Birth Story from Robin

October 20, 2010

“And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah” —Leonard Cohen, Hallelujah

G was my third baby, and my third winter baby. My oldest, a January girl, was born without a drop of weather interference. Our second child, a December girl, was born on a bright, sunny day. And then there was G, who was due Friday, February 5th, 2010. We live in the suburbs of Washington, DC, and February 5th was the day the blizzards began. Based on my doctor’s opinion and exam, I’d been expecting to go into labor ‘any minute now’ since February 1st. We were nervous.

Where we live we typically see 14″ of snow per year and we were expecting more than double that amount over the weekend. As the first snows fell and the state of Maryland declared an emergency and shooed everyone off the roads, we made the calculated decision to move in with our friends for the weekend. That way we wouldn’t have to worry about our two daughters having someone to care for them if/when we figured out how to get me through the snow to the hospital. We believed we were making the responsible decision.

We moved in with our friends, transporting the cooked food we had ready for the weekend; the girls, their inflatable mattresses, special pillowcases, favorite books and stuffed animals; provisions for ourselves; and, of course, my hospital bag. Then, as the first foot of snow fell, as Friday turned over to Saturday, as I turned over from full-term to past-due, the power went out.

Saturday was cold, and another foot of snow fell. Sunday was colder. The temperature inside the house dropped as low as 41 degrees and there were 30 inches of snow on the ground. And I ached so much. Two days past due.

By Monday we were very grateful for the power that had been restored and the plows that had made a pass through the neighborhood where we were staying. We could get out if we needed to go anywhere, like maybe to a hospital. I ached so, so much. We could get out, but we couldn’t get home. According to our neighbors, our own street still hadn’t been plowed. Three days past due.

On Tuesday we returned to our own house, in a neighborhood that had never lost power, still a family of four. So tired of snow. So achy and lethargic. Four days past due.

On Wednesday it began to snow again. The meteorologists were talking about additional accumulations of more feet, not inches, of snow. The hospital called to see if I sensed I might be in labor. If I was possibly in labor, even early labor, I was instructed to come in immediately. I regretfully had to say that I wasn’t in labor at all. I was given these instructions: “Don’t go into labor. Feet up, drink lots of water, tell your husband he’s waiting on you tonight. If you do go into labor, DO NOT DRIVE HERE. Call 911. The Maryland National Guard will push a snow plow in front of an ambulance to get you here, if necessary. But don’t go into labor.” The snow climbed higher than my belly button, higher than my baby still inside me. Five days past due.

On Thursday the snow was more than 40″ high. We played outside in it with the girls. I felt energized, and feeling so gave me hope. Six days past due.

Friday afternoon I finally felt regular contractions. We had dinner together as a family. We got the girls in their pajamas and then we dropped them off at the same house they’d spent the previous weekend in, and finally we went to the hospital. “Third baby! Regular contractions! A week overdue! You, girl: you’re a keeper!” the intake nurse declared. I really liked that nurse.

We walked into the hospital at about 9:30 on Friday night. I was admitted and examined and declared to be at 3 centimeters. The opening ceremonies of the Vancouver Olympics were playing on every TV screen. K.D. Lang sang Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” a song I’ve loved since college, as the nurse inserted my IV. The doctor broke my water. I progressed from 3 to 10 centimeters in less than an hour. The surprise final torch bearer appeared and the world cheered for Wayne Gretzky, a man who grew up just miles from my own hometown, a man whose name I’ve heard all my life. I told the nurse I needed to push. The image of the glowing, diode-wearing ice skaters blurred into the white hospital light in the birthing room ceiling and at 2:33am our son was born.

Five hours after we got to the hospital, eight days and two blizzards past his due date: G was born without undue fuss, without complication, like that was when he was meant to be born all along. Silly grownups: we just hadn’t known it.

On February 13, my third winter baby was born. And our family was completed.

From Robin of Not Ever Still.

P.S. — Vanessa shared a lovely birth story here.

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Note from Design Mom: throughout my 6th pregnancy, I posted advice, memories and stories about pregnancy, childbirth, adoption and growing a family on Wednesdays. My baby has now arrived — here’s her birth story and her newborn photos — but the series has been so popular that I’m continuing it indefinitely. You can find all the stories in this series by clicking here. Have a story you’d like to share? I’d love to read it. You can send it to me at gabrielle@designmom.com.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 KatiK October 20, 2010 at 1:56 pm

I loved reading this, thank you.

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2 Keri October 20, 2010 at 2:10 pm

As someone who was also born in the middle of a snowstorm, I loved reading this!! Such a great story.

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3 Sarah October 20, 2010 at 2:50 pm

Now that is a story. I loved it!

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4 Nikki October 20, 2010 at 4:41 pm

I’m childless, have only witnessed one birth, but love this series as well. I feel like I’m ready for anything. And WOW we woman are amazing.

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5 Julia October 20, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Born at the right time, that is for certain. While you were birthing your babe we were running through the wet streets of Vancouver, our children in tow, racing to see Wayne light the outside cauldron. Bless you & your family & thanks for sharing your story.

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6 Krystle October 20, 2010 at 8:47 pm

Such a sweet and magical story! I definitely remember the blizzard in Feb. 2010 and the ones in Dec. 2009! Gotta love snow on the East coast!

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7 Emily October 20, 2010 at 10:20 pm

Welcome to the world, baby G!

Have you ever read a picture book called, On The Day You Were Born? For some reason, your story makes me think of that book. It feels like the whole world was spinning (and snowing) and waiting just for little G to arrive–at exactly the right time.

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8 Kate October 20, 2010 at 10:48 pm

This is such a great story, one that will be cherished in many years to come.

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9 rosa October 21, 2010 at 2:02 am

what a lovely story! and what a sweet baby!

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10 heather October 21, 2010 at 9:55 am

Really loved reading this and off to read more birth stories now!

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11 Rebecca October 21, 2010 at 1:29 pm

I loved reading your story, and have 2 winter babies of my own. Both due in January in Wisconsin also came along with worrying about the weather, so I can completely relate. The weather cooperated on both occasions (well, not so much on the drive home with my first, but we made it). I remember the DC blizzards of 2010 very well, my baby was only 5 weeks old. With my own worries so fresh in my mind at the time, I do remember wondering what pregnant women in DC would do if they went into labor. I’m glad it worked out for you!

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12 Marcie October 21, 2010 at 1:35 pm

I absolutely adore reading the birth stories. I found your website because of them when I was newly pregnant… I laughed, I cried, and I sent the link to every female I know… and a few males too :)
I can’t wait for the next 5 weeks (give or take) until my daughter is here. I hope that once my brain is back to normal (does it ever go back to normal?) that I can write such a lovely story.

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13 Brittany October 21, 2010 at 1:51 pm

I think this birth story is my favorite — even though I have loved all the ones you have shared so far on here. I love that song too and was so excited when it was played during the OC, I remember tears welling up then and felt them again now (naturally I’m also 37 weeks along myself). I hope I can capture the simple majesty of a baby arriving for myself, with all of the fuss or quiet that accompanies it. Thanks for the inspiration to write my own baby’s story — whatever it turns out to be!

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14 Megan@SortaCrunchy November 2, 2010 at 6:42 am

I remember watching my Facebook feed with such tension and concern as the blizzard fell upon you and still no baby. I love how, in the end, everything fell into place exactly as it was supposed to. Here’s to those winter babies!

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