(And I apologize for the wonky layout, I don't have time to fiddle with it!)
Wednesday morning I went in for my 38 week midwife appointment and complained to Ursula, the midwife I saw most often at the practice, that I was done being pregnant and I wanted this baby to come that weekend, because my parents were coming into town, and they could watch Mr. Teddy Bear while Joe and I were away. She asked me if I'd felt any uterine activity, and the answer was no. She said it didn't matter, some women don't feel anything until they're really in labor. And we discussed the signs of when to call and head to the hospital. I labored for a good twelve hours at the hospital with Teddy and I wasn't going to do that again.
Saturday morning I woke up feeling great. Sleeping in my own bed was wonderful, (I spent Thursday night in the hospital. Another, only kind-of related story.) I felt so energized and rested. And, I had cramps. Finally, some uterine activity! Nothing major, just period-like cramps. We had a big day planned with my parents, so we got up and ready. Joe and Teddy and I got dressed up and headed to the church for a baptism. There was a ward social afterward. My parents decided they'd meet us at the church after the social and we'd head to Philly together. A lovely time was had by all, and I'm pretty sure I told everyone I talked to that finally(!) I was having uterine activity! Maybe this baby would come when my parents were here!
So there we went. To Philly. It's only about an hour away. Easy peasy. It was a gorgeously, beautiful day. Cool and breezy in the shade, sunny and lovely. Perfect for walking around. We found a parking spot a few blocks away from Independence Hall and walked over. We just kind of meandered around, poking in on some things, taking pictures with Ben Franklin, and checking out his museum. We wandered around a little bit more and then tried to get a glimpse of the Tiffany/Parish mosaic at the publishing house. They were closed. Joe had to go feed the meter, and while he was gone we decided maybe it was time to head over to Pat's and Geno's for the big Philly Cheesesteak Taste Test of 2013. So instead of feeding the meter, he got the car and picked us up.
We headed to South Philly and actually got seats at Pat's. The idea was to get one cheesesteak with wiz from each place and declare a winner. We did and we came to a unanimous vote: Pat's for the win! Also, still no more than cramping going on in the uterus. So we decided to head over to the Franklin Fountain for some ice cream before driving home. The line there was forever long. My parents and I stood in line for 30 minutes. About 25 minutes in I realized I was having contractions. Not crazy ones, but definitely more than cramps. I was so excited, what perfect timing!!
We stayed in line and got our ice cream, but agreed we'd head home and eat our ice cream in the car. We alerted Joe and Teddy and hopped in the car. The plan was to drive to the church so my parents could get their car and then go back to our house. We'd make our way to the hospital when the time felt right.
The ride home was fine. I was in the back seat with my mom and Teddy. Contractions kept coming, but nothing too unbearable. I was able to make it through each one with just shaking my legs and deep breathing until they passed. I sent a few text messages, and we made our way back to Princeton, where my parents had left their car. We dropped them off, and I moved to the front seat. The move from the back to the front seat must have done something because the contractions were no longer managable with just shaking my leg, I needed to vocalize through each one. So, the mooing commenced. Teddy was in the back seat watching Thomas on my phone. Every once in a while he'd ask "Mama, what are you doing?" I told him I was getting ready to push the baby out, and did he want to moo with me? He wasn't interested in that.
The ride from the church to our house is only about 15 minutes, and it goes right by the hospital. The contractions were getting closer and closer together and we debated going to the hospital instead of home. But we had Teddy and thought we'd have enough time to go home and get back to the hospital. After all, I'd only been in labor for about an hour, so we figured we had some more time. Once we got home, I was planning to go upstairs and help gather our hospital things. Originally I was going to take a shower and Joe was going to cut my fingernails, but after getting out of the car I realized I couldn't make it up the stairs. So I kind of walked around, outside, mooing--in full view of anyone happening by. But the contractions were now constant. There was no break.
And all of a sudden I decided I needed to get up the stairs and pee. At this point my parents had arrived, and were taking care of Teddy. But he heard me down at the bottom of the stairs and asked me what I was doing. When I told him I was getting ready to push the baby out, he walked all the way down the stairs, and held my hand and said "Mom, I will help you push the baby out". Oh bless his sweet heart. It took everything I had to not squeeze his sweet little hand to pieces when he offered it to me. I'm sure I mooed in his face instead. I somehow made it up the stairs, probably with his help, and to the toilet, where I was unable to pee. Of course.
Joe grabbed everything, including special towels--my water hadn't broken--to put on the front seat (of our brand new car), and ran downstairs. I guess I waddled my way down. My dad asked me how I was doing and I roared at him as a way of saying "don't ask a woman in labor how she's doing!" Teddy started crying and I managed to yell out "show him Thomas or read him a book!" And we got into the car. Though, getting into a car while in heavy labor is not a very pleasant activity. I wanted to lay as flat as possible since I couldn't bend at the waist anymore and ended up with my body wedged between the two front seats. But I couldn't close the door. At that moment, my dad arrived to get Teddy's backpack from the backseat with his cars, and I roared at him again to close the door. And then we were on our way.
