Catherine Connors is a mother, writer and recovering academic who traded the lecture hall for the playroom and discovered that university students and preschoolers have much the same attention span. She still dips her toes into academic waters by writing the occasional scholarly article about the place of motherhood in Western philosophy, but mostly now she changes diapers and wipes noses and indulges in long reflections on whether Yo Gabba Gabba is a harbinger of the decline of western civilization. Oh, and she blogs: in addition to Bad Mother blogging at BeliefNet, she is, among other things, the author of HerBadMother.com, Managing Editor of MamaPop, moderator of Her Bad Mother’s Basement, co-founder and co-editor of WeCovet, Contributing Editor at BlogHer, and (deep breath) founder of and contributor to Canada Moms Blog. And in her spare time… oh, wait. She doesn’t have spare time. But she’s okay with that.
This post is part of the online celebration of Baby Week, hosted by Discovery TV. Because what better way to celebrate babies than to relive the
terror miraculous experience of giving birth to them?
It was the most awesome experience of my life. It was the most terrifying experience of my life, and it all started while I was eating a fajita.
The first contraction hit at 7:46 pm. I know this, because I checked
the time. I was pretty sure that it was just more false labor, but
still. One always hopes. So I checked the time, and then went back to
eating my fajita.
Ten minutes later another contraction hit. Ow, I said to no one in particular. That hurt.
Was that one different? my husband asked. Is it time?
Probably not. I’ll just wait and see.
Eight minutes later I was doubled over. Emilia pulled out her doctor’s kit and held the stethoscope to my belly. Baby brother wants to come out now?
I don’t know sweetie.
Husband: Should we go in?
I don’t know. It might be another false alarm.
Husband: I think we should go in.
I don’t know. (*doubles over*)
minutes later we were in the car, no thanks to me. I dawdled, even as
the contractions sped up, reluctant to go in to the hospital and face another round of eye-rolling
if these were, as I thought, just another bout of bad false
contractions. My husband prodded and pushed until I relented and buckled into
the passenger seat. We drove away at 8:26pm, just as another bad
And then another.
were barely fifteen minutes from home – and still probably some thirty
minutes from our downtown hospital – when it became apparent that
whatever was happening was happening quickly. Very quickly. Since we’d left home, the contractions had gone from eight minutes or so apart to barely a minute apart to not apart at all. Kyle called 911; 911 patched him through to an ambulance; the ambulance advised that we pull off the highway and wait for them.
Husband: Pull off and wait?
(Emilia: WHAT’S MOMMY YELLING ‘BOUT DADDY?!)
Husband: I really don’t think we have time to stop and wait.
Ambulance Dispatch: We can’t chase you down, sir.
Husband: Then I’ll just keep driving.
vehicular dashes to hospitals with women in labor are usually played
for laughs on film and television. Let me tell you: there is nothing
funny about racing toward a hospital that seems to recede ever further
into the horizon as you speed forward in excruciating pain, your body
completely out of your control, medical disaster ever more imminent
with every passing second. Even when the toddler in the back seat
starts shouting MOMMY YOU NEED MEDICINE YOU NEED MY TOADSTOOL? it’s not funny. It’s stone-cold terrifying.
when your body just starts bearing down and pushing and you cannot stop
it and then you’re still like ten minutes away from the hospital and
the baby starts shoving its way out of your parts and OMG YOU CAN FEEL IT COMING OUT? Then? Your mind kind of snaps.
does the mind of your husband, who at this point is simultaneously
driving a speeding vehicle with one hand on the horn and the other
trying to feel for baby’s head between your legs while shouting into
his phone-headpiece to someone at the ER that the baby’s coming the baby’s coming you need to be ready when we get there!)*
arrived at the hospital at about 9:05pm. At the wrong entrance. Which
was locked. Sufficient banging and the luck of some random guy
wandering through the lobby got us in, and much shouting from my husband
brought the medical team that had been waiting for us running. I was
already mid-delivery: the bag of waters was being involuntarily pushed
out – intact – and the baby was crowning. Eleven minutes later, at
9:16pm – after much horror-movie-worthy screaming – Jasper was out.
minutes from start to finish of active labor. Barely eleven minutes after
stepping out of the vehicle. Fourth degree tearing (borderline)
requiring on-the-spot surgery which, you know, without epidural or
spinal anaesthesia or anything more significant than local anaesthetic
and an extra-strength Tylenol? Almost as hair-raising as the near
in-vehicle delivery. Almost.
It was terrifying. The most terrifying experience of my life, bar nothing.
But still, still… after all that – there’s him. Big and hale and hearty and a joy – an infinite joy – to behold. Worth any measure of terror, worth any measure of pain.
And the best birthday present ever.
Revised and adapted from an original post at Her Bad Mother, 2008.