The Birth Story of Benjamin Keating Haase

On Friday night Dan and I were watching Father of the Bride 2 and I noticed that I was having a bit more painful Braxton-Hick's contractions pretty regularly. Since I had these all the time lately, I just assumed it probably wasn't any pending sign of labor, but a good start none the less. At my check-up the day before, I had been given a report of 2-3 cm dilated and 50 effaced (better than my first pregnancy check-ups) This was good news as I was going to try to go natural this time around, and it looked like my body might be working with me. I loved my epidural with Christopher, but had read much lately on the complications that can occur with medical interventions. Knowing my low tolerance for pain, I was a bit skeptical that I could go the distance without help, but I was going to try to put my best foot forward.

[So back to Friday night] I went to bed around midnight and got up pretty soon after that out of sheer uncomfortability. I started timing the Braxton-Hick's, which started off around 3 min. apart but then would be really irregular with long periods of inactivity. Then the BH's started to get a bit more painful, which I was actually excited about. I woke up Dan and had him finish packing our bags while I took a shower so that I would look good in the pictures at the hospital (ha ha-like I would even care in a few hours) At about 5 in the morning I was so exhausted that I fell asleep for an hour and completed stopped the contractions. That morning I had a few, but nothing to write home about. I sat around all day and then realized that I needed to get up and move around if I wanted this baby before Christmas, so Dan and I went to Barnes and Noble, and that is when I started to get contractions that were really beginning to hurt and take concentration. I told Dan we needed to get home because I thought this was it. When we got home I ate a nice hearty pasta meal. I figured if marathon runners did this, it would be a good idea for a long labor. Contractions continued, but still felt more BHy then the crampy ones I had with my first. Around 10 p.m. I had a really painful contraction and then what felt like a small gush of water. I was hoping my water had broken, but when I walked around, it didn't happen again. Every time I had a really painful contraction though, I would feel the leak. I finally called my midwife at around midnight, and she said that since the contractions weren't completely regular, it probably wasn't real labor, but that I should take a hot shower and try to sleep and come in in the morning because of a potential water bag leak. Bummer! So I took the shower and laid down for about 1 minute when I had the most painful contraction yet and felt a definite pop and a lot of warm water everywhere. That is when the contractions started getting worse. I told Dan that I was going to the hospital no matter what my midwife said and then started to get in my testy mode, a sure sign of impending doom for me. Dan couldn't go fast enough or do anything right. He knows I'm in pain when I get to this stage. About this time our friend Drew Kniffen came over to take care of Christopher. We got in the car and made a very painful trip to the hospital with me being cheerful in between contractions and witchy during them. (I started yelling about my state taxes paying for these bumpy roads)

When we got to the hospital the contractions were TRUE labor. I would drop on all fours whenever they hit and just do anything I could to get through them. I did this outside in the flurry of snow, in the lobby in front of everyone, in the elevator etc. until I got to my room. (Somehow I thought that once I got to the hospital and in my room everything would be better, but labor just kept going. My midwife was already at the hospital with another patient who had arrived a few hours before me. I was disappointed that I would have to share her, and a bit nervous that she wasn't going to be with me the whole time. She talked to me for a bit and rubbed my back some then went to get a nurse to check us in while she went back to check on her other patient. I checked in at 1:40 on Sunday morning. At that point my contractions felt awful and I started to think that I couldn't keep going like this. My nurse asked me how far along I was, and wondered why I hadn't been checked yet for dilation. I wondered too and told the nurse to get Doris my midwife to check me….and make it fast. I just knew that I was going to be somewhere between a 3 and a 4 cm dilated and if that was the case, I figured that I wasn't going to be able to go naturally because I was already at the "I can't go on stage". Doris came back and wanted me to get up on the table so that she could check me. I told her that we would have to wait until the next contraction was over, and that she would have about a 30 second window to check because there was no way I was going to have a contraction up on the table on my back. When she checked, I remember thinking that it felt really tight still, and I might still be a 3. Doris said, "well, that's a surprise, I've got good news. You're a 9, and you can start pushing whenever you want." (She told me later that she thought I was going to be a 4 or a 5) I was excited, but didn't feel like a 9, and definitely didn't feel like pushing yet. I thought I would feel so different at that point. I told her that the thing I really need to do was to pee. We went to the bathroom, and she helped me try to pee which didn't produce much of anything, but made me feel better about starting to push later on. When I got up, I had the worse contraction yet, and definitely started to vocalize. When we left the bathroom, Doris told the nurse that she was going to go get her scrubs on. This was definitely the highlight of the hour. It meant that she actually believed a baby was going to be delivered by me, and soon. The second I walked out of the bathroom I felt like I had taken some kind of sleep medication, like Nyquil. I was so sleepy and weak. She returned, I got up on the bed, and we tried to push through a few contractions, but I just wasn't getting anywhere because what I really wanted to do was sleep and go home. She said we should try to do some squatting to get gravity on our side and I thought that that was a good idea in concept, but about as feasible as trying to lift 200 lbs. while on codeine. We started the squatting, but I couldn't hold myself up, so she held my arms and I leaned against Dan with all my weight.

