Deployed Spouse Attends the Birth of His Son
Korey's Birth Story
A note from the Military Birth Resource Network.
Birth comes in all shapes and sizes. Too often hear the negative side of birth. We don't always know what to expect when moving to a new location, especially if it's overseas. By sharing stories we hope to bring a positive, informed outlook on the military experience when giving birth at duty stations around the world.
To say that the birthing process was an amazing experience is something that I never thought I would say. To better understand, I should explain my first birth a bit. My daughter was born at a military clinic on a military base while living overseas. I did not have a specific doctor during my pregnancy because whoever was on call when I went into labor would be delivering my baby. I received excellent care but it was not personable. Compounded with being a first time mom, the entire experience was less then desirable. I wasn’t sure that I would ever want to do it again.
I did change my mind eventually, and we found out that I was pregnant with our second child in early September 2016. Unfortunately, we received this news right after my husband was notified that he would be deploying at the end of 2016. This meant that he would not be home for the birth of our second child. This news did put a damper on my excitement about the pregnancy. My husband was my rock the first time around for my entire pregnancy and was amazing in the delivery room. When he met our daughter for the first time, it was a priceless moment that I will never forget. I was disappointed that we would not have that same moment again.
I immediately started planning what I could to help me cope with the situation at hand. I had heard of doulas before and I knew that having one could be a great support in the delivery room. I was able to find a wonderful doula who is also a military spouse, and she easily understood my situation. I also decided I wanted my sister in the delivery room as part of my team. I also decided to have a birth photographer, for logistical reasons. Given that my husband would be on the other side of the world, it was really important for him to be there on facetime during the birth. Our first child has type 1 diabetes, so we needed to make sure that my parents arrived in time to care for her while I was at the hospital. My amazing doctor was understanding of my situation and was supportive of inducing labor for me at 39 weeks.
May 20, 2017 was my scheduled induction day, and I arrived at the hospital with the first member of my labor support team, my sister. I had my daughter completely naturally so I had no idea what to expect with an induction. The nurse checked me and I was 1 cm dilated. The nurse put me on the monitor to see how the baby was doing and we waited for my doctor to arrive. He checked my cervix and I had already dilated to 2 cm just in the hour or so that I had been at the hospital. According to the monitor, contraction activity was happening, even though I didn’t feel it. This made me hopeful that things would move quickly. My doctor then went over the available options to proceed and we decided to start with the cyotec. I would receive up to two doses of cyotec and then we would reevaluate our next steps based on what happened.
This was the start of what would be a very long process. I started to feel very irregular inconsistent contractions throughout the night. The first dose of cyotec only helped to dilate my cervix to 3cm, around 2 am the nurse inserted the second dose. I had a few more contractions but still irregular. Also because I chose a medication for induction, I was kept on the monitor throughout the night, which made movement pretty restrictive.
Around 5am, my doctor came back in to see how things were moving along and at this point my cervix had only dilated to 4 cm. We decided to start out on a very low level of Pitocin in the hopes that might speed things up. I decided to ask my doula to come in since we didn’t know how long things would take once I started the Pitocin. Throughout the morning, the nurse gradually increased how much Pitocin I was receiving but there was still hardly any change. I was not dilating and my contractions were still irregular. I was still being monitored and it seemed that Pitocin and the baby did not get along since the baby’s heart rate would sporadically keep dropping. My doctor arrived back mid-morning and we decided to stop the Pitocin. The next logical step would be to break my water. However my doctor did not want to stress the baby out more so we decided to take a break from everything and see if nature would step in and take over for a few hours. I was lucky to have a very patient doctor who was focused on what I wanted for a birth experience.
So we waited and waited and not much happened. I was not dilating and my contractions were still practically nonexistent. The baby’s heartbeat was still briefly dropping randomly at times, so I was restricted to my room and did have a bit of oxygen to see if that would help the baby. Around 4:30pm, my doctor returned and we discussed my last option which would be breaking my water. This was really the only thing left to do since I would not have been allowed to go home due to the baby’s heartrate.
Once my water was broken, things seemed to begin to intensify fairly quickly. My contractions became very regular and intense, I knew we had made the right decision. I had been chatting off and on with my husband since being admitted to the hospital, but by about 6:30pm I needed him as much as he could be with me. He was on facetime with me to the end. Kneeling by the side of the bed seemed to offer some relief and my doula helped in adding counter pressure to my back since I was also having a bit of back labor as well. During each contraction I focused on my breath, just breathing through each one. After a bit, my contractions kept getting progressively intense and I decided to sit on the edge of the bed. I still continued to focus on the contraction at hand, not thinking about the previous contraction or the ones still to come. It was also during this point that I was literally falling asleep in between contractions as I had hardly slept at all since arriving at the hospital. This went on for some time until the contractions became too intense and I started to howl almost like a wolf. I was still focusing on my breath and each contraction but I am very vocal while giving birth. As I transitioned I began to have chills and shake uncontrollably. Each subsequent cervix check by my nurse confirmed I was getting closer to delivery time.
It was close to 9 PM or shortly after when I first felt the urge to push. Nurses and my doctor moved into place very quickly. While I don’t remember how many pushes it took to bring my baby into this world, I would guess it was between five and ten. My doctor was amazing coaching me the whole way in my breathing to push the baby out. The calm between pushes seemed to stretch on forever to me as each push but finally at 9:17 PM after one final big push, Everett arrived earth side screaming nice and loud. He was placed on my chest and his cries instantly became quieter; he knew I was mama. The connection was instant and a much-welcome feeling after the anxiety and self-doubt I had been feeling during pregnancy.
I was unsure of how my birth experience would be, but it was one of the most empowering experiences of my life. I had so much love and support throughout my pregnancy and into the delivery room; I only wish that my husband could have been there in person. Eight weeks later my little family was happily reunited and my husband got to meet his son. It was an unforgettable moment that I will cherish forever. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for my beautiful family.
In the ten years so far that my husband has been in the military, we have been through a lot. I have had to deal with a lot of things on my own as well due to work schedules, frequent TDYs and deployments. This was by far the hardest thing that I have dealt with along the way. If I could offer one piece of advice to my fellow military spouses, it would be that you are stronger then you think you are. Even when self-doubt weighs you down and it’s hard to see, it’s in there and you will find it.