03 Nov The Day I met Luke
This is the story about the first time I held my newborn son Luke, in my arms. But before we get there here is some background.
Luke has two sisters Tamzin who is 5 and Bailee who is 3. Lisa, Mommy to all 3 was not happy to give birth in a hospital again, as she had done with Tamzin and Bailee, so on some advice from a good friend we decided to have a home birth with a Midwife and a Doula.
After Lisa had been to a few sessions with Sharon the Midwife, it was time for me to attend a class for “supporters.” Here we learned what we needed to know and do during the birthing process, how to set up the room and birthing pool, and make sure we had all the stuff ready for the big day.
I must say I was not looking forward to the class, I was rather apprehensive about what would be expected from me and whether I would be focused on the day and not just a nervous wreck. But when Sharon got to the part about what to do if the baby comes before the Midwife, all the supporters were in shock I think. Reality struck that nature will happen as intended and we don’t really have that much control. I had a sense to pay very careful attention to what was being said and demonstrated. Every possible scenario was played out, from everything going well, to having to cut the cord from around the baby’s neck. I left the session feeling rather drained.
When it was time, things kicked into gear and we prepared the room for the birth. We hired a birthing pool and I followed a long list of things to do. Let’s just say things were set up like a maternity ward in there. Now that I think back, I really did not feel a connection to all that I had done, I just had this feeling that it was all for nothing.
A week or so passed and the big day was drawing near. Lisa went for some more checks and Sharon came around to check on progress, but little Luke was enjoying himself far too much and stayed in past the “due date.” After a week, all the medical professionals were getting a little concerned. So more scans and checks to see the progress. For the last scan we went to the clinic late one night and found that Luke was not in any stress, but the Doctor was concerned that he was getting too big and would not be able to be delivered naturally.
Later the next day, our whole home birth plan was ended when the Doctor recommended that Lisa be checked in for a Caesar. Our whole “better” plan had brought us back to being in a hospital. Together with Sharon we managed to get the Doctor to agree on induced labor in the clinic as a first phase, with a Caesar as a last result.
So it was pack up the whole room at home, pool and all and get ready to do it all at the clinic the next day.
I remember feeling incredibly tired, but pushed through and packed all the stuff in the car ready for the next day. We had made plans with family to help out with Tamzin and Bailee and we were ready to face whatever the next day had to offer.
It is around 7:45pm on October 19 2011. I take Tamzin and Bailee upstairs to bed. I follow the normal routine, read a story and tuck them in. Lisa says she will meet me upstairs but she doesn’t arrive. The girls would normally complain if Mommy didn’t kiss them goodnight, but they doze off without a peep.
I go back downstairs and find Lisa having some contractions, she says they feel different and is about to call Sharon. Sharon suggests that Lisa gets in the bath to see if they calm down. Lisa is undecided about that and actually just wants to go to the clinic right away. I know this is it. The car is packed, we are ready and it would just be now instead of tomorrow. I dash out to Doris, our domestic worker’s room, and say “Doris please come inside and watch Tamzin and Bailee, I think we are about to rush off to the clinic.” I then call my Mom to ask her to come over in case Doris has problems with the girls, but I cannot get hold of her.
At this point we are back inside and Lisa has gotten herself into the bath. The contractions are not dissipating, so I call Sharon. I say “Lisa says she just feels like pushing.” Sharon says “Get her into the car and meet me at the clinic.” I manage to get Lisa sitting up in the bath and she says she just wants to sit there for a few minutes, at which point she says “We need to pack a heater in the car!” which I had not thought of. I dash back downstairs, fling the heater in the car and rush back upstairs to help Lisa out of the bath.
As I walk into our bathroom I find Lisa out of the bath, standing next to the basin, and looking down at the floor, which is covered with fluid, blood and mucus. It looks rather bad, but it is just her water that has broken. Needless to say we are both a bit freaked out.
With our other two births, the Gynae had to break the water, after which both Tamzin and Bailee were born within minutes. This is the first thought that goes through my mind, the baby is coming, and we only have a few minutes.
I grab Lisa’s phone and call Sharon, she is well on her way to the clinic, and has to turn around, but is on her way. It’s now 8:45pm. Suddenly my training kicks in and I start to give Lisa orders. “Get on your hands and knees, get your chest as close to the floor as possible.” The steps are playing out in my mind, this is going to move the baby away from the birth canal a little, and buy me some time. Just then my phone rings, it is my Mom, I try to explain, but I cannot and I have no time, I just put the phone down (sorry Mom). I grab Lisa’s phone again, it’s now 8:50pm, and call the paramedics. A very nice lady answers, but keeps me on the phone for what seems like an eternity. I eventually give her all the details she needs, including telling her Lisa was 2 years older than she was (sorry Li). I am now sitting on the floor behind Lisa, watching for the baby and needing to make one more call. The guards at the front gate need to know that a Midwife and ambulance are on the way, and to please let them in. It’s now 8:56pm.
I put the phone down on the basin, and tell Lisa, we are ready to do this. In my mind I am seeing the last scan we had, Luke would now be lying on his back, and we know the cord was not around his neck. I feel sure that everything will be fine and I can do this. I tell Lisa “Push when you are ready.”
