I’ve always thought that the tv shows and stories about people who didn’t make it to the hospital to have their baby were totally not true. Or at least if they were true, they must be completely dramatized. I just didn’t understand how in the world a mom didn’t realize she was in labor! How did she not make sure to get there on time?!
Having already given birth once before, I thought for sure I would know when to head to the hospital so there would be plenty of time to get settled, receive an epidural, and maybe have time to relax and catch up on all of the latest gossip (kidding about that last part!)
Just as pregnancies can be so different, I had no idea how different labors could be as well!
After going past the gestational weeks I was with my first daughter, I started thinking that maybe my second baby was never going to come! Three days before my due date, my provider offered to sweep my membranes, stating if my body wasn’t ready, nothing would happen. If it WAS ready, it might jumpstart labor, but also, nothing might happen. We figured, why not try?! She had warned me that I might feel cramps the next day, so when I started feeling cramps around 9:30am on Saturday morning, I wasn’t even thinking it was early labor.
I also have a pretty high tolerance for pain (no pain medication the first time around, and was at the hospital for less than 3 hours before our first daughter arrived).
I wasn’t recognizing my discomfort was actually contractions until a little after 11:00am. After texting and talking with a few older and “wiser” women, and contacting the doulas, we decided that I was probably in labor, but that I should keep going about my normal routine and to contact them when things progressed.
Around 1:00pm, they asked when I wanted them to come, and I said I still wasn’t really sure that I was in labor, or where I was at in the whole process. This was different than with our first daughter, because my water had broken way earlier in the day with her. So I said whatever the doulas thought was best, and they decided to start heading over soon after our conversation.
They arrived around 1:45, and by that point, my contractions were about 5-7 minutes apart, I was still talking and moving through them. The doulas were helping me through contractions, commenting on how well I was doing and we all thought I could stay home and labor in comfort for a bit longer. Besides, we were less than 8 minutes from the hospital, we were super close!
My friend Emma arrived to watch our older daughter around 2:00 and all of a sudden, it was like a switch flipped. My brain knew that everyone was taken care of, so it could now allow my body to REALLY be in labor!
The contractions came super hard and super fast. We decided that we needed to go to the hospital, ASAP. So we hurried into the van and quickly drove to the hospital (I’m pretty sure yelling at my husband to speed through a VERY yellow light shaved off at least 2 minutes of our short drive, yet it still felt like an ETERNITY!)
The contractions in the van were terrible and I was secretly worried that I wasn’t going to make it to the hospital. But I didn’t want to freak my husband out, and thought I could psych myself out, so I told him that the first thing I was doing was getting an epidural. He pointed out that I’d already done one birth without an epidural and he knew I could do it again, BUT totally recognized that it was my decision (smart man!)
We parked in the front handicap spots at the hospital and the doulas and my husband helped me to walk (more like shuffle) towards the entrance. My husband went ahead to get a wheelchair, but of course, in an emergency, there were no wheelchairs in the lobby. Awesome. (Might I add that since then, there have been at least four wheelchairs in the lobby each time I have been back for a check up!)
So, while my husband was calmly demanding a wheelchair, the doulas were slowly shuffling with me in the middle of my contractions, trying desperately to get me inside. I kept telling them that I really felt like I had to push. So the other doula ran ahead to alert my husband to get back outside because he very well might have to catch our baby 🤣
A new dad walked by us on the sidewalk heading back into the hospital and noticed my extreme distress. When he passed a midwife in the stairwell, he told her about me outside and she ran out to check on us. (This man is the reason that my man didn’t catch our baby that day!)
I had just had an appointment with her the day before, so it was kind of funny to see her again! The wheelchair finally came, along with other nurses rushing around. They tried to get me to sit in the chair so we could be brought inside, but I told them in between practically constant contractions that I couldn’t and that I could feel the baby coming. My midwife asked if she could check me, and when she did, she could clearly see the baby’s head peeking at her, so they decided I’d have to deliver right there…on the sidewalk 😱
After they tossed the wheelchair aside, one of the WONDERFUL doulas laid her sweater down on the concrete, and they all laid me down as well. Sure enough, Ellison Kathleen came into this world with three quick pushes!!!
She cried right away, but because it was super cold (outside, AND on the oh so comfortable concrete), they quickly put her on me, put me in the wheelchair and away we raced into the hospital!
Ellison was pretty purple and the nurses were rushing around like crazy. My husband was able to cut the cord, and they cleaned her up, moved her under the warming lamp, and put her on oxygen for a bit. They took her to the nursery for a while to monitor her levels.
In the meantime, the nurses with me said “Okay. We’re doing things a little backwards today…can I get your name?” And then we began the process of collecting my information, taking my vitals, etc…things that are typically handled BEFORE your baby arrives.
So. We made it TO the hospital, just not IN the hospital! Little Miss Ellison sure is a feisty and adventurous lady, as we found out through her quick arrival into the world! All of our nurses and doctors were shocked to learn we were “the” family that everyone had been hearing about 🤣 A few weeks later, even my friend’s hair dresser in Clarksville had somehow heard the story of the sidewalk delivery!
We are so thankful for the doulas for their support and seemingly calm presence during such a crazy fast labor and delivery! I would have never known that they were anything but calm, cool, and collected! They were an amazing support throughout my entire pregnancy and delivery, as well as making sure I was okay and not alone while my husband was with our daughter as she was monitored in the nursery. I’m also incredibly thankful for the hospital staff who were super quick in reacting to such a crazy delivery situation!
I guess things like this DO happen in real life!
Adventure is out there! And boy, we sure are on an amazing one with both our girls! Next time around (if there IS a next time), we will be sure to get to the hospital with PLENTY of time. I missed catching up on my gossip!