Saturday, November 10, 2012

Dave's version of our birth story.

If your wife is pregnant, as a guy you will hear A LOT of suggestions, ideas, philosophies, and the occasional crappy comment about child birth...  most of which comes without any details or specifics, so I am here to tell you what we've experienced so far.

First and foremost let me tell you that even at the upper echelons of intelligence in the birthing community you will hear contradictory information.  Consequently, you will be forced to listen to a LOT of ideas. My first bit of advise is to listen to it all, learn all that you can, and then do what YOU THINK IS BEST for your family.  Every baby is different, every situation is different, TRUST YOUR GUT.   You will be overwhelmed with a ton of baby information, and so it's really hard to know what's important to remember, and what is ancillary fluff.

Today is the fourteenth day after our healthy child, Madeline, was born.  We are blessed to have a healthy child.  I would like this blog to be for other men and women out there who haven't had a baby before and would like a straight talkin' perspective on things.  Before I give the straight up tips and ideas, I feel it necessary to detail our 'birth story'.  Partly to just document the day she was born, but others may find it useful as well.

Our Birth Story - A dude's perspective as told by -Dave:

Kelly and Dave

In short, my wife and I have been together for six years, married for a year and we decided it was time to start a family.  I'm an AV Tech for a college and singer/songwriter for a band and she also works for the college and has her Bachelors in Biology in Society.

It's our first baby and I have next to no experience.  Consequently I am NOT an expert in this subject.  My wife helped her sisters and parents out with babies, but this is her first baby too.  We thought it would be a good idea to go to a few baby classes offered by the hospital and around town. Let's see, there was CPR, Birthing, Baby Safety, Car-Seat Installation, Breastfeeding, Baby Care, and we also joined an excellent group at our Doctor/Midwife's office of other couples due around the same time. In retrospect it was worth it, we learned a lot.  It wasn't expensive, and we learned some really important things.  Plus we at least FELT more prepared, which is important when embarking on such a critical mission together.  Still before we get into that I guess I should share our birth story...  The birth story, is different for everyone.  It's not like the movies, when the lady's water breaks, you running around like a chicken with no head, you get to the hospital at Mach 6 speed, and the doctor says PUSH, and the wife punches the husband, then sneezes and a baby emerges.  So here's how it went down for us.

We had drawn up a fantastic little poem of an un-medicated and ideal "birth plan". What's a "birth plan"?  Well, I play music in a band, so immediately I compare a birth plan to a band's "Tech Rider".  You know, that document that bands give to promoters that says, "We need a sound system, lights, the singer needs a blue towel, six gluten free meals, and a bowl of green M&Ms."  Below was our birth plan.  You can find many others online, but our midwife said to keep it fun and simple or they might not read it.  (Funny thing is that a lot of bands do the same thing... Google Slayer's Tech Rider)

David and Kelly Birthing Plan for Mercy Gilbert Hospital 10/7/2012

We understand, if the fit hits the shan we might need an altered plan.

But if we have it our way, unnecessary people should be turned away.
There’s Tiffany the Midwife and daddy Dave,
Kelly’s the mom and the Nurses can stay.
Kelly prefers no IV, we’re shooting for drug free.
She prefers to run wild and roam free, so please monitor intermittently.
Hot tub? birthing ball? dim the lights? and cue the song?
(Dave says “C’mon this sounds like an MTV hip hop song.”)
Kelly might push and Kelly might scream, while Dad’s on camera, calm and serene.
Don’t cut the cord, till the pulsing is over.
When it comes to placenta, we’re bringing a cooler.
We brought a book for her footsies, so ink up those tootsies.
And Kelly’s breasts are like the finest silk, no formula, no pacifier,
baby just gets mom’s milk.

We got through the first line of our birth plan, because the fit did ultimately hit the shan, and most of it didn't work out the way we thought it would...   Kelly and I made a lot of decisions based on the health of the baby during the process.  Here is a play by play as best as I can recall.

