Tuesday, December 1, 2015

David's Birth Story, or How Having a Baby in a Car Was the Unexpected Answer to My Prayers

Let's start this story at the very beginning. I'm 99.9% certain that my real due date (based on conception) was November 1. Every ultrasound I had during the pregnancy (and I had many) showed the baby measuring right on for a November 1 due date except the ultrasound that my doctor used to date the pregnancy, which gave me a November 6 due date. I was completely fine with going by the November 6 due date though because my daughter, Lucia, was late and I expected this baby to be late too, so it seemed that it would be likely that the baby would be born around November 6.
I started have contractions on October 29. They were Braxton Hicks contractions, very light and not at all regular, but were consistent in that they would appear every afternoon, come and go throughout the evening, then completely stop when I went to bed. When I was pregnant with Lucia, I hadn't had a contraction of any kind until I went into labor so I thought that these contractions signified that I would be going into labor somewhat soon. Maybe not that day or the next, but within the next several days or a week.

But November 1 and November 6 came and went and I still hadn't gone into labor. In fact, I stopped feeling contractions at all around November 4th which was a bit discouraging because it felt like my body had been gearing up for labor and then...nothing, like I was moving even further away from having my baby. Lucia had been eight days late and I hadn't been anxious at all for her to be born. As my first pregnancy, I had expected to be about a week late. But this time, I could finally understand what so many pregnant women meant when they would talk about being just done with being pregnant. I was still feeling pretty decent physically - just tired, so tired - but emotionally, I was more than ready to have the baby. After nine months of almost constant fear and anxiety, I needed to see and hold my baby and know that all was well. Or that all was not well, but just to know.

On November 11, I started feeling just off not long after getting up. I was really nauseous and was experiencing a constant, strong, dull pain in my stomach. I had felt a similar pain for short periods of time previously and it seemed to be caused by the baby lying right in the front of my stomach (facing my back - the optimal birth position). It felt like the baby was pushing straight out of my belly button and the pain was coming from so much outward pressure. I have no idea if that was the actual cause, but the baby was indeed right there in front. Thankfully, it was Veteran's Day and my mom works in a bank so she had the day off. She watched Lucia for me while I took a shower and laid in bed most of the morning. (Side note: We live with my parents.)

Around noon my mom was leaving to take the dog to be groomed and run some errands and she planned to take Lucia with her. Shortly before she left, I sent David a text asking him if it would be a big deal if he came home early from work and then I ended up not going into labor. I had previously been determined that I would not ask him to come home until I was having very obvious baby is coming contractions, but I was just feeling so awful and emotional and really just wanted him with me. I sent him a text saying "I feel like crying." He asked why and I could only respond that it must be hormones, which made him think that this really had to be early labor.

After my mom and Lucia left, I was able to fall asleep until David got home. He came home very excited, thinking we were going to be having a baby that day only to find me feeling....absolutely normal. The pain was gone, the nausea was gone, no desire to cry anymore. Just normal. And frustrated.

I rested for a little while longer and then we decided to go for a walk. As we were walking, I was having a very angry conversation with God in my head. I told Him I was tired and I was angry that after going through so many miscarriages and a very emotionally difficult pregnancy, He couldn't at least give me at least the consolation of the baby coming on time. Why was He making me suffer longer? A little later on in the walk, I calmed down a bit and spoke to God again, apologizing for my (silent, in my head) outburst and acknowledging that there are far worse things than being pregnant a little longer with the healthy baby for whom I had prayed.

While we were walking, my mom and Lucia came home. Halfway through our walk, we stopped in the house to tell my mom what was going on (or what wasn't going on, as it were). She, of course, was excited because she saw David's truck in the driveway and assumed that he had come home because I was in labor. After telling her that was not the case, we finished our walk. Still no contractions.

My mom started dinner - tomato bisque - but then had to leave to take Lucia to gymnastics before she could get everything in the pot, so David took over. I stayed in the kitchen as David cooked and organized the spices in one of the cabinets.I was feeling perfectly normal, even by non-pregnancy standards, and I definitely was not feeling like baby would be coming anytime soon.

My mom and Lucia came home around 5 and not long after, while I was sitting on the couch waiting for the soup to finish, I felt a POP. The midwife broke my water well into labor with Lucia to speed up the process so I hadn't experienced what it was like to have my water break but I immediately suspected that's what happened. I went to the bathroom to check and there was a large amount of yellowish mucus. I couldn't tell if my water had broken yet, but I went back to the bathroom several times over the next ten minutes and there was clearly a yellowish liquid dripping. Since the fluid wasn't clear, I decided to call my midwife immediately. We spoke for about ten minutes. She said that yellow amniotic fluid was fine but let me know what colors to look out for. I told her I hadn't had any contractions yet, but that I was having a dull cramping in my lower abdomen. I don't remember all we talked about but I do very clearly remember her asking if I was ready to have a baby and I answered that yes, I'd been ready for a while! She told me to call her back around 8:30 to check in but otherwise just to rest and wait for contractions to start. At this point it was 5:30. My water had broken at 5:10.

