A Father’s Birth Story
After reading my wonderful wife’s account of our daughter’s birth, I felt it necessary to explain my experience. The first point I will make will also be the last point I make; women are what make our race superior. I will follow the same timeline my wife did, starting with our night drive.
“The Night Drive”
It was the end of a day, like any other, and we decided to do one last activity to tie the day together. Drives are a personal favorite for this type of emotional recapping of any day for me. Well, as I drove I thought about the upcoming due date of our beautiful unborn child (tomorrow). I thought about the place we had chosen to have her delivered at. This thinking influenced my route enough to drive to the hospital area in Ogden, UT. As we drove she began to feel her stomach tighten and as I placed my hand over her tummy I felt it too! I knew Bailey (our daughter) was close to her arrival. I saw this contraction as a means of her body practicing the tightening of muscle groups that would eventually cause her (and I) the most agonizing pain we’d ever experience. I throw in “we” and the parenthetical “and I” because watching another person you respect and love go through pain that cripples all bodily functions — at times overriding the body’s involuntary function of breathing — involves a level of empathy that is jointly painful. However, her current practice contractions on our little car excursion had no pain with which to speak of, thankfully. So, we continued to drive back home, timing the practice contractions out of playful curiosity.
“The Frightful Dream and an Awakening”
That night I had woken from a very frightful dream, and though I can’t recall the content of it, I remember the unsurmountable need to protect come over me in regards to my family of 2 and counting. I scanned the room, and finding it to be safe, I laid in bed in alert mode for several minutes. I rolled over at one point after passing into a light form of semi-consciousness to see the phone screen lighting up my wife’s face. She said she was having contractions, fairly painful ones, and that they were 8 minutes apart. I did a quick review and analysis of the night drive and concluded that it was go time in a short while. Her contractions, the non-painful ones of last night’s drive, were 13 minutes apart…well, now they were 8 minutes apart. Soon enough, I thought to myself, they would be 5 minutes apart, and it would mean another drive…a slightly less scenic of a drive. Being a spiritual man, having read scripture in a previous day about the coming of Jesus Christ and His birth through Mary, I recalled several versus of scripture recounting that angelic announcement of that birth. It was Easter Sunday now so this wouldn’t be too out of the picture to think of Jesus Christ, but I knew this was different. It was peaceful, reflective, but came with a call to action. “On this day I would have a child born to me”. I heard this softly spoken in my mind. I knew today was the day. My wife questioned me wondering if we should go to the hospital or just wait it out longer. I told her with a certain reassurance that we needed to head to the hospital. Today was really going to be the day. Of course the day would be the day, after all it was the due date. But honestly how often are children born on the due date for the first birth? Not as often as you would think. I thought about the wonderful occasion, but I also knew that there would be untold pain to be experienced as part of this miraculous event. I got teary eyed several times before leaving. I cried at the majesty of these 9 months (and year before) of wanting a child to call our own. I cried because I know many who have waited much longer, and some who know they will wait indefinitely. I cried because I already had a love for my unborn child. I cried because even though I hadn’t slept much I still felt rested enough to make it through the day. I cried because The Lord had blessed us with so many things making this process that much less of a chore: the good job to support us financially, the amazing insurance provided by that good job, the home we had to live in that was so much more cost effective than an apartment, the parental support both financially and emotionally I have had my whole life and up until this moment now, the securing of a position in graduate schooling to secure for us a future for Bailey, the functioning vehicle that would take us to the amazing hospital that accepts my insurance and would care for my family the way I would…etc. I cried because life was something beautiful.
“The Hospital: Take One”
Okay. We drove to the hospital because the contractions had been 5 minutes apart (sometimes less) for over an hour. We had showered and many days previous my wife had prepared the “hospital bag” which contained enough supplies to last us a month or so 😉 We were ready for the long haul. Once we arrived we spoke into the intercom that separated us from the intake area for women preparing to give birth. She said something to the effect of “I’m looking for the place where people have babies”…it wasn’t that ridiculous but it was pretty funny and the doors opened to receive us at the desk of registration (which again, because of my on-the-ball wife, we had pre-registered months prior). We went into a curtained partition and Cassie got checked in no uncertain terms, rather brutally. We discovered she was dilated to “one and a wiggle”. Okay… Anyway, this was pretty awesome and only continued to confirm my thoughts of getting to meet Bailey today, seeing as Cassie wasn’t dilated at all three days before. The nurse eventually said “get walking” so we did. We walked the halls, and then walked the halls, and walked some more. Not much different from doing laps at a track except it was square and every lap Cassie would be doubled over in crippling pain. After two hours of walking there was no change in the cervix. I knew she was crushed. This meant “better luck next time, try to labor at home then come back when your pain is real”. At least that’s what it felt like it meant. Defeated, but determined, we returned home and that’s when the pain of motherhood began to take hold.
