There are so many emotions that a soon-to-be father goes through: excitement, fear, happiness, uncertainty, sheer terror – it’s so cliche, but it’s really hard to put it into words. The mantra of the day for me was, “Let’s do this!”
As I go through all of this, please keep in mind, I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV, so some of my facts may be a little inaccurate, as well as the spelling, but I’ll do my best. 🙂
We got to the hospital on 6/27/12 at 7am to get checked into the birthing center at Robinson Memorial in Ravenna. (Kent people, I know..Ravenna?!? How dare we!) Christine was 2 weeks overdue, almost 5cm dilated and over 90% effaced. She was ready to have her body back and to meet our beautiful daughter. We were scheduled to have Cytotek introduced to Christine’s cervix at 8am by the midwife. Cytotek is not usually used as an induction method alone. It thins the cervix and prepares the body for contractions. Usually it is accompanied by Pitocin. Cytotek remains in the body for about 4 hours, so if it doesn’t work, we can put up to 3 doses in Christine over a 12 hour period. We felt this was the least invasive for Mom and baby.
They hooked Christine up to the monitor. One sensor was to monitor the baby’s heartbeat, the other was to show when Christine was having contractions (if at all). It was pretty neat to hear the baby’s heartbeat through the speakers the entire time, just reassuring us that she was doing well.
After the first dose, Christine had to lay on her side and not move for an hour so that the Cytotek would be dissolved in her system. Contractions really didn’t show up until about 2 hours into the first dose, and Christine likened them to a menstrual cramp or a “1” on a scale of 1 to 10. I started watching “Forrest Gump”.
Around noon, when nothing was really happening, the midwife came back in and put in another dose of Cytotek and stripped Christine’s membranes to see if her water would break easier. Again, Christine had to lay on her side for an hour to let the medicine dissolve. At this point, contractions were showing up on the monitor – more frequent and regular, like you would see in a normal labor process, but Christine still only felt they were a “2”. A little more uncomfortable, more pain in her lower back. (We found out why this was a little later on)
So, around 4, after the second dose wore off, Christine’s midwife had a couple appointments she had to keep, so we had about an hour to walk around in the birthing center to see if we could get that baby to drop and break her water and to avoid a 3rd dose of Cytotek (which we believed would be a waste of 4 hours at this point).
When the midwife came in around 4:45pm she told us we had a few options. We could introduce a 3rd and final dose of Cytotek, we could go ahead and introduce Pitocin (which Christine really didn’t want to do), or we could manually break her water and see if that would start contractions. We chose to break her water because the least amount of drugs introduced, the better. We’ve heard too many birthing stories of women who get induced or go on Pitocin (which gives you stronger contractions), then they get an Epidural (which slows contractions, numbs your body and potentially slows the heart rate of the fetus), which then causes them to add more Pitocin (which then speeds up the heart rate of the fetus, creates even stronger and more painful contractions), etc etc etc. Now, I’m not saying Pitocin and Epidurals are bad, nor am I saying that women who choose to use these medicines are harming their babies unnecessarily – every woman’s body is different and every baby is different. We just didn’t want to get into all of that mess and run the risk.
So, we broke her water around 4:50pm. By 5:30, the contractions we were seeing on the monitor were finally registering with Christine – pain at about a “4”. Progress! By 6pm, contractions were painful and frequent, and by 6:30pm they were 2min apart and lasting about 30 seconds each. Christine’s mantra was: “Oh, this sucks”, “I don’t like this” and a few “Shut up Michael”s made it in there too, I believe.
The nurses that were taking care of us couldn’t believe how fast it had progressed and when I told the nurse that her contractions were 2min apart and she was in a lot of pain, she looked at me like I had 12 eyes. She came in right away and helped me to understand where to push on Christine’s hips in order to help alleviate some of the pain of the contractions. I was to stand behind her, put my hands right below her hip bones and push hard, all the while putting my thumbs on the small of her back and putting pressure there as well. All for 30 seconds at a time, every 2 minutes. Now, I’m not trying to take away any of the pain that Christine was feeling by talking about mine, or even equate the pain I was in to hers, but man, that part sucked. But wasn’t even close to what I was in for later on.
