Jason: Even with Leslie's contractions on-and-off all day Friday, I actually had a feeling that I would still be going back to work on Monday with the baby yet to be born. Not exactly sure why I felt this way. Perhaps it was my way of managing expectations. I knew that I couldn't wait to meet her, but with this mindset she came sooner than expected.
|On our way to the hospital|
Our labor nurse, Kim, checked my cervix. I was 3-4 cm dilated at that point. She called the midwife, and she suggested that Jason and I walk the halls of the Women's Pavilion from 4 to 5 am in an effort to get my labor moving along. We walked the dark, quiet halls for an hour, chatting and making jokes, stopping for the contractions as I tried to figure out which positions eased the pain the best.
Jason: I thought it was really a special time to spend that hour walking the halls with Leslie. It gave us time process what was happening and think about how our lives were about to change forever. It was the calm before the storm and something I will always remember.
After we returned to the labor room, Kim checked me again. I was still only about 4 cm dilated. This was frustrating, because I was still having very regular contractions - about 6-8 minutes apart, and I was getting very tired from not having slept. She said that if I didn't dilate further, that they might send us home (probably giving us an Ambien to help me get some rest until the contractions got stronger and we returned). I had been joking with Jason earlier in the night that I had a sort of performance anxiety about being at the hospital - feeling like the nurses judge how you're handling labor, whether you're progressing quickly enough, whether you're overreacting, and so forth. Of course, it's ridiculous to think about these sorts of things, but I do.
Jason: I knew exactly the feeling Leslie was talking about regarding her performance anxiety. And as with everything on this day, I just tried to be there for her and be as helpful as I could be. I just wanted her to feel loved and supported and that I was cheering her on every step of the way ... regardless of what Leslie's next sentence below says :)
By this point, Jason was starting to doze off in a chair in the labor room. Neither of us had really gotten any sleep yet that night, so we were pretty exhausted. Kim suggested that I take a shower and then walk for another hour. I took a shower and then walked the halls on my own from 6 to 7 am. In the shower, I felt very few contractions. While walking, the contractions were still coming every 5 minutes, but they didn't feel very strong and I was convinced that we were going to have to go home. It was nice to just be with my thoughts and think about the magnitude of this day. I had just started to pray that God would move this baby along in His timing, and just prayed that He give me patience and strength for what lay ahead. At that point, I was exhausted from being up all night, and I felt a bit like a zombie dragging my feet down the hall. Because of my exhaustion, the idea of going home really didn't sound all that bad. I was thinking at least we could go grab breakfast together somewhere.
Here is a table of the contractions I recorded during that hour on my iPhone:
When I returned to the labor room at 7 am, there had been a shift change for the nurses, and we were assigned a new nurse, Courtney. Courtney checked my cervix, and I was at 6 or 7 cm dilated and 80% effaced. I was completely shocked. The contractions over that past hour had been very manageable and I was convinced that they weren't very effective. I had resigned myself to thinking that we would definitely be going home at least for a few hours to sleep. Courtney said that she wouldn't be comfortable sending me home at that point.
Jason: It was definitely reassuring to hear that Leslie was making progress. Especially after the nurses had planted the seed that we may be sent home. At this point, we knew for sure that we'd be meeting our precious little girl very soon.
She asked if I wanted an IV hep lock put into my arm. The main reason for this would be that they would be able to use it if they needed it for pitocin or anesthesia or anything else they need to administer. I was hoping that we wouldn't need to use pit or any kind of anesthesia, but decided to go ahead and have the IV done so that it was there if they needed it.
After the IV was in place, Courtney recommended that we try the jacuzzi bath to help me relax further. As soon as I sat in the bath, I was much more relaxed. I started to get a little worried when I only felt a couple of contractions in the bathtub, though. After about 45 minutes, I got back out of the tub and laid down on the bed. Jason and I both dozed off for a few minutes before Courtney came back in. At 9 am, Heather, the midwife, arrived and checked my cervix again, and I was still only around 6 cm, meaning that my labor had stalled.
At this point, Heather suggested that I either allow them to break my bag of water or get pitocin to move the labor along. She said she would prefer to break the bag of water, because it's a more natural method, and I easily agreed. At 9 am, she broke the bag. She remarked that it was a "tough bag" and seemed to have a hard time getting it to break. There was only a trickle of amniotic fluid, but she was able to break it. She said later that she never saw a gush of fluid and thought that my amniotic fluid was probably low.
Jason: I am glad that Heather was able to break the bag of water. If she had not been able to, the remaining time until Evelyn's birth may have looked much different. I knew that Leslie did not want to be given pitocin and without the resulting acceleration of labor due to the bag breaking that was a definite possibility. Don't get me wrong, we would have done anything and everything necessary to get baby Evelyn to have a safe birth, but I knew that Leslie's heart was set on as natural a birth as possible and I was glad that it appeared that she would get what she desired (even if moment's later should be questioning why she was doing this).
Immediately after she broke the bag, the contractions got a lot more intense. I starting moaning a lot louder and having a harder time getting on top of the contractions. Courtney had me lie on my side with a pillow between my knees. I remember saying, "Go, go, go, go, go, baby girl" over and over (because in my head I really was starting to think "stop, stop, stop, stop, stop"). Courtney recognized that I was progressing very quickly, and she alerted Heather to be on stand-by.
