And now a break from regularly scheduled programming, for some personal news.
Two years ago in May of 2014, Courtenay and I welcomed our son Oscar into the world (you can read that story here). He emerged into the world only to step on our dreams and free time, and we couldn’t love him more for it.
Last October, Courtenay and I discovered that we would be welcoming another child into the world. But with less free time and fewer dreams to crush, our next child would be a joy to rival her older brother!
Well, on Wednesday morning, July 6th, 2016, Courtenay and I welcomed Maeve Dorothy Pearl Reedman Parker into the world. She was born by C-section at 10am sharp. She was 9lbs, 3 ounces and 21 inches long. Thankfully we opted for the surgical delivery before 48 hours of labour and our OB/GYN said we made the right choice.
Maeve (pronounced Mayv) is happy and healthy. She is a hungry little baby and only this morning, almost 48 hours after being born, she finally finding some time to sleep after eating non-stop.
Oscar is very happy to spend time with “Baby Maeve” any chance he can get. He would sit in her lap if we let him!
Courtenay is an amazing mother, and I am blessed to have her and now two beautiful, amazing children.
And then as the due date came and went, we were booked for a routine fetal assessment (extra involved ultrasound), and all of a sudden we found ourselves, with potential complications to an otherwise healthy pregnancy, being admitted to a High Risk Labour and Delivery unit – not where we planned on being for the birth.
Throughout the next 48 hours, neither of us slept for more than a couple hours and we endured a medically induced labour, all the way to the pushing stage, when my wife was told to stop pushing (and go back to the really painful part of labour) to help things progress. A few hours later we were faced with more waiting or a riskier than normal C-Section. Over the 48 hours, there were things about labour and delivery that I learned that no one teaches you in prenatal classes and that you cannot read about in a typical pregnancy book or website. They were the hardest 48 hours of my life. Here are some of the things I learned, from a husband’s perspective, about High Risk labour:
1. Things don’t go as planned. When you are expecting a “normal” birth and show up for a routine ultra sound at a different hospital than your birth hospital and you hear the words: “We are keeping you here, looks like you’re going to have your baby today” – it is NOT COOL.
2. No seriously, when things don’t go as planned (and often they don’t) it sucks. Like the websites and books say, make your birth plan and imagine how you want birth to go when the day comes. And then be prepared to scrap it all, because when it doesn’t happen like you planned, you can be thrown for one of the biggest loops of your life.
3. No amount of preparation will give you a sense of being in control. You can throw out the lists, hospital bags, books, iPhone apps etc… You don’t actually need any of that stuff when doctors start talking about low amniotic fluids and uncertain kidney function. You can show up to have a baby with just your wallet, phone and your wife’s purse – and that is too much stuff.
4. The sounds of labour are… weird and frightening. Women will generally sound like they are dying, shout profanity and cry out funny and ridiculous things in labour – and you can’t laugh. Well, not too loudly anyways.
5. Sometimes things don’t make sense. If the one questionable issue that landed you in the high risk unit turns out to be false you won’t get to leave. But the totally cool staff is going to come and hang out in your room as a place of refuge because you are friendly and chill. Especially, if your wife loves to chat them up and hear their life stories, even while she is in labour.
6. Singing happy birthday is not funny on a labour and delivery unit. You will think it is funny for about 2.7 seconds and then realize it isn’t. Not at all. Don’t sing it.
7. Be prepared to do nothing. Most of labour and delivery can be doing nothing. You will just sit around, check heart beats, do more nothing, drink a glass of water, do nothing, take a walk, do nothing, sit around the hospital room looking at each other having exhausted 13 hours of conversation, then more nothing.
8. There are real life Dr. Houses (from the TV show House M.D.). There are doctors who will decide to admit you, decide your treatment, decide where you go and you will never see them, meet them or speak with them. I have been making hospital visits as a pastor for 6 years and I spent 3 months doing chaplaincy in a mental hospital – the fact that mystery, eye-in-the-sky doctors exist still shocked me.
9. Be funny. All the massaging, birth coaching, breathing stuff, being supportive is not as important as being funny. I don’t mean cracking jokes like an idiot. I mean being funny in ways that make everyone laugh especially the mom-to-be. Humour lightens the mood, keeps people relaxed and adds perspective. If you can keep the mom-to-be, other support people and hospital staff laughing, things will be so much better.
10. Labour does not look like the TV shows, websites, pre-natal class videos or grandmother stories of pre-1950 birth. Contractions can happen every five minutes like clockwork, of feel like general never ending menstrual cramps, or anything in between. Don’t expect anything, and you won’t be surprised.
