Birth Novel of Tobin told by Mom & Dad aka “Coach”
About 5 minutes before Denver actually got home at 12:45pm, I crawled into bed after texting Donnellyn to ask if we could come in (of course she said yes). He came upstairs to check on me, I told him I thought we should pack up the car, I figured I’d rather go in and be sent home then be home, scared and clueless. When he was in the room, I kept asking him to hurry and move quickly. I wanted to head out and wanted him to be with me.
He told me he just needed to fill the dog food containers, then we could go. (In my head… Are you f-ing kidding me… They have enough food in their containers and anyone who is watching the dogs knows where the extra food is… and yes, even in my head, I said “f-ing”). After what felt like about an hour from me saying we needed to go, he was ready to help me downstairs.
He was walking slowly in front of me to help me down the stairs. I asked him to just get out of the way; I was practically running down the stairs and out the door before another contraction hit because I knew I wouldn’t be able to walk through it. It was a little after 1:00pm I think.
When I got home, it was very apparent this was the real thing. However I still figured we had plenty of time. Melissa has a bad habit of reading child birth articles regarding various ailments and symptoms then magically having these symptoms. Having taken The Bradley Method class, I knew she knew all the sign posts and symptoms she “should” be having at the various stages so I figured she was still in the “putsy putsy” phase and we had some time even though she was showing signs of late labor; this being Melissa’s first birth, I was preparing for a long one.
In my head I was thinking, we will be there way past dinner and into breakfast the next morning, so I wanted to get food, etc. I was sure she was only at maybe 2cm at this point. She was showing late first stage labor signs and was not able to talk though contractions, but seemed normal between contractions, however only gave short answers which were direct, dare I say slightly testy, but not mean. Again, based on Melissa track record of projecting symptoms, I wasn’t sure if she was actually feeling this way or knowing this is how she should be feeling to get things moving.
In the car, contractions seemed to slow down and get less intense. It seemed like we hit every red light and, as we drove past the hospital which is 3 minutes from our house, I thought about how nice that short of a drive would have been. I kept that to myself at the time though.
Denver was great in the car. He drove safely and reassuringly kept his hand on my leg. About half way there, the intensity started picking up again. As we got closer, he distracted me by asking me what they felt like. I tried to think of an answer, but didn’t know what to say, so I told him I would pay more attention on the next one. After that one was over, I told him I needed one more before I could describe it. Finally I decided it felt like when you are really full (after Thanksgiving dinner or some other big meal) and you feel like you are about to explode, only worse than I had ever felt like before and it came in waves.
In the car, everything seemed to almost instantly slow down, In my head I am thinking…. YUP knew it, we went too early, we are going to get half way there, labor is going to stop and we are going to have to go all the way back home. That did not happen. Admittedly, I drove slower than normal. I was thinking we needed some more time to allow labor to start back up and also jerky movements and short stops seemed to really hurt more than constant movements/slow stops. I could visibly see it in Melissa’s face.
I did notice she was doing an awesome job relaxing. About ¼ of the way there, I could tell the contractions were really intense and I wanted to have Melissa focus on something, so with a little reluctance out of fear this would make things worse or tick her off, I asked her what the contractions felt like. IT WORKED! Melissa and I had a conversation about the contractions and this gave her something focus on other than pain for a few fairly intense contractions. At the same time, I was checking the clock to get a rough time for frequency and duration of the contractions. They were about 3 minutes apart and lasting over a minute, again, very rough estimate, it’s hard to drive, talk, and watch the clock at the same time.
We pulled up with All About Babies just as a contraction started. I helped guide him around to the back before having to close my eyes and focus on relaxing. After it was over, I asked him to help me out of the car. We went the 3 steps from the car to the door before I had to stop because I was having a contraction.
After that one was over, I made it another 5 steps before having another contraction. When that one was over, I practically ran to the exam room before another one hit. I made it just in time to curl over on the bed. I remember Donnellyn rubbed my back through that and hearing her helper in background telling me what a good job I was doing.
Both of those things really helped. Donnellyn told me to get up on the table to examine me. I asked if I could go to the bathroom first. She told me to pee in a cup like I did before all of my other appointments.
When we got there, after they saw how intense and close the contractions were walking in, I expected we would get going straight to the birth suite, but we didn’t, we were directed to an exam room. In my head I am FREAKING OUT, “what, she is about to push him out, can’t we do the exam in the room later!?!?!?” On the outside I remained calm and helped (rather speedy) Melissa get to the exam room. In the room I tried to get Donnellyn up to speed, but I don’t think there was any need, I could tell right way she knew we were close but was a little shocked when Melissa told her she had to go to the bathroom and Donnellyn let me take her.
