Beau Meets World

An Unexpected But Beautiful Beginning

Wednesday, February 5, 2020, was a day of both Deja vu and new experiences. I accompanied Sidney to her latest doctor’s appointment, a visit that was supposed to be one of the final ones before she gave birth to our son, Beau Thomas Reser. It ended up being the final one.

With Sid’s blood pressure rising, her doctor decided it was time to deliver. In a calm and nonchalant voice, Dr. Nancy Collins said, “You’re going to have a baby today.”

It immediately brought me back three years ago to when we were told the same thing a few weeks prior to Sloan’s due date. However, although I still felt shock, the room didn’t close in on me like it did in 2017. That initial experience taught me that preeclampsia is a serious condition and doctors will take action if symptoms reach severe levels. I knew in the back of my mind prior to Wednesday’s visit that an early delivery might be ordered.

We hurried from the OBGYN office to The Birthplace, the labor and delivery wing of Conway Medical Center. Sidney was taken immediately to one of the rooms and I went downstairs to register her. Sloan’s and Beau’s expedited deliveries both caught us off guard but they were very different in their duration. With Sloan, they tried to unsuccessfully induce labor for three days before operating; with Beau, induction wasn’t even an afterthought.

Sidney and I just minutes prior to the hospital staff wheeling Sidney to the operating room.

It is recommended that mom’s who have a C-Section continue to have them for subsequent pregnancies. This was the case with Sid. We entered The Birthplace around 11 a.m. and before 2 p.m. we would have the newest addition to our family.

As Sid and I sat in that operating room, the experience was 180 degrees different from 2017. Instead of being loopy from three days of induction drugs and deprived sleep, Sidney was completely dialed in (but of course very numb). With the same doctor behind the screen and an increased knowledge of C-Section protocol, I was less nervous. Sitting right next to my wife on our side of the partition, we prayed together moments before Dr. Collins started the surgery.

I held Sid’s hand and watched the nurses on our side of the screen look over at the other side. Before long, at 1:37 p.m., we heard the voice of Dr. Collins cooing at a brand new little boy followed by those sweet first cries. After Beau was held up so we could see him they took him away for a couple moments. He then re-appeared and was laid right at Sid’s head before being transferred to my arms. It was beautiful.

Beau was born at 1:37 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020.

This time around, I felt so much different. When Sloan was born I simply did not know the depths of love I would develop for her. No new parent can fully comprehend it. But the moment I saw Beau my heart swelled with the same love I have for my daughter. When you are suddenly face-to-face for the first time with someone you have an indescribable affinity for, you can’t prevent the tears of joy.

After those precious moments between the three of us, Dr. Collins started to close Sidney back up. A nurse escorted Beau and I to the nursery area where Sidney’s family was waiting for us. Beau was handed off to another nurse who recorded his measurements and inked up his feet so his footprints could be stamped. With a large panel of soundproof glass separating Beau and the nurse from us, she held up fingers to communicate to us that our little boy was 7 pounds, 3 ounces.

The nurse who recorded the initial measurements on Beau brought him up close to the glass so we could all see him.

The hospital’s pediatrician came out to tell us that despite being born a little early, we had a healthy baby boy. I took a moment to soak it all in. Just a few hours ago I had no idea that we would be meeting Beau that day. Now we had a son with a clean bill of health minus the delivery complications from Sid’s first birth. It almost seemed too easy.

The smooth sailing would not continue.

Something is Wrong

When the nurse was taking Beau’s measurements behind the glass, we noticed that he was breathing fast. When the pediatrician had given us the initial report, she mentioned that his breathing would most likely stabilize in the next few hours. Because the rest of the report was so good, we had little reason to be concerned, especially since the doctor said it was a temporary issue.

After about an hour, Sidney was wheeled back to her hospital room. She was on Cloud 9––both figuratively and literally––after giving birth and taking some powerful pain medication. With a mile-wide smile spread across her face, we showed her photos and video of Beau, thinking it would help pass the time until the nurse would be walking through the door with our son to hold. Instead, we got the hospital pediatrician again.

