My friend Nila contributed her birth story to our series and encouraged me to title it, “You can do it standing up!” Read on to get the full story in her words.
I feel the need to preface this birth story with the fact that I have never owned a pair of Birkenstocks and I don’t believe in crystals. I do like prenatal yoga, doulas and midwives, and I believe that we are the luckiest women in the history of womankind to have babies in the 2000s. Limited deaths, lots of narcotic choices if desired, and trained surgeons (with clean equipment!). I know it is odd to start this way, but you need to know this about me before you read this abbreviated and somewhat legendary birth story (in a small town kind of way) about my daughter Sabine, who turned five this week.
Five frigging days late!! (My older son was 10 days late and there was no way I was waiting another 5 days!). I was on a mission to get my labor started, so I took my 9 months pregnant self on a two-mile hike.
At about 9 pm, I decided the hike wasn’t enough, and I went out dancing. Seriously. Like booty-shaking dancing. And, it worked.
When contractions started at 1am, I was pleased with myself. I had already done this thing — endured 43 hours of a natural birth with my son, that is — and I was mentally prepared for the second labor marathon. After eating eggs and toast, and laboring at home through contractions, we called the midwife and I told her I would meet her at the hospital after the doula arrived at my house. Yaddah, Yaddah, more labor and then my husband, my doula, and I made the ten-minute drive to the hospital.
Now, it is 6 am. We park in the multi-level parking structure. It’s pretty dark outside and no one is around.
I am walking slowly from the parking lot to the hospital entrance. My water breaks.
My husband says, “That’s great honey.”
I take another step and say, “The baby is coming!.”
My husband, and our doula/friend Virginia murmur, “Sure, you are doing great.”
But remembering the 43 hours of our prior birth — they both think I am faking. I take another step and feel my daughter’s head crown.
And then I say very calmly, “Greg, you have to catch the baby.”
Greg has the wherewithal to say, “Virginia, get her pants and underpants down”. At which point, she does, while I stand in place, just yards away from the double doors of the hospital’s lobby.
Sabine flies out. Of my body.
Greg catches her. (Later he tells me he was wondering how far the cord stretches and if he should bite it off like a bear.)
The midwife, who had been parking her car, and heard some of my deep cries (was I really hollering out?) rushes to us, after calling CODE STORK on her cell (hospital code for baby being born outside of the Labor and Delivery ward). She takes my grandmother’s robe from my birth bag, wraps it around Sabine, cuts the cord with her own scissors, and puts this little lovely bundle in my arms.
I am still standing up, legs in a slight A stance.
When I finally look up thirty seconds later, I see 25 hospital staff running through the doors to us. They put me on a gurney and take me to the inaptly named “Labor and Delivery”.
All that is left to do is, you know, birth the placenta. Pretty easy, though I really do feel the pain of my uterus contracting MUCH more than the birth.
Greg, meanwhile, has been with Sabine in the NICU. They took her there because it was deemed an unclean birth (Greg swears he had clean hands!) They put her on monitors because, who else but women who have had no prenatal care and live in rural villages, give birth outside these days?
Me. That’s who.