Well I’m sure many of you are anxious to hear the birth story, so we have decided to give it to you from two perspectives: mine and Carrie’s. While the overall story will be the same, the details will undoubtedly be different. We’ll start with mine, and Carrie’s will follow.

The beginning

It was Thursday night and we went to bed like any other weekday night, expecting to wake up and go to work in the morning. Although we had pressed some labor inducing pressure points the past couple days, we had no idea that labor was about to begin. Carrie fell asleep first as I worked on an article for my Michigan football/basketball site as is our usual nightly ritual. I finally turned off the computer and went to sleep around 11:30.

What seemed like a few hours later, I was awaken out of a deep sleep by Carrie jumping out of bed, running to the bathroom, and yelling, “J, I think my water broke!!!” I jumped up and ran into the bathroom, stepping in “water” all over the floor along the way. She asked what time it was, and thinking it had to be 3 or 4am, I looked at the clock shocked that it was only 12:30. We decided to call our doula, Tanya, to let her know. Since labor hadn’t actually started yet, she told us to go back to bed, get some rest, and not call the doctor, because they would tell us to come into the hospital right away and we would be on the clock. She told us to call her back at 5:30, or earlier if there was a major change.

We got back in bed hoping to get some sleep and expecting a long road ahead. All I could think of, however, is the Beastie Boys song “No Sleep Till Brooklyn.” About a half hour later, labor started. Since we took Bradley classes and prepared for this moment, everything we learned was that if labor starts in the middle of the night, sleep in between contractions because you’ll need to save your energy for later.

Over the course of the next four hours, the contractions got worse and worse to the point where Carrie couldn’t lay down through them anymore. At 5:30, I called Tanya and gave her the update. She asked a bunch of questions and even talked to Carrie and we decided that she would come over around 10:30. We could make it until then, or so we thought.

The mistake

It became apparent that Carrie needed some items that she had run out of. The drug store, Duane Reade, opened at 7, so I ran out to get those items and some Gatorade right when they opened. This is where I made stupid dad mistakes number one and two. I made the seven block walk, got everything I needed, got to the checkout counter, and realized I had no money. I had forgotten my wallet. So I ran home, grabbed my wallet, ran back, paid, and ran back home sure that Carrie was going to kill me. Mistake number two was that in my hurry to grab everything, I got Gatorade G2, the low calorie kind. Tanya had specifically told Carrie to drink something with calories. But Carrie was fairly out of it by then, and we didn’t even realize until afterward.

The change

At that point, the contractions were getting really bad and the only position that seemed to work was sitting on the toilet. We tried pretty much all the techniques we had learned in Bradley class, but this was all that was working by now.

I talked to Tanya again because Carrie had started throwing up, and she said she would hop in a cab and come over right away. It would take her about an hour to get there. We kept fighting through the contractions and I tried the calming technique that she had told me she really wanted to use: visualizing the beach. Unfortunately, she was having none of it. She even said, “I don’t want to go to the beach; I want this to stop.” I was starting to lose hope (although I would never outwardly show it). I was definitely ready for some reinforcements, and thankfully, Tanya arrived.

The plan had been for me to take Buddy to a house-sitter when Tanya got there, but she quickly decided that Carrie was far enough along that it was time to go to the hospital. Sorry Buddy!

I called the doctor and told her the status, and she said to come in right away. It was 10am at this point. I called for a cab (not telling them that we had a pregnant lady in active labor).

The cab ride

Tanya told us we had to go, but Carrie didn’t think she could make it down the stairs, let alone a 20 minute cab ride. We got her dressed and I frantically grabbed our go-bag and the car seat. We made it outside, after stopping for contractions at the bottom of the stairs and in the building lobby. We climbed into the cab as Carrie was moaning “I can’t do this!” Tanya got in the back with Carrie and I rode shotgun to give the driver directions. When we got in, he wasn’t very happy with what he was seeing and hearing. He barely spoke English and kept saying “ambulancia! ambulancia!” Tanya calmed his nerves by telling him that we were going to make it to the hospital and to just get us there.

Along the way, Carrie was hurting from all the bumps. At one point, she screamed, “I’m going to die!!!!” Tanya was doing a great job of calming her down and reassuring her, while I was reaching my hand back from the front seat and letting her squeeze the life out of it. After we hit a little bit of construction on the West Side Highway, we got to our exit and then hit a road full of pot holes, to which Carrie screamed, “This is the road from hell!!!!” I think the cab driver got a little chuckle out of that, but we were only a couple blocks from the hospital, so he was calling in my credit card number to dispatch. They were taking forever to respond to him, so he was saying (in Spanish), “Run the credit card, this lady is going to give birth in my cab!”

The hospital

We made it to the hospital and Tanya took Carrie inside while I finished paying. As we got in an elevator, Carrie started another mammoth contraction. Some lady had the gall to get on and press the fourth floor (we were going to 12) and hold the door. Carrie screamed, “shut the door!!!” Then things got interesting.

We got off the elevator and walked into triage waiting room, which was filled, not with people in labor, just with people. We barely made it into the room when another huge contraction started, wailing, moaning, and all, so Tanya and I threw down our bags to support Carrie. A triage nurse had the nerve to say, in mid contraction, “You need to clear the way.” Tanya said we would do it after the contraction, but the nurse snarkily said, “one of you can hold her and one of you can move the bags.” Again, we said we would do it after the contraction, but she said something about it being for safety, to which Carrie yelled, “SERIOUSLY?!?!?”

