On May 24, 2016 at 11:04 AM, my life was inextricably combined with a little girl. She was born weighting 6 pounds 14 ounces, 19.5 inches long, and a 12 inch diameter noggin’. I’m officially a Brand New Papa.
Here is the birth story from dad’s point of view. It started on Monday night around 7 pm. My wife said she was having some lower back pain. At first she though maybe she had done too much that day. Her parents were in town and she had helped them move some items we were storing in our basement. They walked around and went out for lunch and dinner. Later she changed her mind and said tonight might be the night.
Talk about an anxiety inducing moment. We had talked about the birth for months. We had taken the Lamaze birthing classes and gone to the breastfeeding class. It was always in the back of our minds. Nothing can prepare you for that moment. I was excited and terrified at the same time.
We decided to take it easy, eat a snack, and go to be early. We would both need our energy if it really was the night. My wife had dreamed of a quick labor like her mom and some friends. They had gone to bed with bit of pain, awoke early morning, went to the hospital and had a baby a two or three hours later. We weren’t so lucky.
My wife had a fitful sleep until around 12:30 AM. She could no longer sleep, so she got up without waking me. She paced around the house for a few hours until 2:00 AM. She then came back to the bedroom and sat next to me. I stirred from my slumber. She told me, “I think its time.” Her contractions were about 4 minutes apart.
I said, “Okay, lets go.” We got up and went to the kitchen. I had a quick snack, and she ate a piece of buttered toast. She needed to keep her energy up – once you get to the hospital, preggers can’t eat. We packed a few things we didn’t already have in the car, and off we went to the hospital.
We arrived and went up to the triage unit. They checked out my wife, took her vitals, checked the baby. She was 4 centimeters dilated. The admitted us and told us to walk the halls until our room was ready. We paced and paced and paced the hallways. My wife’s contractions were getting steadily stronger. At first she was able to keep walking, then she had to pause. After a bit, she had to stop and hold onto the handrail in the hallway. Finally, I had to apply strong pressure to her lower back to help with the pain. After about 1.5 hours, we made our way back to the delivery room. The nurse checked her again, and she was 5.5 centimeters dilated.
We labored on the birthing ball for a little bit, since it was the only position my wife could stand. The whole time I was applying as much pressure to her lower back as I physically could. My wrists and hands were aching and on fire from the pressure. I kept with it, trying to imagine the pain my wife was going through. After another 45 minutes or so, the nurse came back to check on us. My wife asked for the epidural. The nurse checked her again, she had made it to 6 centimeters with all back labor. She is a strong woman.
They administered the epidural, and said to give it a few minutes to take effect. After about 30 minutes, my wife wasn’t doing much better. She was numbed on the front of her belly, but still suffering from a large amount of back pain. The epidural made things worse because it limited her mobility. She could no longer stand or use the birthing ball. She could only lay in the bed on her back or her side. The WORST possible thing for back labor is to lay on your back. She asked the nurse if there was anything we could do. The nurse acted a little shocked and said, “Well, epidurals usually don’t work for back labor.” Thanks for nothing! Why didn’t you tell us that before we jammed a needle in her spine!
The nurse anesthetist came back around to check on my wife. We explained the situation, so she made some modification to the dosing of the epidural. It helped my wife immensely! She was able to relax a bit, which according to the nurse helps speed labor along. She wasn’t able to really sleep, but she could rest a bit between strong contractions. We rotated her position every 30 to 60 minutes to keep her and the baby moving. She labored this way for a few hours. Around 9:30 AM, my wife started to feel a pressure in her belly and a need to push. We called the nurse. The moment was nigh.
The nurse checked my wife. She was 10 centimeters and 100% effaced. She gave us the option to “labor down” for a bit since the baby was still a little high. We decided to wait for a bit. After 20 minutes, my wife couldn’t wait any more. She had a strong urge to push. We called the nurse back in and prepared the bed for pushing. The nurse prepped everything, and reminded my wife how to properly push. With her legs up in the air and hands on the grips, she made the first push effort at 10:00 AM! Uhhhh….where is the doctor? It was just my wife, the nurse and me! What if something goes wrong?!
After the first session of pushing the nurse said should could see the baby’s head. She invited me to look. I poked my nose down ‘tween my wife’s nether regions and low and behold! Oh My God! There is a baby’s head in my wife’s vagina! OMG I can see the head! Its so hairy! I was blown away. Suddenly, everything became very real. We were having a baby. No doubts about that. And a hairy one to boot.
We continued our pushing effort. I helped my wife as much as I could by coaching her and encouraging her when I saw progress. I’ve never seen a woman work so hard. She was a champ. I welled up with tears watching her struggle to birth my child. I cannot put into words how that felt.
During the fourth pushing session, we encountered some trouble. The baby’s heart rate begin to rapidly drop. The nurse had my wife stop pushing immediately and sat back. We were on pins and needles, waiting for her heart rate to climb back up. They finally called for a doctor. The resident was in another birth, delivering twins. They put my wife on oxygen and put a direct heart rate sensor on the baby’s head for more accurate readings. Her heart rate began to stabilize after a few minutes. The resident came rushing in, the nurse explained vitals were returning to normal and we probably didn’t need him. He was pissed.
We resumed pushing, again without a doctor. I was floored. We just had a terrifying few minutes where the health and safety of my baby was at risk, and we are continuing without a doctor? Da Fuck?! Whatever, my wife was ready, the baby’s head was getting close. Another session of pushing, a bit more progress. Finally, the doctor from her practice showed up and took control. The situation was explained and we moved forward. She pushed again. The baby’s head started to crown, the popped back in. The baby’s hair was hanging out. I couldn’t help but laugh. We’d birthed the hair!
A few more tough pushes, a quick cut and some tearing, and the baby’s head was out. I saw my daughter’s face for the first time and she started to wail! Another push and a quick tug, and the baby was born. She was crying, crying, crying. I had tears streaming down my face as I saw my baby girl for the first time. She was covered in slim and bloody goop, but she was my beautiful little girl.
The nurses wiped her down and immediately handed her to my wife. I was instructed to cut the cord. I did it with tears in my eyes, it was all a blur. It was surprisingly hard to cut, like a thick rubber hose. We admired our baby girl, took pictures, and all three of us cried together. It was an amazing and beautiful moment. They let momma snuggle her in kangaroo care for 1 hour, then took her for examination and more wipe downs. They got her weight, height, vitamin K injection and vitals. She was health and beautiful. Finally, it was dad’s turn to hold her. I held her in my arms, beaming down at her for 45 minutes before they moved us to the postpartum room. My girl cried to the whole time.
So, after 15 hours of labor, 1 hour of pushing, and one terrifying moment, the last nine months came to a close.
A whole new journey that will last a lifetime is just beginning.
I’m a brand new papa.