February 26, 2004—8:50pm: I walked into surgery and Sunday was strapped to a table that was shaped like a cross, and her arms were perpendicular to her body. A curtain divided her head from the rest of her body. About seven or eight nurses were in the room in addition to our O/B and the anesthesiologist. They pointed to a metal chair near Sunday’s head. I was supposed to sit on it during the surgery, but I leaned forward and watched as the doctor cut her open. I couldn’t help thinking during this time that, if something bad was going to happen, I wasn’t going to sit behind a curtain and just hear it all. I could see everything directly if the doctor stood at a certain place while he was doing the surgery. When the doctor stepped in the way, the shield that the nurse across from the doctor wore served as a good “mirror”, showing me what happened. I saw everything, and I am glad. In fifty years, I’ll still be able to tell this story in great detail.
February 26, 2004—9:02pm: When the doctor pulled Jonah out, there were two concerns: (1) since he pooped in utero, the doctors were afraid that he would aspirate it; (2) I was afraid that the time spent in delivery in the wrong position would somehow hurt him or her or both. Thankfully, none of that happened. As he was delivered, the anesthesiologist told me to stand up so that I could see the first seconds of his life outside of Sunday. It was the most terrifying moment of my life. I was surrounded by the anesthesiologist on my left, the doctor right in front of me and nurses seemingly honeycombed throughout the room. As I stood up, I got another angle on the surgery I had been watching for the past two or three minutes. (It seemed like I’d spent the night in this room, but it hadn’t been over five minutes since the nurse came in the room down the hall with the surgery outfit. Time had elongated, making every second seem like a day). I stood up and the doctor had Sunday’s guts up on her belly—I later learned it was her uterus—and they pulled Jonah out, covered with all manner of fluid and filth. He was green, mostly, punctuated with pink and black and grey. He looked like a rotten watermelon.
February 26, 2004—9:05pm: Jonah was taken to a table across the room from where Sunday lay unconscious, but they wouldn’t let me get near to either table. I stood midway between them—both of them unable to make a noise—and my life stopped.
I had never been forced to depend on two people more than I had at that moment.
Sunday was one person, the human being who knows me better than any on the planet. She was there, deeply cut open, knocked out and unable to move. She looked bad, really bad.
Then, there was Jonah. Although he came from both Sunday and me, he was at the other end of the relationship continuum from Sunday. We’d spent the least amount of time together. Heck, the doctor and some of the nurses had spent more time with me than Jonah had. I know nothing about him. Unlike Sunday, he didn’t know me at all. Yet I felt like I had spent my entire life up to that point for that moment, between the two tables.
I was there, in the middle of them, praying with all the energy I could produce in that room, that both of them would be alright.
The doctor to the left of me was scrubbing Sunday’s insides clean. He seemed calm, which calmed me a little. The seven or eight nurses all surrounded Jonah on the table and it sounded like a pit stop at a NASCAR race. I swore I heard air guns being used to try to change tires over there. Then, the greatest thing I had ever heard in my entire life.
My legs almost buckled I was so relieved, because after he started crying, I knew we were doing well. If I concentrated, I could still hear his first noise, his proclamation that he was alive. It was one of the most beautiful sounds I could imagine. Although I know that I’ll get tired of him crying, I haven’t yet. It just reminds me of how low I was and how high I went, just because of his screaming.
February 26, 2004—9:10-11:00pm: I carried him to the nursery, where more wiping and buffing and suctioning and cleaning continued…and that was just the work they do on me! Sunday’s family stayed in the hospital waiting room the entire night and day to see this moment and the hospital staff told them that they had to wait four more hours. I thought there was going to be some knuckin’. Regretfully, the in-laws left to go to work the next day, so they waved through the glass of the nursery and said goodbye to me, but not to Sunday. She was still sobering up from the surgery.
February 26, 2004—9:10pm: As I took Jonah out of the operating room, Sunday briefly woke up from her drug-induced haze. She looked at me first, but then she recognized what I was holding, smiled, and she quietly cried herself back to sleep.