The Zachary Chronicles, Episode 1: Our Hero Arrives

In which our hero makes his debut appearance and spends his first week on Earth getting used to all those crazy humans.

– ZPR –

It wasn’t like TV.  No water broke.  There was no mad dash to the hospital.  After a somewhat restless night of sleep, Kelly and I casually drove to Inova Fairfax hospital at 5:45 am.  We hit no traffic.  We ran into no bad weather.  We avoided flat tires and other road hazards.  And we arrived at the hospital t 6:05 am, and checked in with all of the drama associated with a dental cleaning.

The lobby was mostly empty and after signing 3 dozen forms, we made our way back to the blue elevators which we took up to the third floor “bunny” desk.  After a few minutes, we were whisked back into the pre-op area and things started to get a little more exciting.  Kelly was hooked up to the monitors so that we could hear the baby’s heart beating and see the contractions on the screen.  We were visited by an army of doctors, nurses and interns, all of whom asked questions and briefed us on what would happen.  At about 7:45, we were wheeled just down the hall to the operating room.

Kelly was taken into the OR and I waited outside, trying to put on the various sterile gowns and shoe covers and hair nets and masks.  I waited patiently, but I was obviously an excited and expectant father-to-be.  Everyone who passed me in the hallway congratulated me.  Finally, after about 15 minutes, I was ushered into the OR.

Kelly was already prepped.  Our anesthesiologist was speaking to her as I sat down and before we knew it, they’d already started the C-section.  It was only a few minutes before we heard one of the doctors say, “Okay, the baby is coming out, you are going to feel some pulling.”  Kelly felt some pulling.  After a moment, Kelly said, “How come the baby isn’t crying?”

“He’s not completely out yet,” the doctor replied.  But then, a few seconds later, we heard the baby start to cry.  It’s hard to describe what I felt at that moment.  It was surreal, a feeling that would stick with me for the rest of the day.  I thought I would be overwhelmed with emotion, that I might cry or something, but I kept it in check somehow, mainly because I wanted to take in everything.  The doctors held the baby up above the sterile screen and we saw the baby for the first time, covered in all kinds of gunk.

Zachary Paul Rubin had arrived.

– ZPR –

We got the stats.  He weighed in at 7 pounds, 1 ounce.  He was 19 inches long.  He had ten fingers and ten toes.  He had my nose, and Kelly’s eyes and cheeks.  He had a good strong baby voice.  His eyes were closed for the most part, but they would occasionally flicker open and shut and you could catch a glimpse of the dark midnight blue color.  He sneezed once or twice, which was very cute.

Meanwhile, they continued to sew up Kelly.  They handed me Zachary and I sat next to Kelly as they wrapped things up.  It all seemed to go pretty quickly.  The operating room was cold and I wore shorts, but I didn’t notice any of it.  I held Zachary, swaddled in a blue hospital blanket, and made sure that Kelly could see him.  A few minutes before they finished sewing up Kelly, they took Zachary and me to the recovery unit where we waited for Kelly to arrive.  We spent about 2 hours in the recovery area before heading to our private room.

– ZPR –

It was around 11 am before Kelly’s parents could see their grandson, but I’d run down to tell them that everything had gone well after we got to recovery.  Once we were in our private room (room O-328), they were able to come up and join us.  That was just before noon on Friday, June 12, 2009.  We stayed in the hospital until about 6 pm on Monday and most of it was monotonous (and sometimes cold, since the AC in our room was on overdrive).  Still, during that time we were visited by many, many excellent doctors and nurses, to say nothing of friends and family.  And during that time, we got to know little Zachary.

– ZPR –

Zachary Paul Rubin.  We named him Zachary because we liked the name.  We didn’t want to choose one of the really popular names like Jacob or Emma–not that there is anything wrong with those names; they are just really common.  We wanted a name that’s been less common, but still a good, solid name.  We named him Paul because it’s a name shared by both our grandfathers, so there is a nice symmetry there.  And yes, we call him “Zach”.

The first two days were long ones for me.  Kelly was able to get a lot of sleep because she was mostly stuck in bed after the surgery.  We were in a “family centered-care” ward, which means that unless we specifically ask for help, we did everything ourselves, feeding, cleaning, swaddling.  Over the course of the first 51 hours I got 6 hours of sleep.

We began to learn Zach’s personality.  After a few days, we knew the difference between when he had a dirty diaper and when he was hungry.  Over time, he would flutter his eyes open and look around for a while, then close his eyes.  As the days went on, he kept his eyes open longer and longer.  On our third night, we actually got five straight hours of sleep between 1 and 6 am.

It took a while before I even thought about the fact that I was now a parent.  My whole focus was on making sure I could take care of the little guy.  Kelly was the same way.  Kelly recovered quickly from the C-section.  She was eating solid foods the evening of the surgery and was up and moving around the same day.  She was cleared to go home before Zachary was.

We were hoping to go home on Monday.  The main hang-up was that Zachary was a little jaundiced and they wanted that to clear up.  After a few more checks by nurses and doctors, Zachary was cleared to go home and we finally piled into the car around 6 pm on Monday evening.

– ZPR –

In the nearly three full days we’ve been home, Zachary has already changed.  We are gradually trying to get him onto a schedule so that he can sleep through the night sooner.  Kelly has been breast-feeding him and he has even been growing a little.  We went for his first doctor’s appointment and they told us he’d gained an ounce since he left the hospital.  He was up to 6 pounds, 8 ounces.

We slept down stairs the first few days and even that was heaven compared to sleeping in the hospital.  Last night we finally slept in our bed and Zachary slept in his crib for the first time.

– ZPR –

I love holding the little guy.  Kelly will hold him for a while, and then I’ll hold him for a while.  When he opens his eyes and looks at you, it’s just wonderful!  We can tell by his mannerisms when he wants to eat, when we need to change his diapers.  We are going to give him his first sponge bath today.  He is a joy to have, despite the sleepless nights.  We love the little guy!

Stay tuned and find out what happens over the next week.  Episode 2 arrives on Friday, June 26.

Originally published at From the Desk of Jamie Todd Rubin. You can comment here or there.