“The birth of my daughter was the most exciting and terrifying day of my life. To start at the beginning, you’ll have to understand my expectations of what I thought the birth would look like. In my imagination, I pictured being surrounded by my husband, my doula, and my two midwives in a calm, tranquil birthing center located in St. Paul, Minnesota, only fifteen minutes from home. The birth center itself was a gorgeous, old St. Paul house. The lobby as you walk in felt like a living room, and you were greeted by friendly faces. A converted home with quaint bedrooms, it felt peaceful, like home, instead of a sterile hospital.
I personally had always loved the water and had read that birthing in the water would help with labor pain, and be a calmer experience for the baby to be born. I wanted a place where I could feel free to move and have control over my body without the use of interventions. Despite the controversial opinions from friends, family, and others, I went through my nearly ten months of pregnancy with the hopes of having a water birth.
Finally, after 41 weeks and one day, the birthday came and I began to go into labor. Nothing marks a moment in time better than the birth of a baby. On October 4th, 2019, at approximately 12:59 a.m., my daughter Adriana Rose Calzas-Kline was born. It began around 3 a.m. on October 3rd with mild surges ranging approximately 6-10 minutes apart. We called the midwife at our birthing center to let them know. They told us to call back when they were about three minutes apart. So, throughout the day, my husband and I kept track and tried to rest by watching movies or sleeping as best we could.
As seventeen hours passed by, around 8 p.m., things changed and everything intensified. We contacted the midwife who told us to wait and labor at home as long as we could. An hour later, I was vomiting very intensely, so we called again and she gave us two options: have our doula come to our house, or come into the birth center to get checked. Since our doula didn’t make house calls, we had no other option but to go to the birth center.
So away in the Rav4 we went, with my in-laws waving goodbye in the driveway, excited the next time they’d see us we’d bring home a baby. When we got to the center, the nurse midwife greeted us in the hallway and took us to the birthing room. To my dismay, all the lights were on, the bathtub was not ready, and my doula wasn’t there yet. After carrying all of our luggage into the center, I was ready to labor in the birth room. However, the nurse had to do a quick cervical check and asked me if I wanted to know how dilated I was.
She gave me the option to know or not, since sometimes women get too hung up on numbers, which I do, so I chose not to find out. From the look on her face, I guessed it wasn’t very much. She told us again if the doula could come to our house, she should. She didn’t give us the option to stay and labor in the birth center. All the while she is giving us information, I’m on the labor ball, meditating through tough contractions, and going back and forth from the bathroom thinking I’m going to puke.
I was unable to advocate for myself and what I wanted, which was to stay. When my doula arrived, the nurse midwife left the room to let her into the facility. They talked outside the birthing room regarding my status and then came in. The nurse midwife proceeded to tell us to go labor at home, because in her experience, it looked like it was going to be a very long night since I was a first-time mom.
She gave me a white washcloth with peppermint oil for the nausea and then told both my husband and I to take a Benadryl to try to get some sleep. I begrudgingly got my coat and shoes back on and walked out onto the wooden walkway to the parking lot. At the door before we left, I said aloud, ‘I don’t want to go home.’ As we left the birth center, I had a gut feeling I wouldn’t make it back. When we arrived back home around 10:30 p.m., my in-laws (who had flown from Spain) were there, peacefully watching a movie, and were confused why we were back at home.
I headed upstairs to my bedroom since I was told to rest. My husband and father-in-law went to the store to buy Benadryl. Unable to continue lying down, I decided to take another shower to help manage the pain. I was already exhausted from laboring all day and was wishing it to be over as soon as possible. When my husband came home, we both took Benadryl, which is the point where I lost all track of time.
He fell asleep, while I could not stand to lie down anymore. I stripped down to nothing, saying out loud, ‘I can’t do this anymore,’ and wishing I was in a hospital ready for a C-section to just get the baby out of me ASAP. I found a seated position and I was in and out of sleep, with only the intense contractions making me get up and lean on the bathroom counter. After a while of this, I felt a sudden drop in my belly, my water finally broke, and I knew I wasn’t going to make it to the birth center. I realized I would end up having the baby at home.
I screamed for my husband to call the midwife because I had the sudden urge to push, and every contraction felt like I was going to pop the baby out! I reached down and I could feel the top of her head. He called the pager and the midwife told us to get there as soon as possible. I was unable to dress myself, so my husband managed to get me in a knee-length fluffy pink bathrobe and white underwear, and I put on a huge, long, overnight pad. I waddled down the stairs, as best I could, to the car.
We stopped and looked at each other in the driveway and considered calling the ambulance, but I didn’t want my neighbors to see me give birth in the driveway! So, I made my husband recline the front seat all the way down. I was on my hands and knees in the front seat of the Toyota Rav4 facing the head rest. Luckily, we had towels already in the car (in the case my water broke). Not even five minutes down the road, I was screaming at my husband to pull the car over because I could feel her coming.
The midwife was on the Bluetooth phone and told us to call 911. We were almost to the highway, on Lexington Ave and Northwood Pkwy in Eagan, MN. I felt one last contraction to push and I heard my daughter cry. I screamed again, tired and exhausted to, ‘Pull the car over.’ I reached down to catch my own baby in the front seat of a moving vehicle. Within two minutes, the firetruck, three cop cars, and an ambulance arrived.
I pulled my daughter up to my chest and snuggled her in the fuzzy robe and towels to keep her warm. While I was sprawled naked in the front seat of the car, the EMTs worked on us. There was a cop in the backseat shining a flashlight so they could see, letting in the chilly night air. They clamped her cord and offered to my husband, who was watching us, eyes wide—still in shock—to cut the umbilical cord.
They whisked my daughter away to the ambulance in a foil blanket and the firefighter lifted me out of my car. Once in the ambulance, they put my daughter back on my chest to start nursing her. My husband was separated from us and had to drive to the hospital alone with the leftover chaos in the front seat. Baby and I arrived at the hospital to find my husband waiting alongside two of the midwives from the birth center.
They had retrieved all of our belongings we had left at the birth center only a couple hours prior. They greeted us with unappreciated statements of, ‘This has never happened in 27 years!’ and, ‘Do you even know how far along you were?! 2 to 3!’ After all of the excitement of being transferred by ambulance, I felt relieved to be finally taken care of by nurses. When things settled down, they were going to transfer me to the recovery room out of the labor and delivery area.
The nurse stood me up and walked me over to the bathroom where I had fainted. When I woke, I saw my husband gazing at our daughter asleep on his bare chest, and my heart couldn’t have been fuller. After a ton of reflection on the events, I’m able to heal and find some humor in the events that happened. We are so incredibly fortunate our daughter was born healthy and no serious complications which could’ve risked our lives happened during labor.
I’m so grateful for how responsive the emergency team was and that I was in the hospital getting the amount of care and support I needed from all the nurses, doctors, and lactation consultants. Thanks to our care team, we were able to take home a beautiful 7 pound, 19.5 inch baby girl home with us.
Overall, I’m absolutely proud of myself for delivering naturally and that I was able to trust my instincts on how to deliver a baby. As for the next time, I will be prepared to catch another baby. Kidding! In the end, this is my birth story and I have to accept what happened: I gave birth to my baby in the car.
Do I wish things were different? YES! My expectations did not meet reality. But, just because I wasn’t able to have my natural water birth doesn’t mean I can’t the next time around. Instead, I have an incredible story I will tell my daughter every birthday for the rest of my life. (I think she’s earned the car when she’s older…)”
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