11. You will not know when it is going to happen. Every time you feel like the baby about to come, it probably isn’t. Every time labour picks up a little steam, the baby is not about to come. The baby only arrives when the baby is good and ready.
12. Birth complications are terrifying and you will feel helpless. Doctors and nurses will be hesitant to give you definite answers. When hospital staff check vitals or labour progress and pause before speaking, the heavy weight of those silences will crush you. You will know that something isn’t right immediately and you will have no power to do anything about it.
13. You will not know what worry is until your wife and unborn child are in danger. The fear of something happening to my wife and child were the scariest things I have ever encountered. Even after a few days of parenting now, I know that the extra caution you take while driving with a newborn on board, or the heart-skipping-a-beat moments when you sleepily almost lose your grip on a squirming baby are one thing. But knowing that if circumstances don’t change, as in some kind of extreme medical intervention i.e., C-Section, and the two most important people in your life are in grave danger, is entirely another level of worry.
14. You will never be as grateful for a baby’s crying than at birth. Standing behind the OR screen, with your wife, waiting for the doctors to pull that baby out is an indescribable moment. You only get to be there once, and you only get to feel that feeling with those three people once. Once is enough to last a lifetime.
For Courtenay and I, it had been 48 hours of waiting and labour before we finally got to meet our baby. Forty-eight of the most difficult, tiring, hard hours of our entire lives. But a healthy recovering wife and a healthy and beautiful baby boy was worth every moment of fear, concern, worry, sleeplessness. To see my amazing wife through the whole ordeal only makes me love her all that much more. And today, I look at the little miracle baby that finally emerged from the chaos and I cannot help but feel like Mufasa from the Lion King.
Many of you, family, friends, colleagues, parishioners, blog readers know that Courtenay and I were expecting our first child on April 22nd. And many of you know that the due date came and went.
Well, on Tuesday, April 29th, Courtenay and I went for a routine fetal assessment. She was a week over due, and we were going to talk about induction with our Doctor.
However, the ultra sound revealed that the there was not much amniotic fluid around the baby, which could be a problem if it is not due to broken or ruptured waters. And if the water was broken, that meant it was time for a baby to be born.
So we were admitted to a hospital that was not the one we planned to birth at, and we didn’t have any of the things, like baby bag and hospital bag full of stuff that we planned to bring to the hospital for labour and delivery.
So despite our unpreparedness and surprise at being told the baby was going to be born soon, Tuesday at 1:30pm we were beginning the long process to induction. Wednesday morning, Courtenay began feeling contractions and by 4:30pm the rest of her waters had broken.
Throughout the evening, Courtenay laboured like a professional. The nurses and doctors were so impressed, they continually thought she had an epidural because she was managing her pain so well. Around midnight (36 hours after we had come to hospital), Courtenay was told to push. Our nurse and doctor said she was an amazing pusher.
However, after an hour and twenty minutes of pushing, the baby just wasn’t co-operating. The baby just wasn’t in a good position to leave mom’s womb. All along the way, the baby showed perfect signs of health, according to the staff. This was a pretty normal, non-invasive labour for a High Risk unit up until this point.
So after the pushing, the doctors wanted to let Courtenay and baby take a break to see if things could get into a better position for birth. But by 5:30AM, things were not progressing.
The doctor offered to let us wait to see if things changed, but recommended a Cesarian Section.
By 6:10AM Surgery had begun.
And at 6:17AM, on May 1st, 2014 our baby boy was born.
Oscar Kenneth David Reedman Parker
8 pounds 9 ounces. 22 inches long. Huge flipper feet like his dad, and strawberry blonde hair like his maternal grandfather.
He is a beautiful baby.
Although it was not the birthing experience we had hoped for, it was the result we wanted – a healthy mom and healthy baby.
To all our family, friends, parishioners, colleagues, and blog readers, we are excited to share this news. We know many of you hoped to receive updates and news along the way, especially these past few days around the birth. It was a busy time for us and concrete hospital walls don’t make for good cell phone reception. In addition, there were stretches where Courtenay and I didn’t feel like we were in the loop either. Never the less, the pregnancy, labour and delivery are complete, and now we are looking forward to getting to know Oscar. There will be more here about our experience and the baby, so stay tuned for more. But for now, one more photo – with eyes open.
Back in February, Rev. April Fiet wrote a great guest post – In Defense of Men in Ministry – here on the blog. I was honoured to have her write here. She is the first blogger that I have connected with over social media to the point that I would call her a friend!