Julie: A Precipitous Birth
At 5:13am I heard a text come through and knew that it would be Julie...
At 5:32am she texted me again saying she couldn't fall back asleep, so she was going to get up and take a shower and have a bite to eat.
We spoke on the phone at 5:57am for a few minutes and Julie was contracting but still able to talk to me through them. We both decided to shower and as I was getting dressed I got another text from Julie:
I spoke with her again at 6:28am and headed out the door.
Within the 30 minutes since we had last chatted, things had become significantly different. Julie was having not only a hard time talking to me during the contractions, but she was struggling in between as well.
I arrived to Julie's house at 6:46am to a familiar sight. Julie was kneeling on her living room floor, body draped over a yoga ball, moaning, and asking for something to drink. It was the same scenario as 16 months ago, when I supported her during the birth of their first daughter. (Julie's first birth story)
This time Julie was much farther along in the process upon my arrival. We had discussed through out her pregnancy that this birth had the potential of being very fast, as her first birth was fairly quick for a first time birthing person. That prediction would be spot on.
16 minutes after my arrival to Julie's house, I heard a pop and flood and Julie in a panicked voice said, "My water just broke!".
Seth came back into the house and I told him I thought it was time to go. He said, "This one is moving a lot faster than the last one, yeah?" I nodded and said, "I think so."
I didn't want anyone to panic, but my mind was racing. I knew that we were running out of time to get to the hospital. Julie had told me her worst fear would be having a baby in the car and I wanted to do everything I could, to not allow that to happen.
I mapped out the drive and it was 12 minutes away. Julie hadn't mentioned having and urge to push yet, but her noises, the bloody show which I caught in my hand, and myriad of other things were pointing towards her being close to fully dilated.
I rushed Seth along as he was placing things in their car and I suggested I ride in their vehicle. He hesitated and Julie yelled, "Take the car seat out! She has to come with us!" Julie and I both knew why I was getting in the car with them instead of following behind like usual, but neither one of us wanted to say it out loud.
I helped Julie get up off the floor. As soon as she stood up she said very calmly, "Oh. I feel like I have to push a little bit." Amniotic fluid was leaking everywhere, but she was still in enough control to move her body to places that wouldn't be damaged by it as we moved toward the door.
My last birth with Julie allowed for me to have the knowledge of how much control Julie has in these situations. I felt as though I would be able to talk her through not pushing during the drive and so we decided to head out and toward the hospital.
I ran to my car quickly and grabbed my bag. She wasn't going to need the labor coping things in the bag, but I carry an emergency kit, in the event that a baby comes before providers arrive or before we make it to the hospital. I wasn't sure if I was going to need it.
The conversation in the car consisted mostly of Julie encouraging Seth to drive as quickly as he could and me encouraging Julie not to push.
Julie: "Seth I don't think you understand. I feel the baby coming. I need for you to run every red light."
Julie: "Oh my god Melissa!!!!!"
Me: "Blow that urge away. You're in control you've got this."
Julie: "Just blow the light!"
Seth giggling: "It's green Julie."
Julie: "I feel the baby right there! Should I clamp down?! Like kegal?"
Me: "Nope if you squeeze in that way it's similar to pushing. Just keep breathing."
Julie: "Seth just go around him!"
Me: "Yes, but we don't want to die!" (I closed my eyes at this point as we navigated between a city bus and giant construction cones)
Seth: *driving quickly, but safely*
It was 7:29am when we pulled up to the hospital. Julie told Seth to pull into the valet as she wasn't going to be capable of walking from the parking garage.
I hopped out and asked the girl to grab a wheel chair very quickly. I helped Julie get out of the car and I could tell that there was a baby sitting right at her perineum by the way she was moving and puffing breaths.
As she got in the wheelchair, she didn't sit fully down, but hovered herself over the seat, confirming my thoughts of a baby being right there.
A woman behind the desk saw us as we entered and Julie began to contract. She said, "Oh wow! Just go!" (Pretty funny in hindsight. I certainly wasn't going to stop and check her in.)
Julie: "Thank you for being here for me. I need you to run!"
Me: "I'm going to!"
