*This is my side of Russell's Birth Story. It is long, but worth it. Warning: It is a birth story. I talk about things like my water breaking and placenta.
We had it all planned out. I was very pregnant with our boy who we expected at any minute. I have gone into labor with my other two early and fairly quickly. From water breaking to delivery with Caroline was 8 hours and for Brynn it was 6 hours. This is plenty of time to get to the hospital but still, we needed a plan. Who would watch the girls? Who would be willing to come over in the wee hours of the morning? Who would the girls stay with that wouldn't freak them out when they woke up? Kevin and I had a Plan A, Plan B, C, etc. But very early on September 3rd all of those went flying out the window.
On Monday night I went upstairs to get some rest. We had a rough day with the girls. I went to the store to stock up on food for the week. We helped Caroline with a school project. Bed time could not come soon enough. I had some contractions off and on for 2 days but they would go away when I drank water or laid down. I went upstairs, showered, dressed and got in bed. Around 1:15 I woke up to actual, for real contractions. I wanted to cuss with everyone so I knew they were no joke. I used my phone to time them. They were 9 minutes apart. Not to bad; we had time. But they kept coming. I found myself having to breathe, Lamaze style, through each one. Now I noticed they were 8 minutes apart and I was shaking. I knew this is what happens during transitions. That is when I knew I needed to wake up Kevin. I told him theses contractions were for real. We need to make our way to the hospital. In my head I started pulling up all those plans but my body was being seiged by these violent contractions and I couldn't think. Around 1:52 I got the prompting to call Travis, my brother who lives 45 minutes away in Durham. I knew we had friends that lived close by but my feeling was to call him. It took me 3 tries to wake him, but finally at 1:57 he was awake and making his way here. I tried to call my OB office but the recording said, "If you are in labor go to Women's Hospital." At 2 am I timed my contractions. They were now 7 minutes apart. I was confused. Am I not timing them right? How is it possible they went from 9 to 7 minutes so fast. But we still have time. At this point the contractions are almost unbearable so I get up and move around. It was more like frantic pacing. I can't think anymore. I can't recall any part of the plan I should be doing. I couldn't think of the girls and what to do with them. I couldn't think if my hospital bag is fully packed. I could only pace and attempt to breathe. My contractions are getting worse and closer. I don't try to time them anymore. I feel like I need to use the bathroom. That is when my water breaks. This has always been my signal to head for the hospital but now my contractions seem to be back to back. In my mind I am thinking this can't be possible. Even as I am gripping the walls and trying unsuccessfully to breathe I firmly believe I am making this up. In my mind, if I would just calm down and breathe I would be ok and my contractions would slow down again. I decide on a shower. A shower has always calmed me during my pregnancy and this is what I need most right now. I turn on the water and begin pacing again knowing it takes a second for the water to warm up. I finally step in fully expecting the warm water to relax me and buy us more time. The water does feel good but I have to put my legs together because I feel the urge to push. Again, my brain cannot make sense of this. How can I have the urge to push? I was just laying in bed timing my contractions. We aren't at the hospital. I can't be ready to push. This isn't part of the plan. I shut off the water and sit down on the edge of the tub. All I can do is mutter, "I can't. I can't. I can't." Kevin has come back into the bathroom to check on me. As he is helping me dry off he gives me the only two options we have, "We get in the car now and go to the hospital or we call 911." There it is in black and white, the hospital vs. 911. One choice has been my plan all along but with every passing second it slips further and further away. The other choice was NEVER in MY plan and is becoming the clear option. As one who doesn't like to ask for help it was a huge moment for me. Kevin asked me again, slowly, "Do you want me to call 911?" Now this is the point of the story when my head, which has been trying to make logical sense of everything up until this point, has been fired and my body takes over. So although my head is still thinking of possible plans to get me calmed down and to the hospital, my lips part and I say to Kevin in a weak voice, "Call them" just as my body is hit with another contraction. It is 2:24am.
At the point all I can do is move. I move back to the bedroom and lean on the bed. I move to the end of the bed and sit, anything I can do to not push. But I finally give up that fight. As Kevin is on the phone giving all our details to the 911 operator I crawl back on my side of the bed and push. I can't help it. I physically cannot stop it. My body realizes that I am taking too long to realize the fact that this baby is coming. I kept begging Kevin to please let me push but my body would not wait for permission. With every urge, I pushed and then I would ask Kevin if I could. In between a contraction I told him to tell the responders not to run their lights and sirens because it would scare the girls. I don't remember much of what Kevin did after he hung up with 911. I was on the bed being slammed with contractions that were not giving me any rest in between. And I had to push. I begged Kevin to check me. I was sure I was crowning. He checked and he couldn't see anything. I begged to push. I begged Kevin not to leave me. I couldn't be alone. I was scared at what was happening to me. It just wasn't making any sense. But at this point my body has taken over. It knows what needs to be done and that is to get this baby out.
