On December 12 around 11 p.m., while my husband and I were watching “Star Wars,” I started getting some heavy period-like cramping. To be honest, we thought nothing of it. It wasn’t until 1 a.m. that those cramps turned into contractions (but more like intense Braxton Hicks contractions). I told my hubby I was going to go to sleep because we needed to wake up early to take [our son] to school, and I also had an OB appointment the next morning. Around 2 a.m. the contractions were serious—serious enough that I said, “All right, let’s call the doctor.”
Hit the road
I explained to the doctor on call that this was baby No. 3 and the pain started out of nowhere, and I asked what should I do. She told me to head to triage and get checked out. I called my mom to come over and stay with the boys, and she was at our house in the blink of an eye. We loaded up the car with all the hospital necessities and were on our way.
The entire ride there I was contracting, and the pain was so bad in my back and my butt. I used to work in triage, so once we made it to the hospital, I was greeted by all my old co-workers who couldn’t believe I was “in labor” since I was acting so calm. I made it into my room around 3:15 a.m. and got checked immediately. (This was my third baby—don’t they tend to fly out?) My nurse announced I was only 2-3 centimeters dilated and 70 percent effaced. After she gave us the update [my husband] blurted out, “Oh, that’s it?”At my last appointment (a week prior) I was 2 centimeters and 60 percent effaced, so this was discouraging since all those contractions were for nothing—or so we thought.
Ready and waiting
After two hours of monitoring my nurse gave me two options: Walk around the hospital for a few hours and get checked to see if I had progressed, or get a shot of morphine, go home and get some sleep. When I used to work in triage, I saw time after time super pregnant and fed-up women walking around the hospital for hours only to see zero progress and go home. So, I was like … nope!
I went to use the restroom (still in triage, not yet out of their hair) and had a bloody discharge (which I now know was my mucus plug), and I felt like I kept urinating (which was potentially my water leaking). I walked out and told my nurse, and she said the blood was probably from being checked. When we got home around 5:45 a.m. I did a load of laundry and crawled into bed. Literally every five minutes, I woke up to contraction after contraction. Around 7 a.m. I begged my husband to get the heating pad out to help ease the pain. (Side note: I also texted my hairdresser friend if she could come over and blow-dry my hair when she got out of work just in case I went into labor within the week—so I would look cute!)
The real deal
At exactly 7:45 a.m. my alarm went off, and it was time to get the boys up and ready for preschool. [My husband] woke them up while I packed my son’s lunch. In between contractions I was grabbing the plastic bag, loading it with crackers, and then another contraction would come. At this point my contractions were two minutes apart, and I was moaning like a whale, praying and begging to God to take this pain away from me.
I told my husband I felt like I needed to go No. 2 and that I quickly wanted to put some makeup on (so I didn’t look like I hadn’t slept all night). As I was walking to the bathroom, another contraction came, and I was crying tears! My husband called his mom to see if she could come over and let us head over to the hospital. While he was talking to her, I was crying and screaming so much he asked if he should call 911. I initially wanted to say no because at the hospital I wasn’t very far along, and I felt like I was just being dramatic. Then another strong contraction came, and I asked him to call the paramedics!
I was in the bathroom on the toilet, but it hurt too much to sit down, so I got on all fours while my husband ran the bath water and connected with 911. I was screaming, moaning and crying out, “It’s coming!” I looked down and saw water dripping out of me. At some point he walked out of the bathroom to meet the paramedics, and I somehow crawled into the tub by myself. While he was unlocking the door the baby’s head came out, and I grabbed it to make sure it was really a head. I felt hair and knew it was the real deal.
At this point I had a million emotions. I was scared, mad, in pain, confused—you name it, I felt it. Then [my son] walked in and said, “Mommy, why are you taking a bath?” I said, “Get out!” in the deepest voice ever. My husband ran in and shrieked at the sight of our baby’s head in between my legs. He told me to push and I tried, but it didn’t do anything at first. I then felt the next contraction on the way, so I pushed once more while my husband was there to grab the head (the shoulders were already out) and pull the baby the rest of the way free.
Send in relief
He immediately placed our baby on my chest (at 8:03 a.m.) and ran out of the bathroom because the paramedics had finally arrived. I could hear my husband yelling, “Please bring a bulb syringe!” The medics came in very calmly (which is what we needed after all the craziness that happened). They waited for the cord to finish pulsating, clamped it, and before they could even blink, I made sure my husband was the one to cut the cord. Initially he didn’t want to cut it because they don’t use scissors, they use a scalpel. But he barely touched the cord with the blade, and it sliced through it.
We looked to check the gender, and it was a boy! When he first emerged, we didn’t even care to identify the gender because we just wanted to make sure everything was OK. After lying in the tub with my newborn baby boy for about 10 minutes, they wrapped him up in our towels, and I got out of the tub and onto the stretcher. On the way back to the hospital it kind of hit me: Oh my goodness, did this really happen? That’s when I realized that we never took a picture of any of it, not even when I was in the tub! So, the paramedic who was with me the entire time took a picture of me holding our sweet baby boy.
We made it to the hospital about 30 minutes after we left the house, and we were greeted by the labor and delivery charge nurse at the ambulance bay congratulating me on my all-natural home water birth. My husband arrived shortly after, and that’s when we named our no-name baby Joél (Joe-Elle) Cristian (Chris-tee-an) Bonnaire. Little Joél weighed 7 pounds, 9 ounces and was 20.5 inches long. Joél was the heaviest of all my kids, too.
All in all, it was a beautiful birth experience, and I’m still in shock that all of this really happened to us. You see these scenes in movies and never think it will happen to you. But I’m so thankful Joél and I were healthy and nothing serious happened during the delivery. It was definitely a big surprise!