Technically I didn’t actually become a mom, at least for the first time, at Walmart. But I did become a mom to Levi there.
I shouldn’t have been surprised by this, as Levi’s four older brothers all came to us rather quickly as well, once they were ready. And in some ways I was not surprised- I had just told a friend a few weeks earlier that I had carried such anxiety during my whole pregnancy about my quick births but had finally made peace with the fact that my baby would be born where he was born, whether at the hospital or at home or on the way, and there wasn’t much I could do to change that.
On the other hand, I was surprised, because as often as I had read stories about other people having their babies in unplanned places it isn’t something that you actually think it going to happen to you. I remember learning about fast labors in the natural birth classes my husband, Adam, and I took while I was pregnant for the first time, and having to read parts of Emergency Childbirth as homework for our class- in case we ever found ourselves in such an unexpected situation. I chuckled at the idea of even having a fast labor (much less accidentally giving birth outside of the hospital!), sure that I would never be in that position. A few months later my oldest son was born after a 5 ½ hour labor and arriving at the hospital fully dilated. Apparently I was one of those women who this kind of thing does happen to.
An Unexpected Birth Day
Levi was due to arrive around March 12th and because we have this interesting birthday pattern going on with everyone in our immediate family and this day would actually keep that pattern going Adam and I just figured he would be born on that day. After awhile it literally did not even cross our minds that he would be born before that day. I have also always had several days, or even weeks, of contractions leading up to the actual birth, so when this type of thing had still not even started by the evening of March 7th we still felt that the birth would be at the very least several days away. I talked with Adam for awhile before he went to bed early in preparation for going to work at 5am the next morning and then sat on my birth ball for a bit while reading some articles online and looking for a set of blankets for the baby on Amazon. With free two day shipping these would even get here before the baby was born, I thought as I placed an order around 11:30pm.
I didn’t set my alarm as usual for the next morning, since it was Daylight Savings Time and I thought that the boys might “sleep in”, thankfully they did. I got up out of bed around 8:45am and as I helped the boys get ready for the day I realized that I was having very mild contractions about every 7 minutes. Due to my labor history I thought absolutely nothing of it. I had figured my contractions would start up on this day since my mom was scheduled to arrive later in the day to stay with us for a week and take care of the boys when the new baby was born. I could finally somewhat relax knowing that someone would be here for the boys whenever Adam and I needed to leave for the hospital. As has happened before, when I am able to relax usually contractions are not far behind.
As I prepared breakfast the contractions continued, very mild and still around 7 minutes apart. They were not painful, but I knew they were there. At 9:30 I texted my doula, Amanda, to keep her in the know, but said it was nothing to be concerned about right now. At 9:50 I texted my mom to let her know I was having mild contractions and she decided to skip church that morning and get ready to leave as soon as she could since it was going to be a 6 hour trip.
After I texted my mom, the intensity of my contractions picked up somewhat, but again this was not concerning to me as I had experienced a similar intensity with another labor- and it lasted for nearly two weeks before that baby was born. Just before 10 I texted Adam at work to let him know I was having mild-ish contractions and then texted a friend to let her know the same. At this point I also began having “piggyback” contractions where I would have a shorter, milder contraction in between the ones I had been having. This can mean that the baby is not in a very ideal position and serves to help the baby to move into a better birthing position. As my babies tend to settle into not very ideal positions anyway, this made sense to me as to why it was happening but I started to feel confused. My main contractions were still 7 minutes apart, but I was contracting in some way about every 3-4 minutes…does this mean something or is this normal? The anxiety I had been trying to let go of during my entire pregnancy came flooding back and I wasn’t sure if this meant I was truly in labor or not. The intensity of my contractions increased again and I found myself needing to lean up against the kitchen counter and sway my hips as I focused on each contraction.
Anxiety And Confusion
I texted Adam again at 10:09 to tell him that I was scared because I didn’t know how to tell if it was the real thing or not. He knew how anxious I had been over this exact thing during this whole pregnancy, so he didn’t think much of it and encouraged me to relax. I believe that had he been home he would have realized what was going on, but as I was by myself and already feeling somewhat irrational at this point I was confused about what it would be best to do. I remembered that my brother in law, Caleb, didn’t work on Sundays so I decided that it would be good to ask him to come over and just hang out with us until my mom arrived, that way if we needed to leave for the hospital someone would be here to take care of the boys. I texted him but he never responded. I continued to work through my contractions and in between them I made myself some fried eggs for breakfast and put in Homeward Bound for the boys so that I could figure out what was going on. I turned on one of my favorite Pandora stations hoping that the soothing music would help me focus and remain calm.
