Beautiful and Perfect

Mika has already given a thorough explanation of the events surrounding Christian’s short life.  All the same, no two people experience the same event the same way, so I thought I would do my best to tell my experiences.

Wednesday started early for us.  Mika and I were up by 4 AM in order to get to the hospital by 5 AM.  Both of us dragged our feet.  I spent a little extra time shaving; Mika seemed to spend a little extra time packing a bag for the hospital.  It is hard to be motivated to go to an appointment for your baby to die.

On the way to the hospital, Mika kept saying, “I don’t want to go.”  I kept thinking of ways that I could make that happen.  We could run away.  Maybe we could freeze time; that way he could stay alive and safe.  Maybe we could just not show up to the hospital.  Deep down inside, however, I knew that Wednesday, April 24, 2013 would be the day that Christian would be born, and the day that he would die.

We arrived at the hospital only a little late, and slowly made our way through the hospital. It seemed that we had to stop every few steps as Mika cried.  I felt I had to be firm and immovable, that I couldn’t cry.  That façade was stripped away when we were brought into the labor and delivery room.  The nurse got through her own explanation of what would happen that day while she choked back tears, and then Mika and I sat and sobbed for minutes.

Nothing much happened until Mika’s doctor showed up to insert a catheter and inflate a balloon to help dilate the cervix.  I held Mika’s hand, and I could tell that the process of painful for her.  Mostly I was fine, and we even shared a laugh as we waited for the pharmacy to send up the right supplies.

That all changed when the bleeding started.  I would like to think I am not a squeamish person.  I was present through the births of our first two children without feeling queasy or lightheaded.  This time, I could tell something was wrong.  The doctor was a little more direct with the nurses, and the nurses moved with more urgency .  For a while, it looked like we would need an emergency c-section to save Mika.  At that moment, with the blood, the panic, and the sudden realization that I might lose Tiny Baby and Mika all in the same day, I wondered if it were possible to throw up, pass out, and run away at the same time.

After a few tense minutes, Mika stabilized, and for the next several hours, things progressed as well as we could hope.  We were able to continually hear Christian’s heartbeat in the monitor, and it became a comforting background sound.  Mika received an epidural and seemed to be in relative comfort.  We met with the hospital grievance counselor (who was very impressed with all the planning Mika had done in advance), and  we talked with family and waited.

The next panic came shortly after 7 P.M.; a nurse came in to readjust the monitor because she was no longer getting a consistent heartbeat from Tiny Baby.  They had come in several other times throughout the day to do the same thing, so I was not initially worried.  However, the first nurse could not find the heartbeat.  She called in another nurse.  Both nurses worked in conjunction trying to locate a heartbeat, but could not find one.  After ten minutes, the two nurses began to shoot each other worried looks.  After fifteen, one nurse looked at the other and gave a terse shake of her head and then avoided eye contact with Mika and I.

Again, I broke down.  I had grown so accustomed to the sound of Christian’s heartbeat that I had just assumed that he would be born alive.  Though we had been warned of the likelihood that he would not survive birth, I had not mentally prepared myself for the possibility that I would not only be robbed of the chance of raise my son, but that I would not even get a chance to see him alive.

It was at 7:45 P.M. that Mika announced, “Um, something is happening!!” and I saw Christian.  The reason they could not find the heartbeat was that Christian was already nearly here.  Tears changed from sorrow to relief in an instant.  I told Mika that our Tiny Baby was almost here, and that it would be OK.  One great push later, and Christian was born at 7:47 P.M.

Instead of the usual cacophony of crying that issues from a newborn, Christian let out a little peep and then gasped for a breath of air.  He looked beautiful and perfect.  Because of his condition (in addition to being so early), I was fully expecting Christian to look squished and deformed.  At that moment, with him being born alive, he was the most beautiful newborn I had ever seen.  I reached out to my son, and put my finger in his hand.  His fingers wrapped around my hand and I broke down in tears again.  Tears of love, tears of gratitude, tears of sadness.

Mika held our Tiny Baby, and together we loved him.  All of the pain and misery of the last few weeks seemed to melt away as we held our son.  Here was something innocent, pure, and divine.  Here was the newest member of our family.  As we held him, I felt that bond of parental love towards this little life only minutes old become galvanized.  I gave him a name and a blessing, as is the custom in our church.  I helped to clean him off and clothe him.  Eventually, I felt him grow cooler, and heard his heartbeat grow increasingly softer leading up to 9:14 P.M when his little heart stopped.