I suspect she was thinking the same as me originally, “first time Mom, this going to be a long one, we have some time,” and she only had a few minutes to get a feel for the situation before Melissa asked the question. The other alternative is I was a first time father freaking out on the inside and she had everything under control. Melissa did indicate in her birth preferences she wanted to be free to move around as needed, so in hindsight Donnellyn was probably respecting Melissa’s wishes. Throughout the entire birth it was evident she had prepared and knew our preferences and met or exceeded all of them.
Denver told me we needed to move out of the bathroom after this contraction ended, but they weren’t ending. After probably 3-4 I got a small break and he practically drug me back to the exam room. I rolled onto the table and Donnellyn tried to listen for Tobin’s heartbeat, but I was on my side and she couldn’t hear it. She asked me to roll onto my back, which wasn’t as painful as I thought, and found his heartbeat.
She then said she was going to examine me. I vaguely remember that being uncomfortable and saying “ow”. She kept reassuring me and apologizing. I remember saying it was ok, I knew she had to do it, it just hurt. She finished the exam and told me we could move to the room. I asked where I was. She told me to open my eyes and look at her. “You are complete. It’s time to push.”
Melissa covered most of what I was thinking, but I was sure at this point I would be delivering this baby in the freaking birthing center bathroom, and that just wasn’t going to happen… I was trying to figure out how to get Melissa out of there and back to the exam room. She kept saying she needed to pee in the cup. I told her if she hadn’t peed yet, she wasn’t going to and we need to just get to the exam room so we could go “nest” in her birth room.
“On the count of three you are going to muster up all your strength, grit your teeth, and we are going… ONE, TWO, THREE….” off we went, the opposite of relax I know, but it worked.
Once back in the exam room, I was somewhat relieved; at least at now Donnellyn was there and worst case scenario she could deliver Tobin here. When she did the vaginal exam, she looked over to me and mouthed “The bag is bulging” I knew it was on, pushing would be soon… I didn’t say anything to Melissa, I figured if she wanted to know (and I was pretty sure subconsciously she already knew) she would ask. I also didn’t want to give her anything to change her state of mind; she was doing really well, relaxing, breathing, etc. Donnellyn and I had to remind her regularly to breathe deep and slow, but that was it.
Moving to the room, they asked me which room I wanted. I didn’t really care, so we went with the closest room which was the one I had thought I would birth in anyways. I walked down to the bed for a contraction and decided I wanted to go to the toilet again. Half way to the toilet I had another contraction.
I finally made it and sat down for 1-2 more. I got up because I knew it was time to push (and I think Denver drug me up again… I think he was really scared his son would come on the toilet.) They asked if I wanted bed or tub. I really didn’t know or have a preference, so I just stood there saying, I don’t know/ care.
They told me I’d be more comfortable in the tub, so they filled it in what seemed like seconds. I climbed into the tub. I had one contraction and they told me I could start pushing. I remember saying I didn’t know how. On the next contraction, my water broke; that really burned/ stung.
On the next contraction I tried to push, but it hurt a lot (I did not find pushing offered relief like a lot of people say). She told me I didn’t need to push; I could just sing the baby out by making a deep humming in the back of my throat. She mimicked the sound with me as I started pushing. The first two pushes I felt like I wasn’t making any progress.
On the third push, I looked down and could see the top of his head. I remember saying, “that is really weird!” I went back to focusing on singing, not pushing. On the next contraction, his whole head popped out (again, very weird!). Things seemed to slow down at that point. We got to look at him for a little bit and watch him pivot.
I remember being concerned that it was taking a while for the next push and he might be getting strangled (in hindsight, I realize that couldn’t be the case since he was still connected to the umbilical cord). Donnellyn said he was just fine. Throughout the pushing, everyone kept saying, “I can’t believe this is her first baby!” On the next contraction, his left hand came out followed by his left shoulder, then right shoulder and right hand.
I thought I was done at that point, but Donnellyn said I needed one more push for the rest of him. On that same contraction, I gave one last push and he was there! It was 2:32 in the afternoon; only three and a half hours from the time I realized this might be the real thing.
