Leah’s Birth Story – The “Coach’s” Perspective

August 14, 2013

My husband is guest posting on my blog today! He’s written up the rarely-heard husband/birth coach’s perspective on Leah’s birth story.

I woke up on Friday, August 2nd to the sound of our 2 year old asking for Mommy. It took me a while to realize what was going on (I’m a good sleeper). Usually my wife will hear him first, and check to make sure everything is okay. It’s not usually until later I hear about him waking up the night before.

I rolled over and noticed that my wife was “missing,” got up, went into our son’s room, and settled him back down. It was only 5am after all. Since my alarm usually goes off only 20 minutes later to tell me it’s time for work, I didn’t bother going back to bed. Instead, I went downstairs to find Sarah sitting at the computer.

I asked her what she was doing, and her response was “I’ve been having contractions since about 2:30.” My immediate thought was that she has having the fake kind (not even going to try to spell it). But when she continued to tell me that they were about 3 minutes apart, I was a little concerned, and a little angry that she didn’t wake me up. I’m the coach after all. I should be involved, uhh, coaching and stuff. But the anger didn’t last long, concern took over. They told us that we were supposed to call the doctor when contractions were 5 minutes apart, and here they were at 3 minutes apart. She said she didn’t know what to do, and I told (asked. You don’t tell a woman who’s 9 months pregnant anything) her to call her doctor. It was a short conversation, and we were instructed to go to the hospital if the contractions lasted for another 30 minutes.

About 15 minutes later, I figured we were going to be going to the hospital, so I started to get packed up. Packing includes getting together our son’s menagerie of stuffed “aminals” that accompany him to bed every night. I can’t remember if our hospital bag was already in the car, but I do know that our son’s overnight bag was already in there, so packing up was easy. I picked up our son and his fluffy friends, maybe a bag, and off to the hospital we went.

My wife’s mother and sister met us there. We switched cars, and they took our son home with them. Into the ER we went, and off to Labor and Delivery we were directed. Once we got up to Labor and Delivery, they took us into a triage room, where they asked my wife for the obligatory “sample” and commenced hooking my wife up to the series of electrical whiz bangs that usually accompany a birth.

Everything looked “normal,” but contractions were starting to slow down, so they pumped my wife full of sugar and sent us walking. My first thought was “Wait. They’re telling us to leave? If we’re supposed to call the doc when contractions are 5 minutes apart, and currently contractions are 3 minutes apart, how in the hell are we supposed to know when to come back?”  Luckily, they just meant for us to take a scenic tour of what I’ll call the Labor and Delivery circuit, which is no more than a big loop around the unit: Door, door, open door, turn left, door, rinse, repeat. . . for an hour.

Once our circuit was complete and my wife laid back down, the contractions diminished, and the doctor came in. She was talking about centimeters, and apparently there were not enough centimeters for my wife to be admitted. So they really did send us walking. This time, out the front door.

Luckily my wife’s parents lived close by, so we went over there to see our son and relax while we were waiting for things to progress. We did this instead of going home, thankfully. We hung out, had some snacks, walked more, and just kind of sat there. . . waiting.

I asked (remember, no telling) Sarah if she’d like to lay down and try to get at least a little rest. She had been up since about 2:30 and she was nearly falling asleep in between contractions at the kitchen table. Thankfully she agreed. Within minutes of her lying down, the contractions began to get more painful, and before long she was in, what, to an outside observer looked like, quite a bit of pain. She then said that she was going to call her doctor.

Her doctor’s office asked that she come into the office for an exam before we went to the hospital. I guess this was to save some admittance/discharge paperwork in case this was another false alarm. Sarah was visibly upset about this turn of events, but there’s really nothing we could have done except get in the car and go. It was 2:23pm. I tried, between avoiding other object traveling at 55mph, merging, stopping, and yielding, to time contractions and telling (asking) Sarah to breathe. I failed. . . at the timing part, not the other stuff, thankfully. I had a rough idea of how far apart the contractions were, but not an exact number, and I had absolutely no idea how long the contractions were. They should really start making car clocks with second hands for this exact reason.

