On Parenting and Birth Part 3 - THE END!!

So today is a pretty special day. A year ago today, Keight and I were at Fayette Piedmont Hospital and we didn't have any children. Then around 3pm we met the most precious little boy in the world.

And he changed our lives forever.

If you're haven't read parts 1 and 2 of the birth story, please feel free to go back and check them out. But today we celebrate, and you get to hear the end of the story.


So when you left us last, Keight had just been hooked up to the IV drip of Pitocin and was being given the smallest dose. She was 6 cm and 70ish% effaced and had been for a while. We had stalled out.

To recap, we didn't want to take pitocin, at all. But Keight's bag of waters had burst... um, a little while ago (like 25 hours ago), and we were getting to a point where the risks were getting higher than "we let you do whatever you want". So despite our goal and desire to have as few interventions as possible and let the birth process play itself out as naturally as possible, this was a compromise we had to make because we were having the baby in the hospital and not at a birthing center or at home. But we knew the potential tradeoffs from the get go, so it wasn't a big deal by any means.

Well, the choice wasn't a big deal. Apparently, pitocin is a big deal.

The effect was felt immediately.

Throughout this entire day, Keight has been unstoppable. I don't know how much you know about childbirth, but as you progress through the process, everything intensifies. It all comes to a head if you will (insert Fozzie Bear laugh here). The contractions (your body basically pulling the opening of a balloon large enough to send a watermelon through) get stronger, harder, and closer together which basically equals more pain, for a longer period time, with less break in between.

She is also going on like 30 hours without sleep, and I'm guessing there are some hormones and emotions flying at this point too. But even through all of that, Keight has been in control, focus, relaxing and responding through the contractions and basically kicking the shitocin out of labor.

But that all changed.

The first pitocin contraction was immediately different. Whereas a normal contraction would come on gradually, and raise up like a mountain on the monitor, this one spiked early. To ride the wave of the contraction, Keight would normally take full controlled breaths. But as this contraction hit, she was gulping for air as the pain descended on her. She squeezed my hand, HARD and writhed on the bed as the contraction continued on for 30 seconds and then a minute. And then it was finally over.

This would be the point when things got very difficult. She immediately had to get out of the bed because the pain and the position were just too bad. And throughout this time I'm still trying to encourage Keight and stick to the script that we learned. Breath, focus, relax, you're in control, each contraction brings us closer to meeting Judah, listen to your body.

Well, as Mike Tyson so eloquently misquoted Joe Louis, "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth."

Lukas used to tell a hilarious story about an assistant JV soccer coach that he had at Sandy Creek High School. This guy was a history teach and one of assistant coaches on the football team and would go around making Bullwinkle noises as he walked through the halls. Well, apparently he just had some extra time on his hands, so he decided to help with the JV soccer team.

So one fateful afternoon, the "real" JV soccer coach couldn't be there, which left the assistant JV "coach" in charge. His experience probably consisted of watching a few videos on soccer and maybe playing a couple games of FIFA 99 on his Nintendo 64.

So before the game, he takes the boys into the locker room for a "pep talk" and produced what could be the greatest pregame speech EVER.

He looked around at the 9th and 10th grade weenies and said, "I don't know a lot about this game you call soccer..."

"But I know what it takes to win... GO!! FIGHT!! WIN BOYS!!"

And with that, sent them into battle.

Why do I tell you that story?

Because sadly, I had roughly the same qualifications at this point. I had never (and will never) gone through labor. I had never even seen a live birth. I had watched some videos, read some books, and done some research. And I had a card.

But none of that really prepared me for my wife sitting before me so visibly in pain.

And as the pain and stress mounted, my help and suggestions became increasingly annoying. I felt helpless and useless, a little husband-fly buzzing around saying, "Beeeeeeee positive!"

And so I had nothing to give as the contractions kept coming, beyond saying, "What can I do? I love you and I'm here for you."

But sadly I felt Keight slipping away from me. We had done this as a team up until this point, and I felt her retreating in on herself knowing that she was going under.

And so I just started praying... "God, obviously I can't do this, but I'm not even sure that we can do this. I know you are here with us, and I know that Keight can do this, but she needs help. Help us. Help us Lord, don't leave us now."

And He did :)

At around 2:15 Adrienne came back in and found us sitting by the bed with Keight on a stepping stool groaning and crying, and saying "I can't do this, I can't do another contraction." She had just recently vomited because of the pain and was, as she describes herself at this point, "a rabid wookie". (If you've been keeping up, this was also the point when we reached the third emotional signpost which is self-doubt, also known as Transition. It's a very difficult time during labor without pitocin, so to hit that stage and as fast as she did, perhaps you can see why she was a little down.)

But Adrienne came over on our side of the bed and grabbed Keight's hand and looked her in the eye and said, "Yes you can! Girl, I know you can do this. I know that you're hurting, but you are in control! You are in charge of your body and I know this hurts, but you're so close to the end. We're gonna get through these last contractions and then you're going to have your baby."

And it was amazing because I could literally see the life going back into Keight with every word that Adrienne said. And it was soooo amazing because here was another woman, who had gone through the same process, who had labored through the same excruciating pain, and had come through on the other side. And she was literally, fanning the flame of faith and belief back into Keight.

