Part 1: Wednesday
Around 2am Wednesday morning, March 2nd, 2016, my wife nudged me in bed and said, “I’m in labor!” Astoundingly, our beautiful baby boy, Benjamin, wasn’t born until Friday, March 4th, 2016 at 7pm … Settle in and pour yourself a cup of coffee. This is a long story.
We Planned and Planned
The months leading up to our “guess date”, we got as prepared as we could. I don’t call it a “due date” because, statistically speaking, not many births happen on the due date. So what happens if you go past it? Unnecessary stress! Here are some numbers:
“Normally, women are given a date for the likely delivery of their baby calculated as 280 days after the onset of their last menstrual period. Yet only four percent of women deliver at 280 days and only 70% deliver within 10 days of their estimated due date, even when the date is calculated with the help of ultrasound.” *
Prior to our guess date, we did all the recommended things. We went to birth classes, got a midwife, and hired a doula. Okay, I guess we did all the things Ricki Lake recommended in the documentary, Business Of Being Born. Her ideas jived with us and, after eating a hot dog and fries while buying a poorly made side table from IKEA, we were feeling very Swedish (75% of births are attended by midwives in Sweden **
The preparation didn’t stop there. Skimming through books like The Birth Partner and What to Expect When You’re Expecting. I read a book about what the first days with our baby would be like and books about how not to mess up our kid mentally in the first 10 minutes of knowing him. I glanced at my wife’s computer screen from time to time, seeing one of the hundreds of birth videos she was watching … It went on and on.
We ate at IKEA
We met with our doula and wrote down our birth wishes. Our wish was to give birth naturally at home, or at IKEA. Either way, it just had to feel Swedish. It’s called a birth wish, because calling it a “plan” can lead to regret and depression if things don’t go according to “plan”. We, of course, remained logical about the idea of having a home birth. Our midwives were especially trained to handle any birth issues and there was a room held for us at the hospital close to our home, should the need arise.
Maybe all this preparation somehow helped but nothing could prepare me for the emotional, mental, and physical (mostly my wife on this one) turmoil that comes with delivering a baby.
Okay, What Happened Already?
Okay, so, after my wife told me that she was in labor at 2 am on Wednesday morning, I mostly just fell back asleep. Not because I’m evil, but just because I’ve trained myself to fall back asleep quickly after my wife tells me something in the middle of the night.
You see, my wife likes to lie in bed at night and think about stuff going on in her life. I, on the other hand, try to think of nothing. Often, I’m woken up with comments like, “Do you even watch Netflix? We should cancel it.” Or “I wish we lived on acreage.”
Anyway, for the rest of that night (Wednesday morning), I slept while my wife laid in bed thinking about the day(s) to come.
There’s an app for That
When I woke up, things were still quite upbeat as we shared our excitement over the reality that we’d be meeting our baby boy soon. I had time to make a coffee, make breakfast and download an app for my phone that would make counting contractions easier.
The contractions were making progress but we tried to keep our mind off of them as much as we could. We went for a walk and had a bath. This is all recommended during early labor.
It just so happened that we had a midwife appointment that day at noon. So, the contractions, walking and bathing continued until then. We called the midwives and they determined that we were fine to come in to the clinic.
The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe
When we got to the clinic, the midwives decided to check my wife’s cervix. For those who don’t know what a cervix is, its a magical door that needs to open for the baby to come out. Think “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe”. On one side of the door is your normal pre-baby life. On the other side of the door is a mystical, dream-like world filled with bright colors (kids toys) and weird creatures (hallucinations from sleep deprivation).
The cervix starts out closed and gradually (and from what I hear – unpleasantly), opens to around 10 cm. This is when the pushing starts and the baby makes his grand debut.
The midwife checked and before she said a single word, we knew that we weren’t going to like the news. No progress. After 10 hours of pre-labor, my wife’s cervix was still closed shut. So deflating!
Our midwife reassured us that this was fine but wanted us to get an ultrasound to make sure the baby was in the correct, head down position. The ultrasound revealed that our baby was head down, but looking towards my wife’s right hip.
So we went home.
So we Laboured
As the afternoon and evening progressed, so did the frequency and duration of my wife’s contractions. I continued to consult the app I had downloaded earlier and was provided with useful advice like “Make sure your bags are packed to leave for the hospital at any moment” and “Your baby will be arriving shortly”.
Feeling quite encouraged by the app and the now 20 hours of labor that had passed, we called our doula and midwife to get further advice…