the sidewalk birth

I posted the story of my son’s birth on my Livejournal the week it happened, but just now realized I hadn’t posted it here.

my OMG birth-face

Andrew’s birth story starts on Thursday, the 15th. I had an afternoon appointment with my midwife, Bernadette, and I finally consented to a cervical exam. My cervix was 3cms dilated, 50% effaced, and baby was at -2 station. She offered to let me come in the next morning to have my membranes swept. I told her I would think about it and initially thought I would do it. I spent all night going back and forth and got little sleep. I felt bad that I hadn’t spent any quality time with Nathan, my nearly 3 year old. I went to the birthing center in the morning and declined the procedure. It was now the day before my due date. I spent it hanging out with my son, doing some moderate walking, and last-minute preparations.

On Saturday (DUE DATE!), I discovered a lot of mucous during my first bathroom trip of the day. I had to wipe about 3 times to get it all. It happened again the second trip to the bathroom. I felt like I finally had a hint something was going on.

Jason and I decided to take Nate to a new park, Discovery Green, in downtown Houston. We played a bunch then decided to get lunch down the street at the Houston Center. I had my first painful contraction on the way and got a little excited. After lunch we walked back to the park, played some more then left to Grandma’s house. There I had even more mucous come out during a bathroom break and even had a soft bowel movement. “HOORAY!” I thought. We went to dinner then took Nathan to dessert at Dairy Queen.

Nothing happened that night. Nothing at all. On Sunday, I got more mucous, but absolutely no painful contractions. I didn’t really feel like doing anything, so we relaxed most of the day at my aunt’s house. Everyone was amazed I was still pregnant and they all exclaimed I looked huge but that baby still looked high. We discussed the possibility of the full moon helping me out the next night. It was a nice thought.

On Monday, we did almost the same thing we did on Saturday. We went back to Discovery Green, to the Houston Center for lunch and then back to the park. I did a ton of walking, but still no contractions! I got kind of worried then got the best idea ever—we should go bowling!

That evening, we called up my cousins and decided to make a night of it. I bowled horribly but had a great time. My pelvis ached and I got at least one contraction while we were there—as I was walking up to bowl, I might add. We left the alley and I stared at the moon the entire way home. It was full, but nothing was a-happening! I showered then went to bed around midnight. I complained to Jason that my pelvis felt like it was being ripped in two. I really felt a ton of pressure and it was super painful to lay there. I did, though, and eventually fell asleep.

At 2:41 in the morning, I woke up and jumped out of bed. It was the first time I had been able to get up that quickly in a long time. As soon as I did, I felt a warm gush then I proceeded to startle Jason with a “my water just broke! Get a towel!” I soaked that towel very quickly and then waddled to the bathroom to get a better look at the liquid—for color. I had another huge flow of water come out when I got there and it was all clear! I decided to call my midwife, just to let her know and get some advice. She was of course asleep and told me to take my temperature and if it were normal (it was) to try and get some sleep. I hadn’t had any contractions, so she just said to relax and to call her in the morning or if I started getting any that were really close together.

According to our contraction log, once they started, they were pretty much 3-5 minutes apart, but only lasting about 30-45 seconds. I called my midwife back after about an hour and she informed me that they needed the be at least a minute, coming 2-5 minutes apart for TWO HOURS. Oh I was devastated. Things weren’t too painful, but I sort of thought I might almost be ready to go to the birthing center. I wanted to labor in the jacuzzi, man!

Around 4:45 am, they jumped to a minute long. I was able to relax between them, though, so they got a little more far apart. They were tough, but I had the best labor partner. Jason would rub my back during each one and help me remember to breathe deep breathes. Between contractions, we’d laugh at stuff, talk, or just lay here quietly. It was so ideal. A little before 6, I had him call Bernadette and tell her they were long and getting more painful and harder to breathe through. She told me to get in the shower and to give her 20 minutes before we left, so she could get her kids ready. I got in the shower and it felt pretty good, but I found myself needing to literally roar through my contractions. I ended up on all fours chanting “God, give me strength” between each contraction. They came really close together, so I told Jason we had to leave “NOW.” I got dressed really quickly between contractions and we got Nathan up, dressed, and handed him off to my mom.

