If you’re interested in my other birth stories, you can read them here:
This should be interesting to write out. It’s the first of these birth story blog entries that I’m writing while it’s still fresh in my mind.
Also, it was just a flat-out crazy story. But we’ll get to that in a minute.
Do you know what prevents blogging? Newborns. They do! I know, it’s surprising, right? Well, in case you are unfamiliar, newborns like to be held, and to nurse for a zillion years, and to look adoringly into your eyes and then, when that 3 minutes is over, they want to cry and cry until you bounce/shush/rock/sway them to sleep. But not to be put down! Oh, no. Not ever. They wouldn’t dare deprive you of their presence! So you just go ahead and keep holding them, preferably with 2 hands, while they snooze adorably and then wake up and repeat the process.
How did I forget all this in just 3.5 short years? Oh, yeah. Selective memory.
No, but really. Rosalie is just precious, and there is no shortage of helping hands around here, so I cannot complain. (Oh, did that look like complaining? Cause it wasn’t! Just a reasonable facsimile thereof.)
Delirious? Who, me? NEVER!
Anyway, here I am with TWO WHOLE HANDS typing at the same time to tell you of the wackiest birth story God and I have yet to concoct.
The Longest Labor in History
Note: This story is long and… detailed. It’s not gory, but I’m not mincing words either. Read at your own risk. Men: that means you.
It all began 2 weeks ago, with prodromal labor. If you’re unfamiliar, that’s fancy-talk for labor that comes in fits and starts but never really gets going. (Alternate definition: “really annoying labor”.) 2 weeks ago this past Thursday, I let my parents know that maybe something might possibly be happening and they might want to consider packing a bag to be ready for the 4.5 hour journey. Boy, was I wrong.
Every night for 10 days (with one or two exceptions) I had prodromal labor. I’d get my hopes up, I’d go for a long walk, I’d climb stairs, do squats, what-have-you. And every night, when I’d lie down to finally attempt sleep, I’d hope to wake up to labor.
I don’t know if I can properly describe what kind of a mental state I was in, without using lots of swear words, that is. Every morning that I woke up, still pregnant, I fought tears of frustration. Sometimes I lost that battle. I know, I know, I know how blessed and lucky I am to be able to have that particular frustration. Trust me when I say that all of your prayer intentions, but especially those of my friends struggling with infertility, were on my mind. A LOT. So yes, I do know that to complain about this sounds callous. This was a very real cross for me, though, so I’m not going to whitewash it. I was physically and emotionally tired, I was lonely, and I felt like my prayers weren’t being heard. “Spiritual barrenness” is the phrase that springs to mind.
Remember a few weeks ago when I waxed philosophical about the spirituality of labor? The only thing I can figure is that God gave me a really really reheheheheheheeeeeallly long labor so that I was able to truly experience that break down of pride and self-sufficiency. And do you know what? It was pretty incredible. Aside from being truly awful, that is. Do you know what I mean? The awfulness that can also be good and incredible? I swear, I’m not crazy. It’s a thing.
Kevin was on vacation for the whole week of Thanksgiving, and my mom was in town for a few days, and between the two of them, they kept my spirits up. Well, if not up, exactly, then at least not as low as when I was left alone to spiral off into my own crazy. They made sure I got to daily Mass, confession, and Eucharistic Adoration, people. It was time to bring out the spiritual Big Guns, and they knew it. Bless them.
I’m going to skip a few details here, because I don’t think you care so much about every detail of those two weeks, but I will say these brief tidbits: 1) I saw my OB several times, and even went in for a non-stress test to check on the baby. 2) I can’t be induced because I’ve had a c-section, so even if I had wanted to (doubtful), induction was off the table. 3) I was due Nov 24. In our story we are now at Sunday Nov 30, 6 days past due. 4) Kevin, who had already planned to take 2 weeks off after Thanksgiving, had decided to go back to work on December 1 since the baby had yet to be born.
So there I was, in the midst of a crazy plot twist called the Labor of a Thousand Years, when Sunday night, I started to have more contractions than usual. And they were rather more painful than the ones I had been having. But never mind all that because I wasn’t going to be fooled again. No, ma’am. I finished up a short blog post, uploaded some photos for our homeschool group and went to bed about 11.
The Real Thing… Maybe?
At 1 a.m. I woke up to a painful contraction. Mildly surprised and bit excited, I drifted back to sleep.
