On aquadurals, rural living, and speaking in tongues: How I accidentally gave birth in my living room
I was going to get a c-section. I was incredibly excited about that. After the disastrous natural birth of my first born, I did what I always do and swung in the complete opposite direction when it came to birthing my second child seven years later.
It was supposedly because of my bad back, of course (See ‘disastrous natural birth of my first born' for an explanation.) I was not one of those “selfish women” who elect to have a c-section for convenience, even if it was written in my chart that this was an elective c-section. No, I was merely trying to safeguard my health.
Two days before my great big whoopsie in the living room, I had gone into L&D for contractions. I was only 38 weeks and 4 days, and only 80% effaced and 3 cm dilated, so they sent me packing while saying words like Braxton-Hicks and not in real labor. I was pissed. When my sister gave birth at 16, 3 cm was code for immediate hospitalization and pitocin to bring on that hard labor. For me, over a decade later, it was code for, “Shut up and get out, you big, whiny baby.” After all, I was scheduled to have my c-section in just three days time. That was Tuesday night.
The next night, I decided to try and stifle my night owl tendencies and get to bed early; well early for me. So at 11:30 I got into bed, cuddled up to the love of my life, my pregnancy pillow shaped like a five foot tall U, and tried to get comfy.
Due to chronic pain issues, SPD, and being a woman with a remarkably low threshold for pain, I had spent nearly my whole pregnancy uncomfortable with various aches and pains making sleep nearly impossible to obtain. That night, the same old contractions that had plagued me for months fired up again.
They were just like they had been, not sticking to a set schedule, coming anywhere from five to ten minutes apart, lasting from 10 to 60 seconds. Classic Braxton-Hicks, right?
After an hour of trying to sleep through them, I gave up and got out of bed. I walked around, used my nifty phone app to time them, and waited for them to stop. Of course, because of my luck, they just hurt more. No changes beyond that, just so much more pain. I couldn’t keep quiet through them anymore and was moaning and lowing like a laboring cow.
Eventually, I decided a bath would stop them, a trick I learned with my first. At that point, my oldest came downstairs to my bedroom, awoken from nightmares caused by my moaning, and at that point, very creative cussing. I put her into bed with my husband, who momentarily rolled over, asked me if I was okay, and went back to sleep without waiting for an answer. (The bastard.)
I drew a bath, got naked, and climbed in. I draped a warm, wet washcloth over my stomach and continued timing contractions. They hurt even more, and had gone from every five to eight minutes down to every two to five minutes. As I was induced with my first, I thought that contractions, real ones, came so regularly you could set your watch by them. At this point, my thrashing and moaning in the tub woke up my husband for real. He came to tell me to shut up, erm, ask what was wrong. I yelled at him, erm, explained gently that I was just having really intense contractions. Each of my loving sentences was punctuated by a low roar of pain. He just shrugged and WENT BACK TO BED! (I mean, really dude!?!)
I got out of the tub, and called my OB, where I was transferred to L&D and the stupidest resident I’ve ever met. After explaining, in between contractions filled with screams and curses, that I lived 45 minutes away and was having contractions every two to five minutes lasting between 45–90 seconds, he told me to take two Tylenol and drink a large glass of water. The mind boggles…
I did as he said then went outside to sit in my hammock chair. I decided to see if I could tell how dilated I was, as I had watched plenty of YouTube videos on the technique (dear god, don’t ever fucking do this!) And I stuck two fingers in my vagina. What I felt was..something. It felt solid and gooey and bumpy. I was terrified.
Is that my waters? It that the cord?! Fuck, is that the HEAD?!? I immediately stumbled inside, stopping every thirty seconds as a contraction wracked my body. I went to my husband’s side of the bed and told him I felt something 'up there’. He was groggy and disoriented but managed to tell me to call Resident Dumbass (who wouldn’t fully earn this name until later) and then he slowly started to stir and throw random things like shoelaces and chewing gum in our not even close to packed hospital bag, complaining about false labor the whole time.