I had a contraction right outside the car and started crying because I knew just how awful the ride was going to be. I reclined the seat all the way back and laid down on my side, grasping the “handles” in the front and back seat by the doors. We don’t have tinted windows, so I must have looked ridiculous. Jason turned on his emergency lights and took off speeding. Yeah, we passed a few red lights, but we had the horn blaring through them all. My contractions in the car were excruciating. I wanted to push so bad and I kept yelling that I was going to. Jason told me not to and reminded me that if I weren’t fully dilated, it could be harmful to push. He tried to get me to do the panting-like breathing that we learned in our class, to avoid pushing. It was the hardest thing ever. My contractions weren’t very long, but I only got about a 30 second break between them. I yelled bloody murder through each one and kept saying “I need to push” with a huge emphasis on “push” and he kept saying it wasn’t time. I remember a specific moment when I saw a fire station and almost made him stop but he just sped right past. We both knew we’d end up in the hospital if I did that, so I’m really thankful he didn’t listen to me. We finally made it to the street the birthing center was on and I had one contraction and knew it would be my last in the car, so I calmed down a bit and actually breathed through it. We got to the center and I immediately jumped out.

I saw Bernadette waiting by the door with her kids and started walking toward her. She yelled out something about not having a key and I yelled out a “oh no!” and dropped to the ground during a contraction. She ran up to me, as did her kids and Jason. I begged her to take off my pants and check me and she yelled out to her daughter for a blanket. I thought she was asking for something to cover me, so I yelled that I didn’t “CARE WHO SAW” and that she needed to take off my pants “RIGHT NOW!” I was on all fours and still roaring through my contractions. I told her I needed to poop and was going to push, so she yanked my pants down. My son was crowning! I felt a ring of fire and pushed right past it. They all yelled his head was out and that I could push out his body if I wanted to because he had turned into the right position. I felt so amazing but didn’t really feel like I could push, but they encouraged me, so I looked down at the ground, focused on an ant that was walking by, and he slid out in a few pushes.

It was the most amazing feeling in the world. I was half-naked on a sidewalk in front of kids and there were probably people seeing me from their cars, but WHATEVER. I chanted “I feel awesome” and “we did it” over and over and was all smiles. My mom arrived about a minute later and everyone was overjoyed. The nurses/birth assistants with the keys to the building also arrived and hooted and hollered at the first parking lot birth of Rite of Passage birthing center. I was on cloud nine and walked in with him still attached to me via his cord and placenta. It was about 10-15 minutes after getting settled in bed that I felt an urge to push. The placenta came out very quickly and fully intact. Andrew nursed and I relaxed in the bed, still high from everything that just happened.

After about 40-45 minutes of nursing, I had some breakfast while they took his measurements and cooed at how adorably chunky he looked. He weighed in at 9 lbs 4.5 oz and was 21.5 inches long with a 14 inch head. Later on, it was revealed my perineum and other girly bits were all intact! No tearing! I was so thankful. I was cleaned up by one of the wonderful assistants and was back in bed in no time with my sleeping baby.

We were “discharged” about 4 hours after birth. I left with my bag of herbs for baby and I had such an amazing feeling of accomplishment. Both Jason and I couldn’t believe what had just happened. We were tired as all heck, but still so high from the experience. On the way home, I think I actually said, “I really want to do that again.” I do, but we’ll wait a while.

And next time we’ll definitely plan to do it all at home. While it was an amazing experience giving birth outside, it would have been even more amazing not having to go through that car ride.

Andrew will be 4 weeks old on Tuesday.

The birth announcements I put together:

handmade envelopesrevised birth announcement

10 comments to the sidewalk birth

  • I wondered over here from Ravelry (Happyhooking over there) and ended up reading your story about the birth of your son. What a wonderful story! Congratulations!

  • Hey, Lisa! A Rav friend of mine just queued your slippers, and I was happy to see a Gutierrez was publishing patterns! I’m a Gutierrez too! Yay for us! Your son is absolutely gorgeous!! Beautiful! Bonito!!

  • TraceyNo Gravatar

    I’m a doula and may I just say that you now have my “best birth story ever!” title!!! I LOVED IT!! Way to go woman!! :)
    PS. I love your knitted ballet slippers too and am going to attempt that pattern over the holidays! Thanks!

  • That is amazing! You are incredible and an inspiration to me. What a wonderful woman you are

  • this is one of the most amazing birth stories I have ever read!
    you are awesome and your little dude (maybe not so little these days!) must be something special to have chosen to be outside for his first breath.

  • Love that moment when nothing else matters, you just focus on getting that baby out. Obviously it REALLY didn’t matter what else for you! I can’t imagine dealing with a car ride in labor, I will gladly stay at home for my babies! What a great experience for this kids though! Thanks for sharing.

  • clarissaNo Gravatar

    I love reading your blog, and. I also love reading birth stories! Yours is so beautiful, thanks so much for sharing! Natural birth is so ah-mazing! After my son was born without any drugs I told me husband I wanted to do it again also! Its the best feeling in the world!

  • This is a beautiful read. thank you for sharing x