After experiencing a "speedy" five-hour labor and uncomplicated delivery of our first daughter Lillian (I was fully dilated and ready to push when we got to the hospital), my midwife, Diane, suggested a home birth for our second. Just in case!
She performed my first internal exam at 40 weeks, on my due date of November 1. At noon I was 4 cm. dilated, she could touch the baby's head, and my bag of waters was bulging. She stretched my cervix a bit, then left, saying I would probably go into labor within the next couple of days. "Call me when you have your first contraction," she warned on her way out. "It won't take much once they start."
I was mildly crampy and had some spotting the rest of the day, from the internal exam, but by the time Glen and I went to bed at eleven that night, everything had calmed down.
I awoke from a deep sleep at 1:15 a.m. with moderate contractions. I went to the bathroom and found more blood, but nothing that made me think labor was imminent. It was actually the exact same scenario of Lily's birth. Thinking I had at least an hour to wait before calling Diane, I woke Glen up and told him what was happening.
Things started escalating incredibly fast, however. With contractions coming every two minutes, he paged Diane. Within minutes (it felt like hours) later, she called back. By that time I was overcome with pain. So much for the Lamaze breathing techniques, the Lava Lamp focal point; it was all I could do to maintain my composure and not wake Lily with my shouts.
It was the most intense thing I'd ever experienced. Contractions were coming every minute and Diane was on her way, a 15-minute drive in good weather. Unfortunately, we'd had our first season's snowfall that evening and her car was iced over.
At 1:50 a.m. my water broke with a gush and I felt an immediate, overwhelming need to push. I told Glen so and vaguely recall a look of panic crossing his face. He called my friend Lisa who lived around the corner and asked her to come, in case Lily woke up. Then he called Diane on her cell phone. She asked immediately if I felt like pushing. I yelled, "Yes!" from the bedroom floor. She told Glen to get me on the bed, lying on my side, to slow down labor. But I knew there was no slowing this baby down. Another push and I could feel the head emerging. Diane was giving Glen instructions while she drove. With the combination of her cell phone, our mobile phone, her thick Scottish accent, my groans and Glen on the verge of panic, things got a bit scary.
All I remember my poor husband saying over and over was "I can't understand what you're saying! I can't understand you!"
She wanted him to watch for the cord around the baby's neck. Thank God he had been present and attentive during Lily's birth and had a rudimentary idea of what was happening. With the phone tucked under his chin, he guided our baby's head out. "Don't push!" he yelled at me. There was no cord. "Push! Push!" he shouted. I needed no urging. He managed to turn the shoulders and at 2:05 a.m., November 2, 2002, Ruby "The Rocket" Catherine shot into our bedroom, right into her Daddy's arms.
He immediately put her on my chest. I was laughing giddily. Diane hung up when she heard the baby crying gustily. Seconds later my friend Lisa walked into the room, not realizing I'd just given birth. She was amazed, to say the least!
Five minutes after that, Diane arrived, immediately scolding me for not calling her right away. If I'd had any idea the labor would last less than an hour, I wouldn't have let her leave at all that day! She delivered the placenta and Glen cut the cord. That had been the planned extent of his participation, aside from coaching.
Ruby was weighed and measured, a robust eight pounds, six ounces, twenty one and a half inches long. She breastfed right away and slept contentedly. Lily awoke after all the commotion and welcomed her new baby sister with open arms.
The next day Diane presented Glen with an Honourary Midwife certificate, which he framed and hung in Ruby's bedroom.
We now have not only a happy, healthy, beautiful baby, but a wonderful story to tell her when she's older.