Roadside Delivery: Part 3
By Marisa Callahan
On the day before Zeke was born, I had a regular check-up with my OB. She told me I was one centimeter dilated and 80% effaced, and should expect to go into labor sometime in the next week. So we knew the show was coming soon! I wanted a natural delivery, so our birth plan had always included trying to labor at home as long as possible. The goal was to get to the hospital sometime near the end of active labor, or at the beginning of the transition phase of labor. We’d read every book and blog that we could, and had taken a number of classes on natural birth, so we felt pretty well-educated and prepared for what Zeke’s birth would be like. Lo and behold, the next morning I woke up to the sensation of my water breaking. Now, most doctors would insist you go to the hospital at this point, but from all our education, we felt confident waiting at home to see if contractions would start naturally soon after. My early contractions were really mild, even though they were three to five minutes apart. I was able to go about my morning without much difficulty. Around noon, my husband Ezra and I took our dog Bellini for a walk around the neighborhood, which wore me out. I squeezed in a nap, wanting to rest for a labor I estimated would be between six and twenty-four hours long.
By two o’clock in the afternoon, I noticed an increase in the intensity of my contractions. To me, this was going from early labor to active labor. Even though I was still able to move around between contractions, I definitely had to focus more to relax through each contraction as the pain started increasing markedly. By four pm, the contractions were a minute long. Our doula arrived and helped me with pain control. Being on all fours was about the only way I could bear the pain. My doula also pushed in and up on my hips and butt cheeks, which helped with the pain. My doula checked to make sure she couldn’t feel the baby at the top of my pelvis. Our doula was confident we’d make it in time to our hospital of choice, which was about an hour away with traffic. It took a good twenty minutes to get downstairs into the car. I ended up on all fours in the backseat. About three minutes into the drive, I had a huge urge to go number two and became convinced I was about to deliver. I remember screaming at Ezra, “The baby is coming! The baby is coming!” while he did his best to get me to relax. Moments later, I just knew – “The head is out! The head is out!” Ezra was completely shocked to see Zeke’s head actually sticking out of my underwear! He frantically changed direction, heading for the nearest hospital and not the one we had planned to deliver our baby in. It was completely surreal seeing Zeke’s head between my legs, but not seeing him move or breathe – I was just in total shock. Of course, he was still getting air from the umbilical cord, but in that moment I forgot that and panicked, thinking he couldn’t breathe. With another contraction, Zeke came flying out between my legs and into my arms. I caught him, still in total disbelief over what was happening.
The umbilical cord was everywhere, there was blood all over the place, and here I was, now holding my brand new baby, who promptly started screaming. Zeke’s screaming immediately changed the mood of the entire situation. Our terror and horror thinking our baby was in danger changed instantly into a happy, hilarious shock that I was holding our new baby in the backseat of our car! Moments later we pulled into the ER, with our doula pulling in right behind us. She ran up to me in the backseat with a look of surprise but delight on her face as she found me already holding the baby. Within a couple of minutes, a number of doctors and nurses had gathered out front by our car, trying to assess what was going on and what they needed to do. It seemed clear to me that the ER wasn’t very used to dealing with emergency deliveries! The doctor cut the umbilical cord a good three feet away from the baby. A nurse jabbed me with an IV in just about the worst place possible in my arm – I still remember how much that hurt, and I’d just delivered a baby with no pain relief! As we were being wheeled up to the delivery wing, a nurse near my feet looked back at me and asked, startled, “Wait, is your underwear still on?” “Yeah,” I said. “I never had a chance to take them off.” “How is that even possible?” she asked, eliciting shrugs from all of us. I’ve often heard it said that in the end, any birth that results in a healthy baby and mother is a successful birth, no matter how you deliver your baby. That is certainly true in our case! Everything since Zeke’s birth has been amazing, and we are filled with so much joy at having started this new stage of our lives together as a family. Both Ezra and I love our handsome little boy more than we could ever have imagined.