This is a birth story. There are a lot of personal details that come with giving birth. There isn’t anything too graphic and I’m not sharing my heart and soul on a platter, but I am sharing an intimate experience. My experience. I’m also sharing the 911 audio recording at the end of this post so you can experience a little or what we did.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this post since her birth less than two weeks ago and how and what to write and what details to share and what to omit, because there are a lot of details and a lot of ‘behind the scenes’ and a lot of angles about this story that I can write. For instance, do I write this as a ‘how to induce labor naturally with castor oil?’ (I read a ton of articles/research/personal testimonies about this subject and another ‘how-to’ never hurts, right?) Or do I write a checklist of what to have on hand if you birth a baby on the side of the interstate? Or maybe I should add an Amazon affiliate link for a stopwatch so that when contractions start you can time them and when they are 2 minutes apart from the very beginning of them starting you can be certain it’s time to have a baby. Then, I can have another affiliate link for a book about being in denial so that you won’t be in denial despite the weeks and weeks of ‘false labor’ before that moment. If you aren’t in denial then you’ll be confident that you’re in active labor and that the castor oil you took hours before actually worked. I could write a dissertation about all of the ‘what-if’ scenarios and ‘what-could-have-happened’ to scare the mess out of you, because even though everything turned out perfectly fine, I’ve been reminded over and over and over by well meaning people that I could have died, the baby could have died, we all could have died and while that is absolutely true, I am so thankful that I didn’t die that night and the baby didn’t die that night and andy didn’t die that night and we are all alive and doing marvelously, thank God. I also don’t want to miss the point that despite the absolute worst case scenarios that people have worried about and despite us heading to the hospital and completely bypassing our plans to labor close to the hospital and despite never even arriving at the hospital before Ms Tupelo was born, everything is just fine and we are amazed and thankful for just how perfectly her birth happened, even if I was standing on an exit ramp off of the interstate….
I was scheduled for an induction the following week. I was at the 41 week mark and our doctors agreed to let me go to almost 42 before a foley bulb induction. Any sort of chemical induction was out of the question, because of the higher risk of uterine rupture. I was induced with a foley bulb for Buttercup’s birth and after 36 hours of labor in the hospital under the watchful eyes and monitors of the staff she was born. We were thrilled to have a successful VBA2C with her 9lb6oz self and were hoping and praying for another successful VBA2C with Tupelo.
We’d tried every single natural labor induction method ever documented and despite having many nights of ‘false labor’ (it seemed like labor started but then everything would be back to normal and contractions never increased or stuck around) and despite all of the spicy foods, bumpy atv rides, intimacy (birth stories are personal, y’all), walking, jogging (for about 27 seconds), evening primrose oil, eggplant Parmesan, licorice and more we finally decided to give the dreaded castor oil a try. I knew there was about a 50% chance for it to start labor and I knew the side effects would be less than awesome. It’s a laxative after all. It’s a laxative that tastes like lipstick. I knew that if my body wasn’t ready to deliver then the castor oil wouldn’t work. It did work for us.
We decided to drink the stuff on Thursday morning because if it didn’t work then we’d have plenty of time to get it out of my system and stay hydrated before our scheduled induction the following Monday. It was our last resort. After getting a great night of sleep on Wednesday I woke up and had a T of castor oil with some Oj and went for a walk. Nothing happened. I went about my morning as a mama of little ones and decided to try another T. Still nothing. Around noon when andy came in I told him I felt like an idiot for trying to make something happen if it wasn’t time and that maybe I was trying to act like God. Andy completely disagreed and encouraged me (per our Doula’s advice) to take the rest of the 4oz bottle. I didn’t want to do it because I was afraid of the repercussions but we had plenty of coconut water and Gatorade and we were at home so I could conveniently go to the restroom and stay hydrated. So I chugged it and felt sick.
