WARNING: I’m not going to be super-graphic, but I’m going to be honest, and this is a fairly shocking story.
You can’t really tell this story without first backing up and pointing out that my wife has an incompetent cervix. Speaking of, why do they have to call it that? Seems mean. Anyway, she had to have a cerclage (circular stitch) done to keep it from prematurely (WAY prematurely, like only a couple months into the pregnancy) dilating and allowing the baby to literally fall out. This was a known risk my our first child, my son, but they don’t like to do the cerclage unless they really, really know they have to. My wife got a rescue cerclage hours before very likely losing our son at 21 weeks, our doctors told us. He’s fine. Super great, actually. But he was born pretty suddenly. My wife’s water broke quite unexpectedly, at 35 weeks, and she still had her cerclage in. Once active labor started, it was only a couple hours before he was born. He spent 2 weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Like I said, he’s great, now. My wife, too.
So this time, they did a preventive cerclage at 13 weeks. For that reason, this was an almost completely “normal” pregnancy. Until they took the cerclage out. That was two weeks ago. My wife immediately dilated to 5 cm. For those keeping score at home, that’s half-way to birth dilation of 10 cm. And she was almost 100% effaced, too. I have no idea what that means, but I’m told it’s important, and usually happens pretty close to the time of birth. Yeah, usually.
Monday night my wife was having “cramps” that were really frustrating her because they weren’t contractions. She was really ready to have this baby. We went to bed, wondering how much longer it might be. She was awakened by a few more intense cramps, and didn’t sleep very well. At some point she simply couldn’t go back to sleep. She started trying to read up on the Internet about how to know for sure when you’re having real contractions. These didn’t feel like the contractions she had with our first child, and she didn’t want a false alarm trip to the hospital at 3 AM with our two-year-old in tow.
At 3:20 she had a contaction that she was more certain was “for real.” She decided to wait to wake me until she had another one, and could guess at how close together they were coming. She woke me at 3:25. I got up and started loading up the car with our suitcase, toiletry bag, son…
But Linda wasn’t moving, or so I thought. Every time I made a trip to the car I’d peek in on her. It seemed as though she hadn’t moved from the bed, and I could tell she was having some pretty intense contractions. What I didn’t know was that she had been standing up and putting on one article of clothing at a time between contractions, but they were coming so close together that she wasn’t getting very far. I tried to get her to stand up and put her dress on so that we could hurry to the hospital. She was not too happy about being hurried. She stood, put on her dress and sandals, and we headed down the hallway. Half-way down our very short hallway she dropped her purse and shouted, “Oh my God…. call 911” and darted into the bathroom.
I scrambled to get my phone out and start dialing. My phone wasn’t working, so I found hers, and went out to the car to get our son. It was obvious we wouldn’t be leaving the house. I went through the “what’s your physical address” rigamarole with the 911 operator as I heard my wife make a noise I hadn’t heard in two years, she in our bathroom inside the house and I in my front yard.
By the time I got to our son’s room to put him back in his crib - where I could be sure he would be safe without constant supervision - Linda shouted that she was crowning.
Time pretty much stood still, or flew into high-speed, or did something that renders time irrelevant. We know from the call record that I called 911 at 3:41. By the time I got from my son’s room to the bathroom - roughly 14 feet, and just as I was explaining to the operator that the baby was crowning and stepping through the bathroom door, the baby was born.
I looked up and saw my wife holding our baby, standing in our bathroom between the sink and the shower.
It’s pretty blurry from there, but we couldn’t tell that the baby was breathing. It didn’t appear that she was. My wife climbed into the tub to sit down with the baby, and I put a towel down. We were told to stroke the baby’s back with the towel briskly to stimulate breathing. Nothing. We checked for anything blocking her mouth, and for green fluid that would indicate distress in the womb and dangerous risk of infection. Nothing.
The operator instructed me to give mouth-to-mouth (really mouth-to-face) to my daugher, as well as chest compressions. I’ve never been so scared. She felt so delicate.
I did CPR for what couldn’t have been more than a couple minutes, but what felt like 20. Then EMS showed up and took over. They put a mask on her, and manually pumped air into her lungs, and got her oxygen levels up, and then took my wife and daughter to the hospital.
Everyone is doing great. My son enjoyed seeing the fire truck and ambulance. My daugher has been in the NICU for a couple days, but has not needed assistance breathing since she was at my house. They didn’t let her eat for the first 24 hours, because she had been in shock - the body diverts blood away from non-essential organs like the stomach during shock, so your stomach pretty much doesn’t work for a while as it comes back online. My wife is doing great. She has recovered from this birth even more rapidly than she did our son’s birth. My wife and I will be discharged in the morning, and our baby will probably be out of the NICU in a day or so.
So whenever we say that our second child had a “home birth,” this is why we’ll be smirking. My wife is an absolutely incredible woman. She delivered her own baby, completely alone, in two pushes. The way Amazonian women did. The way Wonder Woman was born, I’m sure.
God has blessed our family with another child, and another chance to learn what grace, mercy and faith are all about.
In light of this, we decided that another name we had considered was actually our first choice. Our daugher’s name, then, will actually be Molly Clementine Brady. The name Clementine comes from a word that means “mercy.”
UPDATE: You can now hear my wife’s side of the story.