It’s going to take me longer to write this post than it took for George to be born. With all of my labors, I’ve experienced prelabor–mild to moderate contractions days and weeks before the baby was born.
With Joe 2, every little twinge was momentous. About 4 days before he was born, I had a few contractions. At 40 weeks + 4 days, Joe was born.
With Benjamin, I actually called out the cavalry–my mom and sister, who lived hours away–for some of this prelabor. By the time they arrived, all contractions had stopped. False alarm. Ben was born 5 days after that episode, at 39 weeks + 5 days.
I did the same thing with Captain, even convincing Joseph we needed to go to the hospital 2 weeks before Captain was actually born. We walked the halls and were eventually sent home. 40 weeks + 1 day he was actually born, after only 3 hours in the hospital.
Do you see the trend? My babies were all born within a couple days of their due date after lots of prelabor. This baby, I was convinced, was no different.
I’d already had a few rounds of prelabor with George. At my last appointment, the doc estimated I was 1 centimeter dilated. Big whoop. I was 3 centimeters dilated with Captain and he hung out in the womb for another week. So on June 1st, 14 days before George’s due date, I had more contractions. They weren’t regular or painful squeezes. They were just there. I texted my Mom jokingly that we might have a baby tonight and I should go to bed. But I didn’t really think it would happen. I still had 14 days to go.
I woke up at 1:30 AM. Contractions.
I woke up again at 3:30. More contractions. These hurt. But I still didn’t think this was labor. 13 days before the due date? I don’t have early babies–right? I tried to go back to sleep but every time I got comfortable, another painful contraction would come on.
Fine, I thought, I’ll do my labor dance. That’s where I stand up and wiggle and high step and rotate my hips and say “Open. Down. Open. Down.” I figure that if I’m going to have painful contractions, they should count for something. So I repeated the mantra, tried to relax my muscles and just let my body get ready to have a baby.
Now here is where a SMART person–an experience birther–would have called her people. It was 4:30 in the morning. I was going to the bathroom A LOT (sorry, TMI. But this IS a birth story). I was doing the birthing dance. Why didn’t I call Penny, who was going to come keep the kids? Why didn’t I tell Joseph to take me to the hospital? Well, because the contractions were irregular. Because it was 13 days before the due date. Because of the Benjamin and Captain false alarms. And because my water hadn’t broke and I didn’t have a bloody show. Joseph–in the most logical manner possible–reminded me of all these things as I had contraction after contraction. I think he even said, “You’re fine, go back to sleep.” So I tried to sleep through the next contraction again. By now, it was after 5 AM.
This time when I woke up, it was with a bang. This wasn’t just a contraction, this was IT. It was the urge to push.
JOSEPH JOE JOSEPH HELP HELP ME!!!! *tears and possibly screaming* HELP WE HAVE TO GO CALL PENNY PUT THE BOYS IN THE CAR HELP!!!!!
I wish I could convey the feeling of panic that accompanies my urge to push. I got it with Benjamin too (you might remember he was a planned home birth that ended up being an unplanned, UNASSISTED home birth). Labor does not turn me into an emotional wreck. But getting the urge to push before I’d even called the babysitter sure did.
Having a home birth is not the scary part. We’ve done that. Actually, the part that I was yelling about was the thought of having the baby, making a huge mess in the house, tearing, bleeding, and then having to haul my self, my older kids, and a newborn to the hospital so I could get patched up. Nope nope nope. Not what I wanted to do.
So Joseph comes rushing in, I’m crying, and he says “Who do you need to call?”I call Penny and I call my neighbor. I tell Penny to meet us at the hospital after the neighbor doesn’t pick up.
Joseph, in the meantime, chucks the 3 older boys, who are still half asleep, in the car. No shoes. In their pajamas. Captain (2.5 years old) crawls in, nodding sagely, and says “Time to go, Mommy. Time. To. Go.” Benjamin, 4 years old, wide eyed and concerned says, “Mommy what is wrong?” and I say “George is trying to come out, we need to get to the hospital.” Joe 2, always pragmatic, tells me to take a deep breath. He said I was breathing really fast, like this “HahahahHAHAHA” and he showed me later what that looked like. Then they asked if they could watch a DVD. Priorities, people.
