Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Birth, part 2

If you missed part 1, here it is.

(This post is unapologetically about the truth of birth. Not for the squeamish or easily offended. Contains some blunt vocabulary.)

As a reminder, I left you all hanging as I had decided to admit it was birthing time and was about to change into my birthing clothes before heading to the birthing center. It is the early morning, some would say late night, after my sister's 32nd birthday and 24 hours before my grandfather's 81st birthday.

3:30am - Pete calls the midwives, who usually check in with momma to see where they really are in the grand scheme of labor and delivery. My short conversation with Jean took place on my bedroom floor, between contractions, as I changed out of my shorts and into a nursing bra and gown.

"How's it going?" She asked.
"Things are getting intense quick" I whispered, not wanting to wake Emagene just yet and still slightly breathless from the last contraction. Plus, I was really trying to be polite. What I wanted to say was something along the lines of: I'm in labor! How do I stop the numbing pain in my hip joints while trying to get dressed to leave? Is it possible you could you come here?
"Well, I guess it's time to head to the birth center. How long does it take you to get there?"
"We have to drop off my oldest, so 10-15 minutes?"
"Alright. We'll get there about the same time then."
"See ya soon."

I handed the phone back to Pete and as soon as I got my gown over my head, I ran to the bathroom as my water broke, thankfully in the toilet.
Pete met me in the bathroom again (poor man was getting dizzy trying to determine if I was on the bed or on the toilet every time he came to check on me!). He had come to tell me Emagene was in the car and ready to go.

"My water just broke. In the baby carseat is a package of water proof pads. Will you put one on the seat in the car?"
"Good idea."
"With E, my water broke at 6cm" I thought, doing my own mental progress check. I should have considered that I had just dilated 2 cm in 2 contractions.

Pete came back to get me;
"I really want to get in the water."
"Should I fill the tub?"
"We don't have time to do it here and still get to the birth center. We'll just fill their tub when we get there."

By the time I reached the car, I was having such intense contractions I could barely cope. Plus, being buckled in an upright seat and not wanting to scare my 3-year old - who was visibly excited it was finally time to get the baby out - made keeping up with the intensity elevation difficult. There was some loud noise making.

3:50 (?) - We are pulling out of the driveway. Pete had never been to Jen's house before. Ever. He had a text message with directions but I knew the secret of the strange intersection; the intersection that if handled wrong would get him incredibly lost. So the drive was a combination of me having contractions I could barely cope with -squeezing handles and neck rests and trying to rotate the ache out if my hips- and giving him directions. (Who does that?! I was definitely in transition, based on my sudden desire for pain meds and not wanting to leave the house, though I didn't realize it at the time.)

4:00 ish - (I was no longer concerned with the passage of time) - We pulled into Jen's driveway as I got hit with another wave and thought, Is that the urge to push? Couldn't be.

Once it passed, Pete helped Emagene into Jen's arms with her overnight bag, got back in the car and began the 5 minute trip to the birth center. As we backed down the drive, I rolled down the window and waved to Emagene, shouting "I love you, Emagene!" Completely surprising Jen that I was able to talk while reassuring myself and Emagene that everything was gonna be fine.
K, she's safe and not worried about me, I thought as I rolled up the window and was slammed with the desire to bare down.

Speeding way too fast, Pete started quoting the mantras he remembered from our last birth: "Remember it's just an interesting sensation to help get the baby out"
"Right. I know," I said, baring down again.
I squeeze my hip bones toward my naval to release the pressure in my abdomen and realized just how low in my body the pressure was compared to moments before. I was starting to open. I shifted my pelvis forward, undid my seatbelt and yelled: "this seat belt is too tight!"
"So take it off" (men are so very helpful during birth...)
"I already did!" Baring down again while squeezing the emergency brake handle and the door handle simultaneously.
"Peter, it's time. This baby is coming. Now." I say in what I think is a calm voice. Oh, look the rec center.
"I know. Hold on." He replies.
"She's crowning."
"We'll be there soon."
What part of 'crowning' did he misinterpret? I think to myself. Time to be incredibly clear; "There is a baby coming out of my vagina. RIGHT. NOW!"

