Speed Racer: The Birth Story

May 22, 2008

The first contraction hit at 7:46 pm. I know this, because I checked the time. I was pretty sure that it was just more false labor, but still. One always hopes. So I checked the time, and then went back to eating my fajita.

Ten minutes later another contraction hit. Ow, I said to no one in particular. That hurt.

Was that one different? HBF asked. Is it time?

Probably not. I’ll just wait and see.

Eight minutes later I was doubled over. Emilia pulled out her doctor’s kit and held the stethoscope to my belly. Baby brother wants to come out now?

I don’t know sweetie.

HBF: Should we go in?

I don’t know. It might be another false alarm.

HBF: I think we should go in.

I don’t know. (*doubles over*)

HBF: Seriously.

Fifteen minutes later we were in the car, no thanks to me. I dawdled, even as the contractions sped up, reluctant to go in to the hospital and face another round of eye-rolling if these were, as I thought, just another bout of bad false contractions. HBF prodded and pushed until I relented and buckled into the passenger seat. We drove away at 8:26pm, just as another bad contraction hit.

And then another.

And another.

We were barely fifteen minutes from home – and still probably some thirty minutes from our downtown hospital – when it became apparent that whatever was happening was happening quickly. Very quickly. Since we’d left home, the contractions had gone from eight minutes or so apart to barely a minute apart to not apart at all. HBF called 911; 911 patched him through to an ambulance; the ambulance advised that we pull off the highway and wait for them.

HBF: Pull off and wait?

(Me: GAAAAAR-OHMYGOD-GAAAAAR-NOTGOINGTOMAKEIT-GAAAAAR!!!)

(Emilia: WHAT’S MOMMY YELLING ‘BOUT DADDY?!)

HBF: I really don’t think we have time to stop and wait.

Ambulance Dispatch: We can’t chase you down, sir.

HBF: Then I’ll just keep driving.

Mad vehicular dashes to hospitals with women in labor are usually played for laughs on film and television. Let me tell you: there is nothing funny about racing toward a hospital that seems to recede ever further into the horizon as you speed forward in excruciating pain, your body completely out of your control, medical disaster ever more imminent with every passing second. Even when the toddler in the back seat starts shouting MOMMY YOU NEED MEDICINE YOU NEED MY TOADSTOOL? it’s not funny. It’s stone-cold terrifying.

And when your body just starts bearing down and pushing and you cannot stop it and then you’re still like ten minutes away from the hospital and the baby starts shoving its way out of your parts and OMG YOU CAN FEEL IT COMING OUT? Then? Your mind kind of snaps.

(So does the mind of your husband, who at this point is simultaneously driving a speeding vehicle with one hand on the horn and the other trying to feel for baby’s head between your legs while shouting into his phone-headpiece to someone at the ER that the baby’s coming the baby’s coming you need to be ready when we get there!)*

We arrived at the hospital at about 9:05pm. At the wrong entrance. Which was locked. Sufficient banging and the luck of some random guy wandering through the lobby got us in, and much shouting from HBF brought the medical team that had been waiting for us running. I was already mid-delivery: the bag of waters was being involuntarily pushed out – intact – and the baby was crowning. Eleven minutes later, at 9:16pm – after much horror-movie-worthy screaming – Jasper was out.

90 minutes from start to finish of active labor. Eleven minutes after stepping out of the vehicle. Fourth degree tearing (borderline) requiring on-the-spot surgery which, you know, without epidural or spinal anaesthesia or anything more significant than local anaesthetic and an extra-strength Tylenol? Almost as hair-raising as the near in-vehicle delivery. Almost.

It was terrifying. The most terrifying experience of my life, bar nothing.

But still, still… after all that – there’s him. Big and hale and hearty and a joy – an infinite joy – to behold. Worth any measure of terror, worth any measure of pain.

And the best birthday present ever.

