Adventures in Parenting #3: Epidurals Are For Closers

I’m a sucker for articles written in the “event diary” format. My favorite sportswriter, Bill Simmons, is a pro at this method and I look forward to his NBA draft diaries more than just about any other recurring piece of journalism that comes down the pipes in a given year (besides People’s Sexiest Men Alive article, obviously). As Lindsey and I prepared for the biggest day of our lives, I considered how I could do such a monumental event justice in writing form and decided to try my hat at a “Birth Day Diary.” It should be noted that as I write this introduction, I’m becoming keenly aware that the day is a gigantic blur and this may end up being the worst idea of my life (other than eating Long John Silver’s last week). What follows is a look at Delivery Day through the eyes of the father/husband. It is terrifying. Note: It’s 2:30 in the morning at the (hopeful) end of what has been the longest week of my life. We’ve been in and out of the hospital since Cooper’s arrival so we’re all pretty exhausted. As such, I’m sure there are a lot of gaps in my memory and the grammatical errors here will be plentiful. I’ll edit this thing later. Also, if you don’t get the title of this post, Google “Coffee is for closers.” It’s one of the greatest monologues in film history.

4:15am: Alarm goes off which is good because I got a suuuper restful night of sleep knowing that my entire life was just about to change forever. I can’t sleep the night before driving to Lubbock so I don’t even know why I bothered going to bed in the first place.

4:50am: The car is packed and we are on the road to the hospital. I have already consumed the first Red Bull of the day.

5:30am: We have walked into the hospital and have been assigned a room. It seems like a ridiculously large room until you consider the fact that in a few hours it will be filled with 28 different hospital employees and a baby that we will be responsible for. That’s assuming none of the hospital employees have seen this blog and know I am completely unfit to be in charge of a baby prompting them to call CPS.

6:00am: Our first nurse of the day enters the room. I will not remember her name because A.) It is 6 in the morning and I am never up before the sun and B.) She will only be on duty for an hour so she doesn’t matter.

6:22am: One of the numerous machines in the room (just so many machines!) is making an ear splitting noise and no one seems to care except Lindsey and me.

6:33am: Unnamed Nurse installs the first IV in Lindsey’s arm and the party is about to get started! Lightheadedness! Inability to move about the room with freedom! A keen awareness that we’re about to have to get mad responsible with a baby, yo! Do we know how to party or what?!

6:40am: The shift is about to change so Unnamed Nurse is back to introduce us to our new nurse. We’ll call her “Jane.” Jane is…interesting. She has a long braid that goes down to her butt, she has a matter of fact bedside manner, and she has DEFINITELY enjoyed an Aerosmith concert or two in her life.

6:55pm: The beeping noise is back and I’m about two minutes away from stopping the noise myself. It’s always a good idea to fool around with insanely expensive medical equipment, right?

7:10am: Jane is back to ask the exact same questions that Unnamed Nurse asked an hour ago. So that’s fun.

7:18am: Jane just informed us that inductions usually take about 12 hours to conclude. Just let that sink in.

7:30am: We have our first visitor of the day! Congratulations to Lindsey’s dad. You can claim your prize at the window.

7:50am: As this is likely to take at least 12 hours, I am retrieving my pillow from the car.

8:05am: I stopped by the coffee shop on the way back from the car for a bottle of water and a muffin (treat yo’ self). It took 10 minutes. I’m not saying the coffee barista is slow but yes I am, she is the slowest moving human I’ve ever seen.

8:55am: Nap number one is over. That’s approximately 45 more minutes of sleep I’ve had on a hospital delivery room love seat than I had in my own bed last night.

9:15am: Our second visitor, Patty (boss, friend, Saturday Night Live character in the flesh), is here but she won’t be allowed to stay long because Jane is back and she likes kicking people out of the room including me. So now Patty and I are standing in the hall. I don’t know why.

9:30am: In the hall, Patty and I witness a young man with two cups of coffee in hand looking confusedly at all of the doors. In an effort to be helpful, Patty points him towards the one he came out of previously. He comes back out 15 seconds later, red faced and bewildered, because WE JUST SENT HIM INTO THE WRONG ROOM ON THE DELIVERY FLOOR OF A MATERNITY WARD. That kid may be scarred for life.

10:25am: Our doctor is here to break Lindsey’s water and without getting into specifics let me just tell you that the tool used to perform such a task looks like it belongs in one of the Saw movies.

10:35am: Our friend Katie is here to help. Katie has two jobs today: 1.) Take pictures of the baby and our reactions to the baby post-delivery (but NONE of the birth because really, who wants to look at that?); 2.) Step in to assist Lindsey if and when I pass out. At this point, I would set the odds at passing out at 3:1.

10:50am: Lindsey’s blood pressure has started to rise so now she’s getting a magnesium drip in conjunction with everything else that is now coursing through her body. She’s now one IV in the back of the neck away from being in The Matrix.

11:15am: My mom arrived but I immediately sent her to get me food because, you know, I haven’t eaten in like three hours and that’s a long time. “Sorry you can’t eat anything, Lindsey, but Imma ‘bout to get me some waffle fries!” Brian Gill: Husband of the Year.

