People often say “birth is one of the most beautiful things to witness” and I always thought they were full of it. I have seen videos and it is anything but pretty. One of my wife’s friends gave me perhaps the most useful advice for an expecting father when he told me “dude, you don’t have to look.”
My wife went into pre-labor around 11:00pm and we went to the hospital the next day. Her contractions were rather weak and far apart so we thought there was a high possibility that they would send us home and have us retun when the contractions got stronger and closer together. We live about five minutes away from the hospital so we left her overnight bag here at home. After they checked her out they decided to have her check in and stay so they could monitor the progression of her contractions. They gave her a drug to help the labor progress and said they would see how things progressed over the next twelve hours.
I walked home to pick up her overnight bag and to take our dog out for his afternoon/evening walk. After I returned my wife called to say the labor wasprogressing faster thanour doctor had anticipated so I ran out the door to get to the delivery room. When I arrived I found her hooked up to a variety of devices including an i.v. and an external baby monitor which keeps track of the baby’s heart rate. She was visibly in pain but coherent and asked if I could put some music on. I fired up the laptop and turned on one of my favorite jazz stations. This seemed to calm her down a bit. I settled into the chair to prepare for a long evening.
She was doing well when all of a sudden three of four nurses came rushing into the room with a concerned look on their faces. They proceded to probe and push on her belly and fuss with the external monitor. The baby’s heart rate was decreasing at a dangerous rate. My wife began to cry and they put an oxygen mask over her mouth. I felt so helpless. All I could do is hold her hand and let her know “everything is going to be o.k. Breathe, breathe…” Soon the baby’s heart rate went back to normal and everyone breathed a sigh of relief. But then it happened again. The heart rate decreased, the nurses came rushing in, they poked and prodded and the heart rate went back to normal.
They switched to an internal monitor to track the baby’s heart rate. The internal monitor attaches to the top of the baby’s head and is more accurate than the external monitor. We knew from our birthing classes that hospitals use the internal monitor when they feel there is a higher possibility of complications for the mom or the baby. So there she was, hooked to yet another device and they were all blipping and bleeping, a quartet of lights and sounds.
At this point I made myself comfortable (if that’s the right word) for the evening. There was a low ledge against the wall and I laid a sheet down and put a pillow under my head in preparation for a long night. I dozed in and out but never really went to sleep. All the sounds and light from the monitors made it difficult. At one point I was shocked awake by the lack of noise. All the monitors were off and I could not hear any heart beats! Was this a dream? I wandered out into the hallway and found a nurse to inform her what was happening and a group of them came rushing in again, fiddling with the equipment. Aparently the wire on the internal monitor had come loose.
At about 3:00 or 4:00 in the morrning our doctor arrived and stayed with us in the delivery room, keeping a close eye on everything. Every once in a while he would get up and make an adjustment here or there. By 5:30am the sun was starting to come up. The labor was progressing but she was still not dilated to the extent that she needed to be. Around 7:00am our doctor said, “I don’t think it is good to wait any longer, the labor is not progressing so I am going to have to do a c-section, ok?” We both said “yes”. What else do you say in this situation.
So they wheeled her out of the delivery room to surgery. I got suited up in some scrubs and joined my wife. When they do a c-section there is a curtain right above the breasts so you can’t see them cutting or removing the baby. I imagine that would quite frightful if you were not used to seeing it. They gave her some anesthetic and put an oxygen mask over her mouth. I held on to her and stroked her hair and the doctor with a group of assistants made the cut and began to remove the baby. It seemed like it took a great deal of effort. They were pulling this way and that. For some reason I thought it would be a little more smooth. You know, make a cut and whoosh! out comes the baby. After a couple of minutes they got him out and said “he’s a baby boy!” We heard him cry and my wife and I both started crying. What an ordeal and he was finally here.
I know it sounds crazy but those cries were the most soothing sound I have ever heard in my life. To know that my wife and he were ok. It was so wonderful. After that they wheeled her to the recovery room and I made the requisite calls to my mom, mom and pop in-law and bro-in-law to let them know there were grandparents and an uncle of a healthy baby boy.