Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Ian's Thoughts on the Birth

Ian has written an amusingly accurate description of Emmerson's birth. It's also posted on www.duelliscool.net but I wanted to add it here as well. Enjoy!

Ian's Notes on Having a Baby (3/11/05)

Emmerson is sleeping in her development enhancing, vibrating chair with her best friend, one half of a two way baby monitor wrapped up in a batik sarong. When turned on it makes a very loud static sound that Emmerson finds comforting. It is Nyepi, a Balinese holiday. For a 24 hour period, no one in Bali can go outside, no lights turned on, no outside activities - we were there last year for this event and the hotel actually put newspapers over our room windows so the lights would not be visible. In the rest of Indo people just have a holiday and hang out. Nyepi is a Bali thing. I was looking forward to a nice sleep - in but Emmerson had other plans. She got me out of bed around 6 and we hung out for a bit watching some cooking shows until eventually she nodded off and I tucked her in with her noise making buddy. So I am awake and figured I would take this opportunity when no one else is up to write a bit about my take on our having a baby experience.

It began long, long ago in a place far, far away - it is beginning to seem this way - I think my brain has been working overtime to relegate the experience into some surreal, pseudo memory place, deep in the recesses of my brain - otherwise I might not be doing this again for a long, long time. Alicia began feeling somewhat regular contractions late Friday night, February the 26th. We got up Saturday morning and decided that this was it - time to get the show on the road. After getting our things and ourselves together Alicia's contraction stopped occurring at regular intervals. So we put off the hospital and went to the mall, which is what people do here in Jakarta when nothing else is going on. After dinner at the Piazza, the fancy new restaurant area at MKG (Mall Kelapa Gading as it is affectionately known -and affection is not an exaggeration of the type of emotion extended towards these urban oasis here in Jakarta - malls are a big deal) we returned home and waited for Alicia to contract more regularly. She began doing this around midnight - I remember the time well because Manchester United was playing at 1 am and I was gearing up for the game. This difference in priorities - my desire to watch football and Alicia's desire to not be in excruciating pain - led to the first of what we can look back at as kind of funny episodes; but at the time were not at all amusing. About half way into the match, Alicia, between contractions, asked if her moaning and such were distracting. I said that they weren't and politely offered to turn down the volume if it would help her in some way (not sure what way but it was the gesture that counts). It was a bit later, when Alicia retired to the bedroom after showering me with some colorful commentary about my boorish behavior, that I realized the comment she made earlier was said sarcastically; to incite from me some sort of sympathetic action. Lesson #1 for all you fathers to be: when your wife begins having serious contractions, don't watch the Man U game - no matter how well your mind justifies this action - it is not a good thing to do - tend to your wife.

The sky is a brilliant blue this morning and the pool below is calling out ... When the layer of stuff that hovers above Jakarta clears, it is stunningly beautiful here. I just realized the layer of gunk is not there due to the fact that it is a holiday and fewer cars and businesses are spewing matter into the sky - you can often predict blue skies in Jakarta by noting when holidays fall.

After the Man U game Alicia and I switched places, she came out into the living room to contract and be in pain and I went to bed. Lesson #2: don't do this - even if you are really, really tired because you just stayed up until 3 am watching Man U. Finally morning came and we gathered ourselves once again for our trip to the hospital. When I went to feed Pixie the Roof Cat (who is now officially retired from street catting and enjoying her sedentary life as a house cat so much so that the vet recommended a diet) there was no food. We realized that we might not be home for a while and although Pixie could live off of her fat reserves for quite some time, we were not sure she could psychologically handle the trauma. Being a street cat in Jakarta leaves deep impressions. We put the hospital, contractions, baby, laboring wife on hold so I could run (actually drive - to hot to run) to the supermarket next door and get Pixie another bag of Friskies to fill her seemingly bottomless trough. After making a few phone calls to various logistics personnel (friends to supply Pixie with her evening feed) we made off to Medistra hospital nestled in the heart of beautiful downtown Jakarta. Fortunately it was Sunday morning, the one day during the week when traffic is not stupid (the best word to describe this ridiculous part of life in Jakarta).

Upon arrival, around 10 am Sunday morning, we were set up in the VIP room in the delivery wing of the hospital. And then we sat around for a long time. This is not what my knowledge with this stage of having a baby, gained mostly from TV, had prepared me to expect. On TV the husband is always scrambling around the house forgetting luggage, then keys, then his wife, usually in that order, while the hugely distended wife stands near the door, hands on her arched back, breathing her way through another contraction. The drive to the hospital is a mad dash against time and more often than not involves a police officer for comedic or dramatic affect. When the couple arrives at the hospital the laboring, hard breathing mother is hefted on to a gurney, corralled into a delivery room where the masked doctor awaits. The gowned and gloved doctor is positioned at the bottom of the bed with his arms bent at the elbow and hands angled upwards in the confident, ready for action pose that all TV doctors assume before working their medical magic. Then after lots of sweating and breathing and pushing and such a baby, looking much more like a two month old than a new born, is presented to a sweaty, crying mother. TV did NOT prepare me to sit in a room for 14 hours. Never have I ever seen a couple arrive at the hospital and then sit in a room reading, watching soccer on TV (fortunately for us - maybe just me - it was Sunday when many Premier League games are broadcast live here in Indo), playing host to various visitors, picking idly at hospital meals (which were quite good), just whittling away the time. This is what we did. I think Alicia might throw in a few references to piercing pain and a perpetually rotating parade of nurses prodding, poking, measuring, and such. But to me these were all just part of what I am calling "The Wait".