At 3 a.m., I woke up again, with another painful contraction. And then again 10 minutes later. And 20 minutes after that. It was getting real. At least, I was pretty sure it was real. Those 10 days had really done a number on my ability to trust myself, though.
At 4:30, I called my mom and dad. I was still a bit hesitant, but my mom is smart and she knows me, so she got the picture. By 5:30, Kevin and I were up, and he made me breakfast. We had a nice peaceful hour before the kids woke up, a rare treat. Kevin asked me to pray with him and we said a rosary. (Did I win the husband lottery or what?)
At 7 or so, my mother in law came over to occupy the kids. (Insert lots of excitement from everyone.) I took a shower and Kevin and I headed off to daily Mass at 8. It lasted about 25 minutes, during which I had a couple of contractions, but nothing I couldn’t breathe through. I wept after receiving the Eucharist, because I was hormonal and also I love Jesus. Maybe I’ll write more about that some other time, but this is already the longest post I’ve ever written, I think.
After Mass, one of the older parishioners came up to me and looked me in the eye. “So… today?” she asked. I nodded. (I guess I wasn’t as discreet as I thought!) She gave me a huge hug and promised to pray. Another woman promised to offer up her rosary for me. Yes, please.
Off we went home. On the way, I told Kevin I wanted to sleep when we got there. My contractions were really irregular and varied in intensity, and I thought it might be because I was tired. I changed into comfy clothes and crawled into bed the second I walked in the door.
At that point, my contractions spaced out to about 10 minutes apart. I would doze off, then wake up to a strong contraction. Doze, and wake, doze and wake. At about 10, I asked Kevin to call our friend and doula and give her an update. I didn’t feel the need for her to come over at that point (Kevin is really a rock star birth coach and was handling all the contractions amazingly) but he said it sounded like she wanted to come over, and of course that was fine with me. My mom texted that she was about 45 minutes away.
At 10:35, my doula arrived. She watched me for a couple contractions and suggested it was time to go to the hospital. I was a little nervous to go in, though, because my contractions were still fairly irregular. I couldn’t follow my regular formula of 4-1-1 (contractions 4 minutes apart, 1 minute long, for 1 hour), and that confused and frustrated me. Plus, I was remembering Zeke’s birth, where after 7 hours of contractions, they sent me home. Just a few minutes later my mom arrived, and then I had a really strong contraction. The second it was over, I stood up and said, “Alright. That was a Go-To-The-Hospital contraction.” I proceeded to attempt to get my shoes on, but only managed one sock before…
I finished My mom finished putting my socks on and I slipped on shoes…
Then I went to grab my purse, but halfway there…
Etc. etc., until blessedly, 10 minutes later, I was in the back seat of my brother’s car, with a towel and chux pad under me in case my water broke. Thank goodness for the brilliant doula who recommended that.
The Rubber Meets the Road
Kevin drove, my mom rode shotgun, and our doula followed behind in her own car. I was in the back seat, like I said. We drove for about, oh, 10 seconds before I was gripped by another contraction and, completely unable to relax or get remotely comfortable, I told Kevin we weren’t going to make it to the hospital. Probably I yelled it, but that part is a little fuzzy. The contraction ended, mercifully, and I felt like there might be a possibility of getting to the hospital. It was only 10 minutes away, after all.
4 minutes later, I wasn’t so sure. In the throes of another contraction, I mentioned that the baby was coming. (Again: it’s possible I raised my voice a bit.) Kevin asked me (twice) if I wanted him to pull over. I said I didn’t know. My mom, after the second “I don’t know,” said she thought it was a good idea. So Kevin pulled over at the next parking lot.
Which just happened to be the parking lot of a “Fine Wines and Liquor” store. Cause we like to keep it classy.
I wasn’t really paying attention, but I have flashbacks to Dukes of Hazzard-style parking. Kevin jumped out (don’t worry, he didn’t go out the window) and ran to climb in the back with me. My doula, who thought perhaps I was throwing up, parked next to us and ran over to the other back door. When she opened it, I let her know that the baby was coming, and could she please help me take off my pants. Professional that she is, she already had her gloves in hand. She calmly directed my mom to call 9-1-1, just in case.
My water broke. I knew the baby was coming shortly after. My doula told me to breathe and not push. I did what she asked, like a good little soldier, for all of 10 seconds. And then I couldn’t not push (can I get an amen, ladies?!) and our baby girl was born at 11:10 a.m. Head first, and then a couple seconds later, the rest of her was out. Kevin lifted her up to my chest and we both were in awe.
