April 3, 2024

Jessica's Birth Story

I wailed that I was afraid that we were going to have a car baby. The snow was falling heavily and the driver in front of us was going ridiculously slowly (in our panicky opinions).

I’m Jessica and I’m an art professor at Blue Ridge Community College. My husband, Jeremy, and I had our daughter, Maewyn (aka Pepper) at Brookhaven about 2 ½ years ago after switching in my third trimester. We had just been to an underwhelming birth class at our OB’s and were talking about how we didn’t like any of the other doctors anyway and “why don’t we check out this birth center next week.”

We had Pepper in the Willow Suite and were planning to have another normal birth after another pleasantly uneventful pregnancy, right down to the same suite and same lasagna for post-birth munching. Labor had been about 12 hours with Pepper and we knew it might be a little shorter with the second child. Jeremy works in Richmond during the week and we were all concerned that I might go into labor while he was gone, so Maya had gone over with me what to do in the case of an unplanned and precipitous home birth and told me they prefer an unplanned home birth to a car baby.
Griffin was 4 days late by the time I cashed in my gift certificate for an induction massage at Bija BodyWorks on a Friday afternoon, and I was tired of being pregnant and my coworkers and students were starting to drive me nuts with their questions and concerns, so I was really hoping this would move things along. I had no idea how effective it would be.

After my awesome massage that included hot stones and acupressure, I went home, but nothing felt different that evening or the next morning and I was definitely disappointed. We were getting ready to go grocery shopping and Pepper insisted on wearing one of her fancy dresses with tights and having Jeremy take her picture for some reason (we decided later that she knew something we didn’t).

My father-in-law called at about 9:30am to see if anything was happening, as my in-laws were starting towards for our house from
Chattanooga for a spring break visit. By the time Jeremy was off the phone with him, I’d had 2 contractions that were 2 minutes apart. This was nothing like my last labor or what I’ve read about actual labor, so I assumed that it was pre-labor (Jeremy told me later that he was pretty sure my water had broken at about 7am, as I’d complained about an especially irritating bladder control incident that morning). After several more contractions that required deep breathing and slow-dancing around the kitchen, we decided that this might be the real thing, so we called Misty who told us to come on in, called our babysitter, and headed to Staunton (with a towel on the front seat, just in case) to drop Pepper off.

It was snowing pretty steadily at this point as we headed down to Staunton on our normal back roads route in our blue Honda Fit. As I timed my contractions on Jeremy’s phone, I urged him to drive faster, but he very reasonably refused. By the time we were at the babysitter’s, Pepper was freaking out and my contractions were very close together and very painful. I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it all the way to Brookhaven. I had given up on timing them and was just trying to breathe through them. As we pulled up onto the Staunton Bypass, Jeremy asked if I wanted to take my pants off, but I said no. A minute later, I changed my mind and had him help me lean the seat back as well as remove my pants and shoes. I wailed that I was afraid that we were going to have a car baby. The snow was falling heavily and the driver in front of us was going ridiculously slowly (in our panicky opinions).

Another minute or two later, I told Jeremy that I needed to push and he said okay (last time I think I pushed for at least an hour, so I was pretty


freaked out, but thought I still had a while). On my second push, I reached down and told Jeremy that I could feel the baby’s head. He started pulling off the road as I pushed again and Griffin’s head emerged. On my 4th push, the baby shot out and Jeremy caught Griffin in his right hand (he’s left-handed) and succeeded in not wrecking the car or even stalling it out (it’s a stick shift) as we stopped. I never did feel the ring of fire this time. Griffin was born about a quarter mile before the intersection with Rt. 11. We put him on my chest skin to skin and started laughing like maniacs. Then Jeremy freaked out and called 911. As he stood outside the car, I kept yelling at him to hang up because they’d try to make us go to the hospital and I wasn’t going. Then he called Misty, who told him to tell the emergency folks that we didn’t need to go anywhere and our care provider was on the way. A few minutes later, a police car, fire truck and TWO ambulances arrived. They gave us some blankets and towels and accepted our insistence to stay hospital-free. Misty arrived soon after to deliver the placenta (she missed all the fun!), check us out and help Jeremy cut the cord.

We all went back to our house (so much for laboring in the awesome tub…) and Savannah met us there to help with post-birth things including some pretty snazzy placenta prints. In working up the report, we discovered that I was in labor for all of an hour and 47 minutes! Hooray induction massage!

PS – a Shop Vac and a day of baking soda will clean up a birthed-on car seat and floor with no lingering aftereffects.

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