A large number of friends have been asking after details surrounding the unusual arrival of Sam. Sam was born Saturday morning at 2:00 AM en route to the hospital and delivered by his sweet papa. Everyone is happy and healthy and well and here are the details surrounding the blessed event.
On Wednesday May 13 my OB told me I was STILL dilated to a 4, despite a week of consistent though irregularly timed contractions. I was 40 weeks pregnant and discouraged. I didn't WANT to be induced, but we set an induction date for Friday the 15th, with the hope that we'd still head into the hospital due to spontaneous labor. I didn't have a lot of hope and I was sad that I was setting my 4th induction. Simon was born hours before his scheduled induction but his had still been set.
Friday morning came. I was supposed to call the hospital and make sure they could accommodate us for the scheduled induction. They could not. In fact, they almost laughed at the idea of it. They said Friday afternoon EARLIEST, likely Saturday some time.
I was SO depressed over this. I was DONE and I HAD made it to my induction so I had just resigned to the fact that it would happen and the upside was that at least I would soon not be pregnant anymore and hold my beautiful baby.
All day I was grumpy as I waited for the hospital to call us in. To add to that, I was having pretty decent contractions. They were painful and felt productive, like actual labor, but were never consistent. Ted was grumpy too. He knew how miserable I was feeling, physically and emotionally, and wanted nothing more for me than an immediate, healthy end to this seemingly endless pregnancy.
Around 1:00, Ted called L&D to ask after the possibility we would be called in. They said they'd had so many babies born, they didn't have room to move ladies and babies to recovery rooms and only had 2 open L&D rooms and could not fill them with inductions.
I decided around 4:00 that even if they did call us in, I was past my prime, despite two naps that day, and I wasn't going to induce on Friday the 15th. Maybe we'd try for the next day. But, another part of my sort of knew an induction wasn't meant to be. I felt like I missed my one chance and it was almost a sign I was going to have to wait it out, or should wait it out, regardless of how long that was. I was semi-OK with that. There are serious pros and cons to induction.
While putting our kids down to bed, around 7PM, my contractions finally started to really regulate. They were 10 minutes apart for around an hour and I was starting to see a glimmer of hope for spontaneous labor. By 7:30, I was seeing them at about 7 minutes apart and around 8:30, they were about 5-6 min and my mom was on her way over. We were going in, whether they had room or not!
But our plans were thwarted when, around 9, before leaving, my contractions just stopped. Ted decided we'd walk but I knew walking wouldn't help. For the past several weeks, every time we walked, I just turned on my super powers. Ted and I claim I'm the amazing gestating woman, who only grows STRONGER and more able to gestate with every passing step. Walking has never sent me into labor and never helped me progress. In fact, it tends to cause any contractions I have to stop. Know what works? Watching Chopped on my couch and eating ice cream. Sleep is even more effective. Don't be jealous.
But walk we did and came home and waited a little. NOTHING. Oh, over the next hour, 2 maybe 3 contractions but it was looking dismal. My dad had dropped my mom off so we sent her home in our van and I resigned myself to sleep. Before she left, my mom kept encouraging us to just go in, they'd have to take us. But I wasn't going to go not in active labor, still at a 4 maybe 5, and be sent home or go and "sleep" for 4 or more hours in a wretchedly uncomfortable hospital bed when I have a perfectly comfortable (no really, it's perfectly comfortable) bed of my own at home. I told my mom I'd rather have a baby at home, delivered by my husband, than go through all that foolishness. I told her everyone else was much more concerned than I was and just chill out. Famous last words.
I put my phone on my night stand, ready to time any contractions on my timing app And I did. I timed every contraction that woke me. The lesson I learned the next day was that it is inefficient to time contractions and not LOOK at your log. At all. And just roll over and go back to sleep. While they're 60 seconds long and 5 minutes apart. And you're at least 45 minutes from the hospital.
At 1:03AM my eyes popped open, violently, in response to an extremely new sensation. As background, my water was broken by my doctor while under the influence of anesthesia with Gwenna and Meredith and broke on its own with Simon 20 minutes before he was born. It felt like a leak, not a balloon popping, which this did. And yet, even with the change in sensation, I knew instantly, we were in trouble.
Ted retrieved a towel (my mattress is was totally dry, somehow), called my mom, and helped me to my blue recliner across from my bed. My lips and teeth instantly started to chatter. This only happens under two circumstances, other than extreme cold: When I'm oxygen deprived and when I am transitioning in labor. Oh, how I chatter as I transition! This was scary to me because it meant we were down to the wire. I did suggest, "Maybe we should go to your hospital, Ted." Meaning, of course, the hospital in town. Ted disagreed. "They don't even have a baby warmer in the ER." Our hospital is very small and does not deliver babies. We'd have been shipped out, via helicopter to Tucson, for sure. And despite having helicopter insurance, this isn't something we relished. Safford it is!
