Holland was born Tuesday, May 10, and 11:09 am. She weighed 8lbs 10.5oz and was 21.5 inches long. Here she is in the hospital nursery, just after her first bath. She was less than two hours old.
Labor and Birth
Sarah went into labor around 2:30 Tuesday morning, May 10. She got up and had some tea and toast, waiting a bit to make sure she wasn’t experiencing false labor. At 3:30, she whispered, "Hey" to me. I mumbled, "What’s up?" Sarah said, "Contractions."
I attempted to spring into action, scurrying about like an expectant father on a sitcom. Sarah sat calmly on the couch and prompted me to please sit down. After putting on some coffee, I started timing the contractions. By 5:00, they were consistently 40 seconds long and 3:00 minutes apart. I called the doctor, who told us to go to the hospital. I woke Kathryne up and called Dave (Sarah’s dad). We were happy that something was finally happening; it had seemed like the baby was never going to come.
We got to the hospital at 6:00am and settled into our LDR (Labor and Delivery Room). Verdugo Hills Hospital has a comfortable maternity ward and really friendly people. They treated us well during our stay. Sarah was just under 3cm dilated. I put on a Sade CD and we started breathing through the contractions. I was feeding Sarah crushed ice at the end of each contraction and grabbing minute-long naps until the next one started.
The anesthesiologist came in to administer an epidural. Sarah was really looking forward to bypassing a lot of labor pain, and I was all for it as well. Why suffer if you don’t have to? The insertion of the catheter into her spine was, itself, a painful and uncomfortable procedure for Sarah. The worst part is that it didn’t work. Her right leg became numb, but that didn’t help ease the pain of the contractions. A different anesthesiologist came in around 10:00, pulled out the catheter, and poked a new hole in Sarah’s spine. This one also failed.
It isn’t easy to watch your loved one in so much pain. The contractions were now stronger, longer, and more frequent. Sarah was having a tough time. I used a technique from Lamaze class to get her through it. Sarah was doing the hee-hee-hee-hoo breathing method. I would hold up two, three, or four fingers to tell her how many "hees" to do. That gave her something to focus on other than the pain. When she started to cry or panic, I kept her focused on me. Somehow we made it through.
By 11:00, the contractions were coming right on top of each other. They were extremely intense, and Sarah felt a strong urge to push. She had only been at 4cm the last time the nurse checked, so I told her not to push and called the nurse. The nurse came in, checked her, and said, "Start pushing." Sarah had become fully dilated (10cm) in a surprisingly short time.
Now, if you’ve never had a front-row seat to a baby delivery, let me just say that it’s the most amazing and disgusting thing I’ve ever witnessed. I’ll spare you the detailed description of the things my wife’s body did. Even as Holland was emerging, I could not believe she was fitting through there. I was holding Sarah’s left foot, as the center of my universe was just inches away.
The top of the baby’s head became visible, and it was covered with dark brown hair. Sarah was pushing hard, but the baby didn’t seem to be moving forward quickly enough. To make matters worse, the baby’s heartrate dropped during each push, so we really needed to get her out. The doctor attempted to use a suction device, but it popped right off Holland’s head (probably because of all the hair). Another push and the doctor was able to pull her head out. Holland pushed her face out and turned it straight toward mine. I was ecstatic! "I see her face! There she is!" What I didn’t say out loud was that she looked like Edward G. Robinson.
Now the baby’s head and a shoulder were out. The doctor sucked all the goo out of her mouth and nose. She and the nurse untangled the cord, which was wrapped twice — loosely — around Holland’s neck and started pulling on her head. Babies can take a lot more physical stress than I realized. Dr. Parks was pulling hard on my daughter’s head and exclaiming, "She’s just too fat!" And then ... sphlorrt! She was out. They held her up, flopped her down on Sarah’s belly, cut the cord, then whisked her over to the little wrangling table so they could work her over. Holland was crying and kicking. Sarah and I were crying and kissing and laughing and praying. The doctor delivered the placenta, and Sarah sighed, "Ah, that feels better!" Doc stitched her up, congratulated everyone, and left.
Once things had calmed down, I got to hold my beautiful little baby girl. She no longer resembled any film stars from the forties. She was spectacular. I wasn’t prepared for how much I was going to love her. We called Kathryne and told her she had a little sister. She had been waiting at our friend Naomi’s house. Minutes later, Naomi, her daughter Soraya, and Kat showed up with Starbucks coffee and the greatest chicken club sandwich I ever met. After a day of recovery, Sarah and Holland came home.