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.