As Sidney waited to see her baby, she passed the time by looking at photos on her mom’s phone.

The doctor said Beau was still breathing fast and that it was likely a combination of being born a little premature and being delivered via C-Section. She said an X-ray would confirm it. However, she remained confident that his breathing pattern would become more normal soon. Our own pediatrician, Dr. Sangtian, who is a complete rock star at what he does, was out of the country and not returning soon––he was being held in quarantine because of the Coronavirus. Despite the absence of our own pediatrician, the other doctor in his practice came to check on Beau and delivered the same news that the hospital doctor did…his breathing will sort itself out.

Beau was put in the isolation room of the Conway Medical Center nursery. Sidney would not get to see him the rest of the day. I got to see him early that evening and just before midnight. He was so handsome but you could tell he was working hard to breathe. I prayed that he would be breathing easier the next morning.

Me looking at Beau in the Conway Medical Center isolation room.

I woke up in Sid’s hospital room and before I left to take Sloan to daycare (she spent the night at my in-law’s) I saw Beau again. There had been little improvement. After dropping Sloan off I returned to the hospital in time to hear from both the hospital pediatrician and the pediatrician pinch-hitting for Dr. Sangtian. Despite his breathing not stabilizing, they said, he still just needed more time, perhaps 48-72 hours.

With it nearing 24 hours since Beau was born, Sidney’s nurse wheeled her into the isolation room so she could see Beau. Although therapeutic to see him, it was hard to look past his fast breathing pattern. A couple hours later, my mother-in-law and I watched as this sweet brand new baby continued to struggle.

While we looked on at Beau, the hospital pediatrician was meeting with Sidney in her hospital room. My wife asked the doctor some pointed questions that made the pediatrician concede that a children’s hospital with a regionally renowned neonatal intensive care unit might be best for Beau. The pediatrician then came to the isolation room where the two of us agreed with what Sidney suggested. From that point, all we needed was the thumbs up from the pediatrician who was filling in for Dr. Sangtian. He had no objections and within minutes a team from McLeod Regional Medical Center in Florence, South Carolina, was in route to Myrtle Beach.

With Beau’s transport on the way, the Conway Medical Center nurses allowed Sidney to hold him, something she had not done up until that point. My wife and I got to spend some quality time with our son as we prayed with him and told him that a proud big sister was waiting at home.

Nurses from McLeod arrived and placed him in a transportable incubator. We said our goodbyes and off went Beau in the McLeod neonatal emergency vehicle. We felt relief in the sense that he was in good hands but also sadness that 75 miles would now separate us. Throughout the whole saga, this was the toughest day for me. I woke up with such high hopes only to send him to the NICU. The emotion would boil over that night. Shortly after Beau left for Florence, I went to Sloan’s daycare to pick her up. The owner of Oxford Children’s Academy walked out from her office to congratulate me. When she asked to see photos, I broke down.

This was the incubator that Beau rode in to the NICU.

After dropping Sloan off with my father-in-law, I returned to the hospital to spend the night with Sid. My mother-in-law had traveled to Florence to make sure Beau was taken care of. The doctor on duty at the NICU called us and said Beau needed more surfactant in his lungs, something McLeod was well-equipped to do. The seemingly simple prognosis provided us some comfort at the end of an otherwise very challenging day. But while my personal toughest day was ending, my wife’s was about to begin.

A Mother’s Heartbreak

On Friday morning, we received a couple pieces of news. First, it turned out that Beau needed more intense treatment than just some surfactant pumped into his lungs. Doctors discovered that he was also battling pulmonary hypertension, a condition that McLeod could treat but that would require more time to do so. The other development was that Sidney would be discharged from Conway Medical Center by the end of the morning.

There was no denying that Sid being discharged was a good thing. No one wants to be in the hospital, especially the labor and delivery wing when your baby is no longer there. Although we were always treated so well by The Birthplace nurses and staff (just like last time), it was a tough place to be. I felt so bad for Sidney because the joyous moments associated with the postpartum hospital stay––baby being wheeled into the room, peeking at him through the nursery glass at night, visitors coming by to see him, etc.––were denied to her this time around. True to her humble nature, Sidney would smile as new mommys and ecstatic daddys walked past her door in the hallway with their babies, but I knew it was painful for her.

