Fast & Furious | The Birth of Finn Edward

58 minutes. That's the amount of time it took to go from 4cm dilated to delivering a baby - into the hands of a nurse, no less, because when I say "fast and furious" I completely mean it. Finn's birth was so completely different than Parker's - and so much quicker. With my first pregnancy, it took eleven hours to go from 3cm to 5cm, and another six hours after that to deliver the baby. Both L&Ds had some frightening elements for sure, but both resulted in healthy babies and a healthy Mama, and I was able to do both without an epidural (which, after safe and healthy was really my only other wish, thank my inner California hippie side for that one).

The night of Wednesday April 24th, Max and I headed off to an 8pm steak and lobster dinner, followed by a 10pm hospital check-in for labor induction. I was past 39 weeks and never in my dreams did I think I would make it to this induction day, which was set by my OB after baby's 36 week ultrasound measured 98th percentile in the abdomen, suggesting large shoulders and risk of shoulder dystocia. My OB's literal words were "the sooner the better" for baby to be born. Since I had been having contractions from 34 weeks on, and was already dilated to 1.5 cm, I thought for sure baby would just come on its own before induction day (after all, big brother was born at 39 weeks and one day). Then, week after week, I completely stalled at 1.5 cm (despite still having lots of random contractions every single day).

So before heading off to dinner, Max and I put a tearful Parker down to bed (he was very worried about Mommy going to the hospital), with the assumption we would see him the next afternoon if baby arrived by then. Parker's L&D took 17 hours and since I was being induced, I thought this one might take even longer. My mom was set to stay with P and take him to school in the morning, Max's mom had already arrived the day before and was camped at a nearby hotel, and Max's Dad and Rita were flying in mid-day the next day. I was confident I'd see them all before the birth, because again, seventeen hours the first time. And that was starting at 3cm dilated.

Imagine my dismay when we checked into the hospital (after a lovely dinner that included lots of contractions) and my cervical check still read just 1.5 cm dilated. At this point I was wondering if baby was just too big, or in a weird position - it just seemed too odd that things weren't progressing this time around (though I had gone from 50 to 70% effaced so at least there was some development there).

I was put in bed and hooked up to fetal and contraction monitoring, and around 11pm my nurse, Lolita, informed me of the intervention process they would be doing (side note: they do a 1:1 nurse/patient ratio at the hospital I went to which was awesome - especially considering that, with Parker, I was in Triage for five hours waiting for a room and barely saw a nurse at all). Coming off a completely natural labor and delivery the first time, I was super disappointed to have interventions of any kind. Their plan was to start with me on an oral dose of Cytotec to soften and dilate the cervix, followed by Pitocin four hours later, then my OB would be doing rounds early morning and would break my water to help things along. Hearing it all made me worry about my ability to do it drug-free, as inductions can increase contraction pain and intensity compared to what they would be naturally, but I had told Max earlier in the night that I would only want an epidural if my body stalled out for some reason and needed a rest - not just for the pain. My (California) hippie side wanted that all natural labor again - I wanted to be able to move, I didn't want a catheter, I wanted to be mobile afterward, and I didn't want any complications from an epidural (especially now that I was aware of my heart conditions and low blood pressure).

Shortly after eleven, Lolita let a different (new-ish) nurse attempt inserting my hep lock. Bless her heart, this nurse blew a vein in my left hand, followed by a rather painful attempt at my right hand where she tried unsuccessfully to draw blood for quite a while before realizing she blew a vein there, too. Meanwhile, my vasovagal syncope started to set in and I got super nauseous. Lolita saved the day by letting me rest before coming back around 11:45PM with lidocaine and doing the hep lock herself (I didn't feel a thing!). At midnight, I was given the teeny, tiny white Cytotec pill and was told to get some rest - and that lots of women just sleep through the next four hours.

Max changed into comfy clothes, declaring he'd put his nice clothes back on before the doctor came in the morning (always looking spiffy that handsome husband of mine - but spoiler alert, he never had time to change!). He camped out on the sofa and I was super jealous to hear him snore! For the next couple hours I tried to sleep while also having to get up every so often to pee (preggers life), which was an ordeal each time since it involved unhooking from all the equipment. Around 3AM I realized that the contractions were pretty consistent and uncomfortable, and that I was not going to be sleeping. Max went down to the car to get my birth ball (which he had barely squeezed into the back of Sandy, his 911, but I'm soooo happy we had it). I spent the next almost hour laboring with my husband, not realizing as the contractions were coming in quicker, longer, and bigger. I was still tethered to the equipment monitoring me, but Max helped me rock on the birth ball, squeezed my hips while I was standing, and let me hang off his neck and sway as I labored through the contractions. At one point I remember thinking he needed a trophy - he was all sorts of amazing (and gave me so many verbal affirmations, too).

