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The Great Labor Adventure, part 2: The hard lesson about planning ahead

Written by: Christopher January 20 2012 We did have a birth plan. It was going to be a water birth at home, and it was going to be in 2012. While Emily was moaning on the toilet, and I was begging for the midwife to get here faster, I was left thinking, “Well, at least...

Written by: Christopher

We did have a birth plan. It was going to be a water birth at home, and it was going to be in 2012. While Emily was moaning on the toilet, and I was begging for the midwife to get here faster, I was left thinking, “Well, at least it looks like we’ll be able to do this at home.”

It was the day after Christmas (called Boxing Day in Canada), which was still a few days shy from 2012. We did have the parts for the pool that Emily was supposed to try sitting in during labor, and I was more than willing to assemble it. I would assemble it, if I knew how. The week before New Year’s seemed like the perfect time to figure out how to assemble the pool, and it definitely would have been if our baby wasn’t so eager to check this world out. I knew we had way too much fun at that Christmas party, and it got our child far too excited to start partying out here. Though it took me an entire morning to assemble our “do it in four easy steps” compost bin, I still would have been willing to try to put the pool together without any dry run.

Except I had a wife serenading the entire house with her epic moans, and I was occasionally held in place by her iron grip on my arm. She stopped long enough that I could sneak out of the bathroom, but the water birth didn’t seem so important when I watched my wife be overwhelmed by the pain. My job was now to remind her to breathe, allow my arm become a makeshift stress ball, and promise her the midwife would be here very soon. Besides we still had the potential for a water birth but it would have to be in the bathtub. Emily decided she was most comfortable in the bathtub, and so that is where she ended up when the midwife finally arrived.

This is when the whirlwind entered our house, and the next few hours became the personification of crazy. I said before that we had plans, but unfortunately, they worked best if the baby realized we weren’t expecting it until 2012. We have a big, lovable Bernese Mountain Dog who also acts as a great guard dog, and we knew it’d be best if he stayed over at the neighbors or my parents. It still had not been confirmed where he’d stay and so the emergency meant his new location was our backyard. Of course, there was the pool that we wanted to assemble that was still sitting in the box, but there was also some other preparations that were supposed to be done before the midwife arrived. We knew that we were supposed to have the bed covered in plastic, have towels laid out for cleaning, and clothing/blankets out for the newly arrived baby to be swaddled. I think there were a few other things too, but it is now all been forgotten thanks to the ferocious whirlwind of that night.

The midwife arrived to a heavily breathing naked woman in a tub and a husband trying to hide the fact his mind was a complete blur. This was supposed to be the week I got into the “game zone,” but instead I found my inner self blubbering, “We’re supposed to be cleaning the bathrooms for today’s party, not making a bigger mess of them!” I felt even more ill equipped when the midwife asked me if the bed had been prepared for the delivery and I blurted out, “Uh. . . um. . . I’ve been in here timing contractions. Um. . . I mean, no.”

I was about ready to remedy the bed situation when I was then asked where were the towels that were going to be used to clean the baby and where the clean clothes were that the baby was going to wear. I suddenly realized I never talked to Emily about which towels were meant for cleaning or what baby clothes were clean for wearing. The only person who could help me with this situation was busy trying not to hyperventilate in a tub. It seems like an easy task picking out towels or deciding which bed sheets to put on the bed, but I also knew I had a talent for always picking out the wedding gift from the great aunt that would cause a natural disaster if they got soiled or messy.

I was able to solve the crisis. I ran around like a mad man. I made several visits to the tub to get approval from the heavily breathing beauty (remember when I said my wife reads this?). The midwife probably wondered how it took a man 40 minutes to accomplish a simple task. But it got accomplished. I was now very aware of the fact of how ill-prepared we were for the delivery of this baby. Finally, everything was in order and I was sure things would go smoothly now. Besides, even though the midwife seemed in a rush, Emily still wasn’t at “4-1-1”, so obviously the actual delivery was far away.

This is when the midwife turned to me and announced that the other midwife might not get here in time. I may have to help with the delivery. Me. The guy who planned to hide behind my wife, because I was afraid I’d faint if I saw anything. The guy who was terrified he may be asked to cut the umbilical cord. This was the guy who may have to help with some of the delivery.

I looked at her confidently and calmly said, “No problem.” But on the inside I was saying, “AAAAAHHHHHH!” (I hid it well.)

If that request made me panic, the next announcement was about to knock me over the edge. The midwife had been checking the fetal heart rate after every contraction. After Emily’s next contraction, the midwife continued with her routine. Then she said, “I can’t find the heartbeat. Help me get her out of the tub and call 911.”

To be continued! Tune in next Wednesday for the rest of the story.

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