For months I had been avoiding making plans and verbally prepping people for the possibility that my son would decide to make his entrance into the world as early as my daughter had. Thirty-seven weeks and a few days is by no means premature, but it still caught us off-guard in the case of my daughter, so this time around I was taking no chances. When people would ask my due date, I would say between mid-May to mid-June. When I turned down the fourth cake order for the weekend that would have put my son being born at the same time as my daughter, I started to wonder if I was crazy to think that two children would be born so similarly. After all, I spend a good deal of my time instructing Hypnobabies students that no two births are alike…each as unique as the baby to be born.
As the weekend drew closer, my husband and I joked around about how we would like this birth to ideally go. His wish was to have a middle of the day baby, as opposed to having my water break at 3am-ish again like we had experienced three years before. I agreed it would be nice to get a little more sleep this time. And I’m sure it would have been…
On Friday, I had begun having such intense discomfort in my hips when I would stand up that I finally scheduled an appointment with a chiropractor recommended for prenatal care. I thought that my hips must have gotten out of alignment and a quick adjustment would fix me right up. I was scheduled to see them on Monday, May 15th. By the time Saturday evening rolled around, I practically waddled myself to the bed, which was extremely out of the norm considering how in-shape and comfortable I had felt the majority of the pregnancy.
On Sunday morning, at around 3am, I woke up needing to go to the bathroom. As I sat on the toilet, I began to have an eerie sense of déjà vu. I went to the bathroom and noticed that even though I felt I had finished, I still heard water trickling. It was so much like my daughter’s birthing time that I wasn’t shocked at all when I started to feel the familiar sensations of pressure around my abdomen. I knew it was the beginning of my birthing time, but I wanted to take pity on my husband, who had already joked that he would really like a “middle of the day” baby. So, I did what I had done before, and headed back to bed. When I got to bed, I slipped on my sleep headphones and turned on my “Fear Clearing” Hypnobabies track and drifted off to sleep. The Fear Clearing portion of the program is one of my favorite parts, because it really helps birthing people/couples address any baggage they may be bringing into the birth and allows them to unpack and address any hang-ups they may have before they get to the birthing room.
I woke up when the track was over and headed to the bathroom again. This time, I felt the pressure waves with more intensity and knew we were going to be welcoming our baby that day. I sat on the toilet with my hands resting palms up on my knees, as if I was at yoga class. I put on the “Your Birthing Time Begins” track and let myself relax into my hypnosis. I noticed that my pressure waves were becoming very steady, so I decided to time a few. At that point, they were around ten minutes apart and lasting between 30 seconds to a minute. I noticed that the waves seemed to be coming closer together, but in hypnosis time seems to move a little more quickly. (We actually have a post-hypnotic cue to make every 20 minutes only feel like 5!). I figured it was best to go ahead and get the oven turned on and get started on my birthing day project…cupcakes for the L&D nurses. I walked to the stove between pressure waves and turned it on. As I was walking from the kitchen to the bathroom again, another pressure wave hit. This time I knew it wasn’t just because my hypnosis altering my perception of time. I remember laughing to myself and thinking “nope!” about whether or not the cupcakes would be happening this morning, and quickly shut the oven back off.
I made my way to the bedroom and curled up on the end of the bed at my husband’s feet. I nudged him awake and said, “Nothing’s wrong…I’m pretty sure we’re having this baby today. I think we probably need to go ahead and make our way to the hospital.” He got up and we quickly called my mother-in-law, who luckily only lives a mile down the road. She showed up within fifteen minutes as my husband was gathering up things to take with us to the hospital. We decided she should just stay at our house so our daughter could keep sleeping. While everyone was polite to not mention the elephant in the room, it was quite obvious that my pressure waves were coming VERY close together. In the span of about an hour, they had progressed from coming around every 10 minutes to being about 3 minutes apart.
