Gretchen Grace Preston
7lbs. 2.5oz., 19.5in.
A Dad’s Perspective...
Busy at work, suddenly I noticed Susan outside of the window with our toddler, Samuel, on her back coming down to visit me at the clinic. She said that she had been having contractions throughout the late morning and afternoon, but they were more her stomach tightening up than pain or discomfort. She did have some low back pain, but noted that carrying Samuel on her back actually made her feel better. We walked home together after I finished work, and I will never forget walking along side my wife, who was quite obviously pregnant, again carrying Samuel on her back. It is more than a little emasculating to have your wife carrying both of your kids, as you amble along with empty arms. The contractions were sporadic at best, ranging from every 3-5 minutes to 15 or 20 minutes apart. We tried to relax, knowing that a long night and most likely a long following day was ahead of us, so we rented a movie, Friday Night Lights. The contractions took their time on becoming consistent, but were starting to become longer in duration by 9:00 p.m. Several back rubs later, and about 10 minutes before the movie was finished, we decided to call Paula again and let her know that the contractions were now 3-5 minutes apart and about 30 seconds in duration on average. Together we decided that it was time to get to the birthing center and reassess things from there. Were it not a solid 45 minute drive to the birthing center, the decision would not have been so important.
We arrived in Menomonie and Susan was still doubting whether we jumped the gun and came too early. Barely inside the door, Susan had another contraction, which was of greater intensity than any she had experienced so far and lasted longer than any had up until that point as well. She braced herself on the doorway and experienced a follow-up contraction shortly thereafter. We began to wonder if we hadn’t waited too long to get there rather than going too soon. During a short break between contractions we moved upstairs and Susan had a rest in the chair in the “Peace” (purple) birth suite. Paula quickly took vitals and checked Baby’s heart tones and I continued the back-rubs aka “Smash the Sacrum”. Things were progressing well and Susan took a short rest on the bed, but wasn’t comfortable lying down. She got up and stood at the foot of the bed. I don’t recall when our doula Karen arrived, but she offered and rubbed some essential oils on Susan’s low back while I helped her change into her birthing outfit. Unaware of how far things had progressed, I made the made the mistake of asking Susan if she wanted me to change her out of her underwear as well. She asked me how I thought she was going to deliver with them on! Within minutes the contractions were within a couple minutes of each other .We had planned on having a water birth, and shortly after arriving in her beautiful ball gown, Kierce (who was paged to come to the birth from a formal dance) began filling the tub to prepare for it. Things began to happen very quickly all around us at this point.
Paula proceeded to do a check with Susan standing, and I remember her saying, “Well, here is the head, and your baby has dark hair.” I had wanted to “catch” our baby when it was born, and I told Paula that I didn’t think I was going to be able to escape the headlock Susan had me in long enough to receive the baby as it came out. In what seemed like a flash, Paula was telling Susan to go ahead and push and that the baby was coming out. I remember a flood of emotions coupled with the feeling that Susan was going to successfully crack my melon open to see if there was actually anything inside. All of the sudden Paula was pressing something against me, and I couldn’t figure out what in the world she was doing. Opening my eyes I saw that what she was pressing against me was our newborn baby, who was still curled face- down in Paula’s hands in the fetal position. Together we brought her up to Susan’s chest. Susan took her into her arms and stated, “It’s a boy!” to which Paula gently corrected, “No, this is a girl.” Recovery took some time, for all of us except, it seemed, our little girl. Quickly she took to Susan’s breast and began nursing, almost without assistance of any kind. This was nothing short of a miracle, as Susan and Samuel took many weeks and high levels of frustration to get this process worked out. The intensity and speed of Gretchen Grace’s delivery was greater than anything else I have ever experienced. It was wonderful to see how Susan’s body had learned from delivering Samuel and to see the power and incredible strength that Susan unknowingly possesses. It makes perfect sense to us that working with that power, and allowing the body to function to its fullest, produces incredible results.