So there I was, almost entirely positive that I was finally in labor. These contractions were different. They were down low in my hips. They were achy and painful rather than just tight. And I'd had more than one of them! I was pretty sure that this was happening, and I was thrilled.
Dallin responded with a "Great!" and he got up right away. I decided to get in the shower, because (1) I really needed a shower, and (2) I wanted to make sure that the contractions weren't going away, even with a change in position or whatever. And Dallin, who we had already decided would be in charge of logistics when "the time came," started working out the plans for our other kids. He called his sister, who would take Maddy and Parker, sent out some work emails telling people he wouldn't be in that day, and started getting the kids up and ready.
The thing you have to understand is this: I was pretty sure, at this point, that we had time. And not just time -- hours. During my labor with Parker, I had contractions like these for hours at home. I was honestly planning on having time to get ready, helping get Maddy and Charly off to school (probably with a tearful goodbye because let's face it, everything was making me cry those days), and heading off to the hospital once everything was under control. I mean, we weren't exactly taking our time or anything, but we were definitely not rushing at this point. My contractions were still fairly spread out, and mostly manageable: only every third or fourth one was particularly painful. I was sure that we had time.
So I got in the shower. Again, I didn't take my time, but I didn't necessarily hurry. I was in there for about 10 minutes, and I probably had 3 contractions during it. At 6:04, I sent a text to my mom, telling her I was in labor and was getting dressed to go to the hospital.
As I started getting ready, I started feeling like maybe we should expedite things a little bit, and in retrospect, my actions reflected that. I threw on an easy dress instead of hunting for still-fitting pants (hard to find those days). I started blow drying my hair, but stopped after my bangs. I put makeup on (yep, you guys, I'm that shallow), but only powder and mascara. I probably spent about 12 minutes getting ready...which sounds very specific, but as it turns out, every minute counted. The kids were in and out of the room, obviously a little curious as to why I would stop moving or talking every 3-4 minutes. Once the moaning started, they even seemed a little scared (poor traumatized children!), but we kept things moving.
At some point, I told Dallin we were going to need to go sooner than we thought. He called his sister and told her to head over now. (By the way, Dallin was seriously a rock star, you guys. He got the kids up and dressed, made all the arrangements for them, got the bag together, supported me, and stayed calm and collected through everything. I love him. For reals.)
So at this point, it's about 6:18, and I'm feeling these contractions. Again, only every third or fourth one is truly PAINFUL with a capital PAINFUL (yes, the whole thing should be capitalized). I was still, honestly, not freaked out. Yes, I was definitely in labor. Yes, it was definitely time to go to the hospital. Yes, I'd be getting that epidural asap, thank you very much. But I was still thinking I'd labor for a while at the hospital before the baby came. I still felt like we had time.
A few more minutes of that, and Dallin's sister (Danielle) came. He also called our neighbor to come get Charly, who goes to the same preschool as our neighbor's little boy. I came downstairs to help Danielle get everything together for Maddy's school, and to help get her lunch ready. While pulling things out of the pantry, I had a bad contraction. I groaned through it, and Danielle assured me she could take care of the lunch.
Not even a minute later, another contraction hit. But this one was different. This one scared the crap out of me. Because when it hit, I wanted to push.
I was standing in my kitchen, with my daughter and my sister-in-law, and I had a super sudden, strong urge to birth a baby. Right there.
Hashtag not okay.
"AAAAGH Dallin we have to GOOOO!" was basically what came out of my mouth.
He came running down the stairs, handed me the keys, and told me to wait until the contraction was over and then go get in the car. He'd get the bag and would be right there.
So the contraction ended and I hurried out to the car. I made to the driveway when another contraction came. I leaned on the car for support and couldn't help yelling. (Sorry, neighbors!) But holy crap, it hurt. What the heck?! When did this happen?! It ended, and I got in the car.
Another one hit, and my body pushed. I grabbed onto the handle inside the car...
(Side note: I just tried to look up if that handle has an actual name, and apparently in many circles it is called the "Oh sh**" handle, which was definitely appropriate for this current moment, and definitely appropriate for the moment during the car ride a bit later.... when I actually said those words. Yep, I did. Side note over.)
...and braced myself. I saw our neighbor running into our house to pick up Charly; she gave me a thumbs up on the way in and I have no idea what I did back. Probably grimaced, but possibly flipped her off? (I kid, I didn't flip her off...right, Megan?)
After approximately an eternity, Dallin came running out of the house with the suitcase. He threw it in the trunk, jumped in, and sped off.
We had just turned off the street when I felt a weird "pop" and a solid gush of fluid.
"Dallin, my water just broke!"
Now, my water breaking is no joke. When my water broke with Maddy, I was fully dilated and about to start pushing. My water didn't break with Parker until he was freaking BORN. So, suffice it to say, my water breaking was a big, big deal.
Dallin sped on. Another contraction. A TON of pressure.
"Dallin, she's coming! She's coming!" I was yelling. I'm not going to lie: I was freaking out. How the heck was this happening to me? I was going to have a baby in the car?! No! I don't have babies in cars! I get epidurals in hospitals and then sit around bored for hours waiting to be fully dilated so my doctor can tell me when to push! That's how I give birth! Not in a Yaris!
"Should I pull over?" he asked.
And he went. Man, he went. He flew down the main street out of our neighborhood, passing someone (note: there was no passing lane), and not stopping before turning onto the main road. I had another contraction. More pressure. This baby wanted OUT.