Almost immediately after I hung up the phone, contractions started. David had downloaded a contraction timer on his phone already, so he started timing them right away. They were very close together - only about 1 minute 45 seconds apart! But they were very weak. I could talk through them easily. They were noticeable, but not painful. Sometime around the time I started having contractions, I went to the bathroom and saw blood. I called David into the bathroom and told him that we would definitely be having a baby soon.

David continued to time my contractions as I laid on the couch and watched "Family Feud" and he went to our room to pack the last minute items in our bag for the birth center. They were consistently 1 minute 45 seconds apart so he asked if I thought he should call the midwife back and let her know. I wasn't sure. Yes, the contractions were close together but they still weren't strong. But we decided he should call anyway. The midwife told us we should head in.

I helped David finish packing and had to pause often because my contractions were getting stronger. Lucia started to cry when I had contractions because I was moaning through them, which scared her. It was so hard to say goodbye to her while she was still crying because I wanted to comfort her, but I knew staying longer and having more contractions would just make her more upset. As we were leaving, my mom asked, "Aren't you going to have dinner before you go?" since the soup was now done, but it was clear that we really needed to leave. I did have David get a container full of soup for himself though so he could eat while I was laboring at the birth center.

David and I walked out the door around 6pm. My contractions continued to get stronger, but I assumed that I still had four or five hours to go before pushing. Clearly if I could stop and wait for David to scoop up some soup to take with us, I wasn't in that much pain and didn't think the baby was coming very soon. The intensity of the contractions were nothing compared to the last several hours of contractions during Lucia's labor. The midwives and nurses at the birth center had all said that second labors were usually around half the length of the first and I was in labor for a little over 14 hours with Lucia, so seven hours seemed to be a likely length. The drive to the birth center was 35 to 40 minutes and I never had any doubt that we'd have plenty of time to get there.

But about ten minutes after we left, the contractions had gotten much more painful, the downward pressure was very intense, and I felt a strong urge to push. I started repeating, "Jesus, I trust you. Jesus, I trust you," through each contraction but it quickly became just, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus," or "I trust, I trust, I trust." I realized that this baby was probably coming sooner rather than later but still assumed I had some time ahead of me, at least enough time to make it to the birth center.

And then I found myself pushing. Well, not pushing exactly, or at least not intentionally pushing, but I felt the downward pressure pushing the baby down. I told David he had to pull over. We weren't going to make it. He got the midwife on the phone and pulled over into the nearest parking lot, in front of a Kohl's. This was around 6:20. The midwife thought we could still make it, we were only 15 minutes away. But I was insistent - there was no way, the baby was coming, and we needed to call 911. The midwife (or one of the nurses at the birth center there with her) called 911 for us so David could stay on the phone with her. David put her on speaker phone. She asked if I could reach down and see if I could feel the baby's head. So I reached down and I did feel something hard that I assumed must be the head just inside the vaginal opening.

At this point, David got out of the driver's seat and came around to my side of the car and by the time he opened my door, the head was out! I don't remember what the midwife told David to do, but she told me to take a deep breath and give one good push to birth the rest of my baby. So I did. At 6:25 pm, David caught our baby and as he was raising it to my chest we noticed immediately that it was a boy. Our son! David, Jr! He was covered in meconium, but cried immediately and seemed to be perfectly healthy. David put his pea coat over both of us and then I asked him to go into our bags in the backseat and get something softer to wrap our baby in. David found his robe and covered the baby. It was dark and a cold night and our biggest concern was keeping him warm.

An ambulance and other emergency vehicles arrived a few minutes later. They brought us blankets, checked little David out quickly, and then helped get us out of the car onto a gurney and into the very wonderfully warm ambulance. We had originally hoped to be taken to the birth center but the EMTs said they felt more comfortable taking us to the closest hospital just five minutes away because it was so cold that little David had a lower than desirable temperature and he was covered in meconium so they wanted to make sure he hadn't aspirated any of it. We decided to just head to the hospital. David drove the car while the baby and I headed over in the ambulance. After the cord stopped pulsing, the umbilical cord was cut in the ambulance.

When we arrived at the hospital, we went straight to the labor and delivery floor where there was staff awaiting us. From there, everything was pretty normal, or at least what I assume is fairly normal in a hospital birth. They checked little David over a bit more than perhaps is usual but he never left my room. He was perfectly healthy and his temperature went back up to normal quickly. It took a while (almost and hour and half after birth, I think) for the placenta to be delivered and both that and the few stitches I needed were definitely the most painful part of the whole labor and delivery, just like I remember them being with Lucia's birth experience.

After that, we were left alone pretty quickly. I was able to make a call to the new big sister and my parents to let them know we'd just had a baby in the car, David called the rest of our families, and I was able to just nurse and cuddle my little son. A couple hours later, my parents and Lucia came to see us for a short time. We stayed the night in the hospital and left the next afternoon.

Looking back on my labor and discussing it with my midwife, there really weren't any signs that my labor would be that quick and there really wasn't any way we would have made it to the birth center in time. I had contractions for less than an hour before David was born, so we would have had to have left almost immediately after they had started and at the time, there was no indication that we should.

