This is the story of the birth of our third child. It’s safe to file this cautionary tale under the general heading of “Epic Failure”…
I had an epidural with my first child that left me completely numb. This resulted in lots of labor trauma, fourth degree tears, and a bladder that was swollen shut for the next three months. Not fun. After that, I decided pain meds weren’t for me. When I gave birth to my second son, I did it naturally, and it went a lot better. Because my pregnancies have been largely uncomplicated, and I think epidurals are the devil, we never ever rush to the hospital at the first sign of labor. Plus, they don’t let you eat when you’re in labor… I like eating, so this leaves me really crabby… I probably would do home births, but home birthing freaks my husband out…
I had been promising my boys all week that we would take them to the zoo that weekend. I was also nine months pregnant with my daughter. My due date was 9 days away.
The boys came into my room that morning at about 8 a.m. I was already having contractions and extremely thirsty. The only thing worse than the soggy heat of August is going through it pregnant. I assumed my contractions were due to dehydration, and drank a couple of glasses of water. (Dehydration can cause false labor, and is often a problem for summer pregnancies.)
I got out cereal for the boys, but I was moving very slowly that morning due to contractions. Meanwhile the boys were a bundle of energy, and were already talking about the zoo. I emptied the dishwasher while they ate, and then turned on the television for them. After about thirty minutes I called upstairs to my husband. I told him I wasn’t feeling well. He came downstairs, and I told him I might be in labor. He told me to go upstairs and rest and let him know if the contractions continued. Instead of resting, I decided to take a shower. At the time I was still determined to go to the zoo.My shower takes forever, and I drop the soap no less than five times… which also means I have to pick it up five times. Ugh. I’m feeling horrible, and am getting slower and slower. I put on a sundress, and it finally dawns on me that we are definitely NOT going to the zoo. My husband comes upstairs to check on me, and I ask him to call my mother-in-law. We need her to come and watch the boys so that we can go to the hospital. My oldest child has special needs, and has had a LOT of testing done on him so he HATES hospitals. He gets really anxious, and he’s unpredictable when he’s anxious. We never even consider bringing the boys to the hospital…
It’s 9:30 at this point, but my in-laws only live ten minutes away.
I start to blow-dry my hair, and realize there’s not much time between one contraction ending and another contraction beginning. I go put on my watch. Sure enough, there’s only about 3 minutes between contractions. I finish my hair, put on sandals, and head downstairs. I had already packed for the hospital, but my shower flip-flops are in the basement. I plan on going down and getting them, but I’m feeling awful, and I lie down on the couch instead. My husband goes and gets them.
I hear my five-year-old call from the bathroom, and my husband goes to help him. When he comes back, it’s five minutes to 10. I ask him if his mom is on her way, and he says that she was finishing up at the hair salon when he called. He said she asked him if there was time for her to stop at the deli for coffee… My husband told her yes, but I figure it won’t be a big deal. It doesn’t take THAT long to grab a cup of coffee.
The boys start asking for snack, and they head to the kitchen. I start to feel sick to my stomach, and head to the bathroom. I remember this feeling, and remember feeling this way about forty-five minutes before Lefty was born… By the time I’m done (being horribly sick) it’s 10:10. From the kitchen, I can hear my husband explaining to the boys that their sister is going to be born today.
I am feeling terrible and starting to panic a little. I ask my husband to call my MIL again. Her cell phone is turned off. I tell my husband if we don’t leave soon, we are not going to make it in time. The hospital I’m registered at is twenty minutes away, more if we hit traffic. I see the panic flash across his face, and he walks me to the car. Since my water hasn’t broken yet, I grab a towel, and put it on top of my seat. I glance at the clock and it’s 10:17. My husband heads back into the house to take care of our boys, and says he’s going to call my father-in-law… As I’m sitting there, it dawns on me that I should go knock on a neighbor’s door, and have them watch the kids. Unfortunately, my contractions are about ninety seconds apart, and walking has gone from difficult to completely impossible.
My father-in-law is the type of person to drop everything in an emergency, but he is a business owner and a workaholic. So, we don’t call him unless it is a true emergency. When my husband gets him on the office phone, my father-in-law says that my mother-in-law is on her way. My husband says “Yeah, but she’s been on her way for fifty minutes, and we need to leave NOW.” My father-in-law drops everything, and is there by 10:28. We go speeding off to the hospital.
My hubby calls the hospital, and tells them I’m in labor. They tell us they’ll have a gurney for me at the front entrance. My husband fails to tell them that it is our third child, and I’m pretty sure they think we’re just panicky soon-to-be-parents…
At this point, we have only one thing going for us. My water hasn’t broke… yet.
We live off of a tertiary road, and as my husband turns from the tertiary road to the secondary road, I feel my water break. My husband is already driving twenty over the speed limit, so I say nothing. It doesn’t really matter at this point. We go speeding past a cop, and I hope he decides to pull us over. A police escort to the hospital would get us there faster… Unfortunately, he doesn’t pull us over.
