A Grand Entrance: The birth of Violet

By Stephanie Ivanusic

Violet5October 16, was a typical day of being nearly 40 weeks pregnant.

Lily had preschool and then we hung out at home doing laundry and a little bit of cleaning. George was off from work.  He and I stayed up watching a couple of our shows together before he started doing some work on his computer while I finished working on Lily’s Halloween costume.  I felt pretty good that night, commenting how I couldn’t believe I was still pregnant, wondering when we were ever going to have this baby.

I finally decided to go to bed a little after midnight.

I should have known that since she came into our lives surprisingly, she’d enter the world the same way.

October 17. Due date.

After sleeping pretty soundly (given the weeks previously that I had been up every few hours) I was woken up around 6:00 a.m., having some contractions.  Nothing too strong, nothing really time-able I’d say.  Just enough discomfort to stir me awake to look at the clock and see how much longer I had to sleep until it was time to get Andrew up for school. 45 more minutes.  Back to sleep I went … or tried.  I stayed in bed for a few minutes then decided to check my email, and read through my Twitter timeline and played maybe a game or two of Candy Crush, hoping my eyes would get drowsy enough to go back to one of my last nights of decent sleep that I’d been having.

I did manage to sleep a little bit longer before getting Andrew up to get ready for school. I had laid on the couch half asleep, waiting until he left for the bus, all while having a couple more contractions. I told him that I was having a few contractions and thought we’d end up at the hospital at some point today. We made a plan for him for after school if no one was home and off he went. My first baby.

About 40 minutes, later it was time to get Lily up for school.  I started timing contractions finally about 8:15 a.m.  They were anywhere from 6-8 minutes apart,

Sometimes 10, but still not too strong. I’d have to stop to catch my breath here or there, but was still able to walk, talk, get Lily out the door to school and drive.  When we got to preschool, I had one pretty strong contraction in the doorway where I did have to stop talking to her teacher for a minute.  She asked me if I was OK to drive. I knew that I was, but also knew we’d for sure be heading to the hospital that day.  I kissed Lily goodbye, told her I loved her and went home. The contractions were just a little bit stronger.

When I got home, I woke George up to tell him that I had been having some contractions. When he asked how far apart they were, I said about 10 minutes or so and I was going to take a bath to relax.  He came in a couple minutes later and asked if I had called the doctor’s office yet. I had planned to when I got out of the tub.  I sat back, closed my eyes, relishing in the hot water that almost immediately relaxed me.  I kept my phone nearby to continue timing the contractions and had a couple more while I sat in the tub. George hollered in to ask me if I was ok a couple times. I told him he probably shouldn’t head to his physical therapy appointment that was pretty soon.  He started gathering his things together for the hospital as I emerged from my blissful bath. I totally understand why people want to have water births!

I immediately called my doctor’s office and spoke with a nurse about when to head to the hospital. I explained that despite being a 3rd timer, 40-years-old and capable, I had no idea when to actually head to the hospital with contractions. She asked how close they were currently and I explained 6-8 minutes mostly.  She told me that once they’re 5 minutes for an hour, we should head to the hospital. Ok, easy enough.

Shortly after I was off the phone, our baby decided she was waiting no longer.  My contractions went from 6-8 minutes to 2 minutes apart just like that.

It’s funny the things you think you know about having a baby—especially when it’s not your first time. But when it all comes down to it, there’s much more of a reaction than anything.

My last timed contraction was at 10:26 a.m. It was 2 minutes after the last one and lasted for 1 minute and 17 seconds.

We live about 20-25 minutes away from the hospital …

I was in our bedroom getting the hospital bags out of the closet and gathering up my last minute toiletries to throw in there while my contractions continued to strengthen.  I knew I was not going to make it in time to have an epidural at this point.  I leaned over the edge of the bed, the bathroom counter, sat on the toilet, trying to get through the pain. The moment I leaned over the bed trying to get those last minute items together, I knew I wasn’t going to make it to have an epidural.  I momentarily debated having George call an ambulance.

When I stood upright again hoping to move quickly in between contractions, I shouted to George, ” I think my water broke!”  Back to the toilet I went.  I discovered I was bleeding and wasn’t sure if my water had broken or I was just feeling the blood.  He yelled that we needed to hurry up and get going because we weren’t having this baby at home. I honestly do not know how long it took me to get from the bedroom to the car, but I know that every moment I tried to do something: walk, get out the front door, get in the car, I’d have another excruciating contraction and have to stop.

I am not one who is very vocal about pain.  I know I’m a wuss and tend to keep it in, deal with it and keep moving. Kind of like the day I broke my ankle at 31 weeks pregnant.  It hurt. Badly. And I knew it was broken, but I didn’t want Lily to be disappointed to not go to the park with our friends. So we went and my ankle hurt. I pushed through it.  There was no chance of that here.  I was crying, moaning, shouting, and swearing. I held nothing back. I yelled at my husband to “shut up” after he told me I needed to get it together to get out to the car, but couldn’t finish what I wanted to say because he had no idea that I wasn’t just freezing up. The pain was debilitating and I had to wait to move until the contraction had subsided. I didn’t have any more time except to say, “shut up!”

In the car at 10:48 a.m. we were off to the hospital!  Par for the course, we needed gas.  George was in list mode:  Get enough gas to get us there.  Make a plan for Lily to get picked up at noon at school. Not have a baby in the car.

