3rd time's the charm...
After my last blog post received a lot of positive comments, I figured that I would write a follow up based on our most recent experience. The birth round no. 3!
I noticed in responses to my previous blog post, that many birthing partners past, present and future commented to say thank you for sharing and that it helped them essentially demystify the labor process and feel a little less stressed about going into the unknown. With this in mind, I couldn't help but want to do this again, sharing my story from within the birthing room.
For those of you who haven't read my previous post, a short introduction, I am David Thejl-Clayton and my wife is Miriam Thejl-Clayton, we have been through 2 previous births which resulted in a healthy son (Round 1) and a healthy daughter (Round 2).
The Waiting Game
Originally our son was due on Friday 22nd January, our previous 2 children have either arrived a little early or exactly as planned. This time I had taken the crazy decision to arrange a super important conference talk via my day job in Cyber Security. This conference would be the biggest of my career, and I had completely gone blank when I got the acceptance of my talk and didn't pay attention that the talk was planned for Friday 22nd January! In the end the baby obviously realised how important his Daddy's talk was and decided to stay put in the womb enjoying his last days of calm. Much to Miriam's frustration, "Just get out!". Again you see Miriam had never gone past her due date and she was getting increasingly tired of being pregnant, with two other children running around also craving our attention, going past due date would of course feed this frustration deeper!
Two days later, Sunday 24th January... Labor began just like with our previous two, Miriam was woken up early in the morning with the feeling that things were about to start. I was asleep upstairs with our two other children and after being woken up by my younger daughter bouncing on me. We came downstairs, I knew instantly that Miriam was in labor just by the fact that she was more positive in her mood and almost smiling in a weird sort of "the baby is finally on its way out, and I can feel comfortable again soon!" way.
We took the day very slowly, and made sure to include our children into the process. Announcing to our son Olau, "The baby is on the way today we think". To which he replied "How does he get out of mummy's belly?"... We spent a few hours relaxing and then we decided that we had to tidy our spare room ready for Miriam and the baby to move in down there... Miriam is an absolute super hero when it comes to labor and it was no issue for her to have contractions and continue tidying up. We spent some time cleaning up and providing a nice cosy space for when the baby returned... We had an idea we were going to head into hospital sometime after midnight and things would progress from there. Except this time, the baby wasn't quite as full of patience as our other two.
Famous Last Words?
Around 13.00, Miriam began feeling the tell tale signs that things were beginning to get more real and the pain began to come with the contractions. I called our babysitter (Miriam's Dad) and said, "You should probably start getting ready to come up here now, as we think things are progressing... No no don't rush, you can have something to eat before you come". This was one of those statements which began to play over and over in my head, as Miriam started to show increasing signs of pain in her contractions and they started to come closer together. "No no don't rush", my internal monologue was screaming at me "David you idiot". This felt like one of those experiences where I would forever regret those words. Especially as Miriam had just called the midwife, who had told us we should probably come in very soon.
I began doing my usual stressed thing of pacing backwards and forwards throughout the house, adding to Miriam's stress with my own. I also dragged the kids into the stress by setting them on the window sill to see if Bedstefar (Grandad) had arrived yet. "Come on Bedstefar!" came the shouts from the window from Olau, with Lill murmuring something sort of similar in her own 22 month old language.
... aaand Stop....
After a lot of pacing and stress later, my fear of having to attempt to birth my child at home in the living room did not become a reality. Miriam's Dad arrived to the shout from Olau "Bedstefar hurry, the baby is coming!" I quickly packed Miriam into the car and drove to the hospital. When we got there the birthing ward was not very busy and we were told we could go straight into a birth room and not into the usual "pre birth" room. This made us feel much more comfortable as we both did not want a repeat of what happened with Lill, where Miriam was rushed in a wheelchair from the "pre birth" room to the birthing room, creating a lot of stress. But it would seem the comfortable feeling that swept over us, also had an impact on Miriam's womb as it slowed down to an almost stop at this point. Not wanting to be sent home, we decided to try to set it back into action by going for a walk around the hospital before unpacking our things to settle in.
