The Birth Of My Son
It has now been a week since the birth of my son and we have slowly started to adapt from a married couple with no kids to now having to take care of the most precious little bundle of joy! I had plenty of expectations and assumptions of what it would mean to be a father but in the time since my sons birth I realized that I had no idea what this would be like.
I had always envisioned myself being a giant bundle of nerves when the time came to take my wife, Erica, to the hospital but after we called our midwife and she told us to come into the hospital because we thought Erica’s water had broken I was amazed at just how calm I was. I had been on pins and needles for several weeks leading up to this moment wondering if every contraction would be the one that would trigger true labor. This waiting was much more emotionally draining for me than the actual delivery was. Not knowing when something is going to happen and the anticipation that it could literally be any moment took its toll. I also knew that Erica was getting ready to go through a very physically and emotionally draining process and that I needed to be strong for her.
We had most of the stuff we were taking to the hospital already in the car with just a few small items we needed to pack at the lat minute. We live less than five minutes from the hospital and throughout the pregnancy we joked that when the moment came that we would be there in no time at all! With everything loaded into the car, including Erica, we took off to the hospital and as we made the turn out of our neighborhood Erica asks me if I remembered to shut the garage door. I thought to myself for a moment and told her I was almost certain that I did. After a few uncertain moments I turn the car around because if we didn’t go back and check it would have been bothering both of us until we knew for sure. We drove past the house and the garage door was closed so now we could head to the hospital with peace of mind. This little detour turned out to be a good exercise for us in being adaptable. We didn’t even make it to the hospital before we had to change to our carefully constructed plan for how this day would go.
One of the many things that you will complete in the weeks and months ahead of the big day is a “Birth Plan”. In this plan you outline how the birth of your child will go in a perfect world scenario. They should really call this plan the “Baby Code” as we would find out they are merely guidelines ( My attempt at a Pirates of the Caribbean reference). A few of the items that you put into your plan is how you want to handle pain management, who you want to be in the delivery room, who goes with the baby in any possible scenario, induction techniques if necessary among other important details.
Once we got to the hospital and into our birthing room it was determined that Erica had what is called a high leak. Meaning her water had broken but the membrane had not ruptured fully. FYI, if you ask my wife she will tell you that the tests to see if her water had broken was the most painful part of the day. At this point Erica was only dilated to just over 1 cm or as the nurse said, “a one and a wiggle”. Since the amniotic sac was ruptured we were now on a time frame to deliver our son. In most cases if the delivery does not happen within 24 hours of the water breaking then a C-Section becomes a real possibility. In our birth plan we wanted to do everything we could to have a vaginal delivery but in order to get labor moving forward quickly we were advised that the use of Pitocin would be needed. It was also in our birth plan that we wanted to avoid Pitocin so we had a decision to make. We took the advice of the medical staff and started the Pitocin and just like having to turn around to check to see if the garage door was closed we once again had to deviate from our birth plan but this time on a much grander scale.
The decision to start the Pitocin was a fairly easy decision to make. If it meant doing what was right for our son then lets do it! There is a down side to this decision though. Pitocin increases the intensity of contractions making them longer and much more painful. We knew going in that an epidural was something Erica wanted to help with the pain of labor but in the situation we were in the epidural had to wait because it would counteract the effects of the Pitocin. This means that Erica was in for some painful contractions that she had to try and endure as long as she could. Over the course of the next two hours Erica’s mom and I did the best I could to comfort Erica while she dealt with the pain of contractions. We took turns holding her hand and rubbing her back while encouraging her to use any or all of the pain management techniques we learned in the pregnancy classes that we took in the weeks leading up to this day. When she couldn’t take the pain any longer the nurse suggested a different pain relief option that we decided to try. It was a shot of some sort that they put into IV. I don’t remember what the name of it was. After a few minutes the nurse came back to ask if the pain was better and just as she came in Erica suffered through another intense contraction. The shot didn’t help and after seeing Erica and the pain she was in the nurse knew it was time to call the anesthesiologist.
