Quite the date Sarah and I had tonight--dinner from the hot counter at Whole Foods, followed by a trip to the labor and delivery unit of our local hospital to begin the act of inducing labor. I'm thinking of trademarking this experience as a "birthing date." More on that later.
Of more relevance at this moment is, of course, the pending birth of my next (and last) son, William Oliver. It's been quite the waiting game this week. Sarah had suffered so much through the final weeks of this pregnancy--and really, through ALL the weeks of this pregnancy--that she was already resigned to the idea of inducing at first opportunity rather than endure the hell of waiting nearly two weeks beyond her due date, as she had with Max. In particular, nerve pain (peripheral neuropathy) and back pain had taken their toll, often driving Sarah to tears.
Then, she actually started showing signs of labor this week…on Tuesday, her cervix had dilated to 1 cm (yawn!), and then the contractions started Thursday, spurring us to head on a fun-filled run to the hospital, excited that maybe this baby would come of his own volition…but soon after being admitted into L&D triage, and despite the fact that contractions were coming consistently four minutes apart, we were told that things weren't all that active, and that we were looking at an early labor. They had me walk Sarah around the hospital for an hour (and what a thrill THAT walk was!), after which they monitored her again for another hour before confirming that things were still quiet on the Western front and sending us home.
Much disappointment ensued. Sarah felt let down and impatient. Her mother, in town to stay with us and help with Max, could barely stand to watch her daughter's suffering. And I had to accept that I wasn't done sleeping in the basement. Then the waiting began in earnest. We hoped her labor would kick in the next day, and when it didn't, Sarah called to find out about getting in Friday night to begin an induction. Alas, the unit was too busy to take us, so they told Sarah to call first thing the following day, Saturday. She called at 5:30, was told to call back at 9, and then again at 5, and then was told that several emergent labors had come in, and she was out of luck. They put her on the list for Sunday evening, and lo and behold, nothing prevented that plan from playing out, and so here we sit at 11:20 on Sunday night, Cervidil inserted and morphine injected (the latter so she can sleep pain-free), and now we wait for her cervix to cooperate.
The modern birth room, for those who haven't experienced it, is a long way from the no-frills delivery rooms of bygone eras. It's bigger than many hotel rooms, has a huge bathroom with a jacuzzi tub (mom is VERY stoked about this--there were no rooms with tubs available for her previous delivery), a utilitarian couch for dad, a flat-screen TV, and an assortment of instrumentation that looks like it could perform a vehicle smog check. In short, it's a peachy setting to have a baby, regardless of what the anti-hospital-birth sect might lead you to believe.
Which brings me back to that idea of the "birthing date." Based on the experiences I've had with Sarah, I see no reason that larger numbers of women--especially those having difficult, trying pregnancies--shouldn't embrace the idea of the planned, scheduled birth. Being able to calmly stop for dinner with your wife, and then head to the hospital for your induction appointment almost transforms the act of childbirth into a night on the town--with a huge payoff at the end.
No, guys, it's not quite the same as getting that first kiss, or being invited in for a nightcap, but when it comes to excitement and joy, it's sure to deliver an even bigger bang for the buck.