by Elizabeth Stephens
This isn’t exactly an area that I could recall, but James being the journalist that he is, wrote a blow by blow account of the birth of our first child, Eric. Here it is:
November 25, 1980
Liz nudged me, “I’m having contractions.”
“Better time them,” I said, “why don’t you take my watch.”
I went back to sleep in my usual position~ hand on her stomach. Then I had a dream. A voice said, “I’m ready and am coming in now.” I told Liz.
Contractions still five minutes apart.—8:30. I said, “Call Dr. Edwards. Liz tell him your symptoms.”
“Can you be there in 20 minutes?” Dr. Edwards asked.
It was so unreal. Here we were, a dream, can it be so? Already, as we were expecting December 3 or so. Throwing the La Maz bag together at the last minute… It was a birth passage for us as well.
9:00 a.m. in the labor room, gown and all. Measured 3 cm. dilated. Gave her an enema. Breathing slowly. Real strong contractions. I didn’t know what to think. Is this it? What happened to the water breaking? The 20 minute contractions followed by the 10 minute? None of that. Here we were. Birth, labor. Study between contractions for my final? Didn’t last. Nothing so much as the birth experience.
“Honey the contraction is half over. Breathe, in and out.” I rubbed Liz’s back as Eric evidently was pressing against it. She said,”good enough.” She lapsed into a different world. Sensitive and almost as if in deep meditation and concentration.
Twelve o’clock. Time moves by at its own invisible pace. Some screams from the next labor room. Liz is in total concentration on her own process. I wonder what shall she be going thru shortly. Visualize the birth canal dilating. Breathe deep, exhale. Contraction one-half over. The pain now becomes almost unbearable, Liz struggling to get comfortable. Now she feels pain even between contractions. Earlier the Doctor said the delivery would probably be sometime after six. Liz did not want that. Visualize pain. I told her, “Remember this is the transition phase the most painful, you’ll want to bail out and get pain medication, just hold out.”
At 1:30 the Doctor had come in and said she was 8cm. What a jump. It could come earlier. Said she could have pain medication. She refused, but would think about it. At 2:30 Liz was about to go through the wall. She looked up noticeably at the clock. Next door we heard a baby cry. One had just been delivered. She painfully looked at me. “Get the nurse!” she commanded in no uncertain terms. The nurse measured her 9 ½ cm. dilated. Just a rim.
This was a hard period, sweating, hot, “don’t push”was the call word. If you push at this time the cervix will swell and you’ll be pushing the baby’s head against the cervix and not helping at all.
Dr. Edwards after delivering the baby next door finally came in. He did an exam and did a manual manipulation of the head which was not properly coming down the birth canal. It was not straight. A few more contractions and you can begin to push, he explained. Pushing time. Real labor, what a relief to be able to push for Liz.
Now the real work. Dr. Edwards says, “Let’s get three big pushes Elizabeth sweetie. You can do better on the next one. Jim do you want to see the head? There it is.”
Amazing to see the bulge by the cervix and to see how big this area can become. Dr. Edwards continued, “Push, a big cleansing breathe, expel and push. Now push, PUSH! Quick breathe, push. Let’s use that contraction. You don’t want to be here all day. Good push. Now relax.
She was out each time between contractions. I mopped her brow with a rag soaked in ice water. Okay up. I held her arms, the nurse pushed her legs. “Push! Come on Liz. Push!”
The Doctor sat on the sidelines like a player waiting for his turn to come onto the field when it was his turn. Liz was mad at him because he wasn’t doing anything.
I said, “Liz quit biting your lip. It’s bleeding.”
She replied, “What do you want? A unbloody lip or a baby?”
Dr. Edwards came to my defense (whew). “Now come on Elizabeth Sweetheart, let’s have a few more good pushes and we’ll be ready to go into the delivery room.”
Next thing I knew we wheeled next door. I had previously scrubbed down and had changed into surgical cap and gown. Here we were. The final moments.
Strapped in the labor table her legs were covered with light blue paper blankets to keep the uterus area clean. The Doctor was bathing his hands and the tools and uterine area in a special iodine solution. “Let’s get some good pushes here.” They did an episiotomy. Liz’s legs were hurting so they unstrapped them. Not only was Liz pushing, but so was I with all my strength and life force. We were chanting at the head of the table. She was in pain.