We got to her doctor’s office, and walked into the office, stopping every couple of minutes for a contraction. It took an unsettling amount of time for them to get Sarah into a room once we got into the office. Sarah was afraid she was going to scare all of the expectant moms in the waiting room. I really wasn’t paying attention to anything except telling (asking) Sarah to breathe and letting her hold on to me during the contractions. She got checked out by a nurse (or nurse practitioner – not sure which) and since she had “progressed,” we were now allowed to go back to the hospital.

More avoiding speeding objects, yielding, etc. . .

Once we arrived (again) at the ER, the receptionist called up to Labor and Delivery to let them know we were headed up. There was some, what I’ll call craziness because I can think of no other way to describe it, between the ER receptionist and the Labor and Delivery receptionist. They wanted to know how to spell Sarah’s last name. They wanted her birth date, and probably some other info. They wanted this info while she was having contractions. The very intelligent and thoughtful ER receptionist wrote up our tags, and told us to “just go,” at which point I was a bit relieved that we wouldn’t have to perform the admittance dance while my wife gave birth in the ER waiting room.

We quickly and somehow slowly, and through more contractions, made our way up to Labor and Delivery where we were told that there were no rooms available, but they were nice enough to offer my wife a luxurious office chair to sit in while she struggled through what I’m assuming is the most excruciating pain (up until this point) of her entire life.

A nurse came over to quickly check Sarah, and ask if she was okay. Sarah asked if they could get started on the epidural now. The response from the nurse was “well, you can ask. . .” Now, I’m not sure if there was some sort of woman to woman ESP or mind meld, or if Sarah had given her the “I will kill you where you stand face,” but our nurse immediately went off. We found out a few minutes later that she left in a hurry to clean a room herself. No tech or janitor. The nurse cleaned and prepared the room by herself.

Sarah had another very painful contraction, and whispered that she was pushing and couldn’t help it. I told (asked) her not to push, and let the Labor and Delivery receptionist know that my wife felt like she needed to push. She immediately hung up the phone with an “I’ve got to go. I have an emergency.”

You’re damned right you’ve got an emergency. The receptionist said that she was impressed that I was so calm. My response was simple. “I’m not the one in pain here.” In retrospect, I’m not sure if I was a) calm, b) in some state of shock, or c) simply in denial, but I’m doubtful it was option “a.”

The nurse came back and she wheeled my wife, in the office chair, to the room we would completely and utterly destroy in about the same amount of time it took for her  to clean it. They quickly got Sarah into the bed and hooked up to an IV.

I have no idea how far apart the contractions were at this point, only that Sarah was in a lot (understatement) of pain, and she wanted to exercise her inalienable right to an epidural. The nurse argued with the anesthesiologist (yay for spell check) as to why Sarah needed an epidural now, not once she had ingested a bag of vein juice. The anesthesiologist won this round as the doctor walked into the room.

She examined my wife and said something like “You’re doing great. Only a few more big pushes and she’ll be out.” I’m not sure how much of a delay there was between that and Sarah saying “Let’s just go,” but it felt like forever. There was no way there would be time to get the epidural, and I didn’t want to have to be the one to convince Sarah of this unfortunate fact.

Holy Crap! We’re doing this without drugs. I never imagined this would happen. My last “coaching” experience was pretty simple. Keep Sarah company until she had progressed far enough and the contractions got painful enough to warrant an epidural. Then listen to the epidural-induced babbling until it was time to push. Really only an assistant coach position.

So, I’ve been promoted to head coach, we’re in the big game, and it’s time for the real deal. All I can really remember is telling (asking) Sarah to breathe and push. I’m not sure I can overstate how easy the coach’s job is in comparison, but let’s just say there really is no comparison. I don’t know how many times Sarah pushed. I don’t know how much pain she was in. I don’t know what was going through her head when she said “Let’s just go,” but only a few pushes, and Sarah gave birth to a little baby boy. . .

