I was due Valentine’s Day but I never expected to go into labor that day. It’s an estimate – not an eviction date. My other 2 pregnancies had gone into the 41st week, and I fully expected this one would too. I felt great! I even wrote to a friend the day before “I could go another month!”. So when on the morning of the 14th (my due date) I woke up to bloody streaks on my toilet tissue and some goopy stuff, I was shocked. Couldn’t be today – could it? My mother wasn’t flying in till the next day to watch the kids, I wanted to go to Yoga, and I still had shopping to do. Where was that cleaning/nesting vibe? I called my doula and she was with another client who wasn’t due till next month. I worried about being a boy and having a birthday on Valentine’s day, and how your wife would always feel jipped. I sent Marcus to the store to get coconut juice; I had a protein shake and lots of coconut juice.
I felt kinda crampy now and then, but not really contractions. I went back to bed. I got back up… not much change… still crampy at times but not very consistent. I took a shower, and it seemed to go away. I had another protein shake and lots of coconut juice. I listen to Sirius radio – politics actually – for an hour or two. Contractions started getting somewhat steady at 10 minutes apart, and 10 seconds long. I decided I should think about packing a bag at least. I talked with some friends about watching the kids in case I had to go to the hospital tonight. Michal said I could drop them off at her house in case of emergency. My doula called, false alarm on the other client. I called my doctors. They told me to take a bath and see if things sped up. Marcus ran me a bath and I sat in the warm water in silence and darkness as the sun set… the door sprung open and Trevor ran into use the toilet. I scared him after he finished peeing and said “hi”. He looked at me and said “mommy what are you doing?” … “I’m taking a bath” … “Can I join you?” he said, and before I answered he was tearing off his clothes and jumping into the water with me. Marcus came in and took a picture of the two of us. Smiling in the tub. Totally relaxed.
After the bath I had some more bloody show. I decided to put on a pair of depends so I wouldn’t mess up my bed. Monique called and said she could come out in about an hour or so to watch the kids till midnight, after that I know Briar can take over if needed. “No problem” I said, “We don’t’ know even know if tonight is the night but nothing is going to happen in the next hour”. I texted Michal that I was covered and kids were fine if I had to leave. I laid down on my bed with just a towel on and had another contraction. It was so mild though I thought to myself if I could just take a Midol I wouldn’t even feel these. Trevor wanted to play a game on my phone, and I watched him play for a few minutes and got up and made it as far as the foot of the bed when I felt a “pop”, and my water broke.
I dropped the towel to the floor and felt the warm water start filling up the Depends I had put on. I yelled for Marcus my water broke. First I thought – OK this is good now I know I’m really in labor. Then the diaper slid down my legs and a gush of dark, dark chunky water crashed at my feet and continued to pour out of me. The horrible smell hit my nose and my eyes took in the reality of what I was seeing. I realized I hadn’t felt the baby move in awhile. I grabbed the phone and called 911 before it even stopped. Meconium water. So dark. It was horrible. 911 took the details, address, 40 weeks pregnant, 39 years old, meconium water and clumps.
I yelled for Marcus to call Pam next door. I don’t think she’s ever even been in my house but we’ve lived next to each other for 10 years, and I needed someone else with me. I called my doctor; they tried to reassure me that just because the water was dark doesn’t mean the worst. Contractions got very, very strong. I felt the urge to push the baby out.
Pam got to the house and I’m standing there naked at the end of my bed. I tried to bring her up to speed that I could feel I needed to push. She said something about cutting the cord (after baby is born) and I said no, no we don’t need to do that. I had a pregnancy book on my nightstand and knew I had seen a paragraph about emergency birth. Through a super strong contraction I’m whipping through the pages trying to find that passage. I make Marcus and Pam read it. They go and wash their hands. I’m trying to remember what we should do if he needs to be suctioned – we don’t have a bulb… I’m worried he is going to be in major distress or worse with the meconium. I call my doula and put her on speaker phone. Marcus gets a stack of clean towels and throws them on the floor. I don’t want to push him out until paramedics get here. I decide standing and gravity might be speeding things up, so I get on hands and knees.
