Okay, people, this is a long and detailed birth story… if you prefer the shorter/ less graphic version, here is exactly how Wesley (my 4 year old) tells it to strangers….quite often:

“Dadda was in the driver seat.  Momma was in the passenger seat.  Simone said, ‘I want to come out now’… AND SHE DID!!!”  

     For many months, I made time each day to visualize and anticipate a gentle and peaceful birth experience. I also hoped for a quick birth. With Wesley, labor was 18 hours long.  It was very exhausting and challenging but, overall, a very peaceful and unmedicated birth.  This time around, I felt better prepared, knowing what to expect in terms of pain and how to manage it.  My body had already done the work once before and I knew that I could do it again.  The birth center bags were packed: a cute bathing suit top (I wanted to look good in the photos, of course – ha!), massage tools, coconut water, snack bars, a relaxing musical playlist, battery operated candles.  I cooked a big veggie pot pie and coconut oil/ nut chocolate bars for when I was hungry in and after labor.  I was ready to meet my baby…

self portrait

self portrait

Photograph by Dana McGuinn Photography

Photograph by Dana McGuinn Photography

Photograph by Dana McGuinn Photography

Photograph by Dana McGuinn Photography

Photograph by Dana McGuinn Photography

Photograph by Dana McGuinn Photography

     As my “due date” (I wish that term didn’t exist, but that is a topic for another blog post!) came and went, I enjoyed the extra time that I had to myself and with Carl & Wesley.  Family and friends were getting anxious and some even a bit worried, but I felt great and knew that my little one would let me know when he/ she was ready to make an appearance.  It turns out that I was right about that!!!

     On the 11th of April, I was very thankful that I hadn’t given birth yet.  I was able to attend my cousin’s funeral and also spend time with my family, many of whom I hadn’t seen in a long time.  I felt like there were all of these little, but special events, that my little one was giving me extra time for.  It was nice.  On that day, I actually said the words, “I would give birth in a car if it meant that I’d have a short labor”.  After 18 hours with Wesley, I certainly didn’t have expectations for a short labor, yet I was hopeful. 

     I predicted that the baby would arrive on the 12th.  I was finally starting to feel a bit anxious and the 12th just seemed like the right day. Wesley was born on the 12th of July, my dad’s birthday is April 21st (you know, 12 backwards) and April 12th is also the day that my grandfather died. One last reason was because my mom had told me that her doctor once told her that if you know the conception date, just add nine months. It worked at precisely predicting my younger brother’s birthday and since I knew the conception date this time around, I figured that our little one would arrive exactly on time as well – the 12th.

     On day 9 past my “due date”, I told my husband, Carl, to keep his phone at the ready because today would be the day.  I had absolutely no physical “signs”, I just felt like it was time.  At just around 10am that morning, I purposefully bounced hard down the steps thinking, “let’s do this today, little baby”.  Very soon after that, I called Carl at work. I was having contractions but they felt more like cramping/ braxton hicks.  Whatever it was, the pain was manageable but also coming only about a minute apart!  I wasn’t certain if Carl needed to come home just yet and we debated it on the phone. Thankfully, we decided that it would be best if he did so that I would have some time to relax and prepare a few things.  While waiting for him to arrive, I played games with Wesley and did some dishes and laundry.  Carl also thought to call his mom, who, very thankfully, was able to come quickly to our house to take care of Wesley.  (I can’t imagine if Wes had been in the car!!)

     By the time Carl got home, I decided to get into our tub and labor there for a bit.  I downloaded a contraction app and started timing. The contractions were already a full minute long AND only 2 minutes apart for a full hour.  Still… I didn’t think that birth was imminent.  At some point, Wesley jumped in the tub with me.  Thankfully, I had explained and showed him videos of women in labor.  I explained to him that I was “working hard” because it is “hard work” to bring a baby into the world.  He was really sweet and poured water over my back, which was nice.  Eventually, things were getting more intense and I asked Carl and Wesley to give me some space so that I could concentrate on getting ready.

     As soon as I got out of the tub, the contractions started to be become much more intense.  I called my midwife, Barbara.  I told her the timing of the contractions and, though previous contractions had me bearing down, I was somehow able to talk to her as one happened.  She asked if I had just “talked through a contraction”. I said yes.  She asked me my pain level and I said a 6 or 7.  I never know the right answer to that…. She suggested that I continue to labor at home for a bit and come in if things got more intense.