Oh wait, just a quick corona test first... But only for Miriam... Wait what... You see we had expected Coronavirus to play some sort of role in this birth, but we also expected that both of us would be tested and if I was tested positive then maybe I would be sent home leaving Miriam to fend for herself. But weirdly the test was only for Miriam and the results wouldn't be received for a few days afterwards. We were also told the rules about mask usage through labor, the midwives will be wearing masks and so must I if the midwives were in the room. Miriam didn't have to wear a mask, which she was happy about as we were dreading that maybe she would also be forced to wear one.
But first, SNACKS!
Coronavirus rules explained, we knew that right underneath us on the ground floor was the hospital shop which sold a lot of sweets, so we marched straight there. With the attitude "my wife is about to give birth", I decided to fill a giant bag of pick'n mix. Miriam was a bit more modest in her approach, probably because she wasn't expecting to have the time to eat all of hers. After walking around the hospital a little bit more, Miriam could feel that maybe the show was getting back onto the road and we quickly made our way back to the birthing room. Once we were back in the room I began to unpack our birth bag, which again featured a can of Pringles... Flashback to previous birth story, Cue Miriam's "David, I really hate you" face and cue my "But Miriam, I get hungry doing the Meyer method". "Ok you can have them but you cannot eat them anywhere near me"...
As I said earlier the birth ward was not so busy, so we were treated to the presence of both midwife for a large part of our time in the birthing room. They had read Miriam's notes from the previous births and wanted to make sure that they were available in the immediate vicinity should the birth go like previous experiences.
It became apparent that things were going to go even faster than last time, with Miriam experiencing more and more contractions with short pauses in between. "Are we ready to start the Meyer Method yet?", this became one of those sentences which began to bug Miriam over time, as I kept asking over and over again, like a kid on his way in the car to Disney, "Are we there yet??". But there was good reason... As the birthing partner, sometimes you can feel quite abstract from the process and being able to perform a role as important as the one that the Meyer Method provides is quite valuable for making you feel more part of the whole process. For those who don't know about the Meyer Method, it is essentially a form of zone therapy, where the partner pushes on locations across the mothers body while they are in labor, to help distract and center them to their body. We tried it with Lill to incredible effect, and we knew we were doing it this time too.
Out Rocketed Another Baby
Queue my turn to start the Meyer Method, with Miriam now laying in the hospital bed. Without bragging, we kind of looked like pro's at this by now. Both of us settling into our routine and rhythm, with the midwifes both commenting that we had a great partnership in the room. Things were accelerating rapidly in the room, Miriam had gone from being only 5cm dilated to 10cm in 5 minutes. This queued the midwifes to began working more closely with Miriam, they could also sense that Otto's pulse kept dropping with every contraction, and they were very keen to get him out as soon as possible. At this point Miriam was offered some laughing gas to help her deal with the pain she was in, this caused a slightly comical moment right in the middle of the traumatic experience where Miriam briefly drifted off to another planet, "Giggle giggle, this is awesomeee, oh wait owwwwwww".
A lot of the next period was a blur for me, it was incredibly stressful to watch my wife in as much pain as she was in and being completely taken over by the force to get the baby out. There isn't much that can prepare you for this, even though I have witnessed it on two previous occasions, I still welled up in tears and was very moved by the whole process. Luckily, if you can call it that, the process did not take very long as all of the extreme training that Miriam's uterus had been putting in getting ready for the main event over the last few months, was finally realised. The baby came out after only 18 minutes in active labor, which again was a new record for Miriam.
With the baby now in the hands of the midwives' it was clear to see why his pulse was dropping at occasions during the labor, the umbilical cord was wrapped 3 times around his neck. Causing him to stress and not have the best time during the process. But now he was out, this was an easy fix and he was handed straight into the hands of a welcoming Miriam! We both looked at each other and agreed that he definitely looked like an Otto. After a little bit of bonding, Otto was passed to me so Miriam could be checked over and I could put on his first diaper. The checks on Miriam were done and all was ok, so she got up from the bed and relocated to the more comfy bed on the other side of the birthing room where I was waiting with Otto. We laid here for a little all together while taking in the moment...
The moment lasted a while, until we both begun to get itchy feet, after around 3 hours we were checked out of the hospital. Keen to get home to begin our journey as a family of 5...