Can you stand it?!
Ok... here goes...
Note: I started this over a week ago. Welcome to motherhood. -Ros
No one could have prepped me for what happened during Nickie's labor. In the months leading up to the event, I had helped her with her hypnosis, typed out a full page birth plan and envisioned the wonderful bonding experience we would share. I never thought things would have ended up the way they did.
There is nothing worse than watching the one I love more than anyone go through the amount of pain she did in severity and length. My life has not been terribly difficult, but I have had to do some tough things in my lifetime. This, by far, trumped any other situation I had been in.
Hour 1-15: When we were walking the mall, I remember thinking "this won't be so bad". She would lean over the rail, take a few breaths, and continue to walk. I made sure Nickie was drinking and eating. I'd rub her back. We'd chat between contractions. When we got home from our second walk, I called my parents to pickup the dogs. Nickie started to get less chatty. I thought, "Good. Maybe we'll have a baby tonight!". If I only knew then what I know now...
Hour 16-29: Things started getting tougher. Nickie labored through the night and I would wake up every few minutes to her moaning. She could not do her hypnosis, which was the saving grace in my mind. I thought she would get into it and be comfortable. When we got up to walk up and down the street, she started hanging on my during contractions while we walked, which I thought was nice. As we passed the 24 hour mark, I thought that at least things must be getting close, though I worried that her labor pattern was so odd.
Hours 30-36: At 3pm, when we got to the midwife, I was relieved that she was already 5cms. The ride there was awful and dreaded the idea of bringing her home again. I figured we'd have the baby by the end of the night! As I sped down I-90 to get our bags, I worried that I'd miss something. She might even have the baby without me! (Ha!)
The evening nurse, Yanna, was great, Our midwife, Angela, was incredible. They were so invented and caring. Both took care of Nickie as well as me. They made sure I was drinking and got me a food tray. I don't know how I would've survived without them supporting my....supporting.
Through the evening and into the night, Nickie was a trooper. She'd have a strong contraction, hang, then say "ok" and keep walking. Angela was very impressed with her. My job was to be hung on, talk to her and give her the water bottle between contractions. I thought that after walking miles, we must be getting some where. When she got checked and she had only gone 2cms in 7 hours, I started to wonder how much longer she could do this.
Hour 37-43: These were the hardest hours of my life. I started to forget why we were there. It felt like I was living minute by minute to watch my wife slowly rip in half. All of the sudden, Nickie wasn't talking between contractions anymore, which the midwife said was good. Nickie wasn't as confident as she had been and would cry. All I could do is hold her, tell her how well she was doing and that she could do it (not that she had a choice). I really believed she could do it naturally until she got checked again and she had only gotten to 8 cms in the 3 hours of excruciating pain since the last check. Nickie started to lose it and just said "I'm just so tired". So was I. I was exhausted. I had watched her grimace in her sleep all night the night before. It was 1am at this point on night 2 and I wondered how much more encouragement I could give. I grabbed the semi useless night nurse, Joyce, and I told her to get our midwife. Angela came in and sat on the floor next to Nickie, who was inconsolable. I was rejoicing in my head when she said she would recommend the epidural because of her bizarre labor and length.
It was exciting to see the anesthesiologist come up so fast. I thought this was the end. I'd seen MD's get into the epidural spaces of infants during my years in pedi, so I figured Nickie would be easy. After poke 2, the Angela and nurses were eyeing eachother and I realized this wasn't normal. Nickie had the death grip on my hand through her needle stabs and contractions. I thought the ring on my right hand was going to rip through my skin, but I figured it was a fraction of her pain, so I didn't say anything. Watching her hunched over for 45 mins was inhumane, but at that point I was so delirious it just felt like the worst dream of my life; I thought I would eventually wake up.
Hours 44-48: It was such a relief when they got the epidural in and her water finally broke. We could relax and I started to remember why we were there. When her blood pressure dropped a bit, I wasn't too phased by it. I don't know if it was because I was so tired, or if it was from my ICU days where I knew it was eay to amend. After everything settled out and Nickie fell asleep, I cried for a bit out of happiness because she was laying comfortably for the first time in days. I slept for about an hour before waking up and getting kicked out to get food by the staff, who noticed I hadn't eaten much. The only thing that looked appetizing at 6am was a piece of Boston Cream pie and some pudding.
Hour 48-50-Labor: The last 2 hours flew for me. Nickie didn't think her pushing was doing anything because she couldn't feel it, but I could see a little more hair with every push. Angela pointed out the mohawk the baby was getting as she would come out a little when Nickie pushed then sink back in a little. I think that moved the time for me. I kept covering up Nickie's bottom with a towel so she wouldn't see her 'roids in the mirror (OUCH). When things got close, I saw Angela giving the eye to the day nurse, Melissa. When Angela calmly said she wanted to bring in the OB "just in case" because the baby could have a shoulder dystocia, I thought it would just be icing on the shit cake. Luckily, that didn't happen, because the OB didn't have time to get there.
Watching Nickie pull Dillon up on her chest was surreal. I remember pausing and thinking "this is what the best moment of your life feels like". Just amazing.
Hour 50 1/2: I fell in love. Dillon and I hung out at the warmer while Nickie was getting sewn up. I wanted Nickie to see her, but I appreciated the time I had alone for a few minutes. I was told by others that it can take the second parent a while to bond. That didn't happen to me. She was my baby girl pretty quick. I examined her and saw Nickie: her detached ears, the dipple in her chin, the button nose and obviously the super mop of hair. She was mine from the beginning.
Things I learned:
1) Plans are a great idea, as long as you don't plan on following them. We had our birth planned to the minute and it could not have veered further off course, but in the end, it was okay.
2) Midwifes are angels. Seriously. I have no doubt that Nickie would have ended up with Pitocin and a c-section had we had an OB. And I think she would've given in to these ideas due to a lack of support. Angela was with us every step, as opposed to an OB, who would check in every few hours to pop some digits in Nickie. We both agreed that we would not change a thing when it comes to who was with us.
3) My wife is incredible. I knew this before, but it is ultra reinforced. Who can labor for 42 hours straight the way she could? Not me. I don't think a huge majority of women could. And look what she gave me? Have you seen pictures? I have the cutest kid in the world! I can't love her or thank her enough.