Lolita came back in at 4AM for a cervical check and to start the Pitocin drip. I was dilated just 4cm - not even to where I was when I walked into the hospital in labor with P. This was so confusing to me because the contractions were coming every two minutes at this point, lasting a minute and a half and they were intense. Plus the in-between time, short as it was, was painful as well. I certainly couldn't have walked from a parking lot all the way in to a hospital - it felt completely different from before. I asked Lolita if we could hold off on the Pitocin - I just knew my body couldn't take any more. She agreed to wait until my doctor came in a few hours, and hooked me up to the mobile monitoring so I wasn't tethered to the equipment.

I started to worry at this point, telling Max I literally couldn't do another ten hours of this. The pain was so much more than with the first labor. I was only getting little snippets in between contractions where I could even open my eyes or talk, and I remember during one of the breaks trying to tell Max five different things super fast before the next contraction rolled in. Lolita tried several times to adjust the monitors on my stomach but they kept migrating and weren't giving good reads of anything, including my contractions. Around 4:30AM, I realized all I wanted to do was climb in the bed; I just couldn't be mobile anymore. I got as far as all fours on the bed and labored through a contraction or two that way (at this point they were excruciating) before getting on my side. In the back of my head, I remember thinking that wanting to lie down was a sign of transition (the last stage of labor) but immediately dismissed the thought - after all, I (thought I) was only dilated to 4cm. I started to get really hot and Max handed me my ice cold aromatherapy towels which were so lovely to have (again, I got really hot in transition with Parker, but I told myself there's no way this could be that). At 4:40AM Lolita (seeing that I was literally a hot mess) said she wanted to check my cervix again. There was no way I could have gotten into the right position with the incredible pain that just wasn't relenting, so she checked me half sideways on the bed and announced "8cm." Things spiraled from there. I heard her go into the hall and announce "4 to 8 in 40 minutes" and a frenzy of things started happening, including the staff phoning my doctor to come quick.

Max (the only Ph.D. I know who just-for-funsies did EMT training and is particularly good with all things medical) said after the fact that even he started to worry a bit here - the baby was coming and no one was ready. But, before Max literally jumped in to help the nurses set up the birthing table, he managed to set out the audio recorder he had brought and pressed "record"... yes, I have audio documentation of the last few minutes of labor (which I will never listen to) and the first minutes of Finn's life (which is totally amazing - his first cries!). Max was sweet enough to transcribe the recording, which was actually fun to read - I just am not ready to hear the sounds! It starts with the nurses trying to get me to move to set up the birthing table...