*****

HBF broke, like, a zillion traffic laws, but he was a hero, he really was, getting us to the hospital in the nick of time. We found out immediately after the birth that we couldn’t have delivered Jasper safely without help – the cord was wrapped around his neck. There was, quite literally, not a second to spare. My mind snaps a little bit more every time I think about this. Which is why I’m going to try to not think about it anymore.

I bitch about the gods a lot, but someone or something was looking out for us. And for that – for everything – I am deeply, deeply grateful.

Now, am going to rest. Really.

*******


Because you asked: he weighed 9 lbs 2 oz – just a hair under what the ultrasound indicated. Around 20 inches long with a VERY big head (and chubby cheeks with one dimple).

And Emilia was right there until the gory parts, at which point she was enlisted by nurses to help supervise the nursing desk until it was slightly less terrifying for her to enter the room. When she did rejoin us, she was all smiles – huge smiles – and bursting with pride for having helped bring her baby brother into the world.

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    { 180 comments }

    marymurtz May 22, 2008 at 10:42 pm

    That picture of him clutching you in gratitude and relief…it says it all. You good mother, you.

    Wow and ouch. That’s all I can say now. xoxo

    Heather May 22, 2008 at 10:43 pm

    wowza that is some scary stuff! I am so thankful that you guys are okay and recovering! Congrats again! And go and really rest!!

    slouching mom May 22, 2008 at 10:43 pm

    Holy sh*t. You’re a rock star. That is all.

    Tina May 22, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    Wow! I always dreamed of having really quick labors but never made it in under 9 hours. Now I feel lucky…He’s beautiful. Best to you and your family!

    Janet May 22, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    Holy crap! Now *that’s* a birth story. And fourth degree you say? Yes, rest. You earned it.

    Godless Sunday May 22, 2008 at 10:47 pm

    Oh Honey! You did it!
    Just in the nic of time.

    I am so happy for you!
    That was lovely.
    A really beautiful story.
    Yay! He’s here.

    Rachael May 22, 2008 at 10:53 pm

    Oh. My. God. That is the most insane birth story I have ever read from someone I “know”. Congratulations on your beautiful baby – he just couldn’t wait to meet you I guess. Good job to husband on getting you there with a full 11 minutes to spare (haha) safely and in one piece. What an unforgettable experience. And I agree with Janet, you did earn your rest – here’s to a quick and hopefully fairly easy recovery!

    Wishful Mommy May 22, 2008 at 10:54 pm

    Oh, dear lord, now that is a story. I know how difficult it must have been/worth it all. Congrats on all of you being okay (was Emilia okay with it all?) I had a c-section with a non-working epidural so I do feel for you. Rest! Love! Snuggle! HEAL!

    Wishful Mommy May 22, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    and remember, that was NOT fast labor – it was slowest ever. You were in labor for 2 weeks!!!!! I swear the early stuff was not false labor, it was just early labor.

    Dawn May 22, 2008 at 11:05 pm

    What an amazing experience. What a story you will have to tell him as he grows up. I’m so grateful that all went well and you are all safe. Congratulations!

    Linda May 22, 2008 at 11:05 pm

    Wow. Just wow. Now, rest. Really.

    And enjoy your lovely boy. Congrats again.

    Niksmom May 22, 2008 at 11:07 pm

    OMFG! Speechless. And awestruck with your entire family. The gods were sooo watching over you all! Jasper is beautiful, simply beautiful.

    Lisa May 22, 2008 at 11:07 pm

    Congratulations! He’s beautiful. I also had an almost-by-the-side-of-the-road birth so I can empathise about how scary it is.

    Glennia May 22, 2008 at 11:18 pm

    That was the most dramatic birth story I’ve ever read. Congratulations to the entire HerBadFamily on the arrival of your beautiful boy.

    Amanda May 22, 2008 at 11:19 pm

    That is a great story! One that will be passed down for generations. Tell us, how did Emilia react once you got to the hospital?

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery!

    MommyTime May 22, 2008 at 11:20 pm

    Congratulations on making it through the harrowing part to the beautiful new child part! I, too, am a member of the 90-minute club, so I have much empathy for your distress. I wish you all the best with your gorgeous expanded family.