I took a deep nap at 3pm while andy did the farm chores with the kids and at 5pm we started getting dinner ready and I changed our sheets for the farm sitter. I felt ‘different’ and told andy that we should probably plan to head to the cottage in Savannah that night. Our friends are caretakers of a retreat in Savannah called Wesley Gardens. There is a big main house and a cottage that can be rented with walking paths and a dock overlooking Moon River. It’s only 9 miles from the hospital. We live an hour and a half away from the hospital so we wanted to be closer and labor with our doula in a peaceful place before going in to deliver. After a 36 hour labor previously and 2 csections before that (one scheduled and one after 36 hours of labor and ‘failure to progress’) we knew it would take some time and we were ready. I text our doula to ask her again how far apart contractions should be before we head that way and I started timing them. I was obviously in denial at this point because I could not believe that contractions were only 2 minutes apart. They had just started. I also thought that if I was going to spend the next day dealing with contractions this heavy then there is no way I could forgo an epidural. It was all I could do to get our bed made and smile at the kids and breathe. I told andy that we needed to go and didn’t know that he’d already called our friend/farm sitter and that his dad was on the way to pick up the kids. BREATHE. And grip the counter top and try not to grip the counter top because you need to relax and let your body do what it needs to do. BREATHE. The kids got loaded up and went to their grandparent’s house (praise God for loving grandparents!) and Andy and I got our shoes on and headed to the car. I couldn’t breathe. I also couldn’t believe that contractions were 2 minutes apart. From the beginning. There was never a build up, there was never a 15 minute break or 10 minute break or 8 or 5 minute break in between each one. They were 2 minutes apart and I was in active labor/transition from the time they started. We had to hussle.
Just before we drove off I told andy to grab a couple of towels. We had our exercise ball and big hospital style bed pads and walking shoes and snacks and every other possible labor item you can imagine but we needed towels just in case my water broke. For the record my water has never broken ‘voluntarily’ but has always been broken by the midwife (first birth started at a birthing center and ended at the hospital) or the doctor. Still, just in case. Before we left I told my sister Olive, my friend Abby in Alaska and my friend Emily that we were in labor. I also let our friend Abbie know that we were headed to the cottage. I wanted to tell girls from our church and others so they could be praying for us but I never could concentrate long enough between contractions to inform them. So we got on the interstate and headed to Savannah. Andy timed contractions for our doula and we realized they were a minute and a half apart. Janie (our doula) text me to say that if I felt nauseous or got cold sweats or felt my bottom burning then we needed to pull over. I called her because Andy had just pulled over so I could throw up. I thought this was just an effect of the castor oil that i’d consumed hours prior and still didn’t recognize it as transitional labor. I couldn’t actually talk to Janie because of how intense the contractions were but she called andy. We were driving again at this point and I turned the heater to full blast on my side of the car. The entire time I was rolling the window and sun roof open and closed and changing the radio and trying to get comfortable and saying ‘now’ whenever a contraction would start but now andy got worried. Heater on when’s it’s 90plus degrees outside and your wife is practically ripping your head off and you still have 45 minutes to get to the hospital would probably make any man worry.
