Home birth from Dad’s point of view

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A crazy fun day

We had just spent the day with loads of energy… goofing off and doing crazy things.

We went for coffee, went shopping and did a lot of walking around Vancouver that day. It was a beautiful day and the weather was perfect. Not too hot and not too cold. The sun was out and we were taking advantage of the good weather by getting out and having some fun.

Valerie was in a particularly good mood and was joking around a lot. As we walked to the coffee shop the Vancouver Marathon was on and all the runners were running down the street. Valerie went to the middle of the street and posed like she was running the marathon at 37 weeks pregnant. It was hilarious.

Running a marathon at 37 weeks!!

Running a marathon at 37 weeks!!

After coffee we went shopping to pick up a few things we would need for the home birth.

Happy Day!

Happy Day!

 

The midwives gave us a list and we had a few more items left but we discovered that the stores were closed. We decided that we would get those items tomorrow… but tomorrow never comes does it?

Well that is how the saying goes and it was true for us this time. Valerie went into labour that night and we weren’t prepared.  But our midwives said they would help us out and bring the missing items.

Labour and a Leaky Tub

Valerie went into labour in the middle of the night and she was amazing the whole time. One of the missing items was a hose to fill up the tub. Since I didn’t have the hose I filled the tub up one bucket of water at a time. It was a BIG tub and it took a long time but I finally filled it up. She spent a lot of time in the tub in our living room. The tub that we thought our child would be born in…

When Jennifer, our midwife, arrived I offered her our parking spot so she wouldn’t have to pay for parking outside our building. I gave her our key fob so she could get her car into the parking lot and it also allowed her to leave and enter the building if need be. And it took a while so she did make use of the key fob a couple of times during Valerie’s labour.

So with Jennifer’s guidance Valerie made it to active labour and at times she actually fell asleep between contractions in the birthing tub. Eventually, as Valerie was progressing well, our inflatable tub had sprung a leak. It was slowly deflating and Jennifer was working on fixing it while Val was sitting on the toilet (labouring) for a while.

Valerie wanted to get back in the tub but it wasn’t repaired yet. So Jennifer filled up the bath tub this time and Val hopped in the bath tub and everything sped up at this point. She was now in the active pushing stage and from here on in everything happened so fast it is a blur now.

That’s not a head…

When Jennifer told Valerie to resist the urge to push I knew the baby was about to come. Jennifer said, “Valerie, your going to feel an overwhelming desire to push but we want to prevent you from tearing as we talked about before“. Jennifer grabbed Valerie’s hand and placed it on the babies head that was just now crowning… except we would soon find out that it wasn’t the babies head.

Jennifer grabbed the flashlight and took a look before the final push… she turned to me as she pulled out her cell phone and said, “I now know the sex of your baby but I’ll wait for you to see for yourself“.

She called 911.

Hi, my name is Jennifer, a midwife performing a home birth in downtown Vancouver. This is an unexpected breech, I repeat an unexpected home birth breech. I need the neonatal unit and paramedics asap….

What?

Several months earlier we had attended an orientation session at the midwife office, they talked about potential complications that could happen during a home birth. A breech baby was one of the risks and it was apparently very rare that a baby would become breech between the last appointment and the birth. It was one of those low statistics that you assume won’t happen to you.

And now it was happening to us… for a few moments I thought what the @#$% are we doing? But it only lasted a few seconds and then I had this very powerful feeling that everything would be fine.

I was on the phone with the 911 operator now and I had just finished giving her our address. She asked me for the buzzer number and I gave it to her. She hung up and by now Valerie was completely in the zone. The baby wasn’t going to wait for the neonatal unit… I was pretty sure about that.

I don’t use my buzzer number very much so I started to think that maybe I didn’t give her the right number?

What if they can’t get into the building or up to our floor?
Should I go down to make sure that they can get in… yes!

