This is a story that's taken me 9 years and a lot of nagging (elizabeth-w) to write. I guess I never thought to hash and rehash everything out in written form because most of the people I know detect the first mention of an impending 'Miracle Of Life' story and they instinctively double over-feigning a massive diarrhea attack in the hope that they can escape and run far, far away.
We totally planned on delivering Caterpillar at home all along via the two really experienced midwives we hired..........but you know what they say about the best laid plans.
I woke up around midnight on June 21, 1999 with that horrible cramping sensation that only occurs when you eat way too many chili dogs at the Sonic Drive-Thru. It also happens when your labor powers suddenly kick into ACTIVATE mode. Within the hour I knew that this was the real deal and the birthing process had begun. As M.C. Hammer should have sang to expectant mothers, it was STOP! Labor Time!
This was to be our first at-home birth so I really only had the medically invasive experiences of my three prior hospital births to apply towards my Masters Degree in Baby Pushing.
I figured that laboring would constitute a long arduous process so I ignorantly waved Papi on to work around 2:00 A.M. I then harnessed the power of my nesting instinct and set about cleaning the house in super turbo gear. The last thing I wanted was for the midwives to arrive and have to assist me in birthing my baby while standing in the middle of a dirty underwear pile. Apparently, keeping busy and moving around progresses labor much faster than laying in a hospital bed moaning and groaning and cursing at your husband. Yeah! I was single-handedly proving Newton's Law Of Gravity without even realizing it! Plus I didn't have to wheel an awkward I.V. pole to the toilet with me.
I didn't telephone the midwives right away because I didn't want them or anyone hovering over me until it was absolutely necessary. You know, a watched pot never boils is equivalent to a watched pregnant woman never births. Well, by the time that moment of "absolute necessity" arrived it would be too late.(oooh, ominous foreshadowing)
Somewhere around tidying up my ceramic pig collection and enjoying the quiet solitude of my home while our 3 kids under the age of 4 were sound asleep, I got kind of shaky and weak.
I decided to fill up the bathtub so I could sit down and take the edge off the labor pains. I switched on the radio in our room and lowered myself into the tub. Immediate relief whooshed over me as the warm water helped ease the increasing pace of the contractions. Then the soft sounds of Kenny G. and his lilting saxophone filled the room and I was thinking, "Oh crap. How the freak did it get on this lame station?" That sneaky Smooth Jazz station lured me in with the sounds of The Doobie Brothers 'What A Fool Believes' and made me think I was on the lite rock channel. The last thing I needed was a craptastical array of Smooth Jazz favorites to compound my increasing labor pain. I mean Kenny G. may be aight for baby making music but he certainly isn't fit to provide the soundtrack for baby birthing.
Suddenly, I was rocked with excruciating pain so intense I started mini-hyperventilating. I knew I had to call someone NOW so I started with Papi and told him to come home immediately. Then I phoned the midwives and talked to the mother of the mother-daughter midwifery team. She tried to console me as I incoherently babbled about how I felt like my hoo-hoo was a burning ring of fire bigger than anything Johnny Cash could ever imagine.
I guess the midwife knew that was an imminent sign that she wasn't going to make it to the house on time. She very kindly didn't apprise me of that information until much later so she could try to minimize my freak out at being alone and in pain. While she was en route I suddenly screamed at her, "Ohhhh Noooooooooo I feel like I have to push" and then I dropped the phone.
I made a snap decision that if I had to deliver the baby myself, I could see more clearly what I was doing if I got out of the dimly lit bathroom and laid down on the bed. Unbelievably I was still annoyed at the gaggy Smooth Jazz blaring on the radio. Part of my big plan to haul my massive laboring body over to the bed involved throwing the radio across the room to silence it forever.
As I got on my trembling knees in the tub and leaned over the side in an effort to hoist myself up, I started pushing uncontrollably.I will never-as long as I live-forget the tremendous 'PLOP' sound the baby made as she exited my body and landed in the warmth of the tub water. Frantically, I turned around to fish her out.
I'm not exaggerating when I say I was terrified that something was wrong with her, especially since she never uttered even one cry. I sat there, stunned, in the yuck tub water holding her and blubbering all over the place while I kept apologizing out loud to her that she had a stupid mother that was too stupid to even know she was in advanced labor. It's a good thing we're not Scientologists because all my wailing and carrying on probably left a big imprint on Caterpillar.
Ummm, my Caterpillar did nothing but look up at me with these dark grey eyes while she made the perfect crinkle-nosed newborn face that seemed to say "WTF is wrong with you, woman?" It usually takes children until their teenage years to perfect a look that reveals they think their mom is insane and my baby got it down within minutes of her birth. I am so proud.
After I was sure she was breathing okay, I wrapped Caterpillar up in a towel and waited. I mean really I could have gotten out of the tub and started walking somewhere to get help but I wouldn't have ventured too far with the giant dangling umbilical cord still hanging down out of my nether regions. It would have looked like I was walking my pet baby on a weird looking leash. Mercifully, thankfully none of our other kids woke up because I'm not sure I would have been able to deal with that on top of everything else going on.
Papi got home about 10 minutes after the birth. I started laughing as he nervously took the cord clamp, iodine, and scissors out of our homebirth kit with his super shaky hands as he announced he was going to cut the cord. That was anything but reassuring. I didn't need Papi's trembling hands to miss and give me an unexpected episiotomy so I advised that we should just wait for the midwives to get there so they could deal with the umbilical cord and deliver the placenta.
So, the midwives arrived a few minutes later and took care of the rest of the post-birth details like weighing Caterpillar and examining her and giving me the all clear to go and take a much needed shower. We didn't have plans to eat the placenta or bury it under a tree or anything so we graciously allowed the midwives take it with them.....for FREE!
I remember Papi and I marvelling over Caterpillar's body that was so tiny except for her ginormous butt. Papi called her 'J.Lo Booty' and kept telling me, "Wow girlie, I'm not amazed that you were able to squeeze her head out without any help but the way you delivered those giant nalgas took a small miracle!"
When we rolled into Church a few days later with our newborn, word of her somewhat unconventional birth had already gotten around. Church members started calling me 'The Pioneer Woman.'
Dang, that would have made a great blog name. :)
Anyway, as you can see, the story has a very happy ending. Whenever someone asks Caterpillar where she was born she always yells out exuberantly "In The Bathtub!"