Tuesday night I was called to the home of N and J – N had been having contractions since 2 pm and now, 9 hours later, they decided it was time to go to the hospital. After being monitored and checked, and N being pronounced 1 centimeter dilated, they were sent home.
N continued having contractions and the next morning they were starting to pick up. Around noon, they headed back to the hospital and this time they were admitted – N’s dilation was now 3-4 centimeters. N coped beautifully, and J was one of the most connected partners I have ever seen. We took a walk around the hospital campus and noted such things as the cell phone tower that looks like a tree. N would pause during a contraction and lean into J, and then we would continue forward once the contraction had passed.
Around 6:30pm N was checked again and found to be 5 centimeters. Not what we wanted to hear! But N was motivated to stick with it even though she was tired. The shower worked well until the Jacuzzi tub was filled, and from about 8 until 10 that evening we were all stationed in the tub room. N was getting more relief than before, moving in the water to a hands and knees position during contractions, and then to a sitting position to rest.
N had been having intense back labor this whole time. It became obvious her little guy was in a posterior position. At 10pm, 32 hours into the process, N was checked and found to be 6ish centimeters open. Her midwife offered a couple of suggestions --one being to break the bulging bag of water to see if this helped labor and dilation, the other to assess the pressure of the contractions to see if, after all this time, their strength was adequate to make the necessary cervical changes. As their midwife spoke with N and J, answering questions, encouraging them to make the decisions they felt most comfortable with, and assuring them they had time to think about it all, she then left the room to let N and J talk it over. They decided to have N’s water broken, and N also wanted to try some pain medication.
With the bulging bag of water N was dilated to a 6.5, but once it was broken, she went back down to 5. This was disappointing news for N and J. After all these hours, though, the fast-acting narcotic pain medication was giving N a little bit of respite. Thankfully, N’s baby finally moved into a better position, relieving that unrelenting back pain. After 70 minutes or so of J and I standing vigil at the bed, and with the medication mostly worn off, N was found to be 8-9 centimeters. Her contractions never decreased in intensity or frequency and she was getting so close to being done!
At this point, J and I got her into the shower to sit on the ball. This is where the last of her cervix would melt away in preparation of the baby’s birth.
When we came out of the bathroom, J was feeling like pushing, and we were all happy to learn that yes, her cervix was gone. It was finally time to fill the birth tub!
J climbed in and, as she had many times before, she settled in to listen to her body’s signals. She began pushing. Their midwife said to Dad, “Hey, J – once the baby starts to come, do you want to help him out?” I don’t think this was something J ever imagined, and if the idea had been brought up at any other point than this precise moment, I wonder if he would have agreed so quickly? But the right question from the right person at the right time was the perfect set-up for this dad to help catch his baby.
N pushed on her hands and knees. In no time we saw the baby’s thick, dark hair waving in the water. Unlike the movies or television, N’s midwife relaxed and watched N follow her body’s cues. There was no “Push, push, push, pushpushpushPUSH!” –ing involved. All was quiet and peaceful as we eagerly waited to meet this baby.
At 3:05am, Baby Austin was born -- his daddy’s secure hands brought him up through the water to the safe harbor of his mommy’s chest. 37+ hours after labor began for this couple, they held their new baby and whispered elated words of joy and love to him.
The birth team worked incredibly well together, and the midwife was aptly soothing and intuitive. All of that aside, though, this couple was exquisite. When it's all said and done, this new family has their own story to tell, a story where no one else stood out as heroes except Mom and Dad. This couple shared an experience they will forever treasure: a long labor, on the longest day of the year, that brought them their summer solstice waterbaby.
♥ four young boys and a boy dog (offspring)