April 3rd 2011: Being so close to Aria’s due date (4/5/11) led to a tremendous amount of anxiety and Ericka and I were ready for our baby girl to emerge. Not only that, I was ready for the end of the mood swings and crazy MUST-HAVE cravings.
Pregnancy is an amazing journey and I commend all women for everything that they have to endure but it isn’t a cake walk for us men either. It isn’t very fun when a craving hits at 10pm and if that craving isn’t fulfilled then she reacts like the world is going to come to an end. She randomly wants apple pie but frozen Sara Lee pie won’t do so you scour every grocery store in DC to find a fresh baked apple pie. You finally find the exact kind of pie that she is craving only for her to take ONE SPOONFUL and then go to sleep!! Anywho… We decided we were going to take action and try every trick in the book to naturally start the labor process. This started with a trip to Union Station where we walked the stairs. Up and down we went for over an hour, Ericka was feeling slight contractions but she had been feeling them at times in the past weeks so we didn’t think anything of them. After a few more trips up and down the stairs (and a trip to Johnny Rockets for jalapeño, chili & cheese fries) we decided to head home. The minor contractions continued on the ride home but we still were not alarmed at all.
After getting home and relaxing for a while, Ericka mentioned that the contractions were getting stronger and at this point we started to really pay attention. They increased in frequency and intensity so we knew that it was time call the doc. Of course on a Sunday night we didn’t get an answer so we left a message and waited on a call back. In the meantime we just gathered Ericka’s delivery bag (including her brand new Victoria Secret pajamas that she HAD to have) and the doctor called back and told us to come in.
The drive to the hospital was a blur but I do remember a tremendous amount of self imposed pressure to get there. There weren’t many other cars on the road which was great considering how many stop lights that allowed me to run. Ericka remained calm the whole ride there and we were able to check in and get settled in one of the delivery rooms. At this point the contractions were getting more painful and the labor process was confirmed when the doctors checked her cervix and she was indeed dilating. We were having a baby! To help speed up the labor, Ericka walked up and down the delivery room until the contractions became too painful. Watching her lay in the bed in pain from the contractions was tough to watch and as she started to dilate more the doctor began to offer her an epidural but she declined. Determined to wait until she was further along she endured many more painful contractions. This carried on until the wee hours of the morning until she finally gave in and took the epidural which allowed the both of us to get some sleep.
When we woke up the next morning Ericka was checked by her doctor and she hadn’t dilated any more so she was given some medicine to help the cause and the doc also broke her water. After a few more hours of no progress (and an impromptu nap in the waiting area) the doctors decided that it was best to perform a C-section. On the inside I began to get slightly nervous but didn’t want Ericka to see that so I just remained calm and supportive. She took it in stride which surprised me and it seemed that I was more nervous than her. Ericka had to be prepped for the surgery and I had to stay outside of the operating room while they got here ready. Standing out there I got hit with a major case of anxiety and nervousness and I had to pull myself together before going in. I couldn’t let Ericka see that I was nervous because I am sure that it would have made her uneasy.
Once I got into the OR I was positioned behind a drape and I could only see Ericka from the chest up. Before the procedure started the anesthesiologist ran a small needle along her legs and abdomen to ensure that she was completely numb. This was not the case and she expressed that she still had feeling on one side. They seemed to brush off her claims and it looked like they were ready to cut into her when I had to almost yell that she still had feeling. After that exchange and them seeing that Ericka was still able to lift her legs they finally got the message and decided to redo the epidural. The second time was successful and now she was in lala land and ready to go. The procedure was pretty short and before I knew it one of the nurses was holding this beautiful baby girl. I was so eager to get to her and I stood up to get a better view as the nurses cleaned her up. This proved to be a not-so-smart decision because I was tall enough to peek over the curtain that was supposed to block my view of the surgery. Let’s just say I saw parts of Ericka that she will probably never see herself… After Ari’s vitals were taken I was able to hold her and the moment I touched her tears began to flow. I never cried so hard in my life (thankfully Ericka was sedated because I was really boo-hooing) but I had also never experienced something so beautiful. This little being that we had waited 9 months to meet had finally arrived and being able to hold her was the greatest feeling in the world. This was the day I became a father.
–Dapper Daddy Mel