“My child arrived just the other day, he came to the world in the usual way.” This Harry Chapin/Cat Stevens line resonated in my head in the days following my second son’s birth back in April. However, there was nothing “usual” about my second child’s birth. After a chaotic hospital birth with my first son, I hoped to have a calm, natural birth in a birthing facility in a neighboring state. I pictured myself having this amazing, cathartic water birth and leaving the facility several hours later glowing with my newborn. Just about nothing for me ever goes as planned. So of course, this amazing birth plan never made it to fruition.
On the evening of Sunday April 3, 2011, I began having some minor sporadic contractions. I began to get excited and wondered if today could be the day. I had experienced some contractions a few weeks back that ended up being nothing, so I did not want to get my hopes up. I went to sleep and the contractions disappeared. The following morning, I woke up and the contractions started again. I again wondered if today was my baby’s birthday! I spent the day with a friend and her daughter, who helped me entertain my adorable two year old, Jonah, who has the energy of a pro football team. They helped me get through the day, while I was in the beginning stages of labor. The contractions at this point were minor and all over the place. I wondered if they would pick up or peter out like they did the night before.
By evening, contractions had picked up and my husband and I decided it was time to drop off my son at his babysitter’s house. I felt like this was it, but thought I still had some time before our new arrival joined our family. I went home and attempted to quickly finish some last minute chores. Not long after, the contractions picked up and were getting closer and closer together and more and more painful. We decided it was time for us to leave for the birthing facility. In a frenzy, I hobbled down the stairs as fast as a 39 week pregnant lady in labor can. Before we left, I needed to make one last trip to the bathroom. I sat on the toilet and in a dramatic gush, my water broke! I screamed to my husband, ‘Mike, we better get out of here! I think I am going to have the baby on the toilet!’ I was not ready to be part of a TLC series on strange birth places. I wanted my water birth in a warm tub, not a toilet in need of some cleaning!
I made it to the front seat of my minivan and laid on my side. (When later telling this story to an old friend from high school, she stopped me at this point and said, ‘wait, you drive a minivan! Really? You drive a minivan?’ ‘That’s not the point of the story,’ I replied.) I was in a crazy amount of pain and was screaming like a crazed lunatic. Mike was amazing. He drove through red lights, while trying to keep me calm. He reassured me I could do this as I screamed out in pain. We lamented over not paying more attention to the pain management techniques in the natural childbirth books that I had skimmed through and turning down the free Bradley course offered to us by a friend who is a childbirth instructor. I was in so much pain at this point and just wanted the pain to end. Unfortunately, epidurals aren’t available via drive-through. I reminded myself I was able to give birth without drugs the first time around and could do it again.
We were zooming on interstate 485 going beyond the speed limit. We went several exits on 485, when I screamed out, ‘I feel the head!’ Mike looked down and agreed that it was definitely the baby’s head. We just happened to be by the exit for the hospital and we made the snap decision to go to the hospital, rather than the birthing facility that was at least another 15 minutes away.
At 35 miles per hour and with one unintended push, my baby was born. I caught him and put the newborn up to my chest. I could hardly believe it- I was holding my newborn baby in my arms! I screamed to Mike, ‘we had a baby, but I don’t know what kind it is!’ We loved the element of surprise of not finding out the baby’s sex and did not opt to reveal the baby’s gender through an ultrasound months earlier. However, because it was so dark out, I was unable to see if my baby was a boy or a girl.. The baby did not cry immediately, but I felt the baby’s breath against me. A minute or so later, my baby made a choking sound and then wailed. Mike looked so relieved when he heard that first cry. He had no idea up to that point if our baby was alright. That minute must have felt like an eternity to him. He later asked me, why I didn’t tell him I felt the baby breathing. Oops! I reminded him I was in a state of shock since I just delivered my own child in a moving vehicle and wasn’t aware of the proper etiquette for a car birth.
I held my newborn baby tight against my chest, as Mike continued driving to the hospital. We argued over whether we should go to the ER or to the hospital’s Maternity Center. We bantered back and forth, as I gave Mike directions through the hospital parking lot. I won this argument and he headed to the Maternity Center. As we pulled into the parking lot, where there was plenty of light, I looked down at the newborn and announced, ‘It’s a boy!’ We took a short moment to welcome Daniel Elijah to the world from the front seat of the car! Mike parked the car and ran out. Several minutes went by, before he returned with a nurse and a wheelchair. I was wondering what the hell was taking him so long. Apparently, the door had been locked and he had to knock multiple times before someone directed him in. He ran to the woman at the front desk and excitedly informed her that his wife just had a baby in the car! The woman calmly responded in an emotionless, monotone voice, ‘Alright, we’ll send someone out to get her,’ as if she hears this daily. Maybe she does…
After all of the minor medical postpartum procedures were taken care of and I had a few moments to enjoy my beautiful baby and soak in the craziness of the evening, Mike and I realized we were starving. He decided to venture out to find some food for us. Food choices are typically limited at 3am, but even more so when there is a gigantic storm going on. Mike calls me from the car, stating the wind is blowing like crazy and it is pouring rain. I had accidentally left the window open to the car, so it rained into the car. Fortunately, the rain helped clean up some of the mess delivering a baby in the car had made. As Mike drove on the hunt for fast food, he soon saw that the traffic light to the major intersection had been knocked over by the wind. Thankfully, Danny had been born just in time and we did not get caught driving and giving birth in this horrendous storm.
Danny (aka Toyota) is now 3 months old and continues to amaze us daily! He has the most beautiful smile and melts my heart even at 3 am. He is our little daredevil and will probably give us a run for our money when he is older. He is surprisingly easy going despite his dramatic entry into the world. His birth did not go exactly as planned, but what in life ever does? Well, there is one thing that I do plan on doing. For Danny’s first birthday, I plan to make a birthday cake in the shape of a Toyota Sienna minivan.”
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