This was the only point during the entire laboring experience that I was really anxious. At this point, Ted gave me a blessing and I pulled my act together. After that, I got up, Ted got me a pair of his shorts (much easier to pull on than yoga pants, which we tried and the baby was so low it was insanely uncomfortable), I went to the bathroom, and we left. Thank goodness my mom lives a mile away. She ran our phone charger and a sweatshirt out the door for Ted and at 1:33 we were pulling out of our driveway.
I said a prayer as we drove down our dirt road and after, told Ted I was going to sing in between contractions. It kept me really calm and upbeat. I was surprisingly level headed in between contractions and not as worried as I suspected and could feel Ted was.
From Willcox, we travel about 10 miles on the I-10 until we hit HW191 and take that 40ish miles to Safford. As soon as we hit the 10, Ted hit the gas and didn't go less than 90 MPH, save slowing down then a trailer in front of us blew a tire and started swerving and spewing bits of rubber. That was concerning but we were fine and soon speeding away again. Ted learned from Simon being born 30-some minutes after arriving at the hospital that when I say it's time to go, we go! He has never lived down going to speed limit the entire way to the hospital with Simon's birth BUT he has learned from it.
My contractions, though intensified greatly, stayed at about 5 minutes apart with some "aftershock" that whole first 10 miles. I remember, the third contraction I finally needed to squeeze and knead Ted's right arm and brace myself on the car door with my other hand to get through it. I was really excellent at breathing through contractions, relying on Ted's shiny advice on the way to the hospital with Simon, which was, "Breathe, honey. Don't forget to breathe." With Simon I was holding my breath through the intense contractions I had previously been dead to with my girls due to anesthesia.
With Simon and now with Sam, once I started breathing deeply, it was a game changer. Still terrible but there was light at the end of the tunnel as I could feel each contraction roll from my back to my belly, peak, and start to decrease.
I had 2 mantras in my heart and mind. The first is something we hear all the time, women repeat it through labor regular. "You were made for this." Truly, I know I am literally made, built for this moment. Second was something Stephanie Fritz posted on Facebook recently. It was essentially about no contraction being stronger than you because they ARE you, they COME from you. In my mind, that's pretty equal. These thoughts helped immensely.
After reaching the 191, though, they started coming stronger, lasting longer, and before I knew it, they were 3 minutes apart. Then, almost as without any warning, one minute later, there was another. I felt a strong sensation of pressure as the baby dropped into place in the birth canal and with that first 1 minute contraction I realized we were still miles from the hospital and we were NOT going to make it.
I wasn't scared of this fact. It just was what it was and I knew we had to prepare for the inevitable. It felt intensely surreal but never frighting. I trusted myself and I trusted Ted to handle the things I couldn't.
I told Ted at this point, "Honey we're not going to make it to the hospital." I may have sounded rushed in speech or panicked but it was mostly from speaking through pain. Ted said, "Are you sure? I'll go faster." And he did, he went 110 before our ever trusty and loved Ford Taurus tried to turn itself off. Twice. "No honey, we're not going to make it. You have to pull over now." He believed me and pulled over.
Ted ran around to my side of the car, opened my door, reclined my seat a little, and I pulled down his shorts (which I was wearing, lest we forget and think this just got really weird). He retrieved 2 sweatshirts from the back seat of the car and pulled out his phone with its very bright flashlight app. He held his phone up and inspected. "I don't see anything. No head, nothing. I think we can make it." We couldn't. I knew that.
Seconds later, "Oh, there's the head!" And when he said that, along came another contraction, lots of "OK, OK"s on his part, and with one push, a head FULL of dark hair was born into the cold night.
Knowing to wait until the next contraction to push and with a reminder from Ted to wait, I breathed through the next moment, already feeling some amount of relief. Ted wiped the baby's face - mouth and nose - making sure its airways were clear. With the next strong surge of contraction, I pushed out our little baby's body. Ted immediately put him on my belly, wiping him a bit as we passed Sam my way. I pulled him up best I could, announcing what I already knew, "Here HE is!" Ted opened his legs, now that Sam was right side up. "It's a boy, it's a boy!" Elated, surprised, proud. THAT reaction was totally worth not knowing for so long and laboring and delivering on the side of the road. Ted delivering and discovering his son was amazing.
My relief was varied and deep. Physically, I felt one trillion times better. I can't even describe the dichotomy between the moment before you have a baby and the moment after, especially during an expedited delivery. The comparison is so immediate and opposing. The physical relief is unreal. But to have and hold and see this little baby after the last hour of uncertainty - and an excruciating long pregnancy in general - was perfectly rewarding.
After a few minutes, I looked over at the clock and saw it was 2:03 AM and gasped, "Ted! What time was he born?!" Ted said it had been 2 on the money. He, as a nurse, would have paid attention to something like that while I was of no mind to care.
I hadn't delivered the placenta yet and because of the many complications that can cause, we did not actively pursue that. When the placenta is delivered, that is when bleeding starts. The wound created from the placenta being separated from the womb can create a very messy and potentially dangerous situation if not handled correctly. We decided to get to the hospital quickly and bid farewell to our little delivery spot between mile markers 105 and 106.
