*Today, on my younger son's 10th birthday, I'm re-posting his birth story, with edits. Enjoy the ride!*
Seven years ago our third baby was born. The birth was a terrifying "I can't believe this is happening to me" experience. In the middle of the night on October 14th, I delivered my baby in the front seat of our car.
At eighteen weeks pregnant with our third baby, we had our 1st ultrasound. I am one of those anal planners who needs to know the sex of my baby. I love to imagine who they will be and what they will look like. I shop for clothes and wash everything. I organize and fold and reorganize and fold. Then I reorganize again. And again. I am a reorganizing fiasco.
The ultrasound technician told us we were having another girl. With the possibility this was our last baby, I thought a girl would be excellent for the Gymnastics Queen. Sisters. Close in age. But I also felt a twinge of disappointment. I couldn't imagine raising only one boy. I might need another baby. This was a thought I did not share with Hubby. I break him in slowly with all my crazy. Little bits at a time.
My pregnancy continued smoothly. There was never a need for another ultrasound. By my third trimester, I had stacks of preemie sleepers (I don't grow 'em big) and I had bought bedding for the crib. I redid the Gymnastic Queen's bedroom for her and her new sister. We had a name (Ella) and a new pink patchwork carseat. Although something inside me told me not to wash all the clothes. I saved receipts. Deep down I just "had a feeling" I shouldn't go crazy washing and preparing. Mommy instinct was telling me what I needed to know.
At exactly 37 weeks, I awoke around 1am. I had terrible pain in my stomach. The pain was different from labor pains; it was strong and intense. My labors were quick with my first two munchkins, but they always began with gradual pain which then progressed quickly. Tightening from my back to my front. This was not labor. It couldn't be. I tried to walk it off, but it got worse. I showered, drank water and went to the bathroom. Thirty minutes later I woke my Hubby. The pain was excruciating. My exact words to him were, "I don't think I'm in labor. But something is wrong. We have to go to the hospital."
Hubby jumped out of bed and he called a friend to stay at the house. I called my midwife while Hubby grabbed a quick shower. "Gail, I'm in pain..it's bad...."
"Ok, I'm on my way. But Jodie, if you can't make it you need to go to the nearest hospital..."
Those words hung in my head. Not make it? Who doesn't make it to the hospital?
But Gail, having delivered the Gymnastics Queen, knew me. She could hear it in my voice. She had delivered 999 babies. That was the exact number. She knew what she was doing, and she thought I might not make to the hospital in time.
By the time we were leaving, about ten minutes later (this is 1 hour after my first pain woke me), I could barely walk. The pain in my stomach was so intense I felt like I was being ripped apart. Literally. There were small breaks for me to breathe, but this couldn't be labor. Labor had contractions with minutes in between. Not seconds. I sat on the floor in silence. All I could do was breathe. Hubby stood over me, and asked if we should really leave. I shot him the hairy eyeball. What on Earth else would we do?
Hubby called our friend and he was on our street. I managed to walk to the car, and we waited at the end of the driveway. Our friend flashed his lights as he came into view. Hubby pulled out and we headed for the hospital.
The hospital was a thirty minutes away. Hubby drove in silence and I breathed. About five minutes from our house was a small local hospital. We were driving past it when Hubby looked over at me in the dark. "Do you want me to pull in?"
I was silent. I was in pain. I couldn't speak.
"Jodie! Do you want me to pull in?"
I whispered yes. My stomach was being ripped from the inside, the stabbing pains were agonizing. But as we were about to pull into the parking lot, I had an ounce of relief. I thought about my midwife, who I adored. I thought about my planned water birth. I began to shake my head no. "No...no...keep driving...I can make it...."
"Are you sure?" Hubby hid his panic well.
"Yes. Get on the highway." Hubby did as I asked. The highway to the hospital only had exits every few miles, and we were in a rural area.
Only five minutes in, I felt pressure. I felt the baby's head. I began to cry.
Hubby looked at me and he knew we were in trouble. The highway was black; no one for miles. I whimpered to him, "You have to call 911. The baby is coming. You have to call 911."
