I woke-up on Saturday morning with a bit of cramping and grabbed my phone to check the time. 5:02 AM. “Too early to wake-up,” I thought. I rolled to my other side, methodically and slowly, as to not make it feel like I was going to swing my still amniotic-shacked-up baby into a different galaxy.
A few minutes later, the cramps crept back. I checked the time. 5:07 AM. Ruh-roh. Cramps spaced five minutes apart? This kind of data was familiar— could it be baby having time?
I counted slowly as the cramp continued to sprawl over my abdomen. It lasted about 30 seconds, and then it stopped completely. Double ruh-roh. We were not prepared for this! I had an induction scheduled for Monday, and my due date was still one week away. My last child made her entrance three days late. I couldn’t be in labor— these must be Braxton Hicks contractions. And I don’t want to be that dippidy-doo-dah who shows up to the hospital with “practice” contractions.
I kind of shoved everything into the back of my brain as the minutes ticked by. More contractions. Same intervals. I had to go to the bathroom, so I got up and went. The bloody show— triple ruh-roh!
At this point, I still didn’t think I could actually be in labor. If my contractions were this close, shouldn’t my water have broken already? That’s how it happened last time.
“Welp, regardless, I had better clue the husband in,” I thought.
I turned on the light and nudged Ben at about 5:30. “Ben. Ben. I think I’m. In labor?”
Ben opened his eyes and shot up, “What?”
“I think I’m in labor?” I repeated. “But maybe not. I’m not sure. Can you call the hospital?”
As Ben called the hospital, which is a titch over 40 miles away, I went on the hunt for my copy of What To Expect When You’re Expecting. According to the text, it sounded as though I was in the early stages of labor. Yes, my contractions were only five minutes apart, but the pain wasn’t doubling me over, and I didn’t have a back-ache, or any of that nonsense.
“The nurse said if it’s just the bloody show, you might want to come in,” Ben announced.
“Just? Might? What is that supposed to mean?”
“I don’t know. That’s what she said. Do you want to go in?”
“Yes? I think? I’m not sure. I don’t want to wake-up Desirae for nothing. She has a busy day today. She has to sell concessions at a basketball tournament.”
Desirae is my hashtag bestie, and she was our “ditch the toddler when I go into labor” number one plan. But she was expecting to take Scarlett on Monday, the induction date, and we had never discussed any other possibility.
At that moment, the aforementioned toddler toddled out of her bedroom and into ours, rubbing her eyes. I picked her up, her legs wrapped over the top of my belly, and said, “Daddy and I have to go soon, Scars Baby. Let’s change your diaper.”
So I changed Scarlett’s diaper as Ben declared that he was going outside to start the decrepit Town and Country— our awesome minivan. I then tried calling Desirae twice in a row, but she didn’t answer. I was envisioning what we would do with our child if I could not get a hold of her. Hurriedly write on Facebook, “Quick!WhoisawakeandcantakeScarlettrightnow?!”? No. I couldn’t do that. I have always told myself that I would never whore my child out on the Book of Face for a babysitter. Try calling other friends?
Ben came back into the house.
“Desirae won’t answer,” I told him. “Can you call Johnny (her husband) and start packing? I’m going to take a shower.”
“A shower?!” Ben asked, bewildered.
“Yeah. I fell asleep on the couch last night with my make-up on. I’m a wreck. I have time. The nurse said just the bloody show.”
So I rub-a-dubbed up, taking my sweet time. I called out to Ben, “Did Johnny answer?”
“What? I thought you said you were going to call Johnny.”
“No. Can you call Johnny?”
Ben called Johnny. No answer. A minute later, Johnny called back. Thank You, Lord!
“He said Dez will be here in two minutes,” Ben reported.
As Ben packed Scarlett’s bag and his bag, I began to pack mine. Since the summertime when I bought a pair of slippers, I had imagined that I would wear them in the hospital after I had my baby. Nice and cozy. I found one of them sitting on my bedroom floor, but I couldn’t find the other gosh dern thing.
“Have you seen my other slipper?” I asked Ben.
Ben dug through my bag, “It’s right here,” Ben announced.
“No. That’s the one I already found and packed. I need the other slipper.”
I moseyed around the house looking for the slipper, and I came up empty-handed.
“Boo,” I whined to myself, and then I just grabbed a few pairs of wool socks instead.
Desirae showed up at our door shortly thereafter, and without any complaining, off Scarlett went.
As I walked to the minivan to begin our trek to the hosptial, I noticed that my cramps were getting increasingly worse— it was hard to walk. Now I was able to admit that my cramps were indeed contractions.
When Ben and I were about a half of a mile into our journey, he said, “Oh. I forgot my chapstick at home. I need to go back and get it.”
“Can’t you just buy a new one at a gasoline station on the way?” I asked.
Ben laughed. “I’m kidding, Doodle! We’re not going back for chapstick!”
About 7 miles into the 42 or so mile drive, I noticed that Ben was going about 80 mph. “Ben! You don’t need to go so fast! What if you hit a deer?”
“Doodle! There aren’t going to be any deer hanging out on the highway. It’s 30 below. They’re probably canoodling in a marsh together.”
I thought that sounded legit, so I let him go as fast as he wanted.
As time marched on, my contractions grew worse and worse. They were at the point that I needed to yell and moan a little bit as they waved over me. As I moaned, I kept picturing a woman in my mind who was lamenting over something. It was a part of a movie scene, and the way the woman cried always bugged the crap out of me. At that moment, I thought I sounded like her, and it was plaguing me. It made the contractions that much worse, focusing on something so stupid. But it kept bothering me. What movie was that from? What movie was that from?
