I have heard a lot of people say that they are afraid that they won’t make it to the hospital to have their baby and will give birth in their car. Having done that myself, it’s really not that bad. Of course I also did not decide to call the local news with the dramatic story of having my baby by the side of the road, and how I was so glad the EMTs came to save us. Having grown up with stories of my great-grandmother having a baby in the outhouse alone, I wasn’t too worried about giving birth even with my first baby. As I told my mother when she was in labor with my brother “You’re just having a baby”. My mom was also an OB nurse, and I grew up on a farm, so birth was a part of life.
When I choose to go to a birth center almost an hour from my house, I knew there was a risk of not making it there in time, but I didn’t want to go to a hospital, and at that point I wasn’t ready to do a home birth, so it was my best option. With my first, my water broke almost 3 days before he was born, so there was no rush to get there. My second decided to do things differently. I went for an ultrasound almost two weeks past my due date and he was fine, but seemed to be in no hurry to be born. My midwife said I was not dilated at all, even though I had been having intermittent contractions for almost two weeks. I went home feeling pretty discouraged, because anyone who has gone much past their due date knows that those feel like the longest days of your life. Although I knew it was not possible to be pregnant forever, it was starting to feel like I might be.
The next day, we went out for lunch and then drove around a bit on the way home to get our two year old to sleep for his afternoon nap. We got home and I was working on sewing a baby quilt. I started having some contractions and after a few I was pretty sure this was finally labor. Given how long my first labor had taken, I wasn’t in a big rush. I didn’t tell my husband right away because his friend was there. I kept working on my quilt. I was close to finishing and I knew I wouldn’t work on it for a while after the baby was born. I got the top sewn together and then I decided to iron it, even though the contractions were getting pretty intense and close together. In retrospect, this was not the best decision.
After my husband’s friend left I told him I was in labor and called the birth center to let them know we were on our way. I went upstairs to change my clothes and grab my bags to take with me. It took forever to change since the contractions were so close together and I was beginning to get the idea that time was suddenly not on my side. My husband was telling me to hurry. Clearly, he has never tried to walk during a contraction.
We got in the car and left. My husband was telling me we weren’t going to make it in time. I told him of course we would. I got my phone out so he could call the birth center and tell them we might not get there in time, but I dropped it between my seat and the center console, into the area where it is nearly impossible to get anything out of unless you get out and reach under the seat from the outside. This was not good, since there was no time to stop and get my phone out, and I did not have the phone number written anywhere else. I managed to jam my hand down next to the seat and get the phone in between contractions.
My husband stayed on the phone with the birth center for most of the rest of the drive. We were still about 30 minutes away when I started feeling like I had to push. I spent a while trying not to, but after a few minutes that wouldn’t work anymore. My husband stopped and the midwife told him to get me in the back, since we were in our SUV. It is rather hard to walk while pushing a baby out. Oh, and it was February in Michigan. Luckily it was unusually warm that winter. I got in the back and my husband climbed in and shut the door. Our two year old was buckled in his car seat in the middle seat that was now in front of us. He was crying, so in between contractions I was trying to reassure him. Somehow my pants were taken off. I pushed once, and my husband said he could see his head. I said “WHAT!?” I had pushed for two hours with my first. The next push, he was born. We wrapped him in a blanket that we had to cover our older son in his carseat. He wanted to eat right away. He still likes to eat, often 3 breakfasts –his, mine, and my husband’s. We were both fine. He was 9 lbs, and 22 inches long. I had been in labor about 3 hours total.
We waited by the side of the road for the midwife to arrive. She got there a few minutes later and cut the cord and made sure we were ok. We rode in the back of the SUV, stopping for gas on the way to the birth center. We had been trying to keep the tank full for two weeks, but of course on the day we needed it, we were almost out of gas. Once I got to the birth center, they wrapped me in a blanket so I could walk inside and then got us settled in a bed and things proceeded more normally from there.
I think the worst part about the experience is that when other people tell the story, they tend to leave me out of it. My husband apparently knew what to do from helping pigs and cows give birth, according to people who tell their friends how impressive he is. I love the “this is Chad who delivered his baby”. In that version, I’m not even there. People did suggest we name our son after the exit number where he was born, or the vehicle he was in. No, we did not go with Durango.
While it may not be the ideal way to have a baby, giving birth in a car really isn’t so bad. I wonder how this affects the retail value of our SUV though?
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