Happy Tuesday to you! Phillip has written a very special post for you all today. Many mama blogs feature the amazing and intimate birth stories of their children from their perspective. And indeed, a very important perspective. But what about the birth partner? Or the father? Or other mother? While we are in the midst of one of the most incredible jobs of our life, there is our partner trying to work us through it. A perspective WE as mothers don’t know about. What goes through their mind? Childbirth is anything but black and white and every person and birth is ultimately unique. We set out to birth our child in the way we want and sometimes life has something totally different in store for us. I can only imagine the experience is just as emotional for our partners who have the job of needing to remain calm and a source of comfort for us…while we get to scream and swear and cry!
After months of waiting and a due date that had expired (Dianna had to be induced at 42 weeks), Laina’s birthday had arrived. Trust me, she/we tried everything to get labor going. No matter how much I mentally prepared myself for that day, I was excitedly nervous when it arrived. To know that in a matter of hours, everything we’ve been preparing for will be real.
January 14, 2014
It was a particularly bad winter with snow, ice and freezing temperatures. Today was no different. If I recall correctly, the high was about a mere 22 degrees. I went outside to warm up the car. I remember thinking that the next time we were home, Laina would be here. How would Belle (our beagle) handle that? How is Finn going to be with her? Back in the house, double checking our “list”, certainly didn’t want to miss anything that we needed. Bags packed, one last look around and we headed to the car. Our check in time was 8:45 am. They were ready for us. We headed upstairs to L&D. Dianna’s doctor was already there and excited. We checked into our room and got the place ready. Dianna got changed into her gown, comfy slippers and I set up Pandora on the iPad. Here we go…
First was the evaluation and internal check to see where she is to determine a course of action. The doctor administered Cervidil, no Pitocin drip. She was 1cm dilated and the Cervidil would supposedly help soften her cervix since she wasn’t ready for Pitocin. And let me tell you, it did. Dianna went from being able to walk on her own, to needing my assistance. She moved from talking without pausing, to barely being able to hold a 2 minute conversation. The waves of pain and agony were starting to grow 2 hours into the start of labor. Moving through the checklist of all possible positions to relieve pain and pressure of labor, we ended up in the shower. Nice and warm to soothe her. It didn’t. Sure there was temporary relief, temporarily. It quickly moved to her not being able to stand. We moved back to the bed. The music was turned down. The lights were turned down. Nadine, our nurse, visited more frequently as she progressed faster and faster.
Hours moved like minutes. I looked at my watch and it was already 5:30pm. Where the hell did the day go?! So we assumed that, due to the enormous amount of pain and frequency of contractions, Dianna was most likely at 8.5 to 9 cm dilated by now. We were sorely mistaken with this thought. At 6pm she was barely 7 cm dilated. 7?!?! Through all this – the time, the pain, sweating, walking, rolling side to side, deep breathing, shallow breathing, push ready woman has gone through, she was only 7 cm dilated. And the weird pain medication she agreed to in desperation didn’t touch a thing. She felt more “drunk” than any type of pain relief. It was now time for the epidural. We stuck to our plan of no intervention (aside from the obvious induction) for as long as she could handle it. It came to a point where I felt like if she didn’t accept the epidural, I could very well lose her before she gave birth. Inductions just make everything so much more intense. Sitting bedside watching my wife shake, sweat, cry, crush my hands with her grip, then to have her stare so deeply into my eyes as if her soul was begging mine to relieve her, I felt completely helpless. This is the one time she really needed me and there wasn’t a thing I could do for her. She begged me to help her. Our plans shifted, for her health and Laina’s health.
The anesthesiologist entered the room and began the procedure. Having a nurse like Nadine was invaluable. Being a mother herself, she knew how this procedure was going to flow. She very politely encouraged me to step aside and to let her be Dianna’s partner for the next few minutes. I obliged. Let it be known that at this point in the labor, anything goes. From different doctors and nurses coming and going to “check in on the patient” to full on nudity, all is accepted. Nadine started giving Dianna a very soothing shoulder and upper next massage as the anesthesiologist was swabbing her back with betadine (all while a contraction was occurring making Dianna shake and scream wildly). With the procedure finished, Dianna was almost pain free, soon. Now she felt no contractions. No pain. No desire to pull Laina out of her with her bare hands. But a different situation had reared its ugly head.
Laina was stuck. So was her heartbeat. Dianna’s cervix never advanced beyond the 7 cm. However, her uterus was contracting as if she was 10 cm dilated and ready to push. It was pushing, completely out of Dianna’s control. Laina was now situated in her cervix which is still too narrow for her to fit through. With each contraction, Laina’s heartbeat dropped. With each contraction there is less oxygen rich blood getting to the baby. This is now affecting her. Dianna’s contraction rates are now every 1-1.5 minutes apart and lasting for 60+ seconds. It was nuts. That is a lot of oxygen rich blood depletion for Laina. Too much for her health and now our doctor was concerned. One last internal check to get the final measurements of her cervix revealed her bloody show. And there is meconium in it. And Dianna had a fever. Not a good thing. A C-section was ordered.
My heart dropped. I lost my breath and started to well up. But I can’t show Dianna. She can’t see how scared I am for her and the baby. The doctor and nurses whisk her away to get ready for the operation. I collect all of our belongings and am taken to what will be her recovery room. There are 2 chairs, one bed, monitors galore and a set of scrubs. I’m told to get changed as quickly as possible and wait for a nurse to come get me. “What the hell just happened?!” I thought to myself as I’m sitting there in my scrubs waiting to be taken to the OR. Are they okay? Did she deliver on the way in? How is my daughter? How is my wife? How will I explain to Laina that mommy gave her life for her? Some serious shit flies through your brain when you are ripped apart from each other in such a fashion. I hear a voice as I’m staring at my booty covered feet “Phillip? We’re ready for you to come in.”
There is Dianna, just like you imagine. All I can see of her is from her neck up. A huge curtain is between the doctors, her body and us. We start to talk. About what, I can’t remember. But it was soothing. The anesthesiologist is talking to us too. Giving us a play by play if you will. I remember things got a little intense and at one point there was a doctor on top of the table pulling on Laina to remove her from Dianna’s cervix. And then, that magical moment at 8:45 pm (12 hours after it all began) – Laina’s first scream! Oh did she have a set of lungs on her (and still does)!!! She was so mad to plucked away from her cozy little womb. We lost it. Tears came streaming down our faces. It was beautiful. I was then taken to the table where she was being measured and weighed. I got to “cut the cord”. I gave her a kiss, wished her happy birthday and walked back to Dianna. There a small complication with her uterus and ovary that caused a little extra time sewing her back up, but the doctor was successful. We got to hold her and we had some pictures taken before she was taken to the NICU for further evaluation. When Dianna had her fever during labor, she passed it onto Laina which required, by law, a minimum 48 hour stay in the NICU. I was then allowed to go share the news with our parents. I walked through the doors into the waiting room and lost it. Hugging all three of them never felt so good. Laina made it. Dianna made it. Life is incredible.
Thank you for sharing Phillip. You were incredible on that day. In case and of you missed it, here is Laina’s birth story from my perspective.