Two years ago for Christmas I got a new set of towels. Not just any old towels. Big, oversized, super soft bath sheets. You know, the kind you can wrap around yourself three times and never worry about what might be showing if you wrap it too high or too low.
Ladies, you know the kind I’m talking about. They’re the towels you hide way up high so that no one else uses them. You don’t share these kind of towels. You don’t risk your husband leaving them wet on the bathroom floor or your kids using them to clean up the Kool-Aid mess they made.
I loved them so much I was saving them. For what, I’m not sure…but they still had the tags on, tucked away in the laundry room, way up high on the shelf, just waiting to get the appreciation they deserved.
If you’re wondering why I’m talking about towels when you thought this was a birth story, I promise I’ll get there. The towels are important. Just ask anyone who already knows this story. And if you like a good birth story, I’ve got a doozy for you.
My pregnancy with Calista was anything but ordinary. A series of unfortunate events ultimately led to the need for a scheduled induction. I just happened to go into labor a few hours before I was scheduled to be induced (possibly due to the fact that I assembled the crib by myself that afternoon 😬). As it was my first time, I didn’t even realize I was in labor when I got to the hospital. Whoops.
With Mila, I didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t have to wait until the contractions got to a certain level of intensity or were a specific period of time apart with Calista. This whole waiting to go into labor thing was foreign to me. Mila’s due date came and nothing. Not even the slightest hint that she was about ready to make her grand appearance. So I did what every mom who is 40 weeks pregnant does…I googled ‘how to induce labor’.
I made a double batch of the famous Eggplant Parm. We took a three mile walk around the neighborhood. It was Memorial Day and neither Carl or I wanted to have to go to work the next day as we had already planned our time off for the summer. We were ready to meet this baby.
My coworker had shared with me the recipe for the Midwives Brew. Her mom is a midwife. She swore by it.
After our three mile walk and so much eggplant that I think I may have ruined my appetite for it forever, we headed to the grocery store to pick up what we needed for the brew. It was more so at Carl’s request. He REALLY didn’t want to go to work on Tuesday.
I whipped it up at 9PM and it took almost an hour to get down. It’s not awful, but I wouldn’t call it pleasant. An hour later, around 11PM Carl asked how I was feeling. Other than a little nauseated from the concoction I just choked down, I didn’t feel any different. Mila didn’t seem to be interested in joining us.
Or so I thought…
I woke up at 2AM with what I assumed was a contraction. Okay, there’s one. Let’s see what happens. I didn’t have to monitor them before Calista was born because I was already in the hospital and the nurses there were doing all of the counting for me. I requested my epidural as soon as it was possible so I never felt the worst of it.
I thought I remembered that I should wait until they were about a minute long and 5 minutes apart for an hour. I checked the clock and closed my eyes. 7 minutes later another contraction came, followed by another one maybe 5 minutes later. I was starting to get uncomfortable. I went downstairs and sat on the couch, not wanting to disturb Carl if I didn’t have to. At 3AM, just shy of an hour after my first contraction, I called my OB. She asked all of the routine questions…how many days/weeks was I, when did the contractions start, how far apart, etc. I think she heard the strain in my voice and asked me how far I was from the hospital. When I told her 15 minutes she urged me to leave…now.
I woke up Carl when I got off the phone and he asked if he had a few minutes to take a shower. He needed something to wake him up. I called my sister-in-law because she was ‘on call’ to come sit with Calista while we went to the hospital. But she didn’t answer. Carl offered to call his parents but I was afraid we wouldn’t have time to wait for them to get to our house, so we decided to just pack her up and bring her with us, we could figure it out at the hospital.
This is where it gets a little fuzzy.
I was in the middle of our living room, on our new white carpet. I don’t even remember why I was on the floor. Carl went outside to move a car seat. I think he wanted to have an extra one so that he could send Calista home with someone when they got to the hospital. Why, I’m not sure. That definitely could have waited until later. But he was so flustered he couldn’t get the seat out so he came back inside and I informed him that my water had just broke. It was like a water balloon that had been overinflated. The little trickle they talk about? That’s not at all what it felt like.
He was trying to tell me about the car seat and I told him to forget it. We weren’t leaving anyway. This baby was coming now and if he wanted help he had better call 9-1-1.
He went white. The thumping in his chest was almost audible. I am honestly surprised her didn’t pass out right then and there.
I realized where I was and decided I didn’t want to ruin the carpet, so I crawled over to the hardwood floor and instructed him to grab the blanket off the back of the couch. I vaguely remember him answering the questions that he was being asked by the 9-1-1 dispatcher and I definitely remember him responding 37 when she asked how old I was…because I *sternly* informed him that I was 34, HE was 37.
