Jerry Chan’s Baby Blog — Chapter 1
After months of check-ups, dietary supplements, pregnancy books and gender guessing, our baby girl was finally born early Saturday, January 12th
, at Peking Medical Union Hospital at 2:41am. As with just about every aspect of this pregnancy, we were caught unawares – due to my wife’s pre-existing heart condition, we had originally scheduled a cesarean operation for January 8 (10 days before my wife’s original due date), only to have her come down with a cold. After she more or less recovered, we then set a date for Wednesday, January 16th (today, as I’m typing this, as a matter of fact).
That was last Friday morning at our final checkup – little did we know what the rest of the day had in store. I went in to work afterwards prepared to go on paternity leave starting the following (this past) Monday. All was business as usual, and I left work telling my colleagues how I was intending to go home and enjoy my last Friday night of “independence.” That night my wife was staying at her parents’ house, a 10-minute walk from the hospital. At 11pm, exhausted from the workweek, I climbed into bed prepared to pass out to a DVD. As soon as my head hit the pillow, my phone rang. It was my wife, and her water had broken.
40 minutes later we were at the hospital with her parents consulting with the on-call doctor. The ER was deserted, save for a gang of burly looking Central Asian gentlemen and a couple of cops in the next room discussing the smashed-in face of one of their drinking comrades. All was relatively quiet and we were certainly thrilled that it was finally happening, but we were faced with a last-minute dilemma: Natural birth or cesarean section?
The doctor, after conducting an initial examination, felt that the baby was small enough and my wife far enough along that we could try for a natural delivery, which in many ways is healthy and desirable for both mother and child. But the problem was two-fold: first, the heart thing (known as Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome) – a condition caused by an extra valve in my wife’s heart which causes it to beat irregularly, and if left unchecked, dangerously fast every once in a while, especially during moments of duress. While there was no guarantee that it would or would not flare up in either circumstance (surgery or natural birth), the odds were more likely that prolonged labor would be more conducive to it happening. To make matter worse, PKMU is understaffed when it comes to anesthesiologists, and since were there during the graveyard shift, there was simply no way to do an epidural (in fact, PKMU doesn’t normally offer epidurals for this reason).
A c-section would, of course, be quicker and relatively less painful, but the thought of days of recovering from the surgery and the fact that there was no guarantee that her heart would not be likewise affected was enough to put us in a quandary. We were left to discuss and decide for ourselves. And, like any worrywart, visions of scary complications, flat lines, and emergency scenarios (à la ER or House) were racing through my mind.
A few more good contractions and the knowledge that this would last for hours with basically no relief were enough to make up our minds. “I want a c-section!” my wife bellowed out after a particularly prolonged contraction.
“Fine,” the doctor replied mechanically. “We’ll prep you and put you under for surgery – the whole things should be done by 3:30am or so.”
We looked at the clock and it was 1:20am.