Birth Story:  From Dad’s Perspective

The Coach’s Play-By-Play:

Yesterday afternoon Kari had a few mild contractions, but they subsided after a couple BMs and a little walking. Then at 3:37PM Kari was vacuuming (putsy-putsy?), squatted down and her water broke. She called the midwives after hours number, and the midwife on call said as long as the baby was moving (he was) we could come in anytime in the next 12 hours for a checkup to decide next steps. So I finished packing our hospital bag while Kari climbed into bed to do some relaxation. 45 minutes later contractions were 3-5 minutes apart, sometimes with one running into the other! At that point I called the hospital —- Kari couldn't call, just like we learned! -- and said we were on the way. Slowly, we made our way to the car, with one contraction in the breezeway. Then took the longest 15-minute drive of our lives, with a bunch of contractions in the car and lots of fluids. Glad we had the towels, garbage bags, and barf bags. No urge to push, but a few utterances of "Brett, I can't do this." (Spoiler alert: She could!)

We wheelchaired into the labor and delivery ward, got our room, checked vitals, with a little mounting panic. And two times during contractions the word epidural was mentioned, but we focused on getting through one contraction at a time. The midwife arrived in plenty of time, checked dilation, and Kari was 8cm! Already in transition, so the "I can't do this" was right on schedule! Then we moved to a warm bathtub to do some more. That really helped Kari, as did turning the lights down, ice chips, hair stroking, pouring warm water over her belly, a little visualization, and of course abdominal breathing. My strategy was to keep trying different things we practiced to see what worked, and we got into a rhythm in the tub. Another key thing was making low noises instead of high-pitched noises, and at one point three of us in the room were making low noises along with Kari. Oh, and at one point between contractions Kari briefly broke into "Let It Go" from Frozen. Our delivering midwife was awesome.

After 30 minutes or so in the tub Kari exclaimed "OVERWHELMING URGE TO PUSH!" in a direct quote of Bradley class.  :)  We slowly moved back to the bed to do the pushing. When the midwife checked to make sure Kari was actually fully dilated, she was surprised to feel the baby's head only about an inch in.  The midwife massaged oils into the perineum, and that gave Kari a comfort that she was at least doing all she could to prevent tearing, even though Kari also didn't like the midwife touching her. But in the end she did not tear there, thanks also to the Kegals! During pushing the "I can't do this" completely went away, and the contractions spaced out a bit, giving Kari a break between series of pushes. Took about 30 minutes of pushing to get our little cone-headed guy out into the world. The ring of fire is real, but when Kari felt it she realized he was there and got energized for a few final hard pushes to get him out.  We ended up delivering with Kari basically sitting upright, curled up holding her knees, with a nurse and me also holding knees. Then we immediately had our son on Kari's chest, and it was incredible. He had quite a bit of vernix on him still. The hospital staff were great about just letting us take our time for several hours after delivery, and it was such a sweet time. Kari and baby were very alert. We took family pictures. Cuddled. Listened to his noises. Smelled him. Cleaned him up. After a couple hours we got around to taking his vitals and doing the full clean-up, eye-disinfectant and vitamin K shot.

All total, the labor lasted a little less than 4 hours. Exactly like Kari's mom. Short, but also very intense.

Coach’s Notes:  Dads, don't forget to hydrate and snack yourselves too! (That's one thing I neglected, and I got to feeling tired and a little dehydrated by the end of the night.)  Don’t forget dad's pajamas in the bag. Trust your instincts about when to go to the birthing center or have the midwife come in. Keep trying different things until something works.  And to remember that at the end of it, you meet your baby and all the craziness seems to be so far in the past.

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