If you haven’t read the first half of Claire’s birth story, check it out here
I’ll go ahead and warn you, just like last time: don’t read this if you don’t want to hear about gross birth details. Seriously, if you don’t like reading words like cervix, amniotic fluid, or placenta, do yourself a favor and click on a different post! Maybe you’d rather hear about 35 Ridiculous Rules I’ve Had to Enforce or Favorite Podcasts?
I was sitting on the couch, just before 8 pm, watching Fixer Upper and hatching a plan to get some rest and head into the hospital around 4 am, when I felt it.
I hopped up off the couch and waddled up the stairs. I called out over my shoulder: “Never mind! We need to go now!” Jennifer, my mother-in-law, asked if I really thought so and I said “Yes! My water just broke.”
As I went to the bathroom and cleaned up, Joey was right behind me asking if I was alright and what he needed to do. I confirmed with him that everything was loaded into the car and asked him to grab a bath towel and a trash bag to place on the car seat for the ride there. We gave everyone hugs and kisses and hustled out the door just past 8pm.
The drive to the hospital started out impressively calm. The first 15 minutes were spent talking about how excited we were for Claire’s arrival and reminding Joey of the things I thought I would need him to do to coach me through labor. A couple of brief phone calls were made and several texts were sent to let family and friends know we were headed to the hospital.
Halfway to the hospital, I realized that we had not called my midwife practice to let them know we were on our way.
Oops. As Joey was making the phone call, I felt a huge contraction rip through my body. If I wasn’t in pain before, I certainly was then. Most of the pain was in my back due to Claire’s position, so sitting in a car made it so much worse. I unbuckled my seatbelt and twisted and turned and groaned, trying to find a posture that would help. But there was no reprieve. We were left to wait for a call back from the midwife on call after Joey left a message through the answering service.
Just as Joey answered the midwife’s call and began to answer her series of questions, I felt another powerful contraction. As much as I tried to breathe through the pain with this one, I ended up writhing and screaming. I felt like I was no longer in control of my body. It’s hard to remember if I even said it out loud, but my mind was screaming “Oh my God! I am in transition and we are still in the car!!”
Needless to say the second half of the car ride was a blur. The only thing I remember was that when we approached the hospital’s labor and delivery entrance, there were what felt like a million speed bumps. I remember screaming “Why? Why would they put this many speed bumps when they know women are in labor going over them?!” Which is funny now, but I really was angry at the time.
When we got the hospital entrance, a hospital employee was there to greet us and asked if we needed a wheelchair. I yelled yes and he quickly grabbed one, but it seemed like it was taking forever. My head felt fuzzy and faint with the intensity of the pain and I was starting to shake uncontrollably. As I was wheeled in, it occurred to me that I had not had a contraction in a couple of minutes.
I knew another contraction was soon approaching as we entered the lobby.
When we got to the desk, there was a woman answering questions for the man working the front desk. (Yes, she thought maybe she was in labor. No, her water hadn’t broken. No, her contractions were still irregular. But yes, yes, she was in pain, so much pain.) I looked at Joey with wide eyes and said “I need to get to a room, please interrupt her.” He edged closer to the desk, trying to get the employee’s attention. So between deep breaths, I said again “Really, please, interrupt them!” But I know it was almost a whisper, because I could feel another contraction building.
A sudden feeling of panic took over as I looked around the lobby and saw dozens of people and noticed the lobby had an atrium that was three stories tall. Y’all. I tried so hard not to cause a scene. I told myself to breathe. Told myself to close my eyes and work through it. But my body was in complete control. There was nothing to do but trust my body and follow its lead. So I screamed. Loud. And tried to ride the relentless waves. I could feel the stares from everyone in the lobby and hear the echos through the beautiful three story atrium.
(This hospital literally delivers the most babies in the country, so I am not exaggerating when I say I was quite the spectacle. )
The poor man at the desk hopped up with wide eyes and said “OK, we’ll get you back right now, ma’am!” I did not meet the stare of the woman who was ahead of me in line, but I was later told that she said “Never mind, maybe I am not in labor after all. I think I’ll go home and rest.” That moment still cracks me up.
It really felt like a labor scene from a movie.
So next I am wheeled, groaning and moaning and squirming, down the hallway and into the triage/admissions office. I started shaking my head as we entered the room and saying “No! No, don’t take me in there! I need to be in a delivery room. Now!” The pressure from the back labor was overwhelming while I was sitting up straight in a wheelchair and I could feel her head straining against my cervix. It was clear to me that the baby was coming soon, so I didn’t understand why everyone around me didn’t know that too.
