Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Life - Preparing for Koichi, Part 2

We had some of the major expenses out of the way - the house and the cars. Now we needed to prepare ourselves and our commitments for the baby's arrival.

The baby's due date was smack dab in the middle of the Bethel Spring Series, March. We didn't do this on purpose - as I said in the first post we'd actually given up the whole baby thing for a bit. Naturally that's when we got pregnant, and timing put the due date literally in the middle of the busiest time of the year for both of us.

I committed this year to hold a mandatory Cat 5 clinic each week, and I had to find a chief instructor if I wasn't there. I had to upgrade the finish line camera setup to capture every finisher (Cat 5s have to finish 10 races now, not just start them). I had to test whatever camera setup I used too, because I didn't want to find out that it didn't work after the Cat 5 field streamed across the line. Of course I had all the regular stresses of trying to promote a race series.

(A side story. The main finish line camera, a Contour+, arrived at work. I brought another Contour, an HD model, along with a tripod and brackets to set up the two-camera finish line rig. As I worked on it I described the whole setup to a co-worker, how I wanted to get two 60 frame per second cameras going, getting a total of 120 frames per second, so that even if things were going 30 mph I could get every detail. My coworker looked at me.
"You're doing all this to film the birth?"
He gestured and commented, "Well, you know, I thought you were talking about capturing 120 frames per second of the head popping out.")

I started to plan on a "day without" at Bethel, a day where I'd be gone, or one where I leave late Saturday or early Sunday. I tried to line up clones of myself for each of the main tasks. We had practice meetings, dry runs, and lots of emails flying back and forth.

It's not like the Missus had it easy either. First of all she was carrying the baby, and that meant all sorts of stuff like eating well, resting enough, not stressing herself, and dealing with all sorts of really inconvenient body changes. Secondly, on top of all that, she's also an accountant. The due date fell in the heart of tax season, the busiest time of her year.

Her boss preempted any of our discreteness. He sent a letter to all their clients saying that the Missus was due in mid March and if you wanted her to do your taxes, you better get in your paperwork right now.

(That letter was the only official announcement of the pregnancy, so no, we didn't forget anyone because we never notified anyone. My co-worker knew too, only because his wife, one of the owner's daughters, was talking babies and such. In the two months after Junior was born, the two daughters each had a daughter.)

At any rate we knew we'd be super busy, to say the least.

Of course once we knew we were going to have a baby, reality started sinking in.

(This I'll call Realization One, and you'll understand as you read more.)

We embarked on an ambitious nursery and home redecoration, finishing the floors, walls, trim, etc upstairs. We moved our bedroom so we'd be on the same floor as the nursery. We started to get together stuff for the baby, buying furniture, sourcing big things (child seat, stroller, various sleep things), and researching other things (crib and such).

We started going to various doctor appointments at the hospital (St Francis in Hartford). I drove every time, trying to get the route ingrained into my head so that I could do it in the dead of night, on autopilot, with a screaming Missus next to me.

Because, frankly, that's what the movies show how a birth-giving mom gets a ride to the hospital. Well, if a police car isn't escorting them there.

I put the address into the nav system, into my phone's nav system, into everything. I made fewer and fewer mistakes, and towards the end, I could get to the hospital on my own.

We attended childbirth classes. A breast feeding class (yes, I went too). We went for ultrasounds, for this appointment, for that appointment.

Then, bam, I got the call, Thursday morning, the Thursday before the first Bethel.

"They're going to induce me. I'm going to the hospital now."

I went into shock. I couldn't really hear properly due the blood rushing through my head. I got into that survival mode, where I do what's necessary, no matter what it takes. I left work, drove home, and started preparing for the hospital visit.

First, because it was Thursday morning, and a birth would take, oh, like 12 to 24 hours, and Bethel was a good 72+ hours away, and therefore I could probably do Bethel, and I had a flat rear tubular tire (which I flatted last fall and never changed), I glued on a new rear tire.

Yes, you read right. The first thing I did was to glue on a rear tire so I could race on Sunday.

That took all of 15 or 20 minutes - I was working like I was defusing a bomb while under gunfire. Methodically and precisely executing each step. New tire, I hoped it had a good tube (it seems like one out of every 30 or 40 tubulars shows up bad and never holds air), and after carefully glopping on glue on the tire and the rim, I just monstered the tire onto the rim.


No glue anywhere except between the tire and the rim. None on me, my clothes, the floor, nothing. Crazy.

I felt like a ProTour mechanic.

Clean, mean fighting machine.

Then, with no glue anywhere on me, I went and packed my bags, the computers (for Bethel), phone, the Christmas gift Nikon camera (for pictures), the new finish line camera rig, and a slew of stuff I just can't remember. With some final checks with the Missus (via phone since she was already in the birthing area of the hospital) I headed out the door.

I started driving the route we drove at least weekly, sometimes more often. Suddenly everything seemed more in focus. I noticed a lot more stuff.

"Where did that fence come from? I never saw that fence! I must be on the wrong road!"

Then a quarter mile later, "Oh, I know that house."

Then, "Holy cow, there's a row of stores here! Stores! I don't remember any stores! Fine, a fence, but a whole set of stores?!"

Then, "Oh, I remember that little hill."

Alternating panic and relief, I managed to get to St Francis, realizing just how much I missed even when I thought I wasn't missing anything.

Of course someone called me during that drive, and the phone picked up automatically. So I said hi.

"Hi, I've never raced before, and I had a few questions about the race."

After an agonizing 10 or 15 minutes, I finally told the caller to email me his questions. I didn't want to crash into some never-seen-before tree or fence or row of stores or something while talking on the phone.

For thirty hours (yes, thirty), they tried to induce the Missus. The Missus's mom drove down from Maine to lend support. I brought everything into the hospital room for Bethel, even the tripod for the new-for-2012 finishline camera. I started blasting through emails about Bethel.

The Missus in a very nice suite (they're all the same). Note tripod by the window.

And the Missus sat on the bed, unable to move much (she had to call a nurse just to go to the bathroom), unable to eat (popsicles and ice cubes), just wanting to get things done.

There was just one problem - the baby didn't want to come out.

At some point during the second day her doctor came in. They checked some stuff, measured, did some baby checks, and then they left the room.

About thirty seconds later a nurse walked back in and turned off the inducing hormone drip. She didn't say we were done but she hinted that they had to keep the Missus monitored for a certain time (30 minutes?) after they shut off the drip.

Thirty or whatever minutes later  they came in and started removing everything. Junior was going to sit in the field for a few more laps (as a friend put it). We packed up and left.

Okay, first we went to the hospital cafeteria and ate some food. The Missus had been on IVs for most of two days, eating only chipped ice and popsicles.

With food out of the way we went home.

That's when Realization Two hit.

We were totally unprepared.

I mean, okay, we were sort of prepared. But we had a LOT of stuff to do around the house before we could bring back a little one. We got working on it, the Missus's mom doing the bulk of the work since both of us were working full time, and me doing Bethel stuff on top of everything.

The Missus went to three appointments the following week, with the baby imminent. Well, kind of imminent. Well, not really imminent. By Friday the doc was setting up an appointment to induce the Missus (again) the day after her due date, in a week and a couple days.

She came home and we relaxed. A week and change. At least the next Bethel would get on okay, and if we could get through even another Bethel then perfect, we'd be in the hospital Monday and Tuesday and by Saturday things would be quasi normal.

We really were kind of ready at home now, a lot of the frantic last minute stuff done (the Missus's mom and step dad really stepped up and finished off a lot of stuff).

Onto Part 3, which I actually posted already.

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