No, Not One of the Projects I Have Control Over
Tuesday, October 21 my wife was scheduled to have an ultrasound, her amniotic fluid levels were “on the low side of normal” when she’d last been checked out, and it was scheduled to make sure that they were holding steady and not dropping. If they were dropping, the doctor wanted to induce labor.
At 11am, I got an email from my wife saying things were holding steady, so no worries about inducing labor. She notified the parents and other interested family members, made herself lunch, and took a nap.
At 1pm, she woke up and her water broke. I’m not sure if I should blame the comic timing of this on the universe at large, my wife’s body, or our child. She calls me and I take exactly enough time in the office to turn off my laptop, shove it into my bag, and tell my boss.
We make it to the hospital shortly thereafter, and despite the imminent arrival of tiny human, my wife and I are outwardly calm. Several people we talk to at the hospital are either surprised that my wife is in labor or that it’s only our first child, because we’re taking our time and not visibly distressed.
You’ll note I say visibly there. I was freaking out on the inside, but managed to do a decent job at directing that energy constructively.
At this point, my wife is in very, very early labor. If she wasn’t Strep B positive they would have sent us home. Instead she gets set up with an IV drip of penicillin, and the doctor talks to us about if we want to induce labor to speed the process up, because once the water breaks there are chances of several things that can crop up and force a cesarian section, so it’s a bit of an uncertain race against time.
The next 18 hours are a bit of a blur to me. In the next few hours, my wife’s parents arrived, and our Doula, who was an amazing coach and caretaker from the minute she showed up, arrived. The pedometer on my phone claims I walked over 4 miles following my wife as she paced up and down the hallway in the maternity ward.
She maintained a pace slightly below “light jog” the entire time, and was proud when she maintained her pace even when she had contractions that lasted the entire length of the hall.
Despite the walking, labor was going very slowly for her. At almost the 12 hour mark, she decided to let them induce labor with Pitocin and over the course of several hours, they ramped the dosage up to almost the maximum, at which point it kicked in, hard. My wife went from weathering the contractions with barely any effect to having to jump up and do squats to get through each one.
After several hours of this, and still minimal progress towards getting the baby out, my wife decides to take the doctor’s advice and let them give her some painkillers to “take the edge off” the contractions. Not the needle-in-the-spine-kill-the-pain kind, but one that the nurses told us is usually described as feeling like a couple drinks when it kicks in (which after the fact, my wife agrees with).
That let her rest between contractions, and in the hour she went from “barely any progress” to “time to push.” After a couple more hours of very hard effort, eighteen hours from when her water broke, my wife gave birth to our son.
I was terrified the entire time. There were lots of scary potential outcomes to worry about. I kept it together and did everything that I could to support my wife while she went through the most physically demanding event in her life. It was a whole lot easier on me and it still was demanding.
And it was worth everything that it took, because we have a son now.