At Conway Medical Center, they treat all moms and dads who just delivered to a steak meal. Even though we didn’t really have appetites this day, we wanted to share a meal together and prep ourselves for the days ahead.

Even though exiting that environment was a positive step, it couldn’t erase the sadness of leaving the hospital without a baby. Conway Medical Center hires elderly volunteers to provide a wheelchair escort for moms and their newborns at the conclusion of their stay. In 2017, it was such a triumphant moment when I pulled our vehicle in front of the hospital doors as Sidney and Sloan rolled out into the fresh air to go home. Last week, it was just Sidney being pushed in the wheelchair and I know that was extremely tough for her.

As you can imagine, arriving home baby-less was another dagger to the heart for Sid. Even though Beau came early, the house was still ready for him. Adding to the emotional pain was the sharp physical pain from surgery combined with unforgiving postpartum hormones. This wasn’t the way things were supposed to go and it was a definite low point. But even as Sid struggled through the day, she started to set her sights on getting Beau better so he could soon receive the proper homecoming he deserved.

Our NICU Journey

With Sidney safe and secure at home, her sister came over to stay with her. This allowed me to travel to McLeod Regional Medical Center for the first time. I went on this maiden voyage with my in-laws and I was glad I did because my mother-in-law was able to teach me the ropes of entering a neonatal intensive care unit. She showed me how to store my personal items, the proper way to scrub, and how to wear the yellow garment that all visitors must don while in the NICU.

The NICU at McLeod has almost a warehouse-type feel to it. The spacious area is divided into a few different “aisles” with babies on either side of each aisle. As I walked to Beau’s station at the end of the middle aisle and passed other babies, I realized that the gravity of my son’s situation wasn’t as critical as others. As I caught glimpses of the smallest babies I have ever seen in my life, many ranging in the 24-30 week range, I realized that we had it pretty good, all things considering.

It was emotional to see Beau. I was overjoyed to see him but also sad to see his tubes and wires. The NICU staff limited most stimulation. On this day, the general theme was that he needed time to rest and for his lungs to develop. I spent most of that initial visit just at his bedside praying.

This was Beau on Friday, Feb. 7, 2020…his first full day in the McLeod Regional Medical Center NICU.

The next day, Saturday, Feb. 8, I made the journey to Florence on my own. Sid was still recovering from surgery and was in no condition to travel, a reality that put her in low spirits. When I arrived at the NICU, a nurse asked about Sid and I told her about the tough time she was going through. In a true display of compassion the nurse allowed me to Facetime Sidney, something that is usually a no-no in a NICU. This meant the world to my wife! When the call went through her face lit up and she started blowing kisses to Beau. After spending quiet time with Beau I attended mass at St. Anne’s, a tiny Catholic church just minutes from the hospital. While there I reflected on how lucky we were to have our son receiving the proper care he needed.

On Saturday, Feb. 9, I visited Beau by myself. He was still heavily reliant on machines.

Between our physical visits to McLeod, we would call in the early morning and at night to receive updates from the nurses on Beau’s condition. Sidney made the call on Sunday morning and spoke to a nurse named Jordan. Even though she was still recovering from surgery and was trying to save her strength for a trip to Florence on Monday, Jordan suggested to Sid that a visit that day would do wonders for her psyche. The gentle challenge from this nurse motivated Sid to travel to the NICU that day. I stayed at home with Sloan and my in-laws took Sidney to Florence. If the Facetime call on Saturday boosted her spirits, Sunday’s visit shot them through the roof.

When the new week arrived, we would drop Sloan off at daycare and make the trips to Florence together. Most of the days, Sidney’s mom would also come along and drive so we could rest. The whole week was filled with daily triumphs. On Monday they took him off his ventilator, on Tuesday they ceased sedation and IV fluids, on Wednesday they introduced bottle feeding, on Thursday they removed his CPAP support, and on Friday they took off all electrical leads. These milestones corresponded with Beau looking more and more handsome each day. His color improved and his swelling went down.

