This story is somewhat shocking to share. It is a story much different than my first labor, which I am very grateful for. My unassisted birth story is something that does not happen very often.
Signs of Pre-Labor
The morning I turned 39 weeks pregnant, I was feeling mild abdominal cramping. I was treating it like a normal day – getting my oldest and myself ready for the day, preparing breakfast and getting ready to go to the gym.
I called the birth center to let my midwives know I was having cramping and inquired if this was a sign of labor coming. One of my midwives called back later and said it was possible, but advised me to keep them updated on how things were going. I felt a number of Braxton Hicks contractions (not painful) throughout the day. For the past several weeks, I had felt these contractions, but they had picked up significantly that day. I had no idea that I would be having an unassisted birth in a short while.
I told my parents about what was going on and asked my mom to have her bag ready to go in case I would go into labor soon. Something I remembered was the afternoon and evening before I went into labor with my first, I experienced a number of Braxton Hicks contractions that were consistent. I wondered if this meant I would go into labor soon.
Beginnings of Labor
Continuing on with my normal routine, I put my daughter to sleep. As I was doing so, I started to feel a painful contraction. In the span of an hour, I had felt at least a couple painful contractions. I notified my doula, midwife and parents. My doula and midwife said it is possible I was in the early stages of labor and to keep them updated on my progress (the birth center does not typically admit patients until you are in active labor). My mom was getting concerned and she decided to make her way up to us.
In the mean time, I kept myself distracted. I began getting the rest of my birth center bag ready, folding laundry with my husband and watching TV. It was very difficult, if not impossible, for me to go to sleep because I kept feeling painful contractions. They were not being consistent (every 5 minutes apart, etc.), so I thought I was still in early labor. I tried keeping hydrated and snacking to keep up my energy.
I knew I was feeling a little nauseous, so I tried taking cocolaurin and continued snacking to keep my nausea at bay. Unfortunately, moaning through my contractions kept on waking up my daughter. She gets very worried and upset when I am in pain and could not sleep. Even though I do not normally let her watch TV, I let her this time because it kept her happy being next to me and it was less exhausting to keep her occupied while I concentrated through contractions. One memory I love about this is at one point, I had a contraction and my daughter handed me a pretzel because she thought it would make me feel better. This warmed my heart.
My nausea soon became too overwhelming that I had to run to the bathroom to throw up, which upset my daughter. Soon after this, my mom arrived. She tried putting my daughter to bed while my husband was helping me manage my contractions by applying counter pressure on my lower back. At one point, I decided to take a hot shower to help manage my pain.
Calling in Help
I made a call to my homeopath because I was losing energy from no sleep and nausea, but he did not answer. I was beginning to lose hope and become discouraged, so I called my doula. She was trying to encourage me by saying I can do this and suggested I take a shower or a bath. I also called my midwife, who said that they could check me out at the birth center in a little while to see where I am at. Both my doula and midwife believed I was still in early labor because my contractions were not being consistent. They also both suggested trying to continue contacting my homeopath in order to help with my energy and nausea.
Working Through My Contractions
Feeling discouraged, I stepped into the bathtub and waited for the water to fill. Even though I had the bathroom doors wide open into our bedroom, my husband was sleeping through my loud moaning and contractions. My mom and my daughter did not wake up either. I received a text from my doula encouraging me, saying you can do this – you can do anything for 60 seconds! She also quoted me one of my birth affirmations from the bible saying “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phillippians 4:13). Reading this verse did help me to carry on.
I called my homeopath one more time and he answered. He had just listened to my message and I filled him in on my symptoms. As I was doing so and he asked me one question, I experienced a contraction and worked through it. He kept on asking me questions, but as he did, he kept on being interrupted by me contracting. My contractions had significantly picked up in the few minutes I had been talking to him (2 or 1 minutes apart – before, they were anything from 8 to 11 minutes apart, not being consistent).
He told me “I think it is time you went in”. I somehow managed to agree between my contractions. He asked if I needed him to call someone and said he would give my mom a call on her cell to notify her. I hung up and yelled for my husband in the adjacent room. Trying to tell him in between my contractions what was going on, I told him to call the midwife and doula to let them know we were heading in. They agreed to meet us in about 45 minutes at the birthing center.
My mom came in at the same time and was panicking saying we need to go right away. They were both asking me what I wanted to bring or what preferences I had about certain things, but I did not care at that point. I was having a hard time communicating to them that I did not care. I could barely make it in between contractions they were coming so quickly. Every time I had a contraction, I had to lean on a door and my body was forcing me to squat each time to push. I literally could not help but to push during these contractions.
Heading Out the Door
With each passing second, my mom was panicking more telling my husband to get my clothes on me. This was very difficult for me because everything was discomforting at this point. He managed to get my clothes on as my mom was saying you are not having this baby here! As I was being guided down the stairs, I said “I am going to have the baby in the car. I am not kidding.” My mom just kept pushing us out the door.
It was so hard to get down our couple front steps and then into the car. My husband helped me into the back seat and I could only manage to get on my hands and knees. Sitting did not feel bearable. As he was rushing to the birth center, he called our doula to let her know what was happening. She later recounted to me that she heard me in the back seat and asked “is she alright?? You need to call the midwife.”
My Unassisted Birth
He called the midwife again as I was telling him I could feel the baby’s head emerging and pulled over in an empty parking lot right before the highway. The midwife told me to take down my pants and start pushing. I was panting that I couldn’t (pull my pants down). It was too difficult to balance my position in the backseat and do so, and my husband helped me. He was cheering me on that I can do it as the midwife was telling me to push. My water finally broke and I had another push or two and the baby came out.
He caught the baby and announced it was a girl! Handing her to me and giving me a t-shirt to wrap around her against me, he went to the driver’s seat and began driving again. We named her and as I was taking her in and holding her close, I was thanking and praising God saying the Glory Be prayer. My husband joined in. He then began calling everyone to let them know I had just had an unassisted birth in the car!
Driving After My Unassisted Birth
Nearing the birth center, we turned next to the hospital as a woman driving a van next to us began to panic telling us not to turn there, seeing me hold a baby in my arms and thinking we made the wrong turn. The hospital is nearly right next door to the birthing center, so she did not realize we were headed there.
A minute later, we arrived at the birthing center with a number of the staff waiting for us right at the curb with looks of shock, awe and excitement on their faces, in disbelief that I had just had an unassisted birth. They congratulated us and helped me out of the car into one of the birth suites of the center. I had been shivering since shortly after delivering the baby, but they said this was normal and would pass. The midwife prepped the cord for my husband to cut. The cord had been white for a while, which is how long I wanted to wait to cut the cord anyway, and he cut the cord. Shortly after, I delivered the placenta, which was a relief. They wrapped the baby and me up in the bed and attended to us.
My doula had arrived shortly after us and was in shock too that I had an unassisted birth. I had planned on a water birth, but did not even use the tub! She gave me water to drink and asked what I wanted to eat. I wanted something warm, like soup, so she went to the grocery store to pick some up.
My mom and oldest daughter arrived soon after and they were both happy and could not believe it. I never thought that I would be someone who delivered my baby in the car. Later on, my mom told me “you were blessed by God today.” We thought that we truly were.
You’re amazing Sarah, congratulations!
Thank you Jensen!