At 6:48am I received a text from Clinesha that something had changed overnight. She was 4 days past her due date, and wondering if she should head into work, as she was experiencing some mild cramping.
Clinesha called me at 7:23am saying that she was now having contractions here and there. They weren't quite in a pattern yet, but they were stronger than what she had been experiencing with braxton hicks contractions. We discussed waiting for them to get into a pattern, and then her husband, Ron, got on the phone and asked me how to support her until I arrived. I suggested making sure she had something to eat and drink, and that I would check back in a hour, to see how things were going.
This is Clinesha and Ron's first baby. Usually a first time mom would be laboring for 12 hours or more. Based on my anecdotal experience, I assumed that Clinesha was still in very early labor. However, at 8:43am I received a call from Ron that Clinesha was now struggling with contractions, and was on her hands and knees as a coping method. He said the contractions were coming about 6 minutes apart.
I arrived to their home about a hour later and observed Clinesha through 4 contractions. Based on the way that she was reacting to them, I realized she had cruised through early labor and was certainly now in active labor. Her contractions were coming about 3 minutes apart.
I began to try things to help Clinesha cope, and counter pressure to her sacrum, gave her some relief. I asked if she had contacted her Obgyn office to let them know that she was in labor. She hadn't yet, so I asked Ron to give them a call. The doctor on the other line asked "When did the contractions start?". Ron told her at 7am. She said, "It's 10:17. This is early labor. I wouldn't suggest going to the hospital yet. If she feels like she needs something, I would suggest coming to the office for a check. She has some time ahead of her still. She should rest." Ron explained that I was there, and believed that she was in active labor. The obgyn, scoffed at him a bit. I understood the ob's thought pattern, but this time, she was wrong. This wasn't going to be an all day labor. I suggested that we wait just a bit longer to go anywhere, though. I knew Clinesha was moving through labor quickly, but wanted to wait for the signs I usually look for, to signal heading to the hospital.
Clinesha and Ron have been together since they were teenagers. While I had understood their connection, even during our prenatal meetings, Ron's desire to help Clinesha, might have been more than any other partner I have seen. He took over during every contraction, applying pressure, and then replacing with ice packs in between (aka frozen mango chunks). He whispered to her about how strong she was, how proud he was, and how she could do this. He rubbed her back, kissed her hands, and made sure she kept hydrated.
Less than a hour later, at 11:12am, I got a one of those signs I had been waiting for; Clinesha made a deep, low, audible moan while contracting. It was time. When I said that, Ron looked at me surprised, and Clinesha got up off of her hands and knees, and said she would like to go to the Ob's office for a check first, since it was closest.
Ron called the ob office back to let them know we were coming in for a check, and they still seemed a bit confused by the situation. When Clinesha got out of the car, she was hustling into the building. She stopped along the way to cope through contractions. A woman, who was also heading to the same office, saw Clinesha on her hands and knees in the hallway and looked terrified. I wish I would have snapped a picture of that! (hahaha)
When we walked into the office, Clinesha dropped to her hands and knees again. Her contractions were down to every 2.5 minutes apart. (That same lady was staring at us wide eyed in the waiting room.) I think it was only at this point that anyone believed us as to what was going on. The medical assistant ran down the hallway and the OB peeked her head out and said "follow me as soon as you can!". Clinesha got down the hallway as quick as she could, and the ob checked her. "You're 5cm dilated and the baby is VERY low! I will call and let them know you're on your way!" It was at that point that I realized the ob, during the check, had unintentionally ruptured Clinesha's membranes.
We raced out of there and arrived to the hospital at 12:10pm. I was really excited to see one of my favorite midwives, Maura, in the hallway. (I had parked the cars while Ron and Clinesha headed to L&D) Maura had recently just transfered hospitals, and was now delivering at Yale. She told me that she was heading to my client. I knew Clinesha would be getting a fantastic experience while in her care.
At 12:40pm Clinesha asked for an epidural. This had always been an option for Clinesha during our meetings. I suggested that we wait a few more contractions and Ron stepped in, and in the most loving way possible, told her no. He suggested she try some other things first.
Clinesha agreed to try nitrous. At 1pm, Clinesha said the nirtrous wasn't working, but Ron and I had noticed a bit of a change, and she was getting some rest in between, her very intense contractions. Her contractions also spaced out a bit for 30 minutes or so to 4 minutes apart.
At that point Clinesha asked for something else. We were in one of the brand new rooms at Yale, which have amazing tubs to labor in! I asked the nurse to fill it for Clinesha. I sort of knew though, that we may not have time to get in it. (It takes about 20 minutes to fill a tub that size)
I had discussed with Clinesha a bunch of times about how changes in pressure might signal a time that she was fully dilated.
She told me that the pressure was constant, even not during contractions, like I had mentioned to her, and that she felt like she may have to push. It was 1:53pm. Ron's eyes welled up. He looked up at me and mouthed "it's time, right?" I nodded my head and he leaned down and kissed her arm. He looked up at me and mouthed, "She did it!". He was beaming with pride. The nurse called for the midwife, there was unfortunately abit of miscommunication and they sent someone else in instead. Clinesha yelled, "I have to push!", and Ron demanded the midwife. Luckily Maura, walked in and told Clinesha to trust her body and push if needed to.
Clinesha turned around in the bed and leaned over the back and began pushing. It was 2pm on the dot. At 2:05pm we knew that their little baby girl had a bit of hair, and at 2:08pm, Clinesha flipped over and with one last push introduced us all to little Miss Jade. Maura yelled, "Oh my! You pushed for 8 minutes!"
Less than 6 hours of labor, less than 2 hours in the hospital, 8 minutes of pushing and less than a hour after that, Clinesha was walking around with her baby in her arms.
While short labors seem ideal, the intensity can often make them much harder to cope through. Often times the physical labor is ahead of where the mother's mind is, if that makes sense. However, every time it started to slip away a little bit, Clinesha caught right back up. It was impressive to witness, especially for a first time mom.
Clinesha was in fantastic spirits and looked as if it was just any regular day for her. Ron had been on and off crying for hours every time he looked at Clinesha or Jade. He's one heck of a fantastic husband, has started off his Dad game strong, and was a fantastic teamate for me during this entire process.
Clinesha and Ron, thank you for letting me be part of such an important day in your lives and to bare witness to the love that is shared across your entire family. The hugs and thank you's from Jade's grandparents, also made my entire month. That little girl is very lucky to have all of you. Congratulations!