This was definitely the worst part of labor. Contractions were lasting about 1-2 minutes with only about 30 seconds in between and they were brutal. All I could do was yell through them. I knew what I had to do to push the baby out because I could feel when a push was being productive, but it took such unbelievable energy to do it, that I would only push for a second or two in each contraction. It didn't feel like a baby was coming down at all. We did the squatting through 6-7 contractions, then Doris thought it would be best to get back on the bed because I was so tired at that point. I got up and sat on the bed, but then didn't want to move again. Doris told me I needed to lay down, but I just wanted to sit there and fall asleep and have it all go away.

The first couple of contractions on the bed were not too effective because instead of pulling my knees back, I was trying to push them down. It goes against all rational pain management to add more pressure to an already traumatized region. The nurse and midwife both caught on to my little trick and made me pull back on the next contraction. For some reason I would only pull back on one leg. I think it was a sub-conscious compromise. I asked Doris if she thought that with total effort I could push him out in one contraction. She said that she didn't think so and thought that it would be more like two or three….which probably meant three or four. This was discouraging because I thought I might be able to muster one really big finale, but to do it a few times seemed undoable. The thing which helped the most was when Doris put her hand up to the baby's head and told me to push him out. The whole time I'm thinking, "get your damn hand out of there" (like Back to the Future), and that pain and anger was exactly what I needed to motivate me to really push. Never underestimate the power of anger. I felt like the incredible hulk guy when his car breaks down in the rain and he cuts his hand. I instantly was strong and pushing. I gave a more concerted effort on the next contraction, and could start to feel that the baby might be actually moving. When I would stop, the baby would go back, which actually felt much better than when he was pushed forward, and I could take kind of a mini pain break. Doris, the nurse and Dan were cheering me on the whole time and telling me that I was doing a great job and to keep pushing …etc. I half heard them, but all my energy was focused inward, and external specifics didn't really break through. I remember thinking it was humorous that they were saying I was doing a great job, as though there was some kind of merit in being the recipient of pain. Like telling someone on the sidewalk who was getting beat up by a gang that they are doing a great job, and to keep going. On the next contraction, I pushed really hard through it and could definitely feel the baby starting to crown. I was waiting for the "ring of fire", but just felt a lot of pressure, and it was exactly what I imagined it would feel like. It definitely wasn't unbearable though. I think compared to the contractions, skin stretching and ripping was a day at the park. I was at the end of the contraction and wanted to get my break and have the baby go back a little bit, but Ben didn't want to. He was ready to be born. So my body just kept pushing even though I felt too tired to do any more. Doris told me to go more gently on the pushing and asked if I wanted to see the baby being born, which I decisively declined. All of the sudden she said that the head was out. It was weird because I thought that it would be harder than that and I would die and come back to life or something, and all of the sudden here it was and the hardest part was over, and I'd pretty much done it. The shoulders were definitely something to be worked through, and took about as much energy as the head, but when they pushed through, the baby just slid out and it was done. It was an amazing feeling. Such relief and joy.

Doris got a hold of the umbilical cord and brought it up in to view so that Dan could cut the cord. The whole time Dan was faithfully at my side knowing that his uninterrupted presence was very important to me. He leaned over and cut the cord which took about three cuts. With that done, the baby was free to come up to see his mom and dad for the first time. He was laid on my stomach, and I pet his arm like you would a little kitten. I tend not to be emotional in the midst of something this fantastic, and I simply observed everything from a distance.

They took him to get cleaned up and have all the little tests done, and Doris had me deliver the placenta. I was a bit surprised that the placenta has to be pushed out, but it felt great to have everything truly come to a completion. Doris said the most critical time for a mom is at and after the delivery of the placenta which seems odd because you feel so euphoric and peaceful at that time and that the worst is over.

To get the bleeding to stop she had to push on my stomach really hard a number of times and go inside to do the same. They also gave me a shot of pitocin to help my uterus to contract and stop the bleeding. This was not fun, and I was ticked that after it was over, it was not over. She gave me a local anesthetic and then stitched me up on the right and the left sides where I had torn a little bit. It was painful but bearable. It took awhile, but then it was truly a done deal. They brought Ben back to me and laid him in my arms. I finally got to look at his little face. He was quite alert and looked really different from Christopher. At this point we hadn't named him, but of the names we had been considering, I was pretty sure that he looked like a Ben. He definitely didn't look like an Anderson which was probably because of the brown hair. His face was very scrunched up with deep furrows in the brow. He looked a bit like the alleged pilt-down man, but endearing none the less. Dan came back to the bed and said he thought that he looked like a Benjamin. I agreed, but didn't want to commit until we really got a feel for him. I was able to nurse him right away and had forgotten how flexible and helpless a newborn is. He did a great job, and the nurse commented on what a champ he was at nursing. They took him back to the warmer in our birthing room and then gave us some time to be a family together before they moved us to the recovery room. It was truly an amazing and miraculous experience.

Benjamin came into this world at 3:00 a.m. on December 23, 2001 (his official due date) 1 hour and 20 minutes after arriving at Hinsdale Hospital. He weighed in at 8 lbs. 9 oz. and was 21 1/2 in. long with an Apgar score of 8 and 9. He has just a bit of dark brown hair, and his eyes are still an undefined color. He improved in looks tremendously in his first 24 hours and is quite a cutie now. He doesn't look like anyone we know except perhaps his older brother. He sleeps and eats well, and is generally a very good baby. We are a happy family of four now and very thankful to God for all that we have been able to experience with our marriage and two beautiful children.