close as humanly possible.

After moaning through the pain of both the contractions and her hip, and riding high on an anti-nausea medication which had the unhelpful side effect of making her feel like she was tied to the bow a tugboat, Jen called for the epidural.  As the anesthesiologist finished, she didn’t seem too concerned that Jen could still feel mostly everything on the left side of her body. 

At this point, Mother Nature decided to add her two cents as the Tornado sirens began to blare.  The nurses assured us that they had never had to evacuate anyone, so they instead decided to build a pillow fort around Jen.  We barely had enough time to admire their work when we were told that we would in fact have to be moved into the hallway.  So Jen was disconnected from her Pitocin drip and we were on our way.  Luckily, only one night of sleep deprivation let us still see the humor in the whole situation as we hunkered down next to the laundry room for the next hour and a half.

Laughing in the face of danger.

As Jen was wheeled back into our room, the countdown began again and I quickly became desensitized to every doctor on duty coming in and flipping up my wife’s gown and saying, “Let’s take a look.”  At least I hope they were all doctors.

The baby wasn’t making much progress, and seemed to be quite comfortable in his cramped, one-bedroom apartment.  Facing another night in the recliner, I can’t say that I blamed him.

Our doctor let us know that if the baby hadn’t made significant progress by the next morning, that we would have to go with a Caesarean section.  The prospect of which was a little frightening, much like the Caesar haircut I had in the late 90’s which made me look like ER-era George Clooney’s shorter, fatter brother.

The prospect of major surgery married with the world’s most uncomfortable furniture did not lead to much rest as we sailed through a second night of no sleep.  One way or another, tomorrow was going to be the big day.

At around 5 in the morning, the decision was made that Jen would be going in for a C-Section at 7.  So the next two hours were a flurry of activity, with an entirely different set of doctors and nurses coming in and out, and yet another anesthesiologist who didn’t seem to think that it was a big deal that Jen still had feeling on her left side.

In preparation for going into the OR, I suited up in a very stylish paper ensemble.  Any thoughts that I  may have had that I could still be a doctor were soon dashed when my father caught a glimpse of me and laughed uncontrollably.

Looking more like George Costanza than George Clooney.

I waited outside of the OR as they prepped Jen, and a voice came over the intercom at St. John’s with a daily prayer about new life.  A prayer which seemed incredibly fitting for the moment and seemed like some sort of cosmic sign to let me know that everything was going to be all right.  I really wish that I could remember the prayer, but since I was scared beyond the capacity for rational thought and sweating through my paper hat, it is unfortunately lost to me.

I was summoned into the operating room and told that I would have the job of announcing the sex of the baby.  Now, I know the difference between boys and girls (we watched a film strip in the 7th grade), but I was deathly afraid that I would somehow screw it up and be the impetus for years of therapy for my child.  But I had a 50/50 chance, and I liked those odds.

It was hard to watch them work on Jen, and even harder knowing that since she was fighting off exhaustion and nausea, and under the influence of anesthesia, this whole event would be a haze for her. 

After several minutes, I was told that it was time to make my announcement of the sex, and I am proud to say that I nailed it on the first try.  We had a beautiful baby boy with 10 fingers and 10 toes and plenty of black hair.  I took a break from snapping pictures to cut the umbilical cord with what I believe were Kindergarten safety scissors and got to bring him down to get his first kiss from his Mom.

As the doctors took care of Jen, and I thought of how proud I was of her for everything that she had been through to get us to this moment, the next question popped into my head:  We have a baby.  Now what?

Baby Matthew


Filed under Baby, Humor(?)