Our normal-- perhaps at times mundane-- lives are occasionally punctuated by moments of brilliance, of sacred and profound beauty and jaw-dropping amazement. Pushing Ember out and holding her in my arms was such a moment; the birth of my second daughter River was another, though in a startlingly different way.
River Lynn McSpadden came into the world at 6:20 a.m on June 12....in our minivan.
Yes, the minivan. In the driveway.
Everyone-- the midwives, my doula, myself-- expected me to go over my due date by at least a week since I went over with Ember. The contractions I felt at night on June 11th were identical to the practice contractions I'd been having for weeks, so I went to bed as usual. I woke a few hours later when the contractions continued and decided to take a bath to see if that stopped things. Nope. I was still skeptical that I was in labor so I spent the next few hours walking, dozing, sitting in the rocking chair. The contractions remained mild-- to me-- and were five to seven minutes apart, which made me think I had a while.
At 4:45, the intensity had increased a little and I woke Josh to tell him I was calling our doula to get final confirmation that I was in labor. I explained to her what was going on and she confirmed that I was in early labor and most likely had a while to go because the contractions weren't that strong. She suggested I eat some watermelon and brew some red raspberry leaf tea to get things going. We called my Mom to come get Ember, who had been such a big girl during my labor. She would hold my hand and remind me to use my "special breathing" and she'd rub my back during contractions. A future midwife indeed!
After Ember was gone, the contractions began to intensify quickly and we called our doula back to tell her that we were headed for the birth center.
We never made it out the door. Because we hadn't anticipated to actually go into labor on my due date, we had nothing packed. My poor husband was rushing around the house trying to find the number for the midwives, clothes for both of us, a bag to take to the hospital....all while I was in the bathroom hollering my way through transition. The contractions were incredibly strong and at the same time I felt a pushing sensation so intense it was practically subconscious. It seemed my body was pushing on its own without my brain telling it to do anything.
Shortly after 6 am, we gave up packing and just tried to get me to the car. My mother-- who had come by with watermelon-- dialed 911 for a police escort so we could get to the hospital more quickly. River had other plans. We were halfway down the sidewalk when I felt her crown. I reached down and held her head, and told Josh the baby's coming. He said "I know, we have to get to the hospital". I said "No, the baby's coming now"
He managed to get me to the minivan, where I knelt on the seat to deliver the head. He helped me get my clothes off just in time to deliver her shoulders. She slid right out and my husband caught our beautiful baby girl. He cleared her airways and got her breathing-- and crying-- and we moved the umbilical cord, which was very loosely around her neck. He wrapped her in whatever we could find and handed her to me to nurse for the first time. She latched right on and our journey as mother and daughter began.
Few other times in my life have been so sacred.
Josh is my hero-- I don't know many guys who could deliver a baby in their driveway without so much as breaking a sweat. The Lord blessed us with a rare gift--catching our daughter together-- and I thank Him for safely bringing River into the world.
And yes, we did have the minivan cleaned.