Maxwell Alexander’s birth story
Maxwell’s pregnancy was much like his delivery, not at all what I thought it would be. From the very beginning it was unpredictable to say the least.
After pregnancies in which I had been hospitalized for preterm labor and complications from hg, I was happy and astonished that I had very little to report in the way of labor progress up until 37 weeks and only outpatient infusions for iron and fluids. It wasn’t entirely smooth, but much more so than my previous pregnancies. Cervix completely closed and Braxton hicks contractions, but none worth paying attention to until Tuesday July 18th. They began late that night and strengthened the wee hours of morning of the 19th. We finally were off to head to the hospital around 5 am. Contractions coming every 3 minutes, mildly intensifying and becoming closer together. Went from almost 3 cm dilated to a 4 in the first hour of arrival, and we thought we were in the early stages of welcoming our last baby into our family.
After 4 hours of laboring in the tub, bouncing on the ball, and walking the halls, we decided we wanted to try to stick to our plan of an intervention free birth. So we chose to leave the hospital without any further progress and contractions that had begun to space out. We spent the following days gently encouraging the contractions, hoping to edge them on into labor. At home I was 5 cm dilated but would not move any further and contractions were uncomfortable, but never really gave me the feeling they would amount to anything more than a sleepless night.
We spent our days walking, going to the pool with our girls and completing small projects around the house. Every night brought timeable contractions that were not allowing me to sleep. I was losing faith in my ability to tell when I would actually be in labor, and losing faith that my body knew what it was doing. Sunday we spent nearly the whole day at our local pool and ended the evening with my mother in law and I painting our nails while we watched Game of Thrones with my husband. I put our 2 year old to bed, still contracting, and we snuggled for some time. Later, I vividly remember telling my husband, “I’m having contractions again, but I don’t think they’ll amount to anything”. I confided in him as we lay in bed that night that I was afraid I would either need to be induced, or that I wouldn’t know it was the real thing until it was too late and we were having a baby at home.
I stayed awake contracting, yet again, until about 2 am. It was at that time that I wrote to a group of other expectant and fellow moms, complaining of those very same contractions and my fears of not making it to the hospital in time. Oh that intuition is real, if only I had given some credit to that voice in the back of my head that night! Instead I finally decided that I would just drift off to sleep for a bit, assuring myself that I would know when it was time. After all, this was my 6th baby. I should know these things, right? The pain wasn’t troubling me too badly, I kept telling myself I would just “know” if this was the real thing. About 1 hour later I woke to a strange, long contraction. It wasn’t incredibly painful, but it caused me enough discomfort that I felt around in the dark for my husband and said “Travis, I think this is it”.
That same contraction made me roll onto all fours to sway. Finally I asked my husband to help me as I made my way off our bed. It was that moment that it happened. I felt my water break. I scurried off the edge of the bed, hurried to the bathroom in shock, and said “oh god, we’re not going to make it. We are going to have this baby at home”. The contraction went from uncomfortable to painful in a blink. I had somehow managed to make it to the bathroom before my ruptured waters made any mess, something I’m admittedly still pretty proud of and mystified by. But standing in the bathroom it felt like that contraction that woke me was never going to end.
My husband assured me we would make it to the hospital. I cried that there was no way I could move, but he said he would get me to the car. He disappeared for what felt like an eternity, but in reality was maybe 3-5 minutes. In that time my contractions were on top of each other, I was certain things were moving fast. I wasn’t sure just how fast, but I knew we did not have long. When my husband returned he helped me to the dresser where I tossed on a pair of underwear and sweatpants, and he had already gotten his mother up, loaded up my bags, and pulled his car right up to the front door.
His level of preparedness and the calm he had is something I’m still in awe of. He walked me down the hall, grabbing my shoes as we hurried out the door. It’s worth mentioning that things happened so quickly that I was never even able to put the aforementioned shoes on. I was still barefoot and completely unable to sit down as I climbed into the passenger door that travis had managed to get just a few feet from the doorstep. I grabbed the head rest, pulled myself in, moving onto my knees and began to labor through. He told me to make the phone calls I needed to make, to our birth photographer and to the hospital. And he kept me updated as he drove very quickly to the hospital. I texted Tammy, our amazing birth photographer, and let her know my water had broken and we were heading in. I told her I wasn’t sure we’d make it and she told me to take deep breaths and she was on her way.
Travis put his hazards on and made time I didn’t know we could make, while I labored intensely in the passenger seat. I could feel the baby moving down quickly with each contraction. Thinking back, his head must have been very low and blocking my waters as I did not leak the entire ride to the hospital. I didn’t have time to time the contractions, but there had to have been less than a minute between them. I called labor and delivery and told them we were on our way, waters had ruptured, 6th baby and he was coming fast and I wasn’t sure we’d make it. My husband gently held my back during each turn, letting me know how far out we were, encouraging me to hold on. Telling me repeatedly that we would make it.