     Just after getting off the phone, I decided to try to lie down in bed and relax.  About a minute later, I had a very strong contraction.  It was then that I felt my baby girl push (kick?) down with all of her might and, just like that, my water bag burst.  It was just after 1pm.  I was feeling paralyzed from the strong contraction and didn’t move right away.  I texted Carl who was downstairs with his mom and Wesley.  I also called Barbara, all while still laying in bed.  Barbara told me to head to the birth center.  I was excited!

This is the only photo that I took of myself in labor. I set the timer and a contraction started just as the shutter released.

This is the only photo that I took of myself in labor. I set the timer and a contraction started just as the shutter released.

     Carl came upstairs and helped me to the bathroom.  It was then that I realized that there was meconium in the water.  That is the exact moment where things changed for me.  I was scared.  I didn’t know too much about meconium during labor but I knew that it could, in some cases, mean that the baby was in distress and it could also be very harmful to the baby.  Carl called Barbara once more and she instructed us to head to the hospital instead.   (side note: the birth center is about 9 minutes away and, the hospital, Einstein Montgomery Medical Center, is 29 minutes away)   

     As calmly as possible, I changed my clothes and we gathered the last of our bags together.  I waited for a contraction to end and ran down the steps, using my minute of time to thank my mother in law for being there for us and for watching Wesley.  I also gave Wes a giant hug and kiss before leaving.  

     About 10-15 minutes into the car ride, I became very much aware that our baby would be coming out quite soon, hospital or not.  I tried to pant and breathe away the urge to push, but it didn’t work.  We were about 5 minutes from the hospital when her head started to emerge/ crown.

     I actually have some video and audio of the car ride and the birth on my phone.  If you are curious about what was being said by me, between contractions, it was a lot of: “oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, oh my god”, “please be okay, baby, please be okay” and “the baby is coming out, the baby is coming out”. There were also the most primal and guttural screams I have ever made (or heard!) in my life.  With Wesley, I was very quiet, even silent at times, and focused through the contractions.  This time around, I sounded like a fire truck siren (perhaps helpful for the drivers that wouldn’t get out of our way!).  Carl asked me if he should pull over to help catch the baby.  I responded with, “just go to the hospital!”.

     As we pulled up to the entrance of the ER, her head had already half way emerged. Carl jumped out of the car and ran into the ER.  He said he was yelling, “my wife is having a baby! The head is out! Let’s go!”.  Carl was the first to arrive back at the car with me.  I was hunched over a bit in the passenger seat, prepared to catch our babe. Her head had been partly out for a few minutes and when I felt it, I thought that it felt cold.  I was frightened.  I said to Carl, “the head feels cold”.  He checked and assured me that it was not cold by saying “it feels warm to me”.  I still get very emotional just thinking about that moment.  It’s hard to even listen to that part of the audio.  I was so worried and scared.

     Soon an ER nurse named Richie arrived.  When he saw the situation, he literally yelled, “oh, shit!” and then instructed me to lay back along the car console.  I couldn’t recline the seat back because of the car seat behind me, so the console was second best.  I laid back and he told me to push. The rest of her head emerged immediately and then a second push brought her into this world at 1:55pm, less than an hour after my water had broke and under 4 hours since I first felt cramping.

     As soon as they laid her little body on me, I knew that she was okay.  I just had a good feeling.  Like Wesley, she didn’t cry right away, but she was healthy!  Somehow I lifted myself/ they lifted me onto a gurney.  They kept asking, “what’s the baby’s name, mom?” to which I replied, “I have no idea. I don’t even know if it is a boy or a girl!”.  I quickly picked up my now crying baby.  A girl!  I was SO excited!!  The gurney was moving and I wanted her close to me so I quickly laid her back down.  When we got into the ER, I had to pick her up again and check telling everyone that I wasn’t absolutely certain I just knew that I hadn’t seen a penis.  They all laughed!

     Soon after arriving in the room, I saw a beautiful and familiar face among the 20+ strangers/ gawkers/ nurses (apparently, it was quite a show to have a baby in the ER!).  Jade, the midwife that delivered Wesley, was there!  I had no idea that she even worked there and she had no idea that I was on my way to the hospital.  I instantly felt more at ease in her presence.  I knew that she would be my advocate for how I wanted myself and Simone treated.  She sternly told anyone that didn’t need to be in the room to leave… which basically cleared out the room.  Yep, she’s awesome.

     I vaguely remember Carl cutting the cord.  Apparently, they didn’t have scissors available and Carl ended up using a scalpel after attempting, with no luck, to use blunt clamps.  They moved Simone over to a table next to me and began looking her over.

