Birth Story: It’s a……!!!!!!!
As the midwife began the pelvic exam, water gushed forth. I like keeping a clean house, so I smiled quite a bit inside knowing I wouldn’t have to clean up the mess. The midwife told us my wife was at 7cm and 80% effaced so he told us to stay. Once again, for the uninitiated, cervical dilation is complete at 10cm and delivery of the infant takes place shortly thereafter, so we didn’t have very far to go. I ran out to the car and grabbed all of our bags. Yes, bags. DSLR bag, camcorder bag, bag with all the baby stuff (diapers, onesies, blankets, wipes), and my wife’s snack and drink bag (pita chips, trail mix and water). I expended quite a bit of effort to get all those bags on my person so that I could take them all in one trip and of course, my keys are in the pocket opposite my free hand. I always do this.
To give you some background, my wife and I chose to do a natural birth for both of our children. Scratch that. My wife chose to do natural birth. As the man, I believe natural birth is beneficial and doable, but that’s like the punter on a football team saying that he thinks contact in the NFL isn’t a big deal. Yes, the punter plays a role on the team, but ultimately, he doesn’t get hit and if he does, it’s a penalty. So yeah, fellas out there: share your opinion but know your role – or this could happen.
For our daughter, we went with the Bradley Method. Although our class was immensely helpful in understanding pregnancy and labor, the method ultimately didn’t do much for us as my wife despised the sound of my voice and my touch during labor. For her, she liked to enter into a zone whenever the contractions came on, so I sat by praying my butt off. For our second, we decided to try HypnoBirthing at the recommendation of a friend.
The name makes it sound like I get out a watch and say, “You are not in pain…you are going to have a baby…” or something like that. And some posts on the Web will lead you to believe the method is of the devil – but we all know only foosball is the devil. After reading the book, we were led to believe that people who posted such things likely based their conclusions on the title and a few select anecdotes. In fact, the author talks at length about birth being God’s plan and has Scripture littered throughout the book. Granted, that doesn’t mean HypnoBirthing is the work of God, but just don’t believe everything you read on the Web.
HypnoBirthing seems to have 2 key components: 1) the book works really hard to psyche you up about being able to deliver the child naturally and 2) there are several audio tracks where a woman guides you through visualization exercises. When we told our midwife we were thinking of doing HypnoBirthing, she told us that when it works, it’s great, but it’s problematic for the women who experience lots of pain and who had HypnoBirthing as their sole source of pain management.
I setup our iPod and turned on her favorite visualization exercise. The woman’s voice is incredibly relaxing and the visualizations helped my wife relax when the “surges” came – HypnoBirthing goes to great lengths to use terms that sound more positive. Her contractions were roughly 5 minutes apart. Some lasted upwards of a minute and a half, and others lasted as little as 15 seconds. We alternated between walking around and her sitting on the birth ball and going through the visualizations. Once again, it helped for me to keep completely quiet unless asked, and my hands to myself.
It’s midnight and I’m still by her side, timing contractions. You know how Apple says, “There’s an app for that”? Yup. There are numerous apps for timing contractions. I stupidly didn’t even think about downloading one of them.
It’s now 1am and we’re both fighting to stay awake. A few days prior, I thought about packing some coffee but thought better of it since I didn’t want my baby’s first impression of me to be stinky coffee breath. While my wife is doing her visualizations on the birth ball, I’m doing pushups and jumping jacks trying to stay awake. My wife’s contractions aren’t getting any closer together and the intensity has remained fairly constant. The visualizations seem to help a lot for pain management.
It’s now 2am and to be honest, I was DYING! I imagined my child being born and me snoring away, passed out on the wooden floor. And the HypnoBirthing woman’s relaxing voice wasn’t helping very much. Our birth center doesn’t really do pelvic exams unless it seems there is quite a bit of progression or we ask, but since my wife’s contractions weren’t getting any closer together, they just made sure the baby’s heartbeat was ok. At 2:05am, I ask my wife if she wants a pelvic exam just so that we can see how much she’s progressing. She agreed.
The midwife came in and he said that my wife was still at 7cm. Three hours of labor and we haven’t progressed?!?! My heart sunk and I was now kicking myself for forgoing coffee. “The good news is,” the midwife said, “that you’re now 100% effaced.” This is like getting to the theme park only to find that you’re too short to ride anything. It sucks.
For my wife’s sake, I tried really, really hard not to look disappointed, but since I’ve never been good at hiding my emotions to begin with, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t doing a good job of it at 2:05am.
The nurse suggested my wife take a shower since the water on her nipples might kick start the labor. We got my wife’s shower cap and slippers ready. And just as she was about to get in the shower, a massive surge/contraction hits. Then a few minutes later, another.
It might’ve been the pelvic exam; it might’ve been my desperate pleas to the baby to come soon. Whatever it was, the baby was coming. And fast.
Contractions started to get really intense and the HypnoBirthing was becoming increasingly ineffective. Maybe with more practice, the HypnoBirthing may have worked, but it became pretty useless so we turned on some relaxing music.
Low moans really helped my wife as did me applying counter pressure on her hips during each contraction. She found it really helpful to lean on the birth ball with her arms while resting on her knees on the bed. Time is moving incredibly fast at this point and it seems the contractions are right on top of each other. At this point, I’m glad I’ve been working out because squeezing her hips for the better part of an hour was an intense bicep/forearm workout.
Around 2:55am, the midwife and nurse came in and got their gloves on – based on my wife’s moans, they knew she was in transition. At this point, I step away from my wife because there’s a lot going on down there. So I do the fatherly thing and get my camera ready.
At 3:02am, I can see the head about to crown. There are somethings I just cannot get used to seeing: skinny jeans on guys, glitter on vampires, and a baby’s head crowning. I find the latter to be the least unnerving.
And even though it was the second time I’ve seen a birth, I still ended up thinking, “There’s NO way that’s going to fit…OMG…it’s gonna fit….OMG OMG OMG OMG.” Leave it to childbirth to reduce me to a school girl who just saw Eclipse.
Some of you may have heard of the ring of fire in childbirth. That’s when the head is about to crown and the vaginal opening is at its widest and the sensation is often described as a ring of fire. Grab a turtleneck from 15 years ago and try to fit your head through and you may have an idea what it looks like. This is the point where I think, “OMG…my wife’s vag is going to explode.”
Without any coaching, my wife slowly and methodically pushed out the baby.
*bloop* out comes the head…the baby turns a bit and
*bloop* out comes the arm and
*bloop* out comes the baby
I ran and looked and…IT’S A GIRL!!!! IT’S A GIRL!!!
Tomorrow: I conclude the Birth Story with The Perfect Child