We were speeding through the tunnel when I reached between my legs and could feel the baby’s head emerging. I literally grabbed the “oh shit” handle and Matt made it to the emergency room doors just in time for me to deliver the baby in the car in the parking lot.
I had been planning my natural birth since Matt and I decided to have a baby way back in January 2019. I immediately changed my diet, started reading ALL the books, and developed a pregnancy workout plan to make this my best birth yet. Cambri and Porter each had typical, medically managed births, and for my last baby I craved a different experience for the both of us. And boy did we get one!
During my 38 week appointment, I had a slightly elevated blood pressure reading at 142/90. I was sent to labor and delivery for fetal monitoring, labs and more blood pressures, aka non-stress test (NST). Baby looked great, labs were “gorgeous,” and my blood pressure was almost perfect at the end of the visit (122/76).
Passing my due date of February 11, at my 41 week checkup I again had a slightly elevated blood pressure at 145/88. This sent my nurse practitioner into a frenzy. Now I had two high blood pressures so I was diagnosed with hypertension. Normally, this would mean I would be induced at 37 weeks, but I was already 41. Again, I was sent to labor and delivery for the same rundown, with almost exact results. Baby looks good, labs were perfect and blood pressure was down to normal by the end. However, because of the two high blood pressures and me being overdue, it was recommended that I induce immediately. At this appointment I had my first cervical check and I was only at two centimeters. This meant I could use the foley bulb induction if I wanted. Against medical advice, we signed paperwork and left the hospital. I don’t know if I would have been this brave with my other two pregnancies. Something this time told me to trust my gut that nothing was wrong. I started having contractions…nothing painful, but very consistent. My hopes were raised to no avail when the contractions eventually died out by Friday morning.
Over the next few days, I experienced some very low lows debating whether I was making the right choice for my baby. There is a fine line between the body’s natural timeline and the medical technology we have, and I was starting to doubt my judgement. At a routine NST on Friday (41+3), I begged and cried in the nurses office for someone to give me a membrane sweep, thinking it would help jumpstart labor without the use of medicine. Unfortunately, they could not squeeze me in and I left very defeated. On Saturday, I was an emotional wreck. On Sunday, we pulled out all last ditch efforts. I pumped, we had sex, we walked up and down the hill and stairs at Mount Trashmore, I ate dates, I drank Red Raspberry Leaf tea like I had my entire pregnancy, and I pumped again before taking a shower for the night. At around 730pm on Sunday night, I got a call from the hospital. I was scheduled to be induced the following morning, but since they had open beds they could get me in tonight. If I chose to wait, they could not guarantee being able to induce in the morning. I held my breath and told him no, and decided to not even tell Matt for fear induction might not go as planned and his mom might have to leave town without meeting the baby.
At around 830pm, soon after pumping, I began to have contractions that radiated around my lower back and begged me to get out of bed. In the bathroom, I began timing contractions. Each lasted about a minute long but were 8 minutes apart. The contractions started getting closer together, anywhere from 2-5 minutes apart. Since I felt them so much in my back, I knew it was real labor and not just the Braxton Hicks I had experienced all week. I messaged my doula, Kathryn Malloy, to head over to our house with plans to labor at home as long as possible. At this time I had a little bloody show when I used the bathroom. Matt woke his mom, Roxanne, and sister, Chloe, to let them know what was going on. It was perfect timing because they helped massage my lower back and provided a lot of relief during each contraction. We managed to get downstairs and the pain immediately increased; I remember feeling like I could throw up. During one particularly long and intense contraction, my water broke (which had not happened with my other two) and had some bloody show. It was 10:30pm. Roxanne called the doula and informed her we had to leave now since the contractions were so bad. Kathryn rerouted to meet us at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, normally a 30 minute drive from our home.
Now anyone who lives in Hampton Roads knows you cannot back up traffic in the tunnel. Matt sped the entire thirty minutes to the hospital with me screaming in the passenger seat. It was painful, but I felt so in control until we reached the tunnel where he could not stop (and also we were SO close to the Navy hospital). Roxanne called 911 and tried to explain what was happening. In the tunnel, I reached between my legs and felt the head emerging. The contractions came so close together. I just kept telling the baby (and myself) “Don’t come yet, we’re almost there!” At this point, I do not remember any pain, just this immense feeling of ‘don’t come yet,’ and as soon as we got to the hospital this feeling of ‘okay, come NOW!’ I had Matt go to the emergency room because I could not stop pushing, but I also could barely move to even get my pants off, seatbelt unbuckled or to move my legs to the side. I just grabbed that “oh shit” handle with both hands and bore down. Meanwhile, Roxanne ran into the emergency room screaming “My daughter is giving birth in the car!” The baby’s head was already out when the medical personal arrived. About 3-4 more pushes and baby was completely out. I remember looking down to make sure someone was there to grab the baby. I watched the baby slip out of me and into some woman’s hands (we later found out her last name was George). She held it with this shocked look, like ‘what do I do now?!’. I immediately grabbed the baby, held it close to my chest and we laid on a gurney as they wheeled us inside. The staff announced to everyone in the waiting room that “mother and baby are doing well.”
I laugh because in my original birth plan, I wanted a quiet golden hour where almost all the medical staff left the room for it to seem like it was just me, baby and dad. Because of the code purple (pediatric emergency) that was called, there were at least 20 medical personal surrounding us from emergency, labor and delivery, and pediatrics. We got initial chest to chest time and delayed cord clamping until they had to put baby under the warmer. It was a brisk 39° outside when baby was born and they were concerned the cold affected its breathing. At this point, I still didn’t know what gender the baby was. My husband had known, but the medical staff kept referring to baby as both he and she, so even Matt had to double check. Baby Launstein is a girl!! We delivered at 41+5 on February 23, 2020 at 11:01 pm, exactly two and a half hours of labor. The placenta was delivered soon after without any meds. They say your third comes soonest and quickest, but only the latter was true for us. I was over the moon that I had given birth naturally (finally) and couldn’t believe that I had done it all on my own without coaching. The doula arrived at the hospital while all this was happening and couldn’t believe the sight when she saw me wheeled into labor and delivery with a baby already on my chest. Our sweet little angel looks a lot like her sister, weighed 9 pounds 3 ounces and was 21 inches long. The perfect addition to complete our family. We always choose unique first names and family middle names for our babies, so this was no exception. We decided to give this baby the namesake of Matt’s Grandma Penelope, who is a constant source of joy just to be in her presence and gives the best life advice. Welcome to the world, Roelyn Penelope Launstein.
- I didn’t tear my perineum, but rather to the side and upwards needing five stitches
- Roelyn was born with an 11th toe, complete with toenail
- Matt knew the gender from 20 weeks and was able to keep it a secret from me until birth! I love surprises!
- She did not fit in the newborn size going home outfit we had planned
- Porter knew it was girl the whole time because “God told him”
- My mom attended Cambri’s birth, we had Porter just me and Matt, and Matt’s mom was able to join us for Roelyn’s birth