Throughout the week of Feb. 10 – Feb. 14, Beau improved dramatically each day.

Wednesday was especially joyous for a reason beyond bottle feeding…we got to hold him! It had been almost a week since the last time we held him––in the isolation room at Conway Medical Center minutes before he was transferred to Florence––so we couldn’t wait to cuddle our little man. That morning Sidney woke up literally singing…

This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad!

It was a big deal for us when we finally got to hold Beau again.

Sidney, to put it mildly, isn’t much of a morning person so the fact that she was belting out a hymn at 6 a.m. says a lot about her excitement and gratitude toward God. Ah yes, God. Throughout the first couple challenging weeks of Beau’s life, we turned to God and our Blessed Mother a lot. The trips back and forth to Florence gave us a lot of time to pray, as did other idle moments during the journey. While in the NICU, Sid and I would pray the Rosary together at Beau’s bedside, using each Hail Mary to ask for his healing.

These are the rosaries we brought with us to the NICU…an adult one and a child one.

But it wasn’t just our prayers at work for Beau. Both our families were praying non-stop for his recovery. Our church was absolutely incredible––multiple prayer groups at St. Andrew, including the clergy members themselves, were praying to the Lord and asking for intercessions on Beau’s behalf. My Knights of Columbus brothers were especially comforting as they sent out update emails on my son’s condition and prayed fervently. Additionally, we had the prayers of our friends, co-workers, and daycare staff.

With Beau improving each day, there was a lot to smile about.

With talented doctors, dedicated nurses, and faithful prayer, how couldn’t Beau get better?

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Doctors and nurses in the NICU are notorious for being tight-lipped about identifying a specific discharge date too far ahead. It is common to get word a mere 24 hours prior to dismissal. But by the end of Friday, we knew Beau’s stay in the NICU was coming to an end. We had intelligence that Beau would see light outside of the McLeod Regional Medical Center after the weekend. Saturday he would get circumcised, Sunday we would “room-in” with him, and Monday he would be released. To know that we would soon have our baby home was an exhilarating feeling.

On Saturday morning, we were getting ready to depart for Florence when I received a call from the hospital. The woman on the other end of the line asked to speak with Sidney. She informed my wife that Beau would be discharged on Sunday and that we could room-in tonight. We were no longer going on a day trip! Sid and I excitedly started packing our bags for an evening with our little man in lovely Florence, South Carolina.

It was a fun experience sharing our first night with Beau via the hospital’s “Room-In” program.

The room-in program is designed to lessen the anxiety that parents might feel after bringing home a baby who spent time in the NICU. Moms and dads are usually elated to get their child out of the hospital but might also feel a little scared about taking care of a baby who was recently critically sick and dependent on so many machines. With the room-in opportunity, parents can stay in a hospital room with their baby and take care of him just like they would at home but with the safety net of the NICU staff being right down the hall. Although not obligated to do so, Sidney and I decided to take advantage of the program.

Beau was just Beau on Saturday night. No cords or machines!

We arrived at the hospital early in the afternoon on Saturday. We spent a couple hours with Beau in the NICU and then the nurses showed us to our room. After we brought our bags up, we told Beau he had spent his last night away from us and wheeled him into our digs for the night. It was a satisfying moment. It was just the three of us––no nurses, no doctors, no machines, no cords, no yellow gowns.

Even though we were up throughout the night feeding him, it was actually a relaxing evening.

The evening went well. Our nurse, Joshua, was helpful but hands off. He introduced himself by saying “this is your show.” It was a night of bonding and relief. The NICU did a great job of placing Beau on a schedule as he waited out his three-hour eating intervals like clockwork. His 5 p.m., 8 p.m., 11 p.m., 2 a.m., 5 a.m., and 8 a.m. changings/feedings went off without a hitch. After the 8 p.m. feeding I snuck out of the hospital and picked up Chinese food to bring back to the room. We were eating takeout in a cramped hospital room but it was a celebratory dinner and it couldn’t have been more perfect. Even though we had the night ahead of us, we knew things were going to be okay.