We were already a spectacle to be seen in the lobby, but once we got through the atrium, I started running Julie down the hall. We passed lots of people whose faces showed shock or surprise, but when we passed an elderly couple, they both looked like they might need to head over to the cardiac unit as Julie let out a very loud scream just a few feet away during a contraction. They both pushed themselves against the side wall as we ran by.
HOCC's L&D floor is on the other side of the hospital and while it always feel like a long walk, today it felt like a marathon distance.
I got to the entrance door and pushed the button to be let onto the unit. Someone came across the speaker and asked why we were there. Julie let out another loud scream and I heard the door buzz, but of course it did not open. The woman from behind the desk saw us and ran around to open the door.
As I turned the corner there was a gaggle of nurses there and one grabbed the wheelchair and began asking a million questions as they navigated through labor and delivery. One of them said, "triage" and Julie replied, "No! A labor room!".
They turned the corner and found a room with a bed in it and we entered. They helped Julie up from the wheelchair and she climbed into the bed.
It was 7:33am.
They asked her to turn over and she declined. "I'd like to push my baby out in this position" and she placed her chin on the back of the bed and helped to slide her underwear off. Seth walked in and I went over to the other side of the bed.
There were 6 nurses and an OB resident in the space. Julie's favorite doctor was on his way to a surgery, but later told us that he heard a scream and knew it was Julie, so turned around to catch her baby. She was delighted to see him enter and somehow had a quick and polite conversation about him still being there even though his shift had ended. (How was she remembering any of this stuff right now!?)
The resident decided to check her to verify she was fully dilated and could push, which was also pretty funny. The resident lifted Julie's dress and said, "The baby is at the perineum. Oh she's crowning!"
I began to whisper to Julie and she closed her eyes and squeezed my hand. Her shoulders dropped, I watched her wiggle her jaw and her face let go of its intensity. She took slow big deep breaths. Somehow, amongst the chaos in the space, I watched her relax. It was quiet in her space.
As soon as I picked up my head and looked passed her and into the room, I heard the noise. Nurses were setting up delivery carts and things were crashing, one was trying to monitor the baby, one trying to dress doctors, there was a woman behind a computer cart trying to admit her who was yelling, "How do you spell her last name?", one was suggesting putting in an IV, another was suggesting she change into a gown, and another was asking me questions about when her water broke, if it as clear, and when contractions started, and another kept suggesting she turn over onto her back.
I put my head back down next to Julie's and it was once again quiet. I had told her the night before when she shared that she had some fear building, that she was impressive to watch the first time and I didn't doubt that this time would be any different. And here we were, in one of the most impressive moments of my career. Julie had been in active labor for less than two hours (which is as intense as it gets!), she had enough control to keep her baby safe during a car ride, and 4 minutes after climbing into this bed, she had declined every intervention with grace, she had held her own about where she wanted to push, she had asked for support at her perineum and then she opened up one eye and she quietly asked me, "are they ready for me to push?".
"Yes, you can push", I replied and she took a deep breath and in one slow and controlled push, brought her baby earth side at 7:38am on the morning of the summer solstice.
Seth cared for their baby, and did skin to skin, while Julie took a few moments to process all that had just happened. The placenta then arrived, which was a great relief, as her previous placenta was retained and needed to be removed in the OR.
The room was erupting still. Everyone was discussing how fast everything had happened and someone was still trying to give Julie an IV.
The doctor had given directives that only half the nurses had heard and the other half, were still trying to check their boxes. I then heard a nurse ask for a printed copy of the birth plan, even though Seth was holding a little babe in his arms, and then I heard her say, "Well she certainly had an unmedicated birth!"
Julie was psyched to get to see the placenta this time and a nurse took her on a full placenta tour.
The nurse explained each side and where the baby was positioned, and then how the amniotic sac has two layers and it was the first time I had seen them being pulled apart so easily, so a pretty cool moment for me too!
For the next three hours Julie, Seth, myself and her one actual nurse, who was super lovely, Jenny, discussed the mornings events. It was an absolute whirlwind, with the sweetest ending.
Julie, Seth, Jocelyn and the newest edition, Liana Summer, thank you for inviting me back into your family for this brief moment in time. I am happy to be one of lucky ones, who was privy to witness such strength, control and power that you exude and can't wait to see what your family does next.