She could take me down with her pinky finger.
Her body was strong. Her mind was sharp. She carried a gun.
Thankfully not during her labor.
Her motto was “To serve and protect.”
When I walked into her home, shaking off the adrenaline from my speedy drive, I found her deep in her labor dance. She was leaning over her bed and swaying her hips.
Things had moved rapidly since I’d visited her that morning. That morning we had laughed about her spacey contractions and she prepared to go shopping.
It was 4pm.
The first words she said, “I’m not strong like you. I can’t do it.”
“Crazy talk. You are MUCH stronger than I am. And you ARE doing it.”
Her husband, who also carried a gun, was mastering the fine art of the double-hip squeeze. I caught his eye and sent him telepathic messages: she is close.
And she was. I arrived during mom’s transition stage; when her body was releasing adrenaline to prepare for pushing.
And there was a problem. This beautiful police officer, in that strong police officer voice that I’ve spent a lifetime respecting says, “I want an epidural. I am not leaving this room. I’m absolutely not getting in the car. I can’t.”
I look to her husband but he is suddenly very involved in double hip-squeezing.
I’m on my own. My usual pep talk with murmurs of encouragement fly out the window. This woman is practical. I give it to her straight.
- A) I’ll call a midwife and we’ll have the baby right here.
- B) I’ll call an ambulance.
- C) We will walk to the hospital you did not want to use (1 mile away)
- D) We walk downstairs, get in the car, and drive to your hospital and your doctor. (45 minutes away)
I know we don’t have time for negotiations. I channel my inner police officer.
I send Dad to load and cool the car. He also fortifies himself with a Red Bull.
When Dad returns, I give him “the look” and I run to transfer my things to their car. This birth will be my first time driving the getaway car! Usually I follow in my car but this one is too dicey.
Somehow Dad gets her into the car and we’re off.
I’m driving two police officers to the hospital. And one is pushing!
Holy cow, what a ride. Mom is on her knees with her faced smushed up to the window. Dad is still rocking the double-hip squeeze. I’m handing back a chux pad in anticipation of her water breaking.
We were still a good 25 minutes from the hospital when the pushing sounds began.
Then I hit stupid Wade Hampton Rd.
When I pull up to the hospital doors, I jump out, grab mom, and bolt. I hear knocking and look back to find Dad stuck in the backseat which can only be opened from the outside! I rush back and let him out.
We get upstairs, there is flurry, there is some chaos. Mom is a VBAC so there is extra flurry and extra chaos. I catch the eye of a nurse I know and mouth “which room?” while Dad deals with check-in. She points and I go. As soon as we walk in, Mom’s water breaks. I strip her clothes and toss on a gown.
She crawls into the bed on her knees. Baby crowns. I hear one of the nurses say to another, “I’ve never done one in this position.” Too late.
The nurse receives the baby, mom flips overs and takes baby. No one clamps the cord until the OB arrives 10 minutes later. I guess the OB has to have something to do, right? She doesn’t even get to suture since Mom’s perineum is perfectly intact.
Baby was born 15 minutes after we pulled in.
This woman’s first birth: a 40 week induction + cesarean + NICU.
Second birth: a quick birth without assistance.
“I think that women can be just completely surprised by the change in them from giving birth—you have something powerful in you—that fierce thing comes up—and I think babies need moms to have that fierceness—you feel like you can do anything and that’s the feeling we want moms to have.” –Ina May Gaskin, midwife