Come Sunday morning, we were on the fast track to discharge. The NICU staff administered the “Car Seat Challenge” by placing Beau in a car seat for 90 minutes to make sure he could keep his oxygen levels at a healthy rate. His circumcision was next, a procedure that is provided free of charge to McLeod NICU patients. He then aced his hearing test. Finally, Dr. Doug Moeckel came into our room to issue his discharge orders. After some last words of wisdom from the nurse assigned to us that morning, we were free to go!

Beau resting in my arms just minutes prior to being discharged.

After 10 days in the NICU, a nurse escorted Sidney and Beau out the front doors of McLeod Regional Medical Center. I had pulled our vehicle up to the main entrance to greet my wife and son, holding back a tear or two. The special moment that was denied to Sid a week and a half ago was playing itself out now. As we left the premises of the hospital, we felt strong appreciation for the medical care Beau received but Sid vocalized that she never wanted to return.

Beau was discharged at noon on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020. Sidney finally got to enjoy the special moment of leaving the hospital with her baby.

A Sweet Homecoming

Only 75 miles separated us from a meeting that we had waited nine months for. Sid and I had literally dreamed about how Sloan would react when she met her baby brother for the first time. Sunday was Big Sister Day and all I needed to do was get us home safely so we could properly celebrate.

As we entered Myrtle Beach, my white knuckles started to return to normal color. I lessened my grip on the steering wheel as my nerves of crashing the car decreased and my anticipation of our children meeting for the first time increased.

Pulling into our driveway was a little surreal. After agonizing for almost two weeks about “just wanting to get him home,” the front door was within view and Sloan was right behind it. I detached Beau’s car seat from the base and we walked up. Sid opened the door and Sloan was there to greet us. She was over the moon to simply see mom and dad but Sloan is a bright girl and immediately realized that we had Beau too.

“Oh, what a nice surprise,” were the literal first words out of Sloan’s mouth when she realized the precious cargo in the car seat. She then proceeded to help us unbuckle her new sibling.

We helped Sloan climb up on the couch and we placed Beau across her lap. After a moment of dreamy gazing, she broke out into sweet and unprompted song. It is just something you kind of have to watch for yourself. To say that this sister-brother relationship got off on the right foot is an understatement.

This was the first ever meeting between Sloan and Beau. It went well.

For Sidney and I, to have the four of us under one roof was a relief. No longer did we have to divide our time between Sloan in Myrtle Beach and Beau in Florence. No longer did we have an empty bassinet in our bedroom. No longer did we have to keep our “Beau Meets World” marquee illuminated, something we did since Feb. 5 to keep vigil for our son until we brought him home.

Finally, everything felt right.

We kept our marquee sign illuminated 24/7 until Beau arrived home.


Beau’s birth was both beautiful and traumatic. I will never forget the special moments that I spent in the delivery room with Sid as Beau was brought into the world or the pride I felt when I walked him up to the nursery. It was euphoria.

But the next 10 days, especially the first few, were really tough. Observing the emotional and physical pain that Sid went through was just as difficult as watching Beau struggle. Our faith in God and ability to put the situation into perspective helped us stay sane. As I mentioned earlier, Beau was born at 36 weeks, weighed 7 pounds, and spent 10 days in the NICU; other babies that shared time with Beau in his wing were born at 24 weeks, barely weighed 3 pounds, and had already spent weeks at McLeod. We were the lucky ones.

It took some time to get our children under one roof but we are so happy that it is finally a reality.

We will forever be indebted to the doctors and nurses of the neonatal intensive care unit at McLeod Regional Medical Center. We are grateful to the support of both our families. We are fortunate to belong to a church dedicated to helping its parishioners in times of need. We appreciate the care and concern of friends. Most of all, we are blown away by the grace of God and the protection of our Blessed Mother.

I am so thankful for our family of four. Thanks be to God.

Welcome to the world, Beau. We love you so much. Don’t Blink.

