As I reached the 36th week, we all had much anticipation that our daughter’s birth could be approaching any day. Because our son was born prematurely, we were prepared this time: a birth plan in place, hospital bag packed, cord blood collection kit in hand, and after much deliberation our hospital was enthusiastically selected.
And this time, I was keenly aware of “labor symptoms.” With my son’s labor, I mistakenly assumed my back pain and cramps were related to Braxton Hicks contractions, and I had delayed getting to the hospital until just three hours before I delivered. I declared: This time would be different. I would have the perfect delivery.
My mom arrived just before the 38th week to lend us a hand before our baby would arrive. She, along with the other grandparents who were in town, was invited to be part of the delivery. We went over the delivery plans with them, explaining where they would stand. My husband, Steve, would be by my side, and they would stand to the left of me above my head, just enough to capture a few photos of her arrival. The plans were perfectly laid out.
Then July 14 arrived. I was working from home, and our son was with his two grandmothers. I was feeling some cramps all morning. They were inconsistent, so I ignored them. But around 3:30 p.m. the cramps were increasing. I had an inclination that it could be the start of labor, but I didn’t want to put anyone on alert just yet. Like my son’s birth, I assumed I had many more hours of labor to endure.
Around 4 p.m. the contractions were suddenly increasing in intensity. With each cramp, I got up and walked around the living room and felt a wave of relief. I wondered, Could these be false labor pains? At 4:20 p.m., I started to time them. I was told to go to the hospital when contractions were three to five minutes apart. Mine were one and half minutes to two minutes apart. It was peculiar that they were so close together; I wondered again if they were just cramps or real contractions.
In between contractions, I was shooting off emails to colleagues and trying to finish work, albeit slightly impossible when a contraction hit. After 20 minutes from timing the first contraction, I finally came to the realization that, indeed, this was the real deal.
It was time to tell my husband. He was outside with his father, so after a contraction, I walked calmly through the garage to the driveway. Pretending I was OK, I waved to him and said, “Hey hun, when you have chance, can you come inside?”
Steve, knowing me all too well, knew that meant something important. He dashed inside where I told him the news. He didn’t wait another second. “It’s go time,” he said.
He rushed around the house, grabbing our bags for the hospital and directing me to get into the car. Still thinking I had plenty of labor time, I shot off one last email to my boss, letting her know I was in labor and headed to the hospital. I was in the middle of writing the email when Steve scolded me, “What are you doing? Get in the car, we have to go.” He pressed send for me. The timestamp read 4:50 p.m.
As we left, Steve directed his father to get the grandmas and follow us to the hospital, about a 30-minute drive. The mad dash began.
When we got onto the road, a tractor got in front of us going about 10 mph. It was so untimely, but we eventually maneuvered around it and onto the main road. As Steve hauled down the main street, we darted in and out of cars as it was rush hour.
Driving like a professional, Steve seemed to handle the road quite well, all the while making phone calls to the family. First he called his father, telling him to meet us at the hospital and gave him the directions to pass along to the grandmas. As Steve was making phone calls, he was receiving phone calls. It was nonstop phone calls all while he was trying to stay focused on getting me to the hospital. I was trying to get through the intensity of the contractions. This was not a pretty sight.
As we turned onto Southern Boulevard (another main highway), Steve had asked me about the hospitals. There was one hospital closer, called Palms West, but we were registered at a new one called Wellington Regional, which was at least 15 more minutes away. Although labor seemed fast and furious, I shouted, “Go to Wellington! Go to Wellington!”
Not long thereafter, my body was telling me I had to push. I knew this feeling from our son’s labor, and I panicked a bit. Then I felt something strange. I felt the baby’s head in between my legs. I yelled, “Oh no Steve! I think the baby’s head just popped out.” I didn’t want to look. I didn’t want to see the reality that she was coming so quickly. That would mean our well-thought-out birthing plan would be spoiled.
Steve called the doctor. He reached the after-hours line, so he hung up and dialed the doctor’s cell phone. He didn’t even wait for the doctor to say hello. He just said, “Doctor, my wife is in labor. The head’s coming out. Do we go to Wellington or Palms West?” The other side went silent … then a lady speaking another language started yelling at him: “I don’t speak English!” Steve didn’t even know what else she said, but she didn’t sound happy. He hung up. Turns out, the doctor had changed his cell phone number, and we never changed it in our contacts.
