For the first part of this story, read here.
I woke up around 1:30 a.m. Saturday morning with some contractions that almost immediately felt pretty strong, so I started timing them with an app while I got up and started to get things together for the hospital, just in case. I was already mostly packed, but there are always the last minute things you need to get, so I was doing that. Since it was 1:30 in the morning I didn’t want to wake anyone up unless I was pretty sure that I was actually in labor, and I was assuming that even if I were in labor I had several hours ahead of me. The contractions were incredibly intense.
By 2:00 the contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and over a minute long and really painful. So I went to wake up John, and as I walked down the hall to get him I remember sort of shivering and thinking that it felt the way transition felt with Will. But surely it couldn’t be that yet, right? John got up, started a pot of coffee, and jumped in the shower. I called our friend Carrie (who was going to come watch Will) and our doula (both of whom said they would get here in 20-30 minutes).
Pretty soon after I made those calls (I think while John was in the shower) the contractions got crazy. Like actually out of control insane. I think I have blocked out most of this part of the labor, because they would come and I would just involuntarily scream at the top of my lungs. It’s hard to describe, but it was just qualitatively a different kind of pain than I have ever experienced or can even imagine experiencing. A little after 2 I could tell that the contractions were pushing the baby down. (With Will I never felt an urge to push, and I had to physically, consciously push him out, and it was horrible. With this labor it was like my body was squeezing the baby out whether or not I wanted it to.) Around this point I yelled at John to call our midwife at the hospital because I knew I wouldn’t be able to use the phone. I don’t know if he had time to make the call, because right around then I could feel the baby nearly crowning and things got intense really fast.
Right around then Kate, our doula, got to our house. It was 2:25 a.m. (I wasn’t paying attention to the time at this point, but later as we were trying to piece together the story she told us that’s when she arrived). As soon as she came in the door she said, “Ok, let’s get you to the hospital.” And I told her I could feel the baby’s head coming out and there was no way I could get in a car, let alone drive to the hospital (even though it was only 5 minutes away). So she very calmly but firmly said, “Ok, Laurie, go get in the bathtub. John, call 911.”
I obeyed and knelt in the tub. I grabbed a towel that was hanging next to the tub and set it underneath me in case the baby fell out. I didn’t want her to get hurt. John called the paramedics. Our friend Carrie showed up soon after I got in the tub, which was beautiful because around then Will started to cry, so she was with him. (The bathroom and his room share a wall, so he could hear everything.) Kate sat next to me and called the midwife at the hospital to have some support on the other end of the phone. I remember her saying, “I don’t do this! I don’t deliver babies!” while also telling me to try to slow my breathing to slow the baby, which I tried but couldn’t really do. At some point during all of this my water broke.
Looking back it feels like such a blur. I remember being so relieved that I was actually in labor and giving birth (because I was so over pregnancy at that point). And also being ecstatic that it was happening at home (see previous post). And also being terrified that it was happening at home. But I think mostly my body just took over and every part of me was just so consumed by the contractions that were just coming on, one after the other.
An ambulance and a fire truck showed up but they went to the wrong house, so John ran outside, showed them where our house was, and then sprinted back inside (I was oblivious to all of this). By the time he came back in I could feel the baby’s head crowning. I held her head with my hands and tried to push back a little to slow her down. John straddled the tub and Kate told him to get ready to catch the baby. And with one contraction my body pushed her out, all at once. John caught her and Kate told him to hand her to me. Kate looked and announced that it was a girl! And so there I was, kneeling in our bathtub, covered in blood, holding my little vernix-covered girl, shaking with pain/elation/adrenaline/shock/etc. It was 2:38 in the morning, just a little over an hour after labor started.
I’m not sure how long it was before the paramedics came inside, maybe two minutes? A female paramedic came into the bathroom and suctioned her out (I think) and clamped her cord. She let John cut it. They wrapped the baby up in one of those crinkly survival blankets that kind of looks like aluminum foil and someone took her for maybe two minutes while I was getting out of the bathtub. (Pictures of the paramedics’ baby delivery kit below. The remnants of it were still in our bathroom when we got home from the hospital, so I took a few pictures.) Someone (or maybe me) grabbed a beach towel from our shelves and wrapped me up from the waist down, and I walked out to a stretcher that was waiting outside the door. At this point I could hear Will inside screaming, “Mommy, Mommy!” and it was one of the hardest things in the world not to run back inside to him. But anyway, they got me in the ambulance and handed Margaret back to me, and we went to the hospital. The paramedics wanted to hook me up to an IV and I managed to decline it. I just lay there (still in shock, and still in quite a bit of pain because I hadn’t delivered the placenta yet). But I was cradling this tiny little person and everything else sort of disappeared.
We got to the hospital, they whisked us through the ER and into one of the L&D rooms where the midwife who would have attended the birth delivered the placenta and then stitched me up. The stitching was by far the worst part of everything. I had a 2nd degree laceration and I don’t know how many stitches she put in, but it seemed to take an hour. But while the midwife was stitching I held little Margaret and John and Kate sat on either side of me and we all started talking about the birth, telling Lisa the details and just laughing about how crazy it all was.
After that, Kate left, and John and I were alone in the room (picture below– the room was BEAUTIFUL) for a long time, just talking and gazing at our little girl and just re-telling our parts of the birth story over and over in complete amazement. We both just couldn’t believe what had just happened. I kept little Margaret on my chest for hours. She had started nursing quite well while I was being stitched, and she kept at it. The two of us watched the pink sunrise outside our window (picture below) and existed in the golden newness and joy of our precious, tiny girl.
And that is the story of how little Margaret entered the world. It was amazing, and essentially my dream come true. The quickness of the birth left me more torn than I probably would have been otherwise, and I was upset about that for a few weeks afterwards, but I’m all healed up now and just thankful beyond measure that she was safe and healthy. And even now, almost 3 months later, I cannot believe that I have a daughter. A little girl. Who is now bright-eyed and smiles at us with these radiant smiles and is just too sweet and darling for words. And on her birth certificate, the location of birth says: home.