By Gabrielle. This reinvented cuckoo clock by Dorothée Loustalot found here.

Colette brings up an interesting point in this week’s Growing A Family account, and I’m wondering how your experience matches up. If you’ve experienced childbirth, have you forgotten the not-so-lovely details? Or do you remember every single moment no matter how many years or subsequent births have gone by? I’d love to hear your opinions on this!

Until then, here’s one of the fastest births in the history of my Growing A Family posts! Welcome, Colette.

They say that we forget the pain, details, and strong emotions of childbirth…otherwise, we would never do it again. I say that simply is not true. Every detail of this birth is burned into my mind and heart and I have since given birth two more times. Each time I tell this story, I almost feel as if it isn’t mine, that it happened to a different young, unsuspecting, about to be mother in some strange movie.

This is from my journal the morning of her birth.

Today has been a crazy day and it is not even noon yet! I woke up this morning at about 1:30 and couldn’t go back to sleep because I was having strange contractions! I woke up my husband at about 4:30 and he tried to rub my back to help me relax. Though painless, the contractions continued. We called the doctor at about 6:00 am and he told us since my due date was still a month away to go to labor and delivery just to be safe. The baby looked great. Her heart rate was everything it should be. However, I was still having contractions. The nurse checked my cervix and it was 3.5 cm dilated and 80-90% effaced! Crazy! I started feeling a little nervous. It was a big shock! I wasn’t expecting to hear something like that until closer to my due date. The nurse had us wait for an hour while in bed before she checked again to find no change. The doctor then had us go and walk for an hour to see if that would make me dilate more. (It’s really fun walking around in a hospital gown…not!) We went for a long walk, ate some food, and came back to still no change. That is so good because this baby needs to fatten up before she comes out. The doctor now wants me to stay on bed rest at home until the contractions stop or the baby actually comes. If they stop, then I should be able to go back to work. That would be nice to help make the time go faster.  

This whole experience today has opened my eyes a little more to the reality that we will be parents very, very soon. I am going to try to sleep now. I am pretty exhausted after waking up so early.

Little did we know just how very, very soon we would have our baby girl.

Naturally, I started bed rest by getting in bed to take a nap. I must admit that I was happy I didn’t have to go to work that day, and that family and friends could come and entertain me during my down time. An amazing friend prepared a bed rest basket with all sorts of goodies for entertainment and snacking she had planned to bring in the next couple days.

Well, the contractions continued and prevented me from taking that nap. It was starting to get so frustrating since I hadn’t slept since 2:00 am. I decided to take a warm bath because that seemed to stop contractions for some people. The water felt so nice and relaxing, except that the contractions continued. I got out of the tub and got dressed only to realize that the contractions seemed to be getting stronger but still painless.

By now it was about 4:00 pm. We were planning to have my husband’s sister and her family over for pizza and a movie. I continued my bed rest on the couch while he was getting ready for our guests. We ordered the pizzas at about 5:00 pm and got ready to go pick them up around 5:30. I suddenly had some very painful and intense contractions that brought me to the floor on my hands and knees. I knew that we had to get back to the hospital ASAP! There would be no pizza party with our family that night.

The timing of the contractions still altered with my activity level, but they were so intense that I couldn’t talk during one. Here is the kicker, I still didn’t think I was in REAL labor! The doctor and nurses were so sure that the timing would remain the same regardless of change in activity and told us to come back when they were steady and unchanging. They were still about 5-11 minutes apart and 40-60 seconds long when lying down and two minutes apart and 20 seconds long when standing. Big difference!

It was all so confusing since the timing didn’t match how intense and painful they were. I cried as I told my husband that we needed to go back to the hospital because I really didn’t want to go back and then be sent home again and I wanted to spend time with his sister and her family.

After hitting very few red lights, we pulled into the hospital parking lot around 5:50 pm. We got a great parking spot which was one of the last spots in that lot. I had a strong contraction as we were getting out of the car and another right at the doors. We made it to the elevators and a guy in green scrubs held it for us. I was starting to have another one, but we opted to get on the elevator anyway.

The guy smiled and said, “Floor five?”

“How could you tell?” we answered.