I told Jennifer I’m going down to make sure that the buzzer number works. I ran out the door and painfully waited for the elevator to take me down to the lobby. Someone was already in the elevator and it seemed like forever while the elevator stopped on the second floor to let her out. I could hear the ambulance pulling up the building. When I got out of the elevator they were already entering the lobby with a stretcher. I told them who I was and that I would take them up to our floor.

There was someone in the elevator already and as the two paramedics and I went into the elevator they kicked the guy out and I reached into my pocket to get my key fob…

BUT THERE WAS NO KEY FOB…

Without the key fob I can’t get to our floor… I said #$%^ I don’t have my fob… our midwife has it. The paramedic looked at me and said ‘oh dear’. I realized I had my cell phone and could run outside and buzz myself in (if I remembered my buzzer code). So I ran outside and my buzz code worked… I ran back in just as the doors closed on the elevator without me.

I watched the floor numbers above the elevator as the elevator went up… but it passed our floor and kept going and going… almost to the very top of the building. The guy they kicked out of the elevator just so happened to live at the top of the building and had already pushed the button…

And then the elevator slowly came down, stopping at several floors before it PASSED the lobby and went down to P3!!!

During this process I was freaking out! Although it didn’t take long by normal standards… in situations like this a second feels like a month and a minute is like a century. It took forever!

Was Valerie ok?

Is the baby ok?

Is the baby being born while I’m STUCK in the lobby?
What the hell is happening up there?

It was driving me insane!

The elevator stopped at P2, P1 and finally the elevator doors opened. I got in pushed the button and it worked! The elevator started moving up. The paramedic told me that there was another team on the way a few minutes behind them but as the door opened I could see a stretcher was already outside my apartment door.

“Damn It”, said the the paramedic… “They beat us again”. Even though I was freaking out I still think I laughed out loud or… probably not. I don’t remember but now it is funny.

When I entered the apartment it was the weirdest thing. There were at least four paramedics and a couple midwives in our small apartment now.

As I walked into the bathroom I could hear Valerie saying “my baby“… the baby had just been born and Jennifer had placed the baby on Valerie’s chest for some skin to skin contact. It took what seemed like a minute (but probably less) for the baby to start breathing. Valerie and Jennifer rubbed his back and he took his first breaths.

There were paramedics crowding around the bathtub making it difficult to get in. I squeezed into the small bathroom in front of the paramedic that was asking to take the baby.

I could now see that he was a baby boy! I could see his little face and he seemed to be smiling. I actually thought he winked at me at one point but of course he didn’t. He had just never seen light before. The paramedic looked at me and said, “Congratulations!“.

When Valerie noticed that the baby was a boy she said, “Mateo!“, “Mateo!“, “Mateo!” I had never seen her so happy.

The paramedics wanted to clamp and cut the cord and take the baby to examine him.

Our midwife told the paramedics to wait. She said that the baby is ok. He was born breech but without incident and he needs skin to skin contact with Mom while Andrew cuts the cord if he still wants to.

I cut the cord and Jennifer handed Mateo to the neonatal unit so they could examine him to make sure he was alright. They said he looked good and our second midwife asked me to take off my shirt so I could hold Mateo (skin to skin) to keep him warm while Valerie passed the placenta. Valerie was asking for Mateo at this point and Jennifer said he is with Andrew and you can hold him as soon as you push out the placenta. Valerie screamed… “Bye, bye the placenta” at the top of her lungs.  Mateo and I laughed… well I laughed. Mateo probably just had gas.

For the past nine months Valerie had massive cravings for sushi and blue cheese. She wanted Sushi and Blue Cheese after giving birth and she definitely deserved it!  After Mateo had settled in on the bed with Valerie and paramedics had left I went for a walk. I went and picked up the sushi and blue cheese for Valerie’s first post pregnancy meal.

It was election day in Canada and polls were about to close. I could have made it but I decided that getting back to Valerie and Mateo quickly was more important. This was the first time in my life that I didn’t vote.

I didn’t like any of the options anyway so I decided to vote for my new family instead.

It's a BOY!

It’s a BOY!