A note from Katie: pictures in the post are all from Xander’s stay in the hospital. The flow of the pictures doesn’t correspond with the story John is telling – this is done on purpose. Didn’t want anyone to be confused! Without further adieu, here is my awesome husband:
It started out like any other day that week but ended in a wonderful life event that forever changed Katie and me. My version of “the story” comes today, as a year ago exactly we headed to the hospital!
I’m not entirely sure what I had envisioned for the birth of my first child, but, like many, I had the expectation that I would get a frantic call from my wife in between her painful contractions. I worried that I would be caught in the middle of an important experiment so as the 35th gestational week approached I briefed all my co-workers on my projects in case they had to take over on short notice. I was fully prepared for that hectic dash out the door. But that never happened. It felt like any other day.
For the past few weeks, Katie had been experiencing prodromal labor, which mimics early labor in many ways. The first couple times she went through the false contractions we were certainly jumpy. However after a week or so, we became jaded and assumed any “contractions” were just prodromal labor. Near the end of the work day on March 14th, I was chatting with Katie and she had mentioned she was getting contraction-like feelings again, although she thought there was something different about them (possibly more pain). We still assumed it was prodromal labor that was simply more intense due to the proximity of her due date. I got home at my normal time and Katie was still experiencing the contractions. They had become stronger since we last spoke so we began to suspect it was the real thing. We called the midwife on duty and she suggested we wait one more hour, make sure to drink water, etc. so we were confident that this wasn’t fake labor. So we waited and kept track of the contractions and the time in between. We were taught in birthing class that there should a general progression of contractions and once we only had 5 minutes between contractions we should head to the hospital. However we completely skipped that step and soon Katie’s contractions were only 2-3 minutes apart. It had been only 30 minutes since we spoke with the midwife so we called her to tell her that we were headed to the hospital and her contractions were only 3 minutes apart.
Once we arrived, the charge nurse didn’t even bother checking Katie for dilation since she could by the severity of Katie’s contractions and how close they were that she was definitely in labor. We were able to skip another step of the process and bypass the triage room and go straight to the Mother/Baby Delivery room. In the room we settled in for the battle ahead. I pumped up Katie’s birthing ball, got the snacks out, and helped Katie get comfortable. The nurse came in and attached the heart monitors for Katie and Xander. They monitored her constantly for 20-30 minutes but once they saw that Katie and Xander had strong heartbeats, they took the monitor off. Unfortunately for Katie, all the labor pain she was experiencing was focused in her back which can be difficult to relieve. Katie was set on trying to give birth without an epidural anesthetic so we tried many techniques such as massage, pressure points, ball bouncing, etc. to help her get through the painful contractions. Unfortunately for both of us, nothing I could do helped her and her contractions quickly progressed to her crying and getting upset with me for not being able to do anything. A few times we had the midwife try to help with the proper pressure but even that only gave Katie relief for a minute or two.
Eventually, Katie acquiesced and agreed to get an epidural. She then proceeded to lament that she was upset about giving up and disappointed that she couldn’t give birth without meds. I tried to reassure her that using anesthetics is not giving up and she still has been through (and will be going through) a lot. She was somewhat relieved (not by me of course) when the nurse told her that they can give her a lighter dose of the meds so she would be anesthetized but be able to feel enough to push at the proper times. Prior to getting the epidural, she had to have 30 minutes of IV fluids to ensure she had sufficient hydration. This made me more nervous than the procedure itself as I know how tiny and floppy her veins are and how difficult it would be to get the IV port in. In fact, she was supposed to have a IV port inserted upon admission, but no one was able to insert.
The first nurse couldn’t hit the vein, which was complicated by Katie’s intense contractions. I felt bad for the nurse as she was clearly younger and somewhat new and I could see her hands shaking as she tried to stick Katie in between contractions. After two more nurses come and tried, Katie had the IV port in and was receiving fluids. After (almost) 30 minutes, the anesthetist came in and put in her epidural without any issue. Katie felt worlds better within 10 minutes and was able to relax. She could still feel the contractions but they were far more bearable. Most importantly, during those few hours of intense pain, Katie had dilated all the way to 8 cm! She was quite proud of herself (as was I). I was far more relaxed knowing that she wasn’t in as much pain since seeing her going through contractions -without being able to help was driving me crazy.
Once she had the epidural, the whole process seemed much calmer. We went through the contractions until she was ready to push. After a few tries, she had the breathing and pushing rhythm down. It was amazing to watch Xander being born and it certainly gives me a new appreciation for what the human body can do. Once he was out, everything was a blur. I stayed by his side the whole time to make sure he was OK and was able to hold him as soon as the neonatal doctor had checked him. (The neonate doctor had to be present at delivery because there was slight meconium in Katie’s water – meaning Xander pooped while inside.) It was indescribable holding him for the first time. He was absolutely perfect and I could finally understand what is meant when my parents use to tell me of unconditional love. Xander is certainly one of the best things that have ever happened to me (along with marrying Katie, of course) and, although I was very nervous at first, I couldn’t imagine a day without my little man.
Xander, can’t believe you’re turning one tomorrow at 1:18 am! Love, Daddy