Four years ago, our family received the greatest Christmas blessing possible: the gift of Kayla Marie, born on Friday, December 21st.
That morning, after dropping Sean off at school, we went to the doctor for a check-in. He confirmed that the baby was in position so it could be anytime, likely sometime on the weekend. I asked him if I could go to my staff Christmas luncheon that day. He said sure, as long as I could get back home if Gail needed me. It was weird, it was like I was asking my doctor for permission to go to my own work function! But these were indeed special circumstances.
Text to friends at 10:36am: “Gonna be today or tomorrow. Gail at 2cm with very light contractions. Doc said all is good. Will keep u posted. Keep praying. Thanks.”
We went home for a few minutes, and then picked up Sean from school so we could attend Jake’s first-ever Christmas concert. He did really well, and was easily one of the most animated performers on stage. Jake proved that you can make hand actions to almost any song out there. He’ll be perfect for youth rallies when he grows up.
I left just after noon and drove downtown in the light snow. I had already missed the Mass, but arrived just in time to beat the line up for seconds at the Beatty Street Bar and Grill. I loaded up my plate and sat down to a coke (surprise surprise) and had a nice catch-up with Faye. We then headed back to the building for our annual Secret Santa.
After a bit of cleanup in the office, I drove Gerard home. Just as I dropped him off, my phone rang. Judging from the voice and tone emitting from the other end, I knew I needed to get home. And fast.
I made it home by 4:30pm and interrupted the boys’ soccer game outside, whisking them inside to find Gail on her hands and knees in our living room, trying to find a comfortable position. And no, she wasn’t praying. Gail’s brother John picked up the boys 15 minutes later and Gail and I bolted to Richmond General Hospital.
Once we were admitted just after 5pm, Gail was already at 6cm. She jumped into the shower to ease her discomfort, while I massaged her back with water. After 15 minutes, she was back in the hospital bed at was close to 10cm! We knew it was only a matter of time.
Text to friends at 5:07pm: “Just brought Gail to hospital…contractions for last hour. Will keep u posted. Keep praying…thank you.”
Gail’s contractions occurred off an on over the next 3 hours, teasing us as we eagerly awaited our baby girl. I was relegated to my usual role as cheerleader, story-teller, and comedian as I shared stories and conversation with the doctor and nurses. Seems like we were connected to almost all of the nurses there somehow, either through St. Paul’s or through friends of friends. It was nice to be in the company and care of friends.
Kayla Marie was born at 8:54pm, the first Imoo girl in 75 years and breaking the streak of 12 straight Imoo boys (starting with my Dad’s older brothers). As Gail and I took turns holding our new princess, we thanked God for blessing us yet once again.
Text to friends at 9:25pm: “Kayla Marie born at 8:54pm. Not weighed yet. Gail so strong. Me too…haha. Baby girl generally healthy…just checking out a small rash. Thx for prayers.”
Unfortunately, Gail’s placenta (the organ that holds the baby inside) didn’t come out after Kayla, as it should have. Gail tried pushing it out for close to 2 hours, but it wouldn’t budge. After losing over 2 litres of blood, the doctor and specialist decided that they needed to operate to get it out. They went over a few worst-case scenarios with us (as they should), including removing the uterus and/or a blood transfusion. We weren’t exactly thrilled at either prospect, the former meaning no more babies for us! I was able to work in my favourite saying as I looked at the doctors and said: “Do whatcha gotta do.”
It was a surreal moment. There I was, holding our 2-hour old baby daughter, while my wife was being rushed down for emergency surgery. The nurses told me to leave for a bit and get some fresh air: go home, eat, take a walk, do whatever. They would take care of Kayla until I returned, and Gail would be over an hour. I agreed, but not before I said a prayer over Kayla and for Gail. Admittedly, I played out a few worst-case scenarios in my head, and I didn’t like any of them.
Text to friends at 11:16pm: “Not out of the woods yet. Gail in operating room to have placenta removed…didn’t come out after Kayla. Please continue to pray. Kayla weighed in at 7lbs 2oz.”
I rushed home to grab some stuff to sleep over only to find that the power was out in our complex. Thus, under the intermittent light of my Palm Treo (God rest its soul), I grabbed whatever I could and then headed out. Wanting to post the news on my website and on Facebook, I called up Krissy and asked to borrow her wireless internet connection. Thankfully, she invited me in at midnite, as opposed to me “borrowing” the signal from outside in my van. So there I was, wolfing down McDonalds, posting pics to the net, and sharing stories with Krissy and her mom. Thanks Krissy for saving my bacon once again!
I arrived back at the hospital just after 1am, and was embarrassed to find both women of my life back in the room already. Kayla was sleeping, while Gail was alert albeit sore. Surgery was successful, but it would be a long road to recovery as Gail needed to replace all of the iron in her body that was lost with her blood.
We got a decent night of rest given the circumstances, and I was able to help give Kayla her first bath, albeit at 5am in the morning. Not sure why nurse Stephanie picked that time.
Text to friends at 9:59am: “Last text for a while haha…thx for reading them. Gail has successful surgery last nite…both her and Kayla doing well. Looking at home Sunday or Monday.”
By late morning, the hospital had discharged Kayla but not Gail. That was rather ironic: the newborn being discharged before the mommy! I didn’t really consider leaving the hospital with Kayla…though that would be been kinda funny. But not really.
Our immediately family came to visit in the late morning, followed by friends in the afternoon. The specialist came to check on Gail and discharged her by dinner time. We waited for Kayla to have her 24 hour blood work done just after 9pm, and then we packed up and headed home, a day earlier than my prediction. To ensure a better night’s rest, Gail’s family took care of Sean and Jake for one more night.
I went to pick them up first thing Sunday morning. Upon arriving home, they bolted up the stairs to enjoy their best Christmas gift ever…even if she was unwrapped 4 days early.