I don’t have a clue how painful it is to push during delivery for two and a half hours. I only know the look of pain on my wife’s face. I know that it wasn’t a “prancing through a magical field of jelly beans” kind of experience. I do know that it isn’t as painful as having to stop pushing after doing it for two and a half hours. This is exactly what Emily had to do as we waited for the ambulance to arrive. She now let out powerful moans that I am pretty sure shook the entire house. I can only imagine what our poor dog, Summit, was thinking what was happening to his “mommy” as he heard those painful noises.
Every single moan was like a spin kick to my emotions. I was thinking, “Oh baby, why couldn’t you just jump over that pelvic bone? Don’t you know how much your mommy is hurting?” I’ll admit the experience was far more painful for my wife, but it was one of the most emotionally battering moments in my life to watch Emily in agony but not being able to do a single thing (well, except to tell her to breathe and maybe to remember to breathe a bit myself). I just wanted to find a vacuum and magically suck out all that pain and then flush it down the toilet. I unfortunately lost the instruction manual to the vacuum and I didn’t know how to perform that procedure. Instead, I just let my wife apply her chokehold on me and I hoped that this was now the worst part of the whole ordeal.
As I said in the past column, Emily’s body wasn’t providing strong enough contractions and so she was doing almost all the pushing herself. This meant that our poor baby had been stuck near the pelvic bone for two and half hours, and the baby’s crown was beginning to swell after so much time pushed against the bone. Emily had been a warrior, but it was time to go to the hospital in order to safely get this baby into the world.
Of course, we had planned a home birth, and even worse, we had planned for another 9 days to get ready for this home birth. There were no bags packed for the hospital, and so it was now my job to scramble to get something put together (in between offering up an arm or neck for my wife to squeeze for relief).
The next few minutes of packing went something like this. “What pants did you throw in?” “I don’t know. Brown and stretchy?” “I don’t want those pants? I want my grey sweatpants.” “You have grey sweat pants?” Eventually we had a packed bag even if Emily didn’t get the pants she wanted and I forgot all about a camera. (Why would I ever want to take pictures?)
Because the day didn’t batter my emotions enough, the paramedics arrived and I got to watch my moaning wife stretchered out of our home (while our dog serenaded my departing wife with concerned barks). Emily was quickly rushed away with the midwife being allowed to go with her in the ambulance, and I was left making sure I brought everything she would need for an overnight stay (which as I already revealed, did not include the camera—a hint for any future scrambling fathers).
My mind was racing with a thousand thoughts (again the writer’s curse) and scary scenarios. To add to my worrying, I started wondering how I was even going to find my wife once I arrived to the hospital. I’d been to this hospital a few times prior to this day, but I’m pretty sure I’d never been successful at avoiding wandering the halls aimlessly after making a wrong turn. This wasn’t really the day to take a scenic tour of my hometown’s fine medical institution.
My worries were unfounded. Even though the ambulance got a 5 minute head start, they must have stopped for a coffee or forgot where they were going, because I arrived at the exact same time as them. I was waved into the emergency area and able to follow my stretchered and moaning (but still oh-so-beautiful) wife up to the delivery room.
Unfortunately, our midwife didn’t have privileges at this hospital and my wife’s care needed to be passed over to an obstetrician. An obstetrician that I was pretty sure was being flown in from Australia, because the wait felt like an hour. The reality is it was likely under 10 minutes before she arrived, but time slows down when you’re witnessing your wife in unbearable pain and you’re just begging for her to be able to push again.
The joy ride to the hospital seemed to be a good thing as it bounced our baby much closer to the “exit.” The contractions still weren’t in the mood to offer much assistance, and the obstetrician was considering suction if the baby wasn’t able to get out in the next few pushes. This was an option we were strongly opposed to when we learned about in the comfort of a classroom many weeks ago, but things change when you see your wife in agony and you’re just begging for a happy conclusion to this wild adventure.
This was an option my wife still wanted to be a last resort, and so she let out pushes that would have moved a boulder (and she did this with contractions that were unwilling to help her out). It was during this time that I overheard the nurses talking about the baby’s heart rate dropping—because apparently, this story just did not have enough moments of panic.
The obstetrician then brought up the possibility of cutting. Emily is a fit and athletic woman, which is probably one of the reasons she could handle the pain. It also meant she had some pretty tight muscles and wasn’t making life easy for the traveling baby (and was also causing some less than lovely tearing). Emily did not want the episiotomy, but she also wasn’t aware of the baby’s dropping heart rate. I wanted the pain to end for her, and I wanted our baby to get into this world safely. So we turned to our midwife who had been with us on this journey and someone we’ve grown to trust. When she agreed the episiotomy was the best option, then we went forward.
It took one more powerful push, and my mighty and amazing wife completed her all natural and medication free delivery. We finally had our beautiful baby.
A beautiful baby that I will tell you all about … in my next column.