38 weeks and 2 days into a pregnancy that spanned pretty much since the very beginning of the coronavirus… then suddenly at 4:30am on a workday my wife quietly says “JP are you awake?” and somehow I find myself jumping out of bed totally alert and ask what’s wrong. The bed was a bit damp but there wasn’t any gush or stain or anything… her water definitely didn’t break or anything, so she got up and I went back to sleep for a bit before my work alarm. I woke up an hour later to realize she had frantically cleaned the apartment... and was still going…
I left for work and she was getting ready for her doctor’s appointment later. 11:45AM I am sitting at my desk with a client when my phone rings and all I hear is 2 words… “It’s time…” My boss looks at me and immediately knows that I got “the call”, and tells me to run. I look at the client, say “Sorry, I have to go.. I’M HAVING A BABY!”, grab my keys and run-off.
She headed directly to the hospital, while I rushed home to grab “Baby is Coming” Go-Bag, and of course her being HER, she makes sure I don’t forget her laptop because “she has work to do” (no I’m not even joking... and yes, she did 🤦♂️).
I arrived at the hospital, and 20 minutes later after all the security and COVID-19 screening and all that, I finally got to the maternity ward around 2PM, just as she was being admitted into her room. By 4PM she was 90% effaced (look it up… DO IT!), but only 2cm dilated, so the doctors started her off on oxytocin. Things were moving very slowly at first, and at around 6PM contractions were still far apart and were just occasional spouts of discomfort, and I thought “oh hey, maybe her delivery won’t be that painful after all”… boy was I wrong.
Suddenly around 9PM, she was at 4cm and things escalated very quickly. Her contractions got so painful and intense that she would go totally quiet and squeeze my hand tight with each contraction, which were coming a lot closer together at this point. It was time for the epidural. The anesthesiologist came, put marks on her back, and though the process was painful, it seemed the anesthetic started working really well and had completely numbed out the pain… until it didn’t…
Very soon after the pain had subsided, it came back... with a vengeance. She had to take 2 more doses of anesthetic over the next 2 hours, which didn’t do anything. By 11PM they decided the epidural wasn’t working and that they needed to re-do it. The nurse called the anesthesiologist who was apparently in the middle of administering another epidural down the hall. He said he would be there as soon as he can. By 11:40 the anesthesiologist finally came to remove and re-do a new epidural, and it was about time because Mona (who generally has a very high pain threshold) was in an incredible amount of pain. At 11:45, and just as he had just finished putting the marks again another doctor suddenly came into the room asking for a status report from the nurse. The moment the nurse said she was fully dilated, the doctor suddenly insisted that we go ahead and start the pushing… without the epidural!
Surely enough the room immediately filled with doctors and nurses and we were surrounded by what seemed like a 6-person army of scrubs-clad health professionals, with trays, tools, and instruments… and so the pushing began just before midnight.
Having been holding her hand this whole time, I was suddenly recruited by this band of merry-scrubbers and was instructed to instead hold her leg with one hand and head with the other, following the actions of the nurse across from me with every push… and with every push, I could feel the pure relentless anguish on the face of the woman I love. At one point it was pure chaos with every person in the room calling for her to push, so much that we couldn’t even make out any other instructions. That’s when the head doctor at the very forefront just gave everyone a stern look that clearly meant nobody else was to utter a word but her. The pushing continued, more and more intense with each one, until finally, she couldn’t hold it in anymore and my wife bellowed a screeching, agonizing scream that could be heard throughout the ward and probably all the way at the lobby 12 floors down. The doctor (who had made the decision to go ahead without the epidural) proceeded to tell her not to waste her energy on screaming, and to put it into pushing instead (at which point I was very grateful that my wife and I were more or less restrained in our current positions, and hence neither of us was able to punch his face straight through the nurse behind him...).
My anger with this doctor was not just because of his decision to go ahead with the labor without the epidural, but rather that he had made that decision knowing that the baby had been in a posterior position… which basically means the baby was facing forward instead of back, which makes it a much MUCH more painful delivery due to feeling all the pain in the spine. A spine that he knew from her medical history had already previously been fractured due to a motor accident.
Never the less, my beloved Amazonian lady trudged through and kept on pushing with every call, and with every push, I could see the agony in her face; and with it the terrible feeling that there was nothing I could do to help. At one point the head doctor looked at her and said “I have never seen anyone push like you are pushing… you are a champion!
Again and again and again her face twisted with excruciating pain through the contractions, and the crowning and absolute madness of it all; until I saw a change in her eyes and face that drew the color from mine. She had blacked out from the pain… yet she was still somehow conscious and pushing like she was on autopilot and doing it now on pure maternal instinct. She still doesn’t even have any memory of that particular time-frame, which I believe is for the better. And honestly, no matter how much I try, I will not be able to find words or phrases to describe just how painful it truly was.
Finally and magically, at 1:06AM our little angel was finally born. They immediately handed this tiny helpless creature to Mona with the cord still attached, and the pure ecstasy on Mona’s face was and is indescribable. But then, something else also caught my attention and left me utterly bewildered and effectively speechless… I could not believe my eyes until Mona uttered the words that confirmed what my eyes couldn’t believe… Amazingly, and against all odds, my wife says “Oh my God, she’s a red-head like her daddy!”
The nurse looked at me a few seconds later and asked if I was sure I was up to it… and I said I was. They handed me a pair of medical scissors, pointed out the target, and I proceeded to cut the cord with my own hands. Of course, the fact that it ended up splattering all over a poor nurse’s facemask right across the room was some much needed and appreciated comic-relief after an unequivocally traumatizing experience for my wife. Yet, in my mind, nothing can or ever will compare to the look of absolute infinite love that was on my wife’s face looking down at her daughter. My wife had just become a mommy.
Finally, I decided to write this because I haven’t really come across a guy’s account and/or point of view of the birthing process, and I thought it was the least I could do to show my appreciation and love for my wife, who showed tremendous courage, strength and resilience through an incredibly difficult pregnancy and an utterly excruciating birth. Additionally, this goes out to my own mother, and to all the women out there who have made this amazing sacrifice. I salute you.