Thankful For Our Experience at The Birthplace at Conway Medical Center

Giving birth is scary enough. Having to stay in the hospital for five whole days during this anxiety-ridden time adds a completely different level of stress and discomfort. However, if you have to go through it, all you can do is cross your fingers and hope that the people who are caring for you will make the experience as pleasant and as successful as it can possibly be.

In yesterday’s blog post, I wrote about how Sidney, Sloan, and I could not wait until the discharge papers were signed and we could leave Conway Medical Center and head off to the comfort of our own home. It is true. Cabin fever had started to set in and we desperately wanted to get our daughter out of the hospital. But even through our angst, there was never one time where we (and by “we” I mean the three of us) weren’t treated with the utmost top quality care and genuine human compassion.

If you don’t live in the Grand Strand area, you may want to consider moving to our beautiful area of the country for the sole purpose of having your baby delivered. Seriously. The Birthplace at Conway Medical Center blew us away throughout the entirety of our extended stay.

We are very thankful to The Birthplace at Conway Medical Center for making our stay the best it could be (given the circumstances) and for delivering us this beautiful girl!

Although last Friday’s birth of our daughter was my first ever hospital delivery experience, from what others have told me, we had it very good. We were in an oversized room with a television, furniture, shower, speedy wifi, and an endless supply of items such as tissues and towels. The food service was consistent, speedy, and tasty. The doctors, whether it was Sidney’s OBGYN or the pediatrician, came by early in the mornings. I was able to stay each night and had the option of sleeping in a rollout bed or a comfortable recliner.

The Birthplace itself is equipped with the latest technology. The place is totally secure. Patients and babies are kept completely protected. The nurse/doctor main station is centrally located so no matter where your room is, help is available the moment you step outside your door (although you could buzz for help at any time). The nursery is a godsend. Not only is it easily accessible and offers a great view for all visitors to see the babies, parents are able to send their newborn to it whenever they please. After we had Sloan, we sent her to the nursery overnight so we could get some rest after the energy draining experience we shared leading up to her birth.

But the part that will forever stick out to me the most about our time at The Birthplace at Conway Medical Center, besides meeting our beautiful daughter for the first time, are the nurses we met over the six days and five nights we stayed there. The women who took care of us were truly remarkable. They took the concept of “care” to the absolute next level and watched over us in a way that far exceeded any expectations I had going in.

We spent more time than we wanted to in the hospital. Luckily we were in good hands.

From the time we checked in on Wednesday morning to when we were discharged on Monday around noon, the nurses took care of us. Working 12 hour shifts, we would have a nurse from 7 a.m to 7 p.m. during the day and then from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. at night. Over the course of the shifts, these nurses provided us excellent medical attention while also relating to us as people. Sidney wasn’t just a patient, I wasn’t just the annoying husband. Rather, it seemed as if we were a high priority to them, not just another number or inconvenience.

Let me tell you, if you deliver at Conway Medical Center they will wait on you hand and foot. Whatever you want to drink or whatever you want to eat, they will get it for you. If you have a question, they will answer it (or find the answer for you). If you have a special need, they will accommodate you. Best of all, the excellent service extends right to the husband. At times I felt bad asking them for something because I knew they were there to serve Sidney but they were always happy to oblige. They constantly brought me cups of ice, additional blankets, clean linens, and all the assurance in the world. After we had Sloan, the head nurse in the nursery met with me and calmed any fears that I had and explained to me that my daughter was a perfectly healthy little girl. She then proceeded to grab my phone and take photos with it of my first moments with Sloan.

This is Becky, the nurse who worked in the nursery who offered both Sidney and I great support and who took some great photos in the first minutes I had with Sloan. In this photo she is giving Sloan her first bath.

But it was the care they gave Sidney that will forever make me feel indebted to them. By no means did Sid have an easy go at it. Despite some of the difficulties she faced, the nursing staff was always in her corner. They supported her, sympathized with her, and even tried to be her nurse the next day if possible. Actual relationships developed to the point where the nurses who were no longer assigned to her would make the effort to come back to Sid’s room and check in on her. It became personal to them and we were so grateful for their kindness and authenticity. How good was this group of nurses? So good that my mother-in-law, a registered nurse herself and someone who tells it straight, raved about the job they did.