The contraction ended, we moved the bags, and Carrie sat down in a chair. It took about 15-20 minutes for the nurses to call her in to a bed. Her contractions were almost non-stop at this point. When they called us in, Tanya told me to go in with her. New York has this awesome (as in, not awesome) law where they don’t let the male go in right away. They have to ask the patient questions about domestic violence first. Well, we were prepared (since we had already been there twice for early contractions). I went in with her and when the triage nurse started to say something, Carrie said, “He’s coming with me. There’s no domestic violence. We’ve been here before.” So the nurse then said, “Well if you’ve been here before, then you know how to put the gown on.”

We got to the little room in triage and made it through some more contractions. The doctor came in to check the cervix and our worst fears came true. She was only at 4cm. At that point, I didn’t think I would be able to keep Carrie going any longer. We had prepared for nine months to have a completely natural birth, she had stressed that she really didn’t want an epidural, and in our meeting with the doctor a couple weeks ago, she told her that. But at that moment, hearing that she was only 4cm when she expected to hear 8 or 9, she lost it.

Thankfully, the doctor was awesome. She encouraged Carrie and did just what she said she would do in our meeting: asking Carrie to just go a little longer. She also informed us that Carrie was dehydrated and needed an IV. Even if she got an epidural, she would still have to have the IV because the dehydration was keeping the cervix from relaxing in between contractions, which explained the extreme pain Carrie was in. She wasn’t getting any kind of rest in between.

We were in there for about 20 minutes and the IV really seemed to help, but Carrie was still really hurting and still asking for the epidural. I wasn’t sure how much longer I could hold off. This whole time, every chance I got, I had been texting back and forth with Tanya, who was still in the waiting room (they only let one person in at a time in triage). She was giving me encouragement and saying that Carrie wasn’t really 4cm. Everything pointed towards much more than that.

All the sudden, two different nurses came in saying the baby’s heart rate was declining and they needed to check Carrie again. Just as they started to check her, Carrie screamed, “I have to push!!!” The nurse said that she was now 10, plus 2, or in other words, 12cm., so they called for the doctor. The doctor came in and told Carrie it was okay to start pushing and that it was a good thing because the baby was coming, so they were going to wheel us in to labor and delivery.

The triage nurses started wheeling the bed away and I noticed that no one had remembered to grab the IV pole, which was still attached to Carrie’s arm. If I hadn’t yelled at them to stop, they would have ripped it right out, but they stopped and grabbed it and then wheeled her into L&D. I ran into the waiting room to grab Tanya and then went back to the room, which was right across the hall.

The birth

She started pushing at about 11:40 and eventually, the doctor told her she had to lay on her side. It all happened so fast that the way she laid, her top half was off the bed and I was completely holding her up. Tanya was on her left side holding her leg up, and a nurse was holding her right leg up, while the doctor was monitoring the pushing.

At first, Carrie was really screaming when she was pushing, but the doctor told her to focus that energy downward instead of outward. She really seemed to respond to that and did a great job of pushing for the next 10-15 minutes (if that). I started to see the baby’s head come out and the doctor had Carrie reach down to touch it so she knew it was almost out. As it came a little farther, the doctor reached in and unwrapped the cord from around her neck (it was only wrapped around once, so it wasn’t a huge worry). Then, Brooklyn came out and it was the greatest feeling in the world.

Carrie was exhausted and incredibly relieved that we had done it. I couldn’t help but tear up as she pushed her out and the doctor sat Brooklyn up and she started crying. I don’t really remember much during those first couple minutes other than hugging Carrie and then standing with Brooklyn underneath the heat lamp while Carrie pushed out the placenta.

The lesson

If you or your wife is pregnant, or you’re planning to get pregnant down the road, and you want to do a natural birth, I would strongly recommend getting a doula for your birth, especially if it’s your first one. We felt so comfortable with Tanya because she had witnessed so many births and really understood all the signs to look for in the process of labor. Obviously, I had never done it before, so having someone who we both felt comfortable with and trusted was invaluable.

A few days before that, we met with Tanya for a final time to go over any last fears, questions, or requests and she told us a couple of stories about recent births where they didn’t trust her instinct and ended up not getting the birth they wanted. I don’t really remember the details of them, but was right in both instances if she had only trusted her instinct instead of giving in. That told me that I could trust her, and boy am I glad I did. I don’t think we would have made it to the hospital if she hadn’t been there because by the time she got to our apartment, Carrie was a lot farther along than either of us thought. She was still coherent in between contractions, which all of our training told us she wouldn’t be.

I’m so incredibly proud of Carrie. I knew that if any woman in this world was capable of a natural birth, it was her, and even though I almost gave up while she was asking for an epidural, I never doubted that she could do it. The biggest challenge was helping her believe that she could. Thankfully, that worst period, where she was saying she couldn’t, was really the period of self-doubt, which is a the final stage of labor.

The funny thing is that we had wanted so badly to give birth in the birthing center, but didn’t even need it. We had wanted to spend as little time in the hospital as possible, that our hope was to show up, be checked, and be admitted to the birthing center for the birth. But because of how far along she really was when we got there, even though the initial exam didn’t reflect it, we were in the hospital barely an hour before Brooklyn was born. I had gone to bed that night expecting to wake up and go to work, but my daughter was born before lunch time. Carrie obviously won’t say it was easy, but from nothing to born in less than 12 hours, with only about 20 minutes of pushing is not too shabby.