After anticipating our baby's arrival for many months, the time had finally arrived. Unfortunately, not with a "I think I'm having contractions!" but with, "Well, we're two weeks past due. Time to go in for our appointment..."
We headed to Cedars Sinai with no real fuss - our small group came over and prayed with us for a while before we went in. I felt a real peace about what was about to happen, even though it should have been a nerve wracking time. I'm not sure why they had us go in at 10PM - I would have much preferred to spend the night in my own bed than in the hospital, but so we went.
Check in was no problem - they were friendly and reassuring. Our first nurse, Carmen, was very nice and excited that we wanted a birth with minimal medical intervention. We went through a standard round of questions about Beckie's health and the progression of the pregnancy... pretty straightforward. They got Beckie hooked into the pitocin drip about 11PM and off we went.
Beckie's mom was with us through the whole process, and she took the first shift of watching and helping Beckie so that I could sleep. The cot they had wasn't bad, but it wasn't great. Beckie had some small contractions as the night went on - she and her mom walked the halls and she tried laying in different positions to stay comfortable. Moving around was a bit of a pain because she had to take the IV pole with her everywhere and she had to unhook from all the monitors.... what a process!
About 6:30 in the morning, a new nurse came in, along with a doctor (resident) to see how Beckie was doing. The baby was still floating high and she wasn't terribly dilated, so they asked us if we would like to try using a Foley bulb. Basically, they put a catheter in through the cervical opening and then inflated it slightly. This put pressure on the cervix, which helped it open. When the catheter fell out, we would know that Beckie was at 3.5-4.5 cm, which the doctors considered as active labor.
At this point, I was awake and moving, so I took a spell helping Beckie walk the halls. We did some dancing and some swaying, trying to hula that baby down! Dr. Brown stopped in for a few minutes to see how we were doing, and then she headed off to start her day. I gave Beckie backrubs, as by this point, she had some pretty bad back pain. I was concerned that the baby might have turned. On one trip about the hall, I noticed that Beckie was leaving a small trail of blood, and so we let one nurse know it would need to be cleaned up, then went back to our room and called our nurse. The Foley bulb had come loose, and so we were ready to move to an active labor room. Unfortunately, the labor and delivery ward was hopping, so a room wasn't ready for us... we waited for about 2.5 hours, just giving Beckie counter pressure on her back and helping her any way we could.
When we got into the labor and delivery room, I thought we might get to relax a little because the room was much more comfortable. Beckie's body had other plans, having kicked into high gear at this point. The artificial induction had made Beckie have very long contractions instead of the nice round waves that we had been expecting. I did my best to keep her trying new things, on the chance that we might stumble on something that would make her more comfortable. We tried walking, swaying, sitting on the birth ball, leaning on the birth ball, side-laying... long story short, Beckie's back hurt and there wasn't much relief other than pushing on it. I'm so glad Beckie's mom was there. One of us would push and the other would be in Beckie's face, helping her through each successive wave. Beckie's mom was exhausted, since she hadn't had hardly any sleep, but we all just had to keep going.
About 2:00PM, Beckie started to get more and more wild-eyed and I could tell she was really struggling. I went to find the resident that we had met earlier in the morning, thinking maybe she could give us some advice on how Beckie was doing... the nurses were conspicuously absent at this point. I think our main nurse was actually over assisting in another delivery. About the time that the resident showed up, Dr. Brown arrived. Beckie's water had just broken - 2:55 PM, if I remember right. Dr. Brown was happy, since she was going to suggest that we break Beckie's water to see if that would get things moving. I'm really glad that it broke on its own, because even though the clock starts ticking when the water breaks (however it happens), Beckie's body was obviously doing the right things. Dr. Brown checked her cervix and she was dilated 5cm, which was partially discouraging, since we still hadn't even hit transition yet, but then I remembered that it was Beckie's emotional/physical state that told me where she was rather than some arbitrary opening size! She was definitely in active labor and doing good work.
Dr. Brown, however, having not watched Beckie all day long, thought she had plenty of time, and so she left to do some other things. Shortly after Dr. Brown left - just long enough for her to get stuck in LA traffic - Beckie looked at me with panic all over her face and said "I don't think I can do this!" I was torn, because I didn't want her to be in pain anymore, but I also didn't want to jump the gun on making decisions like C-Section without more information. I also knew that we were probably very close to meeting this baby!
The nurse was fussing with the monitors, and Beckie was getting more and more uncomfortable. Suddenly, Beckie says "I think I have to push!" The nurse, thinking that Beckie couldn't possibly be there yet, says "Just breathe. Don't push. You're not ready yet." Beckie was fighting her body, trying not to push, but she couldn't help it. She later told me it's like someone telling you not to vomit. You don't have a choice. Your body takes over.
She continued to fuss with the monitors, while I got more and more concerned about Beckie's state. I was up near Beckie's face, so I don't quite know what prompted the nurse to suddenly change her tune and start calling people, but Beckie's mom said the baby's head was crowned. When she told us the doctor was a half-hour away, Beckie yelled "I don't have a half hour! This baby is coming now!" Then the nurse actually got off the fence and called the delivery team in.
Suddenly, the room was filled with people. I think somewhere around a dozen people were in the room besides the three (almost four!) of us. They broke the bed down so that they would have better access to Beckie and the baby and then, suddenly, it was time to really push. The nurse midwife told Beckie just to push along with the contraction - whatever felt right. She bore down and pushed hard and there was a head! I wasn't sure what I was seeing... later I realized it was because the baby had so much hair! The cord was loosely wound around the neck - the doctor called out that fact and then said it wasn't a problem but that she wanted to move it. Once done, the midwife told Beckie to push along with the next contraction... just whatever was comfortable. Beckie started pushing and POP, we had an airborne baby! The doctor actually caught her as she got doused with a large amount of amniotic fluid that had been bottled up behind the baby. 4:24 PM - our baby is HERE!
They showed me that she was a baby girl and I got to tell Beckie. Then we flipped her up onto Beckie's chest... she got to lay there for several minutes as they toweled her off and got the cord ready to cut. I cut the cord more quickly than we wanted to, but Beckie had suffered a pretty decent tear since the baby had come so fast, and they wanted to get her all stitched up.
I went with our new baby girl to get weighed and measured. They gave her a vitamin-K shot in her leg and then she was mine to hold. I took her over by Beckie while they were still dealing with her stitches. I tried to keep her as close to Beckie as I could without being in the way. I handed her off to a proud Gramma at some point so that I could use the restroom and then she would up on Beckie's chest - she nursed within an hour of being born and was a pro at it her first try!
We headed to recovery together and got settled in there as a new family. Beckie's mom left for a while so we could discuss her name. We'd really struggled with finding the right name for her. Evelyn Grace was one we had been recently discussing and it felt right, so that's what we chose. We were afraid Evelyn was too grown up for a little baby, but somehow it fits her just right.
There's probably a lot I left out and there's a lot more that's happened since (obviously!). Beckie was a champ - I'm so proud of her effort. It was an amazing experience watching new life being brought into the world. Evelyn is a wonderful child and a joy to have in our lives.