January 30, 1998
1:15 am: Wendy calls. The contractions are 15 minutes apart. We had spoken the afternoon and evening of the previous day. Wendy had begun to feel something that she though might be contractions. The sensations didn't last longer than 30 seconds and only occurred low in her abdomen. I told her she was probably experiencing prelabor, but that it would help her progress. By 1:00 am the contractions started in her back and moved around to the top of her uterus.
1:30 am: I arrive at Wendy's home. She is seated on the couch, sipping water, and watching My Fair Lady. She seems relaxed and excited. The contractions are 7 to 10 minutes apart and between 45 seconds and 1 minute long. She and I chat and watch the video, then decide to go for a bit of a walk. It is incredibly cold outside. Wendy and I manage to make it to the corner of Eighth Street and Chestnut before the cold drives us back to Wendy's house.
3:00 am: We start up the video again and doze for a while. Wendy is up - every 15 minutes to use the bathroom.
5:00 am: The contractions have increased their intensity and their duration. They are 5 minutes apart. Wendy is walking around the room trying to keep things moving. She decides that this would be a good time to call the adoptive parents and her doctor.
6:15 am: The contractions are maintaining their strength and duration. Wendy's father wakes up and asks Wendy if she has called her mom.
6:30 am: Wendy has called her mom and is waiting for her arrival. Her mom arrives around 6:45 looking tired. She mentions that she would like to freshen up a bit. Wendy's contractions seemed to have diminished.
7:00 am: Wendy's eight-year-old brother, Ryan, awakens amidst the commotion. He is disoriented and uncertain.
7:15 am: I suggest that we brave the cold and attempt a walk to get things moving again. Wendy, her mom, Ryan, and I set out to walk on campus. We stop every 5 to 7 minutes for a contraction, but the contractions aren't much more then 30-40 seconds long. It is a very cold morning, but we walk until 8:00 am.
8:00 am: Wendy sits down on the couch to rest. Win, Wendy's father, takes requests for breakfast. Wendy wants an omelet. The contractions have greatly diminished. I bring the birthing ball in. Ryan is thrilled, it is a great toy.
9:30 am: Wendy has eaten and is resting on the couch. She seems to be a bit discouraged because the contractions have slowed greatly. Her mom massages her hands and feet. That appears to soothe her. She is tired . We suggest that she sleep because labor could begin within the next 24 hours. We briefly discuss that labor may not resume within the next day or two, but that she is indeed progressing. The prelabor was helping Wendy's cervix dilate and efface.
10:00 am: Wendy, her mom and I nap in preparation for what we hope will be to come.
11:15 am: Wendy and I attempt to get labor moving again by walking downtown. We check to see if there are any Friday matinees. We think we might need to kill time and a movie fits the bill. No matinees on Friday. We wander along Pearl and Pine streets and head for home.
2:00 pm: I tell Wendy that I would like to go home and check in with my family, shower, and maybe nap. I ask her if she will call if things pick up or if she wants me nearby. I remind her that there are non-medical steps we can take to induce or speed up labor. Wendy prefers to wait.
5:00 pm: I call the house and speak to Wendy's mom. Wendy is having contractions every 7 minutes. They are lasting from 1 minute to 90 seconds and are strong enough that Wendy needs to be using counter pressure and relaxation to handle them. Her mom has been using counter pressure and massage to reduce the pain in Wendy's lower back. The adoptive parents called earlier they are in town and on their way.
5:20 pm: Wendy is on her knees leaning on the loveseat surrounded by her mom, Win, Ryan, and the adoptive family. All, but Wendy seem ecstatic, charged. Wendy looks tired. Her mother is timing the contractions and continuing massage and counter pressure. I remind Wendy to drink fluids. She says that she feels shaky. I give her a teaspoon of honey to boost her blood sugar level. She does not enjoy swallowing the honey and begins to feel nauseous. She moves toward the bathroom in order to empty her bladder and deal with the nausea, her mom and I follow. Wendy enters the kitchen from the bathroom and is frighteningly pale. I suggest that we leave for the hospital. The contractions are getting closer together and stronger and Wendy is on the floor of the kitchen. She needs respite and the transition from home to the hospital should give her that break. I call the doc. She will call the hospital.
7:00 pm: We arrive at the hospital. Win has driven Wendy and Ryan. Her mother and I followed in my car. Wendy, her mom, and I go to the registration desk, but the receptionist sends us directly to the Family Birthing Center. An OB nurse, is just ending her shift, but sets Wendy up in room 204. She has spoken with the doc and takes Wendy's vitals and connects her to the monitor to get a base line on the baby's heartrate along with the strength and duration of the contractions. She gives Wendy a pelvic exam and determines that she is 4 cm dilated and 100% effaced. I'm uncertain, but I think I register disappointment on Wendy's face. At her last doctor's appointment she had been 4 cm dilated and 25% effaced. I remind her that her cervix has completely thinned and that the labor she has experienced to this point has brought her closer to the end.