I have heard women who had a natural birth speak of the "ring of fire" and honestly that is the one thing that scared me most. As I am laying in bed I know it is coming and there is nothing I can do about it. Finally, the fire fighters arrive. They are asking me questions and trying to talk to me and to this day I don't know what I said to them, if anything. They helped me roll on my back and got the space as prepared as it can be. At this point I make a realization that I have three first responders and my PA husband in my room and they can't help me, no one can help me. It is up to me to be strong for my boy, my son. In a split second I sent a silent prayer to help protect my girls, to keep them calm and in their room. Please, Heavenly Father, send angels to be with my girls. And then I pushed. There it was, that ring of fire, but I had to push and break through that pain.
Kevin then said something I had been waiting all night for him to say, "Babe, you have to push." The head was out. With every thing I am I bore down and pushed again. Out he came and with it, relief. It was 2:42am. I waited, wanting to hear those first cries. Hearing those would let me know everything was ok. What I did hear was Kevin and a fire fighter talking to him, coaxing him to cry. "Come on buddy. Come on." I couldn't help it. I reached out and touched the arm of the fire fighter closest to me and asked, "Is he ok? Can I have him?" After what seemed like forever, he cried. That beautiful, liquidy cry. They put that slimy, small boy on my chest and I felt instantly better. Now I could protect him. Kevin cut the cord and they took him back to wrap him up. Now here is my favorite part. They wrapped my newborn son in a beach towel, my Target beach towel!
Now it is time to move. The paramedics have arrived and I need to get to the hospital. Kevin helps me change into a night gown. I slowly swing my legs off the side of the bed and I am seated in a stair chair. It is like a wheelchair without wheels. They have to strap me in and let me say that it was not my finest moment. As I am being brought out of my room there in the hallway is Kevin and my two wide eyed girls, and one of the younger firemen holding my baby. I stop so I can talk to Caroline so she can see that I am ok. Right then I begin having light contractions. I tell her I will see her soon at the hospital. Then these strong firemen carry me down the stairs. When we get to the front door I can already see the light through the window. And when they opened the door it confirmed my worst fear. Parked right in front of my house with the lights running was the fire truck and ambulance. I was so embarrassed. I had just delivered my son at home but I was worried about what the neighbors were thinking. I am brought down the porch steps and down the walk way to find a stretcher sitting, waiting for me in the driveway. After all this time I realize that I am not wearing my glasses. Kevin gets them from upstairs and I can now see the whole scenario laid out in front of me. The paramedics are so incredibly nice and gentle with me as they push me toward the waiting ambulance. They even hand me Russell, all cozy in his beach towel. This is so surreal. I am rolling down the driveway in a stretcher, the same driveway I swept 4 days ago in my burst of a nesting phase. Kevin comes to my side and all I can do is apologize. I know there was nothing I can do but I feel a twinge of guilt. Kevin is so sweet and reassuring. "He's here. It turned out ok." My hormones and emotions are getting the best of me and the fact that I am still contracting doesn't help. As I am loaded on the ambulance I overhear the firemen tell Kevin, "Make sure you bring him by the fire station. We would love to see him. We'll get him a t-shirt."
When I finally get in the ambulance and we are on our way, I get a good look at my boy. His face and head are still a little bit purple and blue, but as I pull back his towel I see that he is a nice pink color. He has these long fingers and he is fast asleep, content even with all the chaos around him. Mike, the EMT in the back with me, suggested that I try to latch him on to breastfeed so I can contract and deliver the placenta. Russell latches on like he has done this forever and after a few minutes, the placenta passes. At one point I look out the back window and realize we are passing stores and landmarks I know. We are cruising down Wendover Ave. and I actually find it fascinating. In my grand birth plan Kevin and I were supposed to be driving this route ourselves. Our girls were supposed to be at home with a sitter, totally oblivious to what is going on. We were supposed to pull up to the front entrance and check in and go into a room where I would be monitored. Instead, two nurses met the ambulance and quickly take me and my newborn son to a room where he is measured (8 lbs. 8 oz) and I am stitched up. Things did not go according to plan, but they went exactly the way they were meant to.
As I sit and write this story I realize with clarity so many things:
*The first responders were simply amazing, and gentle and kind in a stressful situation. I can only imagine the story they are telling their families.
*I am blessed that this happened with my 3rd. I knew what a contraction actually was. I knew what it meant when my body was shaking. I am grateful that I read everything I could get my hands on. I even watched an amazing documentary about home births before all of this happened. Not that I wanted to have one but because I am so interested in all birth options.
*I am grateful that we are living in this house. We are closer to the fire station and I felt a little more peaceful in my own bed in my own room in my own house.
*My girls are brave. They were nervous and scared at times but when I needed them to be brave they delivered.
*Timing is everything. From the time my contractions woke me up to when he was born was one hour and 15 minutes.
*I believe that we really do have angels around us to help and protect. Russell and I were safe because of that.
*Kevin Walker is not only the love of my life but now he is also my hero. He tried so hard to take care of his entire family that night. He really can do anything.
* Heavenly Father has a plan for me and my family. This incident was not a blip on his radar. In His great plan, in a way that only He knows this was meant to happen. I am grateful that He sent the right people at the right time to take care of me and my son.