Friday, April 11, 2008


This kind of sucks, but the Wife will be relieved.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

What Do You Mean By "Problem?"

We were now settled into the delivery room, awaiting what promised to be a long night. It was one of those things that no matter how much research one does, you just can’t really prepare yourself enough. My mind was constantly replaying Bill Cosby’s famous labor routine, punctuated with Carol Burnett reminding me that the pain of giving birth was akin to pulling your bottom lip over your head. Sounds like a good time to me…

The doc arrived, an IV inserted (I didn’t watch), wires and monitoring equipment attached, and the pitocin drip began.

The first few contractions were mild. They were for me, anyway. So far, so good.

After about half an hour, the doc took a look at the fetal heart monitor thingie and did not like what she saw. Not one bit. She mentioned something about “late decels”. The Kid’s heart rate dropped after every contraction. In medical lingo, the technical term is “not good”. I wish I could remember what exactly she said to us, but the gist of it was, “You can continue with natural childbirth and the baby won’t make it or we can do a c-section. What’ll it be?” Not really a choice there, was it? I can’t say that either of us really considered that there was an option in her statement. It was worded like there was an option, but we knew there wasn’t. “Let’s do the c-section.” we said. “When will we do it?” “Now” was the gently urgent reply.

I was handed a set of scrubs and grabbed the camera. The Wife called our friend and neighbor Caroline, who happened to be a labor and delivery nurse at the hospital. She was off that day, but offered to be with us should come to a c-section. We had discussed it previously, and decided that it might be a good idea to have a close friend amongst the medical staff. Caroline was just about to put her own baby down for the night, but her dad came over to watch the baby while Caroline came to the hospital.

We also called the grandparents to-be and told them that our planned evening of labor was not going to happen, and that the kid would be arriving in a few minutes. Best laid plans and all...

Dressed and domed and ready to go, we wheeled into the OR. Caroline came in a few minutes later. The surgical team gave us a quick briefing, they put up the drapes, and it began. I think it probably took 5 minutes at that point. Just as I was asking the Wife if she could tell what was going on, we heard these two statements in quick succession:
“It’s got brown hair” followed almost immediately by “It’s a girl.”

Was that it? It’s only 6:35. I thought this was supposed to be a long drawn out affair…

Next up: “Hi. I’m your daddy.”

I Am Such a Dork

Part 2 is coming later today or tomorrow, I promise, but yesterday was a fairly significant anniversary that I missed. On April 9, 1959, NASA announced the 7 test pilots selected for Project Mercury. Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Virgil Grissom, Wally Shirra, Alan Shepard, and Deke Slayton were selected out of an original pool of 69 military test pilots.

Of those 7, I actually met one of them.

It was sometime back in the mid 90s, so I was in my mid 20s. I was flying back from somewhere in the mid-west and had a connecting flight Columbus, OH back to DC. It was an evening flight, getting back home fairly late. When I boarded the plane, it was pretty much just me and an older couple sitting across the aisle. I thought the gentleman looked familiar, but I wasn’t entirely sure.

The flight was quick, and when we got off the plane in DC, the terminals were almost deserted. The three of us were walking back towards the main terminal building when I turned to the guy, smiled and said “Excuse me sir, but are you John Glenn?”

“Why, yes I am.”

This is about the time that the geek circuit breaker in my head blew. This safety device normally keeps my inner nerd in check, but extraordinary circumstances can cause it to fail in a most spectacular fashion.

“WOW,” I just about screamed. “I’ve never met a real astronaut before. I’ve met plenty of pilots, but never a real astronaut!” I swear on all that I hold dear that I said that with the same tone, inflection, and speed as an 8 year-old boy meeting Spiderman. My voice was at last half an octave higher and twice as fast as I normally speak.

“So, are you from Ohio?” was his reply, which I thought an odd one at the time.

Those readers who are students of the American political scene of the past 40 years may have heard the John Glenn did some stuff after he left NASA in 1964. Had a whole different career, even. Of course I knew that, but that damned geek circuit overrides all the other ones.

“Nah. I’m just coming home from [wherever-I-was]. It was a connecting flight.” This was about the time he lost interest in the conversation. Not that I blame him. It was late, and here’s this mildly excitable dork who isn’t a constituent, so what’s the upside of talking to him.

I also spoke to his wife, Annie, who was charming and gracious. I said I thought it must have been difficult to be an astronaut’s wife. She said it was, but shrugged it off in sort of an “aw shucks” kind of way that was just delightful. I asked her if she thought the movie The Right Stuff did a good job portraying the two of them, and she said it did, except for that “nonsense” about him humming and singing during re-entry from his flight. He is a professional, and had plenty to do other than hum.

It wasn’t until I was home (or maybe the next day) that the breaker re-set and I realized that he was a U.S. Senator, too. Geez. I gotta up the amps on that thing.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

1 Year On (Almost)

With the run-up to the Kid’s first birthday fully underway, I thought this would be a good time to reflect on the past 12 months.

Sunday, April 22, 2007
The Kid’s due date had officially passed, and the Wife was anxious (understatement) to get it over with. The nursery was ready for the arrival, with all the equipment laid out in a manner that would make a NASCAR garage boss proud. The go-bags were packed and placed by the front door, and we waited for things to get going. A walk around the Severn River Trade School seemed like it might do the trick. It was a beautiful day, but no luck in bringing on labor.

Monday, April 23, 2007
I went to work as usual, and the Wife had an appointment with the doc. The doc took the decision that an induction was now in order, scheduled for that afternoon. It was to be a 4 pm check-in as I recall. I phoned my boss (who had her first baby the previous November) and let her know what was going on. Her response was something like “What the heck are you still doing at work? Get going!” I complied. Was I excited? Yup. Was I nervous? You bet your sweet bippy.

I got home and we made sure everything was ready home-wise. It was. The grandparents were phoned, and the current situation was explained. The Wife’s parents (Lilly and the Toolbox) made preparations for the 3 hour drive and planned to arrive sometime after 6 that evening. My parents are only about an hour away, so they said that they would have their phones handy. We fully anticipated a labor duration of at least several hours, so we’d be able to give fair warning.

At about 3:30, we left home with all of the accoutrements we packed; digital camera, tripod, iPod, laptop, snacks, comfy clothes, toiletries, cell phones, battery chargers, books, and games. Got to the hospital and checked in, which was about as complicated as checking into a Holiday Inn (no kidding). We were taken to the room, where we un-packed and readied ourselves mentally, physically, and spiritually. This was going to happen. It was real, there was no turning back, and by the next day, our lives would be different. The only thing we didn’t know was how different…

Next episode: What do you mean by “problem”?