We go zooming down the road. At every traffic light, my husband pulls into the left lane and zooms past everyone. Then he honks, cuts off the person at the front of the lane, and proceeds to run each and every red light. People are gesticulating wildly, honking, and staring at us. I point to my huge stomach, but I’m pretty sure this only makes us look even crazier. Normally, I would yell at my husband for driving like a loon, but today I don’t care. If we get in an accident, I figure the EMT can help deliver the baby. This baby is coming one way or another; that’s for damn sure! My husband claims that me NOT yelling at him for his driving scared him more than anything.
We almost cause an accident at one of those red lights… And we cause traffic to jam up. My cell phone rings, but I ignore it. I’m doubled over, and not really talking. Then my husband’s cell phone rings. He picks it up, and it’s my mother-in-law.
“I was just at that intersection, and you’re never going to get her to the hospital driving like that!!!”
“Thanks Mom. Gotta go.” My husband hangs up, and we continue to speed to the hospital. My husband is making record time with his Nascar-driving techniques… but I’m in very bad shape. I’m actually trying not to push, and working against my own body. Relaxation techniques probably would help, but relaxing while in late labor and breaking every traffic law known to man… It’s not as easy as it might sound.
Finally, it happens. I feel the burning sensation of crowning. It’s over. We are not going to make it to the hospital.
“I’m crowning. Pull over.” I gesture to the nearby parking lot, which is a Barnes and Noble bookstore. “You’re going to have to deliver the baby.” Believe it or not, I’m perfectly calm, probably eerily calm, given the situation.
“No way. Don’t push. I’m gonna get you to the hospital.” I am completely shocked! I stare at my husband, who continues to stare at the road. I try not to push, and my hubby drives even faster. I do Kegels, and hope. Within two minutes, we are at the hospital! We pull into the first driveway, which turns out to be the ER entrance. We blow past security, and my hubby parks illegally right next to the door. He says he’s going to go get me a wheelchair, and goes sprinting inside. I don’t even have time to correct him, and tell him to get me a gurney…
I can’t believe we made it. In a daze, I open my car door and step out… And as I’m stepping out of the car I feel the baby drop! I reach down, and I can feel her head… I look up in a panic, but my husband is already out of sight. I’m standing there on the sidewalk COMPLETELY ALONE, touching my baby’s head… There is blood pouring down my legs. I’m a mess.
A man goes bustling by, and I say, “Help”, but he keeps going. (Did I mention I live in New York?) I frantically scan the area, and an EMT walks over from parking her ambulance. She asks me if I’m okay, and I tell her my baby is coming.
“You’re okay. You made it. I’m Mary.” She takes my arm to guide me into the hospital.
“No. My baby is coming RIGHT NOW.” Even as I say this, I start walking with her to the hospital entrance. I am still supporting the baby’s head with my right hand. We enter the hospital doors, and there is my husband with the stupid fucking wheelchair. How am I supposed to give birth in a wheelchair?
I stare at him in disbelief, and glance around. There are no chairs, no couches, no tables, and no gurneys. This is not the ER. It’s just an entrance, and the ER is another fifty feet away…
Out of options, I lay down on the floor.
Mary kneels down next to me. My husband stares at me in shock from fifteen feet away, but when I lay down, he too can see the bulge of the baby’s head. All around us, we start hearing the phrase, “Code white, code white!” A bunch of nurses and doctors come pouring out of the ER. Someone hands Mary a sheet, and she lays it down under me.
Within two minutes, my daughter is born.
She is perfectly quiet for the first minute, and there is no aspirator… Finally she screams, and I’m able to breath again. She is very red, and tiny. My husband is behind the doctors and nurses, pacing nervously. I ask if anyone got the birth time, and everyone just looks at each other. I look at my watch, and say “10:50?” I just gave birth on the floor, so no one disagrees with me.
There is a flurry of activity and talking as they wrap a blanket around the baby and bring a gurney for me. There are two security guards behind my head shooing people to other doors. A third security guard asks my husband to leave. “That’s my wife!” my husband says, and points to me. They let him stay.
One of the nurses helps me up, and I climb onto the gurney. People start asking me over and over again, “Didn’t I know I was in labor?” I answer with the obvious. Yes, I knew I was in labor….
They don’t allow me to hold my daughter on the way to the maternity ward, but the nurse who is holding her stays right next to me. Everyone starts asking us her name, and telling us we should name her “Allegra”, but we don’t. We name her Rose; we both like more traditional names.
After they are done situating me in a room, cleaning up the baby, and taking her vitals, they finally let us hold her. She’s only six pounds, six ounces, and has little tufts of sandy-colored hair. She is shaky, and her blood sugar tests low. The nurses say this is probably due to my stress hormones being high during labor. Even though she’s sleepy, I attempt to nurse her, and my husband calls the house to tell my in-laws.
My mother-in-law picks up the phone. “How is she doing? Do they think the baby is going to come soon?”
“She’s fine. The baby was just born on the hospital floor, but she seems okay too…”
The curly-haired wonder is two years old now. She’s a healthy little girl with big blue eyes, charm, and sparkle. She’s definitely the cutest kid ever born in the hospital doorway.