When 7:15pm came around, Christine looked at me and goes, “Umm, I can’t tell if I have to go to the bathroom, or it’s time to push, but don’t tell the nurse because I don’t want her to think I’m crazy.” I go, “Crazy or not, if it’s time to push, I believe she needs to know, especially to get the midwife here. (The midwife was teaching a centering class in the building from 5:30-7:30pm). So, I went out and told the nurse who was somewhat shocked, but came in and saw her pain and called the midwife. After the nurse came in, she did a quick check of Christine and goes, “Oh yeah, you’re 9cm, it is definitely time to think about pushing!” 5 minutes later the midwife was there and reassured Christine that she could push.
At this point, shit got real. I mean, I was thinking they’d cover up her lower half and I would be the awesome reassuring husband who would stay at her head, hold her hand, tell her to push, and that was it. The midwife and the nurse would handle the rest.
Christine had to try multiple positions for pushing. Regular, on her right side, on her left side, on all fours, a standing squat on the bed, back to regular. And I was right there, man. At one point, Christine was laying on the bed, spread eagle, holding on to one end of a sheet, I was on the other end of the sheet in front of her playing tug-o-war with my right arm and holding her leg with the other arm, pushing both out and down to help give her leverage for when she was pushing. And these pushes weren’t your 3-5 second pushes, they were 10-15 second pushes that no man or super hero could have ever done in their dreams. She was a rock star. And there were things I saw that I can never un-see.
By 8:30pm the baby was crowning. But, she was posterior. Which means, she was face up, rather than the preferred face down. When the baby is face down in the preferred position, contractions are mainly felt in the front. Well, when a baby is posterior, more pain from the contractions is felt in the lower back, so that is why Christine was having so much lower back pain. This isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just not ideal. The baby would have to be birthed quickly in order to lower the risk of any fluids getting into her system, especially the merconium. Luckily, our midwife is a rock star as well. At 8:57pm, she looked at Christine and goes, “give me a few more pushes and we’ll have this baby out by 9.” That is all Christine needed to hear, because at 9pm exactly, Evelyn Grace was born.
And it was both incredibly gross and amazingly beautiful all at the same time. And I won’t ever look at my wife the same again. And no, it’s not because I saw her hoo-ha during birth and it was gross, but because I have the most incredible respect for her for doing the entire labor and birth process with NO DRUGS. She endured the pain, got through it, and it was incredible. She is the strongest, most amazing person I know, and I love her for her strong will to do this naturally, to wait 42 weeks, and to do it the way she knew would be best for her and for the baby.
After the birth, I held my wife’s head in my hand, rubbed my daughter’s conehead ever so softly, kissed my wife gently on the lips and told her…. “Holy shit that was crazy!” At that point, well everything got real, that the flood of emotions hit me. I was so amazed at the entire process, so scared that I was really a father, thankful to Christine for being an amazing wife and carrier of our daughter for 42 weeks, happy that Evelyn was here, appreciative of the amazing job the staff at Robinson did for both Christine and Evelyn, and just exhausted both mentally and physically. There wasn’t really much time to process any of these emotions during the labor and birthing process. I was there, in the moment, living out an amazing memory that I will never forget – the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Looking at her immediately following the birth, I couldn’t really see who she looked like – did she have my nose? Christine’s ears? My chin? I thought for a bit that I saw a lot of my father-in-law in her. So, obviously that would be more of Christine. But then my Mom brought a newborn picture of me when she visited yesterday, and there were a lot of the same features in Evelyn that I had as a newborn. So, I’m just not sure yet. I think it is an absolutely perfect blend of both Christine and I. God sure knows what he’s doing, doesn’t he? He took all the beautiful from Christine (which is everything), added just a touch of me (right decision, God), and made a beautiful baby.
Would I do it again – be that involved in the birthing process? In a heartbeat. Future Dads out there – don’t be afraid. Be involved. Your wife needs you – she needs your strength, your leadership, your love, and your support. Give everything you have and you will be blessed beyond belief. I did, and I was completely exhausted – both mentally and physically. But it was totally worth it.
Before Evelyn was born I couldn’t imagine my life with a child. Now I can’t imagine my life without her. And it’s been 2 days. Lord – I’m ready for the ride – “Let’s do this!”