Friday, Jennifer's chest and upper back pain increased, as did her BP, especially during times of significant pain. As she had informed, Dr. Kindrick set up a referral to an internal medicine physician on call that day, who would turn out to be Dr. Uddin. Before Dr. Uddin came to visit, Dr. Payne, a perinatalogist, came by with the portable sonogram machine and once again checked the cord's blood flow and the amniotic fluid level, both of which were great. Afterward, Jennifer reluctantly accepted more Tylenol to help ease the pain, which was supplemented with pain from the onset of a headache and some blurry vision. The preeclampsia symptoms continued to build and the chest and upper back pain seemed to worsen. That night, Dr. Uddin stopped in. After asking a multitude of questions and pressing on Jennifer's chest and back to see if he could isolate where the pain was coming from, Dr. Uddin decided it was too close to the heart for comfort, consulted with a cardiologist, Dr. Lawson, and ordered cardiac enzyme bloodwork, an EKG and an echocardiogram. The blood was taken at several periods last night and these other tests were done as well. We entered the weekend hours with Jennifer not feeling so well, but feeling as though the precautionary steps were nothing more than good medicine. We had no idea what was coming our way.
Yesterday morning (Saturday, October 2, 2010), around 5am, Jennifer woke up with a severe headache that was virtually debilitating and BP that was creeping toward the 170s/90s. Jennifer has one of the highest tolerances for pain I've ever witnessed in a woman, and she was rating her headache at a 10 out of 10. That was very alarming and it hurt me physically to watch her writhe in agony, my mind unable to ignore what I knew was happening - that the blood pressure had risen so much that it was now affecting her brain. For the headache, the on-call OB/GYN, Dr. Lopez, who was on her way to the hospital, ordered a shot of Demerol with Finnergran for the expected nausea. As we waited on the shot to come, I knelt at Jennifer's bedside and prayed, asking in part, that God take the pain from Jennifer and protect her and our child. He listened. The shot came and the pain started to slowly subside, but the BP remained high. Soon thereafter, a nurse brought in an IV bag with an anesthesia medicine that was "just in case we need to go into surgery." Then, when she arrived to the hospital, around 9am, Dr. Lopez stopped in and explained that the elevated BP, amount of proteins in the urine, severe headache and blurred vision from yesterday all militated in favor of inducing the pregnancy, despite that it would bring Baby Cook into this world more than 5 weeks premature. As she explained her thoughts, Dr. Lopez indicated that she would do her best to honor Jennifer's wish to attempt a vaginal delivery, which would involve a balanced approach of mixing Petocin (the inducing agent) with Magnesium (the BP reducer that tends to stop contractions). Only seconds later, however, the BP machine took a reading and indicated that her BP was now 206/104. Dr. Lopez said, "that must be wrong... take it manually." The manual reading confirmed that Jennifer's BP was, in fact, over 200/100. Dr. Lopez said, in effect, to ignore her previous idea, that a C-Section was imminent. Much to my surprise, Jennifer was non-emotional in accepting the necessary plan. Realistically, it was the extreme pain she was in and the Demerol that aided this reaction. We both knew it was in her best interest, and Baby Cook's as well, for the C-Section to commence ASAP.
