Wednesday, February 03, 2010

A Bathtub Birth Story from Katie's Father

image via ffffound

This is the birth story of our second baby. It was not much different — except maybe a bit faster, and minus one hospital visit. This time it all started after lunch, but it was all over long before dinner. My wife, R, had been preparing a double-batch of gluten-free lasagna so we could eat one and freeze the other for after the birth — something she had already done with a few other meals (gluten intolerance was was diagnosed in week 26). Her mom dropped by in the afternoon to pick something up, and found that R was cooking kind of slowly because of an occasional cramp that forced her to take breaks. After some discussion with her mom, R decided to consult with the midwife team. The midwife recommend a bath.

My office phone rang at about 3:20pm, and I listened to R tell me in a tired voice that things were starting. I was all ears. I asked how fast I should come back — train (35 min) or taxi (20 min)? She figured I had some time, so she recommended the train. I emerged onto the street a few minutes later, breaking into a run with an anthology of Roald Dahl short stories tucked under my arm, and my watch still lying on my desk upstairs.

While I quickly covered the distance to the north-bound platform, the warmth of the bathwater rushed R's contractions closer together. I had barely changed my Facebook status to "Contractions" when I received a call from R's mom that they planned to leave for the hospital because contractions were coming 2.5 minutes apart.

Instead of riding the train out to our area, I would get off a few blocks from the hospital and make my way there if they didn't have time to pick me up. I was about to get off the train when I got another phone call update.

The midwife had contacted the hospital to let them know we were coming and had learned that there were no delivery rooms available, and the next closest hospital was way out in the NE part of town. Both the midwife and R had agreed that there was no time to travel so far, so they decided to deliver the baby at home.

I had been standing at the door of the train, ready to get off when I received the call. Instead of disembarking, I sat back down and arranged for a friend of ours to pick me up at the station and bring me home. As we were pulling up to the house, I saw the midwife lugging an enormous equipment bag up the driveway, and a close neighbour standing on the front step.

That was about 4:15 pm. I found R lying on the bed wearing a pair of maternity jeans, one of my t-shirts and a look of agonized desperation. Our neighbour (who goes to our church) assisted me in a prayer to bless R while the midwife dumped medical equipment into strategic locations and R's mom worked to prepare the bathroom. The neighbours whisked Scotty away to their house to play for a while and R eased into the tub. I vaguely remember doing a circuit along the midwife's trail of supplies, clearing away more room for her to work.

It could not have been more than 15 minutes from the time the midwife and I arrived and the time that Katie was born, making it about 1.5 hours of labour — if you don't count the sporadic contractions that hampered R's lasagna preparations during the afternoon. It was so short that it caught R completely by surprise. She was bracing herself for at least an hour of pushing at the end, but that part was over before she knew it and she had our new daughter bobbing peacefully in the tub.

Newborn baby Katie under the water.

Normally, when you see movie or tv footage of a baby entering the world, the child comes screeching and wailing. Our little girl had none of that. She simply squinted a lot and pretended not to know what all the fuss was about.

All the fuss was about Katie. All 6 pounds and 4 ounces of her.

From Derek of Our Sesame Seed.


Note from Design Mom: for the duration of my pregnancy, I'll be posting advice, memories and stories about pregnancy, childbirth, adoption and growing a family on Wednesdays. You can find them all by clicking here. I'd love to hear your story or memory or advice, feel free to submit it to


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Blogger Kage said...

The facebook updates were so awesome to read, and even cooler since it was so rapid. I guess I have mixed feelings about it though. On one hand, how cool that someone could tweet their labor & delivery in real time, and on the other. The moment of birth is just that, a moment, sonhow long can you make it last before the whole world knows?!

I'm glad you facebooked it! And thanks for sharing on designmom!!!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 3:38:00 PM EST  
Blogger Design Mom said...

That picture of Katie under the water is amazing.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 3:53:00 PM EST  
Blogger MamaEm said...

I completely agree- the underwater photo is breathtaking. That is such a short moment in a water birth- or at least it felt that way to me- that having it captured is absolutely priceless. Amazing!

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 12:55:00 AM EST  
Blogger k a t y said...

Simply beautiful.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 9:10:00 AM EST  
Blogger Kelly said...

What a great story! My friend just had a little girl on Sunday - her second - and it was a 2 hour labor. They BARELY made it to the hospital in time. :)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010 at 4:05:00 PM EST  

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