But I'm really, truly happy with how it all turned out. I believe having our son in the car was an answer to so many prayers. I would have never planned it (and I don't necessarily suggest it) but I truly can't complain about a fairly painless childbirth that lasted less than an hour. Baby and I are both healthy and I've had a much easier recovery this time around. And probably most importantly, all the fears I had about labor being emotionally difficult were moot because it was so fast I didn't have much time to think about anything but having a baby. Nothing went as planned. I wasn't birthing in a dark room with the light of candles, there was no diffuser with calming essential oils, and the Marian statue I bought specifically for the occasion stayed in our bag in the backseat. We didn't pray the rosary or over the intentions I had collected for labor. But it was even better than I planned - truly the most peaceful, joyful, healing birth I could imagine.

The main downside about the whole thing was that our car was left looking like a crime scene. But even that isn't nearly as bad as it could be. Our car is currently getting a new seat cushion and carpet in a shop that specializes in biological messes in vehicles while we drive a rental car. And our car insurance is covering everything but our deductible (and it's going to be over $2,000!). Since it wasn't a collision, our insurance payments won't even go up. Seriously, an hour long labor is worth paying our deductible.

Here are a few pictures of little David's first few hours, all taken once we got to the hospital. They're mostly duplicates of the pictures I shared in his birth announcement post, but they're all I've got.

David Newton, Jr.
November 11, 2015 6:25pm
7 lbs. 12 oz. 20.25 inches

 I did not look like this after my 14 hour labor with Lucia. My hair isn't matted! I'm not sweaty and exhausted!

 David, Jr. with his daddy, the man who delivered him!

 Meeting big sis, who came bearing gifts.

If you want to read Lucia's very different birth story, you can do so here. Oh, and Kate of Sancta Nomina posted a birth announcement for David where I share a little about his name and ask for nickname suggestions. You can read it here.


  1. I love this story! Also, I had always wondered about the clean up of a car who has seen the birth of a baby. Thanks for addressing that (super bizarre) question!

    1. I've actually gotten the question a lot, that's why I wrote so much detail about it! ( I also got a ton of questions about how/who cut the umbilical cord - no we didn't cut it with our teeth in the car!)

  2. Great story!! With my last labor, my water broke in our van and I was worried the seat would be stained, but thankfully I'd ended up sitting on a blanket, and between that and my sweatpants the seat didn't even get wet! (Also, thankfully, there was no meconium.)

    Sounds like you are paying the insurance company what you would have paid the birth center! LOL! :)

    1. I thought since my water had already broken and was just a steady trickle, a pad would be fine and I didn't need to sit on a blanket this time! Ha ha ha, though really, I don't think a blanket would have helped much - maybe a tarp?

      We would have just met our out of pocket maximum on our health insurance if I'd birthed at the birth center - and we did that anyway with the ambulance ride and hospital stay, so it cost the same health expenses wise. The car insurance deductible was above what we would have paid, but I still think it was worth it :)

  3. What an amazing story!! My labors have been getting shorter and shorter, to the point that my husband and I kept joking about having a baby in the car with the last one, but I've never heard a story like this! Blessings on your family - you are in my prayers.

  4. Oh, this made me cry happy tears!! I love all of this so much and am so grateful that the Lord gave you such a simple labor without much pain. Thank you for sharing the story!

  5. You didn't mention earlier that you barely had any pain!!!! What a blessing!! God definitely heard your prayers ;) What a great story!

    1. The contractions toward the end were somewhat painful, but not as much as I remembered the last several hours of contractions with Lucia being. And since it was so short, there were only a few of those. The actual birth was not painful though, which is insane because I remember the crowning and pushing being so painful with Lucia, though not nearly as painful as delivering the placenta and being stitched up - and those parts were painful, just as miserable as I remembered them!

  6. I'm so glad to read this!! What an adventure, and praise the Lord! I've always wondered about the cleaning logistics after car-births! Of course there must be places that specialize in that! What a job, right? ;)

    1. I'm guessing the "biological messes" they deal with are usually of the actual crime scene variety - I bet they're happy to get car births, a much happier mess!

  7. This is so awesome. I an awe of you and of God! What a blessing. And I didn't realize cars could be detailed specifically for "biological messes." Good to know!

    1. Thanks, Jennie! I didn't know such a specific biological mess expert existed until our insurance adjuster recommended them, but it makes sense. Car births probably don't happen often, but crimes in cars are probably more frequent and need to be cleaned - this is a much happier event than they usually see, I'm guessing!

  8. Thanks for sharing this amazing story! God truly answered your prayers & showed faithfulness! How healing is the love and experiences He gives us.

  9. Wow! That is so awesome that it happened so fast! Especially emotionally, mentally, psychologically after repeat loss. What a blessing! Bummer about the mess in the car. I am going to pray for a fast birth too after my four losses and will be sure to put towels on my car seat and floor! ;) What a blessing!

  10. How did you prepare physically for this birth? Teas? Exercises? Etc.?

    1. Starting around 32 weeks, I tried to have multiple cups of red raspberry leaf tea every day. Throughout the pregnancy, I did 50 squats a day, with weights at first but then without weights toward the end - that was really the only consistent exercise I did but I heard squats help during labor/with pushing.