So the reason why I haven’t posted in over three months is because my children are here! I had hugely under-estimated how time consuming this thing called fatherhood is – especially when you have twins. It’s not a simple multiplier effect with two, it’s more like an exponential factor. And there’s that pesky thing called work that kept getting in the way. My husband is still bitter that I took conference calls (plural) from the hospital our entire stay. Anyhow, here’s how it went down.
Being the type “A” and OCD kind of guy that I am, we did the six hour drive to our gestational surrogate’s home town a full three weeks before her scheduled cesarean section date. We would have gone earlier, except my husband’s last day of work – he quit to stay at home with the children – was the Friday before. And he scheduled us for yet another baby class the Saturday before, which was taught by a doula named Princess. No, I didn’t make that detail up – she droned on incessantly about the importance of positive energy. This is exactly why I prefer books to the endless parade of parenting classes my husband subjected me to.
Anyhow, we got there in the early evening and did all things that a normal person would do. We checked into an extended stay hotel, unpacked three weeks of clothing (not to mention baby supplies), set up my temporary office, and got the car washed. (What? Do you know how many bugs there were on the front of the car and how bad that is for the paint?) We had just gotten back from a restaurant across the street, and I had just poured myself a single-malt scotch on the rocks, when our surrogate called around 8:00 PM. She was having contractions and on her way to the hospital. I will freely admit that I looked long and hard at my freshly poured cocktail and thought about asking her to call us back after she had seen a doctor. Don’t judge me – she had gone to the hospital twice before over the past few weeks thinking her water had broken, so we thought it was likely going to be another false alarm. But this is why we got there early, right? So we were dutiful parents and met our surrogate at the hospital, fully expecting to be told it was another false alarm. I even put my drink in the refrigerator to drink when I came back later that evening.
As it turned out, her water had broken – but the doctor wanted to try to delay delivery so that they could administer a round of steroids for 48 hours. The steroids would have accelerated our children’s lung development. As my husband and I were working out shifts for staying at the hospital, it quickly became apparent that our surrogate’s contractions were effectively ruling out any delay – a cesarean section was going to be done right away. (Our surrogate’s medical history made vaginal delivery problematic.) We had, it turns out, just barely made it into town in time for our children’s birth! So in a completely “is this really happening?” trance, we gowned up and prepared to meet our children. (Look, a picture of me that doesn’t emphasize my double chin!)
We stood behind the partition separating our surrogate’s head from the surgical action, poking cameras over the the drape and trying to video as much as possible. And out came our little girl before we quite knew it. She was SO tiny but she had a wonderfully robust cry. A group of healthcare professionals were busy working around her, calling out a steady drone of medical lingo. The obstetricians working on our surrogate, on the other hand, had gone noticeably quiet – with only intermittent and hurriedly muttered comments to each other. Even with the spinal anesthetic block, our surrogate suddenly gave a gasp. It turns out that, while his sister was being delivered, our son had moved so that the obstetrician was literally fishing around. Our surrogate said later that the pressure made it feel like her ribs were going to crack from the inside out. After what felt like an eternity, the doctor finally pulled our son out – feet first.
Unlike with the team working on our daughter, there was palpable (but disciplined) intensity around the team working on our son. He wasn’t crying. We waited the longest four minutes of my entire life until he finally gave his first cry. It seemed like we weren’t breathing either until he took his first breath. More to follow, of course, but suffice it to say for now that they’re both healthy and thriving now despite being born so early. At birth, they weighed in at 5 lbs. 10 oz. and 5 lbs. 8 oz. and just reliving that day here made me stop and go kiss them both.