I vaguely remember him mentioning to me we passed a fox and that he had to run 2 red lights. He coached me through those as well, making sure to slow down and ensure we could get through safely. Luckily for us, it was 3 am and the roads were empty our entire drive. As we neared the last turn to the hospital I began screaming that baby was coming. He honked the horn rapidly as I screamed through the contractions and he pulled quickly into the Er drive. No one came out so he ran around to help me out of the car. I told him baby was almost there. I also said I couldn’t get out, I felt as if Baby was ready to emerge. That feeling made it nearly impossible to move. He disappeared for a moment into the Er doors. I tried to maneuver out of the passenger seat so I could somehow walk inside in the few seconds break I had between contractions.
It was then I saw someone running across the parking lot and I thought “oh god, I’m going to give birth in front of a stranger”. That was when I saw her face and recognized her. It was Tammy, and she had made it just in time! I don’t think I’ve ever been more relieved to see her than that very moment! She moved toward the entrance just as Travis reemerged. He offered to carry me and reached in to try to lift me, but I hopped off of the seat instead and he helped me through the ER doors, our car still sitting in the little drive thru. Tammy rushed through the doors ahead of us to alert the front desk that I was in fact having this baby right now and urged her to call for help.
I made it just past the second set of automatic doors, into the next hall which luckily was not carpeted like the one we had just stepped out of. I know at this point I said something to the effect of, “oh god, he’s here”. I then started to take my pants off because I could feel my body pushing the baby’s head out. I reached down and could feel his head crowning with my hand. I looked at my husband and said, “Travis catch him!” Without any hesitation he did just that as I felt my body involuntarily pushing his head the rest of the way out. At that moment Tammy began snapping away! Then the nurses came rushing down the hall. It was a blur at this point, they reached us, helped me lay down just as my body began to push again.
Travis said the ER nurse who reached us first quickly supported his head, he still had his hands on baby’s head too, as well as my back while they laid us down. That same nurse gently removed his cord that was loosely around his neck, now his head was completely out. With 1 more push as instructed by the nurse, and the only intentional push I gave, I felt the rest of his body come out. He arrived on the floor just inside the entrance of the emergency room at 3:38 am. Less than 25 minutes from the time my water broke at home, and only a few moments after we stepped inside the hospital. They placed him on my chest, his head was so bruised from arriving so quickly. The nurses were amazing, so was my husband. They all gently helped move baby up to my chest, and my husband placed a towel sweetly under my head. I wasn’t aware of much other than his presence at my right side.
It’s worth mentioning that fate must have had a hand in this, the nurse that first reached us and helped guide Baby the rest of the way out was an OB nurse at another hospital. She worked part time at our local ER, and I couldn’t be more glad that she was there that morning!
Our son took a moment to cry, then he went very calm. As it turns out, this is just his demeanor so far. It was a bit scary only because he was so incredibly bruised from his entrance, but then he let out several more cries as they rubbed his back. We delayed his cord clamping until it had stopped pulsating. Travis then cut the cord, and our sweet nurses took excellent care to keep me with baby. I lay there on the ground holding him while Tammy captured it all and they took our blood pressure. They moved us to a gurney after that, and we made our way to labor and delivery. I don’t remember the ride up there as I was still a bit in shock from it all. I was also totally in love with the little person laying on me, and even more completely in love with my husband who didn’t miss a beat and kept his word that we would, in fact, make it to the hospital. Even if it was only a few steps inside! My god, I truly don’t think I’ve ever been more enamored with that man.
And Tammy, without her I don’t think we would have gotten help from the nurses just in the nick of time, and we most certainly wouldn’t have any of the treasured photos of our last baby’s incredible birth. Travis and I both can’t thank her enough for all that she did and we are so so happy that she was there with us through this wild ride. From there we experienced excellent care, baby was checked over, as was I. We both fared wonderfully. He was 6 lbs 7 oz, 20 inches long. Our son. Our last baby. Our only boy. Our smallest and quickest delivery. It’s still surreal.
Tammy stayed with us until things began to die down, she returned just before our 5 amazing little girls came by to meet their tiny little brother with my sweet mother in law. I’m so beyond blessed to have all these people in my life. Baby is healthy, bruised, but so healthy. Our daughters are perfection. All amazing big sisters and over the moon happy to add one more baby to the mix. Travis’ mom saved the day again by taking excellent care of our sweet girls during all this craziness and I couldn’t be luckier to have her in my life. And I know I mentioned him before, but Travis is truly my hero. I don’t have words for how thankful I am for him. He kept me calm, he kept us safe, he always takes excellent care of us, and he is the most beautiful father and husband. I also won’t ever forget Tammy. Her presence at this birth is something I’ll always be thankful for. Between she, Travis, and our nurses, we were so taken care of. If not for her, I’m certain it wouldn’t have ended as seamlessly and we definitely wouldn’t have any documentation of this whirlwind birth.
It was my craziest birth, but also, the most perfect. It was not at all what I had planned, but it ended without any intervention, with a healthy baby, and amazing support people by our sides. It was beautiful and I’ll forever love every memory of it.