Finally, after a long time Emmerson decided she was ready to make her debut and got things going. The epidural guy arrived and stuck a stint into Alicia's back attached to a long tube and portal for administering more anesthetic. Unfortunately Alicia did not get to experience the full on epidural birth that she had heard and read so much about. Apparently soon after the epidural, Emmerson gave up her lazy ways and really began to do whatever they do to get born. Things began happening pretty quick and the staff decided that they would not give Alicia anymore epidural juice because she needed to feel in order to push. This resulted in a few hours of pretty unpleasant stuff that my mind has relegated to the "make this memory surreal and distant" part of my brain. It was about 9 pm when this "not pleasant" stage began (I think Alicia might have something to say about when exactly the "not pleasant" stage kicked in ...). The call went out to Dr. Robert's "bat phone" (I am convinced that the hospital must have a special number to call these delivery guys to inform them when they are really needed or they would never sleep - anxious expecting mothers and fathers would be ringing these guys at all hours of the day and night). He arrived about an hour later looking cool and collected. Alicia was anxious but relieved that she was getting closer to the final stages. I stood by feeling doltish and unsure of what to do.

Eventually I took my position at the head of the bed holding Alicia's hand, dabbing her face, giving her ice chips to munch, and repeating things that other people said because I could not think of anything meaningful to say on my own. The other people in the room besides the nurses and Dr. Robert were Andrew and Alison and their new baby Grace. Alison is a doctor and was there to give Alicia advice and help out with things during "The Wait". Andrew was there because he is mad and wanted to experience this birth thing firsthand (Alison had a cesarean). And Grace was there to give off sympathy vibes to Emmerson as someone who could relate to this unpleasant transfer from the wonderful world of the womb to the shocking realities of the "outside". Dr. Robert coached Alicia along, teaching her how to push. Alicia is about 1000 times tougher than I ever imagined she could be. She only panicked once or twice. But the crew reassured her that everything was fine. I continued to repeat what they said and offer ice chips which she declined - which was good because they had all melted by that time. I didn't really know what else to do.

Finally after one final epic push at 12:27 am, Emmerson emerged, had her lifeline to the pleasant world of the womb snipped, was officially announced to the world by Dr., Robert and immediately given to her radiant mom. She was really purple, Emmerson, not Alicia, but looked pretty good for a newborn. Her nose was squashed but that's about it. After allowing Alicia to hold and feed her for a bit the nursing staff jumped into action and began doing all the stuff they do to a new baby. I followed them around snapping photos. I have already fallen into the "new parent trap" of taking 1000s of photos of the first baby which you share with friends and relatives and students and coworkers and people at the mall and anyone else who is polite enough not to tell you that one or two is enough and would really rather not see the remaining 100 of the baby in its new outfit thank you very much. Emmerson was foot printed (10 toes), weighed (3450 grams - which means nothing to my non metric brain), and measured (52 centimeters - she looked normal size) then bundled up in a blanket and whisked off to where they take new babies to do more stuff to them. Alicia and Emmerson had to remain in their respective rooms for a few hours after which time they were reunited in Alicia's hospital room for their first night together. I opted to go home and watch Man U - just kidding - I went home, called my mom and went to bed a very happy and exhausted Dad.

The following days were spent commuting back and forth from home to the hospital. We had plenty of friends visit who we enjoyed introducing to Emmerson and who have continued to be wonderfully supportive towards us all. After three nights we brought Emmerson home. We are so thankful for Emmerson, this precious gift that God has given to us. Once again we are truly blessed. Alicia, Emmerson and Ian are excited about beginning life together as a family ... an adventure to be continued.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ian!
I just reread your comments..you do a really good job of describing a situation...more amusing as time goes by..especially to Alicia! It will be fun for Emmerson to have this memory in her baby book. I can't wait to meet her in person. WE are so thrilled for you..and for us! We think you will be wonderful parents-Emmerson is a lucky little girl. I just got my order from Shutterfly and, so can sort through her pictures at my leisure! love, Mom Collin

8:33 AM  
Anonymous juju31@aol.com said...

Dear Emmerson,
My love surrounds you from miles away. We are happy that you have arrived with style. You are a very hip baby and I can't wait to get my arms around you. all my love, kisses and hugs. Julie

8:52 PM  
Anonymous Papa Duell said...

I Emmerson...what a sweet looking girl you are! I love you and can't wait to hold you and steal you from your mom and dad :) Hurry to Indiana where I will see you. In the meantime, be good to your mom and cry and poop lots for your dad! Love, Papa Duell

9:39 PM  
Anonymous Dad Duell said...

Hi Ian...you have to write a book! or collaberate with Alicia...take Erma Bombeck's place. I'm impresses with both your writing skills...Can you imagine your little girl growing up, wearing makeup, worried about a date and you trying to be cool...like I was with your sister? Your life will never be the same...and that is good! Let's think about number 2...I want the Duell name to continue through our side...not just uncle Bob's! :) Love you...Dad

9:42 PM  

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