     Jade, along with a man (Dr or nurse?) helped to deliver the placenta (maybe it was Richie the nurse.  I honestly have no idea).  It came out easily, however, quickly after I began loosing a lot of blood. This is where things get a little blurry for me.  I recall them reaching inside me to pull out any clots and pressing on my stomach…hard.  It hurt quite a bit and I wasn’t prepared for that.  I thought the hard part was over.  I got shots of pitocin and 2 other drugs to help stop the bleeding.  They hooked up an IV for fluids and inserted a catheter.  This all happened seemed to happen within a matter of minutes.

     There were a lot of people in the room.  I could see Simone, which was great.  However, I suddenly couldn’t find Carl.  I kept asking where he was and they told me that he was “right outside the curtain”.  I remember feeling agitated because I thought to myself, “what is he doing? updating twitter? I want him here with me!”.   Later I found out that he must’ve looked a bit pale and they forced him to sit down and drink water.  Some nice nurse even massaged his shoulders!  Ha!  

     Carl did an amazing job driving, by the way.  Between contractions I would “come to” and look around.  He was calm and focused but also intent on catching the lights and passing cars.    

     Back to the story…. the hemorraging eventually stopped and Carl, Simone and I were taken up to a recovery room.  My blood pressure was extremely low and I was very lightheaded.  I barely can recall the elevator ride.  

     Our amazing photographer & good friend, Danette, as well as my midwife, Barbara, arrived.  Barbara, Jade and another wonderful nurse helped us to finally begin to settle down.  I remember telling Barbara that I could only see half of her face. Everything was blurry on my right side due to the blood loss.

     Someone gave me oxygen and I was feeling overwhelmed with all of the things attached to me… IV needle, oxygen and a catheter.  I suppose that these things were necessary and I am grateful for the team at Einstein, but it felt so confining to me.  When I lost blood with Wesley at the birth center, it was a much more calm situation.  There I was given pitocin and I got lightheaded, but that was it, really.

     Anyway, at that point, I just desperately wanted to finally hold and bond with my little girl.  Barbara brought her over to me and laid her on my bare chest.  We snuggled, skin to skin, and I had the most overwhelming feeling of relief and love.  She nursed almost instantly.

     Danette commented that she instantly saw my blood pressure go up and the color come back into my face as soon as they laid her on me.  In my entire life, I have never experienced that great a sense of relief and gratitude than in that very moment.  I was completely overwhelmed with joy and excitement.  My baby girl was here, she was healthy, I was healthy and…. she was born in our 2012 Ford Escape!  What a day!  All was well!

photograph by Danette Pascarella

photograph by Danette Pascarella

photograph by Danette Pascarella

photograph by Danette Pascarella

photograph by Danette Pascarella

photograph by Danette Pascarella

     Danette snapped away as Carl & I got to know our baby girl and reflected on the events of the last few hours.  It had been wild!  At one point, Danette said that she wanted to give us a few minutes alone and we basically just let lost it together.  It had been an overwhelming experience and we were so grateful to have made it through.

photograph by Danette Pascarella

photograph by Danette Pascarella

photograph by Danette Pascarella

photograph by Danette Pascarella

photograph by Danette Pascarella

photograph by Danette Pascarella

photograph by Danette Pascarella

photograph by Danette Pascarella

     It took us about 2 days to name her.  We had lots of good/ silly suggestions including: Henrietta (after Henry Ford), Daytona, Alberta (as a reference to Einstein hospital), Carlissa, Carly, Carla, Mercedes (I wish we had one!) and many others!  The name Simone had been on our short list. The meaning in French is “heard” or “to be heard”.  We liked the idea that she wanted to have her story told.  She built up the suspense by arriving “late” as well as entering the world in a fast and exciting way.  

     Her middle name, Margaret, was chosen to pay homage to her grandmother and BOTH of her great-grandmothers. I’m sure that she will grow up to recognize the honor in sharing their beautiful name.

     This sweet yet fiery girl has brought great adventure and excitement to our family already!  I look forward to watching her continue to grow and see the impact that she will continue to have on the world.  I just know that she is destined for great things!

Simone Margaret, we love you immensely!  Thank you for completing our family and for keeping life exciting!  XOXOX – Momma

newborn

Newborn – Melissa Hassey Photography

Big brother sleeping with newborn

Melissa Hassey Photography

sleeping baby & toddler

Melissa Hassey Photography

newborn portrait with sibling

Melissa Hassey Photography