I’m happy to announce the latest addition to the Mission Arabica family: Jude Allen Cheney!
My First Experience With Labor… Yikes
On March 9th, Jude was born at 7 pounds 2 ounces and 20 inches long. He is my second child and one thing I can say for sure was that this go around was way different than the labor/delivery of our first child Jason. That being said, to understand what I mean you need to know a bit more about Jason’s birth. (Forewarning: if you are grossed out by references to my wife’s dilated cervix, this post may not be for you… hope to see you next time though 😉 )
Jason is now 2, but when he was born I would really describe the experience as sort of an epic war film like Braveheart or Lord of the Rings. We went into the hospital with Jason on a Friday morning and the doctors said my wife, Nancy, was at 3 cm. However, from that point on things seemed to move at a snail’s pace. The contractions were consistent and strong, but it just didn’t seem like we were getting anywhere.
Hour by hour, labor continued. A few hours after we got there she was at 4 cm and by the end of the night on Friday she was about at 5. It felt like a battle for every cm. Hours of work and pain to be validated by one extra cm, each one another battle. Each one another small victory. With all that work though, the doctors were concerned Nancy would not have the strength to push if she didn’t end up getting some sleep, so they gave her a Tylenol 3 and told her to try and sleep.
Well the medicine did end up helping her sleep and on Saturday morning she continued in labor. During this time I would try and help her by massaging her back and walking around the maternity ward with her. Hours continued to pass with little to no progress yet still intense contractions and significant back pain.
Part of the issue was Jason was flipped face up which was causing Nancy a lot of back pain. Thankfully, one of the nurses offered a suggestion for Nancy to try and sit on her hands and knees for a while to help alleviate some of the pressure off her back which should then also help Jason to flip. So she tried that for a while and after almost an hour Nancy shouted out in extreme pain as she felt Jason turn over inside her, now facing the correct way. Although this was a very painful moment, it was just another battle and another victory.
Hours continued to pass and it was then Saturday afternoon. Nancy had already been in labor for over 30 hours and she was about 7 cm at this point. We knew she was getting close, but still had to keep going.
More time passed.
5 o’clock… still laboring
6 o’clock… still laboring
7 o’clock… still laboring
At this point she was getting quite close. She was about at 8 cm and by 7:30 she was at 9. Her midwife said that Nancy was going to be having the baby very soon and they started to prepare the room for delivery.
The nurse began wheeling in large carts filled with stainless steel tools, wash basins, rags, and the like. The room in an instant suddenly transitioned from a room designed to be private, comfortable, and relaxing into an operating room.
And then the pushing came.
Over the next 30 minutes I learned that there are few things in life more intense and surreal than the final moments before a baby is born. From my perspective as a man: I have a loved one laying in front of me, breaking every bone in my hand, screaming in agony as all the muscles in her body contract with the force of what I can only imagine dwarfs the combined power of all the vehicles in the Indianapolis 500.
I am happy.
I am horrified.
I see the baby start to crown and my first reaction is, “Ain’t no way that’s fittin’ “. However a few pushes and several guttural screams later, there is a crying and healthy baby born, covered in goo and looking somewhat alien. That being said, he is my alien. The best alien ever.
This process lasted over 36 hours. It was exhausting and exhilarating. It was filled with highs and lows. Tears and joys. Culminating with a final battle where just getting there has been a marathon and yet the true battle is just beginning. It really was like an epic film. I often felt like I wasn’t sure how it was going to work out because it often seemed impossible, but in the end we persevered, were victorious and despite all the challenges, it was all worth it. (Side Note: Nancy bore the brunt of these challenges, but for me it was still tiring, emotionally draining, and I had to sleep on a tiny uncomfortable couch 😉 )
Now that you know a bit where I am coming from with my experiences with labor I can better explain what I mean when I say Jude’s labor was the exact opposite.
A little over a week ago, Nancy started to have consistent contractions. It was a Sunday morning, so we tried to just have a relaxing morning. I made her breakfast in bed and we were timing her contractions. After about an hour of contractions that were about 3 minutes apart and each lasting over a minute we were confident that she was in active labor.
