I received a text that stated, “I think today’s the day.” It was 4:42PM and Caroline and Jonathan were heading down the mountain. I asked how far apart the contractions were and waited for a response. The next text declared, “Ouch, can’t talk, but ‘bout five minutes apart now—hope this is it!” I headed home to grab my bag.
At 6:46PM, Caroline and Jonathan checked-in to labor and delivery. I arrived shortly after. I was so impressed at the attention Jonathan was giving his wife. He followed her every move and tended to her needs. His anticipatory skills were remarkable. I noticed him massaging her feet as he sat at the foot of the bed. I stayed at the head with a cool wash cloth and offered soothing words. At check-in, Caroline was at station -2, 70% effaced, and dilated to 4. We requested permission to stroll the halls since the monitor was only stating the obvious—Caroline was in labor. The nurse agreed, providing she could check Caroline’s progress prior to our stroll. Caroline was at station -1, 80% effaced and dilated to 7. Our walk was canceled since delivery was imminent.
Caroline briefly sat on the birthing ball and rocked. When she stated she had to use the restroom, we began a journey across the room where Caroline declared (while standing in the doorway of the bathroom), “I have to push! I’m sorry, I can’t wait!” Very calmly, Jonathan and I escorted Caroline back to bed. While I helped to lift Caroline’s legs, Jonathan called the nurse. Jonathan declared to me, “Last time she knew when she had to push and she was right.” I didn’t need any convincing of Caroline’s awareness…she was very conscious of her body. She had declined any medication and was sober and ready for the task at hand.
At 9:30PM the nurse checked Caroline. Caroline was pleading with us to allow her to push. All I could do was remind her that she would have to breathe and concentrate on relaxing rather than on the surges while the nurse performed her check. Our expectations were confirmed when the nurse announced, “station 0, dilated to 10 and 100% effaced.
I had no doubt that Caroline would stay in control and Jonathan would remain calm. Watching the couple was like watching a well choreographed dance. She made moves and he responded.
Dr. Lewis ruptured the membranes at 9:36PM. I thought with the strength of the contractions, the baby would flow out with the water; unfortunately, it wasn’t that easy. Caroline asked if she could push. This time the answer was “Yes!” Then Caroline made a seemingly odd request, she said she would have to be reminded of what to do…during the pushing stage, she wants a tutorial! I almost laughed. The directions were easy enough though: one cleansing breath, one deep breath, hold and push for the count of ten and then repeat…she was satisfied with the instruction and ready to try.
The baby was delivered with the cord wrapped snuggly around his neck. I asked Caroline to look at me and breathe. Her desire to push was great. She paused, the doctor cut the cord. Caroline clenched her eyes and bore down. She quickly opened her eyes in time to see the delivery! What a miracle. Her first phrase was “I love you” then, “I love everyone.” I believe she did.
Statistics were recorded: born at 9:41 PM, 7 lbs. 11oz., 53 centimeters long. I observed from the sidelines, and then I slipped out of the room so family could have some quiet time. When I returned, the room was so serene. Mom and baby in bed nursing peacefully and dad reclined in the chair bedside. I am so thankful that I got a glimpse into this incredible family and the love they cascade on each other. I am thankful that I had the privilege of sharing in this momentous occasion.
Christy Jo Hendricks, Doula