The Bubble Team Meets Dr. Doom and Gloom

The following from my column “The Dad Navigates Troubled Waters” was originally seen in the East Sacramento News from Valley Community Newspapers


The Bubble Team Meets Dr. Doom and Gloom

August 16, 2018

By Steve DeBenedetti-Emanuel

Captain Mommy (my wife Stephanie) and I did the pregnancy thing exactly as we wanted. We did the birthing classes and had the sling ready. The cloth diapers were stocked and ready to go. We interviewed pediatricians and had a birthing coach. We chose a country hospital because they had a significantly lower rate of C-sections than the main hospital. We didn’t learn the gender. We were ready to go.

Just like every other first time parents, we didn’t exactly know how parenting was going to go. But I’m a Marriage and Family Therapist who had worked with kids for 20 years. Captain Mommy is a pro with kids and also had her 20 years in. We figured we’d have it covered.

So the labor thing went as planned. Or at least it’s easy to say that as the dad. Regardless, things were perfect. Captain Mommy was a champ, and we had a little girl. Clare. But upon further review, we had a KD. I cut the cord, which was much chewier than I’d anticipated, and we were off and running.

But then we weren’t. A couple hours after birth, KD developed some breathing struggles. It didn’t seem like a big deal, but it was enough to have the on-call doctor come in. He eventually decided it wasn’t a big deal and went home. Back to our room we went. Fortunately, right before she closed the door for the night, the brilliant, observant nurse noticed that things just weren’t right, and she called the doctor back in. Next thing we knew it, the bubble team (a.k.a. paramedics) arrived. This was not part of the plan…

Little known fact: if an infant is transported from one hospital to the other, that can’t go to the NICU if they’ve been in outside air. So, they threw him into this clear plastic, coffin looking thing, and off they went. Fortunately, the bubble didn’t pop.

Fast forward an hour or so… KD was thrown on this clear plastic “crib,” that didn’t look very comfy. No soft music. No mobiles. No slings. No nursery. No nothing. Instead it was bright lights, tons of beeps and incessant background chatter, and this machine that made him breathe 160 times/minute to help keep his lungs clear. They didn’t tell us about all these machines in the birthing classes. This was not part of the plan.

At some point, Captain Mommy and I needed to lie down. Fortunately, they had this little “bedroom” adjacent to the NICU for the parents of the sickest kids. Granted, the sheets weren’t 800-thread count, and the mattress wasn’t a pillow top, but we were grateful to be close to him and get real time updates.

And early on, the real time update wasn’t pleasant. His doctor stopped by with room service and we talked for about 60 seconds. 90% of the conversation was a blur, but I do remember him saying that our son was very sick. Thanks, doc, I hadn’t noticed. Since I’m a nickname guy, from then on he was Dr. Doom and Gloom.

When we parents are expecting, we have a vision in our mind’s eye of what it’s going to be like to bring home a healthy baby. It’s what we prepare for. We were not prepared for the bubble team and Dr. Doom and Gloom. But in the end, you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.

Until next time…


A reminder: my ten week’s men’s counseling group begins on Monday, September 10. It’s a place where men can talk about the hard stuff like spouses/significant others, parenting, work stress, etc. without the pressure of outside influences. For more information, please call at 916-919-0218.


Steve is a Marriage and Family Therapist, working in Midtown. To learn more about him, check out his website: Or find him on FB at River City Counseling or on Twitter@rivercitysteve


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