Sunday, April 08, 2007

Roan's Birth Story - Chapter 1: The Denver Bomb Squad

So hello again everybody. I know many of you have been curious to hear how things are changing for our new little family. It's proven more difficult than I expected to find time to sit down and blog. As it turns out Roan nurses every 2 hours for about an hour at a time. So out of every 24 hours, there go 12 right off the top. Then when you subtract 5 or so more for sleep, it doesn't leave much time for anything else.

But suffice it to say that we are adjusting very well to our new life. Having my mom and Arwen's mom and of course Jen here has been a tremendous help. Since I have been recovering from unexpected surgery, it's made the first few days even more of a challenge than I expected. But with their help, our house has stayed clean, laundry has been washed and we have been well fed. We definitely could not have made it without them.

So anyway, more about our new life in days to come. But I didn't want to let any more time pass without getting down in black and white the story of Roan's birth. It was a nail biter the whole way through. It's a lit of a long story though. So I thought I'd try and tell it one chapter at a time. It all starts on April Fool's Day with a call to the Denver bomb squad.

You might recall I was starting to get discouraged being overdue and having the threat of induction looming. I tried some suggestions our midwives and friends made to help get labor kickstarted, and sure enough it worked. Around midnight on Sunday, April Fool's Day, I started feeling some mild contractions. When I began timing them I was surprised that they were coming 4 minutes apart! They were so mild I knew this was just the very beginning of early labor, but I was elated. Somehow even with the distraction of contractions I still managed to get some good sleep. I knew I'd need my rest.

The next day I took things slow. We knew that those early stages can last from 12-48 hours, and sometimes they just stop altogether and get started again days later. I stayed in bed most of the morning resting, not sure what lay ahead. Little did I know things were about to get very interesting.

Arwen came into the room quietly around noon and gently woke me up. I could tell he wanted to say something but wasn't sure how to say it. In a calm, quiet voice he said, "Sweetie, I need you to go ahead and get up and leave the house for a little while with my mom and your sister." I'm thinking, Is this man crazy? I'm in freaking labor over here! He continued, "I found something in our attic that needs to be removed but I don't want to touch it." He paused. I was thinking Gross! There's a dead body in our attic! And then things got really weird.

"There's a box in the attic that has what looks like a pipe bomb in it." Although it was April Fool's Day, this was no joke on Arwen's part. He had been in the attic organizing things and found what looked like an old metal army box under some sheetrock he removed. He had thought, "Oh cool, maybe there'll be some old letters or something cool in here." He flipped the lid open and found a pipe bomb instead.

He sat back, took a deep breath, and started making mental notes about what he was looking at. He saw that the pipe was made of the right material, was of plausible proportions, and the inside of the box had been lined with cottony material to prevent sparking. He noticed it didn't have a fuse, but knew it could have a mercury switch or chemical timer to set it off. There was a handwritten label taped to the outside that said something to the effect of "High Explosive, Do Not Tamper or Drop."

So Arwen's mom, Jen, the dogs and I evacuated the house while Arwen waited outside for the police to arrive. We went to the park and briefly walked the dogs, just as Jen's husband Micah rolled into Denver from Miami in a 26 foot truck containing all their worldy posessions. What a crazy day. My contractions had grown stronger at this point and fairly regular at about 6 minutes apart. The whole situation seemed so absurd all we could do was laugh about it.

We ended up heading over to a sidewalk cafe, getting Micah some lunch and sitting outside for a couple of hours. At least I had a chair to sit in, a bathroom nearby, and a street scene to keep me distracted from the growing discomfort I was feeling. Arwen called Jen and filled her in on what was happening back at the house - with strict instructions not to relay the information to me.

At this point the bomb squad, two firetrucks, several police cars and a news van had arrived. They had cordoned off our block and pretty much every one of our neighbors were standing in their front yards wondering "What's up with the new people?" Dozens of experts had paraded through our house and near as they could tell, the alleged bomb seemed like it could be the real thing. One of the bomb squad guys pointed out that 99% of the time when you see a handwritten label, it's a fake. But they had seen cases where savvy bomb makers put a handwritten label on a bonafide device to throw the bomb squad off, they end up moving it and someone gets killed.

Were this to be the case with the bomb in our attic, it was of sufficient size that it would kill the dude in the bomb suit moving it. They weren't willing to take that risk, so the only option left was to try to diffuse it in place. They explained that if the bomb proved to be real, we would probably be blowing some holes in our attic. Arwen said the various emergency response folks seemed very competent and professional, but there seemed also to be an element of boyscout about them. They all sort of milled about having a good time. "My wife is in labor down the street, and you're telling me you might blow a hole in my new house?" Uh yessir, that is correct. "Well come on then, let's get the show on the road."

Meanwhile I was growing decidedly uncomfortable. We had migrated over to my friend Amanda's house to wait for the call from Arwen. I was starting to have a harder time at this point, and I really did not enjoy being away from my coach. It's not easy to sit there with contractions and keep making polite conversation. But before too long we got the good word that all was safe back at home.

The bomb squad had evacuated our nextdoor neighbors and one of the fire crews had a hose fully charged and aimed at our house. They set up a contraption in our attic, sort of a shot gun on a tripod. They shot a single clay bullet at one end of the pipe bomb, risking igniting its contents but diffusing any pressure inside, thereby eliminating the possibility of explosion.

After the dust cleared, the bomb squad took a closer look and was surprised to find a number of other details the maker had included. They used a cardboard liner whose purpose is to insulate the gunpowder from sparks and friction. The threads had also been lined with glue as if to prevent the them from sparking when screwing the ends together. Basically it would've been a very dangerous bomb had its one key ingredient not been missing: black powder.

So, you know, all's well that ends well, but we certainly should have taken this as an omen that little Roan's entrance into this world would be an explosive one.


Anonymous said...

Only Arwen would be digging around in the attic when his wife was in labor....

Anyway, Roan's the bomb...


Anonymous said...

Wow! Soap Operas don't have this much suspence and drama. Thank goodness you live with a hero.

Love, GGD

Joy said...

Oh my gosh! You've got me rolling on the floor. I hope my labor is nowhere near as exciting :)

Anonymous said...

we thought this was a joke and after reading it we are too dumbfounded to comment.
heart - jough and sarah

Anonymous said...

When can we buy the hard-back version of your soon to be best seller memoir? Running with Scissors was boring compared to this! Bob kept saying, "who lived in that house? and What kind of house did they buy?"

Kisses to all you brave souls, including to all your sweet helpers!

love, mv

Anonymous said...

I love it! I'm so happy for you guys...she's beautiful! and just remember...nursing WILL get easier and less frequent. those first couple of weeks are the worst!

love you guys!