He looks over and steps on the brakes. Once the car comes to a complete stop - halfway around the corner in the intersection of Windsor and Hwy 77, less than a mile from Inanna - he jumps out and comes around the car. I'm still trying to hold her in a little and push, not helpful and totally resulted in bruising.

"Can you lay back any more?" He asks, trying to hide the panic creeping into the edges of his voice.
I recline the seat, find a helpful place for my feet, and grab the emergency brake handle and whatever that handle above the door is called and push.

"I can see her nose. One more push and her heads out. Can you push?"
"I need to listen to my body, Peter," I was probably a little more curt then I needed to be.
Then I push.
"Okay, one more and her body will be put." I really think he was talking to stay calm, so I rolled my eyes and stopped responding.

4:15 am - Another push - she's out, facing to the right, he's got her little white body covered in bodily fluids, and amniotic fluid has sprayed all over the console and dash. But not the seat thanks to my mid-labor thinking ahead and the pads! With that gushing feeling that comes from a small body unblocking a larger-than-normal opening, I looked around to determine the mess of the car. As I reached for the baby I saw the clock: 4:15. Glad I had looked around or we would have no idea of her birth time.

Pete set the baby on my chest, grabbed an extra pad to wrap her in and runs around the car. He proceeds to drive like hell the remaining 3-5 the minutes to the center.
In the meantime, I make sure to point out that she's breathing, I can see her nostrils working. And she's already pink, so no worries on the cord being pinched anywhere. After no time at all really, maybe a minute (we were literally around the corner from the center), she starts to whimper. Then the cold air hits her and she full on cries. Pete physically relaxes and obeys the red traffic lights. He later told me that until that point all he could think was "is there anything in this car we can use as a sucky ball thing (bulb syringe)?"

He calmly pulls up the birth center drive and Jean meets him at the door. I don't know what their conversation entailed but I can see her face chance from Pleasant Greeting to Game Face. She calmly and quickly walks over to the car, access the situation, relaxes a little and helps me out of the car. We slowly walk into the center, babe in arms and still attached to the placenta within, and onto the bed. After helping me out of my blood-soaked clothing and getting blankets for baby, she calls her birth assistant, Amber, who would have been called in after I entered transition to help with the immediate infant and postpartum care, but we kinda skipped that part. From that point on, everyone acts as if nothing out of the ordinary had just happened or that Jean had assisted three births prior to ours that evening.

So there you go. Aoife (EE-fuh) Rose was born at 4:15am, in an intersection. She weighed in at 7lbs 13 oz and was 21 inches long. Dark hair, blue eyes, perfect everything. She left the outside of the birth center looking like a murder scene when we trooped into the warm bed at 4:21 am. She was greeted with lots of kisses by her big sister just after 5 am, and by 7:30 we were all back home, snuggled in bed, eating farm fresh eggs, and trying to process what had just happened. While it is incredibly nice to be fed real food, in my own bed, hours after giving birth with no one pestering me for blood pressure or lab donations, I'll give the hospital experience one thing: the forced overnight or 2-day stay definitely gives a new family time to process that change has just occurred. When we woke to a skinnier me, a tiny wiggler, and a day of exhaustion, the ordeal of the night before seemed like a dream.

Or a movie we had stayed up too late to watch.


  1. Oh my god. This is an incredible story. Your family has certainly experienced something unique. Congratulations on little Aoife's arrival.

    -Alison Rhoads-Chapman

  2. What a beautiful name! It's so encouraging to hear about your thoughtfulness in birth and life in general.

  3. Thanks ladies! It was definitely a wild ride and I am ever so grateful to be in place where I could trust my partner completely to keep us safe at 55 mph in a residential zone.