As written by Tim:

Miles Dexter Stelzer was born on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2010 at 1:15am at the Austin Area Birthing Center.  He weighed in at 7 1/2 pounds and measured 21 inches long.

01/23/2010 is an auspicious birthday, but when Laurel’s water broke TWO days earlier on Thursday night, I never would have guessed Miles would wait until Saturday morning to make his grand entrance.  Subconsciously, Laurel and I must have sensed something was about to happen as we spent Thursday evening reviewing our Bradley class notes as a final confidence-boosting affirmation of our preparedness.  As I was reading out loud from our notes the signs of imminent labor: nausea, cramps, Laurel innocently complained of an upset stomach (must have been dinner) and “period discomfort”.  We were slow to put two and two together until Laurel jumped up from bed at 9:30pm exclaiming “I think I just peed the bed! A lot!”.  Further inspection revealed her water had broken, which sent us into an adrenaline-fueled bout of the shakes.  All the preparation in the world can’t truly prepare you for the shock of knowing you will be parents in (hopefully) less than 24 hours.

Snapping back to reality, I phoned the birthing center and told Roswitha what had happened.  In her calming, German accent she wisely advised we try to get some sleep for the big day ahead.  Fortunately, Laurel did sleep through mild, but regular contractions while I fumbled with installing the car seat in the middle of the night (the one procrastination I afforded myself).  We woke up early Friday morning, had some breakfast and went for a long walk through the neighborhood with a stop at Quack’s for a chocolate almond croissant.

The walking seemed to strengthen the contractions some, but we were worried about the “24 hour water breaking clock” expiring before Laurel was in serious labor.  Lauren, the midwife on call, phoned us Friday morning and we made a plan to come in at noon to try to kick-start the process with some herbs and breast pumping.  A few cups of “southern comfort-tasting” herbs and 10 mL of colostrum later, the contractions remained consistent but “mild” (Laurel may disagree?).  We went for a few more walks – one through the trails leading to my office, which happens to be right next to the birthing center.  Laurel waited downstairs while I ran up to grab a few things I would need during my leave from work.  I ran into one colleague and told him Laurel was in the lobby, in labor.  That surprised him quite a bit!

The next several hours were spent walking around the birthing center parking lot, listening to Beatles songs (side note – lots of good labor tunes in their collection: “Carry That Weight”, “We Can Work It Out”, “A Hard Days Night”, “Cry Baby Cry”) pausing every 3 or 4 minutes for Laurel to lean on me and breathe through the next contraction.  It became very clear that her best position for managing the contractions was to use me as a “labor post” while trying to visual staying in front of the “wave”.

About 7pm Friday night, after a few minutes in a hot shower, Laurel requested an exam.  Her first since 35 weeks.  I know secretly she was hoping to hear 8 or 9 cm, so when the result was actually a fully effaced 3 cm, that’s when all the preparation really started paying off.  Laurel took the checkup as a confirmation of progress and set her mind to getting through the next contraction, then the next and the next.  Which is how we spent the next 3 to 4 hours; alternating between standing contraction, trips to the bathroom (wouldn’t be labor without puking several times, right?), sips of water and resting on the bed.

Next check, 11pm – 7 cm.  Good progress, and enough to earn a ticket to jacuzzi town.  The water helped Laurel relax a little between contractions, but she still had to stand up out of the tub and lean against me to manage the pain of each one.  Up, down, up, down in and out of the tub for the next hour we went until Lauren notified Laurel she was at 9.5 cm and ready to push, while she held the remaining cervix out of the way.  This is where Laurel really shined, going into a primal, trance-like, happy baby yoga pose pushing machine she says she hardly remembers (but Lauren probably will for the profanity-laced expletives flying through the air).  At one point, a frustrated Laurel exclaimed “this is doing nothing!” only to then reach down and feel Miles’s head crowning and realize yes, the pushing was indeed doing something.  After finally getting the head through (which seemed to take forever; Miles was a bit of a cone-head his first day) the rest came pretty “easy”.  In fact for how long and drawn out the other stages were, the act of pushing his body out and putting him right up to Laurel’s chest went amazingly fast.  So fast that I barely had a chance to glimpse him and proclaim “It’s a boy!” in a shaky, overjoyed voice.  I cut the cord when it stopped pulsing and then Laurel quickly delivered the placenta and somehow walked over to the bed to take her first stab at breastfeeding.

Miles turned out to be a nursing champ, then rested peacefully on my chest for some warming skin to skin while Laurel took a few “cosmetic” stitches.  Fortunately, no tearing in the perineum.  We didn’t have long to celebrate with Lauren, as she was immediately called into the next room, where another mother was delivering her second baby within a few short hours of arriving at the birthing center.  It turned out to be a busy night / early morning, as a third couple could be heard laboring next door a few minutes later.  With all the excitement, Miles didn’t get weighed or examined until the next morning, which actually gave us a nice long bonding time alone.

Laurel’s blood pressure was elevated (for good reason!) at 150/90 for a few hours after the birth, but it eventually came down naturally and we walked out a very happy, proud family around 9am Saturday morning.  We are having a blast getting to know each other and enjoying these first few days together.

Birthday Pics: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stelzert/sets/72157623270234468/

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