11:45am: Magnesium is a real drag and Lindsey has asked for the epidural.

12:15pm: The second request for the epidural has been made, this time to a random nurse who wandered in, and I’m starting to get a little frustrated with Jane. If you tell someone, “As soon as you want the epidural I’ll have someone in here to administer it” and then you don’t follow through on that promise, you should probably be punched by the person you made the promise to. Or her sleep-deprived husband. I think that’s only fair.

12:20pm: Jane is here to make sure that Lindsey did, in fact, request the epidural and when this is confirmed, she (laughingly) comments that, “I thought you might last time I was in here.” We’re not going to be friends, Jane.

12:30pm: The nurse who administers epidurals, we’ll call her “Pusher Nurse”, is finally here but before we can get started she needs to ask Lindsey the exact same questions that we’ve already answered twice. Because anytime you can badger a woman in labor for 15 minutes, you have to do it.

As a precursor to this next entry, it should be noted that I am horribly terrified of needles. Like, get shaky and pass out at the mere sight of a needle. I am a relatively normal and incredibly logical person in pretty much every walk of life that doesn’t involve my fears relating to both needles and sharks. If sharks ever learn how to administer shots I will probably just curl up into a ball and die.

12:45pm: Jane tells Katie and I that only one of us can be in the room during the epidural administration. As husband of the year, I stomach the nerve to stay in the room so that I can be there for my wife while Katie, who actually likes this sort of thing, leaves.

12:50pm: As the epidural process is about to begin, I walk over to Lindsey to…I don’t know...hold her hand or something? WHAT THE CRAP AM I SUPPOSED TO DO DURING THIS?! But Jane has other ideas and relegates me to the couch where I have two choices: stare at the floor and think about the Dallas Mavericks' 1992-93 roster or watch the horribleness unfold. I knew that this process involved a long needle but I had no idea what exactly happened during all of this and I never will because every time I glanced up the room started spinning and I immediately resumed my consideration of Sean Rooks’ rookie season.

1:03pm: I text my friend Tobin to relate my horror over this epidural thing. He concurs. We both express a desire for this to never happen to us for any reason. (As a side note, Steve Nash had not one but TWO of these procedures done on his back last week so that he could play in a basketball game. I love basketball but there is literally only one thing this hell is worth going through and that is the birth of a human child.)

1:10pm: Blissfully my mom is back with Chick-Fil-A so Katie takes my place in The Room Where That Needle Was Used so I can go into the waiting room and eat. At least I was kind enough to take it outside rather than eating in front of Lindsey.

1:35pm: Just got a report as to how far along Lindsey is in this process and now I’m kicking everyone out of the room so nap number two can commence.

2:50pm: Jane came back and I think she only did it tp wreck my nap. No, really she just came back to play another round of, “Ask Someone the Same Questions Over and Over Until They Go Insane.” This game show will NEVER catch on in the US but they like weird things in Japan so who knows?

2:55pm: I stumble into the waiting room to find way more humans who are here because they love me! And because Lindsey is about to have a baby, of course. Those two reasons are fairly equitable I would say.

3:20pm: Jane comes in to do something (I don’t even know what’s happening at this point) and in the middle of answering a very important question Lindsey has asked regarding the delivery of our first child, Jane stops down to talk about her husband’s vinyl collection. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE vinyl and I’m all for the proliferation of the format’s value. But I’d rather not hear about it right now, thanks.

3:45pm: The third Red Bull of the day has been consumed and I’m considering asking Jane to set up an IV drip with this stuff so it can go directly into my blood. They can do that without using a needle, right?

4:00pm: I have added a new task to Katie’s list of duties: ask Jane all of the questions. All of them. Because she is giving us no information and as I’ve already mentioned, WE DON’T KNOW WHAT WE’RE DOING.

4:20pm: Jane keeps saying, “Is there anything I can do for your or anything I can get you?” And then Lindsey says, “Yes, in fact, could you do this or get me that?” And Jane says, “No.” So I don’t really understand this relationship.

4:45pm: I just spent 20 minutes putting a camera strap on our camera so, yeah, I’ve been pretty productive so far.

5:10pm: I’ve finished reading through a Reddit forum called, “The Creepiest Thing Your Kid Has Ever Said” and now I’m convinced that my son will see ghosts.

5:45pm: More of our friends and family have arrived so I’ve pretty much been going back and forth between the delivery room and the waiting room to give updates, not because there’s all that much to say but because OH DEAR GOODNESS THE NERVES ARE KICKING IN AND ALSO I’VE HAD WAY TOO MUCH CAFFEINE AND I CAN’T SIT STILL.

6:00pm: Lindsey requests a second epidural (I would have been on my fifth by now and also I would be dead) and a new Pusher Nurse is here to do so. Except she doesn’t because she’s not sure Lindsey is really in enough pain to need one. Because, hey, if there’s anything more scientific than asking the patient to rate their pain on a scale of 1 to 10, then I don’t know what it is. Seriously, medical industry, it’s 2013. The 1 to 10 scale needs to stop.

6:20pm: We’ve finally talk Pusher Nurse into another dose of the epidural and I leave the room in order to remain conscious while Katie handles the in-room madness.

