The date was set for the operation and now the challenge was to make it to that date given the severity of the bleeds and the extreme medical conditions that were present, further complicating the risks to my wife and our baby. That date was set based on the twenty specialists that would have to be in that operating room on that day. That date was set because it would allow our child to be born and still survive as a preemie. The pregnancy had lasted this long but the placenta previa had now encroached upon my wife’s bladder and part of the C-section was going to involve removing part of her bladder. There was also a strong likelihood that she would end up having to have a hysterectomy as well, which would be performed after our child was born.
The operation was set for first thing in the morning, and allowed for a couple hours for the necessary surgery. Blood had been stockpiled for this operation and all precautions taken in order to help contribute to the best possible outcome for both my wife and our baby. I was to be in the operating room, positioned just to the left and slightly behind my wife’s head – close enough that I could stroke her hair to let her know that I was there but far enough away so I wouldn’t interfere with the experts working behind a half curtain draped over my wife’s lower body.
A group of people from the island, whom my wife and I had made a connection to over the last couple of years, were in the city on their way back home, and they stopped by just prior to the surgery in order to pray with us. They had arrived too late to pray with my wife as she was already downstairs getting prepped for surgery. I was to be called when they were almost ready to begin so I took advantage of the time waiting to meet and pray with this group of people. A nurse came, letting me know that it was time to go, and so I left the group and headed downstairs to join my wife. They stayed to pray a bit longer.
As I was escorted into the packed operating room to my little stool by my wife’s head I sat down and took some deep breaths while taking in the sights of the room. Everyone looked exactly the same, covered head to toe with hospital wear with only a slit for their eyes visible. And so I concentrated on everyone’s eyes in order to understand the intensity that I felt in the room.
And they began.
Everyone was quiet, each knowing their role and their place in that room. The beeps of the various machines echoed off of each body. Only the instructions of the one in charge at that particular moment were heard. The instructions were military, precise, focused…intense. Five minutes passed, then five more. My wife was kept somewhat awake in order to gauge her level of risk through these very delicate procedures.
Suddenly the entire room sprang into action. The baby was delivered but there was bleeding to attend to. Another team took over with my wife while a third team focused on our child, tending to our child’s own medical emergencies. Somewhere in the midst of this intensity someone put their hand on my shoulder and asked me if I wanted to go over to see my baby. I looked up and around for some sort of direction and my eyes caught the eyes of a professional on the other side of the room. I saw deep sadness in her eyes. I hadn’t heard our baby cry and so this combination gave me my answer. My focus went back to my wife with now two teams furiously working over her. I became quite scared for my wife’s life and so I opted not to go see my baby but to stay by my wife’s side as long as I was allowed to. The person asking the question squeezed my shoulder out of care and went back to their station, leaving me clutching to my stool, trying to remain brave and strong for my wife.
My wife was searching for my hand and for me so I reached out and grabbed it, holding it tight briefly. The team attending to our baby had left with our baby, leaving less people in the room but leaving more room for the people to continue their work on my wife. Almost an hour went by when another professional came to me and asked me to leave, indicating that they now needed to put my wife completely under. I was invited to go change and to wait in the private recovery room they had prepared for us.
With a heaving heart and a soaked face mask from my tears I reluctantly got up and allowed myself to be escorted out of the operating room. I changed and made my way to the darkened room, sitting in a chair next to my wife’s bed. It felt a lot like it did the first time I found myself sitting in a hospital waiting room, waiting for my wife to come out of surgery.
Except this time I wasn’t holding my baby.