editor's note: birth details included. read at your own risk.
This is the story of our daughter Vava's birth from my (the father's) perspective. Just in case you were wondering what it was like for me.
I was awakened at five o'clock on Thursday morning by Janelle having her first contractions. "I'm in labour," she said. "You have to call work and tell them you can't go."
"It's too early," I told her, and went back to sleep.
My alarm rang almost an hour later and I woke, checked to see that Janelle was still having contractions, turned off the alarm, and went back to sleep.
At seven forty five I called work, told them Janelle was in labour and that I wouldn't be going to work today, and again, went back to sleep.
By this time, Janelle was having contractions every five to ten minutes. And I was in favour of them continuing because it meant a day off work for me.
A little later on we got out of bed, we got Sam up, and Janelle's mom, and we spent the day doing regular stuff, timing Janelle's contractions and trying to contact our friends to tell them that at any minute, we might have to rush to the hospital, and could they please watch Sam for us?
So, I'm no sure this exists or not, but the midwives to us to come to the hospital when the contractions get to be about four minutes apart and last for one minute over an hour, approximately. So that's what I was looking for. Every time Janelle had a contraction, I timed it with the stopwatch and recorded the duration and time on a piece of paper I kept with me.
The contractions lasted from thirty seconds to three minutes, they came three, four, eight, eleven, twenty minutes apart. Never becoming regular or predictable. By lunch time I was beginning to think I should just go to work.
The afternoon progressed, we went for a walk, pushing Sam in the stroller. We walked around the block, came back home. We had supper. By this time, Janelle was becoming quite sore.
After supper we decided to call the midwife. I told her how the contractions were going and that Janelle was in some pain and she said something like, "It's probably nothing, but if it'll make you feel better, come to the hospital and I'll do an assessment."
So Janelle's mom dropped us off at the hospital, we went into labour and delivery with all the prepacked bags and sat down in the waiting room and waited. There was nobody at the reception desk, just a phone. But I was expecting the midwife to come in and meet us in the waiting room. Eventually I got the bright idea to look around, and sure enough there was a sign on the phone that said to call a number to get inside. So I called and told the nurse who answered that we were supposed to meet our midwife here and the nurse said, "Oh, yeah, she's here, come on in." And the doors swung open.
So we went inside, hauling all our bags, and were shown to an assessment room. I tucked the bags under a table and sat down and Janelle lay down on the bed.
The midwife came shortly after and connected Janelle and the baby to a heartrate monitor. And then she examined Janelle.
And then she pretty much said, "Yeah, just like I thought, it's nothing, you're only two centimeters dilated. It's probably just false labour. Don't worry, it happens often to first time mothers. Go home, have a hot bath, drink some tea and have a good sleep."
So we got our bags together and left the hospital.
Janelle was furious. I was confused.
Janelle was too furious to call her mom to come pick us up right away, so we started walking.
Anyways, we eventually got home. We watched a TV show, and then went to bed. Oh yeah, and the contractions stopped.
It was around midnight when the contractions came back... with a vengeance. They'd been painful before, now they were excruciating. Every five to ten minutes, Janelle would wake me up and I'd rub her back or press on her back.
She vomited a few times during the night.
I started timing the contractions sometime in the early morning. Again, looking for what the midwife said would indicate "real" labour: strong contractions lasting about one minute, four minutes apart. These contractions were lasting between fifty seconds and three minutes and coming irregularly at three, eight, five, ten, four, six minutes apart. Just, you know, whatever.
Between contractions I dreamed that my Aunt Doris had a complete mental breakdown and ran away and the police were looking for her. And then I dreamed that I got attacked by a moose while holding Sam and the last thing I thought before the moose charged was: "How am I going to explain to everyone how Sam got killed by a moose?"
So, at seven o'clock, when Janelle said I should call the midwife, I was a bit hesitant. What do I tell her? She's just going to think we're over anxious. I procrastinated for about half an hour.
So about seven thirty I called the midwife and told her what was going on and she asked to talk to Janelle. Janelle came down the stairs to the phone and the midwife told her to wait and see if the contractions became regular. Oh yeah, and she said to take some tylenol or gravol.
