Reflections of a New Father: Part IV- The Birth (Originally Titled 28 Hours)

For Part I, Click here

For Part II, Click here

For Part III, Click here

For Part V, Click here

As I write this, it is 6:42 AM.

My brain is fried.

I'm absolutely exhausted.

I've slept (maybe) 10 hours in the past 4 days combined.

And I could not be happier. On 06/19/2019, at 10:12 PM, my amazing wife gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. When I look down at this little baby peacefully sleeping, I could care less about how tired I am.

Now, I'm not writing this to share how much I love my daughter. (If you are wondering, I love her 3000). This is a post about my bad ass wife, Brittany, and what she went through to get our little girl here. I need to write it all out while the memory and emotion of the day is still fresh in my mind. Many of you reading may have gone through something similar or even more difficult. This is simply my attempt to tell her story through the eyes of someone who will never truly understand what she went through on that day.

It took 28 hours of hell to bring our baby into this world. That is how long Brittany was in labor. As her husband, all I could do was watch on helplessly while she endured the most difficult challenge of her life. I can say that I have an entirely new appreciation for her after seeing what she went through. (By the way, anyone that does not think labor and delivery is an extreme athletic event has clearly not witnessed one).

9:00 AM, 06/18/19: We knew today was going to be the day we would begin the process of inducing labor. For anyone who is unfamiliar, inductions are done when nature is not moving things a long fast enough. Brittany was officially 40 weeks pregnant on this day. Dr. Parson's, her OBGYN, did not wish to take an unnecessary risk by waiting another week or two, so he offered to schedule an induction at 5:30 PM at a local hospital. First, he requested we come to his office for one final visit to see if any progress had been made.

I'll spare you some details here, but in order to check how progressed a pregnant woman is, the doctor basically has to get quite invasive. We were surprised to learn that there was some progress, which gave us hope that the induction would go smoothly (Boy were we god damn wrong). Dr. Parsons gave us a final opportunity to reconsider and try to wait a few more days for things to start naturally. Being the eager beavers we are, Brittany and I made up our minds that this shit was happening.

We kept the 5:30 PM appointment.

In hindsight, I'm not sure what the right call was. I do know that after the fact, we discussed it and decided that if we have a second child, we would NEVER DO AN INDUCTION AGAIN. (Subtle foreshadowing for what is to come).

10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, 06/18/19: I took the day off work to spend with Brittany. Naturally, she was very nervous. I was determined to be the best, most supportive husband I could be, so I spent the better part of the day reassuring her by telling her that she would make this child birthing thing her bitch. The day was mostly filled with nerves as we anticipated the coming appointment and tied up some last minute items in the house to get prepared for our little one's arrival.

5: 30 PM, 06/18/19: We arrived at the hospital to sign in. After clumsily struggling to carry our half dozen bags into the maternity ward (FYI, you have to prepare for the potential of a four to five day stay depending on the method of delivery), a very nice nurse took Brittany back to her prison cell...sorry meant to say room! They asked me to remain in the lobby for a few moments while they peppered Brittany with some questions. Turns out, this is when they ask the pregnant woman whether or not their partner is abusive. I must say, it was a solid strategy because my dumb-ass was clueless, sitting in the lobby, wondering what exactly was so personal that the guy who was going to watch her torpedo a small human out of her who-ha could not witness.

The kind nurse finally invited me back to the room. Brittany was already undressed and in her hospital gown. She sat down in what I like to call, the bed of horrors.

Pictured: Oh the things these beds have witnessed.

This bed serves the dual purpose of being the place for the patient to rest and being the bed that converts into the platform for the expectant mother to start pushing. The bottom piece basically pops off, some stirrups pop up, and a team crowds around the end destroying any sense of of the privacy you think you have. We were nowhere near ready for the final step at this point, so for now, it remained a very uncomfortable bed.

To paint the picture of Brittany's discomfort a little better, the nurses hooked her up to several monitors and an IV. The monitors were to assess the fetal heartbeat and the mother's contractions. This is done by awkwardly strapping two incredibly uncomfortable devices onto the mom's belly. Oh, and to add some insult to injury here, the slightest god damn move can knock these monitors off the heartbeat forcing you to re-adjust until you locate it again. They make you wear this thing until the baby is out, and the nurses will enter your room any time of night should it be off the heartbeat for too long.

