Friday, July 28, 2006

A Message to Max on his Birthday.

Max’s First Day

On March 7, 1987 I was painting trim in the nursery. Our first child was due in 6 weeks or so and we wanted to be ready. My wife waddled into the nursery with a towel stuck between her legs.

“My Water Just Broke” she said.

She seemed pleased. Pregnancy is no fun. It was early but our first child was going to come out. We called Dr. Tidwell and he told us to head in to the hospital. He would meet us there later.

Max’s mother was a longtime hospital employee so we knew we would be well taken care of. We saw our coach from childbirth class. Her comment was, “You guys are early.” We got the paperwork done and checked into one of those birthing rooms they use these days. I spent the night in a big chair.

The next morning, March 8, 1987, stared slowly. A little breakfast and a visit with Dr. Tidwell. Nothing was happening so they started a pitocin drip. This is an IV drug designed to bring on labor. It worked. Max’s mother began having contractions on a regular basis. The anesthesiologist came in to talk to us. He put a small tube into Max’s mother’s spine to block the pain, We settled in to wait for Max.

5:oo or so PM on March 8, 1987 things began to speed up. We had a nurse with us all the time monitoring the baby. Contractions came closer together. At one point I got a lesson in why we were at the hospital. Every contraction puts pressure on the baby. That is the point, to squeeze the baby out. This child’s heart rate began dropping with each contraction. One time it stayed too low. Before I knew it the room was full of nurses opening doors, pulling equipment out. They were getting ready for an emergency C-section. Our nurse was watching the monitor. She kept saying “”Come on Baby, come on baby” kind of softly. Then she let out a big sigh, the heart rate was climbing again. Just as quickly as they had come the nurses put everything away and were gone.

Things progressed as they were supposed to and soon I was watching Dr. Tidwell get a huge set of forceps ready to pull the baby out. It was a boy. We would name him Max. We were not done yet. He was having a little breathing difficulty. The hospital people called it retracting. The nurses wrapped him up and a Dr. from the neonatal intensive care unit took Max away. The Dr. wasn’t worried. Neither was Max. It seemed everyone knew this was a minor issue. Dr Tidwell finished up his work and went on to the next patient. I was going to go home and get some sleep but first I had to go check on Max. We had some clothes for the new baby and his mother gave me some socks to put on him.

I found him in an intensive care unit for babies. He was born at 7:55 pm. He weighed 6 lbs, 11 ounces. He was lying on his back under a clear plastic bowl. They were giving him extra oxygen. His breathing had stabilized. The nurse was pleased I had brought socks for him. Max was looking around, checking out the world. I put my hand on his chest and talked to him for a little bit. I blew some air under his oxygen hood so he would remember who I was. Maxwell Garrison Ballenger was in the world and it was a good thing.

And it still is.
Happy Birthday Max


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