People will mumble that the care given at the hospital should always be excellent because we pay hefty prices for it. I understand where they are coming from but I mean it when I say the care given at Conway Medical Center, especially from the nursing staff, goes above and beyond that standard of excellence. To Sidney’s doctor (Dr. Collins) to our pediatrician (Dr. Sangtian) to the nurse who taught our birthing class (Tammy) to the fabulous crew of nurses who helped us out during our stay (Penny, Becky, Dixie, Tracy, Jeana, Jill, Jennifer, Tracy, Abby, Amelia, Faith)…THANK YOU. We sincerely appreciate the incredible job you did. Don’t Blink.

Long, Painful Process; Beautiful, Perfect Result

As I sit here in our living room admiring our beautiful baby daughter, it is hard to come to grips with one thing. Last week at this time, Sidney and I had gone to work and lived our lives just like any normal day. Seven days later we now live an entire different existence, one that transformed through dramatic events over the past several days. The hard part isn’t that we have our precious Sloan (hardly); rather, it is just conceptualizing the fact that the crazy delivery journey we went on started less than a week ago.

Currently I am admiring my baby daughter. Let me introduce all of my readers to Sloan.

Last Wednesday seems like forever to me. After I finished my workout I called Sidney to check up on her as she wasn’t feeling too well that morning. Expecting her to tell me that she stayed home from school or that she had started to feel better, she told me something completely different. The doctor’s office had advised her to go to the labor and delivery wing of Conway Medical Center to get checked out. I jumped in the locker room shower, got dressed, dashed into my office for two minutes, and rushed to the hospital.

Sidney was hooked up to a machine that was monitoring her blood pressure and the movements of our baby. She had also given a blood sample that was being evaluated. With Sidney in obvious discomfort, we waited about an hour until the doctor came in. When she did arrive, she gave us her recommendation…

Let’s induce.

Throughout the entire week-long saga, including throughout the C-section, I didn’t come nearly as close to passing out than at that moment. I had to ask my sister-in-law to let me sit down in her chair to gather myself for a second. Sidney, the person who should have received all the support and attention at that time, coached me to put my head between my legs and take deep breaths. The journey had just started.

The journey had just started but it would ultimately end with this beautiful girl.

Sidney would be transferred shortly thereafter to an actual labor and delivery room (we were in an exam room at the time). Once in the new digs, the failed induction process would span over three days. At around lunchtime on Friday, with the medications given to her ultimately counteracting each other resulting in only mild contractions, the decision was made to go with an unplanned C-section. By 3 p.m. on that glorious St. Patrick’s Day, we welcomed Sloan Anne Reser into the world.

We are so pleased with our daughter Sloan.

After Sloan’s birth, three more nights in the hospital followed. Although Sloan was doing great, the medical staff needed to monitor and treat Sidney. As we spent Sunday evening in our postpartum room, the final night of our stint at Conway Medical Center, it would be an understatement to say we were itching to get out of the place. Although we couldn’t be more thankful to the nurses and doctors, it was time to check out.

When Monday morning rolled around, we were so ready to go home!

Sidney and Sloan were discharged on a gorgeous, sunny Monday morning. I was a tad bit nervous driving us home but I got the job done. Taking our daughter into our house was so liberating and joyous. That night, Sidney’s family came over and we had a “Welcome Home” dinner for both “my girls.”

Sloan on her way home from the hospital.

This post was meant to just give the bare bones of our crazy and unpredictable ride. In the future I hope to write more about specific parts of our experience. But let me tell you this: Sidney was so brave throughout the entire 5+ days spent at the hospital. True to her sweet nature, she has said numerous times since we have been home that the unique ordeal was totally worth it.

Sloan is now home and we are so happy.

We are incredibly happy. Sloan has already stolen our hearts and is the sweetest baby we could have ever imagined. Sidney is still healing but she is one proud mama. We thank everyone for your constant support and we can’t say enough how great God is. Don’t Blink.

