At 6:06 PM on April 15th, 2011, we welcomed our little Lola to the world outside her mommy. She weighed in at 7 pounds, 2 ounces and 20 inches. The birth and life since has been great.
This past Thursday, April 14, Amy was at 4 cm dilated and 90% effaced. Lola was at station -1. The joke over the past few weeks has been that the day following our weekly Thursday check-ups with our OB/GYN, Dr. Radpour, that Lola would poke and prod the same areas that he was checking. Little did we know . . .
Starting Friday morning, Amy was trying to open her usual protein shake when we heard a click that was not the cap opening. Instead, her water broke! Knowing that water breakage does not necessarily mean you are going into labor, we sat back down and enjoyed a little bit of the morning before getting ready for work. At some point, I made her laugh and a little more water trickled out. At that point, we called and e-mailed our employers to let them know that today might be a big day. Amy called her doula, Lori, and said that her water had broken. Lori said it may not mean much, but she would come over and check.
For the next couple of hours, we took it slow and easy. We had our new washer and dryer set delivered around 9:30 AM, and Lori drove up in the next hour or so. By 11:00 AM, Amy was experience some light contractions that were tight, but not painful. We started packing bags and getting things ready to go to the hospital. At about noon, Amy stopped packing and leaned over a chair at the dining table. Lori said she knew that at that point, things were about to get rolling. For the next 3 hours, the contractions came on stronger and more frequently. Amy mentioned that she was feeling nauseous and went to lay her head down on the toilet. She blamed the nausea on the yogurt Lori made her eat earlier. Instead, she was actually in “transition”, which basically meant her cervix was opening up. Each contraction brought on deeper breathing but nothing loud or really audible to anyone unless you were close by. At one point Lori asked Amy if she was still having contractions. Amy’s response was a slight whisper, “oh yeah”.
Around 3:00 PM, Amy said that she wanted to go to the hospital. If the contractions got any stronger, she was afraid she wouldn’t make it to the car. Lori checked Amy and she was already at 8 cm! I immediately started throwing things in the car and putting towels down. We were fortunate that the all-day rain on Friday had let up for just that little span of 10 minutes to get into the car and checked in at Erlanger Women’s East. I parked the car as Amy was checking in. After signing more paperwork (even after the pre-registration forms had already been completed), Amy had to sign more. We wheeled up to the 1st floor (the entry floor is considered ground level) and were taken into the tiny triage room as every other room was occupied. This triage room is incredibly tiny and even shares a bathroom with an adjacent room. It was nothing like any of the other rooms we had seen from prior friends’ births! I personally felt a bit miffed at that, but Amy didn’t care. She was having strong contractions and fluids were flowing.
The attending nurse, Libby, got us a little situated and left for about 10-15 minutes. When she came back, she asked if Amy had been checked. Lori informed her Libby that Amy was at approximately 8 cm when we left the house. Libby checked and Amy was roughly 9 cm! That really got the ball rolling. The fetal monitor was attached and vitals were taken. More forms were signed and initialed and it looked like we may have been stuck in the triage closet! Fortunately, a room cleared up within a couple of minutes and they wheeled Amy in that direction. Every time we rounded a corner and saw a nurse, they would mention that the floors were still wet. We didn’t care. We just wanted something more comfortable! Heck, the hallway was roomier than the triage closet!!
We got wheeled into the Holly Hock Suite (yeah, they have other names like Pansy Suite and whatnot) and the resident doctor, Dr. Mitchell, came in to take a look at everything and do his doctorly check. He confirmed Libby’s measurements and left for a little bit. After 15 minutes or so, he came back and Amy was feeling some slight urges to push. Amy continued her pushing and barely got above a whisper when saying “okay, okay” through each contraction. Dr. Mitchell would watch the monitor for the contractions, but the peaks barely made it to the halfway point on the graph. They came in somewhat slowly and tapered off gently. Every time Amy was about to push, I had to tell Dr. Mitchell as he was too busy trying to read the graphs. All the while, Libby was doing gentle massaging and saying “Puuuuushh push-push-push-push-push”. She seemed to be able to read how Amy was able to push and synchronized perfectly and helped sustain the pushing.