Jen minutes before she was to deliver our baby...very drugged up at this point
Just the two of us for the last time
Jen's best friend, Lauren, who was one of many who rushed to be by Jen's side
A loopy but smiley Jen about to have her baby
After a few phone calls and text messages, all done while the team of nurses prepared Jennifer for the surgical event, I donned my surgical suit, mask and booties. In what felt like seconds, we were headed down the hallway toward the operating room. Jennifer was taken directly to the operating room itself, and I was asked to sit for a few moments in a sterile area while they prepared Jennifer. A few moments later, I was called into the room. A team of four people (Dr. Lopez, an assisting physician, an anesthesiologist and a nurse) were situated around Jennifer and three others (NICU personnel) were holding their places around what was obviously the bed into which the baby would be placed immediately after it was delivered. I was taken behind a curtain that was set up so that Jennifer's head was isolated from the rest of her body. I combed her hair with my hand, asked her if she was feeling anything (as I had already watched some of the incisions being made) and we exchanged some thoughts. Within what felt like mere seconds, Dr. Lopez looked up at me (I could stand and see over the curtain) and got everyone's attention in the room and said the baby is coming out and "Daddy" gets to tell us what it is. I was a little nervous I'd make the wrong call given that my brain was being over-stimulated. The anesthesiologist joked and said not to make the call too early, just in case it was questionable. We all laughed. A few seconds later, I saw Baby Cook's head peek from Jennifer's belly. Baby Cook had lots of hair, as expected. I lowered myself down to Jennifer's head and told her I could see the baby's head. As I lifted back up and looked over the curtain, I saw Dr. Lopez lifting Baby Cook high in the air, facing my direction. One glance downward was all I needed. Baby Cook was a boy and so I made the announcement, thankfully getting it right. The room cheered. I knelt down to Jennifer's face and kissed her forehead as her eyes filled with joyful tears. We had our boy, and his name was Boston James, which we had long ago decided.
Jennifer's First Sight of Boston James
By the time I raised up from Jennifer, Boston was already being handed over to the NICU team. It didn't register to me at that time that I had not been the one to cut the umbilical cord. I was told to go with Boston and the NICU team. I gave Jennifer a parting kiss and went to meet my son. While I stood there in utter amazement at the thought that this most beautiful infant boy I'd ever seen was my own son, the NICU team took various measurements of him (he was 19" long) and watched to see if he would start to breathe on his own. Fortunately, he did so, and he was then wisked over to a set of baby scales (he weighed a whopping 5lbs, 12ozs.). Though he was small in comparison to full-term babies, he was much bigger to me than what I had expected, given that he only made it to 34 weeks, 3.5 days of gestation, i.e., he had come 5 1/2 weeks early. He was long and thin-looking, given that he never had a chance to gain his baby fat. His face was round and it was readily apparent, make that blatantly obvious, that he looked much more like me than Jennifer... long and lanky torso and limbs, big hands and feet, small mouth and all. His eyes, however, were those of Jennifer.
Boston was almost immediately taken to the NICU nursery and placed into a heated baby bed, but not before he was taken over to Jennifer's face for a quick introduction. Before she saw him, I had made my way back around the curtain to her. I'll never forget the look in her eyes when Boston's innocent face was placed within inches of hers. She smiled that smile that only a mother can do at the first sight of her child. The love affair with Boston had just begun and it was extraordinary to see from my vantage point.
Our First Family Photo
As the surgical team tended to Jennifer, I followed the NICU team as they took Boston to the NICU nursery. Dozens of other measurements and assessments were made of him, and I just watched and kept out of the way. As Boston's little body was poked and prodded, twisted and turned, suctioned and wiped down with various medicines, I conversed with the nurses who repeatedly stated that he had no anomalies and was essentially in perfect health. There, all around us, were babies who were days or perhaps weeks older, most of whom had very serious illnesses, which necessitated all sorts of tubes and IVs. Selfishly, I was proud that Boston was not going to endure that. I never would have thought that I would feel bad for having a healthy baby, but that's what happened. I couldn't dwell over this thought, though, because I knew that a) Jennifer was still being put back together and I felt an urge to get back to her, and b) friends and family were now waiting for some word about Baby Cook so I needed to get from Jennifer to them with all due speed. After Boston was wrapped up, placed under the heat lamp and given a small amount of formula to drink and I had been given the run down of the NICU rules (only 2 visitors at a time and only parents or grandparents could come into the NICU to see him), I headed to our room where I knew Jennifer had been taken.
Holding Daddy's Hand - less than 5 minutes old
11:45pm - after a long day, mommy's late night visit
Thanking God for Wife and Child,