At Hannah’s 2 day pediatrician check up, the nurse was filling out some new patient paperwork and asked me, “What hospital was she born at?”
I paused and said, “She wasn’t born at the hospital, she was born at home.”
Those are some words I never expected to say.
Rewind to the morning of Saturday, December 21st. I woke up that morning feeling much more significant contractions than I had previously. They were definitely not labor labor contractions, but signified a ramp up of the process. I kept an eye on them as we went about our day, because the last thing that I want to do is show up at the hospital too early and be sent home for not being far enough along (see Abigail’s birth story, where I again mention a desire to not overreact). I took a shower mid-day, and really noticed the contractions intensify while I was in there. I decided when I came downstairs to start timing contractions. As I watched the Texans-Buccaneers game, my contractions fell well within the 5-1-1 rule of when to call the hospital (contractions were about 2-3 minutes apart at this point). We rallied the troops – aka my parents to watch Jonathan & Abigail- and headed for the hospital.
Stephen came and sat with me and we watched the Bills-Patriots game on his phone as an attempt at distraction and I continued to have intense contractions that we could watch on the monitor that were much closer together than the suggested 5-1-1 rule. The nurse came back about 4:45 and checked me again. She said I was still at 3 and they’d be sending me home.
She continued on to tell me that I should come back when I’m actually in labor, which would obviously be way more intense than what I was feeling. I told her I was feeling a lot of pressure in my back and she proceeded to tell me that the problem was probably that she was upside down and her head was hitting the wrong spot to dilate me further (first time anyone had mentioned her being upside down). She suggested a few positions to get in to turn her the right way. She told me she’d expect me to be back in 2-3 days to have the baby. She also mentioned that if I really couldn’t handle it that I could come back and request to be put in a morphine sleep while I was in early labor so that I would be in the hospital when I actually went into labor. I asked her what I should be looking for since I was clearly within the 5-1-1 category, and she told me it would hurt 10x worse. Meanwhile, all I’m thinking is… if this isn’t true labor, I won’t be able to make it.
My discharge paperwork states the following:
Feeling completely defeated, I put my clothes back on and we started the walk of shame back out of L&D, through the emergency room, and to our car. For those who don’t know, I did a completely unmedicated birth with Jonathan and had a super quick, intense delivery with Abigail so I felt like I hadn’t overreacted and that at the level of pain that I was in, I shouldn’t be in false labor. I like to fancy myself as having a high pain tolerance. But there we were, with a trained medical professional telling me that I’m not in labor. I sent some texts to friends and family who knew we had gone to the hospital letting them know I was being sent home. The text message shows that it was 5:15pm as we left the hospital.
We live about 15 minutes from the hospital, and the ride home was filled with intense contractions. I used the (excuse the profanity, but as my dad calls it) “oh shit handle” to help me work through them. For those unaware of what I’m talking about:
When we drove up to our house (approximately 5:30pm), I started crying. I couldn’t believe that I wasn’t in labor. I was fully convinced that if this wasn’t labor, I wouldn’t be able to do it. Especially for another 2-3 days. I walked into the house and immediately got down on the living room floor to try to get her to turn per the nurse’s suggestions. I tried to get into the first position, but it was too painful to even attempt. I got down on my elbows and knees while Stephen applied counter pressure to my lower back. My dad grabbed me a heating pad. Even my precious boy, at 5 years old, helped. He asked me if I was okay, to which I honestly responded with no. I told him I felt like I might throw up and he walked upstairs to his bathroom, grabbed the bucket he keeps his bath toys in, and walked it back downstairs and put it beside me. I was in a ton of pain, but so touched by his thoughtfulness.
A few minutes later, I got up and walked into another room. In my head I told myself that when I came back out, I would tell Stephen that I wanted to go back to the hospital and request a c-section because there was absolutely no way that I could do this for 2-3 more days.
Instead, I sat down and there was a huge gush of water. My water had never broken naturally with my first two (they broke it in the hospital to induce labor with Jonathan & I assume it broke during labor with Abigail after the epidural because I have no memory of it happening) so I was pretty surprised. At this point, my body took over because in the next few seconds I let out a yelp and Hannah was born. Stephen was in the next room over and heard me and came in probably 3 seconds after Hannah made her way into the world. He yelled “that’s a baby!” as he held her in his arms. We basically just stared at each other in amazement and confusion, wondering what we should do next. My parents flew into action, bringing us blankets and towels to wrap her in.
She didn’t cry at first, but she was breathing, very alert and looking around. We kind of prodded her a little until she let out a little noise, which was very reassuring. Her color looked normal.
My dad grabbed Stephen’s phone to call 911, but because he doesn’t have Stephen’s face, he couldn’t unlock it. My mom was trying to call but our house randomly has dead spots sometimes, and she couldn’t get through. Finally, Stephen was able to connect (and so was my mom in the next room) and they sent help. Luckily, the fire station is literally a right turn and then a left turn from our house – probably a half mile – so they got there really fast. All these men entered the room and started asking questions and assessing the situation.
The time of birth recorded on her birth certificate is the time of the 911 call – 5:59pm. Which means she was actually born a few minutes earlier, but we have no way of knowing when exactly. 5:59pm. Less than an hour after I was told I was in false labor and sent home. Less than 30 minutes after I got home.