7:20 pm: We were moved to birthing room 201. The night shift nurse attempts to give Wendy a heparin lock, but has not succeeded in two tries. She gets another nurse to try. The second nurse fails as well. During the entire process, Wendy is dealing with contractions and Win, Ryan, her mom, the adoptive parents, their three year old daughter, the first nurse and I are all watching. She looks irritated. A lab tech makes two attempts and gets it on the second try. Win and Ryan leave for dinner. The doc and her husband arrive. The doc speaks with Wendy. Who says she needs sleep. She asks if the doc can give her anything. The doc suggests Seconal, a sedative that should make her unaware of the contractions and able to sleep
9:20 pm: I tell the adoptive family that Wendy will be resting and that they should do the same. I tell them that we will call and they give me the number of the motel and their room number. Wendy's bag of waters breaks.
9:30 pm: Wendy has received her first dose of Seconal and feels relief almost immediately. She relaxes and rests.
10:45 pm: Wendy is getting uncomfortable. The effects of the Seconal are wearing off. Wendy's back hurts. Her mom and I trade off massaging her lower back. The nurse administers a second dose. Wendy feels fairly certain that very little of the sedative has been injected into the hep-lock. She says her hand feels wet. The nurse says she's just feeling the medicine being injected.
11:00 pm: Wendy tries to sleep, but cannot. She shifts positions and we rub her back every few minutes. We ask the nurse to call the doc. Wendy gets an injection of Demerol, a narcotic.
January 31, 1998
12:30 am: Wendy, her mom, and I sleep.
1:30 am: Wendy is very uncomfortable. She feels the contractions and her lower back pain. I draw a bath. Wendy undresses and steps in to the bath. We put towels behind her head and neck for support. She closes her eyes and relaxes. Her mom is seated next to the tub and I am kneeling next to the tub stroking Wendy's hair. She begins to tense with every contraction, but I remind her to breathe slowly and relax. She looks beautiful, serene. There is a film of sweat on her upper lip and her skin glows. I am uncertain of the time. Eventually Wendy says that she cannot do this anymore.
2:30 am: The doc arrives and checks Wendy. She is 6 cm dilated and the baby's head is balasttable, that is the baby's head can be pushed up and is not engaged in the pelvis. Wendy and I continue to breathe through the contractions. I think she has been dealing with labor well, but is exhausted. She wants an epidural. The anesthesiologist is called.
3:00 am: The anesthesiologist arrives. The nurse assists him; they give Wendy directions and she complies. All the while she is dealing with the contractions…
3:30 am: We all sleep.
6:00 am: Wendy awakes. The nurse comes in and checks her. She is dilated to 7 cm. We know it is only a matter of time now. The nurse explains that soon Wendy will be able to push. She says that the second stage of labor can take up to 2 hours with first time mothers.
7:00 am: The doc checks Wendy. She is almost complete, but a small cervical lip remaining. The doc thinks Wendy should push. The doc's husband, Wendy's mom, and I take positions on either side of her. The doctor's husband and a nurse hold her legs back as she pushes with each contraction. I am trying to talk her through pushes. She is pushing well, but the head remains high. Wendy shifts to a hands and knees position. She is draped over a ball. The doctor's husband and I are administering oxygen. Wendy does not want the mask on her face, but the nurse insists. One of us holds the mask until it is time to push, then we support Wendy while she pushes through each contraction. The ball is uncomfortable. We switch to a squatting position. Wendy uses a squatting bar, while the doctor's husband and I support her. She is working hard. Throughout the entire process the doc's husband and Wendy have been bantering back and forth. He has really kept her spirits up. She is making little progress. The doc suggests she use a sitting position. This will give Wendy an opportunity to push without having to support herself. She does well in this position. She is feeling the urge to push. She works with the urge. Her back begins to hurt and we move the bed to a semi-reclining position. After one contraction and three good pushes we can see a bit of the baby's head. This is encouraging. Another contraction, more pushing, a bit more head. Another contraction a good, hard push and out slides Ashlynn.
10:56 am: 5 pounds, 8 ounces and 18 inches. After more than 15 hours of pre-labor and 19 more hours of active labor and four hours of pushing. There is this tiny beautiful baby girl. Her head is conical from all the time spent in the birth canal, but her skin is pinkish brown and her eyes are wide open. She cries and it is a wonderful, clear sound.