A phone rings and it’s John next door – the ambulance can’t get up the road – it’s snowing like crazy out. Pam tells him to go to them and bring them up in his truck. My doula on speaker phone is telling me to look into Marcus’ eyes, but all I can do is stare at the numbers on the phone. Marcus puts his forearms by the phone and instead of pushing I lean down and bite his arm … hard! Pam, the Doula, and Marcus are all saying encouraging words and that I’m doing great, but inside I remember thinking shut up people don’t you see how crazy this is?
I hear boots on the front steps and a door open. That’s all I need and I start pushing. They are coming up the stairs now. A man yells, “Is she crowning?”
I yell, “The baby is coming out!”.
The man tells me, “We are going to have to get you on your back”
I say, “No, you are not t,he baby is coming out!!!!!” And with that he came out onto the pile of towels.
He started crying almost instantly. Time just slowed down. The paramedics started talking about the cord right away and I said, “No don’t cut the cord yet, everyone take a breath, I’m worried about the meconium still, focus on that”. I’m trying to see him through my legs but he’s behind me. I mentioned suction, get him on my chest. They can’t find anything to cut the cord. Pam found some blankets. I’m shaking so hard. A scalpel turns up. Marcus asks Trevor if he wants to do it. He says, “No Daddy that’s OK, you do it”. I flip onto my back and I’m trying to get the baby on my chest. He looks fine, his color is great. He just stares at me and I hold him to my chest.
The room starts filling up with more people. Big boots, sounds on the stairs, sounds in the living room. Looking upside down into the hallway I see Summer weaving her way around mens legs. She stands over me with a big block of cheese wrapped in plastic and says, “Mommy will you open this for me?”. Before I can answer Marcus swooped down and picked her up and threw her on the bed with Trevor. I look up at them. They watch me while they eat the cheese. Trevor keeps saying, “Oh he’s so cute” and “Good job mommy”.
Major discussion about the placenta; decided I should deliver it at the hospital. They have some chair they want me to sit in and carry me down the stairs. I laugh! I just gave birth and I have the placenta in, I can’t sit in a chair! I’ll walk. Pam gets a snowsuit for the baby out. I walk naked down the stairs with help. More men in my living room, with a gurney set up. I get on it. It hurts. Standing was easier. They strap me down and put quilts my mother-in-law made over me. Someone grabs my big fur flap hat out of the hall closet and puts it on me. I say goodbye to Trevor, but don’t see Summer anywhere. They carry me out of house. It’s snowing so hard, and so dark out. The men yell for more hands. My neighbour, John, grabs the gurney and I say, “Hey John how ya doing?”. The baby is being carried by Tyler, the EMT. It’s his birthday. I ask him if he has a wife and if so what does she think about him having Valentine ’s Day as a birthday. No wife, but he thinks it’s the greatest birthday.
Down the hill we go.
In the ambulance the baby is put back on my chest and I breastfeed. He looks great. Marcus says goodbye to me and he’ll meet me there. It’s still a circus at the house. We learn the highway is all ice and we have to take back dirt roads. The same roads I’ve been avoiding the past few weeks because of the bumps… great… The time of birth is debated by the two EMT’s that walked in on him being born. Nobody looked at a watch. They decide on 6:42 but later my doula, who was on speaker phone and heard it, and Marcus confirm it was 8 minutes earlier. My placenta is talked about – “how long did you have it in with your other 2 births?” … “I don’t know 15 minutes?” … “oh well it’s been over an hour maybe you should deliver it now”. Right…in the bumps with my legs strapped down and gripping my baby for dear life? I’ll wait… I ask for a sip of water – girls say yes but guy says “no, what if she needs surgery?”. That’s debated, and I say “forget it”. He insists on putting an IV in, says my blood pressure is low… it’s always low! I say he has to wait till we get to pavement at least. It’s slow going with the storm, it takes us over an hour to get to the hospital.
I’m brought up to Labor and Delivery. My doula and doctor are waiting for me. I realize I don’t have anything but my baby and a winter hat on me. No cell phone, no shoes. It’s a weird feeling. I finally deliver the placenta and unfortunately get stitched up for some tears. That’s what happens when you are trying to stop him from coming out and nobody is guiding/assisting. It’s okay though. I’ll take it. We finally weigh him… 8 pounds 3 ounces, and 21 inches long. He’s perfect.