Written by Daddy
Our appointment on Tuesday morning was one we never wanted to come. Just two days from the 41st week of our pregnancy and showing no signs of labor, we headed out to see the Midwives at UCLA knowing too well what they were going to tell us: Our daughter was too big to wait any longer. We would have to induce labor.
Driving to our appointment, I was filled with a feeling of defeat. After months of classes and preparation for a completely natural childbirth, and weeks of endless walks, special diets and acupuncture to try and coax our daughter along, the terms of her birth would soon be beyond our control.
After speaking with our midwife for several minutes about the next steps, she finally asked Liz if she would like an exam. “Sure” Liz begrudgingly replied, and it was at that moment that a small miracle occurred. Almost as soon as our midwife began the exam, her eyes went wide. “Why, you’re already at 4 centimeters” she proclaimed with a bright smile.
Despite the fact that our daughter was indeed on her way, the midwife still recommended that we schedule an induction for Thursday morning. It was only two days away, but we left the appointment with smiles on our faces knowing that there was still hope for the birth we wanted, and one way or another our daughter would be here soon.
After our appointment we headed to lunch at one of our favorite restaurants, and spent the afternoon walking in our old Venice Beach neighborhood. We walked past the first apartment we shared together in Los Angeles, and took a long stroll along the beach. We hadn’t spent much time in the neighborhood in years, so it made for a charming trip down memory lane as the next chapter of our lives was about to begin.
As we finished our walk I began to come down with the achy feeling of flu pains all through my body. Mind you, I never get sick. Liz will tell you that in the entire six-plus years we’ve been together she’s never seen me sick. But something was up, I was feeling heavily fatigued and the second we got home I fell into bed for a nap.
I woke up around 5pm and everything was still pretty much normal. Liz said she had been feeling contractions on and off, but with no consistency, just as she had been for weeks. We made a pizza for dinner and tried to get a few things done around the house.
By 6pm Liz’s contractions were coming on a little stronger and more regular and shortly after 8pm we decided to start timing them. The first contraction we tracked was at 8:07pm, and lasted about 45 seconds. I was cleaning up the kitchen and remember running with soapy hands to the notepad to jot down the time when Liz’s contractions would begin again. We slowly packed our bags and went over checklists for the hospital, stopping every few minutes to time the next contraction.
Some time after 11pm the contractions were getting so strong that Liz got into bed to relax and listen to some birthing affirmations while I hung some mirrors and a mobile around what would become our daughter’s play area.
When Liz returned the contractions were getting much stronger and closer together and we decided to draw a warm bath for her to relax some more. As she lay in the tub, I sat on the floor of the bathroom with my notepad and computer close at hand to document and time each contraction. Liz seemed so peaceful, calmly saying “OK” as each contraction began and ended. Meanwhile my flu pains had returned and I was feeling rather awful on the cold bathroom floor, but knew my discomfort was no match for what Liz was feeling. I laid on the floor, quietly chugging bottles of juice and trying to keep myself awake.
After more than an hour in the tub Liz decided to take a shower while I finished packing. A few minutes later Liz got out of the shower and suddenly seemed exhausted. “I want to go to the hospital, and I want some medication” she flatly told me from the hallway. I remember feeling a little disappointed because medication wasn’t part of our plan, but I could see the struggle on her face and quickly placed a call to the hospital to speak with the Midwife on call.
The midwife told Liz that she should try to rest and wait at least another half hour before coming to the hospital, but the moment Liz sat in bed she jumped up again, telling me she was “feeling pushy.” It was time to go.
We left the house at three in the morning, a time we would later praise our daughter for choosing as it is the only time of day when LA roads are free of traffic. Liz’s contractions were almost constant now, and she would cry out with every bump I hit in the road. I nervously steered around the potholes and dips in the road, at times ignoring things like lanes or stop signs to assure a smooth ride.
Though we had driven the route to the hospital more than a dozen times, and used the valet entrance for labor and delivery before, we arrived to find the 24-hour valet stand closed. Somehow I had missed the fact that valet parking was only offered at the emergency room entrance late at night, but I didn’t have time to care. I put the flashers on and left the car in the hospital driveway as we hurried inside. I yelled “She’s in labor I’ll be back for the car” to a security guard as we rushed to the elevator.