Once again, the most comfortable position for me to be in was on my hands and knees. As my husband and mother-in-law talked in hushed tones, I found my way down to the ground again and again as we tried to ready ourselves to leave. I knew things were getting pretty serious when I didn’t even have time between pressure waves to pull on the pair of sweatpants I was trying to wear. It was during this time that I had my only moment of doubt creep in. Things were feeling so intense that I started to wonder if I was using my hypnosis effectively. I questioned whether or not I had put in enough time practicing my techniques and whether or not I was going to get the same easy birth I had experienced with my daughter if I couldn’t even dress myself at home. And then I remember the calm wave of peace that washed over me as I had the realization of what was going on. You see, I make sure to impress upon all of my students that it is very common to have a moment of self-doubt during your birthing time. I let their birth partners know that they will recognize this moment by the way their significant other will begin to questions themselves, saying something along the lines of “I don’t think I can do this.” I remember smiling so big as it dawned on me that I was in transition. Then I took a moment to pass on the same piece of advice I give the birth partners. “You look right into their beautiful eyes and tell them, ‘You ARE doing this. And you’ve already done the most challenging part of the work. This baby is almost in your arms!”
I eventually made my way to our couch and positioned myself kneeling in the seat with my arms resting on the headrest. My husband was telling me we needed to go, and I told him I needed pants! Between pressure waves, I held one leg out to him to slip on, waited through another pressure wave, then held the other leg out so he could help me finish getting the sweatpants pulled up. At one point I heard Kerry’s voice say something along the lines of my body being made to birth this baby. I laughed out loud and thought to myself, “heck yes it is!” As we made our way through the door, my mother-in-law asked us to keep her posted then whispered to my husband, “I hope you guys make it.”
I had my earbuds connected to my phone with my “Easy, First Stage” track playing in my ears as we laid my body pillow across the backseat. I crawled in and decided I wanted to stay on my hands and knees, leaning into the backseat. I alternated between being on my hands and dropping down to my elbows as we made our way to the interstate. My go-to for both births had been horse-lips (picture blowing raspberries) to keep my face and jaw relaxed. I’d learned a lot about sphincter law from reading Ina May Gaskin, and I knew that keeping my face relaxed helped to keep my birthing muscles relaxed. “As above, so below,” as the saying goes. I knew the pressure waves were very close, but it still took me by surprise when I felt the first involuntary push of my body. I remember thinking, “ok, so we’re doing this…here…now.” I breathed through a few more of the involuntary pushes, joining in with my own push when it felt right, blowing raspberries the whole time. I’m sure my husband thought I was trying to cover the backseat in drool. When I started to feel the sensation of my son’s head starting to crown, I stopped pushing and reached back with one hand to feel the top of his little head. I knew I needed to get my sweatpants out of the way, so I shimmied them down around my knees. As I reached forward to get back in my hands and knees position, I accidentally trapped the cord to my headphones beneath my hand and pulled my earbuds out. In retrospect, it wasn’t a big deal, since I didn’t really have time to change the track to “Pushing Baby Out” anyway.
I pushed with more intention the next time, and felt my lips rattle with the most aggressive raspberry I’ve ever done in my life. My husband told me later on that he had noticed my breathing had gotten much more intense as he was making his way down the interstate, but he just thought things were progressing. On the second push, my son’s head emerged. I immediately reached back to feel the top of the head and then continued until I felt which direction his little face was pointing. I lifted up off my hands into a kneeling position so that I could use both hands to catch him. One more push and his shoulders and body slid right out into my hands. I had my right hand reaching down in front to support his head and shoulders and reached around with my left hand to catch his tiny body as he made his way earth-side. The car was so quiet, so surreal. I knew I needed to get him up to my chest, so I gently laid him down on the seat of the car. As he touched the seat, he let out his first cry, and I’m sure I finally let out a deep sigh too. As I was sitting down onto the seat, so I could lift my leg up and over the umbilical cord, I heard my husband say, “Uhhh…what was that?” “It’s just Oliver. We’re fine. Everything is fine.” I reassured him, as I pulled our little one up from the seat and tucked him underneath my husband’s Grateful Dead shirt. It was the same shirt I had worn for the birth of our daughter 3 years before and I had made sure it was ready to wear for this day too.
