Preface: This story is long and a little descriptive.
The last few weeks of my pregnancy were anxious and uncomfortable, like any pregnant woman will tell you they usually are. My mother flew into Philadelphia on November 5th and was staying through the 13th, because I was positive that I would have a baby either before then or at least in that time frame. During that time we were able to sight see and visit with people, so we still had a good time. On the 13th my mom was debating whether or not to change her ticket and extend her stay and move over to my sisters house. My mother in law was due on the 15th and we wouldn't have enough room for both of them. We planned it this way for a reason. So back to the 13th. On the way down to change the laundry, I fell. Tripped on the sidewalk outside. All 4 flights of stairs I walk up and down several times a day and I tripped on a crack in the sidewalk. Fell pretty hard on my hands and knees. I'm still waiting for the scrape on my right palm to heal! That decided it for my mom. She stayed. I called the on-call midwife at my prenatal office who told me to get myself checked out at the hospital. So Derek and I went in and I was monitored for a few hours. Everything was fine and we were allowed to go home. In all of this time, all of these days and weeks preceding Inge's arrival I would randomly have contractions. It never happened this way with the other two. Once I started having contractions, I was in labor. Start to finish. Not this time around. My body was teasing me. Fast forward to the 15th. Jonah had soccer and Derek was having open studios. Life went on. At this point I'm 4 days overdue. Jonah was born 5 days early and Eleanor was 2 days late. This pregnancy felt like it would never end! We picked my MIL, Kathy, up from the airport that night at 6 PM and went to Qdoba for dinner. Grandma and the babies went to bed early and about an hour and a half later, the contractions started up again. Except they were stronger this time! And lasting longer! And coming around 5 minutes apart! It was time. We were off to the hospital. Derek woke up his mom to tell her and we left the house. Its a 20+ minute drive to our hospital of choice, Pennsylvania Hospital, from our house. It's no fun having contractions while seated and not be able to move through them. We checked into triage around midnight. I had just done this the other day after my fall, so we knew what to do. They checked me (a tight three. I had been that on Thursday, so no progress in 2 days) and hooked me up to monitoring for 20 minutes. During all this time I was still having contractions. In the beginnings of labor I can still usually talk to you and joke around. I'm quite pleasant. In between contractions. After monitoring they told me to walk around for 2 hours to keep things going and they'd check on me at the end. So Derek and I walk around a bit. There isn't really anywhere to go, so we're just walking up and down the same hallways before we get tired and bored and go back to triage. My contractions had slowed down a bit and I was even able to get some sleep in between. But they were still happening and they were strong. When they came back in I had dilated to about a 4. So they proclaimed I was only in early labor and they couldn't move me to the natural birthing suite until I was in active labor. Did I mention that it was completely dead and I didn't see one other woman in labor in the 4 hours we were there? So around 4 AM they sent me home. I only saw the on-call midwife once in this entire time and that was for her to tell me I was going home. I was so disappointed. I know my body, I know what it feels like to have a baby. This was my third baby! So we headed out to the car. And the contractions started back strong again. So we headed home to try and get some rest and to relax in a bath. When we got to the house, Derek woke up his Mom to tell her we were back, and no baby yet. I decided to camp out on the couch to try and get some rest while I sent Derek to the bed to sleep. No point in both of us missing out on sleep if this wasn't happening tonight. I was still having contractions, but trying to sleep a little in between. Which was working for awhile. Until they got so bad that I decided to give myself a bath. I remember looking at the clock and it being about 5:08 AM, so I had only been home about an hour. There was no reason to go back into the hospital yet. So I filled the tub, put in a lavender bath bomb from Lush to calm and help with the pain. I was still dozing a little in between contractions and working through them when they came. Until there came a really strong one. I decided to move onto my hands and knees and when I shifted I saw blood in the water! I was really hurting and I reached down and felt a little head. It was happening right then, there was no moving, no getting to the hospital. I started yelling for Derek. Over and over. It felt like forever, but in all reality it couldn't have been more than a minute. Kathy heard me first and asked if I was ok. I just kept yelling for Derek. She must have shaken him awake because soon after a very groggy, sleepy Derek came in and I