Attending A Birthing Class

My eyes were recently opened even more to a major event that will soon bless the lives of Sidney and I. Yesterday we went to Conway Medical Center, the hospital where our daughter will be born, for a birthing class. On our calendar for about a month now, we both had anxiously anticipated this all-day event as an opportunity to become more accustomed to what we could expect on the big day. With the stork marking the spot on the door we were supposed to enter, we quickly found the location where we would spend the next six hours.

With the stork marking the spot, we walked through this door to enter our birthing class at Conway Medical Center.

By the time the class was called to order at 9 a.m., we were surrounded by five other couples. The 12 of us (or 18 of us depending how you look at it) would be under the direction of a labor and delivery nurse named Tammy. A 37-year-vet of this type of nursing, we knew we were in good hands with her. Nurse Tammy opened the session with a pep talk on how the women in the room were more than capable of the monumental task of giving birth while also stressing the importance us guys play in our role as “coaches.”

Then the movies started. Throughout the day, we watched videos that followed various couples around as they navigated the realm of childbirth. Filmed in an educational/documentary style, Nurse Tammy showed clips that addressed preparing for the hospital, prelabor signs, true vs. false labor, onset of labor, labor itself, the different types of birth, medication options, and postpartum care.

A look at the layout of our birthing class. You can see three of the five couples that joined us. Nurse Tammy is up front starting a video. Our class took place at Conway Medical Center.

It was a lot to take in but the clips were broken up and we had a discussion after each one. The biggest eye opening part for me? In my life, I had never watched a woman give birth before, whether it be through the natural process or through a Cesarean. These videos made no qualms about showing the miracle of life in an up close and personal manner. When I walked out the door at the end of the day, I knew exactly what it looks like for a baby to enter the world.

Of course it wasn’t just videos and discussions though. Nurse Tammy took us on a tour of The Birth Place, the place at Conway Medical Center where we will have our baby. We strolled through the entire wing, walked inside a delivery room, met the staff, and looked at a postpartum room. While on this tour we had the opportunity to view all the room amenities such as the retractable mirror on the wall, the rollout bed for the husband, and the monitoring system used by nursing staff to insure that we are never alone in case we need something.

The opportunity to tour The Birth Place at Conway Medical Center was very much appreciated. I took this photo as we followed the other couples into the facility.

We also learned breathing exercises. Although one of the videos covered it as well, Nurse Tammy took time to offer us some breathing hints for when labor comes. She also gave us some massage techniques and stretching exercises that can help reduce stress and relieve pain for the mom.

A couple more photos of us touring The Birth Place at Conway Medical Center.

Toward the end of the day, Nurse Tammy brought out what she called her “toys.” She showed us an epidural tray, a skeleton of the pelvis, a vacuum extractor, a catheter, and several other instruments. It was cool to see these things right in front of us. Nurse Tammy explained that “knowledge is power” and that it is important to be familiar with some of the tools we will encounter while in the delivery room.

In the days leading up to the birthing class, Sidney joked that I was most excited about the free lunch and snacks advertised on the registration form. The free food did not disappoint! Fruit, graham crackers, and juice/water were offered in the classroom throughout the day. However, the best part was the lunch. They let us loose in the cafeteria and allowed us to get whatever we wanted. I hauled out a tray that included pasta, turkey, cornbread, and pudding. I told Sid that the lunch itself pretty much paid for the class!

Sidney and I enjoying our time at the birthing class.

But the complimentary food wasn’t what I wrote down as the best part of the day. When I filled out the evaluation, I noted that the biggest strength of the class was the opportunity for Q&A with Nurse Tammy. Throughout the day, and especially at the end, we could ask questions about anything and everything. Sidney asked a lot of great questions and the other couples asked some really good ones as well. Nothing was off limits and it was very nice to have a person who has seen it all through four decades in nursing give us truthful and compassionate answers.

The birthing class was worth the time and investment. I thank Conway Medical Center and Nurse Tammy for preparing us for an upcoming major event in our lives. Don’t Blink.