I fought the urge to push the whole way there, all 5 minutes of the drive. I never understood what women meant when they said they held back the urge to push. It’s hard to do. It’s unnatural. It’s unnerving. But now I know–you can hold back that urge. It just takes everything you’ve got.
Joseph pulled into the emergency entrance, because we didn’t know if the main entrance was open at 5:55 AM, and I practically ran past the receptionist person. Bless her heart, she tried to get me a wheelchair.
“No, can’t sit down.” I said.
“Let’s take the elevator” says my husband.
“Not having the baby in the elevator” I said, and walked up the flight of steps to the maternity ward.
At the maternity ward, they tried to ask questions like “What’s your name?” and “How far along as you?” I didn’t bother to answer those silly questions.
“This is my fourth baby and I have the urge to push. I need a room now.”
The maternity ward receptionist picked up her phone and I heard her say, “Send me a nurse. Anybody! Anybody you have!”
2 or 3 nurses surround me, and I hear ludicrous remarks like “I don’t have a room ready.” “The room doesn’t have a monitor”. Bahaha. As if there were time for that.
“I just need a room. I have going to have this baby.”
“You can’t have it yet, the doctor’s in another birth.” She showed me into a room.
“Looks like it’s just you and me then.”
“Get me *some name I don’t remember*. She’s a midwife from Guyana.” Panic expressions on everybody’s face, except Joseph, who has done this before. Apparently the other folks were noobies.
Meanwhile, I was kneeling on the floor.
“Sweetie, please get on the bed. That floor looks really hard. You should lay down so we can check you.”
“I don’t do birth laying down. I get on my knees or I lean on something.” And then I remembered my sister Joanna, kneeing on the hospital bed, holding onto the railings. “If you’ll pull these railings up all the way then I can knee on the bed.”
“But they don’t go up any further.”
Geez. These nurses had plenty of excuses and not a whole lot of answers.
I climbed up on the bed. The nurse checked me. “Go take care of the boys.” I told Joseph. “See if Penny’s here. I’m fine.”
“She’s fully dilated. She’s ready to go.”
And as Joseph walked out the door I said, “SEE! I TOLD YOU SO!” Yes, I am an immature brat during transition, I’ll admit it.
And out he went. Because what choice did he have, our children were in the emergency lane, watching a DVD in the van, unsupervised.
He said that when he got down there, there was half a dozen hospital staff looking worriedly through the windows at our van, whispering. He loudly thanked them for watching the children, got our kids out of the car, and took them up to the waiting area just as Penny walked in.
I remember nurses saying “Is it head down? I hope its head down. Was it head down at your last appointment?” And the doctor came in and assured everyone that it was head down and we were fine and it was ok to push.
But at this point I really thought it would be better if Joseph could be here for his son’s birth. It’d be a shame to miss it at the last moment. Luckily, my body was taking a little pause. It’s not uncommon if a woman is having an unmedicated childbirth and is listening to her body. A rest before the big moment. I didn’t get the urge to push again until I saw Joseph’s feet. Then it was a gentle pressure, and just for a few seconds.
“You can push harder.”
“I’ll wait. I want to have time to stretch.”
The next push wasn’t going to wait for me, though. 2 more times and George came out. It was 6:20 AM. I know it was 6:20 because the staff kept saying it over and over.
“Ok, take your baby. Hold him.” But I couldn’t because I was shaking. It took me a few minutes to calm down, sit down, and hold him. But this was my face at that point:
I couldn’t stop smiling. I still couldn’t believe he was here, after a couple hours of contractions and one crazy ride to the hospital. REALLY. I don’t have babies early and I DIDN’T EVEN HAVE REGULAR CONTRACTIONS. So even holding my baby, my brain kept listing the reasons that I couldn’t possibly have Geroge yet.
By 7 AM I was stitched up, cleaned up, George wrapped up, and surrounded by the rest of our children. We looked like this:
I love that all my children were together within an hour of their brother’s birth. I love that we all went to hospital together (it was crazy but still, we’re supposed to be together). They adore George. Everybody wanted to hold him, Captain kept saying “Baby GEOrge GEOrge” like he does and Benjamin kept patting him and Joe 2 said how cute he was.
They say babies know their mom’s voice, and to an extent, their dad’s even before they are born. I expect George knew Joe 2’s, Ben’s and Captains as well. I think he was ready to join in this rowdy and unpredictable crowd and that might be part of why he came early. He was tired of missing all the fun.