    HeatherK May 22, 2008 at 11:21 pm

    Amazing. And ouch. Pure sweetness that pic. Mary got it just right–gratitude and relief. What a beautiful babe.

    Mouse May 22, 2008 at 11:31 pm

    Wow! And ouch!

    After hearing this, I’m relieved to know everyone is (relatively) fine. Speedy healing to you!

    theotherbear May 22, 2008 at 11:34 pm

    Wow! Just, wow!

    Erika Jurney May 22, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    Fourth degree tear on your birthday? What a harrowing story! I’m SO GLAD it has a happy ending. I was on the edge of my seat.

    Wow.

    Devra May 22, 2008 at 11:48 pm

    Oh man, and I thought you were freaked out enough by sitting thru the J&J Vagina Monologue. THIS you did not need! Harrowing!

    Rest! Rest! Rest!

    Mazel Tov to your entire fam!

    Anonymous May 22, 2008 at 11:54 pm

    OMG, that is EXACTLY, and I mean EXACTLY the same thing that happenned with me and #2, right down to the transition labor in a crazy car drive to crowning upon arrival and freakin’ horrendous 4th degree tears being sutured up on the spot… Girl, you so brought me back to my birth story with my daughter that I felt the pain and fear all over again while reading this… But, in the end, there he is, a perfect little being!!! CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Now go rest! :)
    Pascale

    daysgoby May 22, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    Happy Birthday, Beautiful Boy.

    Your Mama has been waiting a LONG time to see you, and your Daddy?

    Your Daddy is a rock star.

    GIRL'S GONE CHILD May 22, 2008 at 11:56 pm

    Wow. Just… WOW. And wow, Catherine. I don’t know what else to say. Love to all of you.

    GeekLady May 23, 2008 at 12:00 am

    $4/gallon be damned, I’m driving to Canada to slap that resident.

    I’m very, very glad you’re both okay. <3

    Mandy May 23, 2008 at 12:16 am

    Wow. I thought we had interesting birth stories, but yours takes the cake. I am so glad to hear that you and Jasper (and HBF and Emilia) are okay.

    Rest up. It’s so well deserved!

    Jennifer May 23, 2008 at 12:34 am

    Holy crap! That’s amazing. You two rock! And Jasper is adorable. Hugs to everyone!

    Canuckedup mama May 23, 2008 at 12:37 am

    Um, holy crap. Sounds like the whole bad family were rock stars on this one.

    I hope your birthday presents included something a little stronger than extra strength Tylenol after a fourth degree tear!?!

    Congrats on welcoming (the awesomely-named) Jasper, drama and all.

    liz May 23, 2008 at 12:41 am

    What Wishful Mommy said. And oh my God, I’m so glad that everything turned out okay. And oh my God, I’m just so glad that you are all okay.

    I know I said that already, but I’m just feeling so so glad about it.

    supertiff May 23, 2008 at 1:01 am

    i just want to spit on any dr who rolled their eyes at you…really.
    i’m so glad you both are safe, but i have to say: if it was me, i’d be all “see, i told you, suckers!”

    anyway, you’re both glowing and gorgeous, and i guess that’s all that matters.

    congratulations, a million times over.

    Anonymous May 23, 2008 at 2:09 am

    Reading Jasper’s birth story brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing – I’m so glad that you are both safe. Speedy healing.
    Tari

    Lady M May 23, 2008 at 2:09 am

    My heart was racing, reading that story. Thank goodness you are all safe.

    Congratulations on a beautiful boy! WonderEmilia – you will be a great big sister.

    Now I need to sit down and write Buster’s birth story, since he’s already five weeks old. I’ve been a slacker, I know.

    Margaret McInnes May 23, 2008 at 2:23 am

    Awesome!!! what did he weight? After all that big baby scary talk I just need to know were they right?
    Quick (disgustingly fast) labor feels a lot like being thrown in a blender and spat out on the other side.
    So now sleep, snuggle, sleep, snuggle, and enjoy!
    All our best.

