Be sure to read Kabe’s story of her daughter’s birth here.
At around 9pm on the night of the 1st Kabe noticed she felt wet after she peed. Thinking it might be her water breaking, we called the midwives. Because there wasn’t a huge amount of fluid and Kabe wasn’t experiencing contractions, the midwife told her to put on a pad and check it for more fluid after a half hour. Because there wasn’t much additional fluid we were told to hold steady and just be aware of any additional fluid leakage and report it to the midwives. All the same, we felt the clear and present need to finalize our overnight birthing kits that night. On the 2nd, we noticed small “blurps” of fluid, but nothing torrential. We called the midwives, who were in the middle of another birth and said they’d get back to us, but ended up forgetting. Not wanting to be the girl who called wolf, we didn’t follow up with the midwives either.
Because we never heard back from the midwives Kabe moved up her appointment scheduled for the 6th to the 4th at 2:30. At 3:01 I received the ominous text: “Looking like it might be amniotic fluid. More info in a few min.” I didn’t see or hear the text because I was in the middle of a negotiation with Fresenius for a potential sale of Dr. Cull’s Fistula Cannulation Simulator. Kabe soon called to tell me that they would need to induce labor today because her water had broken 66 hours earlier. Needless to say I rushed to the midwives’ office to pick her up so we could collect the kit we had packed during our first scare on Friday.
Pitocin is a hell of a drug
Once we arrived Kabe got checked in read the litany of consents, options, and half dozen nurses that would be taking care of her, in part due to the impending shift change. While I ran to get my “last meal” of a footlong at the hospital Subway, Kabe got hooked up to two pig tail IVs with more ports than New York harbor, and two belly band monitors that displayed the baby’s heart rate and Kabe’s contractions. Because she still wasn’t having any contractions they put her on a Pitocin drip, on the setting 2 of 20. Not knowing how long it would take to kick in we settled in to Super Troopers 2, which seemed a good movie to start and stop or totally abandon. After a half hour Kabe began to feel some early contractions, not unlike mild period cramping.
By one hour, twelve minutes and 11 seconds Kabe had gone into “Transition Labor”, a phase rich with concentration, ritual, moans/grunts, and the never-ending quest for the perfect position. Given the daisy chain of IVs and belly monitors transitioning around the bed, in and out of the bathroom on and around the couch made for a challenging trial. In the birthing class we were told not to ask questions or give too much guidance because the birthing woman needed to tap her primordial instincts and “get in the zone”, which could be blown by too many cerebral queries. To keep her in her zone I was either playing line guard to keep her cords from catching on door handles, bed paraphernalia and roving casters, or adapting to the newest ritual. We slow danced, salsa-ed, rocked, squeezed, and sang to the Pandora Barenaked Ladies mix. Largely we were left to our own by the nurses and midwife who could monitor her contractions remotely since it was evident to everyone that Kabe was making abnormally fast and steady progress.
I think she’s starting to bear down
Only four hours into her laboring Kabe was starting to feel the need to push. I called the midwife, who already knew what I’d say based on the frequency and strength of her remotely monitored contractions. Kabe seemed to prefer to be on all fours for the first half of her final labor phase, right up until her hamstrings began cramping in both legs. To relieve the cramps we moved her onto her side and elevated one of her legs. This seemed to help, but in between contractions all the nurses and I were tasked to rub the small of her back and her hamstrings to ease the cramps she felt nearly each contraction. Enter the ice ball, a solid steel massage ball that we froze in advance of Kabe’s contractions. It was definitely a big hit with Kabe, and especially the nurses who had never seen one before. The entire time the nurses had said in their 11 years they had never seen someone progress so rapidly, gracefully, and with such determination. I was truly in awe of her athletic determination to give every moment of a contraction her true 100%, both physically and emotionally. With a definite risk of being labeled a trite dime-novel author, she was a birthing warrior.
For a brief period Razzie’s heart rate began dropping, and the on-call OB along with three nurses appeared out of nowhere to assist should Kabe not be able to deliver in the next 2-3 minutes. Fortunately, after repositioning from her left side to her right Razzie’s heartbeat shot up to a health and hearty 140 bpm.
The last 20 minutes were difficult, to say the least. I saw doubt waiver in Kabe’s eyes for a few moments, but it left as soon as she caught her breath; she was in it for Razzie. Understandably it was hard for her to feel any progress (that much constant effort and pain are tough to endure) but as soon as Razzie’s head started to crown I told her she was really truly making progress. Since I hadn’t bullshitted her up until this point, I think she took heart that she was doing the right thing and nearing the end. After the next four contractions Razzie was born into the world, surprisingly pink and with a full head of hair. She had my tiny ears and Kabe’s cheeks & swimmer fin feet.
The rest of our time in the birthing suite was a blur of cleaning, logging, and generally getting everyone in order. The one tidbit that we decided at the moment that the nurses had never heard of was that we would let Razzie decide her first name. If she suckled on Kabe’s left breast we would name her Sierra, but if she suckled on the right she would be named Briana. After MUCH repeated crawling/climbing to Kabe’s neck Razzie chose her name, Briana Buffum Reynolds. Now I have my Burleigh and Buffum girls, and I couldn’t be more elated and proud.