Last Friday evening found me in one of my favorite places: the labor and delivery floor at the UNC Women's hospital. Our friends Josh and Emily are new to the area, and I was tickled when they eagerly took me up on my offer to be present for the labor and delivery of their third little boy. It was the third birth that I have attended as a helper, and each time I have this experience, that doula certification seems more and more tantalizing...
Emily was outstanding to the umpteenth degree. After having the midwife break her waters so that things would start to speed up, her contractions grew increasingly intense, but she was extremely calm and relaxed. I coached her using the Bradley technique through an hour or two (doesn't time seem to warp during labor?) of hard contractions, before she felt that her limits were being severely pushed and she requested an epidural. It was her third birth, and she knew her body so well. Each time she was examined she knew how many centimeters dilated she was before the midwife even announced it. She knew that this little man was coming soon, and after the epidural had taken and she was more comfortable, she was chatty and hilarious, and was able to get the entire team excited for his arrival!
They named him Axel, and I think that he is basically perfect. His birth was a true miracle: after hearing that Emily had torn fairly badly with her previous two boys, the midwife coached her to resist the urge to push with her final contractions (which is VERY hard to do), and instead, to get through the contractions with small grunts. By allowing Axel's big noggin to emerge in tiny spurts, Emily needed exactly zero stitches at the end. Axel's arrival was a celebration for everyone: not only did we have a new healthy boy in our hands, but the team of midwives and nurses had done an excellent job in delivering this baby!
When we lifted Emily's blanket to make an adjustment, we found a sweet surprise: Axel had resumed the fetal position on his mommy's belly, and what a fine, fat tush for a newborn!
Axel was 8 lbs. and 10 oz. when he was born. When Emily was in labor and the midwife asked if she wanted him to go straight up to her chest for some skin to skin time, Emily asked her what she suggested, and the midwife's answer was, "Well, this is a research hospital, and the research says that skin to skin time is really important, so let's do it!" I don't know if the skin to skin time was to credit or if it was simply his temperament, but Axel was the most incredible eater from the first time he tried. He ate for a solid half hour soon after he was born, and latched on like a pro. Not even chubby Gigi was that good right from the start!
The hospital team from left to right: the nurse, Meg Barrett the midwife, and Sam the midwife student. A lot of the attending care was actually done by Sam, who also gets the credit for the perfectly tear-less delivery. But the real winner was Emily: what a champion!