As soon as we got in the car the contractions jumped to four minutes apart. It was so precise, I could have set my watch to them. It was actually really amazing. The car ride was very quiet. We had some mellow zone out music on and neither of us spoke. Every four minutes she would squeeze my hand until it turned blue, and then she’d relax. This was the pattern for the next hour and a half until we arrived at the birth center.
When we opened the door of the birth center it happened to be ‘information night’ for perspective parents shopping for a place to have their babies’. As Aya walked in like a zombie with her eyes closed moaning and groaning, and me drudging in behind her with bags of fruit salad and chocolate pudding, I could see the looks on the faces of the new dads-to-be. Some looked away, and some had the deer in headlights look. “Oh crap! This is going to be me!”
Aya crawled right into the bed and the midwife came in to check her. She didn’t want to take her coat off, she just kept saying, “So cooold… so coooold…” Everything checked out with the baby and they determined Aya was dilated. I think she was at 4 or 5 centimeters, which I found to be a relief. I was worried that after all of that she was only going to be at 1 centimeter. After a trip to the bathroom to puke again she was going to get in the hot tub in the room to warm up and relieve some pressure. I wasn’t sure how this was going to work. I was just trying to be consistent and calm. I guess I thought in the back of my mind that this part was going to be just a few hours. We’d have Ellie out my 10:00pm at the latest. So close, yet so far…
Once she got in the tub, she became herself. The water took the pressure off of her back and belly and she actually opened her eyes for the first time since 5:00am. While she soaked I was able to get everything in the room situated. I dimmed the lights, got the music going, and brought out the fruit salad and chocolate pudding. Aya was talking and actually laughing, and for a moment, I think I forgot we were there to have a baby. And then the next big contraction hit. “EEEeeeeuuurrrooooo.”
Over the next few hours we settled into a nice routine. She’d get in the tub, soak, relax, warm up, eat and drink. Then she’d get out of the tub, lay on the bed and rest. Every half hour the midwife would come in and check the heartbeat of the baby, ask if we needed anything, and then leave. It was amazing. She was so unobtrusive I barely even noticed she was there. She was like a birth-ninja. She would just appear and say in a whisper, “The heartbeat is fine… you’re doing just grrreat…” And before we knew it, she would disappear out of the room without a sound. This whole time I just followed Aya around. I was the support staff. Whatever she wanted or needed, I did it. I timed contractions, I watched the clock, I held her hand while she puked, and I fetched water and pudding. Everything was going pretty steady, and the contractions had stabilized at about two to three minutes apart for a while. But then things started to escalate. “EEEEEEEUUURRROOOOOO”
It was absolutely amazing to watch this process. You always see women in the movies screaming and cussing and threatening to kill their husbands. Besides a few loud screams here and there, Aya was actually very quiet during this whole process at the birth center. I was just blown away at how she was handling everything. Each level she went through was difficult at first, but then she’d adjust and get into a rhythm and keep going. I was just in awe. So when I kept saying, you’re doing a good job over and over… I really meant it. I saw a whole other side of her that made me respect and love her even more.
Aya woke up from the bed to use the bathroom and I heard ‘SPLAT,’yes ‘SPLAT.’ First I heard it, and then I saw it. Followed by Aya saying “I think my water broke.” I had no idea what the “water” would be like, or how it would break. But after hearing and seeing ‘SPLAT,’I knew. I rushed to the midwife and told her I thought Aya’s water broke. That’s a pretty big deal right? So with the water broke, I really thought, NOW things are going to start moving along quicker. Right?
If I thought that a polar bear was trapped in a bucket of peanut butter before, I think at this point he must have eaten it and was trying to “pass” it through. Aya was getting increasingly frustrated as she felt like nothing was happening, or that it wanted to happen but that it wouldn’t.
She just kept saying “It feels like I have to poop but it won’t come out!” Actually it was more like, “I gotta sh*t!… but… it’s…sssstuck!” And then she’d sit on the toilet and scream. “AAAAAHhhhhhhh.”
She couldn’t sit still either. It was like someone had slathered the toilet seat with Vaseline, because she kept sliding all around. It’s funny how seeing your wife naked on the toilet seat screaming makes you feel closer. But I felt so helpless at that point. I didn’t see this on the documentary we watched. Dr. Bradley from the Bradley classes didn’t mention this in the book. The book mentioned something called “transition,” and to tell your wife things like, “Picture your cervix opening like a flower.” Although we really enjoyed and got a lot out of the Bradley classes, I distinctly remember at that moment thinking, Dr. Bradley is an idiot! If I had said anything like that right then, I don’t think I’d be here to tell this story. I really didn’t know what to do. But I couldn’t just do nothing. I was concerned but I didn’t want to show it, so I just stayed positive. “You’re doing great, just scream if you need to, it’s ok.” This time I went to get the midwife in hopes that she’d help out both of us. But I noticed she wasn’t saying anything different than I was, so it gave me a little more confidence that I was doing a good job.
The book says “transition” is only supposed to be a half hour or so. This was going on a few hours. Things still felt stuck, stalled, or something. The midwife came in and decided that the baby was pushing down on her bladder preventing her from being able to pee. The bladder not being able to empty was causing things to get a little stuck. So it was time for a catheter. For about twenty hours, Aya had been in the most intense pain she’d ever been in her life, and she asked, “Is it going to hurt?”
I was getting worried for Aya. She was working so hard, her body was working so hard. I didn’t want to see her give up because I knew she wanted the natural childbirth experience so bad. We both did. And this place wasn’t set up for anything else. Even though she kept saying “I’m so tired… I’m so tired,” she never said “I can’t do it.” But she was getting so discouraged. Even after her bladder was emptied, things hadn’t progressed as she’d hoped it would. Nothing new was happening. She was just stuck, and stuck in intense pain. I kept saying all the things I was supposed to but at that point, I didn’t believe them anymore. You know, like when you tell someone “yeah your haircut looks great,” or “no, the chicken isn’t too dry.” Telling her that this was normal, and that everything was still fine and to just stay focused; I wasn’t believing it. And I was worried that she would start to pick up on me doubting the situation and that would make her more discouraged. I wasn’t doubting her. I never doubted her. I was worried that somehow, someway, something was going to prevent us from delivering there at the birth center.
I was looking at the clock and the hours were going by. But it felt like time had stopped. We were both approaching being awake for 24 hours. I was so preoccupied with making sure Aya was eating, I’m not sure I ate much. I really don’t remember eating other than a pudding pack and some fruit. But I did have my fair share of coffee. She was getting exhausted, and I was just plain tired. I went to get the midwife so she could help me out with this one. Luckily, she wasn’t worried at all and said all the same things I had been saying, but she meant them, and I could tell. And while she was there it was time for her to check the baby’s heartbeat again. Aya was standing up, leaning face down on the bed with a robe on. The midwife was behind her and flipped her robe up so she could get the stethoscope on her belly. But when she lifted the robe her eyes got big, and she looked up at me as if she had just discovered a new species of bird and said, “I think it’s time to have a baby…”