Pictured: Example of the first torture tactic.

7:00 PM, 06/19/2019: Everyone was still smiles and optimism at this point. Dr. Parson's rolled in about this time and explained the drugs we would be starting off with. First up was Cervidil. In the doctor's words, this drug would “ripen up the cervix”. (By the way, the imagery I'm going to paint is not going to be pleasant. Buckle up if you've never been through this experience). The drug has to be manually inserted into the vagina. I wish I could say this was the worst thing she would experience, but we are not even scraping the surface yet.

It was uncomfortable, Brittany pushed through it, and the doctor went home for the night. The nurses changed shift, and we were greeted with a whole new set of faces that would take care of Brittany.

11:00 PM, 06/18/19 to 7:00 AM, 06/19/19: Throughout the night, Brittany started having steady contractions. This was not due to the Cervidil. The best explanation was that Brittany was going into natural labor at this point (which is why it might have served us to be patient and not do the induction). This, mixed with the fact that she could not adjust herself in bed to get comfortable (thanks to those satanic monitors), she was maybe able to get one hour of sleep. It was a long night to say the least.

I had a Google Chromecast hooked up to the TV and streamed episodes of Shark Tank all night, because we were currently working our way through the ten seasons of the show. So, in our delirious sleep deprived state, we binged watched the antics of Kevin O'Leary and friends.

Brittany refuses to watch Shark Tank right now because it brings her back to this night.

9:00 AM-11:00 AM, 06/19/2019: Dr. Parson's returned to check on Brittany, and by check, I mean violate her yet again. Surprisingly, the Cervidil did it's job.

Side note: Sometimes you go through a night like that, the drug does nothing, and they send you home. It happened to a friend of ours. I would not wish that on my worst enemy.

So, the next step in this carnival of tortures was what is called a foley catheter . Rather than explain, I'll just leave a diagram below.

Pictured: According to my wife, it feels exactly like you think.

They inserted this while my wife was entering into more intense contractions. She was in an immense amount of pain at this point, and had yet to receive any relieving medications. After the nurses left, she broke down and started sobbing.

Brittany is not one who likes to cry. I can probably count on one hand the amount of times she has cried like this in our near ten years together. Like I've said before, she is pretty bad-ass like that. So, when she sobbed like this, I knew it was bad. My heart sank right about here. There is no feeling of helplessness quite like watching your partner go through this. There was nothing I could do to comfort her, and nothing I could do to relieve her. If somebody would have came into the room with a rusty butcher's knife and told me that chopping one of my fingers off would stop the pain for her, I would have chopped two off just to be sure.

She endured the pain for quite some time. The funny part was she convinced herself that she was being dramatic. The monitor that was reading contractions was not showing anything. The nurse came in and moved the sensor around. The monitor went from a flat line to massive peaks, showing that Brittany was indeed having full blown contractions. Definitely not being dramatic...

11:00 AM-7:00 PM, 06/19/2018: Finally, Brittany was able to get some relief. The nurse assigned to her demanded that an anesthesiologist get over to our room and place what is called an epidural. An epidural is injected into the spinal chord which and blocks all feeling below that point. The nursing team also removed the foley at this point as well, further providing relief. We were at roughly 3 cm dilated at this point. For reference, you need to hit 10 cm before it is time to push.

Pictured: This is why women deserve nice shit.

They set her up with a pitocin drip which further stimulates contractions. Our parents and her sister stopped by around this time to visit. I would say this time period was relatively decent, all things considered. Brittany was able to lie back without pain, and our family was there to keep the room lively and distracting for a time. We encouraged them all to leave around 1:00 to get a little rest. They came back around 4:00. At this point, we were expecting delivery around 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM. Brittany's water even broke at some point during this time. We were rather excited, thinking the finish line was imminent.

7:00 PM-9:30 PM, 06/19/19: 7:00 rolled around and Dr. Parson's returned to check her yet again. We got the news that Brittany was only 4 cm dilated at this point. Not the news you want to receive on hour 24 of labor.

