Stitched from out of camera JPEGs, using VNC over SSH, with no color management or other bells and whistles whatsoever other than simple plain use of enfuse on three exposures per stack prior to registration, warping and blending. But who cares about technology on such beautiful moments?
24 hours earlier the phone rang at my in-laws, where Nicole spent the last five weeks of her pregnancy at close distance to her doctor and the hospital. The baby was procrastinating and past his due-date. The time to trigger it has come. The hospital was ready for us.
Nicole’s parents drove us to the hospital. After check-in, while Nicole was being prepared, I went for the admission paperwork. The doctor came around 8:30, examined her, applied a gel, and left. The long wait started, accompanied by great nursing personnel that made sure Nicole is comfortable all along.
Nothing happened. For most of the day we were alone. We enjoyed this time, conscious that it will be the last moments of just the two of us for a long time. Nicole was given lunch while I had to cater for myself over the whole three days. Lucky me there are three big shopping malls on the opposite side of the road, and one of them even had free WiFi.
In the afternoon the doctor ordered to step up the effort and inject oxytocin intravenously. The protocol requires continued monitoring and attendance by a nurse. Staffing is a challenge these days as there are not enough nurses and doctors in Québec. Injection started at 16:00 at the shift change. The protocol prescribes regular increases of the dosis over a period up to 12 hours and is almost sure to trigger labor. AFAIK it is the last ditch attempt before a caesarean section, which we wanted to avoid.
We were bracing for a long night. I went for a quick dinner and brought back groceries for the night and morning. Gone was the intimacy, a nurse was with us all the time. We appreciated their presence. These nurses deserve a lot of respect and admiration for their dedication. They are not just “doing their job”. They went the extra mile to make us feel comfortable and develop a relationship. They went with us through the details of Nicole’s birth plan.
At first, also the oxytocin did not seem to have an effect. Nicole had regular but weak contractions throughout the day and they just continued. Then at 21.57 the water broke and things accelerated. The intensity of the contractions increased exponentially and Nicole could barely stand them. It was too late for peridural anaesthesia and anyway Nicole did not want it. Things went so quickly, they even surprised the nurse who had to switch from coaching Nicole’s breathing to pushing. She seemed worried about variable decelerations of the fetal heart rate and called the doctor. I was scared, anxiously watching the monitoring’s device printed graph while trying not to show to Nicole that I was worried. The doctor came in, reassured me and helped Nicole to a quick and successful delivery. At 23.33 the baby was born, that’s very fast for a first baby!
Unfortunately the night was not over. First, I had the honor to cut the ombilical chord and place the baby on Nicole’s belly, were it found her breast and had a first feeding. In the meantime the doctor diagnosed a placenta accreta. The delivery room became surgery room. I held the baby on my skin while Nicole had to endure preparation for the removal of the placenta which included peridural anaesthesia, a quite invasive procedure, and another dosis of intravenous oxytocyn overnight to avoid excessive bleeding after the intervention. Luckily all went well and the long day finished around 4.00.
I allowed myself two hours of sleep, knowing that the nurses were taking good care of Nicole and the baby every 15 minutes. I woke up spontaneously at 6.00, checked quickly the situation around me and felt lucky. The nurse finishing her shift even helped wiping the floor to remove most traces of last night. I shot the panorama and started the day. I typed a quick email to a few people living near enough for a visit to the hospital and sent it from the WiFi hotspot over lunch. This generated a welcome stream of visitors during the remaining 36 hours of our hospital stay that would have otherwise been quite boring and uneventful.
We went home Friday evening. The first night out of the hospital was difficult, but things have improved a lot since. We’re still at the in-laws, but we’re now confident we can make it without help. I even found time to process my most beautiful panorama, ever.
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