I finally got the courage to pull open my leggings. I saw it—it was the head. I couldn’t look any longer than a quick second. I exclaimed, “Oh my god, her head is out! Her head is out!”
Steve raced on. Contractions raced on. As we approached Palms West hospital on the left, Steve said, here’s your chance—do you want to go to Palms West? I finally agreed. I didn’t think I could make it to Wellington. And in not even another breath, my water broke. My pants were swopping wet and our new car drenched. At that moment, I felt pressure lifting. The contractions decreased. I thought I had more time, and I changed my mind. “I feel better. I can make it. Go to Wellington.”
Steve followed my instructions. He made the critical decision to turn onto the busy road leading to Wellington. In just a second after turning, my body transitioned again. I knew it was time to push. I just exclaimed, “Oh crap, turn back! I’m not going to make it.”
On the busy road—in the middle of rush hour no less—Steve tried to maneuver through the herd of cars. As he pulled into the lane to make a U-Turn, he dialed 9-1-1. He said, “Ma’am, my wife is in labor; the head is coming out.” They didn’t waste any time.
“Sir, if you want us to help, you’re going to have to stop,” directed the operator. He explained, “I can’t. The hospital is right there. I’m going to make it.” At the busy intersection of eight lanes, Steve took the chance and carefully drove through, waving his hand, honking his horn and making a scene so that we could make our way to the hospital. Still on the phone with 9-1-1, the EMT advised him that the ER at Palms West would be ready for us.
In just a few seconds, we arrived at the ER on the patient entrance side. Steve ran inside to get a wheelchair. Having the urge to push, I did all that I could to keep our baby girl inside. With a nurse by his side, Steve sped outside with the wheelchair, but when they saw me, they quickly learned that there was no way for me to get into a wheelchair – not with the baby’s head coming out.
A few seconds later, they returned with a gurney and five new ER nurses came running outside. One of the nurses held out her hand for me, so I could get on the gurney. My body felt completely weak. With the baby’s head in between my legs, I attempted to stand up. As I did, I started to collapse on the nurse. She exclaimed, “Please don’t fall on me! Please don’t fall.” But I did.
With quick action, Steve embraced both the nurse and me. With super-human strength, he threw both of us on the gurney. I somehow managed to pin down the nurse underneath me. She flailed her legs and arms saying, “I’m stuck; I’m stuck.”
Swiftly Steve somehow got her out from underneath me, and the team of nurses then pushed the gurney through the doors.
As they pulled me into the closest ER room, Steve was asked to move his car. In the small ER room, a flood of people began to enter. Time seemed to pause for a moment as I looked around this crazy room—a physician, who was not my OB, put on a mask and gloves and maybe about 10 or 12 other nurses surrounded the bed. I wondered, Who were these people? And where was my husband?
In just a minute, the ER staff gave me direction to push. But I didn’t see my husband. I yelled twice, “Where is my husband? I don’t see my husband!”
Finally, peeking out behind two rows of ER nurses, I see my husband’s face. “I’m here! I’m here!” he shouted. Barely making it to my side. I did the first and only push … she arrived! Giada, our baby girl, was healthy as could be.
Someone finally remembered to get a time on her birth: 5:14 p.m. It wasn’t even 25 minutes after we left the house. Soon after I delivered the placenta, the most difficult part of the entire labor and delivery process.
With my husband at my side, I was wheeled out of the ER to head up to the OB unit. In the hallway, I saw my mom, my in-laws and our son. Just like all of us, they were shocked that our daughter had arrived already. They were only five minutes behind us.
I was in complete disbelief. Was my daughter really here? It was hardly one hour of labor. What happened to hours and hours of labor and excruciating pain? What happened to our well thought-out birthing plan? Her deliver was far from what we had planned, but as the saying goes, the best laid plans often go awry. Yet, somehow in the midst of our daughter’s crazy delivery, it was perfect.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll share it on our Birth Day blog and may even print it in an upcoming issue!