This was all very surreal. I was super concerned Melissa was just going to stay on the toilet; especially after Donnellyn told her if she wanted to stay on the toilet she could deliver Tobin there. In my head I am thinking, “how the heck is that going to work…Dude is going bash his head in toilet, what a crappy way to enter the world, in the bowl of a TOILET!”
I had to figure out a way to get Melissa off the toilet again. I could tell Donnellyn really wanted her to get in the birthing tub and they had even started filling it already. I just repeated Donnellyn’s recommendations to Melissa about how nice the tub would feel etc. and again offered my hand and, in the short time between contractions, got her off the toilet and in the tub. I ended up being positioned on the “business end” because of the way the tub was setup, which I did not have any intention of seeing that position as I imagined it would be really gross to see.
After it was over I have no regrets and I am very glad I was essentially forced into that position. It was amazing to see him come out, not gross at all. I don’t want to spoil it too much for those as ignorant as I was about child birth, but Coaches it’s a little weird but pay close attention to the head when it comes out, there is amazing stuff at work there. I was able to relay information to Melissa which I think helped her that it was coming from me.
I remember (maybe push 3) she said, “It hurts; please don’t make me do it again.” I told her he can’t stay in there forever and pushing gets him out. I also gave her an update about what I had seen, how his head was starting to show etc. which I think helped her keep going. I really liked Donnellyn’s “sing him out” tactic, because, for Melissa, it really worked. I don’t think she will ever sell a platinum record or anything with that “singing” but she was certainly a “rock star” at birth with it.
They put him up on my chest and he relaxed a little then cried briefly. They asked me how I felt. I told them, I never was really sure what I felt like to be pregnant, so I definitely didn’t know what to think now. We stayed in the tub for a little while, then they had me move to the bed. I felt totally fine, so I started standing up.
They then told me to slow down as they helped me up and out of the tub. I felt pretty silly standing there having 3 people toweling me off when I felt perfectly capable of drying myself, except I was holding Tobin. They walked me down to the bed and helped me in. We lay there cuddling for a few minutes.
They cut the umbilical cord after it stopped pulsing and Tobin was free! At that point I handed him to Denver so he could snuggle with his baby boy. They filled up the herbal bath for me and helped me back up to the tub. Again, I felt a little silly being helped because I felt fine. I got in and they said Tobin should get in with me.
Denver was still sitting with him on the bed, but got up to bring him to me. I felt so proud! Denver had never even held a baby before and here he was, getting up and bringing me our newborn son. I told the Hannah, the midwife student, that Denver had never held a baby before and I could see the pride beaming out of her as well.
Tobin got in the tub with me and instantly totally relaxed, stretching completely out and just floated. It was really neat to see. We all chatted for a while before they said I needed to get out. It was nice in the tub, but I was a little warm, so I wasn’t too upset about getting out. Through all of this we chatted and everything felt very relaxed.
We later learned that Donnellyn had been in non-stop births since Wednesday. All of her interns had gone home, so our birth team consisted of the lady who helps clean the birth suites, a midwife who had just transferred to All About Babies, and a girl who was about to apply for midwife school and this was her very first birth. They were all so amazing and I wouldn’t have traded any of them! Our lack of preparedness showed when Donnellyn told Denver to bring me some food… All we had was a few snacks we had grabbed on our way out the door. Hannah had mentioned something about Chipotle at one point; since then, I kept thinking about how yummy that sounded. I promised Donnellyn we would stop on the way home and grab Chipotle.
After loading Tobin up in the carseat, we hugged everyone goodbye and thanked them. As we pulled out of the parking lot, I said to Denver, “Well that was easy… now what?” We stopped at Chipotle (Tobin and I waited in the car) and headed home by 8:00 pm to figure it all out!!
I remember from the beginning Melissa telling me we had to take a 12 week birthing class; I was annoyed and was trying to come up with excuses not to go to them all. I went to all of them and I am glad I did. I cannot believe all that I have learned though this experience. I think as far as coaching goes, I got off pretty easy and Melissa is pretty amazing.
I cannot believe she basically went through all of labor by herself. I am so glad we chose the path we did to bring Tobin into the world. I understand the need for modern medical care, but people need to start trusting nature more, give nature a chance to fail before automatically feeling the need to have medical intervention. I believe more often than not, nature’s methods will surprise you. The whole experience was incredible. I cannot say enough kind words to our birth team and applaud them for going above and beyond when needed and welcoming our Tobin to the world so perfectly.
Thank you to all who had a part in making this possible AND welcome to the world Tobin Joe Stone!