So enough theory. What about our experience of labor and delivery? What was it like? What did we do right? What did we learn? What would we do differently?
Here is a quick rundown of what happened:
Friday November 5th
9:00 pm Zuzanaâ€™s parents arrive from Slovakia
9:05 pm Zuzanaâ€™s water (amniotic fluid) starts to leak
9:10 pm Zuzana experiences nausea and wants to throw up
Saturday November 6th
2:30 am Zuzana starts having contractions 15-20 minutes apart
6:00 am Zuzana catches some Zâ€™s, getting some valuable sleep
7:00 am Our friend Nori arrives to take Zuzanaâ€™s parents
9:00 am Contractions resume at about 8 minutes apart
11:00 am Took a long walk to help her labor progress
12:00 pm Convinced Zuzanaâ€™s parents to leave us alone
4:00 pm Yvonne, our doula (labor assistant) arrives at our house
7:15 pm We leave for the hospital with contractions 3-4 minutes apart
7:30 pm We arrive at Henry Mayo Hospital, Santa Clarita
7:45 pm Zuzana is 6 cm dilated
11:00 pm Zuzana is fully 10 cm dilated and starts pushing
Sunday November 7th
1:00 am Dr. Nishiguchi helps guide her pushing
2:00 am Zuzana has been pushing 3 hours and is exhausted
2:10 am I start giving Zuzana various Scripture verses
2:20 am Kerriganâ€™s head starts to crown
2:41 am Kerriganâ€™s head is delivered, then his body emerges
What went right? All our study, training and exercises paid off. Zuzana possessed and applied the skill of abdominal breathing together with deliberate and deep relaxation to get through each contraction. We hired a labor assistant (called a â€œdoulaâ€) who gave me a much needed break after about 12 hours of my coaching Zuzana through her contractions. She also met with us several times and answered our many questions. I donâ€™t think I could have physically endured the process without her invaluable help.
We also picked the right physician, Dr. Don Nishiguchi. He fully supported our preferences and signed a detailed birth plan, which we gave to the hospital staff when we arrived. In addition, he allowed us the time we need to complete the pushing stage of labor and thus avoid a cesarean section. Most doctors would have insisted on a c-section after two hours of pushing. Dr. Nish, as we call him, really knows his stuff and is considered one of the best ob-gynâ€™s around. He answered each and every one of my annoying questions and demonstrated a true mastery of the medicine of birth, while having the flexibility to accommodate our desire to deliver naturally.
What could we have done better? It seems we probably wasted a considerable amount of energy during the first two hours of the pushing stage because Zuzana was not completely clued into the most effective way to push. The pushing stage seemed to be a weak area for our doula, and we were not sufficiently trained. The thing that seemed to help the most was our totally blind faith in the power of God to empower Zuzana to push correctly with enough force at the end. I had the realization that she should select which muscles to use based on sensing where Dr. Nishâ€™s hands were touching her. This is where things suddenly clicked and the babyâ€™s head came forward without retreating. It was like emerging from a long, dark tunnel where the light at the end is not visible, then suddenly seeing that light come into view and emerging from the tunnel into the broad light of day.