So we called my parents to pick up Jason and Nancy’s mom (Lois) and sister (Diane) came over for emotional support. At this time it was about 11 AM. Nancy had been laboring for about 2 hours and Nancy’s family had been at our house for about 10 minutes.
Nancy starts having another contraction and the room gets quiet and tense. However, as the contraction eases, the atmosphere lightens and a bit of conversating began.
Now bear in mind, based on our experience with Jason’s delivery, I was under the impression that we would be at home for several more hours as Nancy gets through early labor. Therefore, as a courtesy I thought it would be nice to offer some coffee to my in-laws.
99 Times Out Of 100, Coffee Is A Good Option…
Diane, politefully declined, however Lois said she would love some. Diane then took my place massaging Nancy’s back and I start excitedly telling my mother-in-law about the 93 rated naturally processed ethiopian coffee I am about to brew for her in my french press. I tell her, if I brew this correctly, it will actually taste like chocolate covered cherries. She is clearly (and rightfully) intrigued.
However, just as I am finishing saying this Nancy starts to have another big contraction. Diane is comforting her, and Lois is clearly concerned for her daughter. I on the other hand, although concerned for my wife, knew that there was really nothing I could do at that moment as Diane was really doing a great job (she is a birth Doula). So I was more so focused on the one thing I could control: the coffee.
When I Learned The 1 in 100 Case
I grind the beans, boil the water, and start to brew in the french press while timing the brew on the stopwatch on my phone. During this process another contraction comes and goes and Nancy calls her midwife to see when she thinks we should go to the hospital. Based on the frequency, duration, and intensity of the contractions Nancy was having, her midwife said that we need to go right NOW?!?
I wouldn’t call the ensuing moment “chaos” by any means. However, it was a tense, and stressful moment to say the least. Everyone is getting their coats and shoes on to go to the hospital and I am frantically trying to finish off what I am hoping will be the most delicious cup of coffee my mother-in-law has ever had. I don’t know if you have ever seen the Christmas Story, but I kinda had this sort of expectation:
As we are frantically preparing to leave, my mother-in-law notices the timer on my phone is going (measuring the brew time) and she asks me in a very concerned tone, “How long has it been?”
I thought, she must be pretty concerned about getting a quality brew before we leave (very understandable). So I let her know, “The stopwatch shows 2 min 30 seconds.”
She then asks, “How long it has been since the last one?”
I was a bit confused at this, but I responded, “I brewed myself a cup earlier that morning, but this timer is just for yours.”
She had a puzzled look on her face and pointed back at the stopwatch, “Wait, how long has it been since her last contraction?”
“I don’t know, this is timing how long your coffee has been brewing in the french press.” I said.
“Oh, you dork! I thought your were timing Nancy’s contractions” and playfully smacked my arm.
All I could think was, “Great… I’m insensitive labor guy now…” However, I don’t have time to do much about it. Thankfully the coffee was done and I quickly poured it into a travel mug and we made our way to the hospital.
When we got there, they said Nancy was at about 4 or 5 cm and two hours later she was already at 8 cm. This was moving fast. Really fast.
The next thing I know the room transitions into an operating room again. Nancy is pushing. I can feel my hand go numb. And as quick as it started, it was over. Jude was born. Another goo covered alien. Another miracle of life. If Jason’s birth was an epic film, Jude’s birth was the same movie except it felt like after the first 5 min we skipped to the final battle. In total, Nancy was in labor 4.5 hours with Jude compared to 36 hours with Jason.
With all that said, I am overjoyed to announce Jude’s birth to you and to share the lesson I learned about one time you definitely should not try to make a cup of coffee. 😉
Well that’s my story though, do you have any good labor stories? If so, tell me about your experience in the comments below! I look forward to reading them.
Also, in case you missed it last week we had two great posts. In the first one, Adam wrote a really interesting article about the Vietnam war’s impact on Laos and the challenges it still causes today. You can read more about it in his article tiled: Why Laos? Part 2. The second article is a monthly update that we will be doing to discuss some of the behind the scenes details of Mission Arabica and how we are continuing to accomplish our goals. You can read more about it in: Mission Arabica Update: February 2014.