For a little while we jokingly called this pregnancy the “two-year pregnancy” because it felt about that long, and it was indeed a long road this year. But I took solace in the assumption that the labor and delivery would be quick, since the last labor lasted about 5 hours and the baby came out without a single push from mama.
But this one was a little different in that we went in to be induced a week before the due date (as opposed to a few days after, as in the past), so we weren’t quite sure. So we went in early on Friday morning, anticipating that we’d be holding our baby around mid-day. We went to the nice “Women’s Pavilion” where each of the other three babies were born, so we pretty much knew what we were getting into. Except there was a problem, as indicated by another pregnant woman clutching a boppy pillow in the lobby: no room in the inn.
So instead they put us in a small triage room that all the nurses jokingly called a “closet.” But it had a bathroom, a bed and the requisite monitors to stare at, so they got things started and we hoped some folks would check out before it was time for delivery. Michelle said that I should go around offering Starbucks to anyone who would leave soon. If it was our first labor experience we might have been upset or annoyed at being in the “closet” but we were too excited to meet our baby to care much, and figured we’d be in a real room sooner or later.
It didn’t take too long for us to realize this labor wasn’t necessarily going to be quick. She was steadily measuring 3cm all morning, and there wasn’t much change even as they slowly increased the pitocin to crank the labor into gear. But things were moving along and she opted for the epidural in the morning, so we attempted to relax even as we wondered how this would work out. In the late morning I noticed at least 2 families with newborns checking out, so we finally got a room to call our own. Now that was taken care of, we were ready to meet our boy.
But still the hours passed without much change. Thankfully the baby’s vital signs were always very good, otherwise we would worried even more than we were. So we chatted for a while with our moms who were there to witness the birth. I went downstairs to get lunch, and as I sat on the edge of the parking lot outside eating my turkey sandwich, I realized I was worrying for no good reason. The birthing classes always say: every labor is different. This certainly wasn’t going to be the previous three labors, and that’s OK. We were in good hands with all the nurses and doctors, and most importantly we knew that our heavenly Father was with us.
Having let go of my initial expectations, I figured Michelle would be in labor until evening at her current rate. Around 3pm they did a usual check of her progress and she was about 3.5cm. Again the pitocin was steadily increased. Around the same time, she was having problems with her epidural, as it stopped working except for one side of her body. So she was feeling most of the force of some strong contractions, much to her dismay (she has had epidurals for all 4 labors, but most of them were toward the end of labor, so this wasn’t completely new). The epidural guy kept coming back and redosing, but to no avail. And every time she got a new dose it would mess with her blood pressure, so she threw up a few times and was nauseous.
This is where things start to get crazy, and I’m a little fuzzy on what happened when. First, backing up a little, at the previous birth, everything went so fast, and she had the epidural pretty early, that there really wasn’t much for me to do as far as being a “coach” or a support goes. I thought that was pretty weird, since the first two were pretty intense. Well, this time it was different.
While the epidural guy and the nurse were trying to figure out how to fix the epidural (or if they even could), the contractions were getting pretty hard for Michelle. She was exclaiming and otherwise vocalizing how hard it was, so the nurse would talk her through it, and I was doing my best to calm her down, figuring we still had hours to go.
Then I noticed on the monitor that there were three hard contractions in quick succession (Michelle didn’t need a monitor to tell her this) and I figured it was the pitocin finally kicking in fully (my memory from our birthing class over six years ago failed me, as I forgot what this really meant). This really set her off, and not long after she was talking about needing to push. Of course the nurses didn’t believe her, as you need to be 10cm to start pushing, not 3.5cm. So they checked her, and sure enough she had progressed very rapidly, and she really was at 10cm! That’s when the chaos started, as no one was quite ready for this baby to come (much like our previous baby). Michelle was really upset from the pain, and I tried to calm her, but she would have none of it. Most of the birthing team arrived soon enough, including a resident, but not the doctor yet (I counted 10 people total). Just as Michelle exclaimed that she couldn’t do this anymore, the head nurse told her that she didn’t have to: the hard part was over. As everyone got ready, I saw the top of our son’s head, and in a tearful whisper while we grasped hands, I told Michelle that I saw him. I think she finally realized we were about to see our boy, at long last. With just one push from Michelle, the resident helped deliver his head, and the doctor got there in time to catch the rest of him. After just a couple eternal seconds, Gideon took his first breath and started that unmistakable newborn cry. The doctor handed me the scissors, and after making sure to get Gideon’s wiggly foot out of the way, I got to cut the cord, and we all joined his cries for joy.
This would usually be the end of the birth story, but this one has an especially sweet ending. One of Michelle’s good friends was the head baby nurse that day, and she made sure to honor Michelle’s desire to hold her baby immediately after birth. Of course the nurse was right there to dry him off and make sure he was OK, but Michelle got to hold him closely for quite a while (all the other births they whisked the kid away for shots and footprints and poor mama is left trying to even see her new child across the room). Michelle and I wept for joy even more at this special gift, and Gideon calmed right down and enjoyed snuggling with his loving mama.
As for the details:
Gideon (mighty warrior — from the Bible hero in the book of Judges)
David (beloved – after his grandfather and great-grandfather, also from the Bible hero)
Born 9/17 at 4:33pm
Dark blue eyes, reddish complexion, short dark hair