Third and Long: A Dad’s Birth StoryJune 28, 2010 at 11:21 pm | Posted in Bun, Guest Posts | 25 Comments
Tags: Babies, Birth, Challenges, Family, Fatherhood, Life, Newborns, Personal, Pregnancy
Here it is. I’m so excited to post this: my husband’s essay about Bun’s birth. I know he worried over it. I know it wasn’t easy to do. And I know he stoically endured me giving him the stink-eye earlier this week as he chose to play a computer game instead of work on it.
But. He refers to me with words like “pride,” “strength,” and “amazing.” He left out the part where I cursed a blue streak. And he crafted an essay that is thoughtful, funny, and genuine — just like he is in real life. To thank him, I just might relinquish the laptop so he can play a few more rounds.
Third and Long: A Dad’s Birth Story
Both of Bun’s siblings announced their intentions to be in the very early morning, so with Bun I expected no different. Each night in late April and early May before falling asleep, I thought to myself, Will tonight be it? Will tonight be the night that Stacia pulls herself out of bed to start her labor quietly through the morning and onward as the sun rises?
Although I was wrong about the day — I expected an early arrival like our first two — finally Bun was ready. As expected, I awoke to find the household half risen, half slumbering, with Stacia laboring in her own bubble of thought and focus.
As everyone stirred and breakfast was prepared, my thoughts were on Stacia — helping her decide when she was ready to go to the hospital, running interference with Lollipop and Giggles, and providing calm in the house (such as it is) to let her focus. I timed contractions in between refilling sippy cups. I traded looks with her parents, who had never been present for her labors before, so as to say, “She’s fine; this is good.” I tried to make the morning normal. I judged this to be how I could best help Stacia right then.
As the morning went on, Stacia’s labor kept a steady level of intensity and contraction frequency. We decided to get ready for the hospital, but with no real sense of urgency. We’d get there but felt no need to rush too much. After I had packed and checked the pre-Bun-to-do list for the twelfth time, we headed out.
On the way to the hospital, I tried to convince Stacia to let me drop her off at the door while I rushed to park the car. She was having none of it and wanted me to stay with her the whole time. After feverishly trying to figure out how I was going to drop her off and wait with her and park the car at the same time, I realized I was starting to lose it. (And the sleep deprivation hadn’t even begun yet!) We ended up parking and walked together, and a hospital volunteer met us partways with a wheelchair.
After checking in, we made our way to our delivery room on the maternity wing — which by the way needs an automatic door. I can’t be the first idiot husband trying to maneuver a pregnant wife and three bags through that heavy security door that immediately slams shut as soon as you let go. I did an awesome contortion move to make it all work, which nobody saw except possibly Stacia, and I’m pretty sure she was focused on much more important things at the time! The room, our third to visit in less than four years, looked pretty familiar.
As the nurse helped Stacia and started her initial examination, I remember launching our agreed-on spiel about only being there because we couldn’t get a standard OB visit on the weekend and that we were ready to go home if things didn’t look like they had progressed much. Halfway into it, the nurse said we weren’t going anywhere since Stacia was already at 7 cm. I thought to myself, Okay, this is really happening. And, Oops, we cut that one a little closer than we intended! But it felt great knowing that our son would soon be born.
Stacia’s decision not to use drugs was amazing to me and filled me with pride, but also a little concern. I am a practical man to a fault and was already spinning through scenarios where we might have to get some chemical help as had happened before. But in those moments of hard labor, I tried to ensure that Stacia saw none of that in my expression. I wanted her to save all her energy and focus for the task ahead. At first, the contractions were similar to what had happened all morning — intense enough that she needed to focus on them, but clearly she was still in control, still handling them well.
Soon thereafter, though, the intensity increased. In hindsight, this was clearly the period of transition, and it was probably no more than 30 minutes. But in that moment I could not have told you how long it had been. Stacia’s laboring was clearly getting harder for her, and as with the previous two, the back labor was painful and intense. Our trusty birthing tool, a sock with two tennis balls in it, helped me massage Stacia’s lower back during each contraction and provided some relief.
It was at this point, on some level, that Stacia changed her mind about the epidural. She asked me for one, and I knew that some part of her wanted it, and some part did not — but which part was right? I wanted to encourage her to keep going, but I’ll be honest … I’m glad I didn’t have to try too hard to figure it out; the nurse interjected that it was too late for drugs, that Stacia was too far along.
As the labor proceeded, I watched Stacia’s strength as she brought forth life. I tried to help in what little ways I could and to encourage her. As she tried different positions to find the most comfortable, at one point she was standing with her arms around my neck as I squeezed my fists into her lower back. It was a hug of sorts. And I thought to myself, This is amazing, just amazing. It was our third birth, and the wonder of it all had not diminished.
Eventually, I could tell she was getting closer. When the doctor broke her water, everything progressed very rapidly. Bun started to come out fast, and everything looked good until he crowned and his shoulders got stuck. Because the cord was around his neck and getting pinched, he wasn’t getting oxygen. The room — already busy with people — started to get even busier. The nurse to my side told me, “Dad, push that red button on the wall there,” and I thought to myself, Oh, shit, not good.
I bounced my focus between urging Stacia to push and checking on the baby’s progress. As with the contractions, all I could do was encourage her to keep going. It was time, past time, to get this baby out.
Stacia pushed. Hard. And kept pushing, with nurses on either side who simultaneously pushed with such force into her belly that I winced. It felt like an eternity, but finally Bun came forward an inch, just enough for the doctor to get a hand on him and pull as Stacia pushed. Out he came, finally, but he was silent and blue. Three years ago, I remember being shocked when Lollipop was a little blue. For our third child, I was ready for that and knew it was normal. But not this deep purple-blue hue of Bun’s skin.
As in the past, I tried to follow the nurses as they took our child to the station across the room. This time they pushed me back and told me that I should stay with my wife, that she needed me. I knew they did not want me to see him as they tried to get him to breathe. Just like in the parking lot a few hours earlier, but a thousand times more intently, I wanted to be in two places at once — holding Stacia’s hand in reassurance and watching over Bun, willing him to breathe.
After three minutes, three very long minutes, he finally cried out. I went to him, welcomed him to the world, checked those fingers and toes, and then rushed back to Stacia’s side. “He’s fine!” I smiled. “He’s wonderful. He’s perfect. He’s ours.”
What recollections has your partner or birthing coach shared with you? What tasks was your partner or coach responsible for during labor? And did you, too, find tennis balls to be indispensable??