When we arrived at labor and delivery the nurse at the desk gave me a look of disbelief. As it turns out, it was an incredibly busy night in L&D and they were out of rooms, and our arrival at 3:30 must have been enough to put them over the top. With Liz unable to even talk at this point I simply blurted out “she’s in labor” to one of the nurses. She nodded at me and asked for Liz’s ID which, as it turns out, was in the car. After a few questions they rushed to find us a room. With even the overflow rooms in use, the nurse led us into a room we later found out had rarely, if ever, been used for delivery: It was small, windowless and about the size of a supply closet. Liz’s contractions were so strong at this point it didn’t matter, I don’t know that she even noticed as they helped her into bed. With the nurses, midwife and me in the room there was barely enough room to even stand.
The midwife arrived and within minutes gave Liz an exam. Unbelievably, Liz was a full ten centimeters, and it was time to get ready to push. While it was always our goal to endure as much of the labor as possible at home, we were still shocked to hear that we had arrived for the final push. I held Liz’s hand as we answered the numerous administrative questions and the nurses began to prepare for her to deliver our daughter. At least half an hour passed before I realized that I had left the car, with everything we packed inside, illegally parked downstairs. The midwife told me I’d better hurry, so I ran to the car and sped off to the proper entrance, with no regard for the red light before me.
When I got to the late night entrance the valet brought me a wheelchair, and I loaded it with bags, pillows, and our enormous “birth ball,” none of which we would end up using for our delivery. As I rushed in to the hospital, I yelled out to a nearby nurse for directions, and ran down the hospital corridors pushing my precariously stacked wheelchair. In that moment, I was playing the role of the disheveled expectant father like a pro.
When I arrived back at our room, our midwife had suggested stripping the membranes to help Liz prepare to push. Though this was also something we had originally wanted to avoid, we were so close that Liz agreed. Moments after the Midwife left the room to get prepared for the procedure, Liz’s water broke on its own and I darted out to the nurse’s desk to get assistance.
I glanced at the clock as Liz began pushing, and it was just past four in the morning. I put on some of the CDs from our Hypnobabies classes as Liz would bear down and push with each contraction. A few nurses gathered in our room to watch, each one of them commenting on how amazingly well Liz was doing, all without any medication. One after another would comment about how perfectly everything was going, and this put me at ease as Liz worked with every push.
In what felt like no time at all, the midwife told us that she could see our baby’s head, and proclaimed that she had “a head of black hair!” Liz and I exchanged a surprised glance, as we had both been assuming her hair would be blonde like her mother’s. Soon after, I caught my first glimpse of our daughter’s head and I was overcome with the reality of her arrival. After nine months of fuzzy black and white images on computer screens, and kicks through mommy’s belly, here was this head, and this beautiful hair!
From there I admit it gets blurry for me. Maybe Liz pushed two more times, maybe four. Whatever the number it wasn’t much. I helped hold her legs back as she pushed, and watched our daughter’s head inch further out with each effort. With one last powerful and lengthy push our daughter slipped easily the rest of the way out.
At 5:25 am on Wednesday, July 28th, Rylie Beverly Scott entered the world, and she was a perfect, 8 lbs. 10oz. Far from the purple, wrinkly newborn I had prepared to meet, our gorgeous little Rylie lit up the room as Liz brought her to her chest. Our midwife and nurses seemed blown away at how well Liz had handled the delivery, and the little supply closet echoed of congratulations as we cuddled with our sweet baby daughter.
Despite our concerns in the final days of pregnancy, Rylie’s birth ultimately went better than we could have ever planned. Liz was an absolute champion throughout, enduring the majority of the labor at home with calm and confidence before gracefully completing the all-natural birth we’d been hoping for all along.
Now a month after that most beautiful day, our life has never been so rich. Every day with Rylie is a wondrous new adventure as we get to know her and learn our new roles as parents. As she changes subtly from one moment to the next and our own confidence continues to grow, I am made more aware of just what a rewarding journey we’ve begun. After all the months of planning, waiting and trying to imagine what life would be like with Rylie, I’m already left wondering how we ever got on without her.