It was about 4 in the morning at this point and I was supposed to be getting a c-section the next day, remember. So all I could think was getting to the hospital in time for them to gently sedate my lower half and pull my baby out before my water broke. I called again and while stopping every sentence to cuss like the true sailor’s daughter I am, I conveyed to the hapless resident my findings from exploring my vagina. His response? Oh it was priceless! Instead of being worried about THING in my vagina, he chastised me for a full five minutes for going spelunking down my vaginal cavity. After he was done, I asked him if I should come in.
“I guess. We can put you on a monitor and see if you’re really contracting.”
Now, I’d like to take a moment to remind you, my contractions are no longer 'apart' merely weaves of pain cresting and falling against my body. I could definitely talk through contractions, if you consider some of the most inventive cursing ever muttered to be talking. I was literally ordering him to have an IV bag full of the good shit ready and waiting for me before I even filled out any damned forms or so help me God! So, his blasé response is really a true show of a dumbass.
Back to the story:
As soon as I hung up, my daughter, who couldn’t sleep with the racket I was making, came out of the bedroom and plopped on the couch as I attempted to walk across our kitchen into the living room. My dopey husband came to meet me at the threshold of said kitchen, holding a bag and asking what I needed packed. That’s when it hit, the infamous Ring of Fire. That sign your baby’s head is at the entrance of your vagina, ready to come out and play, regardless of the fact that your straddling a wood threshold, wearing nothing but a ratty old robe, in your own home, nowhere close to a medical facility.
I immediately screamed at him to call 911, and this idiot (I love you, sweetie!) starts arguing with me over him being able to get me to a hospital faster! I looked at him with eyes filled with enough burning rage to give Satan a run for his money and screamed, “RING! OF! FIRE!” into his dopey little face. That sweet face then turned chalk white and he ran like an Olympic track star to the bedroom to get his phone.
I staggered three steps into the living room and collapsed against the legs of my loveseat as I hear him tell the dispatcher over the phone, “Yeah, my wife thinks she may be in labor…”
All of the sudden, it hit. The urge to push overcame me and without a sound, I focused on that pinpoint of pain between my legs and pushed with everything in me, willing my baby’s head into the world with the strength of my muscles. As I did this, my husband walked in the room to find my daughter grinning wildly, staring between my legs, and my other daughter’s head sticking out of my crotch.
And when I say panicked, he freaking lost it. He was talking so fast, and so wildly to the dispatcher that he sounded like a Pentecostal preacher overcome with the holy spirit. The dispatcher, now on speaker phone, just kept dispassionately telling him to calm down.
At this point for me, good old endorphins kicked in. I was flying high on the most natural of mood-altering substances, barely connected to my body, and marvelling at the amazing thing I just did. (Now I get why people do drugs.)
My oldest came and squatted beside me, stroking my arm, as I lay there silently. (My husband would later tell me my silence was what panicked him most, as I am never NOT talking.) He ran to get clean towels, per the dispatcher instructions as I sat there in a mess of amniotic fluid, blood, and my own shit.
He was running back into the room with a towel when the feeling struck again and I pushed with every fiber of my being. My husband did a baseball slide through the muck forced out of my body along with my baby and caught her like a major league fielder in the towel. Once again, I exited my body and peacefully floated away on my endorphins, as he wiped our baby’s face and nose and gently laid her on my now empty stomach.
His tearful joy, congratulating me and crying blissfully over our incredibly bonding experience, washed over me as I held my newest daughter against her old home, and slowly patted my oldest daughter’s arm.
Nonsensical thoughts filled my head: “Gee, newborns are crazy slippery!” “Ha! Skin to skin after birth, bitches!” “Maybe this will make my oldest want to be an OB! Hope I can afford medical school…”
Little did I know I was losing massive amounts of blood and was slipping into shock. Less than ten minutes later, the paramedics showed up and started working on me. My blood pressure was taken, my temperature charted, the no longer pulsing cord cut, and finally, my placenta was delivered, neatly packaged, and laid on my chest in a small cardboard box.
They helped me stand and slip and limp through the fetid mess I left behind on the floor to get on the stretcher, all the while as I clutched my newborn in one hand and my bloody placenta box in the other. As soon as I was wheeled to the waiting ambulance, I heard the strangest sound, a loud mechanical whirring, and the sound of a dentist’s suction device, only much louder.
Turns out, my hubby was steam cleaning the floor, determined to clean everything up before following us to the hospital. Priorities.