It was a hot and stormy July afternoon when Katka had her first contractions while lunching at her aunt's place around 3:30. And here you can see Eliáš freshly hatched at 5:24. Wow! And I thought my sister was fast. Good thing we weren't stressed about preparations because we didn't have time to do anything but grab the camera. I found myself seriously contemplating how best to help Katka push out Eliáš in a taxi.
In the hospital I was able to be with Katka pretty much the whole time. A long white waiting hallway decorated with a few hard backed chairs has one little doorbell that laboring mothers ring to talk to a birthing nurse. They let the laborers in to get measured and the waiters wait outside. Usually, couples rejoin out in the hall because the measurements aren't right yet and more waiting and laboring has to be done in the long white hall. That was our experience last time with Evelina who needed a few more hours of womb time. That night I learnt that sometimes people are even sent home with papers, like after waiting all night to buy concert tickets. Its not a bad experience but not really a good one either.
No waiting this time. Things were moving. It is not usual for me to go through other people's things, not even Katka's things. As Katka was ushered down the actual birthing hall I was charged with her things and asked to produce her national ID card. I often can't find things of my own given all the time in the world. Thankfully we brought virtually nothing with us. There was one bag that contained some small things but only one wallet and within that wallet there were many small things but only one national ID card. Going through her things was when time started to stand still for me. I know what her wallet looks like but do I know how it feels? No. I know what Czech national ID cards look like and they are large. How could it possibly be hard to find in such a tiny wallet? You are a moron. I imagine the nurses who gathered to reconfirm their opinion of expectant fathers experienced a certain slowage of time at this point as well.
Things quickly got better for me. I even felt kind of useful once again at Katka's side and not only because the doctor asked me to push the yellow button on the screen of Eliáš's heart monitor. After I got the hang of how things were working, I was able to help Katka not just push at the beginning of her contractions but to maintain focus after breathing and get a good second or third push during that same contraction. And it was those second or third efforts that really produced results in the end. Or at least that is what I will continue to think and tell people.
Oh, my other important job: small talk with the doctor between contractions. Apparently, I'm kind of a novelty because I'm an American who can understand what Czechs are saying a lot of the time and can say some things in Czech that make sense to Czech people. This was confusing for the doctor. He kept asking me where I was from. "But you are from New York. Your Czech is great!" Then I tell them I have been living here for over 12 years and that my Czech is not so good. And they all agree. The nurses are involved in this conversation now. Thankfully they also remark on how messed up the Czech language is and this time I agree. Time for another contraction.
This is the kind of stressful ritual we perform on the tiniest people around. I could see that relative to being born its not really all that bad and in real-time it goes pretty quick. Of course, for me, time was moving rather slow and for Eliáš, well, it took more than half of his entire life to get his first set of numbers.
Tagged! He got a number on his chest too. And it was my job to make sure that Katka got the medallion with the same number so that he don't get mixed up er nothin. I like how the most careless and jittery person at the time (me) are given the most responsible jobs (just in theory this time, there were no other mother/babies in the hall to get confused with while we were there). Or maybe they pretend that it really is important just to keep me involved. Regardless, I forgot the number instantly.
I learned that its fine to handle nuwbies like nuggets. Oh yea and Eliáš has hair like his sister did at this age.
Add another number to his short list.
I love the wrapping jobs these nurses do. I've got to get my swaddling skills back and fast.
He is tagged, weighed, measured and wrapped; Eliáš ready for shipping.
Mom has already got a hold of the camera again.
Me, Eliáš and the European electrical socket that matches my shirt... When I first held Evelina and studied her face I could see both me and Katka. This time, I looked at Eliáš and saw Evelina and couldn't get over it. The likeness was even more pronounced when he made any kind of emotive face. Wow, making families is SO COOL!!
Of course the heros of the day were Katka and the delivery team. Katka was so strong and powerful. We had an emergency cesarean with Evelina. Almost all our friends who had had one with their first child had cesarean again with their second. We wanted it natural this time and it was so great the doctor, nurses and Katka were able to make it happen. No pain meds... nothin... Yea Katka, you rock! It is such an understatement but thank you EVERYONE!!