The thing that sticks with me most about Briar’s birth story comes at the very beginning. I remember pulling into the driveway of our rental house after I had just gotten off work. There in the driveway to meet me, was my beautiful wife. She had the biggest smile on her face. She jumped up on me and game me the biggest hug she ever had. I could tell that something exciting was happening. I think she had just peed on the stick that morning. I don’t think I will ever forget the look on her face.
Briar’s birth came at a crazy time in our lives. Our lease on our rental house was up on May 1st, so we needed to find a house before the end of April. After finding a good starter home that was close to my work, we were able to move in after closing around April 10th or so. I only spent 1 night in the new house before having to go to work.
We had been struggling with the pre-eclampisa and dealing with the associated hypertension. Our midwife had the ugly words “induce labor” on her tongue for the last few weeks of the pregnancy since Shelby had been on bed rest. (She wasn’t much help with the move, love ya babe.) I got a call the first night I was at work that the mid-wife wanted to get the party started that evening. Inducing labor was not on our birth plan… We had it all figured out after reading mom blogs and watching a few documentaries on Netflix about childbirth. We weren’t going to use any drugs, Pitocin was evil and mag sulfate was only given to women having eclamptic seizures, or at least that’s my EMS training had told me. And there is no way were going to get an epidural, our baby wouldn’t nurse right and Shelby would feel “disconnected” from those ever so important first moments of birth.
Well guess what, nothing in the birth plan was in the cards that day. We were a couple of weeks early, so her body wasn’t really primed up to be pushing a human out of her birth canal. After some less invasive methods were tried, they brought out the big guns. Pitocin and a magnesium sulfate drip. She wasn’t allowed to walk around (planned pain management technique) or take a bath (our hospital has 2 for use while in pre-labor). So she just had to sit in the shower. The famous last words of “whatever I say, no matter how much I beg, DO NOT let them give me an epidural.” Fast forward a few hours into the labor and she was sitting in the shower. The Mag Sulfate was giving her severe tremors. The Pitocin was speeding her dilation and doing all kinds of work that is normally done slowly over a longer period of time. The staff wouldn’t let her walk around or take a relaxing bath.
We had a waiting room full of family and a friend had stopped by with his daughter and brought flowers. (Thanks Abe). I felt like I needed to play host to everyone, as well as be there for Shelby. Being an EMT, I am often around people in pain. With most medical and traumatic ailments, I have a cookbook of treatments and an ambulance full of equipment (and drugs) to make you more comfortable until we arrive to a higher level of care. The hardest part for me was having to sit there unable to do a thing to ease her suffering or “fix” her problem. I felt completely helpless, which is not an emotion that I am used to feeling. She was sitting on the floor of the shower, crying in pain, pleading for an epidural, and things were not going well. I tried to delay the epidural request as long as we could. And by the time that our OB doc was notified and requested, he was not at the hospital so he had to drive over which took some time.
I continually abandoned my beautiful wife who was going through the biggest challenge she had ever faced. I still regret not getting down on that shower floor with her. Everything I tried to do to comfort her resulted in an understandably snippy comment or outburst from her. She was too hot, too cold, didn’t want to be touched, and wasn’t being held enough, it was hard to please her. I found it mentally easier to float around and visit everyone including her, instead of being in the trenches with her. And for that, I’m truly sorry. If I thought it was uncomfortable; she was obviously feeling it 1000 times worse. OB Doc showed up at our request and she was given an epidural.
Before we knew it, she was needing to push. With her mom holding her left leg and me holding her right, She pushed with all of her might. We were hoping that she would have red hair, so Shelby’s mom glanced down and gave me an uncertain look. She had to push for less than 2 minutes, I think just 3 contraction cycles before Briar came out. It was beautiful. She had a low Apgar score so for the first 10 minute or so, Briar was under the care of Keith the RT and Dr. Lee as her pediatrician, and finally she was able to get some skin to skin time. I remember unshamefully having tears fill my eyes as I stood there holding her little newborn hand under the heat lamp. I didn’t want her to feel lonely in this new, bright and cold world that she was expeditiously thrust into. The way her little blue, gooey hand felt in mine was so precious and I will cherish that feeling forever.
Everything went according to planned, because we planned to have a healthy baby girl, and God blessed us with just that.