It's only a 10-15 minute ride to the hospital, depending on traffic. And Joe was flying. He kept trying to hold my hand and be supportive like he was during my labor with Teddy, where I clung to him with a vice grip. But all I wanted to do was hold on to the seatbelt, which I had pulled out as far as it could go. So, laying down, pulling on the seatbelt, moaning--let's not forget the low, loud moaning, that was now constant--with my eyes closed is how I spent the car ride. I kept barking at Joe to drive more gently and slower. And I remember thinking, "I honestly don't know if I can do this for four more hours." Every time he slammed on the breaks or accelerated I thought my insides were going to fall out. Not just a baby.
The lobby of the hospital is about the length of a football field. It's long. Especially if you're about to deliver a baby. Joe set out to get me a wheelchair. I didn't have the capacity to tell him there was no way I was going to sit down. I had spent almost the entire labor up to that point sitting down and I was done. So I waddled. On the far end of the lobby, just on the other side of a wall from the elevators that would take us to the labor and delivery floor, is a reception desk staffed by volunteers. Teenage and elderly volunteers, both. The all came out from behind their desk, and stared at me, the moaning, waddling pregnant woman in obvious labor, and basically ignored Joe who was asking for a wheelchair and telling them to call labor and delivery, call Ursula the midwife. Instead they did nothing but watch.
We were almost to the elevator. Literally steps. And this glorious thought popped into my head: during labor with Sam, Bizzy had crawled (naked and moaning) across the floor. Genius. (Labor brain, I love you.) I got down on all fours and started to crawl. But in my attempt to do so, realized I wasn't going anywhere and quickly got on my side. On the ground. Steps from the elevator. A volunteer showed up with a wheelchair. Joe tried to convince me to get in and then was supportive about me not doing so. And he yelled "Isn't this a hospital?! Shouldn't someone be helping us?!"
And that's when I felt the urge to poo. And I thought in my head "I'm so sorry, Joe, that you're going to see me poo. Not just you, everyone in this lobby, because I am going to poo. Right here. In this lobby." And I started to push. And realized that was not a sensation to poo, but a sensation to push a baby out. I felt between my legs and there was a balloon. I yelled something to the effect of "Joe, the baby is coming right now." Then I pulled up my big purple dress and spread my legs wide. And every single person who had been standing around watching us, and there were quite a few--volunteers and people who were making their way to and from the elevator--woosh, vanished. Literally, they all disappeared. And it was just me and Joe on the floor. I pushed once, twice and out popped a baby, in a sac, into Joe's waiting arms. The sac popped and Joe handed the baby to me.
I tried to keep the tiny thing warm in my arms, and started laughing uncontrollably, saying "we just had a baby in the lobby!" over and over. And I was beyond relieved that it was over. And full of adrenaline. No more labor. We had our baby! An hour and a half after that first contraction.
Not two seconds after the birth, a swarm of nurses and doctors from labor and delivery were there, ripping off their coats and shirts and wrapping up our little bundle of joy. (Turns out a volunteer had in fact called the labor and delivery floor, but the use of the word "emergency" sent them to the ER, on the opposite end of the forever long hospital.) They were asking what time it was, what time was the baby born? We had no idea, and didn't care as much as they seemed to. And we realized we still didn't know if it was a boy or girl. So they encouraged us to check: girl. !! Neither one of us could believe it. But there she was.
Because she was delivered in her sac, Joe came out of this glorious event with only one drop of blood on him--literally. He delivered a baby and was totally clean. I, on the other hand, made a bloody/watery mess all over the carpet, my dress and my shoes. I didn't care, but I remember looking at the mess as they helped me into the previously unwanted wheelchair and onto the elevator, and kind of giggled.
They took me up to labor and delivery floor where they cut the umbilical cord and I delivered the placenta with little fanfare. Then they stitched me up, having torn pretty badly because she came so fast. I proceeded to lose enough blood that they gave me Pitocin to help slow down the bleeding and when that didn't work, some other shot in my thigh that seemed to work. Because there was so much nurse and midwife and doctor attention on me, Joe got to spend the first hour just holding our little lady before they bathed or weighed or measured her, lost in the magic of it all. Lovin' on his little girl he wanted but never thought he'd have.
The midwife was so proud of us, proud of Joe for doing an amazing job, and proud of both of us for handling the situation so calmly and with humor. The sweet nurse from my hospital stay two days before came in and said "I'm so glad it's you! Congratulations!!" Everyone in labor and delivery was so nice and excited to send their congratulations. I guess we made their job a little easier. (All except for the nurse and midwife in charge of stopping my bleeding and the nurse's assistant who so kindly rinsed my dress and shoes.)
Back at the Yin home my mom said she was shocked to see the email Joe had sent our families announcing her arrival just as they took Edmund out of the tub. And just after they had alerted my family we had headed to the hospital and that the birth was close. (My mom was the only one who thought this labor would go quickly, I certainly didn't.)
So that's the story of how we delivered a baby in the hospital lobby.
We've rehashed, and retold and discussed every single detail over and over, and neither one of us would change a thing. It really was perfect in all it's imperfection.
And the little lady? She's a keeper.
And the little lady? She's a keeper.