This post also appeared on www.capecodonline.com/blogs in the opinion section of the Cape Cod Times, a division of Ottaway Newspapers, Inc.
William George Thomas Gouveia was born on April 3 at 9:45 p.m. He weighed in at 7 lbs 10 oz, 20 inches long. Everyone is happy, healthy and sleep-deprived.
So the four people who read this blog must be dying to know what happened. If you know me, then you know I love a good story and have a definite flair for the dramatic. I’m proud to say that trait is most assuredly shared by my son. So here’s the deal…
MJ began having contractions around noon on Thursday. I was at work but her mom kept her company. First they were 15 minutes apart. Then 10. After a couple of hours they were down to 7-8 minutes. When I called her from work at 4:30, they were under five minutes. But the doctor’s office told her to wait until they were at least five minutes apart and lasting for more than 60 seconds a pop. By the time I got home at 5:15, we were in the 3-4 minute range but the contractions were “only” lasting 35-40 seconds. Although MJ wanted to wait, I had a feeling it was time.
So we jumped in the car and raced to the hospital. But you should know, we live in Bourne but chose to deliver at Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis. For you non-Capers out there, that’s about a 30 minute drive. But from where we live, there’s really only one way to get to Route 6 and that is Sandwich Road. So imagine my feeling when we headed toward Sandwich Road and discovered a two-mile traffic jam leading to the Bourne Rotary. With my wife enduring painful contractions, I pissed everyone off and flew up the breakdown lane toward Sandwich Road. But alas, the road was closed due to a severe traffic accident in which two people died.
Remaining calm, I figured I could go over the Bourne Bridge to the main land side, take the Scenic Highway and jump over the Sagamore Bridge and onto Route 6. But as I got off the Bourne Bridge, I saw traffic at the Buzzards Bay exit was backed up ONTO ROUTE 25. Now it was time to panic because the main (and only quick) routes to the hospital were closed. So, I did a u-turn on the median of Route 25 and re-crossed the Bourne Bridge to stop at the State Police barracks to see if they could help. I ran up to the Trooper and told him my wife was in labor and I needed a police escort past the accident. He tells me this is impossible because the road is closed, but he can get me an ambulance right away.
However, that would not have worked because the ambulance would’ve simply taken us to the closest hospital, which MJ did not want to do. We chose Cape Cod Hospital for a reason and she was determined to deliver there. So I sped away from the State Police barracks destined for the back roads to Hyannis.
An hour and a half (and a lot of increasingly painful contractions later) we arrived at the hospital. Now keep in mind, everyone says the first baby takes FOREVER to deliver. So you can imagine our suprise when the doctor’s examination found MJ was already 4 cm dilated. He broke her water to keep the train moving and informed us this was the real deal.
So once we got to our room, I was prepared to hurry up and wait as they say, because people told us we’d be pushing for hours. But when they came to give MJ her epidural, we found she had progressed to 7 cm dilated. Still, they told us, this baby would likely not be delivered before midnight. So with MJ feeling MUCH better thanks to Dr. Auerbach’s masterful skills, I began to mentally prepare myself for the process ahead of me.
But that was right about the time I heard whimpers of pain from MJ. The nurse was alarmed when MJ said she could feel the contractions, because the epidural should take care of that. Looking puzzled, our nurse Andrea said “You shouldn’t be feeling anything, unless…” As her voice trailed off and she examined MJ, the look on her face was one of shock and incredulity.
“Wow!” she exclaimed with genuine surprise. “It’s time to push, I need to get the doctor.”
I bolted upright from my chair with confused stammering, asking what the hell she was talking about. Everyone had just gotten through telling us to prepare for the long haul, but yet here was the nurse racing out of the room to get the doctor. As I staggered to my position next to MJ, I looked down and nearly choked on my own tongue…
She was crowning.
I should add, the total time spent in the hospital to this point was 2-1/2 hours. So when Dr. Elmer came in looking equally shocked, I studied his face as he examined my wife. Then he looked straight at me and said “Your baby will be born in the next 10 minutes.”
I was stunned. Floored. Unable to move. Somehow — and I may never truly know how — I managed to project an outward appearance of tranquility. Not to toot my own horn, but I was unflappable (at least on the outside). Inside, I was having trouble processing everything and coming to the realization of what was about to happen.
But any pondering I wanted to do was quickly interrupted my ROCK STAR of a wife who was not going to wait for anyone to tell her to start pushing. With two pushes, the head was clearly visible and ready to emerge. The nurse, in a tone of amazement, remarked that it takes most women 1-2 hours to get to this point. It took MJ 2-1/2 minutes. The doctor, however, was still preparing and was not even in place when MJ decided to push the head all the way out.
I nearly had a fit as I watched my baby’s head emerge before the doctor was even able to get in place. I repeat, my trooper of a wife pushed the head out before anyone was ready. All of a sudden I had visions of trapeze artists performing without nets. As I said something along the lines of “Ummmm….head….out….baby….catch it” the doctor flew over to MJ and begged her to stop pushing just for a minute.
But then the next contraction hit and it was over. From 10 cm dilated to birth in under 10 minutes. No problems, no complications. The doctor said that happens once every 2-3 years in a hospital that delivers roughly 1,000 babies per year. And just like that, my son was brought into the world.
To try and describe in words what the experience was like would not do it justice. You truly have to live through it to appreciate it. Thank God I was leaning on the bed because my legs wouldn’t work. MJ asked me to take some pictures and I just kind of nodded and told her I would do it later. Truthfully, I would’ve done it then but I couldn’t move. I just kept staring at my beautiful baby boy with a feeling that can’t ever be duplicated. “He was just inside her stomach” and “That’s a life that we created” were just some of the phrases running through my head.
And sure, I cried a little. And let me tell you something guys, if you don’t shed a tear when your baby looks at you for the first time then there’s something wrong with you. And all that crap I said before about not wanting to watch all the happenings….complete bull. I wasn’t grossed out, sickened or appalled. I was mesmerized and appreciative of the fact that I was lucky enough to witness something so absolutely extraordinary and beautiful.
And as wonderful as my new son is, my wife is Wonder Woman. Seriously, she’s a champ. Oh sure, it hurt her. No question. And it was VERY DIFFICULT seeing someone you love in so much pain. Especially in the beginning when she tried to skip the epidural. And here’s my two cents on that, GET THE EPIDURAL AT ALL COSTS!!!!!!!! Ladies, don’t be heroes. You’ll still feel pain but there’s no reason for torture. It broke my heart to hear my strong, independent wife reduced to nearly passing out because of the pain. And after the epidural it was a 180-degree difference. I highly recommend it.
So, that’s my story. We’re nicknaming him Will and if you’re wondering, he’s named after all of his grandfathers. He’s eating plenty, pooping plenty and he’s surrounded by more love than you’ll ever know. Thank you to our wonderful nurses and especially Dr. Elmer, who is a consummate professional and an extraordinary doctor. Also, Dr. Auerbach for the epidural. You were truly a pleasure.
I’ll have lots more to post and lots more pictures for sure. But for now, I’m going to take a little time just to relax and get to know my son. My son. I have a son. I’m a father.