4:30 AM 10/24/12 Dave's iPhone begins vibrating madly and dies. (As in dead, can't turn it on, can't reset, phone dead.) Containing hospital instructions, things to remember to bring to the hospital.  It basically had everything I need to do when Kelly starts giving birth to Madeline...  so much for being prepared.

7:30 AM 10/24/12 Kelly's water breaks. (2 weeks early at 38 weeks)  Her water breaks but she is not in labor. Called the Doctor's office.

8:30 AM 10/24/12  Appointment at the Doctor's office.  They say, within a couple hours we should check in at the hospital.  At this point we are hoping that Kelly's labor starts.  The longer her water is broken, the greater the chance for infection.  She has a few mini contractions.  We tried all the tips and tricks, birthing ball, and this and that's.

Nice room.
10:30 AM 10/24/12  We get to the hospital, (and remember to bring everything).   Midwife shows up, we explore all options and decide that unless labor starts soon we need to induce because Kelly's cervix was checked and is still at 1.  My understanding is that to start pushing it needs to be at 10.  For dudes out there who don't know, the cervix has scale of "open-ness" from 1-10 and the scientific way they will check is to poke around in there with their fingers. ( Isn't this 2012? Why don't we have tri-corders like Star Trek yet?) They roll us to the room and we get settled in.  The room is actually really nice and the staff is thrilled to receive our poem birth plan.  Even if we're about to completely throw it out the window.  Let me take this moment to give props to Mercy Gilbert Hospital and the office of Dr Kells.  A+ in service, comfort, staff, and knowledge. Also our midwife Tiffany was super fabulous, smart, funny, cool, had a phenomenal bedside manner, and knew when and how to best step in and offer suggestions.
Weathering early labor.

1:00 PM 10/24/12  1 pill of Cytotec.  Labor starts.  It was early labor so we ended up watching RuPaul's Drag Race on my laptop.  Kelly is weathering early labor very well.

5:00 PM 10/24/12  2nd pill of Cytotec.  Labor goes into overdrive, but it's getting to be too much for Kelly to take.  Cytotec can make labor much more painful.  She endures it for a long while, but eventually decides to get an epidural.  This was one of the hardest times during the birthing process for me.  Kelly was in agony and the contractions were coming at her every couple minutes.  She was hanging on me.  Don't forget to cautiously say nice things to her during this time.  "You're doing great." or "I'm so proud of you".  Don't say anything stupid at this point.   Just as one contraction would let down the next would start.  I was glad she decided to get the Epidural, because she was getting so drained from the contractions and there was a LONG ways to go.

7:30 PM 10/24/12 Kelly's labor had to continue it's course while we waited for the Epidural.  Partly because the midwife wanted her to get to at least a cervix open-ness of 4.  Kelly did great during this whole process, she really gave it her all, and I feel that we made the right decisions along the way.  By the time the epidural arrived my wife was completely drained and enduring a LOT of pain at this point.  After the epidural things got easier, and harder.  I mean, anyone who's had one should know that you have a lot of little tubes and contraptions.  You can't feel your legs, so the nurses have to roll you around every couple hours.  It's pretty crappy, but at least the pain was gone.

8:00 PM 10/24/12 Up to this point the baby was looking fantastic as far as the heart beat and monitors go.  But then the baby's heartbeat slowed down.  Nurses rush in and roll Kelly to re-position the baby.    Since Kelly's lost a lot of water from her water bag, it's possible that there was less water in her and the baby weighed more, and was smushing her life-giving umbilical cord.  At any rate I start to get really scared, but the nurses get it sorted.