The paramedics had a clamping kit, and clamped the umbilical cord and Stephen cut it so that they could take her to evaluate while I waited to deliver the placenta. Hannah’s first little checkup was performed on our kitchen island.
Once I had delivered the placenta, they prepared us for transport to the hospital. They wheeled a stretcher into the garage and loaded us up. My parents had wrangled our older kids out of eyesight for as much as they could but the blood on the floor could not be ignored. Jonathan had some questions, but my parents were able to give him confidence that I was okay. It must have worked, because as we left the house the last question that he asked Stephen was if it was okay for him to play the Nintendo Switch while we were gone.
As they put us in the ambulance, I told them I didn’t want to go until I saw Stephen. In all the excitement we hadn’t had a second together to take in everything that happened and I just needed to see him. He ran out of the house and held my hand and kissed me and that’s when I knew I was ready to go. Marry someone who is your rock, people. We didn’t need to say anything to each other, I just needed to see him to be okay. He would follow the ambulance in our car, and yet beat us to the room.
The paramedics were all really nice and took good care of us on the trip to the hospital. I heard them call in that we would come to the emergency entrance and to be prepared for us. When we arrived at the hospital, we were greeted in the emergency room by a lot of bewildered looking people as I lay there with a baby in my arms. The main doctor on call walked over and was like “most people go to the hospital before they have the baby.” Not amused, I held up my arm, which still had the admission band on it from when I had been there, and said “I did, but you guys sent me home 30 minutes before I gave birth.” He shut right up, told me congratulations and gave the EMTs a badge to take me upstairs.
When we arrived to the room, they were waiting with a couple nurses for each of us. They took Hannah to the little bassinet area for evaluation. We don’t have the APGAR scores from 1 or 5 or even 10 minutes after she was born, but they checked them when we got to the hospital and she passed. They weighed her, and she came in at 7lbs 3oz, my largest baby. She measured at 19.5″ long. They checked her oxygen levels and all the other tests that they normally do. She passed all of them with flying colors.
As for me, they got my vitals and everything looked as to be expected. They got me started on a Pitocin drip to encourage my body to expel any placenta that may have been left behind – since they didn’t deliver it, they couldn’t confirm it was all out, though the paramedics did bring it with us. The on-call doctor from my OBGYN office came in and asked “what happened? I talked to you at around 3:00?” And I, probably somewhat rudely, answered with “The nurse sent me home and told me I wasn’t in labor, I thought I was going to die, and I had a baby within an hour.”
He proceeded to stitch me up, congratulate me and tell me that if I wanted to go home the next day, he saw no reason why I should have to stay longer.
Once we were both given the all clear, they brought Hannah over to me to have some skin-to-skin time and attempt nursing. Thankfully, she was able to nurse from the get-go, which has always been hard for me in previous pregnancies. Things had finally calmed down enough that Stephen and I could take it all in together, alone in the room. We called his parents to give them the whole run down and sent texts to those who knew some of where the night had gone to fill them in on the outcome. We also asked my parents to come with the kids so they could meet their sister in a less hectic environment and see that we were both okay. And so my parents could see that their daughter and granddaughter were both okay. Still very high on the adrenaline, we invited the whole family to meet our new daughter.
Stephen’s parents showed up with a Chipotle burrito bowl for me and I was never so happy to have some food to eat. Stephen had asked me if I wanted food when I left the hospital the first time, and I couldn’t imagine trying to eat at that time. I also probably would have had her in the car or in a restaurant if we had tried. Within the first couple hours of her life, Hannah was lucky enough to meet both sets of grandparents, and all her aunts and uncles and cousin on the Rabon side.
I truly still can’t believe that any of this story really happened to us. In the days since, I’ve been processing it all mentally and emotionally. But, more than anything, I am so happy, thankful and blessed that we both came out completely unscathed from a home birth that we weren’t prepared for.
I considered the idea of home birth prior to Jonathan’s birth, but my elevated blood pressure made us feel like that was not the right choice. After he was born and I had to go into surgery to remove the placenta that would not deliver, we both strongly felt that we wanted to be in a hospital for any other births so that if that happened again, we wouldn’t waste time in transport. When I had Abigail, things went so fast and were so intense, I got an epidural, which is a choice I probably would have made again if I had been allowed access to the hospital setting. I believe that home births, when planned with the assistance of a proper team, are a great choice for families who want them. But I didn’t get the benefit of having a midwife and maybe a doula available to help. I delivered my own baby, in a room by myself. My husband didn’t get to witness it, though he was there mere seconds later. My team consisted of 3 adults with no real medical training, a 5 year old, and an 18 month old. But, I must say, that there are no people on this earth more dedicated to me specifically than the team I had. I’m so thankful for the way everyone sprung into action, tried to do what we thought was best at the time, and made that time less stressful because I knew Jonathan and Abigail were taken care of.
After she had her 24-hour labs & checks the next day, we headed home to start life as a family of five, in the very place where a day prior we had unexpectedly welcomed her into the world.
And on her 4th day of life, she celebrated her First Christmas with the whole family. I am so blessed by these three.
Everything about Hannah has been a surprise, from the day I found out I was pregnant a mere nine months after having Abigail to the way she came into the world. I’m hoping this won’t be a continuing trend in her life to keep us on our toes in such a big way. She’s been a great little baby and I’m totally enamored with her. She’s such a beautiful addition to our family and I love watching Jonathan adore her and Abigail give her sweet little kisses on her head.