told him "I feel like I have to push" and "this baby's coming now!" I pushed 3 or 4 times, I can't remember exactly and there was Inge. Crying and purple and little. Kathy immediately took charge and wrapped her in a towel and handed her to me. Then she wrapped a towel around my shoulders and started rubbing me to get me to stop shaking and warm me up. Derek, still in a bit of shock, asked "What do we do now?" Kathy and I both told him he needed to call 911. So Derek got on the phone and Inge was already starting to pink up. She was tiny and perfect and I couldn't stop looking at her beautiful ears. Of course in all my yelling I had woken the kids up and they both bounced into the bathroom saying "baby! baby!". This was a long time coming for them, too and they were excited! Eleanor saw the cord and asked "what's that?". Neither one of them was scared or nervous. They were just excited that the baby was finally here. It was perfect! Once the paramedics got here Kathy wrangled the kids into the living room. One of the guys immediately just said "We have to cut this cord now!" to which I calmly responded, "no, I'm waiting to pass the placenta and then you can cut it." He was very insistent and I had to explain to him that there are still nutrients pumping through the cord to the baby and I wanted her to get them. Thankfully his partner was calm and cool and told him that we could have a few minutes and then we would cut the cord. He was a little bossy, but I was so grateful for him! I didn't have to fight for what I wanted. This would be an amazing pattern through the morning when we got to the hospital. I will be singing praises for Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania for the rest of my life. They were amazing! Now back to my apartment. I birthed the placenta not long after and then we cut the cord. They passed Inge to Kathy so I could get dressed and out to the ambulance. I got to ride in an ambulance! It's really not that exciting. And I will worry about the bill later. Just having had a baby I was high on endorphin's. Everyone was asking me if I was ok and I felt absolutely fine. The lady cop there was amazed I was up and walking around just after having a baby and Kathy was bragging about me and saying that I could do all this because I had that baby naturally and there were no drugs in me keeping me down. I got dressed, kissed the kids, and walked down all 4 flights of stairs with Derek and Inge following behind. They laid me down on the stretcher, put Inge on me and we were off. Now, I was originally planning on having Inge at Pennsylvania Hospital, but HUP was much closer. So that's where they took me. And I'm so glad. They were amazing! There were so many nurses and doctors in the room when I got there. Some just there to see the cute baby. They don't see many down in ER. They checked Inge when I got there and gave me one suture in the meantime. Then they immediately passed her back and I got to nurse her and they left me alone for 20 minutes. It was perfect. Her blood sugar was a little low so they wanted to get some food in her. I really cannot say how great my experience was. They were so accommodating. When they were to transfer me upstairs to postpartum they said they would have to separate us because last time this happened they got in big trouble for sending the mother and baby up together. Which made no sense to me. And it didn't make sense to one of the nurses. Claire. What a god send. She was loudly telling anyone who would listen how dumb that was and she wasn't going to separate the mom and baby and that she would personally escort the two of us up so there was no reason for anyone to get in trouble. She made phone calls and everything. She escorted us up to the 8th floor and we got to stay together. Thank you for that, Claire. Derek and Inge went to the nursery and I went back to my room and had a shower. Her blood sugar was still low so they gave her 5 ml of formula and that made it shoot right up! I wasn't concerned about it. She had already nursed and already showed me what a champ nurser she is. We stayed in the hospital for 36 hours, which is the minimum amount of time and then went home. It was an absolutely amazing experience. I got to have a home, water birth again even if completely by accident and I wouldn't have done it any other way. Derek was amazing in the moment and everything was as it should be. I have my 6 week postpartum appointment scheduled with my midwives and I'm going to give them hell. When Derek called them and explained to them what had happened all they had to say was "Oh, I guess I shouldn't have sent her home." No one came to see me or check on me or anything. I spent 6 months in their care and they didn't make any kind of effort. So if someone asks my opinion on where they should have their baby, I will tell them HUP, all the way. Pennsy can go suck it.
Things I heard when Derek and Kathy recounted the story:
Kathy was praying in the hallway while I was giving birth.
The insistent paramedic kept complaining about all the stairs.
Everyone kept commenting on how clean Inge was when we came in, not knowing she had been born in the bath.