This is where Hubby amazed me. There was no hesitation. I waited for an "Are you serious?" but there was none. He called 911 and kept his composure. He will never know how much gratitude I felt for his moment of composure.
As Hubby dialed 911, I sat in silence. I breathed. My water hadn't broken. I knew I had time. I felt pressure, but we had time. I rocked in my seat, "I have time...I have time..." the words soothed me as I said them in my head.
Hubby told the 911 operator he was pulling off exit 12. Hubby went to work every day on that highway and he knew it well. Exit 12 was a mile away, and there was a State Police Barracks there. The operator assured us a police officer would meet us outside. We were going to be okay.
But as Hubby pulled off the exit, there was splash of warmth down my legs. My water broke. I started to break down, yelling and crying. "My water broke....my water broke...." I was panicked and afraid. We were out of time.
Hubby pulled into the State Police Barracks seconds later. He threw the car in park. Three things then happened simultaneously. I heard Hubby tell the 911 Operator "There's no one here! There's no one here!", he ran around to my side of the car, and I threw my seat in recline. By the time Hubby opened my door I was pushing. On that cold October night, we were alone and Hubby was ready to deliver our baby.
The operator talked Hubby through the mechanics of delivery. I don't remember any of it except him removing his sweatshirt to wrap our newborn in. I went from sheer panic and fear, to nothing except my desire to push. All of my births were natural, this was just a whole different scenario. I pushed my baby into this world with such determination I remember nothing other than my focus.
After three pushes our baby was born. In the front seat of our minivan Hubby caught the baby and untangled the cord from its neck. I remember relief. Just relief from the agonizing, gut wrenching intense pain. I laid back and relished that moment of relief. Somewhere through my cloud of "what the heck just happened to me?" I heard my Hubby, "Holy sh*# Jodie, it's a BOY!"
I knew I was supposed to be shocked and amazed, but at that moment it could have been a puppy and I wouldn't have cared. There was so much for me to take in I couldn't absorb it. Hubby wrapped the tiny precious person in his sweatshirt and placed him in my arms. I sat in the front seat of my car, in the middle of no where, staring at my new baby boy. After a few wails to let us know he was alright, he slept quietly in my arms.
Two policeman may have caught the end of my delivery, but I couldn't have cared less with all the pain I was in. An EMT arrived minutes after them and they stayed with us and monitored our vitals. I just sat, in shock, holding my new munchkin.
While I waited for the ambulance I reached down into my purse and grabbed my cell phone. I dialed the only two people I would ever call at a moment like that: my parents. They were en route to the hospital. My mom answered.
My voice was weak as I tried to talk. "Hey mom, I just had the baby, I'm in the car, and its a boy." (Yes I am strange enough to make a phone call at a moment such as that one).
She thought I was joking. Car? A BOY? Not until she heard the ambulance pulling in did she scream to my father, "OH MY! Jodie had the baby in the car! It's a boy! The ambulance just got there!"
From this moment on I remember the EMT cutting the cord, and I remember the bright lights of the ambulance. Hubby followed in his car. I remember asking repeatedly about my baby and if he was alright. I was euphoric and eternally grateful as the reality of what just happened began to set in. At only 5lbs 13oz, born with the cord wrapped around his neck in the front seat of the car, we were healthy.
The aftermath of the birth was the front seat of our car being destroyed (as you can imagine) and we now had an abundance of baby girl attire to return. We also had no name for our new baby.
The next morning, as I gazed at our new son, Hubby arrived with my two other munchkins at the hospital. We decided to name him for the shop across the street from the police barracks. And his name fits him well, even though it wasn't my first choice.
Tonight, looking back, the whole experience is still very surreal. Aside from my memories and our 911 recording, we have a birth certificate that states "Parking Lot" as place of birth. We don't have any video other than a few minutes of me holding Harley in the front seat of the car. We don't even have an accurate birth time.
But we have Harlo. And he certainly lives up to his entrance into this world. Crazy and loving, yet at the end of the day quite peaceful.
Happy 10th Birthday Harlo!
You have been shocking us from before you were even born...truly one of a kind.