Our youngest daughter was born in March 2014, and she was delivered by a stranger. Before you go assuming that I gave birth on the side of a major highway during rush hour or while stuck in an elevator of a downtown high rise or in some absurd, disgusting place like the family restroom at my local Target store, I can assure you that she was born in a hospital. Things just didn’t go exactly as expected…Because like all babies in the history of humankind, mine entered the world with no regard for my birth plan.
My baby’s due date was in mid-March last year. One of my oldest friends was also pregnant and due to give birth on the exact same day. We’d talked back and forth throughout our pregnancies, and spent the week leading up to the special day complaining about how huge we felt and discussing how excited we were to meet our tiny people. When she went radio silent on our shared due date, I knew something was up. Several hours later my friend shared her wonderful news: she had delivered a healthy, perfect, squishy little baby girl.
Feeling excited for my friend and slightly envious because her baby arrived on schedule, I had a conversation with my little one. I gently informed her that her new friend had entered the world and it was time to get moving. She probably responded by rolling over and giving me a swift kick to the bladder, liver, or lung. By that point, there was so little room in there that it was impossible to determine which of my interior parts my baby was crushing, pushing, or kicking at any given moment. My organs, which once resided comfortably in their respective spaces in my torso, had become a sort of strange (and probably mooshy) ball of uni-organ. Gross but true.
Four days went by…Or it could have been four hundred years. I’m not sure because time is a relative concept when you’re a million weeks pregnant. I went in for my 41 week check up, and the nurse practitioner confirmed that there was no baby action happening. Not even a little bit. No dilation. No effacement. Nada. My cervix was all like, “What do you mean you’re 41 weeks pregnant? There’s no 7.5lb human in here! You so crazy!” Feeling discouraged and convinced that my child would live inside my womb until her twelfth birthday, I discussed the possibility of medical induction.
Now, I understand that medically inducing labor isn’t the ideal situation. Induction is typically a long process, and there can be complications for baby and mother…But there can also be complications with every other birth scenario ever. Some of you may disagree with my choice. To those that do: I can assure you that my baby and I were healthy enough to handle the induction process. There is no shame in my birth game. My tiny human would be born at a hospital, with the help of some labor-inducing drugs, alongside a highly trained team of medical professionals.
I was scheduled for induction on a Friday, and told I’d need to wait until a nurse called before going to the hospital. Finally, my phone rang around 3PM. The woman I spoke with told me they couldn’t induce me until Monday, and it was as if she’d just informed me that I’d be 41 weeks pregnant for a million more years. Cue the hormone-driven, visceral emotional reaction and the subsequent meltdown in the Target parking lot. *Attention shoppers: today we’re offering an exclusive viewing of a sobbing, cursing, beached whale outside next to the carriage corral. Grab a bag of kettle corn from aisle 14 and a Coke to enjoy during this one-of-a-kind show.*
Two hours later, the hospital called again. I don’t remember exactly what they said, but it was something along the lines of, “Just kidding! We can take you today, come on in!” I called my doctor and my husband to tell them the news, waited for my mom to get home, kissed my two-year-old, and grabbed my hospital bag that I’d packed three weeks prior. John was still at work so he met me at the hospital.
My birth plan (for basic moms) had three steps: 1. Go to the hospital. 2. Go with the flow. 3. Deliver baby with the help of my husband and my doctor. There was no special soundtrack created for the occasion or vivid description of my ideal labor experience. We didn’t bring along any calming scented candles or focus objects like ultrasound pictures. John did put some movies on the iPad, though, so I guess you could say that watching Quantum of Solace or Harry Potter was part of my birth plan.
That night they started the induction process, and I went to sleep feeling pretty comfortable. Twelve hours later, I was in active labor. I chose to have an epidural. Birth warrior goddess I was not. Twelve hours after that, I was ready to push.
If you recall, step three of my complex birth plan was that my baby would be delivered by my doctor. I’m a simple woman with simple needs. But when the time came, my doctor was handling an emergency with another mother, so our nurse pulled in a random dude from the hallway…I guess he was an obstetrician. I’m not sure. But I was past the point of caring and my baby wasn’t waiting, so this guy would have to do. We shook hands, and nineteen minutes later my daughter was born. To this day, I wouldn’t be able to pick that doctor out of a lineup, and I cannot recall his name. But I will remember our Labor & Delivery nurse for the rest of my life. She was the greatest. (Libby C. from L&D at Lowell General Hospital, if you ever read this: you’re wonderful. I hope you got the thank you note we sent!)
My youngest daughter was born 9 days after her due date. She weighed 7lbs 8ozs, and was 21 inches long. A stranger helped welcome her into the world and I didn’t even care…Because her cries were loud and strong and she was right there resting in my arms.