A contraction woke me up shortly before 1am. I had been waking up to painful contractions for weeks, but this one felt different – deeper and more intense. I tried to ignore it and had almost drifted back to sleep when the next one came, strong enough I decided I’d better start timing. They were coming at 7 minutes apart, and I knew I should rest during this early labor but it was already hard to lie down through the contractions.
I went to the bathroom and when another one hit I thought, “Man, this is already painful and I’m just getting started! I’m not sure about going through all this again…” I came out and knelt on the floor for one more contraction, realizing they were now 5 minutes apart. When I got my breath back, I pulled myself up to the bed to tell Kevin we’d better get ready. As he stumbled out of bed and began collecting our things, I called up to my mom, who was coming with us to the hospital.
I didn’t feel a huge rush yet, but I knew it would take a few minutes to get ready, and I was thinking of the 40 minute drive to the hospital. It didn’t take long to get out the door, but I had to pause several times to moan and sway through contractions. I told Kevin to drive, so mom climbed in the backseat behind me. Mom told Kevin to relax and drive carefully; I told him it was okay to speed. I vaguely watched the clock and noticed the contractions were now 4 minutes apart. Kevin noticed as well and picked up his speed; in the backseat mom called the midwife to let her know we were on the way.
Moments after we pulled out on the 55mph highway, the blue lights appeared behind us. “It’s okay,” I said, “Surely he won’t give us a ticket!” In mercifully short order, the cop was walking toward the car shining his flashlight toward us. Kevin started yelling out the window, “My wife is in labor! We’re trying to get to the hospital!” while mom called similar things from the backseat. The cop apparently decided there was no other good reason for a largely pregnant lady, her mother, and her slightly frantic husband to be barreling down the highway in the middle of the night. “Well, I guess I can’t verify that, but I’ll let you go. Just try to keep it to 70 instead of 77mph.” As he walked away he called back, “Congratulations and good luck!”
We were back on the highway, crawling down the road at 70mph. There wasn’t much I could do during contractions, being restrained in the car, so I just gripped the door handle and moved my head slowly back and forth as I moaned through each one. I tried to compare to my last labor – these contractions seemed somewhere in the middle – close and intense but still manageable. At my appointment the week before I was 5cm dilated (incidentally the same starting point for my 15.5hr first labor), and I hoped I would be at least 6cm when I got to the hospital.
I couldn’t make sense of the clock anymore, but Kevin was watching the contractions go from 3 minutes to 2 minutes apart. Between contractions I was mainly aware of traffic lights and tail lights. Fortunately the roads were pretty empty at 2am. We turned off the highway into Athens – the hospital was tantalizingly close but we were stopped by a red light. The road was deserted. I was going to tell Kevin just to run it, but he swung right, made a U-turn, and turned quickly back on the road.
Less than a mile from the hospital a pack of cars suddenly pulled out in front of us, blocking the whole road, driving under the speed limit, waving their football flags. “They are probably drunk and don’t want to get pulled over!” Kevin groaned. I’ve never been less of a football fan than at that moment. A few frustrating minutes later we turned off into the hospital. I was very glad to have finally arrived, and I didn’t feel a huge sense of urgency. The contractions were strong but still manageable. We pulled up to the ER; Kevin jumped out, I heaved myself from the car, and mom moved around to drive it to parking.
The moment we reached the registration desk another contraction hit and I gripped the edge, moaning. The registration nurse started asking questions which Kevin answered since I obviously couldn’t speak. Suddenly I felt it: that unforgettable, overwhelming need to push. “Pressure!” I gasped, and Kevin immediately moved to put pressured on my lower back. “No,” I cried as my water broke, “I feel PRESSURE!”
The nurse kicked into high gear, calling again for transport. “Don’t push!” She said, “You don’t want to have this baby right here – don’t push!” Which I imagine is kind of like telling someone having an asthma attack to”just breathe,” but I tried my best. Childbirth books should really include more information on how to keep from having a baby.
A few minutes later a security guard, apparently the only person around, came running up and told me to sit in the wheelchair. “I can’t!” I cried. Movement at this point seemed impossible. It felt like she was crowning, but I thought, “No, that’s ridiculous. Not already!” I managed to lower myself onto the edge of the chair and we were off. Kevin stayed behind to sign some forms (he has no idea what he signed) and ran after, catching us just before the elevator closed. Which is fortunate, since otherwise he would have missed the birth.
As I gasped and panted and tried not to push through another contraction, the security guard said in a slightly panicked voice, “Don’t push! Don’t have this baby on me! We’re almost there.” We raced through the back hallways and I heard her yelling for the nurses as the labor and delivery came into view. (The waiting nurse later said she thought I was the one yelling, until she saw me sitting calmly while the security guard panicked.)
The nurse led us into a room and began getting the IV antibiotics ready, asking me to get on the bed. It felt like an impossible task – only the second time this labor that I felt like, “I can’t do this!” I heaved myself onto the bed and landed on all fours just as another contraction hit. The nurse was saying, “I just need you to lie down so I can get in the IV.” Before I could even reply, I felt the force of my body bearing down and cried, “I feel the head!!”
And sure enough, I reached down and felt that the head was out. The nurse immediately abandoned the IV saying, “Oh goodness! Lie down! I need you to lie down!” In the third semi-impossible move, I managed to flip over onto my back. The nurse shoved my skirt out of the way saying, “Okay, give me a little push,” and out came the rest of the body. The baby broke into lusty cries.
The feeling of relief was overwhelmed by the shock of seeing the baby lying on the bed. I couldn’t believe it had happened so fast. It was 2:35am – less than 2 hours since the first contraction, 10 minutes since we arrived in the hospital, and less than a minute since we got to the room. The nurse was excited because it was her first delivery, but it happened so fast she didn’t even have any equipment. She put the baby on my chest and a moment later another nurse brought in the supplies. We waited for the cord to stop pulsing, then Kevin cut it.
My midwife and my mom arrived at about the same time, both rather surprised to see the baby already there. “I should have met you in the ER!” my midwife exclaimed. As she delivered the placenta the nurse asked when my contractions had started. When I told her it had been less than two hours she said, “Yeah, I’d call that a precipitous labor! Next time, if you even think about going into labor, you’d better head for the hospital!”
Story and photos submitted by Ruth F.