Janelle asked for tylenol, but I brought her some extra strength ibuprofen. She protested, "What if it's bad for the baby?" I made her take it anyway.
The contractions continued the same as they had been. Janelle vomited a few more times. And she had to pee all the time.
At around nine o'clock Janelle told me to call the midwife again. I was still hesitant but this time I didn't procrastinate. This time I got a different midwife. I told Midwife #2 what was happening with Janelle's contractions and she said that irregular contractions lasting a long time sounds like false labour. So I said, "Janelle's in an awful lot of pain." So she asked to talk to Janelle.
I brought the phone up to Janelle in the washroom and then after talking to the midwife, Janelle told me that we'd go to the hospital as soon as she finished on the toilet.
And then she had another contraction and suddenly, she couldn't get up off the toilet anymore and she had the urge to push!
I tried to bully Janelle into getting into the car, but it didn't work until her mom joined me and we both bullied her into the car.
I got the bags and everything into the car and we drove to the hospital as fast as I could. At the door, Janelle got into a wheel chair and I pushed her up to labour and delivery.
We went straight to the phone and I called in, Janelle was moaning behind me and I said, "Hi my wife is in labour, can we come in?"
I guess the nurse heard Janelle's moaning because the doors swung right open and she came running up and asked, "What's going on here?"
And then Midwife #2 came and got us into an assessment room and then Janelle had to go to the washroom again, so I wheeled her up the hall and she went into the washroom and locked the door and I let the nurse take the wheelchair back to the entrance. And I stood outside the washroom door and waited.
Midwife #2 came from getting the assessment room ready (I guess) and stood across from me and asked for some details and I filled her in as much as I could and then we both heard Janelle say, "I feel like I need to push!"
Midwife #2 went right for the door but it was locked, "Can you get it open?" she asked.
"Just wait, I'll try."
So while Janelle tried to unlock the door, the midwife took off and came back a second later, pulling on a pair of gloves. And then she stood outside the door, her shoulders squared, her feet apart, ready to spring into action.
I think that's when I fell in love :) (Just a platonic crush. C'mon.)
Janelle managed to get the door unlocked after what felt like forever, and Midwife #2 sprang in. I tried to help, but she just told me to get out of the way and go wait in the room. So I did.
And then Midwife #2 helped Janelle into the room and down on the bed and checked her out. And Janelle kept saying that she had to pee and couldn't hold it in and that she was going to pee on the bed.
"You're not going to pee," Midwife #2 said. "The baby's head is like, right here, and that's why you feel like you're going to pee. You're going to have this baby, like, right now."
I can't remember how, but the nurse and the Midwife and I got Janelle into a labour room and Midwife #2 started coaching her about pushing and breathing. And then Midwife #1 showed up and the two of them worked on Janelle.
And then I heard Midwife #2 whisper to the nurse, "There's mec in the birth canal."
And all of a sudden people started falling out of the cracks in the walls and the ceiling. A doctor showed up, another nurse, four respiratory technicians. There was like, twelve people in that room all at once. And the baby's heart rate dropped.
The doctor took over from the midwives, and started pulling on the baby's head with a thing he called a vacuum.
I was really worried. I thought the baby was going to die and that they weren't telling us. I almost couldn't keep from crying from worry. So I just patted Janelle's shoulder and told her she was doing awesome. And I sniveled a little bit. And then I was in the way of the nurse, who was connecting an IV, so I had to back off.
And Janelle pushed and pushed and waited and pushed...
It felt like hours. But then the baby popped out and slid into the Doctor's hands, all red and yellow and slimy and mewling. They clamped and cut the umbilical cord in half a second and passed the baby to the respiratory technicians who immediately started poking and pinching her and rubbing her with a hot towel. I stayed by Janelle's shoulder for a bit and then they told me I could go see my baby so I went over to where they were pinching and poking and rubbing her and I put my hands on her face and rubbed her and they told me that they were trying to keep her crying to clear the shiznit she had inhaled out of her lungs. And then they wrapped her up and took her to the ICU.
Apparently, at this time it was only half an hour after we'd arrived at the hospital but it felt like much, much later.
And then they didn't bring the baby back from ICU until that afternoon! And I was just aching to hold her all that time.
Anyways... that's about it.