“He’s beautiful,” the nurse said. Wait. WHAT!  Um, I think you’re missing an ‘s.’ It’s a ‘she,’ right? Otherwise our new baby boy is going to develop a complex from all of the pink and purple crap we’re going to dress him in. “Oh yeah. You’re right. I just saw all that stuff dangling down there and assumed it was a boy. It’s definitely a girl.” Now I’m sure there are some overly joyous fathers who have mistaken an umbilical cord for their son’s dangly bits, but for a nurse to do it? Really? Do you even know how to anatomy?

Sarah gave birth to Leah at 4:22pm on August 2nd, 2013. . . WITHOUT DRUGS! For all of you women out there who plan on doing it this way, more power to ya. You’re awesome. For those of you who have to change the plays in the middle of the game, you freaking rock. Rockstars, every last one of ya.

Now, I’ve been hit where no man ever wants to be hit, and I’ve even had a kidney stone, which some compare to giving birth, and I can officially say that neither of those (as they happened to me) can even come close to what Sarah went through. I don’t think I could have been as impressed, in awe of, or as proud of my wife as I was in that moment when she said “Let’s just go.” And then she did, and in the process, amended my previous thought.

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Leah’s Birth Story

August 8, 2013

Our daughter, Leah Caroline, was born this past Friday! She arrived at 37 weeks 5 days gestation weighing 8lbs 7ozs and measuring 20 inches long. Her birth story couldn’t be more different from Caelan’s. There was no sleeping through transition this time! We are so happy to finally be home with both of our kids. Leah’s birth story…It’s really long, fair warning!

LeahBirthCollage

I woke up at 2:30am on Friday August 2nd to mild/moderate contractions. I timed the contractions for a couple hours and they were 3 minutes apart. I got up and logged into work to tie up something and send an email to let them know I wouldn’t be in that day. Around 5am Bill got up to get ready for work and I told him about the contractions. I wasn’t sure what to do because the contractions would kind of fizzle out if I got up to walk which isn’t normally the case for real labor contractions. Bill encouraged me to call my doctor, so I did and they told me to come to the hospital if the contractions stayed the same for the next half hour. We got Caelan in the car and we met my mom and sister (who happened to be in town visiting) in the hospital parking lot. They took Caelan home and we headed in.

They checked me in triage and I was at 1cm and 50% effaced. After some juice, a popcicle, and a long walk around the L&D unit the contractions were getting stronger but were still about 3 minutes apart. They checked me again and I was up to 3cm and 70% effaced, but when I laid down the contractions spaced out to 5-6 minutes apart. Dr. Richards came in and she said there was no reason that I needed to stay here and that I could go home. We were told to come back when my contractions got back to 3 minutes apart or if my water broke.

I was really disappointed but we headed over to my parents’ house so we could see Caelan and be closer to the hospital if/when we needed to go back. We got there around 10am. I tried to stay on my feet and keep walking, but I was so exhausted. When I walked around the contractions picked up to 3 minutes apart again, but as soon as I sat down, they spaced out to 7-10 minutes apart. I was ready to give up and take a nap. Around 1:30pm, I sat down and the contractions were around 7 minutes apart and started getting pretty painful. I called my doctor’s office when they got to be 5 minutes apart and they told me to come into the office to be checked.

We left my parents’ house at 2:23pm. Bill took note of the time because he was timing the contractions. Spoiler: Leah would be born almost exactly 2 hours later.

The contractions were irregular, coming anywhere from 1-7 minutes apart, but they were excruciating. I was sobbing and forgetting to breathe. Bill was trying to keep me focused on breathing. I kept thinking and saying “Why aren’t we at the hospital??” At the doctor’s office, I was 4-5cm and we got the go-ahead to go back to the hospital.