6:30pm: Angela and Joe are here to provide me with sustenance in the form of Subway and I inhale it like it will be my last meal. Seriously, y’all, the realization that you’re about to be a father is stressful.

7:05pm: Jane comes in and jokingly remarks that she is disappointed in both herself and Lindsey that we couldn’t get the baby delivered on her watch. I jokingly remark that I’m disappointed that I left my prison shank at home. Jane introduces us to her replacement, Sarah, and rides off into the night on her Harley. (I’m just guessing on that part.)

7:40pm: Things are about to get real, y’all. Lindsey has progressed quite far and we are now on the verge of the pushing phase of the baby delivery process. I announce this to the crowd, finish off another caffeinated product, and perform the Lebron James pre-game ritual before heading back into the delivery room.

8:10pm: Welp, there’s no turning back now. Somewhat out of nowhere Sarah tells Lindsey to start pushing. Neither of us are quite prepared for this. I expected a breakdown of what was about to happen, perhaps a preview of coming attractions, but no, we jumped right in.

8:15pm: Katie, the only other person in the room besides Lindsey, Sarah, and I, picks up another job: hold one of Lindsey’s legs during the pushing. You would think this job would fall to a medical professional but I guess not. I’m just glad I’m not having to do it because, you know, I WOULD SPONTANEOUSLY COMBUST.

8:45pm: This pushing business is no joke. Lindsey is in pain (uh-duh), Sarah and Katie are encouraging her, and I’m holding her hand, trying not to pass out, and doing everything in my power to “stay north of the sheet.”

Side note: THERE IS NO SHEET. That sheet is only there in the movies and TV shows to keep every movie and TV show from being rated R. Thankfully one of my friends alerted me to this fact earlier this week because otherwise I genuinely would have expected a sheet.

9:10pm: Sarah is a rocking awesome nurse. She gives simple, constant encouragement over and over again and keeps us in the loop of what is happening. The difference between her and Jane is mind boggling. I’m starting to believe this kid held himself in until Jane was off the clock.

9:15pm: After every contraction Lindsey says she can’t do this anymore and then the next round comes through and she pushes like a champ. So, so proud of her.

9:30pm: A doctor (whose name I’ve forgotten so I will just call her Doc Brown because Back to the Future) finally comes into the room and it’s just in time, too, because Katie hasn’t eaten anything all day and suddenly she passes out and Doc Brown only just catches her in time to slide a stool under her and wheel her to the couch. I mock her with, “You passed out before I did!” in order to break the tension before realizing that without her here that means I have to hold a leg and now I’m going to pass out, too.

9:45pm: Katie resumes her place and now we’re in the homestretch as Doc Brown is perched in the prime position and all of the tools (OH DEAR LORD, THE HORRIFYING TOOLS!) are laid out. It’s becoming more and more difficult to stay above the mythical sheet and I’m doing my dead level best to keep my head down as much as possible.

9:55pm: Someone says something about the head being out so that sounds like progress.

10:04pm: With one last round of pushing, my son comes literally shooting out and I notice four things: 1.) He’s got a major cone head. Wowzers; 2.) In the interest of keeping this PG, let’s just say that the books aren’t lying when it comes to the look of the guy parts; 3.) The umbilical cord looks NOTHING like what the umbilical cord looks like on TV. The real thing is akin to something out of Alien not Friends. But most importantly, this is my son. As Doc Brown holds up my son, this tiny little thing that is covered in goo, the realization that I have a son hits me pretty hard.

10:08pm: The nurse lays our son on a blanket over Lindsey’s chest, and for the first time we get to really look at this little guy we’re now responsible for. I handle this like Don Draper and hold it together perfectly. Just kidding, I totally wept like a small girl whose puppy just died in a house fire. (Too much?)

10:15pm: The nurse takes Cooper away to measure and weigh him then asks me if I want to hold him. Now, I have had an aversion to babies for quite some time and in fact, have not held a real, tiny baby since my sister was born 20 years ago. But of course I said yes and she places into my arms the most adorable thing that has ever lived and now I have been reduced to a puddle of goo. He looks up at me with a complete sense of calm and we have a moment to just look at each other and consider what the next however many years are going to be like. This will heretofore be described as, “The Greatest Moment of My Life.”


10:20pm: Lindsey gets to hold Cooper for the first time and seeing the two of them together leads me to wonder if I might have some sort of hormonal imbalance. Seriously, get it together man!

10:40pm: As the nurses continue to clean up and fill out the appropriate paper work, I head out into the waiting room to announce to the assembled masses that Cooper Riggins Gill was born into this world at 10:04 pm, weighing 7 pounds and 3 ounces, and measuring nearly 21 inches long.

We are so thankful for the outpouring of love that has been showered upon us over the last week. From the people that came to sit for hours in the waiting room to the dozens of visitors that came through our room afterward to the hundreds (literally) of people who took a second to congratulate us through texts and Facebook messages, you have made us all feel truly blessed. We are now a family of three and I cannot wait to find out what sort of things the Lord has planned for us. Hope you’ll come along for the ride.

How much crying is too much crying? Brian