The pediatrician just came into the room to inform us that the kids all seem to be doing well. He is saying that every ones' lungs and hearts are great. Everhett is having some trouble eating but we are told that this pretty common in newborns. He says the next few days will give us a better picture.
Right now, Lacey is very vocal about the remains of her once flat stomach. Already, she has expressed on two occasions how her stomach "looks like the elephant man's face", to which I chuckle and tell her that it will get better. She knows I'm right. Not to compare myself to Lacey, but I have an inkling of what it is like to have your insides ripped apart:
This was me after my surgery at MD Anderson. Lacey calls it my "stomach grumpy face" so as not to confuse it with my "regular" grumpy face. It looks much better now. It currently resembles more of a smug grimace as opposed to a grumpy face.
Rewinding to yesterday afternoon, I will never forget the view when I stepped into the OR to get a front row seat at the birth of our triplets. It was a veritable circus. There were at least a dozen people packed into the operating room (not including me and Lacey). There was a team of three medical professionals for EACH of the children. There were two people at the computer doing something of a technical nature, the anesthesiologist, a surgical nurse, and the surgeon. See below to have your mind blown:
During parts of the procedure, she was nauseated and she vomited sporadically but she never complained. The fact that she never complained wasn't fully realized until several of the nurses made reference to this point. I guess Lacey is just a rock star. She usually doesn't complain so I don't tend to think of it as a big deal. To the nurses, it was as if they were bestowing this great badge of honor upon her. One nurse proudly said, "You're wife is a soldier. The fact that she went 35 weeks with these babies and she hasn't complained this entire time, even through surgery, is amazing."
When they came out, my first words to Lacey were "Oh, babe. They're beautiful and gross." They were gross. They were grey and bloody.
Then, I could hear them crying simultaneously. It was like listening to a failed rehearsal of an amateur cat orchestra. It's funny because I knew that I would one day hear this sound and I thought that hearing the sound of my childrens' simultaneous crying would make me feel anxious. However, to my own surprise, I felt a sense of calm and pride upon hearing the almost harmonious crying. They were finally here and they belonged to us.
After they were cleaned and swaddled, I was allowed to go over to each child's station, where I could look at them and see their official weights.
Eventually, I was allowed to hold them. Everhett was the first child I was allowed to hold. He was wide awake and his big, dark, brown eyes stared right back at me. He looked calm and curious. It was at this moment that I started bawling like a disturbed child.
This was an emotional moment for both my wife and I. Our children appeared to be healthy and they were going straight to the nursery instead of the NICU, which is a testament to their strength and health. As a parent, you always worry about your kids. You worry if they are going to be healthy, if others will be kind to them, or if they will make good choices throughout their lives. At this point, we were just happy our kids were healthy. When children are born, any number of things can go wrong. This fact becomes exponentially true when you have multiples and Lacey and I knew this.
We were also thankful. We were grateful. I didn't have a quick prognosis after my doctor's diagnosed me with a tumor in my pancreas. It was shortly after my diagnosis that Lacey and I were told that we were having multiples. So for a time, we were in the dark about our future. I can't speak for Lacey, but the question of whether I would live to see my children born was a burden that plagued my heart for weeks.
Most people don't know this but, although I don't typically express outward emotion, I do have a tendency to get a little weepy on the inside. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUcIzgeh-So
Rewinding back to Friday night, Lacey and I sent Lincoln off to stay with his Nana that evening so we could focus on packing for our stay at the hospital and have one last date night, which consisted of a quiet dining experience at our local Chili's restaurant. Well....not as quiet as I hoped. Not more than two minutes after taking our seats in the restaurant, we have the abrupt realization that someone sitting directly behind us has a birthday. Of course, you already know how we know this....the entire Chili's staff is singing that insipid birthday song at an alarming decibel level. At this time, I remembered why I don't eat at Chili's. ARGGGG! I hate the fu%$#g birthday song!!! The pariah of sit-down, chain restaurants. I know, I know. You're thinking, "Josh, what the hell to you expect? It's Chili's on a Friday night!" People, give me a break. We had a gift certificate.
When we got home, we finished preparing for the next day and by the time we finished, we were both exhausted. I ended up spilling some water on the kitchen floor and I was so tired and lazy that I couldn't muster the will to walk 5 feet to get a paper towel. Instead, I reached into the dirty clothes hamper in the laundry room, just adjacent to the kitchen, and grabbed my 7-year old son's church vest and used it to wipe up the water with my foot. Don't judge me.
Yesterday morning (the morning of the surgery), we were off to a late start. The Smith family has this uncanny knack for being late to EVERYTHING, which drives me up the wall. People at church have come to expect this, I'm sure. They probably think we're trying to be cool by making a casually late entrance. We're always about 10 minutes late and I can hear the voices in the minds of the congregation saying, "Oh, here come the Smiths. They're too cool to be bothered to show up on time." You might ask, "why don't you just start getting ready 10 minutes earlier". Oh, that IS hilarious. We would still be 10 minutes late and I would just end up losing 10 minutes of sleep. Lacey did want me to mention that we were late to the hospital because of me, which is true.
When we arrive at the hospital, we sit in the waiting room until some random nurse comes out to tell us it is time to go back and do our thing. After about 10 minutes of waiting, random nurse does come out to speak with us, but instead of us going to do our thing, she tells us that we will be delayed for another hour because staff is short due to Memorial Day Weekend and they had already delivered several multiples in the last few hours. This does not sit well with Lacey as she had been fasting since 4am and it is now Noon. As you can imagine, a person harboring triplets in her belly needs food and drink frequently.
At this point, Lacey and I become worried. How much help would we have for our little situation? I had this picture come to my mind in a flash of only one nurse and one surgeon in the OR trying to deliver our triplets on their own. What made matters worse about my flashing vision is that the nurse was completely distracted from helping us because she was babysitting her 4-year old son, who was in the OR with her because dad was working and no one else was available to watch him. The 4-year old was far from well-behaved. He was furiously running around the OR, playing with clamps, gadgets, and swinging from the surgical lighting like some feral capuchin monkey. I'm glad reality almost never takes the shape of my fears.
When the nurses finally called us back, we had to walk down this long, empty hallway where a set of giant wooden double doors marked the end of the hallway and an entrance into the OR preparation area. As we walked slowly down the hallway holding hands, I realized that our walk was a giant metaphor of our long walk to this point in our lives. Once we walked through those doors, things would never be the same again. When we eventually come back through these same doors, things will be drastically different. When we come back through these same doors, we will have three new little ones to take home and the nurses will not be coming home with us.