8:30 PM? 10/24/12 Not much later it happens again.  The babies heart beat slows really low.  Nurses rush in and re-position.  After her health restores,  I ask what if it happens again. She said we move her again.   She leaves. It happens again. I move Kelly.  (BAD MOVE)  Nurses don't like when you re-position a pregnant mommy that has a million tubes, an epidural in her back, and a baby inside her.  Let them take care of that.   They keep track of babies position, and plus there's a bunch of wires going into Kelly including the one in her back which could get badly messed up if she is moved incorrectly. WHOOPS. I get a firm 'talking to'  At any rate, everything was okay after that. (Cough Cough)  The nurses contact the midwife, who rushes to the hospital to spend the night there!  She slept there to closely monitor the situation. Naturally, after she arrived the baby's heart rate didn't  dip again.  At this point, I can't sleep.  No way, no how.  My eyes and ears are fixed to the monitors.  Another nurse eventually comes in and shows me how they are all monitoring all of the rooms closely and that they have this completely under control.  I still couldn't sleep.
I stared at this thing too much.

9:00 PM 10/24/12 The midwife advises Pitocin to help induce labor.  We agree, and the Pitocin kicks her labor into Phase 2... Kelly sleeps through most of the night.  The nurses slowly increase Pitocin.  I can see a noted difference in the contractions. They get smoother and hilly-er.

6:30 AM 10/24/12 Nurse checks Kelly's Cervix and it's at 10!  The midwife comes by and says it's now or never. Let's have a baby!  She asks the nurse to show Kelly how to do some practice pushes while she makes the rounds.  The nurse casually started making preparations   She then sauntered over to Kelly and asked me to hold one of Kelly's legs, the nurse held the other, and she said push like you're pooping.  That's something they don't always tell you, apparently when they say push it feels like you're pooping.  (And I heard it's normal that some ladies in fact DO poop.  My wife was relieved that she did not, but if you do it's no big deal to the nurses.)  I guess that the fear ladies have of actually pooping sometimes makes the labor go way longer.  So ladies, make like you're pooping and lay caution to the wind.  At any rate on her first PRACTICE PUSH the babies head comes out a little bit!   The nurse hurriedly makes more preparations, but grabs her phone and calls the midwife back.  It really took not longer than 16-20 pushes to get the baby out.  The midwife was fantastic and when the babies head came out, she told Kelly WAIT, and then like a ninja she unwrapped the cord which very quickly had gotten tight around the babies neck. 

6:45 AM 10/24/12 Madeline was born.  The moment she emerged I was completely overwhelmed. Speechless, literally speechless.  Frozen, jaw dropped.    It was surreal to see her little face, arms, legs.  Here's a person, a whole new person.  I remember thinking, "She has a face, I don't know that face, this is so weird."  I am overjoyed.  I am completely beside myself.  I am frozen.  I am completely useless to speak or do anything.  It is such an emotionally over-driven experience that I think I may have had a momentary out-of-body experience.  The nurses and midwife worked with speed and precision during the delivery.  It was like one of those super-fancy restaurants where the work is like a choreographed dance.  Thankfully they were so good because I was completely useless.  Even if I did manage to cut the cord, with excellent direction from the midwife, and after it stopped pulsing.  Dudes, the cord takes a couple snips cause it's kind of rubbery.. or rather like the toughness of cooked Octopus.  Just FYI.  Okay this is all blurry but I think this is how it transpired after that...

Right after she was born they gave Madeline to Kelly, and she rested the little baby on her chest and held her.  They sucked some fluids from Madeline's nose, and whatnot, made sure the baby was breathing.  Madeline was a little choked up too, but crying and breathing fine, so the nurses left the room so that Kelly could have a moment with the baby and try to breast feed her.  Madeline was born with a lot of hair.  She was pink.  They said she might be blue or white or other colors, but she was normal and pink. Not all covered in blood or anything.

A bit later the nurses came back in, and brought the baby to a little heat lamp area in our room.  I went with and observed.  They gave her a thorough inspection, counting fingers and toes.  Weighed her, measured her, and gave her two shots. Vitamin K, and Hepatitis B. Baby cried only for a moment.  She really didn't cry all that much and was calm and alert.  She had a full head of sandy blond or red hair, weighed 6 lbs 8 oz, and measured 21.5 inches from crown to toes.

I thank a higher power that everything worked out so well in the end.   But even more I thank my wife for being both strong and flexible during possibly the longest 24 hrs of our lives.

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