Of Mice and Men

With the due date a good two weeks away and the baby shower set for this last Saturday, we figured we had a little time to get our ducks in a row and prepare ourselves for the arrival of baby number two: Isaac Oscar Petersen, a.k.a. "Ike."

But as Robert Burns once wrote, "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry."

On Friday (April 22nd) after having her membranes stripped and taking a lovely walk up Cold Creek Canyon, Alisa started charting her contractions. By 9:00, during our favorite television show, NUMB3RS Alisa figured we'd better get to the hospital. She was contracting every 2-5 minutes, and by then she'd been doing it for over two hours.

We packed up Zoë and took her to her best friend Indie's house, where the girls and Indie's mother Jill had a girls night planned. While I was buckling Zoë into her car seat she looked at me and said, "Where are you and Mommy going? A meeting?"

I shook my head, and Zoë smiled. "You're going to the hospital."

"That's right," I said.

When I got back, Alisa had her bags fully packed. We did have a checklist, and really, we were impeccably organized about the whole thing. Within 20 minutes we were on the road. Alisa noticed that I we had a headlight out, and we joked that if we got pulled over, we could just say, "We know that officer. Do you know how to deliver a baby?"

The short version of the next two hours was that the nurses sent Alisa home -- her contractions weren't strong enough. So, at around midnight we glided through the Wendy's drive-thru window and got ourselves some cheeseburgers since, the minute they let Alisa back into the hospital they'd cut her off the food.

The nurses told us to get some rest, said we'd need it. So, once we got home. I crashed. Alisa immediately jumped out of bed with a hard contraction. I said, "Good, that means you're making progress." I then made a mental note to put that down in the book of things not to say when your wife is going to have a baby.

Two hours later Alisa stormed into our room and said, "I'm in labor now. This is for real. I'm sorry the bathroom is a mess." It took me a minute or two to orient myself. I was in the middle of a dream about (I am not lying about this) grading papers. Since we were already packed, it was easy to get going.

Alisa had been having skull-shattering contractions for two hours, and she just couldn't stand it anymore. We rang ourselves into the Emergency room and made it to the Labor and Delivery wing of the hospital. The nurses took one look at us and sort of gave us the "Come on, we just told you you're not close" look.

Alisa sort of howled, and then a nurse said, "You can go right into the room you were just in."

They hustled about. One of them checked Alisa's cervix. She was six to seven months pregnant herself, and as she felt around inside my wife's body, her eyebrows lifted. "You're at six and, like, eighty per-cent effaced. Call Dr. Lawrence."

At this point Alisa began truly screaming. Everyone was telling her to breathe. She said that she felt like throwing up, that she was going to split into pieces, that she needed an epidural -- right now! The anesthesiologist came in to the delivery room about 20 minutes later, rubbing his eyes with the back of his hand. The nurses were running around whispering things. They checked her again and she was at eight centimeters. There was no time for an epidural, and they tried for an intrathecal.After a few valiant tries and variations, the anesthesiologist placed his hand on my wife's shoulder and said, "I'm sorry. I can't do it. You're going to have to do it without the drugs."

Alisa's eyes went full moon. She shreiked and wailed and said over and over again, "I can't have this baby. I can't."

The doctor came in, checked Alisa, and said, "You're going to have this baby in the next ten minutes." Alisa said, "What?" then she asked all the women in the room if they had given birth. The doctor held up three fingers. One nurse said she had 4, the other three. The doctor smiled and said, "So, that makes ten between the three of us."

Alisa looked at each of them in turn and said, "Okay, let's get started."

She only had to push for about five to seven minutes, and Isaac Oscar was born. The doctor set him on Alisa's belly and Alisa said, "You're beautiful. You're gorgeous. We can have another one of these, can't we, Todd? We can do this again...can't we?"

I said, "Let's wait to see if this one runs us a mouth, then we'll decide."