Dallin called the hospital to let them know we were coming. If he's telling the story, he'll tell you that the receptionist that answered sounded like a young "dude" who was super bored with his job ("Banner Gateway, where can I direct your call?") and when he finally got on the line with maternity, he yelled "My wife is in labor. We're coming in hot!" which would have been hilarious if I hadn't been trying to, you know, not give birth.
Also after-the-fact hilarious was that at some point during that drive, he told me that I was making his dream come true (referring to the "justified" speeding, because he was booking it). In the moment, I thought up some witty response about this dream about to become a nightmare, but didn't have a chance to actually say it out loud because another contraction hit.
It took everything in me to stay calm (and it didn't really work). It also took everything in me to NOT PUSH. I was literally grasping the "Oh sh**" handle, and saying "Don't push, Katie. Don't push, Katie. DON'T PUSH!" I could feel every contraction coming on. I could feel the baby putting insane pressure on my pelvis. This was totally, unbelievably, happening.
Getting to the hospital was something of a blur. I know we had to make a left turn to get into the parking lot, and Dallin had to honk and maneuver his way around a bit to pass people and run a red arrow to get in there. He zoomed up to the entrance and there was a triage nurse waiting with a wheelchair.
"Can you get out of the car?"
I could. They got me on there and literally ran me inside, asking questions along the way:
"Have your membranes ruptured?"
"How many weeks are you?"
"What were you dilated to at your last appointment?"
Yesterday I was 4 cm, 90% effaced!
I was yelling. Another contraction. I had to push. I heard her call on her walkie:
"I need an L and D room!"
She obviously didn't quite get the response she wanted, because then she said "No, just what room is clean?!"
We made it to the room. We'd somehow picked up some more nurses along the way, and the first nurse was relaying all the info I'd given her to them.
Someone asked, "Can you get on the bed?"
In retrospect, I'm kind of like, come on, I'd made it that far; of course I was getting on the bed and not giving birth in a wheelchair right next to the bed. Please.
So with a good amount of help, I got on the bed. Pretty sure I was still yelling.
Dress up, undies off. Another contraction. A bad one.
"I have to push!"
"Yep, you're baby's coming!"
At this point, in the span of about 20 seconds, I remember having three distinct thoughts:
(1) I am so relieved to be in a hospital, on a bed, with medical professionals present. This is going to be okay.
(2) I don't have a birth roar. Do I need a birth roar? Isn't that like, a requirement for women giving birth without meds? I guess we'll just see what comes out.
(3) RING OF FIRE?! Crap, that's about to happen.
And it did happen. Right about then.
"Slow down!" they yelled. "Just breathe through it."
I don't know how I did, but I did. I stopped yelling and I breathed (so much for the birth roar). This was happening. I could do it. Even if I couldn't do it, I was doing it.
"Head's out! Take a look!"
And there she was. One more little push, and there was the rest of her.
She was so big! And so clean, and so pink. She had a ton of hair and she cried right away.
I looked at Dallin. He was crying. I think I was in too much shock to cry, but I was saying "Oh my gosh!" over and over.
They handed me my beautiful baby girl, saying we needed to be skin-to-skin right away since the warmer in the room wasn't, well, warm.
We had to piece together what time to put as the time she was born, because no one had been watching the clock. Based on when Dallin had called, our best guess was 6:36 AM.
I was still in my dress. My hair was still wet from my shower. Yet there I was, holding my sweet baby, just about an hour after my very first contraction.
It was odd, doing everything backwards. We still had to be admitted, so we had to answer all the usual questions...just while already holding the new baby. I had to change into a hospital gown. My doctor got there and took care of all the gross stuff. I had to have an IV put in because I'd had moderate postpartum hemorrhaging with Parker, so they got me started on pitocin. They actually gave me a couple shots in my leg, and I remember thinking "If I'd had that epidural, I wouldn't have felt those." Not that those little pokes were painful after, you know, childbirth...it's just a funny thought.
I've had many people ask "what it was like" to give birth unmedicated. Honestly, it's mostly a huge blur, which makes it seem like it wasn't that bad. I'm sure it probably would have seemed a lot worse if I'd been laboring for hours. As it was, the absolute worst part was the fear that I would give birth in the car, and the effort (physical and mental) that it took to NOT push. It was terrifying and just downright hard. While I know now that everything was completely fine and that the baby was perfectly healthy and would have been even if she HAD been born in the car... that doesn't change the fact that it was incredibly scary in the moment. What if something had been wrong? We'd have been mostly helpless until we got to the hospital. But once we got there, once I felt safe pushing, it was (dare I say it?) not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. It was just so fast! And it was nice to be able to move my legs and walk on my own so soon after she was born. Natural recovery beats epidural recovery, for sure.
Once we were all checked in, and Amelia had been weighed and measured (8 lbs 15 oz, 21.25 inches long -- my biggest baby yet!), the rest of the hospital stay was pretty standard. Visitors, vitals checks, tracking the feedings and the diaper changes. Everything went very smoothly, and we were able to leave the next day.
Well, I guess that's about it! This was definitely not the birth I had planned...but apparently that's just how Amelia rolls. I've got a feeling she's going to keep us on our toes.
And while her arrival gave me one of the craziest experiences of my life, I wouldn't trade it for the world.
Thanks for reading!