I told Ted to call 911 because, well, isn't that what you do when you have a baby on the side of the road? We did just want to drive to the hospital, so we did, just as fast as before.
Sam cried a moment after he was born. I knew he could. But he was just cuddled against me, his skin to mine, warm and new, and he was incredibly calm, alert, and peaceful. He did sqwak a little at one point in the next little bit until we got to the hospital but hardly at all. Just enough to assure me his airway was clear and he was healthy. Ideally, I'd have liked to have nursed him, but didn't dare for fear of pulling his cord too tightly or pulling at all on the placenta.
I'll skip the ordeal with the 911 operator and the ambulance crew (much more sensible than the 911 operator) and skip to the hospital. We arrived to a welcoming crew, standing in the rain. It had barely begun to drizzle after Sam was born and was lightly raining by time we reached the hospital. As we pulled off the road, into the parking lot, I reminded Ted my shoes and his shorts were still around my feet and legs and could he please handle those when we stopped. He laughed a little and agreed.
One ER nurse sat in the driver seat and helped me from behind, another 2 assisted me out of the car. My job was to hold onto my baby and precariously step out into the world, unclad from my waist down, in a wet parking lot, shielded by a human wall of people holding blankets. One of the weirdest sensations is clutching something, externally, that is still attached to you, internally. Each time the baby's cord moved, I could feel that inside.
I sat in a wheel chair, covered from each angle with warm blankets, and was wheeled to L&D, where I had great help getting into a bed, still holding tight to my attached baby. I never had to let go of him from the time he was born and it was amazing.
Though the situation seemed relatively emergent, no one was rushed or frantic. Everyone was calm, no one inundated us with questions, they just took care of what needed to be done. Since I'd done everything without an IV, they gave me a shot of pitocin in my leg to encourage the birth of the placenta. My doctor arrived and moments later, the placenta came without issue. They clamped the cord and allowed Ted to cut it. My baby was finally free and I was able to cuddle him to my chest and nurse him while I was being stitched up. The numbing shots prior to being stitched were the first "pain relief" I had received and they, as I have always said, were just as bad as the rest of the pain of labor. That's a really sensitive area to receive shots and I got a lot, probably upwards of 10, in multiple areas in the region, before they started to take effect. Not fun but not one of the biggest concerns. I got stitched up and our doctor was gone.
Looking back, as I like to, I see some amazing things that happened. I had a few very specific desires relating to the entire birth process with our 4th baby. One was that, regardless of how we delivered (induction or natural spontaneous labor) I wanted to avoid an IV as long as possible. I don't fear them but I hate being tied down. Second, I wanted to delay the cord clamping because of the wonderful benefits for the baby. Third, I wanted to hold my baby immediately after birth and for as long as possible before the nurses tended him.
The latter two desires stem from issues I had with Simon's birth, hopes I had that were not met. His cord was around his neck 4 times and he was blue so they had to cut the cord immediately and I couldn't hold him for over an hour, until he pinked up. I was not OK with how that played out, despite understanding the medical need.
The way everything panned out this time, all three of those desires were not just met, but exceeded. I never had an IV while in the hospital. When the nurses attempted to extract some blood from the cord to test Sam's blood type, they couldn't get so much as a drop. And that was for sure the longest I ever held a baby prior to medical care. They were able to listen to his lungs and make sure his airway was clear even before my doctor arrived, so while he and I were still connected. I can't imagine a more ideal situation. I know no one says that about having their baby on the side of the road but what I really mean is, I can't imagine any other set of circumstances in which all those strong desires of my heart would be met so perfectly. I choose to see the perfection in this way rather than the obvious deficiencies.
The other hopes I had were that I could avoid anesthesia (I felt like I couldn't, physically, with my 2 inductions), retain our placenta, and delay his first bath. Those, while secondary, were all met as well.
The whole story of Sam's birth is very dramatic seeming and movie-like but in actuality, it was very uncomplicated and not nearly as scary as it might seem. I feel like it happened just the way it was supposed to happen and I wouldn't have wanted to share it with anyone other than my amazing husband. I know he was floored when it was actually happening and shocked but he kept his cool so well. He was amazingly supportive. He was calm as I contracted in the car, reminding me how well I was doing breathing, offering me his arm to abuse through contractions, insisting it didn't hurt (um, I'm stronger than that...), and BELIEVING me when I told him it was time, even though he was skeptical. Our sweet Sam just had to make his way into the world with at least as much dramatic flair as his brother. I do hope they can curb the competition here, or I won't last many years as their mama - haha.
Many people expressed an interest in Ted's thoughts on the situation and he was able to be persuaded to jot down his recollections. Below is his "side" or perspective of the events and they are very... Ted. I didn't alter a thing (though I was temped to edit for content).
Other Crowder Kid Birth Stories:
Simon (This was a crazy one and some people have mentioned they hadn't heard it.)
Mer - Haven't found where I recorded her's (publically) yet. Will fill in later.