4:54AM [Lolita] Ok, I’m going to need you to lift your bottom if you can, between contractions, Ok?
 [Female 1] (on the phone) It’s room 1….
 [Max] ok, lift.
 [Lolita] one more time.
 [Female 1] I’m going to turn a lil light on
 [Max] Hi, alright, baby you’re doing awesome.
 [Lolita] Did you get a picture of that? (referring to the portion of the amniotic sack that was delivered)
 [Max] I did, that’s amazing.
 [Lolita] Mmmmhmm.
 [Mande] Mmmmm (gentle groan)
 [Female 1] Some of those bags are really. It’s amazing how they don’t break like.
4:54:30AM [Mande] (panic in voice) It’s coming again. What do I do?
 [Max] You’re good
 [Lolita and Female 1] Just breathe
 [Lolita] Breathe if you can Amanda
 [Max] (Breathing)
 [Mande] (quietly) That’s too big to come... (trails off)
 [Mande] (moan). (quietly) it’s pushing.
 [Nurse] Heeey! (conversation about wrong telephone extension)
4:55AM [Mande] (moan).
 [Max] You’re good.
 [Max] You’re doing awesome baby
 [Female 1] She took that one Cytotech and she.
 [Lolita] mmm hmm.
 [Max] Yup.
 [Female 1]. Okay..
 [several] (chuckles)
 [Lolita] And when it was time for Pit she said “do you think you really need it?” I was like (laugh). Noooo,  looks like we didn’t!
4:55:30 [Max] But I think she was close to just naturally going, I believe (unintelligible)
 [several] yeah. A little bit.
 [Max] A little push was all that needed!
 [Mande] It’s coming again
 [Mande] Oh it’s coming again
 [Max] Ok
 [Nurse] Just keep breathing in through your nose… and out through your mouth
 [Max] Just keep breathing (breathes)
 [Mande] (moan)
 [Max] You’re doing good
4:56AM [Mande] (breathe/moan)
 [Erin] Oh I’m Erin by the way, I’m from the nursery. 
 [Max] Hi Erin.
 [Erin] How are you?
 [Max] Welcome to the party!
 [Nurse] Is this a surprise baby?
 [Other nurse] Yay!
 [Mande] (many moans)
 [Max] You’re doing good baby. You’re doing great.
 [Mande] (with a moan) mmm hmm. (more moans, nearly continuous now)
4:56:30AM [Nurse] (quietly) You see the membranes? (to other nurse)
 [Other nurse] mmm hmmm.
 [Erin] I know she’s in pain but it’s very neat
 [Max] She’s a tough cookie.
 [Erin] I see! I see!
 [Max] And there haven’t even been 4-letter words coming out!
 [many] laughs
 [Female 1] Was her first one natural too?
 [Max] Yup.
4:57AM [Erin] Oh this is natural? Well, look.. My hat goes off to her. Any time I hear natural.
 [Lolita] Is that her? Is that Dr. Callison?
 [Nurse] I don’t think so
 [Lolita] (Unintelligible question)
 [Nurse] No, sorry. That was my fault. Sorry, I was trying to take the drape off, I was trying to do multiple things. Trying to call (unintelligible)
 [Max] You’re good, you’re good. We’re all here.
 [nurse] (After lots of rustling) ok, here we go.
4:57:30AM [Mande] Uhhhh, UHHH (then unpleasant screams until 4:58AM)
 [Nurse] There’s rope. There’s rope around the neck
 [Max] You’re doing great!
4:58AM [Nurse] 4:58!
 [Lolita] All riiiiight!
 [Max] it’s a boy!
 [Lolita] It is a boy!
 [Nurse] A little boy!
 [Mande] Oh my goodne...
 [Finn] Cries (and continues)
 [nurse] I need suction
 [Max] It’s a boy. Oh baby.
 [Lolita] You did great mom!
 [Mande] I can hear him
 [Nurse] He sounds really good.

Four pushing contractions - that's all it took (one happened before the recording began). It was the most surreal thing - it was all completely involuntary, and so different from delivering Parker. Parker had started to show signs of fetal distress toward the end (he had a true knot in his umbilical cord that tightened during labor) and had to be born fast - so fast that I was pushing too hard and too much in accordance with what my doctor and nurses were coaching and it just didn't feel right (this resulted in quite the third degree tearing but also literally saved Parker's life). With Finn, it was completely natural - there was pushing during the contractions and automatic resting during the breaks - I was on my side for most of it which was how I felt comfortable. I was a bit worried that the nurses wouldn't be ready for him, prompting the "What do I do?" question - I was expecting them to tell me to hold it (which would have been impossible) but they said to just keep breathing, which is exactly what I did. On the second contraction I even birthed part of the amniotic sac that still hadn't ruptured! It ended up breaking right as Finn was delivered (as opposed to Parker's that broke right before pushing and sprayed literally across the room). 

Hearing Finn cry when he was born was amazing as well since we didn't have that with Parker (I hadn't realized back at the time that something was wrong, but was keenly aware of it this time around). And of course, the "It's a boy!" declarations! Apparently the nurses get very excited for what they call "surprise babies" (when the gender is unknown). I did have some second degree tearing with the delivery, but overall so much more mild than my first L&D. My doctor arrived at 5:02AM, missing the birth by just minutes! All along she's said that the Pure Barre Mamas just pop the babies out (my OB does Pure Barre as well!) and she was so right. They actually didn't weigh or measure Finn for over an hour (we had lots of skin on skin time) but when they finally did, he clocked in at 7lb. 5 oz. and 20 inches. 

Just like last time, I 100% couldn't have done the labor and delivery without my amazing husband. His coaching and cheering kept me present and kept me going. I'm so beyond grateful for him. And since plans changed and we had a 4:58AM baby instead of an afternoon/early evening like expected, Parker got a chance to meet his baby brother before heading off to school that day! He wore his "Big Brother" outfit and brought both a blue and pink uniform shirt to change into depending on whether baby was a sister or brother. Klein family of four - our hearts are so full!


  1. I'm tearing up as I read this. I just love birth stories. And YOU, Momma, are AMAZING!!!! I can't even imagine giving birth without drugs. You are just incredible! And that sweet baby is perfect. Parker is going to be the sweetest big brother! Congratulations again!

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