So, Andy’s on the phone with Janie and she tells him that he will probably have to deliver our baby. And then I have to go. Right then. I told him ‘I have to poop!’ ‘You have to poop?’ ‘Yes, I have to poop.’ ‘Right now?’ ‘I’m pooping!!!!!’ Oh y’all. I wish this wasn’t true. I wish I was making up a fictional story about the girl who had a baby on the side of the road but I’m not. It’s all true. Every last personal and gruesome detail. I could put an Amazon affiliate link for the kids book ‘everyone poops’ right here, but I actually don’t have an Amazon affiliate link thing set up so I won’t. But the fact of the matter is that I was basically wearing a diaper (remember that I didn’t want my water to break and ruin the car’s interior) so everything was contained in a nice adult diaper sort of thing and we were still driving down the interstate desperately looking for the next exit ramp. We’d just passed a tractor trailer weigh station when the unfortunate (and totally natural!!!) happened so we had about 4 more miles to go. For a brief second I thought I wanted andy to pull over directly on the side of the interstate but in a rational moment I saw all of the traffic and knew that i could wait a few more minutes to get cleaned up on the privacy of an exit ramp vs the interstate. He pulled off of exit 148 (which is also the exit he takes to go to our Tupelo bee yard on the ogeechee river) and I started to crawl out of the car. I’d taken my shoes off (woman in labor=shoes on. shoes off. window open. window closed. radio on. radio off. ac on. heat on. BREATHE) and andy came to the passenger side, cleaned me up, helped me get my shoes on and helped me get out of the car. I knew I couldn’t sit in the car. He was on the phone with Janie still and debating about calling 911 and telling me to get back in the car so we could keep going. The thing is, I couldn’t keep going. I could stand there and breathe and hang on to the side of the car but I couldn’t walk and I couldn’t get back in the car. I wasn’t being dramatic but I told andy that we werent going anywhere and we were about to have our baby. I didn’t believe we were actually about to deliver her. Right then. But I knew I couldn’t keep traveling. I knew that there was A LOT of pressure down there and that walking or sitting was out of the question. So I stood there. Then I squatted. Then I looked at the ground and saw pavement/asphalt/gravel/probably bits of glass and I stood back up. I couldn’t deliver her right here. On the road. Then my water broke. Having never experienced my water breaking spontaneously it was really neat and not that eventful. There was a pop and a gush almost like a small water balloon had just busted by my feet. But I felt it and andy was there and he called 911. And for the next few minutes I went sort of silent.
I needed to concentrate and I couldn’t because I was paying attention to andy and his headlamp and his conversation and I just needed to focus. It was time. I told andy to get a towel. When I knew that he was there with a towel under me (I was still standing by the car and had stopped wondering what the cars thought as they drove by and saw us there) and I knew that our precious baby wasn’t going to hit the asphalt and I knew I needed to push her out or I’d stand on the side of the road unable to walk or sit down for the rest of my life so, I started pushing when the urge came. Three hours after labor started, I was pushing our precious baby out into the world. It was a relief. It really was.
Accepting that it was indeed time and that she was indeed being born right then was a huge blessed relief. I’d had so much fear prior to this moment. Fear of the unknowns and what ifs. Fear of ‘failing’ or losing our baby or my life. Traumatic labor and delivery memories would creep in and I’d sob and wonder what I could have done differently. Wonder why things happened the way they did in the past. I was afraid. Then Buttercup was born and my fears of uterine rupture subsided. Then Tupelo was born and my fears of childbirth subsided. All of them. She was born and we were alive and Andy caught her and it was just us. Our family. Andy handed me the baby (cord still attached to the placenta that hadn’t been delivered) and we sat back down in the car (hospital sized pads/towel on the seat) and waited for the first responders and ambulance to arrive.
I wondered if we should go ahead and drive to the hospital but the 911 dispatcher advised us to wait. So we did. They came and cut the cord and transferred us to the ambulance. She and I rode with andy following. We were discharged 24 hours later. I had a small tear that got a stitch and the nurse told us that ‘it’s a good thing that you delivered her before you got here. The dr on duty is anti vbac.’ He came in to see us just prior to her saying that and apologized for our wait because he’d just done two csections. None of the doctors in our practice were on duty. Our doctors are amazing. They are all pro vbac and are the only practice in our region that I could find that would give us a trial of labor after 2 csections. The hospital has the best NICU in the region also so we knew from our last birth experience that we were in the best place in the event of an emergency. Thankfully there wasn’t an emergency. Thankfully there weren’t any complications and God totally spared us from devastation.
Tupelo was 8lbs 13oz and 21&1/4inches long. She’s a beautiful, sweet addition to our growing family and her older siblings all adore her. She definitely gave us a unique story to tell and absolutely gave andy and I a deeper bond than we had before. We got the 911 audio recording and I keep listening to it and falling more and more in love with my man and admiring the way he handled the entire situation. Everyone’s experiences and stories are unique. I never imagined having a baby as quickly and smoothly and ‘unassisted’ as we did, but I am forever grateful that we did. Thankfully, our sweet Ms Tupelo gave us a whole new meaning to the term Roadside Stand. XO.