Hi Mary Esther! Long time no talk. After our dramatic exit on the 4th we wanted to let you know what’s happened since. Long story short: Bethany delivered a healthy, happy girl that night…albeit two and a half weeks early. The actual events are pretty dramatic.
Here’s where we left off after Bethany’s water broke unexpectedly in the middle of class. We spent about an hour altogether in the bathroom at the Y trying to get everything in place. I had to run to the nearby Duane Reade to pick up an extra set of underwear and pads. Up to this point, Bethany still hadn’t experienced any contractions. We were actually pretty giddy and joking at this point. Once we got into the cab Bethany started getting stomach pains. She described them as “really bad period cramps.” Initially, they were about 10 minutes apart and as they came we were able to practice our deep breathing techniques together (I’m sure the cabbie was impressed).
They stayed about 10 minutes apart for a while. We incorporated deep breathing, hand massage and acupuncture pressure, and tandem walking/leaning during contractions. Bethany was in constant motion; she didn’t do well sitting still with her contractions and did much better walking around the apartment. It’s worth noting that while she LOVED the “shaking the apples” with the scarf thing during class she absolutely did not during her actual contraction. I think her exact words were “NO, NO, NOT THAT. STOP IT RIGHT NOW.”
Anyway, we had been laboring for about six hours and the contractions were getting closer to about four minutes apart and definitely were more intense. At this point, she started to vocalize during her contractions. At around midnight I called our OB telling her we were going to come in soon (Bethany was GBS positive and we were told beforehand to come in once the water broke – but we waited a little before letting the OB know). Her movements at this point were slow, the pain/pressure was becoming more intense, and she was starting to vomit.
At about 12:30am I was finally able to load Bethany into the car after spending a lot of time frantically throwing things into our go-bag (again, two and a half weeks early). I ran pretty much every red light I encountered but it still took about 30 minutes to get to Lenox Hill. On arrival, Bethany was in a constant state of motion. She couldn’t sit still because the pain would get overwhelming so instead of getting into the wheelchair to get taken up to the L&D floor she walked (sloooowly). At the triage desk the nurses didn’t seem to take her very seriously. We came to find that every birthing room was taken so we had to have our initial exam in the triage area with several other laboring mothers. I left her at this point to go do registration paperwork and when I returned about 20 minutes later, I discovered she was at least 7 centimeters dilated and starting to push. That made the nurses move a little faster.
Problem was, there were still no free birthing rooms. There was, however, a freshly cleaned OR available. So off we walked, me, Bethany, and a nurse who was trying to flag down any resident available to accompany us. We met up with a third year resident who told us our OBGYN had initially been told by the receptionist that Bethany wasn’t in active labor yet so there was no reason to hurry to the hospital. She was pushing about every minute now. Oops. Anyway, Bethany couldn’t physically get herself onto the OR table (she was never going to have a C-section—they just needed her to lie someplace) so they brought her a stool to help her up. She made it onto the stool, then stopped and leaned over onto me while still standing. She found this to be the most comfortable spot to push, so that’s how we stayed for about 15 minutes. I had yet to take off my coat at this point.
Finally seeing she wasn’t going to be able to lie on the table, the resident wisely laid a sterile blanket on the floor and had Bethany on all fours while she pushed. This lasted maybe three or four pushes, when the resident examined Bethany, said, “oh shit, you’re crowning,” and started calling for backup. In rush a bunch of nurses, techs, and medical students. No OBGYN attending, no residents. Bethany, not understanding who any of these new faces were, started shouting for them to leave the room (my back was turned to them the entire point but I understand they were pretty confused). Then the resident had me hold Bethany from behind while she was in a semi-squat position. I couldn’t see much from my position but the whole thing seemed to happen very quickly. Bethany pushed maybe a few times and all of a sudden there was a giant gush of fluids (our shoes were ruined!) and out came our screaming baby girl! It was probably the most powerful moment of my life and definitely something I will never forget. The rush of emotions were indescribable. Many tears of joy were shed.
Funny end to the story—a few minutes after delivering Audrey, Bethany was able to get up onto a gurney to deliver the placenta. At this point our OBGYN comes SPRINTING down the hall, runs past our OR room, realizes where we are, and runs breathless into our room shouting, “WHERE’S THE BABY??” Considering how late we switched to her practice and her not actually delivering our baby, I think we were the easiest patients she’s ever had.
That’s our story. Delivering on the floor of an operating room wasn’t exactly our original plan but we couldn’t be happier. We have a lovely, healthy, baby girl and Bethany gave birth exactly how she wanted—no medications and with (most of) the labor at home. Speaking from the husband’s perspective, I felt very calm through the majority of the labor. Not because of medical school but more because of the time spent at your classes and through reading McCutcheon’s book. It gave me the insight and training I needed to be there for Bethany and support her through the hardest—and most amazing—moments of her life. So thank you for that. I deeply appreciate it. So does Audrey. Best to you and everyone else in the class. I wish we could have made a more dignified exit but I guess the best things in life come on their own schedule.
From Bethany: I wouldn’t have changed our birth experience at all – it was exactly what I hoped for. Audrey was placed immediately skin-to-skin and started breast feeding right away. We’ve been feeding like gang busters ever since. There have been some latching missteps along the way leading to some soreness but we’re both learning.
I wanted to add that from first contraction to delivery, we were only in labor for ~7 hrs, in the hospital a little over an hour before she was born, and I only pushed for about 45 min total. It all happened so fast that some of it’s a blur. (Also, I can’t believe today is our “due date”!)
I have to give that 3rd year resident Brendan mentioned a shout-out. Her name is Dr. Jackie Collins. She was incredibly supportive of all birthing positions and had the presence of mind to put out that blanket as soon as she realized that a laying down position wouldn’t work for me. I learned afterwards from my attending OB that Dr. Collins had just come off a one month elective rotation in home births and has the professional aspiration to open a midwife-esque OB practice. I couldn’t have asked for a better doctor. Definitely a name to keep an eye out for.
I also wanted to reiterate what Brendan said about staying in contact – we live in Park Slope and would love to keep in contact with the other couples.
Your class was wonderful and, even though we delivered before finishing the classes, I believe that what we learned from you and the reading directly contributed to achieving the birth experience we were striving for.
I attached a few photos. We’re just smitten with her.
BethanyTags: birth story, Bradley Method, Mary Esther Malloy, natural hospital birth