And it was at this moment that I just had to stand back and watch for a moment. I had to witness the beauty and miracle that the birth process is. This magical sisterhood that Keight was entering in to which stood on the edge of undoing, but fought back and found the god given strength within herself to fight through to the end.

To be perfectly honest, I felt a little intrusive at that moment. And while you will not ever be able to keep me out of the delivery room for any of our family's births, I must say that there is something VERY special about women who have learned how to bring forth life from their bodies passing on that knowledge and strength to other women in the process. I would dare say its something holy.

I think God in his wisdom knew that with sin in the world our entire lives were going to be a fight, and that moms especially were going to have to fight for their children. And perhaps that's why He made the birth process what it is.

And I know that that who idea might rub you the wrong way if you tend to view the world from a strictly scientific point of view. But I hope you'll take that for what its worth.

So we turned a corner. I saw a new Keight emerge who was still in great pain and scared and emotional, but she was in control. She had mastered her fear and was set to finish what we had started so long ago.

At around 2:20 Adrienne in her kindness also gave Keight a small does of fentanyl, to "take the edge off" which apparently was like going at a fire with a water pistol, but it was at least good for the mind. They also checked K8 just to see if things had progressed.

9 cm!

So we were getting VERY close, they put in a call to Dr. Beckford telling her to come on over because it wasn't going to be much longer now. It was fun watching them transform the room from a labor room, to a delivery room. It was like hospital transformers as they brought in tons of machines and instruments, they even started morphing the bed to accommodate the pushing that was to come. Pretty soon after Adrienne decided to check Keight again.

Fully dialated. Fully effaced. From 6 to 10 cm in about 35 minutes. The first 60% took 30 hours, the last 40% took 1/60th of that. Go ahead and do the math yourself on the pain, thanks again Pitocin, see ya again never.

SO, its time to have a baby!!

They called Dr. Beckford backand told her that it was literally going to be any minute now. Apparently she thought she still had more time before because she had stopped to make some coffee and was just now leaving. There was some vague talk at this point about her being "on the way" with no specifics about her time of arrival. So we didn't know if that meant she's in the lobby or she's on 285 South.

Just then, Keight started having really bad pain in her back and stomach and decided that she wanted to try and get back in the bed to hopefully find a position of comfort. When she got there, she looked at Adrienne and said, "I think I have to poop. BAD."

To which Adrienne looked at the other nurse worriedly, and then back at Keight and said, "Um... honey, I think that means it time to push. You're going to have to wait just a minute though because Dr. Beckford isn't here yet, but she's on the way."

Well, Keight wasn't having any of that. She let them know that she was ready to have the baby NOW. So that started some frantic scurrying of nurses and more calls were made and more equipment brought in stat! And I notice Adrienne and the other nurse kind of talking quietly, and I pick up that they are deciding which one of them is actually going to deliver the baby. To which I hear Adrienne adamantly say, "No, I've definitely got this!"

So Keight has been kind of trying to hold back the pushing urge this whole time (kind of impossible) but has not been actively pushing. So Adrienne checks her again, and sure enough, there's the little guys head. So she says to Keight, "Ok mom, nows the time, you can start pushing he's right here."

To which Keight says, "What do you mean right here? Like in 30 minutes?" Both of us were prepared for pushing to take at least that long, and it can often times last much much longer.

"Um, no I mean his head is right here, I can touch it."

Naturally, I had to see this. And sure enough, there was our son. I can't imagine what that experience must have been like from his perspective, but the entire time, his heart rate stayed perfectly steady, so it couldn't have been too traumatic.

So Keight pushed.

Three times.

And we had our son.

She was magnificent and he was magnificent, and I was crying simply because it was over, and honestly I was quite scared. I was afraid because Keight was in so much pain and she was in such shock that it was over the first thing she said was, "I'm not pregnant anymore!"

But we brought him up to Keight so that she could hold her amazing creation and just hearing him cry was the most beautiful sound in the world. He latched on and fed some but he was so pathetic and helpless, but some completely ours. It was 2:54 pm on May 25th, 2009. And I knew that life would never ever be the same. And it hasn't been.

Here's a little video of him right after he was born. He was so peaceful and precious from birth, I knew that he was going to be a special kid. Thanks for sharing a year with us.

The Dukes.

Keight will give you her take on the whole story here in a few days, and I left some details out for her to tell, but I hope you've enjoyed the story and the best part is, that the story has really only just begun.


  1. love it. and thanks for clarifying that the pain worsens as labor progresses... my sweet husband thought that the only part that hurt was the part when the baby is actually evacuating

  2. Wow! That really brought back some vivid memories-and tears to my eyes! Such a special day all around-I will never forget it! G-d was so good to give me such an amazing couple as patients that day. Jesse, I am still in awe of the support you gave Keight that day and I am ever impressed with you both as a couple and as parents. I pray that I will be present for miracle Dukes # 2!

  3. Yay! The birth story is complete- now I can have my baby! :-)

  4. Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention that Judah was Adrienne first solo delivery. How cool is that!? So it was very cool that she was there when the doctor couldn't be.

  5. What a nail-biter! I was so engulfed in that! Remarkable trilogy :-)

  6. i cant believe im just now reading this! that was amazing!! yall are so wonderful!!