After almost an hour of pushing, a flood of nurses appeared poured through the doorway and the room suddenly transformed into a very efficient machine. The end of the bed disappeared as it was raised and stirrups came from nowhere. Seemingly innocent tiles in the ceiling turned into spotlights and an oxygen mask came out of the wall! Once things were situated with all the tools and dropcloths in place, the delivery doctor, Dr. Brown, came in and took charge of the room in the way a well-educated Southern Gentleman would. Dr. Radpour was unavailable at the time and Dr. Brown was on-call. Even though we had never met or heard of Dr. Brown before that moment, his charisma, confidence, and charge won us over.
Even though it seemed slow-going, Amy was making progress with each push. As 6:00 PM came closer and closer, we were starting to visibly see Lola making her way. Amy was relieved to know that after months and months of acid reflux, Lola had a very full head of hair! As Lola was about to crown, Dr. Brown made a small episiotomy cut. Very shortly after the cut, Lola slid right out!
All the while, I was right there in the front row watching her come out. One hand was holding Amy’s foot and the other, her leg. In a bit of comedic geekery, I had Amy’s FlipHD camera in my left hand (the foot hand) shooting video, and my iPhone in my right hand (the leg hand) taking still shots. We didn’t notice the signs in the hall stating no videography or cameras in the delivery rooms. Ooops!
When Lola came out, she was zombie gray, which put me into a slight panic. That was the only point where I almost lost it. As it turns out, the gray is a sheen of vernix covering and protecting the baby in the womb and on her way out. After a couple seconds of stimulation, you could see the pink quickly spread all over Lola and she had come to life! As requested, the doctors waited until the umbilical cord stopped pulsing before clamping it, and I was given the honor to cut the cord! Several people have asked what it’s like to cut the cord. With my one-shot experience, it was like cutting a little vinyl tubing soaked in vegetable oil. A little tough, but nothing a nice pair of surgical snips couldn’t handle!
The nurses took Lola to get cleaned off, measured, and scored. While they did that, the doctors worked on getting the placenta out. I’ve heard several times that it is the most disgusting part about birth. What I saw wasn’t all that disgusting, but fascinating. I really wanted to see the sack that was nurturing my baby girl for the past 39 weeks! When it came out, it looked like a liquid-filled eggplant wrapped in transparent cabbage. Yup. That’s right. A purple, eggplant-shaped balloon, in a transparent, veiny wrap.
Once the placenta was delivered, the episiotomy was stitched up (albeit slowly–Dr. Brown was giving Dr. Mitchell some pointers), and Lola was brought over to her mommy. Lola was wide-eyed and alert. She had barely cried during cleanup (and they tried as best as they could). When she was placed on Amy’s chest, she latched onto Amy’s breast perfectly and began her very first suckle. It was magical to say the very least. To this day (all of 5 days later) and after watching the video, I am still in absolute awe of what Amy accomplished. She delivered a vaginal, nearly 100% natural birth. The episiotomy was the only un-natural part, but she was going to tear anyways, so we consider it a negligent trade-off.
After everything was settled and the delivery roomed transformed back into a 5-star hotel suite, the doctors and nurses were commenting on and complimenting Amy on how amazingly she handled everything. Dr. Mitchell even commented that women on epidurals and at only 2 cm dilated would scream louder than Amy. The loudest Amy ever got were a few grunts at the very end, but they were hardly screams. Nobody could believe what she did and how she managed to stay so calm and collected through the entire experience.
Needless to say, it was an amazing birth that I never thought could have been so perfect and (relatively) easy. Sure, there was lots of pain and fluids all over the place, but it was nothing like what you see on TV or in the movies. It all went quite well with a slow, rainy Friday. When all was quiet, you could hear the rain pattering on the sunlight. And when I first held my daughter, my life flipped upside-down and head-over-heels.
There are lots of details that I missed in this whole post, but then we wouldn’t have any more excuses to share our birth stories with everyone. I’ll be posting several more updates about the first few nights with Lola and some new dad tips and experiences that I have had with my daughter.