After the epidural was administered it only took a few minutes for the pain to subside and for Erica to begin to relax. Soon after her cervix was checked and she was now dilated to a strong 5 cm. We were half way to fully dilated at 10 cm! For me this was great news as it meant that Erica hadn’t gone through the pain for nothing. Now that the pain had diminished we got another scare when the baby’s heartbeat began to slow. The nurses came in and shifted Erica into a number of different positions to see which one would allow the heartbeat to normalize and remain steady. We found a position that worked best and after a few tense minutes we were able to rest comfortably for the next little while. They then had Erica shift to a few more positions to help the baby move down the birth canal. The beds that they have in the delivery room can be manipulated into quite a few different positions. At one point Erica was in a seated position with the foot of the bed lowered so it looked like she was sitting on a throne. We even made a few references to her needing a crown and that I needed a jester costume to play the part of the fool!
Another position that was recommended a few times was a position called hands and knees. Erica was reluctant because it sounds like a position that would put her in a very compromising position. Once she agreed to try it the bed was once again manipulated so that her knees were well below the rest of her body and she was able to lean forward onto the other part of the bed. With all the blankets covering her she felt very comfortable and was able to really relax again. A short time later though she started feeling some pain again so we once again moved her to a different position. This time she was laying on her side with a birthing ball between her legs. It wasn’t too long after the shift to this position that her cervix was checked again and she had dilated all the way to 9 cm. We were almost there!
It was at this time that our midwife came into the room in preparation for delivery. This took a few minutes to get everything in position. Erica’s cervix was checked again and the head and moved into the birth canal and it was time, well almost. In most circumstances we would have been able to start pushing at the next contraction but our son had decided to have a bowel movement (Meconium) inside the womb. Meconium, the earliest stool of an infant is is composed of materials ingested during the time the infant spends in the uterus and consists of intestinal epithelial cells, lanugo, mucus, amniotic fluid, bile, and water. Since our son had this bowl movement in utero it meant that there needed to be a pediatrician present during delivery. It was his job to make sure that our son didn’t aspirate any of the Meconium into his lungs. Before he was delivered I was told that if my son begins to cry right away after delivery that there was a good chance that I wouldn’t be able to cut the umbilical cord and if he didn’t then it would happen right away. He did start crying right away so I was unable to cut the cord. Obviously something that I would have liked to have done but in the greater scheme of things a minor setback and just another deviation from our Birth Plan.
It took about 10 minutes for the pediatrician to arrive and once he did we could finally move forward. In what seemed like a flash, actually only 4 contractions and some serious pushing on Erica’s part, our son was born. I was so focused on helping Erica through these last few minutes of labor that when they told her to quit pushing and that our son had arrived I felt a wave of sheer love and joy come over me. It was unlike anything that I had ever felt. We both started crying and when they gave us our son after cleaning him off and making sure his lungs were clear it was the first time we were together as a family.
Staring back up at you is your flesh and blood. We had followed his progression from the day we knew he was going to bless us with his presence. Week by week, day by day, we wondered what he would look like and how he would take over our lives and now he was right here in front of us. We had decided to wait until we met him in person to give him his name. We had a few names in mind but one name was the front runner. I will always remember Erica looking up at me with our son in her arms and asking me, “Is he a Flynn?”. I agreed and from that moment on our son was officially had a name, Flynn Allan Keller. Flynn is Irish or Gaelic and means son of a red haired man so it is a perfect fit for my son!
The title of this post, “I Have Witnessed A Miracle – The Birth Of My Son”, is a bit misleading. The birth Of my son was an amazing miracle but I also witnessed the miracle of just how tough and determined Erica and all women are. I did all that I could to support her during her pregnancy and labor but it is truly a helpless feeling at times. I love you now Erica more than I ever have and it fills my heart with such joy knowing that as we continue down the incredible journey of raising our son that we will always celebrate April 26th 2015 as the day our miracle made his way into our hearts forever!