I think I actually tried to crawl out of the wheelchair and into the floor of this poor lady’s office to relieve the pressure I was feeling. Luckily the midwife and her team raced around the corner and explained that they had a room ready for me. Apparently the midwife guessed I would need to go straight to delivery from the way I sounded in the background of her phone call with Joey.
A nurse helped me out of my clothes and into a gown when we got into the delivery room. I immediately and instinctively got down on my hands and knees as soon as I climbed onto the bed. It was an immense relief to be in this position. The midwife said she wanted to check my progress as soon as I was comfortable enough to turn over. I told her that I felt a contraction starting so I would let her check as soon as it was over.
I was able to ask Joey to get the tennis balls out of my bag to rub on my back just as the contraction was starting. The counter pressure from the tennis balls were a huge help to get through that intense contraction. I flipped over to my back after the seemingly never-ending contraction was over.
“Yep!” the midwife said, “that’s what I thought. 10 centimeters, fully effaced!”
She assured me that I could push whenever I was ready, but said that she did want to try to get IV access, just in case they needed to use it. Another contraction was already building though. I was getting no chance to breathe or catch up in between. I got back on my knees to get through the contraction and told her that they could get IV access as soon as I got through that contraction.
But when the contraction came, I was ready to push!
I told her I was ready. Sounding slightly panicked, she said “Really? Wow, OK, Sorry but try not to push on this contraction, because I don’t have everything ready!” It took all my concentration to resist the urge as I listened to nurses rattling off questions about equipment and gear. I remember the midwife saying something like “We don’t have time for all that, just grab me the emergency kit.”
The next contraction hit quickly and they assured me they had the equipment prepared.
The urge to push was uncontrollable this time.
As was the urge to scream/yell/moan through it. Everyone said encouraging words as I finished up my first push.
Relief washed over me as I got a brief rest. But all too soon it was time to push again. After this one, the midwife told me that I did not move her much that time. She suggested I change positions for the next push. Once I changed positions, it felt much easier. With that next push, my midwife warned me that I was about to feel the “ring of fire.” And oh boy, did I. That shit can only be described as life-changing.
But with just two more pushes…
There she was!!
Claire was born at 9:03 pm. I was in complete awe about how quickly she arrived! I think everyone in the room was as well. One minute I was sitting on my couch watching television and literally an hour later I had my beautiful girl in my arms. I am writing this 6 months later (and publishing it 9 months later) and I still can’t believe it!
It’s hard not to think about what would have happened if I had not went in for a checkup that morning.
I really did not feel like I needed to go to the hospital until an hour before I was giving birth. What if I had I not been “tipped off” by the midwife that I was in labor? I would not have called Jennifer and Mark to babysit. And I would not have called Joey to come home (and he regularly shows up past 9 pm.) Vivian may have started a career as a midwife at less than 3 years old. Or I would have delivered Claire in my car.
Or maybe my entire labor pattern would have been different had I not have had my membranes stripped. We will never know. All I know is that it was without a doubt one of the most amazing days of my life.
Claire was laid on my chest as soon as her cord was untangled and I was able to lie back down. She was wailing right away, so we knew her lungs were just fine. And she was so, so beautiful. I will never forget seeing that little face for the first time and wanting to stare at it for all of eternity.
There were some very minor complications to her coming so fast.
Her clavicle was fractured on her left side on the way out. It was presumed that this was due to her quick delivery. I was assured it would heal on its own within 4-6 weeks and that she was not in pain from it. We just had to keep an eye on it. It was important to make sure that either we could move her left arm or that she was moving it on her own without distress. An x-ray was taken at her 2-month checkup and they said it healed so well that you would never know it had been broken.
Also apparently when a baby comes out that quickly, all the mucus is not expelled from their lungs. Their lungs are not naturally “squeezed” in the birth canal for quite as long. She was having a hard time coughing the mucus up once she was laid on my chest. Luckily, they were able to fix it easily once they got her over to the exam table. It was only a bit disappointing not to get that extra skin-to-skin time when she was only minutes old. We made up for it over the next few days though, because that kid was so very snuggly.
We also had zero problems breastfeeding right away. She latched well on her first try! This amazed me considering that breastfeeding Vivian was literally THE hardest thing I’ve ever done.
I was surprised by how different it was from my labor and delivery with Vivian. (Which I may write about soon as well.) It was quite an experience and I am so blessed and so happy to have sweet Claire here with us!
What are your birth stories like??