There are many things I am grateful for.  I am grateful for Mika’s and my parents being there throughout the long and painful day.  I am grateful for the financial assistance from friends and family.  I am grateful, above all, that Christian was born alive and that I was able to participate in his short life.  Despite all of this, I find myself trying to fill a void in my life left by my beautiful son.

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Jurassic Park in 3D

Since we found out about Tiny Baby almost four weeks ago, Mika and I have been make a concerted effort to spend more time with each other.  This isn’t an easy thing to go through, and the least we can do is shoulder the burden together.  We don’t always do anything exciting when we go out, but we always get to go something together and without the kids.

Today, we went to see Jurassic Park in theaters.  As many of you have heard, this year they have decided to re-do the Jurassic Park in 3D.  At first, I was skeptical.  First, this is one of my favorite movies of all time. Furthermore, movies not originally filmed in 3D have a tendency to look dark, muddy, and confused when studios do a 3D conversion.  Finally, I was concerned that they would try to modernize the computer graphics from the original movie and make it worse.

Jurassic Park is probably my favorite movie of all time.  It is one of the first movies I remember being able to go and see by myself.  There was a theater in our hometown that showed movies for $0.50.  They even had special days when a movie was only $0.25.  They kept Jurassic Park running in that theater for over a year.  As a result, I saw the movie well over 10 times in theater that year.  As a kid, I loved it for the dinosaurs and action.  As an adult, I grew to appreciate the movie for its technical accomplishments and interesting characters.  I appreciated the movie even more after reading the book.  I was worried that in the re-release, the studio would try to add in deleted scenes, or otherwise change the movie (I’m looking at you, George Lucas!).  I am happy to announce that all of the things which make the original movie great are still there!  As far as I can tell, no new scenes were added, and the splendid pacing, character development, and soundtrack of the original remain.  Experiencing the movie in the theater once again was truly enjoyable.

Movies that are converted to 3D seem to fall flat.  Because of the process used to create 3D movies, the movies can often end up looking muddy and dull.  My only previous experiences with movies converted to 3D were Clash of the Titans, and The Last Airbender.  Both films had botched conversions and ended up looking substantially worse as a result.  While there were certainly times when the 3D conversion in Jurassic Park looked more like a pop-out book than an actual 3D movie, by and large, the 3D was quite impressive.  There were no gimmicky tricks added in, and the film did not suffer horribly from the conversion.  There were even several scenes that I felt were enhanced by the addition of the third dimension.  In this end, this is really all I can realistically ask in a 3D movie.

Beyond the addition of 3D, there were no noticeable alterations to the computer graphics from the original.  The computer generated dinosaurs were a monumental achievement at the time of the original release of the movie.  Even now, I often watch the movie and marvel at how much better the graphics were in Jurassic Park than in many modern movies (I’m looking at you, Jack the Giant Slayer).  Part of the charm of the original Jurassic Park is the creative and innovative combination of animatronic dinosaurs and computer generated dinosaurs.  I was very relieved to see that the old graphics remained unaltered.  I honestly still found them to be impressive on the big screen.

Overall, I truly enjoyed the movie!  Whether you are an old enthusiast, or seeing the movie for the first time, I definitely recommend catching Jurassic Park while it is in theaters.

 


Day 16

Mika has already done a great post about things that people can do or say to be helpful.  People have been truly fantastic in how much they have been willing to help with everything from babysitting to steaks.  However, one of the hardest things for me is to answer the question, “how are you doing?”  It is such a simple question, and it frustrates me that the question is no longer simple to answer.

Half the time I feel fine.  Half the time I feel like I’m on the verge of tears.  Half the time I feel like I can almost forget that anything terrible is happening.  Half the time I am bad with fractions.

The truth is, I just don’t know how I am.

