Like many expectant parents, Lisa and Patrick Maloney envisioned how the birth of their baby would go. They hired private labor assistant Sherri Alden to guide them through the birth and help ensure things would go the way they wanted.
Here is how Maloney’s labor progressed and what ultimately happened:
SUNDAY, MARCH 14
6:30 p.m. One week past her due date, Lisa Maloney’s membranes break, releasing the amniotic fluid from her uterus. Labor contractions begin. They are strong enough to keep her awake most of the night. She lets her husband sleep, so he’ll have strength to help her during the labor ahead.
MONDAY, MARCH 15
7:45 a.m. Contractions are about three to five minutes apart and getting stronger. Maloney arrives at Samaritan Medical Center in San Clemente and meets up with labor assistant, Sherri Alden. Maloney is exhausted and crying. Alden calms her and helps her breathe through the contractions. Maloney’s cervix is dilated to five to six centimeters. She must dilate to 10 before the baby can be delivered. Alden guesses she may have the baby by 1 p.m.
10:30 a.m. To relieve the pain, Alden and Maloney’s husband help her into the Jacuzzi in the labor and delivery room. He sprays his wife with warm water while Alden massages her back and quietly sings to her.
11:30 a.m. Contractions have slowed down considerably. Slow fetal heartbeat indicates the baby may be sleeping. Maloney’s husband tries to wake the baby up by putting his face next to his wife’s stomach and talking to the baby. “Wake up. We love you. We need to feel a kick.” It works, the heart tones on the monitor pick up. “Thank you for listening,” he tells the baby.
Noon. Nurse Cherub Saunders examines Maloney and discovers she’s dilated only about one centimeter since early morning. Alden suggests they walk around the hospital to stimulate labor.
2:30 p.m. Maloney’s labor remains slow. Her doctor, Henry Pollak, tells her she can proceed at this pace, or increase the strength of contractions with the drug Pitocin. After discussion with her husband and Alden, Maloney decides against the Pitocin.
3 p.m. Maloney, her husband and Alden keep walking around the hospital. They hold hands and when a contraction comes, Maloney hangs on to one of them. Pollak advises them that at 6:30 p.m. it will be 24 hours since her membranes broke. Because of the increasing risk of infection, he indicates some action may be necessary if the baby hasn’t been born by then. 7:15 p.m. “I’m not optimistic at this point,” says Pollak. “I strongly recommend an IV and Pitocin.” Maloney still resists and goes into the bathroom with her husband to labor alone. “Why can’t this baby just fall out,” she whimpers. She now has a fetal monitor on at all times.
10:30 p.m. Pollak tells Maloney it’s becoming clear she will not be able to deliver vaginally. “It’s a combination of the size of the baby, the size of your pelvis and the angle of the baby. These are the factors keeping you from having a vaginal birth. I’ve got to step in,” he tells her. He recommends an epidural. Alden tells Maloney that it is Maloney’s decision whether she has one.
11:30 p.m. Maloney agrees to the epidural in hopes that it may relax her enough that she will still be able to push the baby out. Although she has very little feeling in her body after having the anesthetic, Alden tells Maloney that a “miracle” could still happen and she could deliver the baby vaginally. Alden coaxes her to keep pushing, “Keep that force. Keep it coming. Come on, Sweetie. Good work. That was your best one yet.” Crying, Maloney asks, “Why can’t I have this baby?”
11:55 p.m. Tears run down Maloney’s face when Pollak finally tells her he has no choice but to deliver the baby by Cesarean section. Disappointed, her husband repeatedly asks why the baby couldn’t be delivered with forceps. Pollak says he does not even consider that a viable option because the baby could be born injured. Alden prays with Maloney and her husband. Dr. Charles Graham, the anesthesiologist, tells Maloney, “Sometimes nature doesn’t cooperate.”
12:55 a.m. Hannah Joy Maloney is born by Cesarean. Tears of happiness stream down her mother’s face. Her husband kisses her as she gets her first look at their daughter.