Part Three: Ryder's Birth
My due date was June 4th. Ripley arrived nearly four weeks early, but all measurements this
time pointed to a full term (read: on time) arrival. Again, we decided not to find out the gender of the
baby ahead of time. My birthday was rapidly approaching, May 25th. People often would remark how
wonderful it would be if the baby arrived on my birth date. Yuck! Who wants the same birthday as their
mother? Somehow, this baby knew and held on for two more days.
At 1:30 AM on May 27th, I woke up to use the bathroom as usual when I realized that my water
had broken. My first thought, “Again? I haven’t had a full night’s sleep yet.” I went back to bed and
didn’t say a thing to my husband who was still soundly asleep. My hope was that I could just go back to
sleep. My birth plan included doing as many “normal” and “routine” things as possible for whatever the
time of day it was, until it was genuinely time to go to the hospital. The idea was to go through labor
as much as possible away from the hospital, away from the potential interventions. So at 1:30 AM, the
most logical thing to do was to go back to sleep. But I couldn’t. Within 15 minutes, the contractions
started. I lay there, thinking about the contractions, wondering if I should wake my husband up or not.
Then I realized I ought to time them. It was difficult to see in the dark the time on my watch. The watch
hands didn’t glow bright enough. I should have gotten a better watch, one with a digital timer. Was
that five or eight minutes? It’s so hard to tell with these Roman numerals. Another 15 minutes or so
passed and I woke my husband up.
“My water broke.”
“How far apart are your contractions?” Drew asked.
“Um, I’m not sure…maybe five or ten minutes apart?”
Immediately Drew sprung into action. He grabbed one of our smart phones and found the timer
app. Of course, we hadn’t practiced using it, so we’re both fumbling with how it worked. I decided to
take a shower. The warm water felt so good against my skin. The contractions were intensifying, but
still manageable and the water relaxed me. But after a while in the shower, I had used up the hot water
and it was time to leave. My husband called my in-laws to see if they could come down and watch
Ripley. They live about 90 miles from us. They could come, but not until the early afternoon, as they
had guests leaving their vacation rental that morning. I began thinking about Ripley and what to do
with her. I could feel my anxiety starting to build. I was supposed to stay at home as long as possible
to avoid hospital interventions but typically subsequent labor and deliveries are shorter and faster. I
asked my husband what he wanted to do with Ripley and he thought he could just take her to daycare as usual. Now it was 4 AM and the contractions were starting to speed up and intensify. We called our
one friend, Becky, whom we knew would be awake at 4 AM and did not have to work the next morning.
Becky was on her way to our house. I texted Cheryl to let her know that labor had started and called the
midwife on-call to give her a heads up.
By 6 AM, the contractions were starting to knock me off my feet. My poor husband tried to do
all the he could. He offered to start the bath for me, but I feared that the noise would wake up Ripley.
He offered to massage my lower back but all I wanted to do was curl up in to a ball on the bed and be
left alone. I attempted to listen to my hypnobirthing music, but I could only manage for 20 minutes. I
forced myself to eat a small cup of yogurt and some water to stay hydrated and energized. My anxiety
got the best of me.
I was ready to go to the hospital and now I wanted an epidural. I had hit a wall.
He turned to me, ever so gently, “Now, we talked about this. We don’t want an epidural
because of the baby.”
“Forget the baby, this really, really hurts!” I snapped back.
As we prepared to leave, Ripley woke up. I greeted her in the kitchen, but could hardly stand.
The contractions were between three to five minutes apart and once at the apex of the surge, I had to
hold on to something, then sit and catch my breath. I was ready to leave. As I made my way out the
kitchen door, I turned around to see Drew making breakfast for Ripley. I wanted to scream at him, but
that would require using energy, energy I just didn’t have. “I’m going to wait for you in the car.” I sat in
the car for what felt like an eternity. Drew popped in less than five minutes later.
As we drove to the hospital, it felt like the longest drive possible. There was absolutely no traffic
and yet it felt like time was dragging, especially during those contractions. Every sway of the car made
me feel sick and anxious that we wouldn’t get there in time. During the drive, Drew called Cheryl and
told her we were on our way to the hospital. Apparently she did not get my text message. Drew told
her that I had changed my mind and wanted an epidural. She asked to speak with me and pleaded for
me to not get an epidural and to wait until she got there. I told her she had better hurry then.