He tried to get me to lay on my left side like she said, but I wasn’t having it. There was no slowing this baby down. She was ready, and she was ready now. The dispatcher told him to grab some towels.
Now…about those towels. Our laundry room is upstairs. We have no less than 20 towels in there. Towels we use everyday. Towels we use for the pool. Towels that we don’t use but I just haven’t gotten around to throwing away. And those three brand new bath sheets that I had tucked way up high on a shelf.
Guess which towels he grabbed?
I suppose I should give him a pass, he obviously wasn’t thinking clearly. If you know my husband, you know that anything medical-related gives him the chills. He doesn’t take his contacts out everyday because he can’t stand touching his eye and he’s terrible at putting them back in. He can’t use eye drops. Refuses nasal spray. Won’t take anything larger than an over-the-counter ibuprofen and absolutely detests cough syrup of any kind. It is poison as far as he is concerned.
He is the very last person you’d want delivering your baby. He didn’t even want to cut Calista’s cord after she was born. My OB guilted him into it. It’s just not his thing, and that’s totally fine. It’s my thing, and I’m convinced that’s why we get along so well.
Delivering our baby was the very last thing he wanted to do. Trust me. He’ll tell you that himself.
But there we were, Calista sitting in the kitchen on a chair that Carl faced away from us with his phone thrusted at her to try and keep her occupied while she asked why mommy was yelling. Carl with those bath sheets in hand, trying to listen to the dispatcher between my screams. He was flustered because I didn’t want to do anything she was trying to get me to do. I was on all fours and that’s what felt right, so that’s where I stayed. It was 3:30 AM.
It was only a minute or two later when he noticed red lights flashing outside of our house. A sheriff happens to live around the corner and responded to the call. Carl welcomed him in and it couldn’t have been more than a minute later that Mila was born. There was no pushing, she just…arrived. Luckily she was in a good position and practically delivered herself, with Carl there to catch her and make sure she didn’t hit the floor.
I held my breath like any mom who has just given birth does, waiting to hear that first cry. It was quiet for a few seconds, Carl was frantically trying to clear the fluid from her mouth, and then I heard it. The sound that is more beautiful than any other thing you’ll ever hear. The first cry. Carl and the sheriff wrapped her up in a towel to keep her warm and she stopped crying almost immediately. A few minutes later the ambulance crew arrived. I was still on all fours facing our front door because Mila was still attached to the placenta and I was afraid to move. All I remember is boots. Lots of boots from the volunteer firefighters and paramedics who responded to our call. They clamped the cord and wrapped her up like a baked potato in one of those silver warming blankets. Finally, they placed her in my arms.
All was right with the world again.
As quickly as the pain had come an hour and a half earlier, it was gone immediately. There was nothing but love coursing through my veins. Calista joined us, asking if I was all better now. Carl took a photo and one of the paramedics offered to take one of all of us. So our first photo as a family of 4 is of us in the living room, me with no pants on, Mila still attached to the placenta, Calista looking a little confused and Carl who definitely doesn’t look like he just delivered a baby on his living room floor.
Mila and I took a ride to the hospital in the ambulance while Carl stayed behind with Calista, waiting for his parents to come watch her so he could join us. The sheriff who arrived first on the scene happened to be married to the midwife who was working at the hospital that night, so she already knew our story before we arrived. She delivered the placenta, my OB came in and gave me a few stitches and after a one night stay we got to bring our baby girl back home.
After I left in the ambulance, Carl cleaned up before his parents arrived. That involved throwing away the blanket and my beloved towels. Yes, he threw away the towels.
I know, I know, he gets a pass. It’s not like he would’ve ever used them anyway. But that would’ve guaranteed that they would’ve been mine at least.
I thought Calista’s birth story was unique, you don’t often hear of moms going into labor just before they’re about to be induced. Well, Mila had to go and one-up her older sister.
I learned a lot about my husband that night. I learned a lot about myself. I learned a lot about women and the female body.
Before Mila’s birth I would have never, ever considered a natural home birth. I was team epidural all the way. I’m a medical professional. I have heard of way too many complications during birth and know way too many things that can go wrong. And even if I was on board, it would’ve been a pretty hard sell for Carl.
Having gone through it, I get it now. I get why women choose to have their babies at home. There’s something so incredibly empowering about letting your body do what God intended it to do. It is an experience that I feel very blessed to have been given the opportunity to have. We were very fortunate to not have any complications.
Given the choice, I might even consider a home birth in the future. Though I’d make sure we had the proper help. And I would definitely hide the good towels.