This summer my life changed forever. At the end of August my son was born. Adam Oliver Santosh Ninan showed up screaming. However, the process wasn’t as simple.
My wife and I went in for a procedure related to her pregnancy. We had been waiting for her to be induced, but the hospital was so busy we kept getting bumped. That all changed when a grumpy nurse gruffly said, “I guess we’re doing you now,” as she threw something onto the bed. When she left, we glanced at each other puzzled—I guess we’re doing you now? Who talks like that?
When she came back, I asked her what she had meant. She looked at me for exactly eight seconds as if I had grown a second nose. “We are going to induce her,” she finally explained. I glanced at my wife in alarm; this was it! Nine months of waiting came down to this.
I drove home in a mad rush to get her overnight bag and some things that I needed to stay the night. As I drove I had an overwhelming sense of anxiety. It was not excitement—it was sheer panic. There was no going back. Our family was about to begin. I was going to become a father … I WAS GOING TO BECOME A FATHER. This thought still staggers me. How can God entrust the care and well being of another human being into my clumsy hands? All these thoughts clambered for attention in my frenzied brain as I made the mad dash back to the hospital.
When I got back, we were moved to another room as we waited for the inducing to take effect. Fairly soon, my wife started to experience the discomforts of labor. I watched helplessly as she moaned and groaned. I made frequent trips to get her ice water. I would often run into other hapless looking husbands. We all seemed to have the same look of quiet anxiety on our faces. For once in our male life, our desire to be “doing” or “fixing” something was silenced in the face of the change that was in store for us.
At about 3:30 a.m. our nurse noticed that the baby’s heart rate seemed to be dropping with every contraction that Felicia was having. She called for the obstetrician. He attempted to do a tricky procedure called a “scalp gas.” This is where he attempts to draw blood from the baby’s scalp to see how much oxygen is there. He tried several times but the baby’s head kept floating away, despite the fact that the nurse and I were pushing down hard on Felicia’s abdomen.
Finally he called for an emergency Caesarian section. Suddenly everything turned into a scene out of E.R. Doctors and nurses were running and yelling here and there. A nurse threw some scrubs at me and told me to get them on. In the midst of all this commotion, the obstetrician turned to me and calmly said, “Get your camera and follow me.” This was the only thing he ever said to me, which I still find quite funny.
Now we found ourselves heading down to another part of the cavernous hospital. As we were about to enter the operating room, a nurse said that I had to wait in the hall. I wasn’t told what was happening. So, at 4:00 in the morning I found myself sitting alone in an eerily quiet hallway in the hospital. I have never experienced such anxiety in my life. What was happening? Was I going to be there for the birth? Why isn’t anyone telling me anything? I found myself praying like I have never prayed before. I prayed for Felicia. I prayed for the baby. In the middle of praying the nurse came running back to get me. Apparently I just couldn’t be there while they prepped my wife for surgery.
I sat next to my wife and held her hand. There was a whole medical army assembled to make sure our baby made it through okay. I was separated from the “action” by a blue curtain. I could hear and smell the burning as they cut into Felicia’s abdomen. I looked at all these doctors and nurses in deep concentration. I looked down at Felicia and tried to reassure her with little squeezes of her hand and inane comments like, “Everything’s fine.” What did I know? Was everything fine? I peeked over the curtain just as they started to pull the baby out. The anesthesiologist said, “Quick—guess! Girl or boy?” I said, “It’s a boy.” And the doctor confirmed, “It’s a boy!”
Adam came out screaming his head off but quickly calmed down when he was nicely bundled up. I was in awe. I will never forget that first glimpse as his blotchy quivering little body emerged into the world. I ran to where the pediatrician had laid him down. The awe continued to grow as I marveled at the tiny features on his tiny face. Tiny eyes, tiny nose, tiny mouth—all perfectly formed. I thought of the one who formed each intricate part of his body. I praised God for my boy.
Since my wife had a C-section, she was taken to a different place to recover. I took my brand new son to another room to get him measured and weighed and checked over. Since it was still quite early, the hospital had not woken up yet. There was a sacred silence as I brushed Adam’s cheeks and stared at him, overcome with awe and wonder.
Later on that day when all three of us were reunited, I sat in the hospital room and let the events wash over me. Today I had become a father. My wife was a mother. Unto us a child is born. Adam was God’s gift to us. Hopefully we could return the favor to Adam by being loving and supportive parents.
My emotional and intellectual equilibrium are still off balance. Consequently, I cannot properly share the emotions thoughts that are jostling around inside of me. So stay tuned for what Adam teaches me in the coming years!
Related link: THE BIG ONE[Santosh Ninan lives in Vancouver Canada. He is a student at Regent College. His new favorite past time is staring at his son.]
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