Arlo Gabriel's Grand Entrance
We expected Arlo to be fashionably late, as was his big brother Eben. What we didn't quite plan for was his unique birth venue.
Our early labor began on Saturday, September 10, around 10am. My contractions started out semi-intensely, but not too painfully, at about 60 seconds each, 4 minutes apart. We headed to the Midwife Center for Birth and Women's Health in Pittsburgh as I mused to myself, "Great! A few hours of this, then the hard part, then I'll be holding my baby!" After all, Eben's entire labor and delivery only amounted to about 7 hours, and everyone had been telling me throughout our pregnancy that there was a great chance things would roll along even more quickly during my second birth experience.
My body and Arlo had another plan though. By around 5 that evening, the contractions had petered out to nothing. I was glad I had progressed to 4 cm in relative comfort, but disappointed that it'd been a whole day and we still hadn't hadn't met our littlest son.
Our midwife recommended that we go home and wait. She said I could conceivably hang out at 4 cm for days longer, so staying at the Center didn't make much sense. So home we went!
After a pretty good night of rest, interrupted only by weak, sporadic contractions and lots of urges to pee, I rolled out of bed around 7:45am and felt a peculiar *pop* that I'd never experienced before. Sure enough, when I went to the bathroom, out came a tiny trickle of clear amniotic fluid, then *WHAM*, my first serious contraction.
I yelled to Kasey, "Call my Gram and Aunt to come and get Eben! We have to leave for the birth center NOW!" Thankfully the car was still packed from Saturday's "false start." Eben's caregivers arrived, I grabbed two old towels and a bottle of drinking water, doubled over in front of the door for one last contraction, then jetted to the car.
Sitting was just not an option. I crawled into the front seat, tilted it back, and braced myself for the trip on my hands and knees. Have I mentioned the Center is an hour away? In under 15 minutes my contractions were on top of one another, and the realization that I'd bypassed active labor and headed straight into transition hit me.
I am really glad I was on my hands and knees, because without even seeing out the window, I could feel how fast Kasey was driving, and sensed he was running red lights and pulling some crazy maneuvers to get us to the Center as quickly as he could.
By the halfway point, I began to question whether or not we would make it to the Center. That pre-pushing calm washed over me, and I thought to myself, "This baby is coming *very* soon!" I even suggested Kasey stop at a hospital midway between home and the city, but he informed me they did not have a maternity unit, and promised to get us to the Center, so we could avoid an ER birth.
15 minutes later crossing the Hot Metal Street Bridge to 2nd Avenue, I announced, "Um...I'm feeling kind of pushy, hon!" Kasey asked, "What do you mean, pushy?" I responded with my first giant, unstoppable push, to which he replied, "Uh, OK! Hang on, we're going to get there!"
I hung, and ended up easing my way through another 3 or 4 pushes before he made a right onto Grant Street and I knew we couldn't hang much longer. I said to Kasey, "Hand me a towel!" He did, and I draped it over my backside and scooted out of my pants, as I could feel our baby wanting to crown. Kasey said, "We're fewer than 3 minutes away. We're going to make it!"
And we did. Well, sort of. We zoomed up to the curb in front of the Center on Penn Avenue around 10 after 9am, as Arlo Gabriel was crowning, right into his mama's hand. Our midwife and nurse rushed out to the car to help me deliver Arlo's shoulders, and shortly thereafter, out he slid!
At 9:15am on Sunday, September 11th, Arlo Gabriel McIntyre came into the world! I was the first person to touch his precious head, and his daddy then welcomed him into loving arms. He was born in our car in gorgeous, streaming sunlight, and his first breath was of warm, fresh air.
We figured we may as well deliver his placenta in the car too, and proceeded in to the Center shortly thereafter. After lots of cuddling and nursing, and a few stitches in my minor tear, we learned that Arlo was 9 lbs. and 21 inches! After celebrating with family who'd come to greet Arlo, and enjoying some rest and relaxation at the birth center, the three of us headed home around quarter to 9 that night.
It's funny.... Our midwife called me the next day and asked, "How are you feeling about the birth? Was that at all traumatic for you?" I giggled and told her, "No. Really...not at all!" I explained that, to me, trauma would have been if something were wrong with Arlo or I had an unnecessary hospital transfer or interventions w/ out my consent. *Those* were the things I feared most.
I am thrilled and so proud that my son slid safely into my own hands, then those of our trusted midwife in the semi-outdoors of a breezy summer morning. Kasey came through with the most calm, level-headed support I have ever seen him muster too!
All we wanted besides a healthy birth was a gentle, peaceful birth for Arlo, and we had exactly that. When all was said and done and we arrived in front of the Center, an intangible tranquility fell over all of us, and it was as though the world just stopped for our son's debut.