    Jozet at Halushki May 23, 2008 at 2:45 am

    You are a goddess.

    Look at this sublime thing you have done.

    I bet that the gods are afraid of their own power at times.

    You are a goddess.

    Heather May 23, 2008 at 2:49 am

    My mouth is HANGING OPEN like a fool. Amazing! Congratulations and all that, but also? HOLY HELL you are AWESOME!

    Jillian May 23, 2008 at 3:04 am

    He’s gorgeous and plump and I just want to squeeze his pink little cheeks. Congratulations on the quick (not so easy) delivery.

    And you didn’t want to go to the hospital to get checked…bad mother.:)

    You have a beautiful family. I wish you health happiness and lots of sleep!

    b*babbler May 23, 2008 at 3:22 am

    Holy hell and many other expletives.

    You guys are all rockstars, Wonderbaby included. That is truly one hell of an amazing birth story. I’m in complete awe.

    And do tell – after all the (increasingly dire) measurements in utero, how big was the (little) big guy?

    b*babbler May 23, 2008 at 3:24 am

    And did I totally get it wrong, or is there also a happy birthday in order for you?

    Jennifer May 23, 2008 at 4:23 am

    Most exciting birth story. Ever. I read it three times.

    Glad you made it there in time and both are okay. Wow. That is one helluva birth story. He will love hearing that in a few years.

    Bing May 23, 2008 at 4:57 am

    WOW!!! What an experience!!!
    Your toddled is trying to be helpful too, that is so sweet of her!
    Congrats on your new baby!!!

    Bing

    http://mygrowingdaughter.eachday.com

    Bokker May 23, 2008 at 5:28 am

    Your birth story brought tears to my eyes in several ways. Thank the gods he’s OK and you’re as OK as you can be.
    Congratulations! He’s lovely.

    Fairly Odd Mother May 23, 2008 at 6:52 am

    What a story! I love the calm, “We can’t chase you down, sir” comment.

    Glad you made it to the hospital in time! That photo is precious.

    How is Emilia after all this? That is quite the road trip!

    Jezer May 23, 2008 at 7:00 am

    Oh, dear Lord, that is one of the scariest things I can imagine. I’m so glad that everyone is fine, but I’m very sorry that it was so harrowing for you all.

    Jasper’s got some ‘splaining to do!

    Nah, we’ll let him off, just because he is so darn gorgeous.

    SciFi Dad May 23, 2008 at 7:13 am

    HO. LEE. CRAP.

    That wins the most incredible birth story I’ve ever read on the internet award. It should come with a disclaimer at the top, lest some innocent first time mom find it via google and run away in horror (complete with appropriate screaming).

    I’m glad everyone is OK. Has Emilia shared Toadstool with Jasper yet?

    wright May 23, 2008 at 7:20 am

    WOW that is terrifying! So glad you made it to the hospital. Little Jasper is a true blessing.

    Beck May 23, 2008 at 7:21 am

    OH MY GOD.
    You know, I had fourth degree tearing with The Boy – we can start a club! a club where we don’t sit down! – and it healed VERY, VERY quickly.
    Poor Emilia in the backseat, asking if you needed medicine. But what a lovely new baby!

    Average Jane May 23, 2008 at 7:29 am

    Yikes! What an ordeal!

    I’m glad it all worked out in the end. Congratulations!

    Dirkey May 23, 2008 at 7:31 am

    Oh dear Lord, that sounds insane!
    Congrats on the baby, you scared the sh** out of me.

    ALI May 23, 2008 at 7:48 am

    holy shit catherine!!! that is bar none the craziest birth story I have ever heard. congratulations on the healthy boy, hope you and your little family are healing well!

    jen May 23, 2008 at 8:00 am

    that is just about the most hard core birth story I’ve ever read (and it still made me bawl my eyes out.)

    congratulations, and good work!

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