Around 10:30 Adam let me know he was on his break and I called and talked to him about 15 minutes later. Contractions were still 6-7 minutes apart (sometimes with the mild contractions in between). I hung up with Adam, but then called back a few minutes later and told him that I needed him to come home. I had decided that we should probably go to the hospital just to be safe, the worst thing that could happen was getting sent back home. Once I got off the phone with him the mild in between contractions dropped off and I began having real, intense contractions every 4 minutes. I called Caleb since he had not responded to the text and he agreed to come over as soon as he could. Then I called my mom to let her know that we were going to the hospital and that Caleb would take care of the boys until she could get here. She had not left yet so my sister decided to come along as well since it seemed like the birth would actually occur today. Next I called Amanda to let her know that Adam was on his way home and we would be going to the hospital as soon as everything was in place. I wasn’t sure what hospital we would go to so I planned to let her know once we decided. Our preferred hospital is 45 minutes away, but my doctor also has privileges at a closer hospital. I really did not want to go there, but with the way things were going I knew that I needed to strongly consider it.
It’s Definitely The Real Deal
Before Adam got home my contractions intensified and moved to 2 minutes apart. They were lasting about a minute and I ended up finding a specific span of the counter in the kitchen that I kept going back to in order to work through them. I leaned over the counter, rested my arms on it, swayed my hips, breathed deeply, and closed my eyes. I’m not sure what I was thinking beyond being scared. Feeling alone was the worst part of this labor. In the minute or so I had between contractions I was running back and forth between my bedroom and other places in the house, hurriedly packing a hospital bag, gathering towels for the van since my water was still intact, and a blanket because at this point I thought that we really might not make it to the hospital and I knew we would need something to wrap the baby in if that were the case.
Adam arrived sometime after 11 and immediately began helping me through contractions by trying to do the magical hip squeeze that my doula does and has been extremely helpful for me in the past in taking the edge off contractions. In between contractions he tried to contact my doctor on his cell phone, but got no response so he left a message and a text. He called Amanda around 11:20 to let her know that he was home with me and that we would be leaving for the hospital as soon as Caleb got here.
I went to the bathroom and found that I had lost my mucus plug so finally decided that we should head to the closer hospital and he called Amanda back to let her know where we would be headed and texted my doctor as well. I found a quick second to text my friend again and let her know we were heading to the hospital. Adam packed up the van in between my contractions, he was confused as to why I wanted him to pack a blanket but said later that he figured he should just do what I said at that point. He didn’t realize I really thought the baby could be born on the way, even though I told him right when he got home that I didn’t think we were going to make it. It was hard for me to verbalize everything I was thinking or feeling, and the urgency of it, at the time.
I kept wondering why Caleb wasn’t here yet and was getting overwhelmed by my contractions and the thought of laboring on my own again and in the van with contractions every 2 minutes. I asked Adam to call Caleb around 11:35 and he was still a few minutes away.
On The Way At Last
At last Caleb arrived and we barely said anything to him, just headed out the door. I knew I did not want to sit in the passenger seat of the van so I opened up one of the sliding doors and climbed in the middle hoping that I could find a way to lean against something and still be able to sway during contractions. As soon as I got in I climbed right back out as a contraction started so that Adam could help me through it. I did not want to labor in the van, but Adam encouraged me to get back in because we needed to head to the hospital. I knew he was right, but having labored in a vehicle a few times before, it was something I didn’t want to repeat.
Our van is crowded with car seats, but I was able to position myself in between the two middle seats. I was on my knees facing the back of the van and could rest my arms on the seats. During contractions I was leaning into the seats, swaying my hips, breathing deeply, and singing the lines of a song over and over again in my head to try to take my mind off of the pain. Once each contraction peaked and began to come back down I felt so much better, but as they were so close together I did not have a lot of time to recover and relax in between. I was restless and in between contractions I was telling Adam that I didn’t think we were going to make it. He tried to reassure me that everything was going to be alright and that we would make it to the hospital. Adam is such a calming presence and I was wishing he could be supporting me physically as well.
Have you ever given birth in an unplanned place or had something completely unexpected happen during your birth? Make sure you catch Part 2 to see what happens!