“Push and then push.”
“Do you want low lights for the final delivery?” Dr. Edwards asked.
Out came Eric. “Okay stop pushing.” The sound of water, a bluish baby changing rapidly; so rapidly to a pinker tint.
Dr. Edwards asked, “Do you want to see your son?”
Wow it was like a dream. “My son?” It was so hard to fathom. Even now. Here was Eric. Liz looked in the mirror to see him. He continued for moments to hold him lower than the vaginal opening with the chord pumping blood into his body. The cord then was clamped in two places and cut.
Time of delivery: 4:24 p.m., November 25. The nurse Suzanne then took Eric over to a radiant heater and stuck a tube down his throat to his stomach and pumped out the amniotic fluid from his stomach. That helps the child so when he coughs it up he doesn’t aspirate it back into his lungs.
Second stage post par tum delivery of the placenta. Painful for Liz and to watch. He stuck his hand on her stomach to push it out and finally it came out. This is also a critical stage since you’re bleeding from supplying all that blood to baby for nine months. The nurse then gave Liz, Eric. She couldn’t believe it. Here was our son. Looked at his little hands. She was so full of wonderment in her eyes. (You wouldn’t believe how beet red she was when she pushed. Her eyes were bloodshot for two weeks afterwards and the bruises on her arms proved how hard I helped push along with my sore muscles. “Do you believe it? This is our son. Really!”
Dr. Edwards then asked “Well, Daddy do you want to give him his first bath?”
“Sure.” Meanwhile, Liz got 25 stitches. Ouch!
The bath water was ready and I held Eric for the first time and submerged his body in water, except for his head. By the way, when Dr. Edwards first held Eric up and he cried, I don’t believe I ever heard a sweeter sound in my life. It wasn’t what you call loud, “he.he whae.” His lungs have improved since let me tell you. Anyway his bath. He looked like a frog with his legs spread out. At first he cried then it was apparent he loved the water as he kicked his legs about in absolute freedom, stretching about. After that Suzanne bundled him up and we were cared for post par tum in the delivery room, vital signs, temp, etc. Liz and I had some tender moments.
Then we were wheeled out to the Recovery room. Meanwhile I walked with the nurse and Eric to the nursery to get Eric weighed and measured.
6 lbs. 9 oz.; 20 inches long, temp normal, heart rate, et.
All I could do was stare in wonder. I left him there. I saw him get his silver nitrate in his eyes to prevent blindness if there is gonorrhea, syphilis in the birth canal; and a vitamin k shot to give him a better chance to have less blood clotting problems. I left him to see Liz. Room 229 in St. John’s Hospital.
As I walked back to the Recovery Room, I ran into Judy Chapman our La Maz teacher. She said, “Really? When? I’m so happy for you. Where’s Liz?”
“In here,” I pointed. Judy congratulated her. Liz cried.
Judy said, “Well Jim you’ll have to come down in cap and gown and tell the La Maz class your first hand experience.” After Liz and I had dinner at 6:30 I just cried I was so happy. Then I went downstairs to the La Maz class and shared my happy experience. That was trip being able to share the reality with all the people we had practiced with. They were also encouraged deeply by the experience.
As I got up to leave someone asked me about the silver chain around my neck tucked into my shirt pocket. I said it was a religious object.
“That must have really helped you birth.”
“Yes, it did. Thank you.”
I wished everyone luck. I sincerely did. When I got back to the room there was Mom, Pam and Ron. I had been down calling Dad, how they got past me I don’t recall. From then on we had a lot of visitors.
Seeing Ron was a real special experience. Since he missed the wedding I was so happy I could share Eric’s first hours with him. We embraced each other warmly. I felt no reservations, he was very vulnerable. That was beautiful.
Mom was of course thrilled. I saw Barbara and Lois, they saw Eric and Liz too.
I went home. I talked to neighbor’s Pat and Laudington, Jenny, Time and Jana and made several calls.
The next day picked up a bassinet Lois and Yuba loaned us from Burbank office of Arrowhead. Had lunch with Mom, Pam and Ron at Bel Air Sands. By the time I got to the Hospital to see Liz and Eric I was totally out of it. Dad had been by earlier to see Liz and Eric. I went home and retired. Zonked!”
End of Entry.