And then I thought of a basketball game that Ben and I were watching on TV the night before. When the game came back from a commercial, the camera was honed in on a cheerleader. She made a really weird noise, and Ben kept re-playing the moment over and over again. We laughed and laughed as we made fun of this cheerleader’s odd sound.
“I sound like that cheerleader! Noooo!” I thought in my brain. This also made it increasingly hard to contract in peace. (Later on in the day, Ben admitted to me that he also thought of the cheerleader while I was making these noises.)
With that thought, my water broke. Quadruple ruh-roh. I told Ben and then added, “I probably won’t be able to have an epidural by the time we get there.”
Sitting down was proving to be too hard, so I unbuckled my seatbelt and threw off my sweatshirt. I was now wearing my purple and black muck boots, a pair of pajama pants, and a bright green, hi-liter looking t-shirt that I earned by running a 5k the summer before. I kept trying to find a moment to rid myself of my boots, but during my cramping bouts, I was standing up, kind of falling into the next row of seats in the minivan. I had to wriggle around and contort my body in order to make the contractions tolerable.
(This map is a picture of the highway we took to the hospital. Notice all of the hills. It is also very twisty and turny, although the picture does not do it justice.)
Before we left the house, I had called my mother and told her that I was in labor. I said that I would text her when we were about ten minutes out from the hospital. So as the pain grew worse and I became more squirmy, I quickly sent her a text: “Very intense now. I won’t be calling. About 10 minutes away.” This message was sent at 6:47 AM.
My contractions were now extremely close together. They, in fact, just felt like one large exploding pain. I flailed into the back seat again, crying out. All the while, it hit me. The movie was The Virgin Suicides. When the first sister in the movie died, the roars and woes of the mother were the noises flooding my brain. Ew. That was who I sounded like? I always had a hard time listening to that part of the movie. This realization disgusted me.
Hurry, hurry. We have to hurry. Ben was trying to hurry— he was driving about 90 miles per hour when traffic was not in his way. I looked out of the front window and noticed that a vehicle in front of us was purposefully lurching along, probably because Ben was being Speedy Gonzalez.
Of course. That is sooooo something Ben would do to someone else— be an a-hole and drive really slowly because the person behind him is going too fast. This was payback time, unfortunately.
“Don’t push!” Ben advised over my moans and groans.
As a contraction peaked, I thought, “Oh my goodness. The pressure. So much pressure. Could I be having this baby right here, right now?” With Scarlett, I had an epidural, and I couldn’t actually feel her coming out. Is this what having a baby feels like? I pictured myself lying on the side of the shivering highway as cars passed by, in the typical bed-laboring position.
I couldn’t help it. I had to push.
Either I was about to have a kid, or I really had to number two. In both scenarios, I should probably pull my pants down.
So I pulled my pants down.
“Call 911!” I yelled to Ben.
“What?” Ben asked.
I was instantly irritated with the what. “Call 911!” I repeated.
“The baby. I’m going to have the baby. Pull over!”
“I’m not pulling over. We’re almost there.”
“I think it’s coming out!”
At 6:51 AM, Ben called 911 and jumped out of the driver’s seat. He opened the sliding door of the van, exposing my rear-end to the 28 below zero temperatures— and also to the morning commuters on Highway 38.
I heard him talking on the phone to the dispatcher: “The baby is coming! The baby its coming! It’s crowning! I see the head. I have the head in my hand! The baby is out! I’m holding the baby.”
Now, pardon all of the exclamation points, but this is really how it happened— plain ol’ periods just wouldn’t convey the craziness that surrounded this circumstance.
And as for me? Pure. Relief. Getting that baby out was pure relief. I instantly felt so much better.
After a few seconds of calm, we realized the magnitude of the situation. Ben was standing outside in the frigid cold with a naked baby in his hands. This child went from a 98.6 degree environment to a 28 below icicle crazy world in a matter of seconds. That is a a 126.6 degree difference, my fellow mathematicians. The baby probably thought it was on Pluto.
“The umbilical cord,” I said. “Can you pass the baby between my legs?”
Ben, with the phone still tucked underneath his chin, passed the child to me with his one hand. Hunched over, as to not break the umbilical cord, or pull out all of my placenta, or whatever would end up happening if I tugged the cord too hard, I sat down on my overnight bag, which was on the seat of the van, and held the baby on my lap.
As Ben continued to speak with the dispatcher on the phone and hurried around, I watched the baby, looking for signs of life. No crying. No whimpering. I could see hints of breathing here and there, so I knew our kid was OK for now.
Right when Ben was putting a blanket over the baby (Thank the Lord that He equipped me with the good sense to grab a blanket before we left the house!), I noticed for the first time, “Oh. She’s a girl.” I then paused and rummaged through our baby name list in my brain. “Her name is Rogue Clara.”
(Definition of Rogue on a baby name website. Note how Scarlett is also listed on this screenshot.)
Now since Rogue means one who is unpredictable or goes off of the beaten path, it sounds like I made up this name on the spot, since it so very well fits the situation. But that is not that case. In the summer of 2015, Scarlett and I went on a 3 week road trip around the western United States. I was newly pregnant with Rogue, and as I crossed over a river in Oregon, I looked at the sign. The river was called the Rogue River. “Rogue,” I thought. “I’m kind of going rogue right now. That would be a neat name for a baby girl.”
Ben and I sat with our brand new baby, Rogue, as we waited for the paramedics to arrive. Once they got there, they cut the umbilical cord and made sure Rogue was faring well. My pants still around my ankles, they got me out of the van and onto the stretcher. And thank You again Lord, that they had enough sense to get my half naked body out of the van on the side that did not face traffic.
(These were my hasty contraction times that I was trying to track. Clearly, I gave up. Being responsible is not all it’s cracked up to be.)