Hana Therese Chiang was born on a rainy evening, November 29th, 2012. We barely made it to the Methodist Hospital in time; my wife already felt the need to push as we went down the elevator to Labor & Delivery. All told, we were in the hospital less than 30 minutes when our second child came into the world.
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We didn’t intend to cut it so close. We wanted to put our two-year old, Maya Elise, to sleep at my parents’ home before going to the hospital. Maya wouldn’t fall asleep even after an hour. We could hear her voice faintly in the cool and calm evening, screaming abandonment at our sudden departure. I wiped the sad raindrops from our windshield as we left Maya with my parents.
We should’ve gone immediately to the hospital after Maya’s dinner and bath. The contractions were getting closer, but still manageable at that point. Had we done so, the hospital staff would have had time to get my wife a proper bed, prepared her with an IV solution in her arm, filled out the standard intake forms and Dr. Morrison would not have already gone home for the evening.
As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20. There was no sense in beating ourselves up. The contractions were doing a fine job of that already. Our immediate task was to divert attention away from the pain with breathing and visualizations. Think happy thoughts.
It’s not exactly hypnosis, but I don’t know how else to describe it. I didn’t use a gold watch and ask my wife to follow it with her eyes as I swung it back and forth. I did use my most calm and soothing voice and insist that she look at me and breathe with me. “Take a deep breath and moan when you exhale,” I’d say. The contractions were hitting her hard while we were on the road. My wife was getting nervous. “We’re almost there, sweetheart — breathe with me!” Her sweaty hands clenched mine tightly as I drove the wet roads with my other hand. “Don’t worry, my love, we’re still an hour away from active labor.” That, of course, turned out not to be true.
The nurses were scrambling for a bed and equipment while I tried to keep her from pushing. My wife dropped to her knees in pain. She held onto my hands, but gave me a look of fear. “I want to push!”
One of the nurses stopped what she was doing, “Don’t push, dear, the doctor’s not here, yet!”
“Deep breath… Moan! Uhhhhhhh!” I moaned right alongside her. “Relax… Deep breath… don’t push, relax the muscles — moan, uhhhhhhh!”
The water broke. The nurses came into the room with a delivery bed and my wife immodestly ripped off her clothes and slipped into the hospital gown.
“There’s myconium,” a nurse said as she checked my wife’s labor. I looked between my wife’s legs: yes, that looks like baby poo to me, too. This means fetal distress and usually calls for a C-section. Fortunately, we were too far along active labor for that. There was a real emergency, though, because Hana could end up breathing the myconium into her lungs. The nurse will stick a tube down Hana’s throat, suck out the afterbirth, and check to see if there’s any signs of myconium in the lungs.
“Where’s Dr. Morrison?” My wife a asked.
“He’s on his a way,” replied a nurse.
“Should we get the epidural?” she asked me. Her brow was already covered with huge drops of sweat.
“Dr. Morrison is almost here,” I replied. “Only a few more minutes. The epidural will delay for an hour or more.” My wife nodded in agreement. The need to push came again.
My wife is literally a hero. Courage, endurance and patience against an onslaught of pain. Between each contraction, I tried to focus her on breathing, relaxing and preparing for the next wave. I described visuals of Guam, Hawaii, and Moganshan. I reassured her that Hana was okay.
Her eyes would bulge as she stared into mine. I smiled, “You’re doing great! I’m so proud of you. You’re amazing! Breathe with me — deep breath, uhhhhh!” We kept that up for over 20 minutes.
When the doctor finally arrived, my wife only needed a few pushes and Hana was out. We didn’t need to push with Maya. The doctor we had then, Dr. Fong, insisted that we not push and let the uterus do the pushing. Perhaps there was more of an urgency this time because of signs of fetal distress. The pushing caused a bit of tearing. Hana was also bigger than Maya at birth: 7lbs, 6oz compared to 5lbs, 3oz.
Hana latched on quickly. I was back at my parents’ home before midnight to put Maya to sleep.