Having two children of my own and delivering them through natural childbirth, I knew first hand about the miracle of life. It’s a beautiful thing …. But, I also knew too well the discomfort and pain that my body had to endure during labor and delivery. It’s extremely painful and during peaks of contractions it was straight up torture!! It’s something I would not wish on anyone so call me crazy for doing it again!! At least I knew about the drugs the second time so it was less agonizing but a little more tolerable.
I don’t remember being told (or I simply didn’t pay attention) about the 3 stages of labor: early, active and transition. The doc at Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital gave me a quick reminder when I took Jami in Thursday morning @ 2:30am as she started having contractions 10 minutes apart. She was definitely in the early labor phase because she was dilated 3 cm and her cervix was only 70% thinned. So after a few hours and no progress, they advised her to go home, do some walking and continue with her daily routine. Early Saturday morning about 4am I get a phone call from her saying that Tavita is taking her in because her contractions are now more intense and 5 minutes apart. She was admitted and considered in the “active labor” phase. She was now 8cm dilated and still feeling okay but a bit anxious. She was advised about pain killers and spoke with an anesthesiologist about her options. We arrived around 5am hoping this baby will be here soon. It was a waiting game from that point on. By 10am I started to get restless and impatient so Isa and I walked around and ended up in the Stanford Hospital which is connected to LPCH. Both facilities are huge and they are doing construction on both hospitals. They are adding a brand new wing to each building and erecting a huge parking structure to accommodate them. Anyway, by the time we got back around 11:30am, Jami was just checked and she was still at 8cm so they added pitocin to her IV. It’s used to help intensify her contractions. And it worked!! It got so intense and painful it would make her cry and moan and curl her body into a ball. She was definitely in the transition stage. But, she refused to take pain meds so I got her focus on my voice and we took deep and controlled breaths together and rode out each contraction. I took lamaze classes when I was pregnant with her and that technique flew out the window when I went into labor! Somehow it all came back to me while I stood next to her bed and held her hand and rode out each contraction with her. Oh my God! I am amazed how she tolerated the pain! I asked her again about meds and she refused. It was shortly after 3:30pm when she said she had the urge to poop. Tavita buzzed the the nurse’s station and a team dressed fully in blue scrubs walked in with all kinds of equipment, extra linen and stuff that looked like trash bags. It was like a scene in Grey’s Anatomy. Dr. Pao, was the doc in charge. She was like a maestro at an opera sitting center stage at the foot of Jami’s bed. She conducted all of us in the room to play our role. Tavita had her right leg placed on the right stir up and I was on her left side doing the same. The room was a buzzed with synchronized activity. The pediatrician and her nurse were in the corner of the room preparing baby’s incubation thingy. It reminds me of a french fry warmer …, there was another nurse behind me watching the monitor which was tracking baby’s heartbeat. Another set of people, perhaps residents/interns on each side of Dr. Pao seemed to be simply observing. When she would get a contraction, Dr. Pao would tell Jami to take a deep breath and hold it for ten seconds, curl her chin to her chest and push with all her might. At the same time she had Tavita and I grab each foot by the heel, bring it towards Jami and gently spread her legs apart to help open her pelvic cavity to allow the baby to pass. We did this three times during each contraction and each time I could see the baby’s head. As soon as the contraction ceased his head would go back in. He was playing peek a boo with us. It seemed like we were doing this for hours! But as I glanced at the clock it had only been 15 maybe 20 minutes. I wiped Jami’s forehead with the cold cloth I prepared earlier for her. She was working really hard trying to push this baby out and I could tell she was getting exhausted. We continued for another 15 minutes then the nurse who was monitoring the baby’s heartbeat said something in medical terms and all I remember was the doc pulling these silver spoon like utensils about a foot long with elongated ladles from the table that was covered with blue plastic next to her. She instructed Tavita and I to step back allowing the two interns next to her to replace us. I recognized those objects she inserted into the vagina as forceps. Things got surreal in a flash. I asked the nurse what’s going on and she replied by saying “we are concerned for the baby because his heart rate drops whenever Jami tries to push. Since he’s been “stuck” in the birth canal for a while they are going to use the forceps to help him out. We can’t tell if the umbilical cord is wrapped around his neck causing him to lose oxygen but we weren’t taking any risks.” All I heard was no heart beat and STRESS but I had to stay calm for Tavita and Jami’s sake. I could see the panic in Tavita’s eyes so I gave him an assuring it’ll be okay nod. With the forceps clamped on each side of baby’s head, Doctor Pao gently pulled and tugged as Jami pushed. They did this a couple of times. As I stood in the background, I had a full view of everything. I was so worried for the baby as well as Jami so I prayed to God to keep them both safe.
In the name of The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. Amen.
Our Father, Who art in heaven
Hallowed be Thy Name;
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen.
I stood there dumbfounded. My baby was having her baby. I wanted to comfort her and take away all the pain and suffering she was going through. I was willing to take her place. I couldn’t move from where I was standing but I wanted to wipe the sheen of perspiration from her forehead, dab the bead of sweat above her lip, hold her hand and rub her arm … be MOM.
Finally, Doctor Pao had Jami bear down and give it her all! She pushed with all her might making her face turn beet red. Slowly and surely his head emerged. As the doc placed the forceps on the table, I could see he had a conehead but it’s normal. He was completely out now but still linked to Jami by the umbilical cord. BUT, he was not breathing yet. It seemed like the seconds ticked by slower than normal. The doc placed him on Jami’s belly so the pediatrician and nurse could take his vitals and rubbed him and wiped him dry until he gasped for air and started crying. Then, the doc cut his cord. Tears of joy and happiness fell from my eyes down my cheeks. Thank you Lord!
Happy Birthday Joseph Sione Puniani Nikolas Manatuloto Maumalanga. My little Niko for short. Born March 4th, 2017. 8lbs, 11-1/2 oz and 21-1/2″ long. Vivi loves you!