Join me in welcoming my dear friend Sarah and her AMAZING story of giving birth in a parking lot:
Yes, I had my son in a parkade.
(editor's note to readers in The States: parkade = enclosed parking lot)
I had a hospital birth with my daughter and it was mostly a positive experience. However, my daughter was posterior and required nearly three solid hours of intense pushing, flat on my back, without an epidural. Wanting to avoid that scenario again, when I became pregnant with my second, I did a bit more research. I discovered some techniques that could have helped avoid that (walk around, for instance) and started to lean towards a midwife birth, possibly at home. Then I happened to watch “The Business of Being Born.” That was it. I wanted a home birth. However, life got away from me as I was working full time and parenting a not yet two year old and, you know, creating life. So as time slipped away, I reluctantly put away my dreams for a midwife, deciding to just stick with the plan. I was going to deliver, naturally again, in the hospital with our OBGYN.
So much for plans.
I woke up with my first contraction around 3:00 AM. I waited to wake Brian, my husband, until about 3:30. They were about 10 minutes apart. We got up and came out to the living room to relax and hang out. We called my Mum who lives an hour away and my sister and her husband. We were pretty chill - too chill evidently - and told them "no rush, take a shower, come on over". I decided to lie in the tub for a while. I was certainly not enjoying my contractions or labour but really, it was so manageable that I figured I was just easing into it. The pain I recalled with my first was not there (that’s the difference between posterior and anterior, evidently!). I was committed to walking around and staying home as long as possible. But when I hit the bath tub, things started to progress rather quickly.
After less than half hour in the tub, Brian noted that I had thrown up once, was trembling and had become a bit more "inward" even telling him to "stop talking!" right in the middle of a contraction. So he called my Mum and said that he thought I was in transition already. I looked at him like he had 10 heads - transition? I know transition, pal, and this ain't it.
After I got out of the tub, the contractions went from 6-7 minutes to 3 minutes. That's when I realised that this wasn't a joke and we weren't taking our time. We called my sister again to hurry UP and get over here to keep an eye on our daughter, Anne.
About 7 AM, my water broke. I felt the baby drop into my pelvis. It was the most amazing feeling. I could tell exactly where the baby was at and, of course, told my husband “We aren’t going to make it.” But the hospital was just a few blocks away and he was adamant we get to the hospital for help. Evidently he didn’t feel up for an unassisted free birth. My sister finally arrived (apparently my brother in law stopped for Starbucks!) and ordered us out the door while she ran to her car and called my mum, leaving my brother in law to watch Anne.
I had four contractions on our way down the hall and in the elevator. I knew he was crowning and couldn’t walk. We emerged from the elevator on our parkade and I had a massive contraction and the baby almost fell out. Brian half-carried, half-dragged me, now desperate for help. He leaned me up against a pole and ran to the truck to pull it over.
I was actively working to NOT push the baby out but it was coming! The morning rush was on and people were coming into the parkade like crazy while I clung to this pole and hollered that I was NOT MOVING BECAUSE THIS BABY WAS GOING TO FALL OUT! A crowd gathered. A lady ran over and asked Brian if he needed help to which he replied "DESPERATELY!" and she said "Well, my name is Kelly and I’m a nurse."
Oh, thank you JESUS!
The crowd of people wanted to help - they called 911 and the fire department. Kelly checked me and then looked at Brian and said "Um, you aren't going to make it. I'll try to catch if you hold her up."
We leaned against the truck’s back door. I had a hand on the doorjamb and the other on the door, one foot up on the running boards. Brian crawled into the back seat and held me up under my arms. I gave one push and yell and the baby's head came out. He started crying right away. One more push and his shoulders were out. Kelly held his head while I reached down, grabbed his body under his arms and pulled him up to my chest, delivering him myself. Brian pulled me up onto the seat of the truck, off my feet and we just broke down.
I couldn't stop laughing, Brian couldn't stop crying. He was enormous, healthy, shrieking, bright pink and quite obviously our BOY! Kelly was rooting around the truck for a blanket or something to keep him warm but all we could find were Brian's paint cloths from a job site, so we wrapped him up in that.
The paramedics arrived about 5 minutes later. I felt great by that time if you can believe it. I was so high and excited, full of adrenalin. I felt FABULOUS! They were great, even letting Brian cut the cord. My sister and mum finally figured out where we were and came rushing in. They were reassured by my chirping from the gurney with the baby wrapped up that I was GREAT and IT'S A BOY. The paramedics thought it was hilarious and the firemen were pretty excited about the baby.
Joseph Arthur was 8 lbs, 10 oz, and 20.5 inches long. And to be honest, I felt great. It was the best experience! Let's just say my new theory on childbirth is "Make Gravity Work for You." And what's more - I wasn't afraid. It felt so natural that I didn't feel panicked or freaked out. It sounds odd to say but I enjoyed myself and the experience. I felt every sensation and, while uncomfortable, the pain was manageable. And then the natural high afterwards? There aren’t words. Breastfeeding was a joy and we were instantly bonded.
We went to the hospital with the paramedics but we were home, all together as a new family of four, within 24 hours.
And suffice to say, if there is a third baby (if!), I will certainly plan a home birth. And this time, for Brian’s sake, I’ll even try to make sure a midwife is there.
Sarah Bessey is the author of Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible's View of Women, a disarming and beautiful invitation to the Kingdom of God waiting on the other side of the Church’s gender debates. She is also an award-winning blogger, an editor at A Deeper Story, a contributor for SheLoves Magazine, and a passionate advocate for global women’s justice issues. One of those happy-clappy Jesus-followers, Sarah is a joyful subversive, a recovering know-it-all, and a voracious reader. She lives in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada with her husband and their three tinies.
newborn image above via Eric Fleming