Our whole world just goes quiet and calm. We are all alone, the most primal humans can get. Lisa doesn’t scream, just grits her teeth, and I see Luke’s head crowning, my hands are ready, instinctively you want to help, but that’s not what you should do, I am keeping my hands wide open, because if you clench you don’t know that you are hurting the baby. All this time I am telling Lisa what’s happening, I can see his forehead coming out as Lisa suddenly tears, my heart sinks as I know that was something she really didn’t want. The skin is pulled so tight that it can’t bleed. I see Luke’s eyes and nose appear, and then suddenly his head is all the way out. It drops back and rests in my gentle hand. His mouth opens to release a fountain of amniotic fluid, straight onto my chest. It’s just amazing that his body, now in the birth canal was so compressed that his lungs were squashed empty.
Lisa starts to push again with the contractions, and I recall the Doctor saying his shoulders will be the hardest part. But Luke starts to rotate to the right and slips his shoulders out. I use my right hand and hold him with my middle finger in his right arm pit. The rest of his body then just slides out, and I grab his right thigh with my left hand. Another flood of amniotic fluid lands on the floor, along with the umbilical cord. I now recall thinking that the cord is actually quite long.
I stare down at him, just a few seconds old, a perfect creation, as he lets out a little cry with his first breath. And then goes quiet. Lisa turns around slightly and says “Is he breathing?” I give him a few pats on the back. He coughs a bit and opens his eyes just for a second. I can feel his heart beating, and there is a faint breath coming from his nose. He is okay. I signal to Lisa to grab him as I pass him through her legs, this is the only way as the umbilical cord is still attached.
We struggle a little to pass him through Lisa’s legs and his bum drags a bit on the floor. I also recall thinking he does feel rather heavy. I jump up, and grab the two towels we have in the bathroom and put them around Lisa and Luke, as Lisa holds him to her chest, both of then naked. We check to see if he is breathing, and then we both look up at each other, tears just streaming down our cheeks. It is now 9:07pm.
I suddenly thought, the gate is closed and the front door is locked, the people can’t get in. I run to where Doris is sitting and tell her the baby is here and the Midwife is on her way, she must please open the gate and the door.
I run back to Lisa and Luke, spot the under floor heating switch, and turn it on and I sit down in front of them again. I take a breath and start to feel myself losing it. Lisa looks me straight in the eye and says “Now is not the time.” I gather myself and check Luke again, he is breathing, and his heart is beating, but he is just lying so quietly in Lisa’s arms.
Things are not over yet, the placenta is still inside, and will be on its way out shortly. I follow my teachings and feel for it, at which time I realize Lisa is torn quite badly, she is bleeding, but not seriously, so we are okay for now. Just then a voice calls from downstairs. It’s Andrea, the Doula. Sharon had called and said “You will get there before me, GO!”
Andrea looks at Luke, gives him a few more pats on the back, which gets him to cough up a last bit of mucus, at which point his breathing becomes normal. We all breathe a sigh of relief. He is fine.
Andrea then starts helping with all the mess and sends me off for fresh towels and soap. Within another 2 minutes Sharon arrives, and steps into action, between her and Andrea they sort everything out. We are well on our way to set up to cut the cord when the paramedics arrive. They are a little shocked and surprised to see we have everything under control.
I cut the cord and take Luke into my arms. With my shirt off we touch skin on skin, as I hold him close to my chest to keep him warm, with a fresh towel around us. I sit down on the edge of the bath, and realize that this is the furthest he has been away from Lisa. Meanwhile Lisa, sitting on a camping chair with a hole in it, is waiting for the placenta. Sharon looks at us and says, “So do you have a name for him yet”. I look at Lisa and then down at Luke, and say “Luke Nicholas Graham Walker.” A flood of joy comes over me as I realize, that was the moment he became Luke, a Spirit about to embark on a Human experience.
The placenta comes out with no problems. Sharon and Andrea get Lisa all cleaned up. But when Sharon has a look at Lisa’s wounds, we realize we need to go to the clinic, for what turned out to be many, many stitches. I manage to get hold of my Mom and my sister. They both come over to make sure Tamzin and Bailee are okay, while we go off to the clinic.
Before Luke has his first feed, on a mattress in our bedroom. We discover that he was born weighing 4.65kg and measured 56cm. No wonder things got a bit damaged down there.
Seeing as the ambulance is here, Lisa can be taken to the clinic lying down at least. My sister and I dress Luke warm and snug, and put him in the car seat. Luke and I then follow the ambulance to the hospital. He is only a few hours old and having an outing with Daddy already.
Lisa goes through a lot of pain, but we get home safe and sound, let everybody go home, and go to bed with our little bundle sleeping between us. Through all of this, Tamzin and Bailee do not wake up. There must be some force that keeps them asleep when you need it most.
The next morning Tamzin comes dancing into our room. Lisa signals for her to come and see what we have in the bed with us. She says “Your baby brother is here, and his name is Luke”. If only I could capture the look in her eyes. She jumps up screaming “BAILEE!!” and runs to get her sister out of bed. The two of them run back in, excited beyond belief.
Here we are, our little family, at home, together, enjoying this moment of a precious new life.