Once we got to the hospital, my husband proceeded to drive to the parking garage.
“What are you doing?”
“Um, parking the car?”
“No, no. Drop me off. Go that way,” I said as I pointed in a different direction.
It had been two years since either of us had been at the actual hospital. During this time, the
hospital expanded and added another wing. Needless to say, I told him to go the wrong way. As we
drove around the building, it was obvious we were driving away from the labor and delivery pavilion.
I saw an entrance sign and told Drew to drop me off there. It was the emergency department entrance. Just as he put the car in the park position, I opened my car door and I waddled my way
through the automatic sliding glass doors.
“Do you want a wheelchair?” Drew was rushing towards the wheelchairs at the entrance.
“No!” I kept walking straight ahead.
“You don’t have your wallet or insurance card!” he yelled after me as I made my way through
“I don’t care.” I kept going while Drew went back to move the car. It was still idling.
As I waddled my way gingerly towards the front desk, a man came rushing towards me with a
wheelchair. I gathered my composure and whispered thanks as the contractions had left me breathless.
We were on the complete opposite side of the hospital from the labor and delivery ward.
The man proceeded to wheel me towards labor and delivery. We approached the first of
three sets of double doors in which he swiped his ID card through a key reader and the doors magically
opened ahead. I felt a wave come over me as I tried to breathe through it, just wishing we weren’t so
far away from the labor and delivery ward, from my epidural that was surely awaiting me.
We reached the elevator. He wheeled me into the elevator. As the doors began to shut, an arm
reached in. Seriously? I thought. It was Drew. He was out of breath, a pack mule with two bags and a
basket of goodies that I had prepared for the nursing staff. I would later learn that each time we passed
through those set of double doors, Drew was just far enough behind to see us pass through them, only
to have the doors close when he reached them. Like a scene from a movie, he had to get other staff
members to swipe their ID cards to open the doors, rush to the next set of doors, only to have them
close on his face each time.
Just one flight up and we arrived at the Labor and Delivery floor. We passed through
yet another set of double doors. We arrived at the front desk to check in. My husband furiously pulled
out his insurance card and proceeded to answer questions. At first, the questions seemed rather
typical. Her name? Date of birth? Due date? OB/GYN? They seemed to be fairly standard question,
but then the front desk nurse started to ask him questions like, “What is your name? Where do you
work? What’s the address and phone number there?” Oh my God, who cares where my husband works
and what’s the point of pre-registering??? I yelled silently in my head but I sat silently and still in the
wheelchair, bracing the metal arms when I felt a contraction come over, breathing through it, but
wanting to melt into the plastic vinyl seat if I could. Then she handed me a clip board. It was yet
another form with the same questions. For a moment, I thought this was a test. I asked for a pen.
Everyone around me glanced around their area but no one had a pen. They handed me a pencil.
Quietly I asked aloud, “Is this even legal?” But no one responded to me. I proceeded to quickly fill it
out. The sooner this form was completed, perhaps the sooner I could get my epidural. My hands were
shaking, unsteady for the fatigue from gripping the arms of the wheelchair.
I handed the clip board back and sighed a breath of relief as they began to wheel me towards an
open room. My husband gave the staff the basket of goodies and my birth plan. The birth plan! I had
forgotten about it. “No, don’t give them that. Cross out the part about not wanting an epidural. I want
it now.” Drew still handed them the birth plan and it was too late.
Jessie, our nurse, introduced herself to me as a nurse who was familiar with natural births. I
smiled at her and said, “I know I said I didn’t want an epidural, but I want one now.” She replied that
some blood work needed to be done first. For some reason, this made me feel better. There was a
procedure and the process had begun.
Drew leaned down and said gently to me, “I know you can do this.”
All I could smell was the coffee on his breath and this irritated me. I replied, “I love you, but you
need some gum.”
Clearly, this is an example of what a laboring wife will say to a husband and his ability to look
beyond that a sign of genuine support. Without missing a beat, Drew reached for a piece of gum out of
our bag, popped one in and his face was again directly in front of mine. “Would you like some water?