He actually worked on Labor and Delivery and let us go right in, no picking up the phone to explain why we were there and then waiting for the doors to open. Since we had already been there that day, they had us sign one more paper that we forgot to sign earlier and then the clerk took us to a room, instructed me to put the gown on and then lie down and wait for the nurse. I remember thinking it was so far away from everyone else and the nurse’s station. I had two more contractions while checking in and then one in the hallway as we were walking to the room.

My husband helped me into the gown and I had another one, except this time I felt the slight urge to push! It finally sank in that I was actually in real labor and was about to have our baby. I must have been in transition as I felt like I was going to throw up. My husband grabbed a garbage can. I had another contraction and told my husband, “I feel something coming out!?!” I was in total shock! My husband looked and could see the amniotic sac!

Since we were completely alone in the room, he ran out to the hall and yelled, “We need a doctor in here!” A nurse poked her head out of a room and he told her, “Doctor. NOW!” While he was out in the hall getting help, I was in the room half screaming through clenched teeth, terrified that I was going to have the baby all by myself. In seconds, a ton of people came rushing into the room. Contractions were on top of each other at this point. I had another one and could feel her head coming out. I couldn’t resist the demands of my body to push. I don’t think anyone tried to stop me. I was squeezing my husband’s hand on my left and some nice blonde nurse’s hand on the right, poor thing. Another contraction came and her head was out. Another one immediately followed and the rest of her came out. She was born at 6:04 pm, less than five minutes from when we arrived in Labor & Delivery.

They whisked her away since she was so small and came so fast. They call it precipitous labor. I was definitely in shock and was grateful when they put the oxygen mask on me. Amazingly, immediately after she was born the contractions stopped and the pain was gone. My husband said, ”That is our daughter crying. Can you hear her? She is alright.” I remember crying because I was just so relieved that she was okay.

My doctor arrived just two minutes after she was born. He finished everything up, and then they brought my tiny, sweet baby girl to me. In my shock, all I could say was how beautiful she was over and over. We attempted breastfeeding, but her little mouth just couldn’t latch on before she fell asleep. She was so small and precious with a full head of medium brown hair. I cannot begin to describe my feelings as I held my daughter for the first time. Joy, relief, elation, words cannot suffice.

Despite the unexpected and traumatic delivery, I still felt a strong maternal bond with that new, little person. The nurses kept saying how cute and tiny she was. My husband went with her to get examined in the nursery, while I was taken to the postpartum room. As I waited for them to get to my room, I remember being in awe that our baby actually came because mentally I wasn’t expecting her for a few more weeks. She was born a whole month early at 35 weeks! At four pounds seven ounces and 16.5 inches long, she was perfect in every way. She didn’t require oxygen and amazingly never spent time in the NICU.

We asked the doctor why she came so early and it turned out her placenta was deteriorating. The doctor said it looked like a three week old overdue placenta and it just couldn’t support her anymore. It forced her to mature faster. She knew she would be safer outside than in her mommy’s belly and that is also why she was so small.

The next few days were pretty much a blur between feeding, changing, and just loving on our new baby girl. She ended up staying an extra night just for monitoring before we brought her home. Since she still couldn’t latch on to nurse, we were sent home with a supplemental nursing system. We would slip a tube attached to a syringe full of pumped milk or formula into the corner of her mouth. Each time she tried to suck, we would press the syringe a little. She eventually learned to latch, but it took her almost a month.

I am so grateful that everything went so well as I am very aware of what could have gone wrong. Our Heavenly Father was truly watching over us that day. Looking back, all the little things turned out to be huge things. We would not have made it to the hospital in time if we had hit one more red light, hadn’t gotten that last parking spot, or without the nice guy in the elevator. I am so, so grateful we made it to the hospital, as I know my husband is, too. We love this little girl with all our hearts! She and her two brothers continue to be the center of our everything.


See what I mean? Colette remembers every tiny detail, which is pretty hard to do during such a fast delivery, don’t you think? Thank you for being here, Colette!

I’m also so interested in all the angel moments popping in to situations like this one. The green-lit drive to the hospital, the open elevator…it’s all fascinating and reassuring to me. You, too?

P.S. – Find all the stories in this series here. Do you have a story about birth, pregnancy, adoption or infertility? Send your story to me, will you please?