Welcome Belen - Barely made it to hospital

February 3, 2009
(almost emergency childbirth)

Finding out that we were expecting our first child was the most exciting and terrifying thing that my husband, José Luis & I had encountered together.  I had known for quite some time that I wanted to birth our baby naturally…something in my core just told me that it was an achievable goal, despite all of the naysayers.  José Luis was supportive of my views, but didn’t really understand why or how we could accomplish it.  We started by contacting a group of Midwives to discuss our options.  After much consideration, we determined that the cost of the Midwives’ care was just too much for us.  So I continued down my list of natural birthing supports and met with a Doula.  However, upon meeting with her, José & I both felt that it just wasn’t right.  Our search continued.  I was reading Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth when I came across a story that referred to husband coached birthing.  The concept immediately resonated with me and I quickly found a local instructor.  I showed José the Healthy Birth Options website and he completely agreed that this was the support we were looking for.  I called Rhonda to sign up for the class and we talked for almost an hour.  Her gentle, inclusive approach to childbirth education helped my anxiety over having to give birth in a hospital to subside.  José finally felt like he was an active participant in our pregnancy and that he was equipped with the tools needed to coach me through labour.  Over the 4 months of weekly classes, José & I became in tune with each other.  He could recognize my tension and gently offer a solution to help me relax.  We both became so knowledgeable of the birthing process that our doctor’s appointments were more focused on how big I was getting than having any questions answered or concerns put to rest.  We carefully wrote out a birth plan, addressing the most common scenarios that arise in hospital births and how we would like them handled.  We would often joke about how we would trick the doctor into leaving us alone so we wouldn’t feel the pressure for interventions.

On our baby’s due date all of our preparations, practice and learning were called up.  After madly finishing home renovations, returning borrowed tools and having the furnace cleaned out, the rushes started.  They were sporadic at first so we had a lovely supper – pasta to provide lots of energy with hot sauce to keep the contractions coming.  We made love – partly because we knew it would help things move along and partly because it would be the last time for a little while.  José kept soothing music playing in the background while I puttered around the house, making sure our bags were fully packed, tidying up baby’s room and humming through the consistent rushes.  As time passed, the contractions got stronger.  I wouldn’t describe them as painful, but rather deep, intense surges.  José kept me well-hydrated and ensured I kept moving, allowing me to complete two rushes before encouraging me to switch positions.  We called our assistant birthing instructor, who was going to meet us at the hospital to provide additional support.  José told her that the contractions were coming about five minutes apart, lasting 30 to 45 seconds.  She told us that we still had time, to keep doing what we were doing and to call her again when the rushes were lasting one minute.  Suddenly, the contractions really picked up speed…they went from 5 minutes apart, to 4, to 3, to one on top of the other.  We knew we had to get to the hospital, fast.  José went downstairs to load the bags, when he returned to our bedroom I was just starting another contraction.  He sat behind me and rubbed my back.  Suddenly my back arched, my breath caught in my chest and a surge of water flowed out of me.  I needed to push.  José helped me to the bathroom and as I was sitting on the toilet I told him to call an ambulance, baby was coming.  Remembering our birthing classes, José lay me down on the bathroom floor to help slow the impending birth of our child.  Within minutes, the ambulance arrived and we were on our way to the hospital.  I had an overwhelming urge to push, but the EMTs told me to hang on, that I didn’t want baby to be born in the ambulance.  We arrived at the hospital and the nurses informed us that I was fully dilated and ready to push.  We started to push, what relief!  I could feel the baby moving and I knew that we were working together, the three of us, our family.

For the next 40 minutes, José kept me focused and encouraged while our little one made her way into our world. I was relying on my body, the intrinsic knowledge that it possesses of how to birth a child, and José was relying on all the knowledge we had been given from Rhonda. He ensured I had water between each rush, he counted me through every push, he held me gently as I floated between two worlds. Our daughter was born and immediately placed on my bare chest; we both just stared at her in awe and then found each other’s eyes. He told me “You did it!” I responded “We did it!”

Emergency childbirth story