So many of you have asked to hear Finley’s birth story, so I decided to I needed to sit down and put it together for the blog to share with everyone. So here’s the story of the baby that was born in a car…
Miss Finley decided she was ready for her big debut on Halloween night. I was 39 weeks and 1 day pregnant (due date was Nov 6). We initially said we wanted her to wait and be late like her brother was, but David and I both guessed that she would actually come early. I was hoping she would wait until Nov 1-3, so I could still take Ellis trick-or-treating, but that obviously didn’t happen. Oh well. Close enough.
I went in for my regular prenatal appointment earlier that day, and at 11:30 when they checked me, I was 2 cm dilated and about 75% effaced, about a station -1. When they checked me a week earlier, there was no dilation, about 50% effaced, cervix was soft, and baby was “engaged.” The day before Finley was born, I felt a little off and zapped of energy. When David got home, I was taking a nap on the bed while Ellis watched a video on my phone. I felt crampy that night and some crampy feelings again the next day before my prenatal appointment. I had lost my mucus plug 2 days before, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that labor is imminent.
Left my prenatal appointment and stopped to grab Starbucks for me and my friend Lily, then went by her house to drop off her coffee and pick up a diaper pail from her. Had a couple of contractions on the way home and thought I probably shouldn’t be driving anymore. Got home and put Ellis down for a nap. I was going to nap too, but the contractions were keeping me from resting, and I noticed they seemed to be regular, so I decided I should go ahead and take a shower and put on some fresh makeup just in case it was baby day. (Yeah, I was that person, putting on mascara in between contractions, so I’d look good in pictures lol). I wasn’t too convinced that it was baby day though, since the midwife told me that I might have some more cramping from the cervical check, so I thought and hoped that’s all it was.
I noticed the contractions were regular at about 2:45, and by 4:30 I decided to text David to tell him he should probably head home just in case it was early labor. He skipped practice and headed home. I texted my doula a screenshot of my contraction timer app at 5 with contractions about 4 and a half to 3 min apart and lasting 35-50 seconds long. I texted the midwife at 5:20 when my contractions were about 2 and a half to 3 min apart and lasting about 45-55 seconds long. Midwife suggested I try to take a bath, eat something and get some rest if I can. I ate a little something (starting to get more difficult with contractions), and I tried to relax in the bath some. That seemed to help shorten the contractions (about 30-40 seconds long), but not really space them out (about 2:10-2:30 seconds apart).
The midwife asked at that point (6:30) if I think this was it, and I said yes. Since the contractions had shortened some though, she suggested we could wait. My doula called to gauge how I was doing, and after hearing me through a contraction, she decided she should probably go ahead and come over just in case. She got there at about 7 and could tell I was in active labor. I had a hard time myself categorizing what stage I was at, since the whole time I was able to make decisions and talk in between, which made me think that maybe I wasn’t as close as I was.
My doula (Daniela) was a Godsend. I was so glad to have her there with me to help me through contractions, because up to that point, I was laboring on my own. I had even told my husband to go ahead and take our son for a little trick or treating, because I didn’t want him to miss out.
Checked in with the midwife again at 7:40, and my contractions were about 2:30-3 min apart and getting longer again (roughly 50 seconds to a min long). I wasn’t sure if I needed to head in yet (I really hated interrupting people’s Halloween plans and taking them from taking their kids trick-or-treating). So we gave it until about 8:10, then we decided we needed to start packing up to head to the birth center, so I texted the midwife and told her that I think it was time for us to go.
Unfortunately, when I texted her, she was out with her kids trick-or-treating, so she asked if I could wait 20-30 minutes before heading out (so she would have time to head back from trick or treating then head to the birth center). When she asked if I could wait 20-30 min, I said “I guess” not having any idea how much longer I had. If we had left then, we would have made it. But things progressed quickly while we waited the 20-30 min. Contractions were getting really intense, and I had my bloody show during that waiting period (maybe around 8:30). I was literally crawling out of the bathroom and couldn’t quite make it out into the bedroom. We started to pack up into the car, and my body was starting to push (although I was trying my best NOT to).