“The Hospital: Take Two”
I will tell you it started to get bad, the pain did. My wife would tell you the same, but we were talking about two different pains. Her pain was a pain that I will never know. It was the mark of pain in all mother’s minds that is made obsolete when it has an end through the beginning of another’s life. My pain was a pain that many father’s will know. It was the pain of helplessly watching, holding, comforting, with the full knowledge that no matter what we did, said, or felt we could not take away what our everything was experiencing. That pain, too, was crippling. As she held my hand, squeezing my fingers into a single purple finger, I wanted to absorb the pain she felt. After all, I was part of why she hurt. With each contraction she discovered the word pain anew, and with each contraction I discovered a pain I now knew. It was the pain of “I am responsible for this and can do nothing to share it”. It felt unfair. I felt feelings of guilt and feelings of worthlessness. I had done something, yet I could do nothing. I was with her, but she was alone in her suffering in a way that made my being there almost useless. I loved her and I stayed by her side. Even though I could do nothing to take away the pain, companionship was a duty I vowed to her. I stayed by her side. Well, we walked those halls for the last time and the nurse announced change in the cervix. She was at a 3+! I heard the phrase “A+” being shouted from the far reaches of space in an immaculate chorus. This meant we could be admitted to delivery room!
“The Delivery Room”
Well, this is it. After reassuring (this word defined me through out the pregnancy, labor, and delivery) her that an epidural would be a great alternative to pain that felt hellishly demanding of every enflamed nerve ending in her body, she agreed to get the epidural. A man from India, with skills that would make him a superstar in any delivery room, delivered the epidural in less than a minute. This medical procedure made birthing what it ought to be: beautiful and memorable. The waiting game included Blues music, a very short nap, conversations and questions with nursing staff, and the arrival of my mother-in-law. Her presence was a relief to my wife and I, and sort of reassured us that, though the hospital room we were in was a sign of serious medical procedures, it was also a place of family bonding. I will fast forward now to the moments just prior to the delivery and the actual delivery of Bailey Marie Bertoch. Prior to her birth we (my wife, her mother, and I) discussed the reality of what was about to occur. In these discussions we would often become teary eyed at the realization of this miracle. I say miracle because there is no man-made object that can do what our bodies do in terms of pregnancy, labor, and delivery. While it can be explained in terms of gestational periods and developmental phases, nothing can replicate this act of procreation without being called a miracle. At some point our bodies were created with the ability to actualize potential life, and I believe God is behind this. God knows Bailey, He knows me, He knows you. Bailey knew God, and will be reminded of this as she comes in contact with His influential Holy Spirit. This is what I have known, and this is what I came to understand further as my daughter, Bailey, was born. Throughout the pushing phase of birth, my wife’s body knew what to do to bring Bailey into the oxygenated hospital room. Bailey’s lungs knew how to bring in her first breath. My heart knew that there was a God and that Bailey, like we all are, was one of His children, and that I loved my wife more than I thought I could love another person. Bailey came out and all else but her and my wife were blurred. I saw Bailey and I saw Cassie through tears that fell, as my ability to love increased. Eventually the room was brought back into focus and I cut the umbilical cord. We moved into our much smaller room where we would live for the next two days with nurses coming in and out hourly to ask us what we needed. Each time I would look at my wife and my daughter and think, what else could I possibly need? I fetched water for my wife as often as it was needing replenishment. I held my daughter and eased her tears as she started to experience the cold world around her and get used to the physical body that her spirit would be housed in for her mortal span. This place was different from the warmed swaddled place she came from, I thought to myself. It would take my wife and I to make this cold hospital room a warm loving environment. This dawned on me to be a truth about her experience here in this busy world. The default of life might be cold and uncaring, but, at least in these moments, my wife and I had the power to make it warm, swaddled, safe, and welcoming. We had the power to love her, so we did and always will.
These are our Bits O’ Bertoch.