When we first learned that Tiny Baby wasn’t going to live, I was devastated.  It is true that simply thinking about the situation with Tiny Baby no longer brings the sharp, acute pain that it did only two weeks ago.  Right when we first found out, it seemed like the world had stopped; perhaps more accurately stated, it felt like the world had no right to go on.  Mika and I walked around and saw people living their lives: laughing, joking, and smiling.  As we looked at the various people walking around, seemingly without a care in the world, I couldn’t help but wonder what was wrong with everybody.  Didn’t they know that the world had ended?  Didn’t they know that our Tiny Baby was dying?

Now, the pain is still there, but is it just beneath the surface.  It has transformed from a sharp pain to a dull ache, that is always in the back of my mind.  In the past week, I haven’t had really had too many breakdowns.  And I wonder, is that OK?  Isn’t this something that I should be freaking out about? Didn’t I lose the right to ever feel normal again?  Even though I can sit down and logically think through how it is OK to have good days and bad days, I still feel guilty for having a good day.  Does that mean that I am not thinking about Tiny Baby enough?  Will people think I am heartless if I say that I am doing OK on a certain day?

Even on the days when I feel that I am not falling apart, I can always feel the pain just below the surface.  Instead of the sharp pain, it is a deep sea of turmoil just waiting to break through my facade.  I almost feel that I haven’t explored it fully, and I am terrified what will happen when I have no choice but to come to terms with what is happening.


Evan On Dinosaurs

With everything that has happened in the last two weeks, we thought a bit of a lighter post would be good for us and everybody else.  This week, Evan talks about dinosaurs.


Day 3

As strange as it is to think of, the most surprising thing in this is how caught by surprise we were.  We were surprised at each step of the process, and continued to be surprised by how everything is unfolding.

We were surprised when we were at the ultrasound.  Mika’s other two pregnancies, while having their difficulties, were really quite remarkable in how well they went.  I always worried before the ultrasound, usually about things like whether the baby had all ten fingers and toes.  Despite my worries, I never actually expected anything to be wrong.  During the ultrasound this time, I noticed that the sonographer kept mentioning how hard it was to look at certain things in the baby, even though in previous pregnancies he was able to see these things fairly easily.  I shouldn’t have been surprised when he was eventually concerned at the low levels of fluid, but I was.

We were surprised by the meeting with the OB.  I fully expected that the meeting with the OB would be a fairly simple affair where they told us that things were serious, but that there was a chance of things being OK.  However, as Mika later pointed out, they don’t schedule things so quickly when everything is OK.  I was surprised when Mika told me about how all of the major causes of low amniotic fluid usually result in the infant’s death.

We were surprised by the meeting with the perinatologist.  I, perhaps foolishly, assumed that the meeting with the perinatologist was just a precaution.  That we would get a stern warning about the dangers of low fluid levels, and that Mika would be put on bed rest for the remainder of the pregnancy.  After the first ultrasound, Mika sent me an email that they were having trouble finding the baby’s kidneys.  Even then, I was surprised when she showed up in my office  in tears.  I was shocked when she told me that not only was our tiny baby, the one who I had felt kick and move, was sick; but the baby was so sick that it would not live.  So sick that there was not a single thing we could do.  So sick, that the doctor’s used phrases like “the baby’s condition is non-compatible with life inside or outside the womb.”

I was surprised at how devastated I was.  I had always heard growing up that parents love their children equally.  I never understood this.  I understood it a little bit better when I fell in love with Mika, and there just seemed to be more room for love in my heart.  Even then, I worried when we were pregnant with Evan, that somehow having a child would result in a entropic transfer of love from Mika to Evan, where there was ultimately less love than there was before.  Again, I was pleasantly surprised when it seemed that my capacity for love grew upon Evan’s birth, and again at June’s birth.

However, with both Evan and June, I only noticed the love when they were born.  I remember feeling the swelling that my heart had grown when I first saw them.  I assumed that it was their birth that led directly to the increase in love.  When Mika told me that there was little chance our baby would be born alive, I was surprised to find how much I already loved the baby.  I was already to love this child that I had never met.  It was like finding out that there was a hole in a place in my heart that I didn’t even know was there.  I am left wondering: how am I supposed to fill a hole I didn’t know was empty in the first place?


Evan on Pie

In honor of pi day, Evan talks about pie, dragons, and ninjas!


Evan on Underground Sharks

Evan gives his dissertation on underground sharks.  But don’t worry, the police are here to help!