Remember when you stubbed your toe as a kid? The pain felt like the worst you had ever experienced and quite frankly it probably was... up until that point. As you grow you find new levels of joy, happiness, pain, heartache from winning your first sporting event, to that first kiss to your first broken heart. Much our human experience is about reaching out and pushing to new levels of emotion. “I didn’t know I had it in me” until you know you do and then its on the next event or peak or valley or whatever experience is awaiting us next.
We are human, we stretch, we grow, we find our grooves, we find some limits and we push past others. It’s an organic process of finding out who we are as people. Our ceilings are often put on us only by ourselves.
Finding each other was a new level of self understanding, marrying each other was yet another, managing our new relationship and life together brought on it’s own new set’s of obstacles and challenges. Bringing life into this world together was completely different type of life event.
Pregnancy is filled with excitement and new feelings, changing bodies and waves of fear and anxiety. In some ways it’s a nine month long training program for what will occur during the delivery process. As fitting of a preparation gestation is, it fails to bring about the intensity and biting emotion that delivering a human life brings.
Kate labored for 3 nights in a row before finally around 2 a.m. on October 21, 2016, a doctor walked into the Labour and delivery triage room at the St. Catharines General and admitted Kate to have her water broken. She was tired from 3 sleepless days and had been fighting increasingly painful contractions over the past 8 hours the doctor new she needed to have this process expedited. Finally at 8 a.m. Kate received an epidural. We were so lucky to have a family friend be the attending anesthesiologist (Dr. Craig Hogg also has photo credit on our first family portrait in the OR seen below!). Beleaguered from knee buckling contractions Kate was exhausted and needed rest to ensure she would have energy for the last stage of pushing the baby out. The two of us found a brief moment of rest, Kate without pain and me knowing she wasn’t suffering.
Momentary relief, by 10 a.m. concern had started to develop about our child as her heart rate was now starting to dip abruptly with each contraction. As time past her heart rate was not recovering as quickly. Kate being a nurse knew the complications that this could mean and worry was starting to increase.
I will never forget the moment that our doctor looked at us and said “You know what we need to do. We are going in to get your baby”. Kate and I both knew this was the best thing for our baby. The look in Kate’s eye at that moment still shatters me. Her strength through the entire process was unbelievable. She managed all the emotions of anxiety and fear along with waves of crippling contractions progressing nicely to be able to almost deliver the child only to hear that the child’s cord could be compromised or wrapped around her neck.
Within minutes Kate was being whisked down the corridors to the units operating room. One last tearful kiss and terrified reassurance before she was wheeled behind closed doors. A few minutes standing in the hallway by myself felt like an hour waiting to be brought into the operation at Kate’s side.
One of the doctors soon told Kate there would soon be some tugging and maybe some discomfort within seconds over the blue curtain keeping us from the cavity in Kate’s abdomen, the doctor held up Charlotte Poppy Hannigan to us only for a fraction of a second before she was taken immediately to be checked over in another room,11:35 a.m. her time of birth.
Kate franticly asked why she didn’t hear any crying from our baby. It felt like an eternity for her but seconds later in the distance from the next room we could hear our daughter in full throat letting us know she was ok.
The delivery of our child had perilous moments but was in control by the wonderful staff at the hospital that employs my wife. Kate having inside knowledge of the ups and downs and the ins and outs of the labour and delivery ward knew that the best laid birth plan often gets put by the wayside. We went in wide open knowing that we would have to read and react to what was best for us and our daughter. Kate had a list of things she hoped wouldn’t happen and most of them did unfortunately. The stresses of the moment seem to dissipate with each day removed from Charlotte’s birthday.
Leading up to meeting our daughter I was admittedly worried. I was afraid I wouldn’t immediately love our child. I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to care properly for her. That somehow I wouldn’t be enough for her. When I found out that I would be the first to hold our child due to the c-section I felt sad because I knew how badly Kate wanted to hold her. I said to her as we left each other before the operating table “I will do my best”.
My fears subsided the instant I saw our child appear above the blue curtain. She wretched into the O.R. lights as she was still covered in blood and fluids, none of that mattered. All that mattered was that we loved her.
The journey a woman and her body navigate through the process of pregnancy and childbirth is miraculous and humbling. Even more humbling is the determination, strength and endurance countless women including Kate show through the labour and delivery. I’ve never been more proud of my wife.
Words can’t accurately express the experience of having a child. We grew as people, our hearts grew with a new capacity to love and to cherish, our hearts grew with a new capacity to defend and protect, and our minds grew with the understanding of what sacrifice it takes to create life. Fear and anxiety still remain as we take our first few feeble steps into parenthood but that fear is rooted in the newly found outer limit of our ability to love. A new ceiling or high water mark and capacity to express and feel. All we can do going forward is to stay open, to stay awake to this new world.
Welcome Charlotte Poppy Hannigan
Some of the below images are fairly "raw" (nothing too gross don't worry)