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Life Doesn’t Care You’re a Lawyer

Feb 27, 2019

“The pitocin isn’t working as expected and the baby’s heart rate doesn’t have the variability it should by this point. In this recent cervical check I was unable to stimulate a response from the baby. My advise is that we need to perform a non-emergent C-Section as soon as the OR is available. We are concerned for the health of your baby and will have the NICU team present to immediately stabilize your child. Do you have any questions?”

Wait.

What about skin to skin.

For some stupid reason that’s all I could remember from the myriad of classes and meetings I had attended. Nothing. Nope, nothing else. 

“Ok. If no other questions, do I have your consent to proceed as advised?”

Brina and I lock eyes and nod at each other in agreement. I look at the OB and say, “we are fans of science. If that’s what is best let’s do it.” I look at Brina and give her my best wry smile and we march into the most stressful hour of our life.

Life simply does not care you are a lawyer. Despite all your work, planning, Type A manic control issues it could care less about giving you authority on the most primal of situations. On the morning of February 1st, I realized I was absolutely helpless to do anything other than comfort my wife in her Herculean struggle to wrest life from the ether. I would have to trust that our team of medical professionals (essentially wizards, definitely made use of potions, etc…) had the situation under control. I simply did not.

Control is something that we deeply fight for as lawyers. Oliver Wendell Holmes, the titan we all recognize from law school, famously said the law was a prediction. We are essentially predicting for our clients what certain outcomes might occur regarding their specific issues. Then we execute and implement those predictions in an ever changing world. I used to think that the best attorneys had it all figured out. They could predict it all. That they just knew what was going to happen. But that’s not it. That’s just one part. We don’t live in the future. We can plan throughly but have to accept the chaos that is inherent in existence; dreams fail, children are born, family and friends pass away, seasons change regardless of whatever we do. The best have a prediction but understand it’s all subject to change at a moment’s notice.

Wheeling into the OR, my wife violently shaking due to low blood pressure, and my unborn child being non-responsive, I found myself face to face with the first true fear of my life. What would I do if lost one of them? Both of them? It would just be over. I simply couldn’t go on. I am not a religious person but in that moment I promised my maker I would be a better man if I could just make it through the next few minutes. I took a deep breath, smiled at my wife who had just been moved onto the operating table. In kinda looked like a T so they could literally tie her arms down with her head facing up.  A curtain went up making a barrier just below her neck  inhibiting our view of the surgical team. I put my phone on by her head with the LA LA Land soundtrack on, rested my forehead against hers, and my fingers tapping on her temples in rhythm to the sound of the machine beeps.  We couldn’t help but listen to all the surgical work going on inches away. The NICU team was in place and I heard all the sudden that he was out. They dropped the curtain and held him up. He looked completely limp and blue like a baby zombie. Then with a deep primal turn of a switch, his little hands shot up, his eyes rolled into the back of his head and he jolted to life by letting out an incredibly high pitch squeal. Brina and I sobbed uncontrollably as the NICU team rushed him to their crash cart. What about skin to skin I thought? Seconds, if not an eternity, passed. Finally, they motion me over to the crash cart where he was currently screaming his heart out. “It’s Art right? He is gonna be just fine. Weighs 7 lbs 13 oz. Want to hold him?” I ripped off my shirt and got my skin to skin.

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Hamilton Wingo, LLP

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