Caeden playing the guitar

Exploring Death and Life: I Thought My Son Had Died

Last week, listening to an NPR story on C-Sections reminded me of the day I thought my son had died.

Caeden playing the guitar

It had been a long night of labor and my wife was absolutely exhausted. I held her hand and tried to keep the nauseated tightening of my stomach under control. This was not fun.

When our first was born, our daughter, it was the most placid experience imaginable. We were like, “What is all the fuss about?” The Dallas Cowboys were playing the Raiders, and they won. As the game ended, her contractions began to kick in hard core. What a child! Wait for the game to end before you disturb Daddy. Perfect!

The epidural was working just fine.

Mad About You Ent Weekly We were waiting for the bluebirds to fly in with the fluffy bunnies and deer. Our beautiful child was born, we packed up, went home…then wondered, “Now the hell what?”

Fortunately, Mad About You was still on TV. Paul and Jamie had just had Mabel, so we learned a lot from them! Seriously, there were actually times when I backed up my suggestions with, “Well, on Mad About You, they…”

But Caeden, our second, was a whole different thing.

I think our Baby Doc had a flight to catch, or a tee time or something. She wasn’t happy with the rate of delivery, so she gave my wife the hurry up drug, to induce heavier contractions. It worked-ish.

Hours and hours later, we went full throttle, but things didn’t open up the way that they were supposed to. I was dropping bricks. My wife was in pain, the doctor was wherever doctors wait for the screaming to stop and my son was beginning to crown.

He got stuck. Stuck!

I could see his head, but he wasn’t going anywhere. So my wife is in excruciating pain, my son is face down with no reverse and I am more afraid than I have ever been in my life, before or since. I guess we won the lottery, because the doctor showed back up and said, “Ok, there are complications. Prep for surgery.”

“Complications.” That word pressed the mute button in my soul. I couldn’t breathe. The situation was completely unreal. Unreal. I didn’t think I would ever feel more helpless. I was so wrong.

My mind started to do that thing where it makes a list of all the worst things that could possibly happen and then makes stuff up that’s worse than that. The fun little games we play…

I walked with Rebecca as she was wheeled to the operating room. As they were putting her under, one of the nurses said, “Sir, you have to leave now.”

“No,” was the last thing my wife said before she was out.

They walked me to just outside the door and closed it. There were these two little windows through which I watched the whole process. I started to feel a bit better. She was where they could help her and my son. She was surrounded by medical professionals.

I don’t know if you’ve ever watched a C-Section, but it’s a pretty violent deal. More than just cutting the womb open, they have to heave that baby out of there. There was a lot more aerobic pushing than I imagined there would be.

And then, they huddled around her. I could tell that they had delivered the baby, but I couldn’t see him. I wish I had opened the door at that point, but I was thinking all, “I’m not wearing the blue pajamas. The blue pajamas keep her safe. Stay outside.”

I found, during this time, that I was plugged into prayer like an iPhone on 4G. There was no thought that didn’t dig deeper into the God reality. Every breath begged for God to do something. Anything.

After what seemed like an hour, two nurses walk by the window with this purple fleshy thing limply cradled in two hands. Time slowed to a glacial crawl. That was my son. Purple. Lifeless. Dangling between the nurses fingers. They were talking intently and didn’t look at me or anything.

thunderstorm Tears fell from my face like there was a thunderstorm in my eyes. I didn’t understand. Was my son alive? Was my wife. The doctor was still working on her, it looked like something else was happening. A whole new team had come around her and they were poking and prodding and sewing and stuff.

I don’t know what it feels like to lose a child, and may I never, but this was close. I looked over to my son and saw him lying lifeless and still purple on what looked like a music stand for babies.

Finally one of the nurses saw me. She ran to the door. Why was she running?

When she opened the door, I punched her in the nose.

No, I didn’t. But I had the impulse.

“Everybody’s fine,” she said.

“Why is he purple and all dead looking?” I asked.

“When we anesthetize the mother, the baby gets some of it. He’ll wake up any second now.”

“What’s wrong with my wife?”

“The C-Section revealed some damaged caused by the pregnancy. The Doctor is fixing everything right now. Everybody’s going to be great. We’ll bring your son to you as soon as he wakes up.”

I waited for him to wake up, just like I do to this very day. And I was very glad I hadn’t punched her in the nose.

It’s in a moment like that, that you realize a lot of things. I found out that I have a deep capacity for love and because of that, I have a deep capacity for pain. You don’t get one without the other. So, all of you out there wondering why God allows us to hurt, why God allows bad things to happen, shut up. Ask another question, why does God God allow great things to happen? Why does he let us smile and laugh milk out of our noses? Why do we get to enjoy the things and people and places around us? That’s a much better question.

People Having A Good Time

Everything happens. Then there’s a reason.

The C-Section turned out to be a great thing. At the point of “complicated,” the procedure uncovered a deeper problem that was able to be addressed. I needed to go through this because our boy had colic and cried for three months straight. If I hadn’t thought that I’d lost him, I might have actually followed through with the idea, “I think we should just let him sleep outside.”

Just kidding. No, I’m not. I really did think that. After no sleep for four weeks, a person kind of changes.

So, thanks CNN for bringing up a memory I needed to remember and another reason I have to be thankful today.

What stories do you have where the worst things turn out to be the best things?

  • sue kilpatrick

    Gut wrenching and reality-based fear, definately leads us into to a deep and forever appreciation… especially concerning people we love.

    You asked… As you know women “in wheelchairs don’t have babies”.
    I guess Doug and I were either not listening or ignored this. After consulting every neuro and ortho(we aren’t stupid), we took the plunge. First Chris and 6 years later (well planned), Greg. Both 6 weeks early- with Chris we were scared beyond…….. With Greg, we knew more what to expect, so it was a little easier. Both were in NICU.
    They survived and we barely did. Our beyond normal, deep bond and appreciation for our babies continues on. The only change … they are now men.

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