By the time we got the toddler and myself packed into the car and left, it was about 8:55. Knowing my body was already pushing on its own, I knew once I got into the car that we wouldn’t make it to the birth center (it’s about a 25-30 min drive, and my first birth was only 20 min of pushing, and I expecting this to be even shorter). I made sure I had a Chux pad in the passenger seat and a labor-friendly outfit on (a maxi skirt, not the pencil skirt or Princess Leia costume I had planned to wear that night lol).
My husband drives slow usually. He goes the speed limit, tops. But tonight, he drove like a madman, whipping around corners and going 90 on the highway while my doula coached us on speakerphone, assuring me that I would make it to the birth center and have the water birth that I’d dreamed of. I knew that wasn’t happening. I was in the passenger seat on all fours, my arms resting on the console, facing my husband, and my ass in the air, to work against gravity and try my best not to push, even though my body was pushing on its own at that point. My doula had me doing horse lips and saying “pa-pa-pa,” which is supposed to help slow things down when baby is coming fast. David and the doula kept telling me that we could make it, and I told them no, I could feel the baby, I could feel the head crowning.
I started to reach around to pull down my panties, as they were in the way, and I needed to feel what was going on down there. David freaked out and shouted to the doula over the phone, “SHE’S TAKING OFF HER CLOTHES!!” The doula repeated him, equally as freaked out, “SHE’S TAKING OFF HER CLOTHES??”
Sure enough, quickly her head was out. I shouted that I feel her head. Then I knew that the next push, out slid her shoulders and the rest of her body. It happened. She plopped into my skirt/the seat of the car, and I yelled, “She’s here! She’s out! There’s a baby in the car!” and I quickly scooped her up, pulling her against my skin, wrapping her in my skirt as I heard her let out her first sweet cry.
After that, I was just so calm and happy. The doula told David to pull over and call for an ambulance. He began to pull off the highway, looking for a place to stop. I told him no, just keep going to the birth center. The baby and I were both fine, and I didn’t want another bill from an ambulance and a subsequent bill when they send us both to the hospital. I already paid for the birth center, we’re going there, damn it.
David saw how calm I was and decided it was fine to go ahead and get back onto the highway and continue heading to the birth center. He called the midwife and told them, calmly, that the baby was here and we were heading their way still. They thought he was joking. He called again a few minutes later, and this time they could hear the baby crying in the background and suddenly realized he wasn’t joking. Our baby really was born in the car.
We got to the birth center at 9:20, unloaded myself and Finley from the car, and birthed the placenta at the birth center. Got ourselves cleaned up, ate a meal, and we relaxed in a nice herbal bath before heading home (we were at the birth center for about 4 hours).
Finley was born in the car going 90 mph on Halloween night at 9 p.m. She weighed in at 7 pounds and measured 19 inches long. She came in on her own time. The birth certainly wasn’t the way I had hoped or pictured it going, but it is what it is.
It’s been a week and a half now since Finley was born, and it’s taken me some time to process it all. I’ve thought a lot about what we should have done differently. I wish we had just made the call to leave sooner and not wait until the last minute. If it weren’t happening on Halloween night, I think we all would have made the call that I should leave sooner just in case. But hindsight is 20/20.
Looking back on the details and writing it all out has helped me bring some closure to it all. I know everyone wants to hear the story and think it’s a funny and exciting. Sure, it’s a hell of a story, and what a cool birthday to have, but laboring/pushing in the car while David whips around corners and speeds down the highway was awful. It wasn’t the birth I had planned for, and this being our last kid, I’m really sad that this is how it all unfolded, and I will never get the birth I wanted.
I know these things don’t always go as planned, but really, don’t say that to me after what I’ve been through. I will straight punch you. Because things couldn’t have strayed much further from the plan than that. I feel a little traumatized by it still. When I drive down that stretch of roads now, I relive it.
PS, the Chux pad didn’t help much. It was flimsy and moved, and ended up only covering about a quarter of the seat after everything was said and done. My poor new car, that I just bought 3 months ago. It ended up looking like a crime scene. They cleaned it up some at the birth center that night, and David gave it another round of cleaning 6 days later. It’s not very noticeable now, but it still needs professional help. Guess I should have laid down an old towel instead (my tip to you, for your “just in case” planning!).
On a side note, I’m currently watching Talladega Nights. Remember in the beginning, how Ricky Bobby was born in a car, speeding down the highway? Seemed like a fitting movie for us.