It's not every day you read the story of a dad delivering his own baby.
When I replay the experience in my head, I often think, "Did that really happen? Did I really do that?"
My wife and I had previously discussed the possibility of having a home birth. We actually liked the idea of home birth, but ultimately decided that the right option for us was at the hospital. We felt more comfortable with the idea of having a doctor and medical equipment around, just in case.
Only two years before, we had our first child, so we had an idea of what to expect—or so we thought.
What happened next would rock my entire world and put us both on an emotional rollercoaster that we'll never forget.
Our story started on a chilly Thursday morning. My wife had prepared our bags weeks in advance, and I had the route to the hospital figured out. I knew labor was coming any day now, and I expected to be woken up, so I had purposely kept a night-light on to keep my senses alert.
It was 4:15 am when my wife started contracting.
My wife had been waking up sporadically from unconformable pains, but then she'd normally go back to sleep. This night, however, was a bit different. She woke up and stayed up.
Still half asleep, I could hear her rotating on her exercise ball. I could sense something was different, so I hopped out of bed to lend a hand.
She told me she had been up for about two hours now and was just too uncomfortable to go back to sleep. I was shocked. She had been experiencing contraction pains for over two hours but hadn't woken me up!
I started to time the contractions now. Ten minutes apart, then 8 minutes apart then, 6 minutes apart. Everything was moving in the right direction, so I started to get things ready.
With our previous child, we had phoned the hospital as soon as she started feeling contractions.
They urged us not to leave until the contractions were at least 4 minutes apart, lasting for around 1 minute each, and had been going on for at least one hour. With our previous child, we were told to wait until the last possible minute before we left.
So this time, knowing that advice, we just waited. My wife endured the pain, grit her teeth, and let out a few moans, while I started to get everything ready.
The situation got serious, quickly.
Once the contractions got closer, I called the hospital. Unfortunately, the number just rang out.
While this was happening, my wife's contractions went from several minutes apart to less than 2 minutes apart. Things started to get very serious, very fast.
She fell to her knees as all her water broke within seconds, and I realized that we had missed our slot to leave in the car. We would have to call an ambulance.
I called the emergency services to let them know what was happening and they assured me that an ambulance was on its way. I was relieved to hear that they had been dispatched but angry at myself for not leaving for the hospital sooner.
With the advice of the operator, I helped my wife on her back and rooted around the house for seemingly odd things. She told me to get some towels and some pillows— those made sense.
But then she asked me to get a clothespin and a piece of string*… huh?
What was this for? I reluctantly obliged but started to get a funny feeling in the pit of my stomach that she wasn't letting me know the full story.
Why was she asking me to get emergency birthing items ready?
Wasn't the ambulance on the way?
How long would it take for them to get here?
I kept asking, and she kept politely stating that they were close.
As my wife lay there in the middle of the living room, I started to accept what was about to happen. I dimmed the lights and shouted at my Google home music device to "play waterfall sounds!"
Our baby's birth
The operator on the phone asked me to check if the baby was crowning. Luckily, I'm the type of partner that reads the baby books (score), so I knew what that meant.
As she separated her legs, it was clear as day that baby was, in fact, crowning.
I remember reading that active labor takes about 8 hours and that once you are dilated, it can take hours of pushing before a baby is born.
But, my wife went through dilatation in less than 30 minutes—and I was crouched there in disbelief.
This was happening now.
As the operator called out instructions to me, all I could do was think, "Where is the ambulance?!"
Then, out of nowhere, the living room door burst open, and my 2-year-old son came running in. He heard all the commotion and shouting and was, of course, worried.
He took one look at his mother and another at me and cried out "Juice juice" (that's his way of asking for a drink). It couldn't have been the worst timing! I scrambled to the kitchen, grabbed his sippy cup, and then directed him onto the table to sit.
Before I got a chance to finish my thought, my wife said, "She's coming out. I'm pushing!!"
The rest was a blur and an intense emotional rollercoaster ride. As my wife squeezed my hand, and the operator directed instructions at me, it was all I could do to catch my breath.
Within a few moments, I could see my baby girl's head. I burst into tears of joy and ecstasy, but seconds later feel paralyzed with fear and anguish. It was the wildest, unexplainable combination of feelings I've ever experienced: Such joy and such fear at the exact same time. Joy that my baby girl was being born, but terror that something could go wrong.
As I supported the baby's neck, my wife pushed again and out popped her shoulders, body and then the legs.
I quickly cleaned the baby up and wrapped her in a warm towel.
I told my wife everything was okay and that she looked healthy. I witnessed a miracle before my eyes, and I was so proud of my wife.
She had given birth to our baby at home, naturally and incredible, with no pain relief whatsoever!
I could only imagine what she had just gone through. I remember smiling at her and saying, "You are the strongest woman I know!"
The paramedics finally arrived
Seconds later, I heard a sharp knock on the door. Finally, the paramedics arrived. As they came in, I felt an immediate sense of relief but also frustration. Why did they take so long?
As they came in, they took one look at my wife and baby and then turned to me and said. "Ah wonderful, you've done all the hard work for us"
Witty, but not really appropriate, I thought.
I was upset they had taken so long, but truthfully there was nothing they could have done. My wife went through active labor so fast that they wouldn't have made it in time.
After they quickly checked the baby, we wrapped her up and headed towards the hospital.
I remember rushing around the house, picking up last-minute items and thinking, "Wow, did that just happen?"
I was on cloud nine. I had just delivered a baby—my baby. I was in shock but also pleased with myself for not panicking in the moment.
Our baby weighed 6 pounds and 2 ounces and was perfectly healthy.
My advice to partners
Fast labors like these are rare, but they do happen. If I could share anything about my experience, it would be to try and be prepared for anything. By staying calm under intense pressure, I was able to listen to important instructions and provide the correct assistance to my wife. Truthfully she did all the hard work, and I remind her of that all the time.
Lastly, it's essential to read the baby books! Not just for birth, but childcare and parenting as well. They really were invaluable for me and helped out more than I could have ever expected. All those things made a high-risk situation feel a lot more manageable.
*Note from our Digital Education Editor and midwife, Diana Spalding. This was likely recommended to use for clamping and cutting the cord. Current guidelines for emergency home birth recommend not clamping and cutting the cord, but rather leaving baby attached to the umbilical cord and placenta until help arrives.
Mo and his daughterMo Mulla