Violet1I found a position that was the most bearable and needed to lie back in the seat on my side facing the driver’s seat.  Now mind you this did nothing to stop the pain or my crying, moaning, shouting and swearing.  It just was something I was able do.  When I tried lying back in the seat at first, the seatbelt was cutting into my neck. So Ms. Always Wear Your Seatbelt No Matter What, shouted, “How do I get this f*&$*&# seatbelt off??”  Not a shining moment.

We called my good friend whose daughter goes to school with Lily and asked if she could take Lily with her after school.  George was on the phone with her, I was shouting that they knew at school I was in labor and it would be OK for her to take Lily too! That peace of mind knowing Lily was in good hands was the last piece of the puzzle I needed in place so I could start to focus on nothing but this baby—both keeping her inside until we got to the hospital and praying for a healthy delivery.

The rest of the ride, which I learned we took at 105 mph, I was going through my cycle of crying, moaning, shouting and swearing.  Repeated theme:  “We’re not going to make it!”  George was honestly the only thing that kept me from going over the edge.  Every time I cried that we weren’t going to make it, he’d reassure me that we would, that we were almost there, I was doing great, and to keep breathing.

The thing about Pittsburgh is that there is no rhyme or reason to traffic in this city.  I’m so thankful my husband used to be a police officer and was trained to drive at high rates of speed in this city. Truly.  However, nothing can be done when you turn onto the street to get into the hospital and it’s backed up with 20+ cars waiting to turn into the parking lot. I had opened my eyes again here.

So, what does any former police officer do?  Drives down the opposite side of the road.

George honked the horn, rolled down his window, shouted that I was in labor and going to have the baby in the car, “BACK UUUUUUUUPP!” A security guard came on my side of the car and street shouted he was going in to get a wheelchair and managed to get cars out of the way enough to get us up to the front door of the hospital.

For as much trouble as I had getting IN the car at home, it was just as difficult getting OUT of the car at the hospital. For the last part of the ride, I had been squeezing my legs tighter than I had ever before trying to keep this baby in and not deliver her in the car.

Finally, I was able to get out of the car, but had to wait again before I could sit in the wheelchair as I contracted that closely again.  Again, more crying, moaning, shouting, but I think I had stopped swearing at this point!

Once I was in the wheelchair, George ran me through the lobby while I (now embarrassingly) was screaming out in pain, hoping we’d make it to deliver this baby in a bed instead of in the car, in front of the hospital or in a wheelchair in the lobby. I’m pretty sure I traumatized some first timers who may have been in or around the echoing lobby of the hospital.

Violet3Labor & Delivery is on the 2nd floor, so luckily we were off the elevator quickly. George kept running, pushing me through the hospital. It was honestly like a scene from a movie where the registration clerk shouted out questions as we flew by. “What’s your name?What’s your birthdate? Who’s your doctor?” George replied with my name and birthday and, “she’s been here before!” I shouted my doctor’s name as the double doors opened and a nurse took over pushing my wheelchair down the hall. It was a sea of people in blue scrubs parting the way for me. I kept thinking, “Wow this breeze feels so good,” as whoever was pushing me was running to get me into a L&D room. I was so hot and was sweating bullets, all the while still shouting out in pain. It felt like a scene where the camera is essentially the character.  The doctors and nurses were standing on either side of the hallway looking down at me as I blew past them in the wheelchair. People were shouting about me to find my doctor and trying to gather details about my pregnancy. Very surreal.

Somebody helped me get my undies off as I was trying to get out of the wheelchair onto the bed. I felt no relief lying down at all. I kept screaming, “I need to push NOW!”  A doctor told me they were trying to help me, but I needed to get in the bed before I could do that. I’m so grateful I was clean after having both showered that morning and then taken a bath.

I already knew that the doctor I had hoped would deliver me was on call that day, so while they were calling for her, another doctor introduced himself.  George asked if I could get any pain medicine as they were checking me. All I heard was, “she’s at a 9.5, there’s no time.”

I shouted some more while I cried out some things like, “It burns so badly!” and, “I need to push!” “I can’t do  this!” And a lot more incoherent moaning and shouting.

I had my eyes closed trying to focus on something other than how painful this was and all I could hear was George when they told him to grab my leg. I also heard my doctor say, “I came running!”

My husband was so encouraging throughout the entire process (not that the process was long, mind you), telling me I could do this, her head was coming, we were almost done, I was doing great, reminding me to put my chin to my chest and push, here she comes …

Violet4And finally the relief was there!

Our baby. Our girl.

Born at 11:23 a.m. We had just left our house at 10:48 a.m.

When she decided she was ready, she was ready. On her due date.

I had referred to her as “our grand finale” many times throughout my pregnancy. She definitely made it ring true.

Violet2Violet Ilyanna, my littlest love, born weighing 10 pounds even and 22 inches long.

Thank God I didn’t know she was 10 pounds before because I don’t think I could have overcome that mental hurdle during my labor.  It was not my plan to give birth naturally. What’s that saying about telling God your plans …

What a gift!

Send us your birth story! Whether you had a home birth, hospital birth, 37-hour labor or emergency C-section, we’d love to read the tale of your little one’s grand entrance. Write up your birth story (click here for tips on getting started) and email it, along with a few photos, to birthstory@pnmag.com. We’ll share it on our Birth Day blog and may even print it in an upcoming issue!

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