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Tom’s Birth Story – Baby Johanna Nicole, born March 13, 2004
Tom (Ann’s husband) brings his perspective as delivering dad in his wonderfully detailed account of Ann’s home delivery of Johanna.

Yogaspace - Pregnancy Yoga - Birth Stories      Mom, and Ryan and the delivering dad are holding up well... the baby is... well... a baby and doing what most newborns do and what the rest of us strive for... sleeping and eating....

     I was going to save the details for another time, but the unfolding of last night's are worth telling since it was certainly not your standard birth:

     As many of you know, Ann gave birth to Ryan at a birthing centre. Midwives are legal only recently in Quebec. The compromise the government made after years of lobbying was to allow midwives to assist (instead of doctors) but it has to be at a birthing centre. Home births are not allowed, and any complications such as breaching; caesarians etc., the mother must be transferred to the hospital.

     The baby's official expecting date was 20th of March. Nine days ago Ann's mucous plug broke (expecting fathers gain, through osmosis, more gynecological knowledge than they would otherwise need or want... wish I would have paid more attention in grade 10 health but when the naked pictures of the women they promised to show us did not include skin, I kind of lost interest. I hadn't really paid much attention to Placentas and conceptions since I left Newfoundland in '95. Besides, the midwife and Ann seemed so calm and sure about every detail. My job was simply not to fall asleep during labour again (never heard the end of that one) and to be the moral and oral support.

     Yesterday evening, Ann came and informed me that she was feeling some rather strong contractions. A few days earlier she had been commenting how heavy the baby was sitting down. When her water broke less than an hour later, all indications pointed to the inevitable...

    Ann, bracing herself through some strong contractions, told me quite calmly to page the midwife and call her brother Mark who would cab it over from downtown to take care of Ryan while we went to the birthing centre. Ann's mother, Martha was also called in Tremblant since she has come down to stay with us for a couple of weeks.

     The midwife, with her soothing Scottish accent in the tone of someone who has done this thousands of times before encouraged us to come down to the birthing centre where she would be waiting. Ryan's birth was long and laborious to say the least. Almost 24 hours elapsed after her water breaking and Ryan's big Brewin head (the extra pate at the back of the skull which allows for all the extra cognitive activity this species exhibits) took some primal pushing to get out. So I wasn't really panicking since I figured the adventure was just starting and I, the veteran father of one birth would remain calm and composed throughout.

     After talking to Morag (the midwife) I tried to call Martha again in Tremblant. She has been on constant standby for weeks now and even rearranged a business trip to Mongolia to make herself available immediately for when labour started. She bought a cell phone for the occasion which she called us on yesterday to tell us that she was leaving for an hour to buy some groceries. However when I called her last night on both numbers, there was no answer. It left me wondering if that Brewin pate was in fact connected to the rest of the brain or whether it operates as a separate organizational entity... Kiddin

     While I was deciding which shirt was more appropriate for the occasion (Ann had already prepacked Ryan's, hers, and future baby's bags weeks ago) and packing the rest of the stuff, Ann was in the throes of some serious labour pains complete with some long deep howling. I, veteran father with my extensive gynecological knowledge (who said "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing") dismissed this as false labour and continued to meticulously choose which socks would provide the best comfort for the long night ahead.

     Well, the next series of events transpired more quickly than the time it takes to type this paragraph. Mark arrived and with ski socks in hand I met him downstairs and told him to put the bags in the car while I went upstairs to finish packing my bag. Ann wouldn't let me near her but continued to give instructions between contractions as to where to find cab money, the extra blankets for the baby etc., etc.

     Contractions were coming hot and heavy now and I wished I could get a second opinion on my false labour diagnosis. As I was leading Ann downstairs to get to the car she stopped right there and then and exclaimed that the Baby was coming.

     "What the hell does that mean", I thought to myself. My taciturn doctor veneer quickly dissolving.

     "The Baby's coming, The baby's coming", Ann cried following by whaling and hollering.

     Desperate, I tried in vain to remember the skinless biology placards and all of those conversations with Morag which included words like uterus, crowning and dilating which I should have paid more attention to since The BABY WAS COMING HERE AND NOW!!!

     Ann was at the bottom of the stairs standing up and leaning over onto the stairs. With Mark looking on, and me feeling more like Joe Montana than Dr. Spock, I prepared for the delivery. Mark called Morag to tell her that the birth was on its way right on top of the loose step I had been meaning to fix since we moved into the house.

     When I looked down under, there was the baby’s head crowned at over 15 cm. Any hopes of a quick dash to the b-centre were dashed as I realized that I would in fact be the one to deliver my own daughter.

     I got my first glimpse of her eyes and nose not one minute later when things stalled for a bit. I wasn't sure whether to pull on the baby's head or not and did not want to bother Ann with these details. Ann to her credit was reassuring everyone as well as giving further instructions to mark to call midwife again and to get another blanket in the closet upstairs in the small bedroom.

     I decided to wait a little bit and inevitably the whole head came out. I did remember that Morag had said somewhere along the line that all baby's are blue when coming out. I wasn't sure whether to pull on her head to coax out the rest of the body but fortunately decided to let nature take its course since it seemed to being doing a good job so far. After what seemed like an eternity of watching the baby seemingly asphyxiating the body came out. No cord around the neck and seemingly OK. We laid Ann down at the bottom of the stairs on some sheets and padding, cord still attached and kept mom and baby warm until Morag arrived 20 minutes later.

     From there everything proceeded routinely. Baby turned out just fine and mom as well.

     A little more hands on than even the most eager fathers would like. But in retrospect what maintained my sense of calm was the reassurance that this is a natural process that happens everyday. Thank God that there were no complications and that the baby had all parts in tact. We didn't even know the sex until hours after she was born. The elation of coming through this eclipsed everything else... Nothing like laying your hands on a newborn baby to put things in perspective... birth is truly a miracle of life.

(Dr?) Thomas

(Read Ann's [Tom's wife] story of this birth)

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