You need to stay hydrated.”
Suddenly, I realized, we never had a “safe word” if I really wanted an epidural, natural birth out
the window. In as calm and serious of a voice I could muster, I said, “I want an epidural and I need you
to facilitate this.”
At some point, Cheryl our doula had arrived. Instantly I felt relieved by her presence. She asked
me if I was thirsty. I wasn’t, but she offered me some water and I drank some even though Drew had
asked me just five minutes earlier. She asked me if I needed to use the bathroom. I didn’t, but I went
anyway and sat for a bit, because she told me to. She asked if I wanted to sit on the birthing ball. I
didn’t want to, but I did so anyways. I was back on the bed and it seemed like she asked me again if I
wanted to use the bathroom. No, but we all took a trip to the bathroom once again.
At one point, I wanted to curl back into the fetal position and rest. Suddenly, the contractions
weren’t so bad. I could just count my way through them. I got into that zone, like I had practiced with
hypnobirthing. I breathed and breathed like I had practiced. There was no pain, just pressure, in waves
and I was going up and down, bobbing along for the ride. I was in control again, comfortable. And then
it happened. It was time to meet this baby. Suddenly, I was energized and excited.
The delivery process was rather hilarious. I was not in a traditional position but it felt like the
right one for me. At one point, it seemed like someone was trying to enter our room, but the midwife,
nurse and Cheryl all pushed them back out. I asked Drew if it was the cleaning crew, as they had once
before tried to enter the room. He replied yes, but in reality, it was the anesthesiologist who was
From the moment we arrived at the hospital to the time I was ready to push, it was only an
hour. It took an additional hour for the delivery. The entire hospital experience felt like 30 minutes instead. As soon as I delivered, Drew was the one to announce we had a girl as I reached out with
uncontained excitement and giddiness to hold her. I cried uncontrollably, tears of relief, of joy, of
accomplishment and of satisfaction.
Ryder Elle Kim-Hac arrived at 9:33 AM weighing 8 pounds and 8 ounces. The midwife informed me that the delivery might have been even faster, had little Ryder not had her hand next to her face, complicating her exit. But still, Ryder managed to wave her fingers, jazz-hands, as the midwife brought her out.
Two hours post-delivery, I was still on such a natural high. I felt so proud that I did it. I delivered
our baby naturally. I was able to hold Ryder instantly upon arrival, to nurse her so easily. I was awe-
struck, incredulous that I could do it, especially since I felt so close to the edge of giving up. I was able to
walk around freely, my mind and thoughts clear. Ryder was so calm, so content, already demonstrating
her easy going personality from the get go.
When I describe my VBAC experience to others, I am always quick to point out that I had an
amazing experience with the help and support of others. The best analogy would be akin to preparing
for a marathon. I had a goal. My husband was my biggest cheerleader and supporter. Cheryl, our
doula, was my coach, forcing me to create a birth plan and seeing me through the event, even as I hit
the wall and wanted to quit. And along the way, I had support from others: my weekly visits with a
chiropractor to ensure the alignment of my spine and pelvis to prepare for birth; my midwife team
who understood my end goal and the reasons behind it; my childbirth educator who helped me with
hypnobirthing techniques and training; and my family and friends who never doubted my ability to do
so. Ultimately, I think what made me successful was that I prepared as best as I could for this event.
The topic of an epidural can be so divisive at times. While my VBAC experience was successful
without an epidural, early in Ryder’s delivery, it seemed liked I constantly pleaded for one. The labor
and delivery process for me was physically unknown so I tried to cling to the one constant that I knew,
the one thing that would allow me to gain control. Once I was able to reach my zone and not let the
contractions control me, I was able to move forward again. I have absolutely no judgments against
others who wish to have one. I mean, I had one myself the first time. What I was trying to accomplish
was a natural birth and to avoid the path of interventions leading to further interventions. I think many
people are able to accomplish a successful birth with an epidural. I was trying to avoid it because of my
sensitivity to medications.
While each of my baby girls arrived in their own unique way, my love and adoration for each
of them remains constant, whole and boundless. My VBAC experience allowed me to deliver not only
a healthy baby, but allowed me to recover quickly and easily so that I could be present for my entire