Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Story of Isaac Part 2

Wedenesday May 26, 2004.
Morning arrives. New nurses. Little sleep.
Chris is hooked up to more wires than I can count. All the monitor bells and sensors, a BP cuff that goes off every 10 minutes - mightas well be alarm clocks. 24 hours of magnesium sulfate does strange things to a person - you can't drink a drop when you're on it, and it makes you hot and shivery at the same time.
Its a scary last resort, and her BP still spikes uncontrollably.

We've seen more friends and family in the last day than I can remember. The docs come by after lunch with more of "If we can't get her stable, we'll have to take the baby", and then later, "Its either you or the baby, and you're our first priority..."
At the end of the day, after too many needles and too many tears, comes the verdict, "We're gonna take the baby out tomorrow".


Thursday May 27, 2004.
We are over a week away from starting the third trimester, and we're scheduled for a 1p.m. c-section... Okay... I grab a social worker and punch every statistic I can out of her head. I learn, "Chris should be fine" - its not a stat, but a "should be" is better than worse, or nothing, at this point. At 14 weeks early, I hear, "1 out of 4 babies don't make it out of the delivery room." Of those who make it to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, "1 out of 4 don't make it home" and finally, of those who make it home, "80 percent are functionally normal".
I got an A in stats in school, for a moment I wish I hadn't.

Chris rocks. She is the most amazing woman I've ever seen. I am seeing perseverance and strength and unbelievable courage, things deep within my wife's character I had yet to know and see. I mean, she was rad before, and we've all teared up when she sings and all... but this is a whole different caliber of person before me. Swollen, tired, anxious, beautiful. I'm not worthy of such a wife. Watching this grace beget durability, fight, and even humor... We click with the anesthesiologist, Brian. Finally a doc with an appropriate synthesis of concern and humor. Chris, for the sake of her friends wonders aloud, "Is he single?" Refreshing, he's the "drug dealer" of the UCSD surgical ward. Given a patient's plight - if at all possible - I imagine most folks are happy to see him. Enduring what would've crushed me, she's making jokes. They roll Chris off to the operating room to begin c-section surgery prep and the epidural.
They hand me a bag of blue XL disposable scrubs. I'm a 6'2" smurf. Waiting, I feel a bit like the hour before our wedding ceremony less than a year ago. Those - at least they're familiar - butterflies, much excitement, some anxiety, knowing certainly, change is just around the corner.

A knock at the door, "They're ready Mr. Harrell", calls my escort. I am led into a blue room, tiled floor to ceiling. Chris is on her back, there's a curtain at her neck, separating her head from her body - presumably so she can't look down at what she can't feel, and shouldn't see anyways - making wisecracks at Brian and the other surgeons... anyone else would have fainted. Surgeons, needles, wires everywhere, rotary saws and drills I could use in the woodshop, nurses, monitor bells, oxygen masks... an unbelievable, indescribable 40 minutes later, Isaac Richard Chanco Harrell is born. He doesn't cry. He's passed on to his own team of specialists and is immediately gone, down the hall to the Neonatal ICU. Born a full 3 months early, "675 grams", someone reports... 1.5 lbs. "He looked good" someone says.
We never even see him go.

I watch the docs sew my wife back together, its almost surreal. They stitch her uterus back together and place it back inside her, then her muscles are reattached, then her skin is stapled shut. "Congratulations, we're all done", a surgeon calls to us... congrats? Her vitals slowly begin heading in the right direction within the hour.

Tuesday we were enjoying a ride down the coast. 48 hours later my wife has been cut in half, and Isaac is here. 3 months early, in a new ring, fighting a battle all his own.

1 comment:

Kimberly said...

wow..i didn't know that you and chris went through all of that when isaac was born. that's intense. why was isaac born so early?