I curled the lower half of the shirt around Oliver’s body and remember cooing “Hi, buddy” to him over and over as I got him up to my chest. He latched on almost immediately and started nursing. My husband asked what I wanted him to do and I remember telling him, “Keep going. Same place.” And since we were only about five minutes away from the hospital anyway, it was a short trip. My husband will tell you that it was the calm in my voice that helped him stay calm. I think the calm was in my voice because everything was happening exactly as it should. Oliver came out in only a few pushes, he let out a cry when he didn’t like being sat on the car seat and he started nursing immediately. There were no reasons to panic, and so I didn’t.
When we arrived at the hospital, we pulled up to the main entrance door. My husband got out to see if he could find anyone, but there was no one at the front desk. I spotted someone in scrubs walking across the parking lot and told him to go ask where we should go. The guy directed us around to the ER entrance and my husband got out and ran in to get someone. Later he told me that there was no one sitting at the ER desk either! It was apparently very slow on that Mother’s Day. He finally found a nurse and told her that his wife had just given birth in the car. It took her a minute to snap into action, but then she told him to head back out to me and she would get people out there right away.
While I was waiting in the car, I got a text message from our birth photographer that she was at the hospital. I let her know that we were too, but she’d missed the birth. It was a little ironic since she had specifically told me that I wasn’t allowed to have my baby in the car several times over the course of my pregnancy. The next thing you know there are nurses and a wheelchair heading out to the car. They helped me out of my sweats, draped me with a gown and got me into a wheelchair. You see, I had been afraid to deliver the placenta in the car on the off chance that it would fall off the seat and pull my little one right out of my arms with it. I have no idea how I had the presence of mind to consciously think about that, but I remember thinking “that can wait.”
One of my favorite nurses came out in the group and ended up wheeling me up to our room where Katie Lacer, our photographer, was waiting. Our midwife, Beth, checked both Oliver and I out and pronounced us in great shape before she went about helping me birth the placenta. After that, we got to settle in and start nursing again while Katie took photos and eventually set up her camera to let Jon and I make a video of our memories of the morning while they were still fresh.
Family came to visit that morning, but things got especially surreal when WHAS11 responded to my dad’s call with a request to come and do a story on us. Tabnie Dosier (who is the sweetest news anchor ever!) came to our hotel room to interview us. Retelling the story several times made me realize what an incredible morning we had experienced. A few hours after she and her camera guy headed out, the midwife and a PR rep for the hospital came in to talk with us. Apparently, the story was already circulating and they had received a call requesting another interview. They let me know that I was welcome to take the calls or they could field them. As they were speaking with us I missed a call from a New York number. Following the call, I got a text message from someone who claimed to be from ABC News in New York that had seen their affiliate’s story (WHAS). They’d like to see about getting some additional photos or video to run the story nationally.
From there things became a whirlwind of excitement. The ABC News call/text were the real deal. They ended up publishing the story on their website. Tabnie Dosier had tweeted Stephen Amell about our story because we had mentioned Oliver was named after the TV character that he plays on the show “Arrow.” I woke up that night in the hospital to a ridiculous amount of Facebook notifications and texts letting me know that Stephen Amell had tweeted back! Friends across the county, and even the world, would message me letting me know that they had seen me on their local news channel. The craziest thing that happened was hearing from friends and coworkers in Australia that had seen me on their Today Show. It was exhausting to keep up with, but made Oliver’s birth so memorable.
I think the most important thing that came out of that day was my reaffirmation that my body knew exactly what it was doing. Having my baby in the car was definitely not on my birth plan, but it also wasn’t the worst thing to ever happen. In fact, if anything, I’ve been able to share my story with lots of people who no longer think of it as the worst thing that could happen to them either. For some, the fear of not making it to the hospital was terrifying. Hearing my story took some of the fear out of their pregnancy. It may have made them pay closer attention to the rule of thumb for when to head to their birthing place, but they also released some fear that was only stealing joy from their story. At the end of the day, each of us experiences the unique birth that we and our babies need. Sometimes that birth brings a wound, sometimes it brings healing. But it most definitely changes our lives forever.
Arriving at the hospital
Oliver meeting Stephen Amell, the actor who plays his namesake, Oliver Queen / the Green Arrow.