Just 20 minutes later, at 9:20, Heather checked me again and I was at 8 cm. The rushes continued to get stronger and stronger. Soon after this, I began to panic a bit. I realized that my mind was looking for a way out of the situation, feeling like I couldn't handle it. But I knew that there was no way to make this end, except to have the baby. I was really worried these intense, painful contractions were going to continue for a couple of hours, and I wasn't sure that I could make it through that. Some of the contractions were coming back to back, which meant that I had strong pain (certainly the most intense of my life) for 2-3 minutes straight before I would have a minute or so of relief, and then it would all start again.
Jason: Somewhere during this stretch I started to feel a little helpless. I wanted to help Leslie manage the pain but wasn't always sure the best way to do that. I kept telling her that she was doing great and that she was designed to do this. Even in her moments of what she describes as panic, she kept her head on straight and kept moving forward with incredible bravery and courage. I could not have been more proud of my beautiful wife for her ability to push through the pain and not curse me for what I did to her.
Heather reassured me that my baby girl was going to be here very soon, and I convinced myself that I could finish this race. I started saying things like,"I can do this. I can do this." Honestly, though, there were moments where I thought,"I can't do this. Why did I do this?" But for the most part, I was able to fight the battle raging in my head and push through the pain.
Jason was wonderful the entire time. He rubbed my back and between my eyes and was very encouraging. He reminded me that I was strong and that I could do this. It was great to hear his voice reassuring me.
Just before I started pushing, Heather said that there was just a lip of cervix that needed to move back. She said to think of a clock and that the position from 11 to 1 was what needed to dilate. After a few minutes, she said we were ready to go.
At 9:35, I started pushing. Honestly the pushing phase was less painful than the previous phase, but it was still very intense. Heather noticed that the baby's heart rate would drop as I was pushing, so she had Jason give me oxygen in between pushes. At one point, I remember Heather saying that I just had a couple more contractions before meeting my baby, and I knew I could do it. When the baby's head came out, the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck, so Heather quickly unwrapped it before she was born.
Jason: Having had a front row seat for Miles and Vivienne's birth, I was a little worried about the cord being wrapped around Evelyn's neck. But Heather was great and talked through her actions during the birth. She explained that the cord wasn't too tight and that she was going to remove it from around her neck. Then once Evelyn's head popped out, there was a very long moment where nothing seemed to happen. It really did look like a little lifeless, dark haired, very blue head hanging out of my wife. And that freaked me out. Why wasn't her body following by now? The pause, later explained by Heather, was her waiting to see which way Evelyn's shoulders would turn so she knew how best to finish extracting her. It seemed too long for me. And then once she came out, she was very very blue and didn't make a sound for what sound liked another eternity (probably only 4-5 seconds). After some prodding she cried a little bit much to our relief. It is amazing how much runs through your mind in the precious seconds.
After about 20 minutes of pushing, at 9:56 am, the gorgeous Evelyn Rose Fox was born. Heather put my beautiful baby girl up on my belly, and I was completely overcome with emotion. I was so overwhelmed with love for this baby, and I was so relieved that she was finally here and so proud of myself for making it through her delivery. She had a beautiful head of gorgeous, thick, dark hair, just like her brother. I also remember thinking that she looked huge to me, because she was a good 2 lbs bigger than her older siblings.
Just as she was being born, Heather said, "Oh, she pooped!" She was either pooping while she was being born or immediately after coming out. The first thing she did in the outside world was poop - even before she breathed. That's my girl! They immediately put her up on my belly so that I could see her beautiful face and start bonding with my youngest daughter. Jason got to cut her umbilical cord (which he wasn't able to do with Miles or Vivienne).
Evelyn looked very purple to me and Jason when she was born, and we were immediately concerned. She didn't cry very loudly at first, but after a few seconds of rubbing her cheeks, she let us hear her lovely voice for the first time. She stayed with me for quite a while after she was born and latched on to nurse very quickly. Her Apgar scores were 8 and 9 (at 1 minute and 5 minutes), which are both very good. The only mark against her was her initial color, which quickly regulated itself when she started breathing.
Evelyn also had a lot of bruising and swelling on her face. Her forehead, cheeks and nose were all purple even after her face turned to a normal color. They said this was because she was born so quickly. The pediatrician asked whether she was born "sunny side up," because her bruises were unusually noticeable.
|This is quite a few minutes after she was born. You can see how discolored she was even then.|
|Daddy holds Evelyn for the first time.|
|Our little lady warrior with her battle scars.|
|"Baby Girl" Fox - we still weren't certain of her name.|
|Waiting to take our sweet daughter to the recovery room.|
Jason: I am extremely proud of Leslie for deciding she wanted a natural birth and then following through. She amazed me at every step of the way with her determination and ability to stay in the moment and handle whatever was thrown at her. She's my hero and baby Evelyn is as precious as can be. Welcome to the Fox family baby E. Your daddy loves you very much! And you have a very special mommy who also loves you to pieces.