A gut feeling: The birth of Clarence

By Published On: August 1st, 2017Tags: ,

On the night of August 22, 2016, I started having […]

On the night of August 22, 2016, I started having contractions 5-7 minutes apart. I told my husband to pack up because I was ready to have the baby! My in-laws stayed home to be with our toddler. While my husband drove us to the hospital, I remember watching funny pet videos on YouTube to ease the pain and not being very nice to my husband (Sorry! I love you honey!). I yelled at him for ridiculous reasons, saying things such as, “Why can’t you make the traffic lights turn green?!” Ah, the crazy thoughts you have when you’re in pain.

When I got to the hospital, they told me that I needed to go home because I was not dilated nor had my water broke. Even though I was having horrible contractions, they believed baby Clarence was not ready to come out. I couldn’t believe it. We just had to wait.

We got home at 2 a.m., and I laid down on my bed and tried to go to sleep. I tried to remember the breathing techniques from the birthing class that I took to ease the pain. They didn’t work. I tried to scroll through pretty and calming pictures on Instagram, and that didn’t work. The pain got to the point where I couldn’t even concentrate on my phone. I buried my head into my pillows and wished to God to make the contractions go away.

Around 3:30 a.m., I felt this weird sensation in my body that told me I needed to push. OMG! I went to the bathroom and saw blood in the toilet! I freaked out and called 911. As I was talking to the dispatcher, the urge to push was stronger, and I started screaming. The dispatcher was so calm, and her words were so soothing. She told me to breathe with her on the phone and that the firemen were one street light away.

I thought to myself: One street light away—I can do this. The dispatcher said, “Don’t push the baby out until they come!” This sounds crazy, but when she said that, I began panicking. The baby was coming?! I guess their experience taught them that my voice was telling. It was surreal.

My husband and family awoke to my screaming and the firemen and paramedics knocking at our door. I was upstairs in our bedroom while my husband lead them upstairs. I remember them putting an IV needle through my veins and telling me that I was going to be OK, and they could see the baby’s head coming out.

Without an epidural, I felt like a watermelon was coming out of my body! All I can remember is the beautiful cry of my newborn. I didn’t have my contacts in, so everything was literally a blur. They rushed me into the ambulance, and I laid there thinking: Did I just have a baby in my room? I also saw a plastic bag of blood next to one of the paramedics. I asked what it was, and he said it was my placenta. Oh dear god.

I closed my eyes and tried to make sense of what just happened. We got to the local hospital where nurses and doctors had to finish taking out the rest of my placenta, stitch me up and give me a blood transfusion because I lost so much blood while pushing out the baby.

My call log on my cell phone read that I called 911 at 4:05 a.m., and I was on the phone with them until 4:10 a.m. because that is when the paramedics and firefighters arrived at my house. I delivered the baby at 4:17 a.m., according to them. What a close call.

When I finally got to hold Clarence, I thought: Wow! He is so handsome and a miracle baby. He was so impatient that he had to come out at home! He weighed 8 pounds and 5 ounces, and he stood tall at 22 inches. He was so stinking cute and a mirror image of my husband.

My daughter Maddie (who was not quite 2 years old at that time) was so excited to come visit me at the hospital, and she said one of the few words she knew, which was, “Baby!” I don’t think she knew that he was now a part of our family, and I felt sad that our attention was now going to be divided between the two kids. For the most part, she’s been handling it well!

The day after we arrived home, a deliveryman knocked on our door with a box. We opened it, and inside, there was a beautiful bouquet of flowers. I thought they were from my friends or family, but when I looked at the note, it had the names of the firemen who delivered baby Clarence!

My husband and I immediately started crying. I was overwhelmed with gratitude. The fact that they took the time to plan out a special gift for our new family was so thoughtful and generous. Luckily, the fire station was only a street light away from our house. We walked over there with our stroller and knocked on the door.

One of the men who delivered Clarence opened the door and immediately gave us a big hug. The rest of the men came out, and all I could do was cry and thank them for saving Clarence’s life. The moment was magical.

I didn’t know this at the time, but when Clarence was born, he was in his amniotic sac (occurring in fewer than one in 80,000 births), which is why my water never broke. He also came out with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck multiple times. Imagine if these men were not there to save my baby. What I learned from this experience:

  1. Trust your instinct!
  2. The world is good. For every episode that goes wrong in your life, concentrate on the positive. In my case, what could have been a tragic experience was mitigated by the wonderful professionals who came into Clarence’s life.

I am forever indebted to the paramedics, Corona Fire Station 4-B and Kaiser Permanente Riverside! Thank you!

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!

By Victoria Lee

Images: Courtesy of Victoria Lee