Daily Archives: May 28, 2005

May 28, 2005

A Birthday Story

There are lots of things that men do, like insisting they're OK to play when they're so severely injured that their tendons are flopping around to the rhythm of S.O.S. signals, that I don't understand. Why is it a better thing to play hurt than to heal up, when the latter will actually help the team win, which is supposedly your goal? For the half of the population that likes to consider itself superiorly logical, that reasoning just doesn't follow.

Similarly, there's something that women do that I imagine most of you men out there don't really get: relive the birth of their children on their birthdays. You guys gotta appreciate that this is a pretty profound event for us, sort of like winning the World Series might be for you. And since my story has a Reds tie-in, you'll have to bear with me through it. Don't worry: it won't take seven games to finish this drama.

Around this time four years ago, I was pacing around, wondering what to do. My water had broken at 9 p.m. the night before, but contractions hadn't started so I hadn't gone to the hospital. Instead, I'd gone to bed, figuring my body would wake me up when it was time, but apparently Winter wasn't in any hurry.

I finally went in to the hospital around 11 a.m. I wasn't due for 13 more days, so my OB had scheduled the holiday weekend off, and the OB on-call was a germ-phobe (which I guess isn't a bad thing for a doctor to be). They hooked me up to an IV of pitocin and left me in a room to pass the time. The average length for first labor is 24 hours, so it was looking like Winter would be born about lunchtime the next day.

We put in a movie and gentle contractions started going. Once or twice an hour a nurse would pop in and up the level of pitocin, but no one ever checked my dilation because the doctor was afraid it would introduce germs.

By the end of the movie, around 12:30 p.m., I was definitely feeling the contractions. The nurses would smile knowingly, bump up the pitocin, and leave. It was Memorial Day and the Reds were playing a day game, so we turned it on to burn through some of the 22 1/2 hours we thought we had left.

At this point, I had been following the Reds only about a year, and I was still learning the fine intricacies of the game, such as the rules, so it took a considerable amount of concentration to follow the action. It wasn't so hard at first: I had a fairly coherent stream of what was going on, interrupted about once an inning by a spike of painful distraction.

And the nurses would smile knowingly, bump up the pitocin, and leave.

Slowly, the innings crept by. Soon, I was missing two outs to the anxious demands of contraction pain. Soon, I couldn't get through an at-bat. Soon, in a brief moment of coherence between the contractions, I notice that the game is on. “Isn't this damn game over yet?” I growl to Jon. How was I ever going to make it to tomorrow?

A nurse came in to smile knowingly and bump up the pitocin, and I asked her to check my dilation. “The doctor doesn't want us to introduce germs,” she smiled knowingly.

“How will I make (pause for breath) a decision about (pause for breath) pain killer if you don't (pause for breath) check?” I demanded. The nurse looked torn for a moment: conventional wisdom said that I wouldn't be ready to go until tomorrow and introducing an infection could lead to serious complications, but she could see I was in agony.

She finally relented and checked my dilation. The knowing smile fell from her face, replaced by wide eyes. “I'd better go get the doctor,” she said as she ran from the room. Jon turned off the game that was still going on.

By the time the doctor got into the room, washed up, and checked my dilation for himself, I was at nine centimeters, just one centimeter away from being able to push. Two more agonizing contractions and I was ready for agonizing pushing. Several pushes, several small rips to my flesh, and several frenzied thoughts about how I-was-not-old-enough-to-be-doing-this later, I lay exhausted, receiving a handful of the most painful stitches ever given and looking over at the angelic little fella getting cleaned up and checked out by Jon and the nursing staff a few feet away. It was 5:15 p.m.

I found out later that the game had into 13 innings. No wonder it seemed like it went on forever. I just looked up a story on the game: the Cardinals were on top, the Reds were on the bottom, and Danny Graves gave up the winning run to Chicago who ended up taking the game 9-6. A lot is different now, most relevantly to this story Winter, who has transformed from a wriggling bundle of reflexes to the kid who just climbed up on my lap and asked me to read him the game wrap from The Enquirer and announced that he wants to go to a baseball game.

Let's see if we can get him a win today. Go Reds!