Although I didn't have any contractions after 9 p.m. on Tuesday, I awakened Wednesday morning around 5:30, praying that God would let them start again and that we would get to have my OB deliver our baby. He's only in the hospital on Wednesday mornings until 12 Noon (otherwise he's in the office), so I knew that things would have to progress pretty quickly if that was going to happen.
Ben decided that we should both shower and get ready for the day and see what it held. When I got out of the shower at 6:15, I had a very strong contraction (quite different from the contractions on Monday and Tuesday). At 6:18, I had another one. Ben commented that they were just three minutes apart. I thought, "Yay! I'm cooperating! Maybe Dr. K will get to deliver our baby after all!"
To go from no contractions at all for hours to these intense contractions made Ben think we shouldn't waste any time in heading for the hospital. Since it's at least 30 minutes away without traffic, we knew that at that time of morning, it was going to be a long drive.
Ben went down to get my parents up while I turned on the coffee pot, warmed up his baked oatmeal, put the rest of his lunch in his lunchbox and put a few things in a cooler for me to eat. Mom jumped in the shower. The plan was for Mom to be with us in the delivery room. But Ben thought that maybe we should leave and let my parents come in their car.
The contractions kept coming. I could take them while I was standing and walking. But I suddenly dreaded a long car ride.
I decided to use the bathroom right before we left. When I sat down, I couldn't go, and another contraction started. This time I thought I was going to pass out. I stood up and went out, and all at once felt serious pressure "down there." I told Mom and Ben. I really knew what that meant and I thought that Mom might stop us if she was concerned by it. And then I thought perhaps it would abate by my sitting still for the drive. (Right... You can see how much I really wanted Dr. K to deliver our baby.)
So Ben and I headed out the door. As I went to get in the van, another contraction came and I just kept walking. Poor Ben.
I had pulled out two towels to sit on in the van, just in case my water broke. So I put them on the seat, and carefully got in on top of them. We began to leave our neighborhood and another contraction came. We were stopped at a stop sign, and I almost burst out of the van to walk it off. Instead, I leaned the other direction, grabbed Ben's arm, and announced with great intensity, "I can't do this!"
Ben called his mom to let her know that we were on our way to the hospital. It was about 6:53 by this time. As another contraction ended, Ben sped through a yellow - oops - red light. "Calculated risk," he said as he turned to look at me with a grin.
Between road construction and dense population, traffic near us moves slowly during the morning rush. Wednesday morning was no exception. As we approached the next traffic signal, and it turned red, Ben began to turn into traffic anyway. "I guess these people are just going to have to think I'm rude." And another contraction overwhelmed me, fueling his resolve.
After another contraction, and the traffic ahead of us opened up, Ben picked up his cell phone to call my doctor's office so they knew to expect us at the hospital. Since the office was closed, the announcement said, "If you think you are in labor, press 2." The doctor who picked up talked with Ben briefly and then asked to speak with me. I didn't want to talk to anyone on the phone. But I did notice the clock read 7:02. I might have said four words when the most intense contraction yet seared through me. I threw the phone back in Ben's lap as I cried out, "I can't. I can't do this." And then all at once, the pressure changed. As Ben picked up the phone, I yelled, "It's coming! The baby is coming out."
Ben yelled into the phone to the poor doctor, "We are going to our community hospital," and hung up.
Ben leaned up into the steering wheel, looking behind him in traffic, looking ahead. Dead stop at a traffic light. Cars ahead. Busy intersection. Nowhere to go.
And another contraction came. I leaned back against Ben, flung my seat belt off, yanked down my pants, and felt the bag of waters come out. I fingered it, hoping that there was no cord in it. Just as I felt the relief of not feeling anything but fluid, the baby's head pushed down, and I yelled again, "The head... the baby's head." I could see dark hair.
Ben looked over and could see the bag of waters. He looked back as the light changed, and he headed through the intersection. He called 911 to have them radio our local hospital that we were on our way.
I pushed once and pulled our purple little baby out. The cord was loosely around its neck, so I unwrapped it quickly and started rubbing its back. It whimpered slightly and I heard an inhale.
Time slowed down. The baby was very peaceful. It opened its eyes and turned its head. I kept rubbing, pulling it up to my chest. And then I realized, I had no idea if it was a boy or girl. I lifted this precious one up, and as we turned left, onto the road the hospital is on, I announced, "It's a girl!"
Then I had two thoughts at once - one came out loudly, "Ben! Put the window up! The baby's cold!!" (Poor man; he had rolled the window down to make the left turn safely.) The other was, "James was right!"
I put our Madelene Kate on my lap and continued to rub her body to pink her up, smacking her back to help engage her lungs some more. We turned right into the hospital entrance. Ben wasn't sure where to go. I said, "Just go - straight - Main Entrance." He honked the horn as we approached, and jumped out, ran in yelling, "We just had a baby in the car! We need help!"
I looked up at him as he came back out of the hospital - his eyes were all red. And at that moment, the entrance burst open as people came rushing out.... Van doors flung open. Staff grabbed whatever they could to wrap the baby and warm her up - pillow cases off our pillows, a (not so fresh!) blanket that had been tossed in her carseat.
Then I heard a familiar voice. I looked up. The man with whom Ben had worked in security at that hospital 20 years ago, who had been there the day James needed stitches (and every other time we've been there this year), was the one giving orders. As my heart filled with gratitude for God's provision in that very moment, I said with joy, "George!" And he looked at me and then at Ben, and he told my dad later that after he heard me say his name, peace flooded him, and he knew everything was okay.
They put us on the stretcher, wrapped us in warm blankets, and wheeled me and our girlie into the ER. As we approached the examining room, someone started to take our baby off of me, and I said, "She's still attached! The placenta hasn't come out yet." Back into my arms she came. And I noticed that the cord was completely white and still (a very good thing for the baby!).
Orders were shouted all around. My clothes were all removed and tossed into a bag. Madelene's cord was cut. She was put back on my belly to warm up, and then she was taken to make sure she was okay. Graciously they allowed me to have her back very quickly when one of the doctors asked if I wanted to breastfeed. She latched on right away with a strong suck.
And then we were on our way upstairs to the Labor & Delivery ward.
At that point, everything slowed down as they prepared to stitch me up (about a 2-inch tear in the same place as the episiotomy from when James was born). My parents arrived. My mom came in to hold my hand while Ben continued to recover and Dad went to make phone calls.
An hour or so later, after Madelene Kate had warmed up sufficiently, the nurses gave her to me so she could nurse again. The only time she had cried was when they took her out from under the heater to weigh and measure her. Her lungs sounded strong and clear. I was so happy to hear her loud protest! And what delight as I once again held our baby girl close to my heart.
Looking back from this vantage point, I can't help but marvel at the kindness of God in all of our circumstances. I feel so small and helpless (because I am). And He is so great and mighty yet cares for us so tenderly.