In Control

By Nathan Mark

There are some things in life that we just can’t control. We like to think that we are in control of our lives but when it comes down to it, there is more that we can’t control than we actually can. I was reminded of this first hand today. My wife gave birth this morning to our daughter, Eloquence “Quincy” Sara Champneys. When you are going to have a baby, you start making a lot of plans. You plan what hospital you will give birth at. You get an overnight bag ready to go to the hospital. You buy things like car seats and clothes, and strollers, and bumbo seats and swings. But when all is said and done you may think you are prepared, but you’re not. This is our third child. We’ve been around the “baby block”. We like to think that we know exactly what to expect and are completely in control. “Uhh, yeah…not so much” as my wife likes to say.

I had been wanting to mow the lawn for a couple days as I needed to make sure it got done before the baby came. The weather forecast showed that it was going to rain tomorrow so I knew that today was the only day to get it done. When I got up this morning at around 9, Beck said, “Well, if you want to mow the lawn, you’d better do it now because I am having contractions.” Apparently she had started having contractions at 8 am this morning. Here’s the thing- When you have had kids before you learn not to freak out at the first sign of contractions.You know that it probably will be quite a few hours before you need to head to the hospital and that it will still be a few hours after that before the actual birth. Beck had been having contractions for weeks so it wasn’t really a big deal to me. At 10am, I started getting ready to mow the lawn, but in the middle of putting gas in the mower, Beck decided she needed to sit in the bath as it helps relax her during labor. So I took over watching our 3 and 1 year old. I went in the bathroom to check on her periodically but there wasn’t really anything I could do for her.

When my wife is in labor, I feel like an idiot. I just want to do anything I can to make her feel better but usually all I can do is stand there and hold her hand and much of the time she doesn’t even want that. She is in a whole different world. Normally when my wife is sick and I ask her questions about how she feels or tell her its gonna be okay she welcomes the attention, but in labor it’s completely the opposite. She doesn’t want any attention. Her body is doing everything it can to get that baby out!

When a woman is in labor, its like a different person takes over her body. Now this is extremely funny after the fact, but in the middle of labor, let me tell you there is nothing funny about it. 😉 When my daughter Tomina was born, the moment the epidural kicked in my wife went from savage to sane in a matter of minutes. If you know my wife, she is one of the sweetest people in the world. But put her in the middle of giving birth and it can be downright scary as a husband. I don’t say this to belittle her pain or the huge amount of hard work that goes into giving birth. Its just the way it is.

My sister showed up to the house around 10:30 to see how we were doing, having heard Beck was in labor. We went into the bathroom to check on Beck in the bath. She had been sitting in the bath having contractions and apparently there was some mold on the tub she had never noticed and it bothered her so much she asked my sister and I for the bleach spray and a scrub brush. She proceeded to clean the tub between contractions. 🙂

At about 10:40am, Tomina made the comment that Beck’s contractions seemed intense and that we should call Nancy and see if she could come over. Nancy is a close friend of ours who was an OB / delivery nurse for years. She has been at all of the births of our children.With Beck’s past pregnancies she has been willing to check and see how dilated Beck was. Nancy arrived at about 10:55 and checked Becky to find that she was dilated to 7+ cm. She said, “We need to go to the hospital.” So I started to get  things ready.

About 2 minutes later my sister Tomina came out of the bedroom and said, “Nancy says the baby is coming now. She says call 911.” This is one of those, “I’m in the middle of a made for TV drama/movie” kind of moments, but you don’t really think about it while its happening. It simply is your reality.

Your whole childhood, you are taught what 911 is, and when to call it. But you are also taught that you are never, ever, ever to call unless there is a horrible emergency. My brother once called 911 when he was 3 or 4 years old and got one heck of a spanking. This image will forever live in infamy. So you also kind of think of calling 911 as a naughty thing to do. So as a man when you get to call 911, its really exciting, partially I think due to the fact that you feel like you are breaking a rule, but also that you are saving the day. But this time it was not fun to call 911. I called and I talked to the 911 operator for probably about 7 or 8 minutes until the paramedics arrived but at the time it felt like I was on the phone for only a minute. The world seemed to be in fast motion.

My wife loves a clean house. She especially loves clean carpet. We have two (now three) children under the age of 4. These two realities are in conflict most, if not, all of the time. When we moved in she got a grand idea of putting a big piece of plastic under our dining room table to protect the carpet. We asked around and a dear friend of ours gave us an old vinyl McDonalds hamburger sign about 8 feet by 10 feet to put under the dining area. It worked great because the back side was white so it looked almost like it had been made for the purpose of protecting a dining room floor. I give you this back story for this reason: When you are standing there looking at your brand new memory foam mattress and realize that this is the best place in your home for your wife to give birth, an old McDonalds sign seems like a really good thing to throw over your bed to protect it. So this is exactly what we did. Within a minute my sister and I had moved all the dining room furniture and had thrown the McDonalds sign over my king size bed.

After today I have even more respect (if that’s possible) for emergency medical crew members. Every day they walk into the middle of crazy, adrenaline filled situations, and bring calmness and clarity. The medic who seemed in charge, came into the bedroom and addressed Nancy. Nancy then relayed all the complicated “medical-ese” sounding information to him and explained that she had been a OB/ delivery nurse for many years. He looked at her, looked at the situation and said, “Nancy, you keep doing what you are doing. We will act as your support. You have obviously delivered more babies than we have.” I was impressed to watch him come into the situation, take control and then give it back to Nancy and let her do what she does best.

Within 10 minutes Quincy was crowning. When her head came out I heard Nancy say, “We have a cord.” My heart sank. I know very well how dangerous it can be when a cord is wrapped around the neck of a newborn. This is one of the reasons I never wanted to have a home birth, because there is no way to know if a baby is in danger of brain damage. I watched as Nancy unwrapped the cord from Quincy’s neck. With a few final pushes from Becky, Quincy was out in the world.

At that moment I was unaware of anything else except my daughter and Nancy. A million thoughts flashed through my head as I considered what Quincy’s life would be like if she had brain damage. It’s a horrible feeling to feel completely out of control in a situation, to want to do something to help the ones you love but be completely powerless to do anything. After a moment, one of the paramedics and Nancy both said, “She looks good. She looks real good.” I breathed a sigh of relief.

The next minutes were filled with checking vitals for both Beck and the baby. I walked out into the living room where my son Kaelen (3 1/2)  and my daughter Tomina (1 1/2) had been during this whole commotion. I felt horrible. My poor children had been sitting there the whole time listening to their mother groan in agony and didn’t really even understand what was going on. They looked visibly shaken. All this time no one had explained what was going on. Everyone was dealing with the situation at hand. Later after we arrived at the hospital, I asked my sister how the kids were doing. Her response: “Oh, they seemed great. They were happy to go stay at Mom and Dad’s.” So apparently they weren’t as shaken as I had thought.

As I look back on this day, I am amazed at how the timing of everything was so perfect. My sister arrived just in time to notice that Beck was progressing in labor and in need of Nancy. Nancy being able to come over and realize just in time that we needed to prepare for birth. The fact that Nancy was more than capable of delivering a baby, where the medical team that arrived had never delivered one. God is good all the time. We like to think we are in control of our lives when in reality the only one who has any and all control is our great God. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

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