We arrived at the L&D unit at the hospital at about 3:30pm and it was packed (though it had seemed empty that morning). We had to sit in the hallway and wait for a room to get cleaned for me. At this point, the contractions were out of control and right on top of each other and I realized I was pushing (involuntarily) with each one of them. My nurse went to help clean the room herself so I could get in there ASAP. Finally, she pushed me down the hall in a desk chair and into the delivery room. Dr. Richards was there to check me and I was at 8cm. Transition. This is where I never wanted to be without an epidural. I begged for one and they said they’d try but I needed to have a bag of fluids in first. They started an IV and did everything they could to get the fluids in but I realized there wasn’t going to be time. I was screaming and pushing with every contraction even though they told me not to. Dr. Richards kept saying that this was the worst part and that pushing would actually be a relief so I tried to focus on that. Of course Bill was still there next to me, telling me how great I was doing and encouraging me the whole time. I overheard a nurse say “…my patient in room 12 is about to deliver…” and I thought…Me? I’m about to deliver?? I’m that close? About 15 minutes after the first check, Dr. Richards checked me again and I was at 10cm. She looked at me like she was wondering how I would respond to this news. “Let’s just go, let’s do it,” I said. I didn’t care about the epidural anymore. I wasn’t scared to have to deliver her med-free, despite the fact that I never EVER even considered a med-free birth. I just wanted her OUT as quickly as possible.

I pushed for maybe 10 minutes. It was not a relief. She was right there but her shoulder was stuck. Bill and the nurses were all around me helping me push and the nurses were trying to reposition the baby’s shoulders so she could be born. I have never screamed so loud in my life and I’m sure the whole floor could hear me. It was the longest 10 minutes but then she was out at 4:22pm. The pain was gone immediately. They placed her on my chest for a second and I reached for her but she looked really blue and didn’t cry. Someone cut the cord and whisked her away saying “We just need to check him out for a minute.” The nursery nurses worked on her and she cried within a minute and pinked up. I asked “Did they say HIM? Isn’t it a GIRL?” They checked, and laughed, and said she definitely was a girl and in the hurry they just didn’t get a close look. Her APGARS were 7 and 8 and a NICU doctor checked her out to make sure that there wasn’t any damage to her shoulders or any issues with her delayed breathing, which there wasn’t.

I was so far beyond exhausted at this point that I just laid there and watched them work on Leah across the room. I was hoping they *wouldn’t* bring her over to me because I did not have the energy to even lift my arms, let alone hold a baby. I have never been so physically exhausted in my life. Bill was still beside me where he had been the whole time, still telling me I did so great and that I was a rockstar.

Finally they wrapped Leah up and brought her to me to hold. She was a big girl at 8lbs 7oz and just over 2 weeks early. She was exactly 1lb bigger than Caelan, but the same length. Bill and I laughed when we saw her make a pouty face that reminded us so much of Caelan. Already, just minutes later, the birth seemed blurry. I kept saying I couldn’t believe that just happened. Those super fast 2nd births you hear about? That really happened to me! 5cm to the birth in 1.5 hours – insane. I didn’t cry when she was born. I was so relieved that the labor and delivery was over and I could finally just rest. Her birth was so much more chaotic than Caelan’s birth was. We stayed in the hospital the standard 2 nights and came home on Sunday August 4th.

EDIT: I want to include this part here, even though it’s not technically part of her birth story. Though we did get discharged from the hospital on Sunday August 4th, Leah was readmitted to the pediatric ER on Tuesday August 5th around 2am. We had taken her to the pediatrician on Monday and after a thoroughly traumatic attempt to draw blood from her heel and a STAT check on her bilirubin level, we got a call at 9pm that we should take her back to the hospital because her level had risen. I was in tears. We had just spent all day trying to leave the hospital and now we had to go back?! Bill’s parents met us at the hospital and took Caelan home with them. I felt extra guilty that we kept shipping him off. In the ER, it took 2 nurses forever to get an IV into Leah’s arm for yet another blood draw. When they finally moved us to a room and got Leah in her isolette and under the bili lights, it was 2am and there was only room for one parent to stay. Leah seemed to be nice and warm and peaceful sleeping under the lights, so maybe this whole experience was much harder on me than it was on her. Finally, by the next evening her level had dropped enough that we could take her home. She had no further problems after that.