At this point, a new nurse took over for the night shift. Her name was Carolyn. I mention her for good reason. I do not know how Brittany would have done it without this nurse. She was a rockstar. Compassionate, kind, professional, knowledgeable, and any other good word I can think of (What I'm saying, is she did a pretty good job). As important as a good doctor is, a good nurse makes all the difference. That is not to say all nurses at the hospital were not great. They were all very professional and caring. Carolyn was just the one who was there through the hardest part, and we will remember her for the rest of our lives.

Dr. Parson's recommended something called the peanut in a last ditch effort to get Brittany to 10 cm. Of course, we were terrified as to what this meant, but it was actually not an invasive procedure.

Pictured: Not an easy position to get into at 9 months pregnant FYI.

Brittany was exhausted by this point. She was feeling absolutely defeated. Pain was shooting through her back that the epidural could not help with, and her heart rate was starting to drop, so the doctor put her on oxygen. I sat there for two and a half hours with her, trying to keep her calm and getting her to breath while she stayed in that awkward position. No one wants to watch someone they love suffer. I make no bones about it. My wife was suffering at this point.

9:30 PM-9:45 PM, 06/19/19: The doctor came in for one final check. If this did not work, we were going to be heading to the OR for an emergency C-section. To our surprise, Brittany went from 4cm to 10cm in under 3 hours. It was go time.

9:45PM-10:30 PM, 06/19/19: This is where it pays to have a damn good doctor and damn good nurse. Brittany started to have a full on panic attack. She could barely keep her eyes open, and started crying again. Doctor Parson's walked into the room in full surgical gear, ready to go to work. Carolyn was gathering supplies in the background. I was by Brittany's side, and our family in the room was simply trying to comfort her as they could.

Parson's looked at her, and in a moment I will never forget, he told us exactly what was going to happen. He told her that she was going to deliver this baby. He told her how to push properly, and he refused to let her panic. When she started crying, saying she could not do it, he immediately cut her off and told her that she needed to save the tears for the moment he put the baby on her chest. He looked to every guest in the room and frankly told them “If you feel like you are going to pass out, sit on the floor and do not speak.” He made it very clear that Brittany was his one and only priority in that room. It was like watching a general walk into a war room and immediately take control of a chaotic situation. He assumed the position, a team of nurses entered, and we were ready to go.

I still get choked up when I think about the next 15 minutes. Brittany pushed harder than I ever imagined she could. She fought through the pain, exhaustion, and agony, and did not relent. Carolyn was next to her offering encouragement. Dr. Parsons was in front of her telling her when to go and when to stop. It was like watching a master at his craft work.

After only four rounds of pushing, Parson's asked if she would like to take a break. Brittany, being the bad-ass that she is, screamed NO at the top of her lungs and pushed hard enough to send the baby shooting into this world at at least 15 miles per hour. Parson's caught that baby with one hand, and went to work cleaning her up, and taking care of her. I got to cut the umbilical chord, and the baby was on her chest in moments. There was not a dry eye in the room. I'm not much of a crier myself, but there was no holding back at this point.

I wish I could say we were done by this point, but no...there was more.

After the baby is out, there is still the placenta, as well as the process to fix things up. They took the baby off of Brittany at this point so the nurses could do the assessments. I wanted to go with the baby, but it was more important to stay with Brittany. Unfortunately, this last portion was not easy. I'm not sure if the drugs were wearing off or what, but she felt a lot of what the doctor was doing. Brittany was very upset. All she wanted was to stop being poked and prodded, and though it was necessary for the doctor to finish, it was tough to rationalize with her. I held her hand, rubbed her shoulders, and told her that she would make it.

After what seemed like forever, the doctor finally finished, and our baby girl was brought back to us. It was an absolutely beautiful moment.

Pictured: The two loves of my life.

My takeaway from all this is how fortunate we are. As hard and painful as that labor and delivery were, we were blessed to be able to do it. Some people are not as lucky as us and dream for the experience of childbirth.

At the same time, I can't say that that actual labor and delivery is a beautiful thing. It is absolutely incredible, but beautiful is not the correct word. I would use the word brutal. It truly is a brutal experience to witness. We were actually considered fortunate to have an induction completed in 28 hours. I walked away from this with a beautiful baby girl and an appreciation for my wife that I don't think I will ever lose.

I also think we got a hell of a prize at the end of all that.

Also, anyone that does this shit without an epidural is an absolute madwoman.

Part V will be all about our first three months with baby Charlotte.