The baby breathed right away, crying lustily. I rubbed her back and she kept right on crying. I don’t think I cried, but I did laugh. A lot. I laughed because I love giving birth (less so in the back of a car, but still), and also because – hello? – who has two crazy birth stories like that? Me, I suppose.
Within about a minute of calling 9-1-1, we could hear sirens. 2 or 3 police cars rolled up and the first officer on scene happened to know Kevin through his work. So much for anonymity. The officer was very nice, though, and covered me up with an emergency blanket. All the officers seemed genuinely happy to be there. I guess most of their job is probably pretty crummy, so a new baby is a fairly nice way to spend your lunch hour.
A few minutes later an ambulance pulled up. Again, a bunch of really nice and happy gentlemen. They moved me and baby to a gurney and transported us to the hospital in an ambulance, my very first (and hopefully last) time in one of those. Kevin and baby rode with me and we got to the hospital in – no joke – 4 minutes.
Finally at our destination
When we arrived at the hospital, however, the joviality ended. There was a distinctly disapproving air about all the labor and delivery nurses. I don’t want to conjecture, but perhaps they felt usurped? Maybe they thought we were irresponsible? Or maybe no one likes to do the un-glamorous job of cleaning up from a birth if you don’t get to experience the joy of birth itself? (I totally get that.) Whatever the case, we pretty much got the cold shoulder from the L&D floor. I was still riding my oxytocin wave of euphoria, so it didn’t bother me much, I just sort of noticed it. Kevin and our awesome doula, however, took the brunt of it.
Regardless of their disapproval, we were well taken care of. The nurses cleaned us both up and checked the baby. She weighed in at 8 lbs 6 oz, and measured 18 3/4 inches, a bit smaller than all of us were projecting. The doctor, who no longer needed to rush in, came on his lunch break an hour and a half later. He checked me and cleared me for recovery. Miraculously, no tearing.
The kids and my mother in law arrived shortly after I was all cleaned up. Everyone was completely smitten with Rosalie, and I am just in awe that I have kids who are old enough to actually help this time around.
is Rosalie Michele. She is named for St. Rose of Lima and her middle name is for my mom, and of course, St. Michael the Archangel. Her name happens to be the girl name we chose when we were pregnant with Ezekiel. I didn’t know if it would stick for me this time around, but upon looking at her, Kevin and I instantly agreed. She is certainly a Rosie.
Here’s a fairly apropos quote:
Without the burden of afflictions it is impossible to reach the height of grace. The gift of grace increases as the struggle increases.
–St. Rose of Lima
Was it awesome? Having your baby in the back of the car?
I wouldn’t call it awesome, no. It was messy and a little scary, only because I was desperately uncomfortable. I wasn’t worried about myself or the baby, because I felt God’s protection at every moment. I just couldn’t get comfortable and that ratcheted up the fear factor. If you’d like to have a baby somewhere other than the hospital, I recommend a homebirth with a midwife. 🙂
So you had time to go to Mass but not to get to the hospital, eh?
Check the timeline, smart guy. 3 hours between Mass and birth. 😉
How did you not know? Isn’t this your fifth child?
You, know, that’s a good question. I think the best answers I have for that are:
a) All my births have been very different.
b) My contractions never got regular this time, so I was going based on the strength of my contractions alone. As I mentioned, I tried to leave the second I had a good one, but by that point, it was too late.
c) Sometimes I think my knowledge about “how births should go” blinds me to my own symptoms. That was certainly the case with Gabe’s birth, when I thought I’d be in labor for days just because I was getting over a stomach bug when it started. This time I was waiting for that regularity of contractions to kick in and missed the signs that it was progressing quickly.
Sooooo, how’s the back seat?
Miraculously, not too bad. Like I said, my doula was smart enough to suggest covering it and we are so glad we did. A minor seat cleaning should take care of the rest.
How are all the kids doing?
Great. Awesome. They love Rosie more than it seems possible to do. The biggest conflict they have is who gets to hold her when. In the grand scheme of things, even though it’s annoying to have to mediate those arguments, I feel really blessed about how loving and helpful they are.
How has your recovery been?
Dreamy. I feel fantastic. Now, I just have to force myself to chill out and not overdo it. I know from experience that that will kill a recovery quickly.
Thank you all so so much for your prayers and encouragement. Kevin and I are so very grateful for every last one of you.
And because you read all the way to the end, here’s my favorite shot of my precious: