Okay. How to begin? This is the birth story I am modestly famous for. At least, it feels that way, because from time to time I am introduced to someone I have never met, who I find has already heard this story. I guess I’ll tell it how I experienced it.
Once I got to baby #4, my body pretty much seemed to know what it was doing. That was the first pregnancy I remember where I began to feel like I was in the early stages of labor for the entire final month. I wish I knew whether this is a common thing with moms of many, or is it just me? If you also experience this, I would really love to hear from you. This happens in every pregnancy for me, now. Beginning around 35 or 36 weeks, I feel “labory.” My Braxton Hicks contractions are quite uncomfortable; I get low backache, nausea, exhaustion, emotional labor signs, the whole shebang.
And so, one morning very late in pregnancy, I got up feeling pretty unwell. This was no great shock to me at 39 weeks along. I was having some contractions; nothing too regular or bothersome. Timing them revealed no pattern at all, so I fixed breakfast and went slowly about my business. I spent a good part of the morning sitting at the table drinking tea while I let my two older girls entertain my toddler.
After a while, I was just feeling so excessively pregnant that I decided a bath might feel nice; I stayed there for quite some time. Mark came home from teaching his morning class. When he arrived, I told him, “I don’t feel well. I think the baby will come in the next few days.” With that, I went to take a nap.
The nap was cut short; as I was just dozing off, I was startled back awake – my water broke. I was amazed by this, as before it had not happened spontaneously until just before birth. That fact also made me a little anxious to get to the hospital; I wasn’t too worried, though, as I wasn’t having any obvious contractions. I got cleaned up and stripped the bed while Mark called his mom to let her know we wanted to head for the hospital – she would be watching our other three children.
In the half hour or so that it took for Lisa to arrive, I began to have some strong, regular contractions. I’ve no idea how far apart they were, but I do remember lying down while I waited; I must have been starting to feel that things were moving along quickly. We left promptly for the hospital once Lisa was there.
On the way, it became clear that I was really in labor. Every tiny bump in the road – I think every pebble we ran over! – was agony to me. It was a ten minute trip on smooth city roads, but it was excruciatingly long to me! I think it was around now that my husband began to worry. I wasn’t worried, though. I have no idea why – I guess I was too busy!
We arrived at the hospital, and being somewhat distracted managed to park in the employee parking garage that is freestanding beside the hospital, rather than the Women’s Center parking garage which is attached to the hospital. I hear they have improved their signage, all on my account.
Mark had asked me if I wanted him to pull up to the front and go get a wheelchair, but I was insistent that I didn’t want him to leave me alone. So, we parked and walked to the elevator – thinking that it would lead up to the Women’s Center lobby. Instead, it only led to more parking garage.
While we were still confused about that…
“OH NO!” I yelled.
“What!?” Mark answered. “He sounds a little tense,” I remember thinking in some calm, detached part of my head.
A flurry while we blocked the elevator door open with my bag to keep from going up and down.
I was down on the floor.
Some lady with a cell phone told me not to push and called the hospital for us. I was pushing anyway; I couldn’t help it. The lady left at some point; I don’t remember when, or why.
An elderly couple walked by, stared, and kept walking when Mark waved them on.
I was conscious of the characteristic, earthy yells of a woman in hard labor echoing through the mostly deserted garage.
I knew there was no more time. “You have to catch him,” I said to Mark. He had that one figured out way ahead of me. “I know,” was all he said. And he did. As the baby slid into his hands, I heard him say only, “Jonathan…”
The brief pause there always is, to realize labor is over.
Then he is in my arms. We wrap him in a blanket from our things. He looks fine. I think we may have started to laugh at that point…
It wasn’t until about ten minutes later that the doctor and nurses arrived. It turns out that Cell Phone Lady was mixed up and sent them to the parking garage on the opposite end of the hospital. Jonathan was nursing by then.
With my permission – I was worried about him, I remember, it was a cold day – they whisked first him, and then me, off to our delivery room to get checked out, cleaned up, etc. We were both totally fine.
My following hospital stay was lovely; I was somewhat of a celebrity, and the nurses all felt so sorry for me that they absolutely doted on me. I have since heard that they invented a whole new code color after that, just for someone who is in distress on hospital grounds, but not in the hospital proper. At nurse’s trainings, when they learn the code, they hear my story – at least, they did last I heard, a couple years ago. 🙂