Roadside Delivery: Part 1
By Danielle Vouvalides
I went in for my 38 week check-up with my OB, Jason, and everything was looking great. My baby boy was positioned low, and I was already 3.5 cm dilated. I wasn’t even thinking about delivering early because I also dilated early with my first son, and didn’t deliver him until two days after my due date. Around 8PM that same night, I started having some mild contractions. They weren’t coming in a regular pattern and they weren’t uncomfortable enough that I had to breathe through them, but they did keep coming. I texted my doula, Elizabeth, but neither of us believed this was ‘real’ labor, so I tried to settle in for the night and get some sleep. My contractions continued throughout the night, but they were still erratic, with no real pattern. I would get up, breathe through them, and lie back down to rest. I felt really comfortable being at home and going through this alone (my husband was peacefully sleeping next to me). I was simply letting my body do what it needed to do. My son, Landon, woke up at around 5 am, and my husband asked me if he could help. I was still in this place of just wanting to be alone, so I asked him to go play with Landon and keep him distracted. Around this time my contractions were lasting about a minute and were about 7 to 8 minutes apart. They were definitely becoming more intense, but with each one, I just listened to my body by moving and breathing the way I needed to. Sometimes, I would be standing up swaying back and forth, and other times I would be curled up in a ball on my bed, praying to someone (I’m not religious). Around 7 am, my contractions started coming faster and stronger, and I wasn’t able to time them anymore.
My labor was definitely starting to pick up. I was still convinced that I had more time, and I was trying to hold on until my babysitter came at 8:30 am to watch Landon. Even though things were intense, I was still busy, trying to pack my bags, play with my son, and even help cook breakfast! Around 8 am, I had some bloody discharge and my doula, Elizabeth, started heading to the hospital without me asking. I knew that I was getting close, but I still thought I had a ways to go, and I didn’t want to go to the hospital too early. I felt so calm and safe at home. By the time my babysitter arrived fifteen minutes later, at 8:45 am, I could no longer talk since the contractions were so powerful. I let go of any denial, quickly said goodbye to my son Landon, and left. As soon as I got in the car, I was on all fours in the front seat and I felt really hot. For relief, I would just lean into the cold air conditioning and breathe. Elizabeth was on speaker phone for support, but I still didn’t want to hear or talk to anyone. The contractions were truly consuming me, coming one right after another, and the traffic was so bad that we were still a few miles away from the hospital. All of a sudden, my water broke and I felt my baby’s head start to descend into my pelvis. Something took over my body and I couldn’t stop pushing. I’m a pretty private person and I tend to get quiet and introverted when I go through something hard, but I was letting out some pretty intense, whale-like sounds! At this point, I started screaming for my husband to pull over. We pulled down a residential street and called 911. When Elizabeth arrived, she somehow convinced me to get out of the car and onto the grass in order to examine me. The fire department arrived on the scene. One of the firemen jumped in to help. Even though my little guy was ready to come, I felt nervous to push. Elizabeth had me open my eyes and forced me to look at her, which pulled me back into the present. It actually felt good when I started to push. My husband held my head back off the sidewalk, and with three pushes my beautiful healthy baby boy, Logan, came out.
They immediately placed him on my chest; he was so calm. Meanwhile, the fireman cut the cord, and Elizabeth delivered the placenta. Completely consumed by love, I was loaded into the ambulance and started to nurse my sleepy little guy. None of us could believe what had just happened. I couldn’t stop laughing! I was planning on a natural birth; instead, I delivered roadside. The one thing birth has taught me is to expect the unexpected. There is no way to plan or even anticipate how you may feel. You just have to listen to your body and trust what you need. My birth has filled me with so much more respect for my body. We are capable of doing so much if we let ourselves just surrender. Logan’s birth was the most present I’ve ever been in my life. I seriously could have delivered anywhere. I felt so completely safe and supported, and I am so grateful to everyone who helped with Logan’s birth.